Friday, September 30, 2022

359. Proper 11 (Series A)

The texts for this service are Isaiah 44:6-8, Romans 8:18-27 and Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43, the Parable of the Tares and its explanation. I've already written a Tares hymn as well as a hymn about Jesus' parables in general. The tune is TARSUS by John Goss (†1880), which the Lutheran Hymnary paired with the hymn "O Jesus, source of calm repose."

Who is like God, the First and Last?
Is there a Rock more firm, more fast,
A safer refuge to afford?
Fear not the things yet to occur,
Foretold by Him whose word is sure;
For no God lives besides the Lord!

Can present suff'rings be compared
To what our Savior has prepared,
The glory soon to be revealed?
Nay, all creation looks and longs
For our adoption as God's sons,
When sin and death their title yield.

In hope, all this we now possess,
As groaing, toward that Day we press,
When hope dissolves in glorious sight.
O Spirit, help us! Groan as well;
Our speechless supplications tell
The One who hears, who knows our plight.

Who is like You, Lord, who forbears
To gather up deceitful tares,
Lest fruitful corn should go to waste?
Come soon, oh, come! Your ransomed field
An ample harvest longs to yield,
Your kindgom's endless feast to taste!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

358. Proper 10 (Series A)

The readings for this Sunday (between July 10 and 16) are Isaiah 55:10-13, Romans 8:12-17 and Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23, the Parable of the Sower. I've already written a "Sower Hymn" as well as a (most likely unsignable) paraphrase of Isaiah 55, so it's the Epistle I'm mostly focusing on this time. The tune is BETHANY by Henry Smart (1867), not to be confused with a tune by the same name (a.k.a. NEARER, MY GOD) by Lowell Mason (1856). I've found Smart's tune paired with six hymns in four Lutheran books, including "I will sing my Maker's praises" and, if you'll believe it, "What a friend we have in Jesus." I'd probably be lynched if I played the latter to that tune in church. Which is sad, because I think it's superior to CONVERSE. Check it out for yourself.

Brethren, we are not indebted
To the flesh, to live its way,
Which but sin and death abetted
Till the Spirit won the day.
For the flesh's way of living
Leads but into death and hell;
While the Spirit's work is giving
Sinful deeds their shroud and knell.

Now the sons of God are being
By His Spirit led and moved:
Not by fear or force, but freeing
Us to feel adopted, loved.
'Tis the Spirit's trusty story
That we are God's heirs indeed,
Sharing Jesus' cross and glory
As His own adopted seed.

Let us then go out rejoicing
And come in again at peace!
Join the hills, His praises voicing,
And applaud Him like the trees!
Though our flesh, the world and Satan
Seek God's planting to uproot,
It lies in His word to greaten
Faith in us and all its fruit.

357. Proper 9 (Series A)

This service in the LSB 3-year lectionary is for the Sunday between July 3 and 9. Lessons are Zechariah 9:9-12, Romans 7:14-25a and Matthew 11:25-30. As I mentioned previously, I've already done one or two "Romans 7" hymns, and I'm going to have a lot of Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday) hymns under my belt before this project is over (and Zechariah 9 is pretty Palm Sundayish), so this hymn will touch but lightly on these texts. Perhaps that will make up for my prolixity in some of the past few hymns. And having written myself into a corner, I find myself with no choice (of a public domain tune) but to write a new one; you might have noticed I've been trying to avoid doing that as much as I can, during this swing through the three-year series. Its title will be CAPTIVES OF HOPE.

Return to the Lord, you captives of hope,
Who no more in sin's dry cistern need grope;
For you now possess a victor's reward,
By testament of the blood of the Lord.

Give glory to God in your inner mind,
Another law though your members may find.
Ask who from this inward war sets you free;
The answer: the Lamb slain on Calvary.

Now join in His praise who hides from the wise
The secrets revealed to little ones' eyes!
Come, weary and worn, partake of the best;
For gentle is He who promises rest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

356. Proper 8 (Series A)

For the Sunday between June 26 and July 2, the LSB 3-year lectionary appoints Jeremiah 28:5-9, Romans 7:1-13 and Matthew 10:34-42. I've written a Romans 7 hymn before. And again, kind of, before that. So, the main focus in this hymn is on the Gospel lesson.

The tune (above) is IAM MOESTA, sometimes spelled JAM MOESTA, a.k.a. DESPAIR NOT, O HEART, possibly dating back to the 4th century, sometimes attributed to Martin Luther and found in Christliche Geseng Lateinisch und Deutsch, zum Begrebnis, of Wittenberg, 1542. The old Lutheran Hymnary, The Concordia Hymnal and Service Book and Hymnal all paired it with "Despair not, O heart, in thy sorrow," a funeral hymn of Prudentius that Luther possibly translated into German; TCH further paired it with "Now found is the fairest of roses."

Beware, little ones, of false teachers
Who preach peace of their own inventing;
For Jesus, the choicest of preachers,
Not peace but a sword came presenting.

His word son from father divided,
And daughter from mother, displaying
What cross His disciples betided,
With loved ones each other betraying.

Beware of their clever devices,
Those teachers whose maxims are charming;
While Christ sets discipleship's prices
At rates that our minds find alarming.

To love Him, He says, may mean choosing
Him rather than children or parents;
To bear one's own cross, even losing
One's life, holding but this assurance:

That Christ's love compelled Him to carry
Our sin to the cross, far exceeding
The duty He felt unto Mary,
His pain, shame and death for us pleading.

A pupil must be like his Master,
From Christ learning love and cross-bearing;
And whether apostle or pastor,
Who hears them the Savior is hearing.

Therefore, complain not if Christ's saying
Should trouble your reason or feeling;
For God, through His rough way of playing,
Faith's narrow, hard road is revealing.

Instead, rest on Jesus your favor
Above every idol that claims it;
For His love for you does not waver,
Borne out by His cross and what stains it.

Then, blest be the preacher who truly
The cross and its meaning exposes;
And blest be the hearer who duly
Believes in the peace it discloses!

355. Proper 7 (Series A)

This set of propers, designated for a Sunday after Trinity falling between June 19 and 25, might not be used if Easter lands any later than April 23 – but that's unlikely, given that April 25 is as late as it can get. Funnily enough, there's one "Year A" between now and 2050 when that'll happen – 2038. As for the rest of these queerly numbered propers – which numbered Sunday after Trinity/of Pentecost they are will depend, again, on Easter – there's will be no further question of a hymn-writer's efforts being wasted on a Sunday that may not happen.

The texts for this installment in the LSB 3-year lectionary are Jeremiah 20:7-13, Romans 6:12-23 and Matthew 10:21-33. The tune is HOLY DESIRE, a tune I wrote in 2014 and used with two of my previous hymns.

From the false apostle's tongue,
Whose opinions spread like tumors,
Word of Jesus' Way has sprung,
Likewise unbelieving rumors:
That, O Christ, Your faith is such
Wherein one seeks wealth and glory,
Or yet for the weak a crutch;
What then, Savior, of Your story?

Let us hear, instead, the tale
Of discipleship You tell us:
Some are killed, some cast in jail,
Those betraying them thought zealous;
Some will flee from town to town,
Stopping long enough for witness,
Losing all to gain a crown,
Cross their only mark of fitness!

Is a pupil, then, above
Him whose steps he follows after?
Is a slave the better of
Him he serves? If they our Master
Call demonic, how much more
Will they not revile His servants?
Yet fear not, dear Christians, for
Faith will grow from our disturbance.

God does not permit to fall
Sparrows, sold for two a penny;
What, then, will He let befall
You, although He knows how many
Hairs you have? His name confess,
Though it here cost heavy sorrow;
Far more richly will He bless
You when dawns His glorious morrow.

