Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace

Martin of Tours was born to pagan parents; his father was a Roman military officer and tribune.  Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy.  He discovered Christianity and became a catechumen in his early teens.   He was baptized at age 18.  Joining the Roman army at the age of 15, he served in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard and, as such, was rarely exposed to actual combat.  Martin, a calvary officer, was eventually assigned to garrison duty in Gaul. 

Trying to live out his faith, Martin refused to let a servant wait on him.  Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul, (modern France) he encountered a beggar.  Having nothing to give the beggar but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer's cloak in half and gave it to the beggar.  Later on, Martin had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.

Arianism was the chief heresy of Martin's time period, but Martin was instructed by Hillary of Poitiers, an orthodox teacher.  Part of Martin's life was spent as a hermit.  His reputation of holiness attracted other monks and they formed what eventually became the Benedictine abbey of Ligugé.  He preached and evangelized the Gallic countryside.  He destroyed old temples and built churches.

When the bishop of Tours died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him.   He lived in a hermit's cell near Tours and had many visions, some of his contemporaries ascribing his visions to his lengthy fasts.  Upon his death, he was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.

Olive Wise Spannaus, an LC-MS hymnwriter, wrote the text "Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace." It is #844 in Lutheran Service Book.

1.  Lord of all nations, grant me grace
     To love all people, ev'ry race;
          And in each person may I see
          My kindred loved, redeemed by Thee.

2.  Break down the walls that would divide
     Thy children, Lord, on ev'ry side.
          My neighbor's good let me pursue;
          Let Christian love bind warm and true.

3.  Forgive me, Lord, where I have erred
     By loveless act and thoughtless word,
          Make me to see the wrong I do
          Will grieve my wounded Lord anew.

4.  Give me the courage, Lord, to speak
     Whenever strong oppress the weak.
          Should I myself the victim be,
          Help me forgive, remembering Thee.

5.  With Thine own love may I be filled
     And by Thy Holy Spirit willed,
          That all I touch, where'er I be,
          May be divinely touched by Thee.

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