Friday, March 19, 2021

303. Parables Hymn

Here's a hymn I posted piecemeal while it was under construction so it might perhaps benefit from friendly suggestions and feedback – to which I'm still open. It's another long one, but of the type that can be broken up into shorter segments for, say, a sermon series on selected parables, by just singing the first and last verse and plugging the gap in the middle with whichever stanza is relevant to the present lesson. I haven't covered every single thing in the teaching of Jesus that flies under the pennant of a parable, but you have to quit somewhere. I decided to do so when I reached a point where I felt like I was repeating myself, and then deleted a partially complete stanza to repent of that sin. Like a lot of my longer hymns, it gives me the ironic satisfaction of being really economical with the material – an impression that may not hit you right away, given how much material that was. Anyway, the tune I have in mind for it is JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN – perhaps known to you with "Christ, the Life of all the living," one of my favorite Lenten hymns.

Jesus, e'er in figures speaking,
Longing eyes and hearts to bless:
Needy souls, God's favor seeking,
You enrich with righteousness;
Yet these words cause those who grumble
In still deeper gloom to stumble.
(Refrain:) Help, Lord Jesus! Teacher dear,
Give us ears Your truth to hear.

(Mustard seed, leaven)
Thus the kingdom of the heavens,
Like the tiny mustard seed
And the crumb that much dough leavens,
Grows and spreads with wondrous speed.
Where Your doctrine is implanted
Faith and life are richly granted. (Refrain)

(Strong man armed, unclean spirits)
With the strong man you have striven,
Leaving bound our former lord;
Demons, to waste places driven,
Find their homeward threshold barred,
For the Spirit whom You send us
Will indwell us and defend us. (Refrain)

(Hidden treasure, pearl)
As a man found hidden treasure,
Selling all to buy that field,
Son of God, it was Your pleasure
For mankind Your flesh to yield:
By Your suffering and dying
One dear pearl, salvation, buying. (Refrain)

(Wicked tenants, Good Samaritan)
You are He whose tenants reasoned
They should slay their Landlord's Son;
He whose way with pain was seasoned,
All flesh to redeem as one.
While at You men were offended,
You the sinner's wounds attended. (Refrain)

(Lost coin, sheep)
Like that wife, the corners combing
One lost coin to find and keep;
Like the shepherd, pastures roaming,
Leaving all to find one sheep,
Hark! Your angels sing with gladness
When one sinner turns from badness. (Refrain)

(Unmerciful slave, two debtors)
Lo, the slave forgiven many
Yet begrudged a paltry few!
Let us, rather, pardon any,
Knowing what we owe to You:
Freely as we have been shriven,
From our hearts to give as given. (Refrain)

(Vineyard laborers, prodigal son)
As a farmer one wage offers
Those who little toil or much,
One reward Your kindness offers;
Guard our hearts from envy's clutch.
Yea, the Father's love is burning
For the prodigal's returning. (Refrain)

(Unrighteous judge, dishonest steward)
Even the unrighteous sleeper
Woke to hear the widow pray;
And the devious bookkeeper
Gave his master's bond away:
So we know our prayers will find You
And Your word of grace must bind You. (Refrain)

(Rich fool, talents)
Let us not, with greedy pleasure,
Store up this life's fleeting things
Nor employ with grudging measure
All the gifts Your kindgom brings.
Make us stewards, true and fervent,
Till You cry, "Well done, good servant." (Refrain)

(Salt, light)
Since with us the world is salted,
Let Your favor on it smile;
With its dissolution halted,
Faith may flavor it awhile.
Grant that such light through us blazes
As to draw the nations' gazes. (Refrain)

(Sower, vine and branches)
You have sowed Your word among us,
Though the devil's wiles attack;
Woes and wealth have choked or stung us;
Your own hand has pruned us back.
By Your vigor, flowing in us,
Unto fruitful harvest win us. (Refrain)

(Tower, warring king)
When a builder starts a tower,
Does he not first count the cost,
And a warring king his power
Lest his campaign should be lost?
As we bear our cross, dear Master,
Lead us on despite disaster. (Refrain)

(Dragnet, sheep and goats, tares)
Soon Your angels, You exhort us,
Will with keen discernment come,
As good fish from bad to sort us,
Sheep from goat, each to its home.
Till then, help us be forbearing,
Neither weed nor corn up-tearing. (Refrain)

(Fig tree, wedding feast, ten virgins)
See, the signs are multiplying
Of Your coming marriage feast!
Bid us come as day is dying,
Though unworthiest and least;
Found awake at Your returning,
Lamps alit with hopeful yearning. (Refrain)

(Last stanza)
Lord, whose word is never broken,
Give clear vision to our eyes.
Let the secrets You have spoken
To salvation make us wise,
Till the seed You here are sowing
Blossoms into blessed knowing. (Refrain)

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