Yes, dear Lord, Your faith requires
Far more strength than idle living!
How shall we endure its fires,
Pass the test our world is giving?
You must fill us with Your strength,
Lest we perish, lost and groping!
Dwell within us, till at length
Sight surpasses present hoping!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

See How They Run

Tonight was my first visit to the local movie theater since it came under new ownership. I decided to see See How They Run, a mystery-comedy starring Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan and Adrien Brody. It's set in London in 1953 and begins with a murder backstage at the 100th performance party for Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. Far be it from me to spoil a whodunit, but it's a raucous mystery, layered with irony and sprinkled with Agatha Christie in-jokes. I came out of it thinking that people who liked Knives Out will love this.

Since saying much more is bound to ruin a delicious surprise, here are the Three Scenes That Made It For Me: (1) The inspector's (Rockwell) dream when he gets knocked out. (2) The flashback (which occurs right after a screenwriter within the movie calls flashbacks a creatively bankrupt gimmick), in which the victim is seen storyboarding a "preposterous" scene that ironically ... erm ... (3) The deadly tray of tea, straight out of Agatha's final Poirot mystery.

354. Proper 6 (Series A)

We're still in the part of the LSB 3-year lectionary's Pentecost/Trinity season where the date of Easter may or may not wipe a service out of existence. This service, for a Sunday between June 12 and 18, depends on Easter happening by April 16, which it certainly will next year and every "Year A" between now and 2050, except for a losing streak in 2038, 2041 and 2044.

This service's readings are Exodus 19:2-8, Romans 5:6-15 and Matthew 9:35-10:8, with the option to continue as far as 10:20. Parts of the Epistle were previously appointed for Lent 1 (from verse 12) and Lent 3 (through verse 8). The tune is CHESHIRE, from Thomas Este's Psalter of 1592. I've found it in three hymnals (SBH, CSB and the Australian Lutheran Hymnal), set to two texts, "Lord, it belongs not to my care" and "O Thou, who through this Holy Week." So it pretty well fits my usual criteria, an attractive tune that isn't overburdened with baggage from other hymns.

O Christ, at the appointed time,
When we had none to help,
Were stained with every godless crime,
You brought us to Yourself.

On eagles' wings You carried us
While we were yet in sin;
God showed His love when on the cross
You died, our life to win.

We were your enemies, besides,
And yet You shed your blood,
Whereby we now are justified,
Through You accounted good.

You saved us from a certain wrath;
Restored our fellowship;
Brought us to life, and more than that,
As royal priests equipped.

Send us, dear Savior, on what road
You please, however hard;
If but our promised, blest abode
You hold in our regard.

While we were enemies, what friends
You made us, at what cost!
What effort still Your mercy bends
To seek and save the lost!

Give us, therefore, a heart to do
All that you say, until
Your own possession comes to you
And souls Your mansion fill!

353. Proper 5 (Series A)

This service, for a Sunday after Trinity between June 5 and 11, occurs any year in which Easter falls on or earlier than April 9 (or rather, any Series A year, which makes it 1/3 as likely); and wouldn't you know, next year (2023) is a Series A year in which Easter lands right on April 9. By comparison, the Proper 4 hymn I wrote last night won't see its chance until 2029; and Proper 3, a couple hymns back, won't happen until 2035. I'm creating hymns that will rarely be needed, if ever. Verily, the only thing that keeps me going through this patch is brute momentum.

The lessons for this middling-to-rare service are Hosea 5:15-6:6, Romans 4:13-25 and Matthew 9:9-13. As I mentioned a couple hymns back, we'll be in Matthew's gospel all the way to the end of Year A, moving more or less from front to back; likewise for Romans until Proper 19. The tune is ALL MORGEN IST GANZ FRISCH UND NEU by Johann Walther (1541), which I spotted in a German hymnal yonks ago and noted down for future use.

Come, let us turn back to the Lord,
Who has torn, but will balm apply;
Who on the third day life restored
That we may live, no more to die.

Let us press on to know the Lord,
Who rises surely as the dawn;
Who as the rains refresh the earth
Gives all we need to nourish on.

O kingdoms of the north and south,
Your mercies are as fleeting dew;
But now the sword from out God's mouth,
His word, has made short work of you.

His judgments are as lightning bolts;
Yet one thing He desires still more
Than blood and smoke of bulls and goats:
That we His mercies should adore.

His kindly love extends so far
That Christ was lifted overhead,
Arms spread, nails suffered Him to scar,
A spear to prove that He was dead;

That just as Abraham's belief
Was recknoed him as righteousness,
The risen Christ might bring relief
To us who trust Him and confess.

And so, with heart and mouth, we own
A Lord who died and yet who lives,
And who by kindly love alone
The sinner welcomes and forgives.

Let us press on to know His Law,
To do His works of kindly love
While, freely pardoned of all flaw,
We share in hope the feast above:

A hope that we like Abram know
Our Lord, who promised, will supply;
A faith, through which He will bestow
A joyful welcome-home on high.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

352. Proper 4 (Series A)

This proper in the LSB 3-year series is whatever Sunday after Trinity falls between May 29 and June 4, if any. It could happen, if Easter falls no later than April 2. (That's nothing; for Proper 3 to kick in, Easter would have to be no later than March 27.) Its lessons are Deuteronomy 11:18-28, Romans 3:21-28 and Matthew 7:15-29. The present hymn focuses on the Epistle lesson. The tune is ELLINGHAM by Samuel S. Wesley (†1876), which Service Book and Hymnal paired with "Thy kingdom come! O Father, hear our prayer." Kind of a poor cousin of William H. Monk's EVENTIDE.

When God's Law speaks, all mortal mouths be closed!
By it all flesh as sinful is exposed.
But now God's righteousness has been revealed,
Witnessed by Scripture, to believers sealed.

For all have sinned and fall short of the mark,
Though Jew or heathen, neither's stain less dark;
But God declares us freely just in Christ—
Him publicly portrayed as sacrificed.

His blood was shed, God's holy wrath to sate,
Though sinless went He to the Victim's fate,
That God both just and merciful might be,
And that the faithful might salvation see.

Now God, who long from punishment forbore,
Need not iniquity seem to ignore;
Now, through our Substitute's shed blood and death,
God is both just and justifies through faith.

Away with boasting and self-righteous smirks!
For now are we through faith, apart from works,
Declared by God as righteous in His eyes;
No deeds nor blood but Jesus' justifies.

351. Proper 3 (Series A)

As the non-festival half of the Church Year settles in (what our high-church types like to call Ordinary Time), LSB Series A starts to look like a continuous reading (lectio continua in high-church-speak) of the Epistle to the Romans and the Gospel according to Matthew. For Proper 3, for any Sunday after Holy Trinity that happens to fall between May 24 and 28 – and remember, Propers 1 and 2 are Pentecost and Trinity Sunday – our texts are Isaiah 49:8-16a (previously the first lesson for Epiphany 8), Romans 1:8-17 and Matthew 6:24-34 (also the Gospel lesson for Epiphany 8). So, obviously, the Epistle will be the focus this time. The tune is ST. EDWARD (a.k.a. ST. EDMUND) by Charles Steggall (1849), which I've found set to the hymn "Songs of thankfulness and praise" in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book and the Common Service Book.

Saints of Christ, be not ashamed
Of the Gospel, penned or preached!
Where its tidings are proclaimed,
Sullen hearts of stone are breached;
Vice is changed to grateful love,
Inward gazes turned above;
For within its simple sound
Grace and saving power abound.

No mere data, to appraise
As of use or otherwise,
It has power the dead to raise,
Tearing blinders from our eyes.
No mere offer, to reject
Or accept as one may choose,
What it vows it will effect
Both on Gentiles and on Jews.

