Wednesday, March 30, 2022

318. Office of the Keys Hymn

I didn't notice that I had failed to write a properly catechetical hymn about the Office of the Keys, or absolution, until somebody on a hymn-writers' Facebook group put out a call for that kind of hymn. So, here is something I've been brooding on since then, and I hope it does the trick. There are several existing tunes that (I think) would pair well with it, but here's the first one that flies off the top of my head: HELA VÄRLDEN FRÖJDES HERRAN, from Sweden, 1676. I'd probably transpose it down a step, though.
Little children, sore convicted
With the consciousness of crime,
Trust in Jesus, once afflicted
For all men, all sin, all time.
What He gives to comfort you
Grasp, for He is always true.

Lest with stricken conscience doubt you
Of an inward pardon's ease,
Christ establishes without you
An external means: the Keys,
Whereby sins are loosed and bound
And a sure relief is found.

Thus an office Christ has founded,
Filled by men called, set apart;
Thus salvation is expounded
To the world and every heart.
Jesus, speaking through their word,
Heals and saves where it is heard.

You who would be thus persuaded
Need but in the Scriptures delve,
Where this burden Jesus laded
First on Peter, then the twelve:
"What on earth you loose and bind,
Shall above be sealed and signed."

Likewise, when their risen Master
Blew on them His holy breath,
He appointed every pastor
To speak words of life and death:
Both to pardon and retain
Sins until He comes again.

Now, beloved, consolation
Comes through Christ's appointed means;
Your assurance of salvation
On this office safely leans.
When guilt lays you in the dust,
In His absolution trust.

For, thank God, though men may falter,
Jesus' promises are sure;
Individuals may alter,
Yet His office will endure.
He will hear what you confess
And through it breathe righteousness.

Therefore, little ones, repenting,
Hasten to receive this grace:
No more new device inventing,
Meet the Savior of our race
Where He promises to be,
Speaking truth that sets you free.

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