Friday, June 24, 2016

Bread of Heaven, Living Manna

Inspired by the Welsh tune, SUO GAN, I recently wrote this hymn text as a meditation upon the John 6:22-59 "Bread of Life" passage.

Bread of heaven, living manna,          
Love and mercy You exude;           
Perfect off’ring, freely given
On the blood-marked Paschal rood;
Bread unleavened, Lamb unblemished,
Freeing sin-bound slaves from strife:
Feed us on our desert journey,
Holy Jesus, Bread of Life.
Bread of heaven, living manna,
Sure Your promise—faithful, true:
“Take and eat; this bread here broken
Is My body giv’n for you.
Take and drink; this cup of blessing
Is My very blood outpoured.”
With thanksgiving—sins forgiven—
We will ever bless You, Lord!
Bread of heaven, living manna,
Bread the ancients never knew;
You, Lord Jesus, came from heaven,
That our world be fed by You;
Now in You we never hunger,
And believing, thirst no more;
Living in You, Lord, we ever
Have our being and adore.

rood: a cross as used in crucifixion;
         the cross on which Christ died.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Holy Spirit, God Proceeding

This text on the work of the Holy Spirit was written to the glory of God in thanksgiving for Kantor Stephen Rosebrock and his ministry at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis.  It was recently sung at a hymn festival of Welsh hymn tunes here in Bay City and is set to the Welsh tune BLAENWERN by William Penfro Rowlands, 1860-1937.  We confirmed seven young people today on Pentecost at St. John Ev. Lutheran Church of Amelith!

Holy Spirit, God proceeding
From the Father and the Son,
For us sinners ever pleading
That God's will in us be done;
Deep the Spirit's groans and sighing
When we know not what to pray,
As we carry Jesus' dying
In these fragile jars of clay.

Holy Spirit, God releasing,
Setting captive debtors free,
Sins forgiving, faith increasing,
Through the gifts from Calvary.
Born again, a new creation,
What was old has been removed;
Clothed in garments of salvation
By the King of kings approved.

Holy Spirit, God indwelling,
Source of comfort in all strife,
With the love of Christ compelling
All our good throughout our life:
He our heart of flesh transforming,
Gone our hardened heart of stone,
To the world no more conforming,
Patterned after Christ alone.

Holy Spirit, God inspiring,
Sanctifying works we do;
Comes, ignites our heart's desiring
For the noble, right, and true;
With our spirit testifying,
We are God's adopted heirs:
"Abba, Father," we are crying;
Christ the "Amen" to our prayers!

Holy Spirit, God eternal
With the Father and the Son,
One in Three, the Lord supernal,
Mighty God, the Three in One!
Saints and angels sing, rejoicing,
Raising hymns with one accord;
We with them our praises voicing--
"Holy, holy, holy LORD!"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Gifts Christ Freely Gives

Johann Walter, Kantor (1496-1570), is remembered today as the first Lutheran kantor and composer of church music. In 1524, Walter published a collection of hymns arranged according to the Church Year.  It was well received and served as a model for many subsequent hymnals.  In addition to serving thirty years as kantor (church musician) in the German cities of Torgau and Dresden, he also assisted  Martin Luther in the preparation of the Deutsche Messe, or "German Mass" (1526).  [Divine Service Setting 5 in Lutheran Service Book, 2006]  We are blessed with so many fine church musicians who fill the role of kantor in our parishes.  One kantor who has touched the lives of so many Lutheran pastors is Kantor Richard Resch, emeritus kantor of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne.  His text on the means of grace, "The Gifts Christ Freely Gives," is a great addition to Lutheran Service Book.

The gifts Christ freely gives
He gives to you and me
To be His Church, His bride,
His chosen, saved and free!
Saints blest with these rich gifts
Are children who proclaim
That they were won by Christ
And cling to His strong name.