For the word is God at work
Both to slay and make alive;
In it, His just judgments lurk,
Whereby we are justified—
Both through faith, which faith demands,
And to faith, which faith creates.
Raise we then our hearts and hands,
Since the righteous live by faith!

350. Holy Trinity Hymn (Series A)

In American Lutheranism, and (I believe) in most of liturgical Christianity, Trinity Sunday is a week after Pentecost and the remaining Sundays of the church year are traditionally numbered as "so many after Trinity," with their total number varying with the date of Easter. (I guess in Eastern Christianity, Trinity Sunday is celebrated on Pentecost itself.) Post-Vatican II lectionaries tend to number those Sundays as "so many of Pentecost," with Trinity implicitly being Pentecost 2 and the following Sundays continuing with Pentecost 3, etc. In the posts following this, you'll see the designation of Proper 3, Proper 4, etc. all the way to 29, because in the LSB 3-year lectionary, the propers run with a range of calendar dates, and whatever Sunday of Pentecost any given propers are depends on that date range in which Trinity Sunday lands that year. So, whether you're going to call them Sundays after Trinity or Sundays of Pentecost, let the reader understand.

This service's readings are Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Acts 2:14a (basically "Peter said...") and 22-36, and Matthew 28:16-20. The tune is ASCENSION by William H. Monk (†1889), illustrated above, which requires an "Alleluia!" after each line. Service Book and Hymnal used it for the hymn "Hail the day that sees him rise."

Praise the Father and the Son
And the Spirit, Three in One;
One Godhead in Persons Three
From, and to, eternity.

Praise the One who made all things:
God, the Word that from Him springs,
And the Breath whose stirrings sweep
O'er the chaos of the deep.

Praise the counsel He would take,
"In Our image" man to make
And, when all completed stood,
To account it very good.

Praise the One who, when man fell,
Ne'er abandoned us to hell;
From all ages He had planned
Our salvation by His hand.

Praise the Father who His Son
Raised from death when all was done,
And the Spirit, richly poured
On the ransomed of the Lord.

Praise the water and the blood,
Wherein God attests to God:
Sprinkled with the Trinity,
We absorb His purity.

Praise the Savior's human voice,
Bidding our frail hearts rejoice:
One with Him who shares God's throne,
We are nevermore alone.

Praise the Lord, who ever was,
Is and will be, and who does
All for us abundantly:
Three in One and One in Three.

Friday, September 23, 2022

349. Pentecost Hymn (Series A)

The LSB 3-year lectionary calls this service Day of Pentecost; but like Easter Day, it's also a Sunday, so it qualifies for my "hymn for every Sunday of the 3-year" project, while the propers for Pentecost Eve, Pentecost Evening/Monday and Pentecost Tuesday will have to wait for a separate series of hymns on the feast days of the church year. Let it be known that Pentecost is what the "old hymnal" called Whitsunday (Whitmonday, Whittuesday etc.), is the 50th day of Easter and goes back to Judaism, where it's known as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.

I previously wrote a Pentecost Hymn (here) tying in its Old Testament significance (the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, 50 days after Passover) with its New Testament ditto (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first church after Christ's ascension). So that pretty much wraps up the Epistle lesson, Acts 2:1-21. So in this hymn, I focus on the other two lessons, Numbers 11:24-30 and John 7:37-39. The tune is MED STRAALE-KRANS OM TINDE by Ludvig M. Lindeman (†1887), also known as ALL GLORY, LAUD. The Concordia Hymnal used it with two texts, "All glory, laud and honor" and "How good it is for brethren."

"If anyone is thirsty,"
Said Christ, "Let him believe
And come to Me, and rivers
Of living drink receive."

He said this of the Spirit
Upon a holy feast
Where, later, His outpouring
The holy flock increased.

The Spirit brings refreshment
And causes faith to grow,
Poured into hearts past measure,
Still more His outward flow.

He takes from Christ, returning
Our faith and praise to Him;
He knits us in one Body
And animates each limb.

If there be distant members
Who taste of Christ thereby,
O faithful, be not jealous,
E'en if they prophesy.

For lo, this living Water
Is poured in such supply
That He shall reach His purpose
Before Christ rends the sky.

And then, to God the Father,
The Spirit and the Son,
We'll swell the endless praises
Already here begun.

EDIT: Here's that tune. Excuse its tardiness.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

348. Easter 7 Hymn (Series A)

The only Sunday after Ascension and before Pentecost, this used to be called Exaudi in the old lectionary but LSB has reduced it to the drab title above. The 3-year texts for this service are Acts 1:12-26, 1 Peter 4:12-19 jumping to 5:6-11, and John 17:1-11. Just to break up the predictable pattern of quoting Jesus at length in the previous hymns, I focus on the Epistle lesson this time. The tune is the American traditional melody WEDLOCK, which the Lutheran Book of Worship paired with "O Lord, send forth your Spirit."

Be not surprised, beloved,
When tested as by fire,
Nor think it strange when honored
The woes of Christ to share.
Rejoice, that when His glory
Appears you may rejoice:
On those who for Him suffer,
God's Spirit lays His choice.

See that it brings God glory
In which you are chastised;
For only 'tis the Cross when
It lifts up Jesus Christ.
For judgment is beginning
Within the house of God;
Then woe be to the Christian
Whose righteousness is fraud.

But when in Christ you suffer,
Trust in your faithful Lord,
Who makes the sinner righteous
By His almighty word.
His promises are certain;
They do what they require,
His gracious gifts abiding
Through every storm and fire.

Now humbled for a season
Beneath God's mighty hand,
Soon you will be exalted,
At what time He has planned.
Cast all your cares on Jesus,
Who cares Himself for you
And, after you have suffered,
Will prove His word is true.

Till then, be calm and watchful,
While Satan, like a beast,
Stalks you as prey. Resist him!
The greatest saints and least
Find firmness to withstand him,
Faith both to live and die
In Christ, who will perfect you,
Confirm and edify.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

347. Easter 6 Hymn (Series A)

The texts this time are Acts 17:16-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22 and John 14:15-21. The Gospel lesson gives me the excuse I've been waiting for, all these many years, to supply what is lacking to the Bill Gaither song "Because He lives," which I've always heard as failing to get to the point Jesus made so succinctly in John 14:19. I tried and tried to find another "used once and never again in the history of anglophone Lutheranism" hymn tune to fit the hymn I had in mind, but I fell back on one that's had a bit more airplay – HERR CHRIST, DER EINIG GOTTS SOHN, which I've seen paired once each with "Now hail we our Redeemer" (The Concordia Hymnal) and "Thou biddest us, O Savior" (Australia's Lutheran Hymnal), and in multiple books with "When o'er my sins I sorrow" and "The only Son from heaven." It's one of those pieces that my beloved The Lutheran Hymnal sadly overlooked, but more recent Missouri Synod hymnbooks have been catching on. So, you might actually know it already.

"Because I live," said Jesus,
"You too, My child, will live;
And I will, with the Father,
Another Helper give.
I will not leave you friendless,
For lo, My love is endless
And in your midst will thrive."

"The Paraclete," said Jesus,
"Will always be with you.
Of truth He is the Spirit,
Which this world never knew;
Though it does not believe Him,
You know Him and receive Him,
Indwelling through and through.

"Since I am in the Father,
You in me, I in you,
He who has My commandments
In love the same will do;
And I will love Him dearly,
Myself disclosing clearly."
Amen, the word is true!

This knowing, brothers, sisters,
Serve Christ with gentle zeal;
Bear slander with a conscience
Cleansed by baptism's appeal.
Since He is resurrected,
At God's right hand perfected,
Our fellowship is real.

