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'.

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