The gifts flow from the font
Where He calls us His own;
New life He gives that makes 
Us His and His alone.
Here He forgives our sins
With water and His Word;
The triune God Himself
Gives pow'r to call Him Lord.

The gifts of grace and peace
From absolution flow;
The pastor's words are Christ's
For us to trust and know.
Forgiveness that we need
Is granted to us there;
The Lord of mercy sends 
Us forth in His blest care.

The gifts are there each day
The holy Word is read;
God's children listen, hear,
Receive, and they are fed.
Christ fills them with Himself,
Blest words that give them life,
Restoring and refreshing
Them for this world's strife.

The gifts are in the feast,
Gifts far more than we see;
Beneath the bread and wine
Is food from Calvary.
The body and the blood
Remove our ev'ry sin;
We leave His presence in
His peace, renewed again.

All glory to the One
Who lavishes such love;
The triune God in love
Assures our life above.
His means of grace for us
Are gifts He loves to give;
All thanks and praise for His
Great love by which we live!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Shine Like Stars

Jaroslav Vajda's text "Shine Like Stars" is a wonderful hymn text to consider as we mark the Epiphany of our Lord.  One thinks of these passages from Daniel and Isaiah and how Vajda ties them together: "And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." (Dan. 12:3) "Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." (Is. 60:1) Vajda's text helps us focus upon the One who is the bright Morning Star, Christ Jesus, who asks us as His disciples to let our light shine before others and so glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16): 

See how the galaxies are always there,
Made by the One whose glories they declare,
Signs of a God with might and care to spare:
Shine like those stars!

So we are made to occupy a place
Within a firmament of time and space,
Each one enlightened with a special grace
To shine like stars.

Who were the stars God gave us in our youth?
Who led us to the Way, the Life, the Truth?
Now when we show our children that same route,
We shine like stars.

Who are those loved ones always at our side,
Who walk before us, each a trusted guide,
Who give us only what true friends provide,
Who shine like stars?

Here by our faith and hope and love we shine,
Revealing by our deeds a pow’r divine,
One almost hears God saying, “You are mine,
You shine like stars!"

Though passing clouds may for a moment hide
Our gleams of faith, God’s promises abide:
One day our orbits will be glorified—
So shine like stars! 

How many have been led to Bethlehem
To see the Morning Star arise for them?
Now glitt’ring di’monds in His diadem,
They shine like stars.

There we are set to occupy the height,
To glow the brightest in the darkest night,
That many still may know the world’s true Light,
Shine, shine like stars!  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Chosen, Precious Cornerstone

Written to the glory of God for the 50th anniversary of Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri. The tune CORNERSTONE was composed by Carl Schalk for this anniversary hymn.

1.  A chosen, precious cornerstone
     In Zion laid, as flesh and bone,
     Incarnate God Most High;
     This stone the builders would reject,
     God’s will obeyed as God’s Elect—
     For us ordained to die!

2.  This stone was set for all to see,
     As jewel of that sacred tree,
     A gem of priceless worth;
     So faith and hope could rest secure
     Upon such love, so rare and pure,
     Love bridging heav’n and earth!

3.  For Jesus is that saving Name
     The One of worth to rightly claim
     Redemption gained for all:
     Fulfilling God the Father’s plan,  
     Christ came to earth as God and man,
     Undoing Adam’s Fall.

4.  All those once lost, condemned, alone,
     God’s grace would claim and make His own:
     Washed clean, renewed, restored;
     As living stones, born from above,
     Built on that Name whose name is Love,
     On Jesus Christ our Lord.

5.  Now none who trust Christ’s holy Name
     Shall stumble or be put to shame—
     They walk in wondrous light!
     Made royal priests, a chosen race,  
     A people for the praise of grace
     That called them out of night.

6.  To God the Father, who is known
     Through God the Son, true Cornerstone,
     All laud and praise afford,
     With God the Spirit honor be,
     The Three in One, the One in Three—
     Thrice-holy, gracious LORD!