If sin He drowns and carries
From us so far away,
Still more from death He frees us
From now until that Day
When, in our own flesh standing,
Beneath His banner banding,
Full homage we will pay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

346. Easter 5 Hymn (Series A)

The text for this point in the LSB 3-year series is a selection of verses, in three excerpts, across Acts 6-7 (the election of the seven elders and the martyrdom of Stephen), 1 Peter 2:2-10 and John 14:1-14. As Year A seems to be forcing me to rewrite my hymn on John's "I AM" christology piecemeal, I'm focusing again on the Gospel lesson. For the tune, I'm feeling like CRUX SALUTIFERA by John Stainer (†1901), which the Lutheran Hymnary paired with "Savior, when in dust to Thee."

Fret not, heart, so anxiously;
Trust in Jesus, knowing He
Goes before the Father's face
And prepares for you a place
In His mansions, and will come
Soon to draw the faithful home,
That where He is, we may live;
Therefore, heart, no more misgive!

"Where is Christ?" the mind might say;
"How, then, can we know the way?"
Christ replies, "I AM the Way,
Truth and Life. No one, I say,
Comes to God except through Me;
If you know Me, Him you'll see."
Reason at these words may reel,
Yet must to their wisdom kneel.

"Show us God," the soul might cry.
"Know you not," says Christ, "that I
AM in God and He in Me,
One from all eternity?
What I speak is His decree,
And the Father works through Me."
Therefore, soul, believe God's Son,
Staking all on what He's done!

345. Easter 4 Hymn (Series A)

The texts for this Sunday in the LSB 3-year lectionary are Acts 2:43-47, 1 Peter 2:19-25 and John 10:1-10. It's "Good Shepherd Sunday," don'tcha know. The tune is DICH BITT ICH, TRAUTES JESULEIN, by Bartholomäus Helder (1635), which I know from only one instance in the old Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book.

"I AM the Door," said Christ the Lord,
"Whereby the shepherd leads My flock
Into the fold, and out to sward
Where safely they may feed and walk.

"He knows their names, and they his voice,
While from a stranger they will flee.
Those who go in through Me rejoice,
From thieves and robbers safe and free.

"Truly I say, who spurns the Door
Comes not to lead the sheep, but thieve.
I come that they might live still more
Who hear My voice, hear and believe."

Lord Jesus, faithful shepherds send
To lead and feed us with Your word,
And from false ministers defend
Your often straying, scattered herd.

Help us Your true voice recognize
And to your vouchsafed means to cleave,
Till vision dawns on weary eyes
Of that whereon we now believe.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

344. Easter 3 Hymn (Series A)

The readings for what used to be called the Second Sunday after Easter (Misericordias Domini) – renumbered in the LSB 3-year lectionary as Sundays "of" Easter – are Acts 2:14a and 36-41 (the 14a is pretty much to introduce Peter as the speaker), 1 Peter 1:17-25 and Luke 24:13-35. The tune is NOËL NOUVELET, best known as the tune for the carol "Sing we now of Christmas" but also used in Lutheran Book of Worship for "Now the green blade rises."

Walking to Emmaus, two disciples frowned,
Yet their hearts burned strangely at the gospel's sound.
Christ is arisen! Ris'n indeed is He!
Hidden from their eyes, yet to Emmaus bound!

In His giving thanks, His breaking of the bread,
He was recognized as risen from the dead.
What shall we say? What, brethren, shall we say?
To this day the faithful by His hand are fed.

At the Feast of Weeks, bold Peter testified:
"Lord and Christ God made Him whom you crucified."
What shall we do? What, brethren, shall we do?
"Be baptized, repenting, and be justified."

Then three thousand souls were added to the Way,
By the means the faithful still use to this day.
What shall we be? What, brethren, shall we be?
Cleansed, restored, forgiven, all sins washed away.

Not by gold or silver, but the blood of Christ,
We have been redeemed, the Blameless sacrificed.
Now by God's word we have been born again—
By the seed that lives and evermore abides.

Brothers and dear sisters, how then shall we live,
Knowing what the altar, font and pulpit give?
Christ is in them; in them, indeed, is He,
Dead hearts to revive and sinners to forgive.

Hear again bold Peter: With a fervent heart,
Love each other, tracing Jesus' work of art!
Tell both your children and those yet far off!
Listen to the truth as pure souls, set apart!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

343. Easter 2 Hymn (Series A)

Fear not, I didn't skip Easter Sunday or Easter 1, which are (in the LSB 3-year-lectionary) one and the same. As I mentioned a few posts back, I actually shoved a previously-written Easter hymn into the slot for that service. So, with "Easter 1" not actually appearing in the lectionary, Easter 2 begins the series of Sundays after Easter, sorta like how the Epiphany season worked (with "Baptism of Our Lord" replacing "Epiphany 1").

The readings are Acts 5:29-42, 1 Peter 1:3-9 and John 20:1-31. I could have touched on all three of them, but the result would have been a longer hymn. So who's gonna complain? For the tune, I adopted the lovely AUF MEINEN LIEBEN GOTT ("In God, my faithful God") from J. Regnart’s Deutsche Lieder, N├╝rnberg, 1574.

Although the doors were closed
The day the Lord arose,
Christ came, the brethren blessing,
With words of peace caressing,
Bestowing from that hour
His binding, loosing power.

Whatever men may say,
We must His word obey.
Who else can open heaven
But Christ, who here has given
To men so great a mission,
Such healing for contrition?

So let us count it gain
When we must suffer pain
And bear the world's derision.
For Christ has made provision,
This evil hour restraining
While sinners life are gaining.

Lord, cleanse our hearts of doubt
And gloomy thoughts cast out;
Where men Your word are voicing,
You we receive, rejoicing
That, in You resurrected,
We soon shall be perfected.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

342. Palm Sunday Procession (Series A)

The LSB 3-year lectionary changes the Sunday one week before Easter, historically known as Palmarum or Palm Sunday, to Sunday of the Passion and, for the Gospel lesson, each year of the cycle calls for the reading of the entire Passion history according to Matthew (Year A), Mark (Year B), Luke (Year C) or John (an alternate option all three years). Funnily enough, I already wrote a Passion According to ___ Hymn for all four evangelists; are they not posted here, here, here and here? As I've repeated over and over, I don't feature repeating myself. So I'm going to jump through a loophole: the LSB lectionary also includes a Gospel lesson (only) for "Palm Sunday Procession," I guess as a concession to the mob that would have lynched the lectionary committee if they had completely abolished children marching up the aisle with palm branches. So I'm going to focus on that bonus reading, in this case from John 12:12-19. I may run into trouble when I get round to this point in Years B and C, since the lesson is the same all three times; I may have to do an Old Testament- or Epistle-centered hymn for those.

Hosanna! Blest is Christ the Lord,
Even the King of Israel,
Astride a donkey and her colt
As Zechariah saw so well!

Oh, that He might ride over us,
That we His rough way might make plain!
Think what it cost to cover us,
To bear our sin in blood and pain!

Though He came in with hopeful cheers,
Some, watching, tasted bitter gall;
They hoped, with jealousy and fear,
That One indeed would die for all.

Oh, that they knew their prophecy
Was what the Savior had in mind;
And that, through their injustice, He
Would die to justify mankind!

Come, even now, our priestly King,
Crowned not with thorns but victory.
We will Your strong salvation sing,
That Your right hand does valiantly.

Oh, that the builders knew the Stone
That they rejected, now the Key!
Oh, that committed to atone,
He might our full devotion see!

But surely, Christ, who knows all things,
Had all our days and praise in view,
And knew each who Hosanna sings,
And rode on toward what He must do.

Oh, that not only cloaks and palms,
But hearts and lives and all we have,
Might line that road, might act as balms,
Might soothe His suffering to save!

But thanks to God, to Christ we owe
That He did not withhold that cup,
And shrank not from one drop of woe,
The purpose for His going up.

Hosanna to the King of Kings,
To David's Son and David's Lord:
From Her safe sanctuary sings
One joyful, thankful, holy horde.

