Thursday, June 12, 2008

O God of God, O Light of Light

At the front of the hymnal, Lutheran Service Book
 offers a calendar of commemorations, men and women from the Old and New Testaments and from the first nineteen centuries of the Church. The commemoration given for June 12th is The Ecumenical Council of Niceaea, AD 325.  The Nicene Creed, written in large part to counteract the errors of Arianism, contains these familiar words, "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made..."  LSB took "O God of God, O Light of Light" and moved it from the Epiphany section of the hymnal, where it had been in Lutheran Worship, and placed it in the Praise and Adoration section of LSB, thereby offering this text for increased use beyond the Epiphany season, perhaps for...The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325 on June 12th!  The hymn text was written by John Julian, first appearing in Congregational Hymns, 1884. 

1.  O God of God, O Light of light,
        O Prince of Peace and King of kings:
    To You in heaven's glory bright
        The song of praise forever rings.
    To Him who sits upon the throne,
        The Lamb once slain but raised again,
   Be all the glory He has won,
        All thanks and praise!  Amen, amen.

2.  For deep in prophets' sacred page,
        And grand in poets' winged word,
     Slowly in type, from age to age
        The nations saw their coming Lord;
     Till through the deep Judean night
        Rang out the song, "Goodwill to men!"
     Sung by the firstborn sons of light,
        It echoes now, "Goodwill!"  Amen.

3.  That life of truth, those deeds of love,
        That death so steeped in hate and scorn--
     These all are past, and now above
        He reigns, our king once crowned with thorn.
     Lift up your heads, O mighty gates!
        So sang that host beyond our ken.
     Lift up your heads, your King awaits.
        We lift them up.  Amen, amen.

4.  Then raise to Christ a mighty song,
        And shout His name, His mercies tell!
     Sing, heav'nly host, your praise prolong,
        And all on earth, your anthem swell!
     All hail, O Lamb for sinners slain!
        Forever, let the song ascend!
     Worthy the Lamb, enthroned to reign,
        All glory, pow'r!  Amen, amen.

Two words are worth noting in this text.  A "type" is a person or a thing in the Old Testament era that in some way foreshadowed the coming Christ.
The word "ken" means "knowledge," so something that is beyond our "ken" means something beyond our realm of experience or knowledge.


Orianna Laun said...

I have always loved this hymn, especially Dr. Ore's arrangement thereof. The text is poetic and profound.
I have wondered about the word "type" in the second stanza. Does it mean type as in type print, or type as in a form of? Is the poet trying to say that from age to age people saw their coming Lord in print, or that they saw forms of or indicators of Christ before He appeared?

Anonymous said...

The latter is correct. We in the New Testament ear have the reality of Christ; they had "shadows" of the reality, "types" that pointed forward to Him. The Sabbath, for example, was a type of Christ, who is our true and lasting rest. The Temple was another type of Christ, who is God with us in flesh and blood. Melchizedek, that person who appears very briefly in Genesis 14:17-20, is another type of Christ. Melchizedek is interpreted for us by the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the 7th chapter of that letter. Christ is both king of righteousness (what the name Melchizedek means) and also high priest.

Anonymous said...

oops..."era" not ear

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IggyAntiochus said...

Well, we in the New Testament era hear Scripture with a New Testament ear!

Love this text and tune. Came across it in high school and it grew on me in college. Looks like LSB restored the TLH accompaniment in a lower key.

"To Thee, where angels know no night..." I wonder why that line was changed??? LSB reads, "To You in heaven's glory bright."

-Iggy Antiochus

amelithpastor said...

One approach the Hymnody Committee took for hymns in LSB was to first decide on the "base" text, which would be followed, TLH or LW (or, as in a few cases, a totally new translation). Here I think the base text would have been the LW version of this hymn. LW had already changed that line, so I believe we followed that change. (Yes, heaven is a place of "no night" but also a place, stated positively, as "glory bright." There are a few other changes to the LW text in the LSB 3 line 4 "first" to "once"; st. 4 line 2 "glories" to "mercies" (closer to TLH "love forthtell"); st. 4, line 7 "All hail" to "Worthy."