Saturday, October 8, 2022

372. Hymn for the Feast of Christmas

I have come to the chilling realization that, shortly into the upcoming church year, Christmas Day is going to fall on a Sunday. And here, I skipped over doing the feast days (other than those, like Easter and Pentecost, that always fall on a Sunday) in my rush to write one hymn for every Sunday of LSB Series A. What a chump I'd be if I came up empty-handed on Christmas Sunday this very year! So before going on with Series A (only six Sundays to go!) I'd better get this Christmas thing sorted. It's the type of hymn, like some I wrote for Edifying Hymns, that has an opening and closing stanza, then a series of middle stanzas to insert between them, with subheads indicating which service they're for. (Alternately, you can just sing it all as one hymn.)

Lessons for Christmas Eve are Isaiah 7:10-17, 1 John 4:7-16 and Matthew 1:18-25; for Christmas Midnight, Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-14 (15-20 optional); for Christmas Dawn, Isaiah 62:10-12, Titus 3:4-7 and Luke 2:15-20 (1-14 optional); and for Christmas Day, Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-6 (7-12 optional) and John 1:1-14 (15-18 optional). The spirit says, "Yikes." You don't blame me for putting this off, do you? The tune is a rhythmic version of the chorale WIR CHRISTENLEUT that I cribbed from a German hymnal. You may recognize it from the tune ECCE AGNUS, which is adapted from it (cf. "Behold the Lamb of God" in TLH). As a backup for more rhythmically timid folks, I'll include the isometric version as an alternate tune.

Erupt with song, You Christian throng!
Declare the praises of the Son of Mary!
For on this day, In bold display,
God came to men, our heavy load to carry.

(Christmas Eve)
Behold, inside A virgin bride
God's love for all mankind is manifested!
This little one Is God's own Son,
In all our weakness mightily invested.

(Christmas Midnight)
As Israel slept, Some shepherds kept
Their watch, and were the first to hear the story.
What fearful joy, When to this Boy
The angels sang, and men beheld His glory!

(Christmas Dawn)
Now is God's love Come from above,
A righteousness apart from our behavior:
He sends to earth Our own Rebirth,
Abundantly poured out in Christ our Savior.

(Christmas Day)
O wondrous Word, One with the Lord,
You put on flesh; how can we comprehend it?
O Gift of grace, Joined to our race:
How can it but prevail if You befriend it?

(Concluding stanza)
Now speed the morn When You, once born
Yet still our Brother, draw us past all danger;
No more corrupt, We shall erupt
With new songs that become Your cross and manger.

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