The tune I chose is the Welsh traditional LLEDROD, which Lutheran Worship and Lutheran Book of Worship both paired with "Forth in the peace of Christ we go." I think it has a bit of that "triumphal" something-or-other that a hymn like this calls for, while also being different and catchy. Sorry, there's no artwork showng the music at this time; I'm afraid I have to write an original accompaniment for the tune, because the arrangement in LW and LBW is no doubt copyrighted.

341. Lent 5 Hymn (Series A)

The texts this time (per the LSB 3-year series) are Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:1-11 and John 11:1-53. The tune is a piece by a contemporary of Heinrich Schütz who probably wouldn't recognize the Danish hymn title, but that's how it was listed in the index of Lutheran Hymnary, the only witness I have to it.

Jesus wept in heartfelt sorrow,
Knowing Lazarus had died;
Though He knew that by the morrow,
This would stand Him glorified.
For God's Son is no mere creature,
Yet unites with human nature.

"I AM," Jesus said with meaning,
Moved to see dear Martha mourn—
All the while on Moses leaning,
Swearing as the Lord had sworn—
"I AM Life and Resurrection;
I hold death in meek subjection."

"Where," He asked, "is Laz'rus buried?"
—Moved as well by Mary's tears.
To the tomb the mourners hurried,
Wondering with doubts and fears.
He said, "Oh, believe this hour,
And you will perceive God's power!"

"Come," He said, the dead man calling,
When the stone had been removed;
"Lazarus, come forth"—appalling
Though the grave-stench quickly proved.
Yet he came, that word obeying,
Proof of Jesus' claim displaying.

On us, too, Lord, have compassion
When our heart is crushed with grief;
Let Your promises refashion
Our dark hours through bright belief.
Then, although death's shroud belays us,
You will surely call and raise us.

340. Lent 4 Hymn (Series A)

The texts for this Sunday in the LSB 3-year letionary are Isaiah 42:14-21, Ephesians 5:8-14 and John 9:1-41. The tune is LEA by James Lea Summers – another one of those nice little pieces that I've only found in one Lutheran book (going all the way back to 1930) and that might warm up a bit if given another chance.

O you disciples, of one mind
With all who follow Light,
Rejoice to hear of one born blind
To whom the Lord gave sight.

Why was this man born blind, some asked;
Was it because of sin?
"No," Jesus said, "but to unmask
The work of God in him.

"And we must serve the Father's ends,
And work while daylight lasts;
For lo, the night is coming when
All chance of work is past."

"While I am in the world," Christ said,
"I AM Myself its Light."
And then, that more light might be shed,
He gave the blind man sight.

This act of love, bright as a gem,
The Jewish leaders vexed:
This sabbath-bending sign left them
Divided and perplexed.

Some recognized the hand of God;
Some saw but broken rule;
They called the man born blind a fraud,
Then threw him out of shul.

When Jesus found the man, and spoke—
"Do you believe the Son?
For you have seen Him"—faith awoke,
A new disciple won.

Lord, pierce as well our heavy eyes;
Restore our clouded sight,
That we may view with glad surprise
New facets of Your light;

And lest the love of stroke and dot
Blind us to those in need,
Let every heart and hand be taught
To do Your works indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

339. Lent 3 Hymn (Series A)

The lessons for this Sunday of the LSB 3-year series are Exodus 17:1-7, Romans 5:1-8 and John 4:5-42 (minus some omitted verses). Again, I'm enjoying the feeling of covering new ground, particularly with the Gospel lesson. My only other previous reference to this story, to my recollection, is in this hymn, where it's but one vignette in a huge mosaic. (Look for the phrase "Woman of Sychar.")

Jesus, wearied from much walking,
Sitting down by Jacob's well,
Asked for drink, a woman shocking—
Her a halfbreed infidel!
"Had you known I AM, I think,
Me would you have asked for drink.

"From My living water's fountain
Those who drink shall thirst no more.
Nor from city, nor from mountain,
Will you presently adore
God, who seeks the devotee
Who in truth will bow the knee."

"Is this not the Christ?" she wondered,
Running home to share the news.
Many more His sayings pondered
And believed, though hardly Jews.
Lo, the harvest bursting ripe,
Reaping to eternal life!

Savior, for all nations dying—
Infidels as well as Jews—
And a purer blood supplying
Than our own, let it perfuse
Every unclean thing we've done;
Let us drink of You, God's Son!

Knowing what we've done, Lord Jesus,
Give us still Your living draft!
Thus, in You the Father sees us,
As a vine accepts a graft—
Drinking from one living Root,
Yours in spirit and in truth.

I tried writing this hymn to a different tune, but somehow it wouldn't come. I stalled a little more than one line into the second stanza and couldn't get unstuck. Never one to indulge in a fit of writer's block, I decided to scotch my work so far and start over with a different tune, different meter and all. But then I realized the lyrics I was writing didn't fit the second tune either. So, I went looking for a third tune, to suit the text already partly written ... and then I accidently slipped back into the meter of the second tune and didn't realize it until after I'd finished the hymn. So, I had to switch back again, and re-write the first stanza ... (ugh) it's been a long night. The tune I ended up with is one that the 1970s Australian Lutheran Hymnal used three times. And with that, good night!

Monday, September 12, 2022

338. Lent 2 Hymn (Series A)

For the lessons for this Sunday of the LSB three-year series, we're looking at Genesis 12:1-9, Romans 4:1-17 and John 3:1-17. And for once I feel like I can focus on the Gospel lesson without fear of plagiarizing myself.

A Pharisee, a ruler,
In all ways most complete,
By night came to the Rabbi,
Sat down at Jesus' feet.
"God must be with You, Master,"
Said this bright pearl of men;
To which the Savior answered,
"You must be born again."

This man, amazed, made banter
About this troubling word:
"Then can an old man enter
The womb again, my Lord?"
"Say water and the Spirit,"
Gave Jesus in reply;
"And do you flinch to hear it
Of which we testify?

"The wind blows and you hear it;
Whence, whither, no one knows.
So is it when the Spirit
Its image in you blows.
And if the means God chooses
You question and deny,
To what celestial uses
Shall I then testify?

"Are you amazed on hearing
You must be born again?
Wait but to witness, fearing,
When God atones for men.
For everyone who gazes
Upon His stricken Son
Will live to sing His praises
When this life's race is run."

O Savior, what hard sayings
It is Your lot to speak!
With what sardonic brayings
We answer, fat and sleek!
In baptism's water drown us;
Make ours Your borrowed tomb;
And with new wisdom crown us
Who meet You in the gloom.

Now, Father, who has given
For us Your only Son;
Now, Son, come down from heaven
To see salvation done;
Now, Holy Spirit, holding
Our secret hearts by night—
Bring on Your day, enfolding
All You so loved in light!

The tune above, BEFIEHL DUE DEINE WEGE ("Commit whatever grieves thee"), is based on a melody by the same composer who gave us MACHS MIT MIR GOTT ("Come, follow Me, the Savior spake" pretty much everywhere), GEDULD, DIE SOLL'N WIR HABEN ("While yet the morn is breaking" in TLH), HERRNHUT ("Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness" in LHy, SBH and ELHy), and O CHRISTE, MORGENSTERNE (yeah, you don't know it). I used the latter two in Useful Hymns; I think eventually I'll run through all five. Gesius's tunes just have a certain something that I like. Bold rhythm, maybe? Whatever the original tune was like, the version used here was adapted for a 1730 songbook edited by Georg Philipp Telemann. I suspect Telemann's editorial hand may be the reason this tune is the exception to that bold rhythm rule; but it's still a fine tune.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

337. Lent 1 Hymn (Series A)

The texts for Lent 1, in LSB 3-year-series Year A, are Genesis 3:1-21 (the temptation of Adam and Eve) and Matthew 4:1-11 (the temptation of Jesus), plus Romans 5:12-19 (where Paul compares Jesus to Adam). And you betcha, the hymn I wrote for the historic one-year version of Lent 1 draws on the same exact texts. Grrr. But it's too late to back down from writing a new hymn for every Sunday of the three-year series by now; and years B and C run with different texts (though their Gospels are synoptic accounts of Jesus' temptation). So it's all about what I can do differently this time around, eleven years later.

