Saturday, January 28, 2017

208. Seven Deadly Sins Hymn

This is another one of those sermon series-inspired hymns, on which I have been meditating for quite a while. My father used to preach a Lenten midweek sermon series about the "seven deadly sins" (a medieval catholic tradition, not a biblical list of spiritual vices), and I remember it being very useful for self-examination - although the number of Wednesdays during Lent always made it necessary to combine two of the sins, I think they were gluttony and lust, into one installment. A brother in the ministry recently told me he was considering developing a similar Lenten series, though I think he decided to go a different route; but, just in case, I hope this might be a useful accompaniment to such a sermon series in the future. Like other hymns I have written to go with Advent and Lenten sermon series (and even one or two that were used as such, without having been planned for that purpose), the idea is to use the first and last stanza every week, and stick between them the stanza(s) relevant to the sin(s) of the week. Stanzas 2-8 represent, respectively, the seven traditional sins in the descending order of the circles of hell in Dante's Purgatorio: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. At this writing (watch for updates!) I have no particular hymn-tune in mind for this hymn.
Lord, lest in sin we harden,
So let Your holy passion
Your image in us fashion,
That we, Your judgment fearing,
From evil passions steering,
Might love Your hard-bought pardon!

Since You desire to save us,
Forgive the carnal longing
Wherein, our neighbor wronging,
We fall and feebly wallow;
Make firm our hearts to follow
The narrow way You gave us!

Lord, who devoutly fasted,
Your neighbor's hunger heeding
And needy thousands feeding:
Fulfill our deepest craving,
From gross excesses saving
All who Your bread have tasted!

Since You all things provide us,
Shall any need concern us?
From Mammon, therefore, turn us:
Let neither hoarding, winning,
Nor want that leads to sinning,
From Your rich grace divide us!

Lord, brook not our desertion
From any state or duty
That draws from You its beauty!
Rise, listless spirits blessing
With zeal and fire, impressing
Your cross on our exertion!

How can we rightly bless You
Who could in wrath deny us,
Yet died to justify us?
May we, with all men living
In peace, their sins forgiving,
Slay wrath, and so confess You!

Lord, o'er the city weeping
Before You drank the chalice
Filled by its bitter malice:
Let no man's gain annoy us,
Nor his loss overjoy us,
Our hearts from envy keeping!

Since You came as a servant,
Lord, to the grave descending,
Our proud delusion ending:
Implant in us Your Spirit,
Relying on Your merit
With humble faith, and fervent!

Amen! Lord, cleanse the leaven
Of sin that grows within us,
That would to Satan win us;
Ere shades of evening lengthen,
Forgive us now, and strengthen
Our faith with graces seven!

EDIT: I searched hard for any hymn tune that would fit the meter of this poem. I found none; all other "7777 77" tunes were tailored to a trochaic rhythm, rather than the iambic meter above. So I dashed off the following original tune, which I am titling COUILLARD after my great-grandparents, Alphonse and Bessie Couillard, whose example of faith and domestic evangelism is one of the reasons I find myself a Lutheran today. There is no particular reason I am associating them with the seven deadly sins; I just couldn't think of anything else to call the tune. Al was my paternal grandpa's stepfather, and Bessie (nee Erschfeldt) was a tough cookie who converted not one, but two French Canadian husbands to the Lutheran faith, and saw to it that her only child (my Grandpa Fish) and his kids were brought up in it. Thanks, God, for them!

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