Tuesday, November 17, 2020

279. St. Luke Passion Hymn

I had to page through a filing cabinet full of sermons that I preached in the wee years of this century to find it, but I did deliver a second Lenten series based on a continuous reading of the Passion of our Lord according to one of the four evangelists. I couldn't even remember which gospel it was, what year or at what church. But it turns out to have been 2003 at a little LCMS church in the foothills above Yuma, Arizona. I didn't give the series a title, other than "Passion According to St. Luke" – none of that fancy stuff like "The Unraveling" the previous year in Platte City, Mo. – but somehow, I milked 10 sermons out of it, instead of seven. This unusual number, of course, means that my hymn following the same outline will have even more stanzas than the previous ditty. Sorry, I mean, you're welcome.

How did I pull off a 10-part Lenten series, you wonder? I guess there are several ways you could do it, but in my case, I didn't confine myself to midweek services or Sunday mornings; I did some of both, wrapping up with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Another option would be to combine two stanzas' worth into one meditation and just program your sermon series (with accompanying hymn) for the Wednesdays after the first five Sundays in Lent. So, before I proceed with an attempt to turn the Passion According to Luke into 12 hymn stanzas – an all-purpose first and last stanza, and 10 in-between ones to go, one or two at a time, with whatever segment(s) of Luke's passion account you happen to be meditating on – here are the titles and texts of those 10 sermons I preached in 2003: "Like Drops of Blood" (22:39-46), "The Kiss of Death" (22:47-53), "Plausible Deniability" (22:54-62), "Bent on Death" (22:63-71), "King or Pawn?" (23:1-12), "Death on Demand" (23:13-25), "In the Green Tree" (23:26-31), "Place of the Skull" (23:32-38), "Baptism of Blood" (23:39-43) and "Eclipse" (23:44-56).

Hymn on the Lord's Passion according to St. Luke

Come, bear with Christ a little while:
Can any less be due
One who bore all for You?
However woeful be your trial,
Whatever sins your soul defile,
Let it a moment's pause beguile
To hold His work in view.

With sweat that fell like drops of blood,
He prayed God, sorely pained:
"And must this cup be drained?"
Then, yielding to our race's good,
Caressed by angel hand, He stood
To see done what His Father would,
With choicest vintage stained.

By bosom friend, by kiss, betrayed
To misrule's destined hour,
To forces dark and dour,
He pushed aside defending blade;
He gave His wounded captor aid;
Into their trick He calmly played,
And yielded to their pow'r.

While crafty men bade Him confess,
A friend fresh from His side
Their friendship thrice denied.
Would even we, in such a press,
A kinship to that Man profess,
Who answers sin with righteousness
And love returns for pride?

Blindfold and beaten, He withheld
The self-condemning word
His foes as lief had heard,
Till, bent on death, their fury swelled;
"Are you the Christ?" they fairly yelled.
His "So you say" their conscience quelled,
Their hands to violence stirred.

Denounced to Pilate, lacking cause,
To Herod He was sent,
Kept still, and back He went.
Though He stood blameless by their laws,
They bantered Him with scarce a pause –
A plaything in small vermin's jaws,
Yet steering the event.

'Twas Pilate's will to set Him free;
But men, with single cry,
Required that He should die.
At last persuaded to agree,
Weak hand set down that it should be
According to God's strong decree,
On which our hopes rely.

As He to Calvary was borne,
With miscreants to die,
The crowd began to sigh.
He answered, "Women, do not mourn.
Of days to come, I rather warn:
For if the green tree thus is shorn,
What will befall the dry?"

A skull-place was His dying ground
Where, duped into their roles,
Men quoted David's scrolls.
Mocked by their voices all around,
He scarcely answered with a sound;
Yet those few words with love abound
For just such captive souls.

Blasphemed by even one who hung,
Deserving, at His side,
So sore was Jesus tried!
The other convict then gave tongue
To hope and faith, with dying lung;
The pass to Paradise then flung
That sinner justified.

Daylight withdraws, no mere eclipse;
He to the Father cries,
Yields up the Spirit; dies.
Confessed as just by heathen lips,
Bound hurriedly in linen strips,
Down in a borrowed tomb He slips:
For us, thus, His demise.

And so this Lamb of heav'nly birth
Is slain, His flock to save;
Outside the camp His grave.
Keep silent, therefore, all the earth!
Away, all sounds of senseless mirth!
For nothing can approach the worth
Of what Christ Jesus gave.

UPDATE: Here's the original tune I wrote for this hymn, titled COME, BEAR WITH CHRIST. A harmonized arrangement is available upon request.

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