As through one man's fall, sin entered
All mankind, and all men fell,
So in one Man's grace is centered
Our divorce from death and hell.

Sin and death rode, as if married,
Side by side o'er all our race,
Till the second Adam carried
Off their quarry by His grace.

For while one man's act of sinning
Led all men into the dock,
Christ repaired that bad beginning,
All our shackles to unlock.

Oh, believe in Him, receiving
Righteousness as Jesus' gift,
Who bore sin, its ills relieving,
Even death's dread veil to lift!

For while one man's condemnation
Doomed and damned all kinds of men,
Christ created such salvation
That we dare to live again.

Michael Weisse's (1480-1534) tune, FREUEN WIR UNS ALL IN EIN, is my second-favorite tune (after MERTON) for the hymn "Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding," as seen in Lutheran Book of Worship and Lutheran Worship. I haven't seen much of it since then; I've been missing it. So, this.

336. Transfiguration Hymn (Series A)

For an explanation of Transfiguration as most Lutherans celebrate it (basically, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday), please see this post, where I also presented a Transfiguration hymn for the historic one-year lectionary (where it's actually three Sundays before Ash Wednesday). Although I'm now working on a hymn series for the Lutheran Service Book three-year cycle, Series A happens to have the same Epistle and Gospel (1 Peter 1:16-21 and Matthew 17:1-9) as the one-year has for Transfiguration. If the lessons were the same all three years, I'd probably cop out and put a blurb in my next book saying, "See hymn 36 in Useful Hymns," but I looked ahead at Series B and C and saw that they mixed things up with different Old Testament, Epistle and Gospels lessons (an instance where all three Synoptics cover the same event). So, I'm going to have to go the complete route, which means eventually, four Transfiguration hymns. Woo-hoo! Right?

I admit that it makes sense to keep the 1 Peter and Matthew lessons together, since Peter quotes the Voice from the cloud verbatim according to Matthew's version; one of my seminary profs actually cited this as evidence that 1 Peter was written as a preface to Matthew's gospel, and so his remark about having a more sure prophetic word is directed at Matthew's book. Anyway, the O.T. lesson in Series A is Exodus 24:8-18. And if my hymn strays a bit into the synoptic material, excuse me; I'm trying to do the subject justice without repeating what I wrote before.

Do you know Whose blood is sprinkled,
Saints, on all who follow Christ?
His whose face not merely twinkled
As it turned toward sacrifice,
Blazing forth on mountain height,
Full in three apostles' sight!

Such a vision, rarely granted,
Moses saw on Sinai's peak.
Of three shelters Peter ranted,
Till he heard the Father speak:
"Hear My Son, who pleases Me!"
Terror then threw down the three.

This is He whose sapphire pavement
Soared above the prophet's head—
Who freed Israel from enslavement,
Feeding them on desert bread—
Saying, "Listen to My Son!"
Yes, and know what He has done!

Could we hear the deposition
Of those three, their witness pure,
Still, by Peter's own admission,
We have Scripture, yet more sure:
Bearing record, breathed by God,
To our Savior's sprinkled blood.

Follow, then, no clever fable,
Nor give way to them that mock;
Rather by Christ's font and table
Be you anchored to the Rock,
Thus assured that sprinkled blood
Binds you to the Son of God!

The tune, GOTT DES HIMMELS by Heinrich Albert (1644), was widely distributed among anglophone Lutheran hymnals of the 20th century, especially with Albert's hymn "God, who madest earth and heaven" (plus a couple one-off pairings), though it suddenly dropped out of circulation after Lutheran Book of Worship and Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (no LW, CWALH, LSB, ELW or CWH). I think it's a shameful omission. But it's also, maybe, an opportunity to reintroduce the tune as something that may be new to a lot of folks, even though it isn't new at all.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

335. Hymn for Epiphany 8 (Series A)

We come now to a vanishingly rare Divine Service in the LSB 3-year regime. Assuming that every Epiphany Season includes a Baptism of Our Lord Sunday and a Transfiguration Sunday, there may be as few as two numbered Sundays after Epiphany, based on the date of Easter. It would have to be about as late as possible to make room for an Epiphany 8, and with the three-year lectionary being what it is, that makes the occasion for this hymn thrice rarer still. In fact, I've looked ahead, and it looks like the next time Year A will have an Epiphany 8 is 2038; may I live so long.

Its lessons are Isaiah 49:8-16a (apparently ending at "Behold, I have in scribed you on the palms of My hands"), 1 Corinthians 4:1-13 and Matthew 6:24-34 – still doing the Sermon on the Mount. I'm repeating myself like a broken record, declining to repeat myself; and besides having done that hymn, I also did this.

O heavens, shout for joy!
O earth, make merry!
O hills, exulting, cry!
Glad tidings carry
Of comfort that His word
Bears, well depicted;
Of mercy that the Lord
Would graciously afford
To the afflicted!

How can the Lord forget
The grief of Zion?
To pay her fatal debt,
He sent a Scion,
Upon His very palm
Her name impressing.
The beauty of that balm
Eclipses every psalm
And blooms with blessing.

And so, take courage, dear;
Be not despairing!
The Lord is always near
His people, caring
Lest on the way you faint
From need or sorrow;
He hears your sore complaint,
Makes haste to fit His saint
For that bright morrow.

The tune that grabbed me, in this case, was NU RINDER SOLEN OP, a.k.a. SUNRISE, a.k.a. ZINCK, from Hartnack O.K. Zinck's Danish Koralbog of 1801. I chose the version of the tune in American Lutheran Hymnal (1930), where it appears twice, because I think the rhythm of that setting flows more smoothly than the halting arrangement found in Lutheran Hymnary, The Concordia Hymnal, The Lutheran Hymnal and Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary. Texts previously associated with it include "Give praise to God our King" (LHy, TCH), "O Jesus, blest is He" (LHy), "Stand fast, my soul, stand fast" (ALH) and above all, "The sun arises now" (ALH, TLH and ELHy).

334. Hymn for Epiphany 7 (Series A)

The texts for this Sunday in the LSB 3-year lectionary are Leviticus 19:1-2 and 9-18 (pay no attention to the omitted verses!), 1 Corinthians 3:10-23 and Matthew 5:38-48, yet another chunk of the Sermon on the Mount for which I've already written this hymn. All these readings are all exhortation all the time, so I might as well *not* skip the so-called Gospel this time, since I need to wring something singable out of it all.

Christians, in your faithful labor,
Lest you see its fruits destroyed,
With your brother, sister, neighbor
Live at peace; and though annoyed,
Lay aside the righteous saber,
Nor the bonds of love make void.

Lo, you are a shrine, created
For the Spirit to indwell,
Which, the Lord has plainly stated,
Shall withstand the gates of hell.
Can one living stone be hated
By the next within that shell?

Be not hoodwinked into seeing
With this generation's eyes;
God, who knows the inmost being,
Takes the measure of the wise.
Sooner simple be, agreeing
With the Lord who justifies!

So, when men your rights are wronging,
Patiently set them aside.
When deprived of one belonging,
Grudge not two, despite your pride;
Nor before the bench be thronging,
Where the heathen feud and chide.

Rather, love your lowly neighbor;
Serve him who cannot repay;
Render justice without favor,
Wages without base delay.
All the while God's promise savor
To restore it on that Day.

