Saturday, September 10, 2022

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").

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