The tune I picked is a number from J.F. Wade's Cantus diversi (1751) called ST. THOMAS (above; not to be confused with the better known 1762 tune by Aaron Williams, as in "I love Thy kingdom, Lord"). It's also sometimes called HOLYWOOD, so I've added that to the title in parentheses for disambiguation purposes. It's also sometimes called WEBBE. Between the three titles, I've spotted it set exactly once each to five different texts in three hymnals (CSB, SBH and the Australian Lutheran Hymnal), so it's pretty obscure; and yet it's also one of those tunes that have a familiary about them that drives me crazy. I ransacked all my indices for a similar tune by another name, but couldn't find it – though, obviously, I'd done that already, since I knew all about its three aliases. I guess a tune that doesn't carry too much baggage, but still sounds like something you've known all your life, is just the kind of thing you want when singing a new song. Right?

333. Hymn for Epiphany 6 (Series A)

The texts for this installment in "Hymns for the Sundays of the LSB 3-year Lectionary" (fit 13 of 174) are Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (which I just heard this past Sunday with "Proper 18" of Series C), 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 and Matthew 5:21-37 – another Gospel lesson that I'm going to ignore because I just wrote this, and at any rate, this, this, and this also apply.

Dear brethren, are you fleshly,
At war with flesh and blood?
Or are you weaned but freshly,
Still shunning solid food?
Like men, not babes, be walking;
In God's full counsel run.
Bear no divisive talking,
But in the Lord be one.

For God sent some to plant you
And some to fertilize;
But growth is His to grant you
Through means that He supplies.
You work as God, within you,
Lends pow'r and acts as Guide;
Then He perfects it, when you
Stray daily from His side.

Therefore, be not so mulish,
Set in your fleshly ways;
Repent of habits foolish,
That God might bless your days.
With two ways set before you—
One saintly, one for knaves—
Choose Him whose blood lies o'er you;
Go, follow Him who saves!

The tune is HORA NOVISSIMA (above) by Samuel S. Wesley (†1876), which I have been privately calling "Pseudo-Aurelia" for many years because my only source for it was Lutheran Hymnary 612, "Brief life is here our portion," and LHy misidentifies it as AURELIA. Thank God for, which came through with a result when I typed in the tune's incipit, revealing that it was also paired with "The world is very evil" (a different cento of the same hymn), and correctly identifed, in The Evangelical Hymnal of 1880.

332. Hymn for Epiphany 5 (Series A)

Once again, if you're following this "hymn for every Sunday of the Lutheran Service Book's three-year lectionary" project, you might notice that I gave Epiphany 4 (né the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany) a miss. But I have a good excuse: upon looking at the lessons for that service, I noticed that the Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12) was the Beatitudes, about which I've already written a hymn within the Bountiful Hymns era – which, for those joining late, is the working title of the hymnbook in which I plan to catch all these new hymns. Between that and an already-written Easter hymn that I'm going to move into the Series A/Easter Day slot, and the hymn below, I'm thrilled to report my progress on this 3-year-series hymn project as "12 down, 162 to go." Go me. (Cough) I mean, God help me.

The texts for Epiphany 5, Series A, are Isaiah 58:3-9a (ending, I suppose, with "You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am'"), 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (plus verses 13-16 as a parenthetical option), and Matthew 5:13-20, which I'm going to ignore because I so recently wrote an epic "Sermon on the Mount Hymn" and I'm not keen to repeat myself.

No eye has seen, nor ear has heard,
Nor heart has pondered what the Lord
For us has set in motion.
Not in the wisdom of this age,
Nor reasoning of worldly sage,
Nor mortal ruler's notion,
We speak the mystery of God,
But by His Spirit understood.

For what we have from Him received,
We have declared, as we believed,
Led by His self-revealing.
The mind of man cannot accept
This secret, in the Spirit kept,
To us in spirit sealing.
For who has known the mind of God,
Whom Christ alone has understood?

And now, you faithful, if you would
Serve Him in spirit, and do good
As God Himself defines it:
Fast not with self-approving nerve,
But in all things your neighbor serve.
Your light, when God thus shines it,
Will turn men's eyes to righteousness
And speedily spring forth to bless.

For the tune, I was feeling O EWIGKEIT, DU DONNERWORT, a.k.a. WACH AUF, MEIN GEIST, a tune that is strangely attributed to both Johann Schop (1642) and Johann Crüger (1653) – someone please tell me how that collab worked! The 1973 Australian Lutheran Hymnal paired it with the hymn "Behold, by grace, and grace alone," and the 1925 Australian Lutheran Hymn-Book with the terrifying judgment hymn "Eternity! tremendous word." For what it's worth, my harmonization (above) is cribbed from ALHB but following the rhythm in the SELK hymnal. Finally, if you're tormented by the sense that this tune is way too familiar to be just an obscure melody from some Australian hymnals you've never touched, you may be thinking of the 17th century Bohemian tune JUDAH'S LION (The Lutheran Hymnal, "Lo, Judah's Lion wins the strife").

Friday, September 9, 2022

331. Hymn for Epiphany 3 (Series A)

The readings for this service in the Lutheran Service Book three-year lectionary are Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:12-25. The tune that primed the creative pump, this time, was MORNING HYMN by François H. Barthélémon, 1785. See pretty much any Lutheran hymnal where you find the hymn "Awake, my soul, and with the sun." I've mentioned before how I used stupid mnemonics to memorize the names of some hymn tunes, during a hymnology class back in my salad days; my mnemonic for this one was to sing it to the lyrics "This is morning hymn, this is morning hymn..." I think it'll be a catchy addition to this project.

O Zebulun and Naphtali,
Benighted lands across the sea:
To you first came the happy sight
Of Christ at work, bestowing light!

Despite the shade of death and sin,
In Him a new dawn broke within;
While those infirm of flesh or mind
He never scrupled to unbind.

He preached across that favored land,
"Repent! The kingdom is at hand."
Yet, though He is Himself God's Son,
He was rejected by His own.

Oh, that we, in this darksome hour,
E'en so might see the ages' Flow'r,
And hear His voice, and feel His call
To follow Him, forsaking all!

God grant that when we hear His voice,
We lift our heads, our hearts rejoice;
For He will come but once again
To set us free from every chain.

330. Hymn for Epiphany 2 (Series A)

If you're following this ongoing project to produce a hymn for every Sunday of the Lutheran Service Book three-year lectionary (saving feast days that happen to fall on a Sunday), don't worry about the lack of an "Epiphany 1" hymn because that's what LSB calls the Baptism of Our Lord. Moving on in the Epiphany season, which is of variable length but always ends, just as deceptively, with a Sunday known as the Transfiguration of Our Lord, our next stop (probably) is this service, where the lessons are from Isaiah 49:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 and John 1:29-42. The tune that got my creative juices flowing was one of two that I know of titled I HIMMELEN(, I HIMMELEN) – the Norwegian folk tune, not the one by Ludvig M. Lindeman. See The Concordia Hymnal, Service Book and Hymnal, Lutheran Book of Worship, The Ambassador Hymnal, The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary and Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Hark, isles! Pay heed, you distant folk!
Hear Him whom God has called,
From Eden's exodus bespoke,
Before the serpent crawled:
The long-expected woman's seed,
His mouth conceals a sword; indeed,
His name is known of old.

He says: "God formed me as His Son
Within my mother's frame,
And sent me to redeem His own;
But can it be in vain?"
God answered, "'Tis a thing too small
To serve the tribes of Israel,
Who oft stray from My plan."

"Go then," God said, "and shine upon
All nations round the sphere;
Not merely Israel's Holy One,
As all man's Light appear.
Though You My children may despise,
To You will kings and princes rise,
My chosen Lamb to cheer."

Behold, indeed, God's chosen Lamb,
Marked out to bear all sin:
Whose blood, bespattered on our jamb,
Lets no destroyer in;
Who will enrich with every gift
All those whom He, at last, will lift
To dwell on high with Him.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

329. Hymn for the Baptism of Our Lord (Series A)

This is what Lutheran Service Book calls the First Sunday after Epiphany (not Epiphany 1), which may become confusing later when the following Sunday is suddenly Epiphany 2. This is one of those seasons of the Church Year whose number of Sundays depends on the date of Easter – the other being the Pentecost/Trinity season, whose Sunday services LSB obnoxiously labels as "Proper 3," "Proper 4" etc., identifying them according to the date range in which each falls. I could complain further about the way LSB's editors rejiggered the Church Year, but this "write a hymn for every Sunday in the LSB three-year lectionary" business isn't going to do itself, so I'd better get to it.

Since I've already covered the Gospel lesson (Matthew 3:13-17) with a hymn, and I'm not keen to repeat myself, my focus here below is on the other two lessons, from Isaiah 42:1-9 and (mainly) Romans 6:1-11. The tune I had in mind when I wrote it was SEELENBRÄUTIGAM (Adam Drese, 1698; pretty much everywhere "Jesus, lead Thou on" or "Jesus still lead on" is found). A couple other options are available: ST. HUBERT by Leicester Darwall (d. 1897; cf. CSB and SBH) and VILIGA ET ORA by J.B. Thiele (b. 1930; cf. the Australian Lutheran Hymnal of 1973). The Drese tune is frankly more interesting than the Darwall one, and I'm afraid to use the Thiele for copyright reasons; so, SEELENBRÄUTIGAM it is.

Listen, you baptized,
Heirs of God in Christ:
Though this washing seem but little,
It brings life, bestows acquittal,
Puts the foe to flight,
And brings faith to light.

Baptized into death,
Toil no more beneath
Chains and lashes unavailing,
Striving, driving, always failing.
Count you dead to sin,
Christ at work within.

Washed and made alive,
You are free to thrive.
Jesus breaks the cords that bind you,
Shatters images that blind you,
All your lust and pride
With Him crucified.

Reason may deny;
God can never lie.
He speaks clearly, never thoughtless:
Those He baptizes are spotless,
Cleansed of every stain,
Saved, and born again.

How can this be so?
See Christ undergo
Such a bath, from Jordan spilling,
All baptismal water filling
With His righteousness
And God's living Breath.

He who made all things
To the font now brings
Promises in rich profusion,
Leading to one firm conclusion:
Christ, who died and lives,
Life eternal gives.

P.S. By the way, I'm bound to acknowledge there's a chance that both Christmas and Epiphany may fall smack-dab on a Sunday, which means that technically, I'm shirking a duty by not doing a Sunday hymn for each of them. But just as I pointed out in a previous post, I've already written more than enough Christmas hymns; and I've also covered Epiphany with this hymn in Useful Hymns, as well as a hymn for the Epiphany season in Edifying Hymns, not to mention hymns for each Sunday after Epiphany (one-year series). So quit your whinin'.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

328. Hymn for Christmas 2 (Series A)

It's also known as the Second Sunday after Christmas, or the Sunday after New Year. It only exists when Christmas Day lands on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday; otherwise the Sunday after Christmas 1 is either Epiphany Day or Epiphany 1.

Instead of writing a hymn for this on-again, off-again Sunday, I was tempted to put a note under the previous hymn, recommending this hymn (Useful Hymns 31). However, in that set, based on the historic lectionary, it's the hymn for Epiphany 1. So, partly to avoid confusion about what Sunday of the Church Year it is, and partly to suffer every bit of my challenge to write one hymn per Sunday of the three-year series, I give you this hymn. To avoid repeating myself, I'm ignored the Gospel lesson from Luke 2:40-52 (cf. UH 31) as well as the Old Testament lesson from 1 Kings 3:4-15, which is only interesting in conjunction with the Luke 2 reading, and focused entirely on the Epistle, Ephesians 1:3-14.

Blest be the God and Father
Of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who showers every blessing
On those in Him baptized.
Before earth's foot was laid,
In Christ we were elected,
That we should be perfected,
In spotless love arrayed.

In Christ we are adopted,
According to God's will,
As sons and heirs of glory;
Our praise swells higher still.
In Christ, and through His blood,
We stand redeemed, acquitted,
By grace with wisdom fitted
And filled with every good.

In Christ we know the secret,
The purpose God devised,
That He might bring together
In one all things in Christ:
For such was His goodwill
That those who first believed Him,
As well as we, received Him,
Now in the hour fulfilled.

In Christ, when we had listened
To them who bore good news—
The message of salvation—
We trusted in the truth.
In Christ we have been sealed:
Upon His undertaking
Our hope of glory staking,
A hymn of praise we yield.

EDIT: Tune-wise, I've been thinking of ways to use more of that remarkable wealth of tunes I was torn between back here. Again it was a close decision, but I decided to go with the *other* VON GOTT WILL ICH NICHT LASSEN, from Christliche Tischgesänge, Erfurt, 1563. (See "From God will naught divide me" in The Lutheran Hymnal, a.k.a. "From God can nothing move me" in the Lutheran Service Book, etc.)

P.S. I am indebted to Paul Deterding, author of a commentary on Ephesians, for the notion that "In Christ" is a reference to baptism.

327. Hymn for Christmas 1 (Series A)

My project to complete an original hymn for every Sunday of the Church Year (three-year lectionary) continues. Since my previous hymnographic tour of the Church Year focused on Sundays only (with feast days in a separate section), I'm going to skip such lines on the Lutheran Service Book three-year series as "Christmas Eve," "Christmas Midnight," "Christmas Dawn," "Christmas Day" and whatnot, and call my obligation to write hymns for the church's holy days fulfilled. So, I move directly from Advent 4 (the Sunday before Christmas" to Christmas 1 (the first, and often only, Sunday after Christmas before Epiphany). Texts for this service are Isaiah 63:7-14, Galatians 4:4-7 and Matthew 2:13-23, and I touched (at least lightly) on each of them in this hymn.

This little slip of a hymn could fit several rather charming tunes, including the Danish melody DEJLIG ER DEN HIMMEL BLAA ("Bright and glorious is the sky") and two different tunes titled WEIL ICH JESU SCHÄFLEIN BIN ("I am Jesus' little lamb"). I chose the WEIL ICH JESU that I'm more familiar with; for the other, check out hymn 556 in the Common Service Book.

Faithful children, let us raise
To our Lord abundant praise
For His mercies, rich in number.
Oh, rejoice! Arise from slumber!
Bear Him witness! Cease to mourn:
Our Salvation has been born!

God showed goodness to our race,
Covering our sins with grace.
By His presence He redeemed us;
Sons and heirs with Him esteemed us;
In the fullness of the time
Called us out from heathen clime.

Praise we now the virgin's Son,
From eternity the One
With the Father, Sole-Begotten
Word, His wonders ne'er forgotten.
Bear Him witness! Cease to mourn:
Our Salvation has been born!

EDIT: As evidence of my claim to have discharged my duty as a scribbler of Christmas hymns, let me remind you of "Nativity Hymn" (you'll have to scroll down; it's "Hymn 0" in this blog's weird numbering system). And "Christmas Hymn for the Unborn." And a "Christmas Season Hymn." All those are in Useful Hymns, along with several translated Christmas hymns and existing Christmas hymns set to original tunes. Moving on to Edifying Hymns, you'll also find an original "Christmas Carol," a "Sacramental Christmas Hymn," and a "Christmas Prayer for the Lonely." I can't promise I won't revisit the subject, but yeah. I'm not hurting for Christmas songs.