Sunday, April 26, 2009

All Mankind Fell in Adam's Fall

Lazarus Spengler originally wrote "Durch Adams Fall ganz verderbt Menschlich Natur und Wesen" as a nine stanza text of eight lines.  Matthias Loy freely translated Spengler's text into Long Meter.  Spengler's hymn first appeared in Walter's Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn (Wittenberg, 1524), Johann Walter's choir book.  This text was held in high regard at the time of the Reformation, but during the eras of Pietism and the Enlightenment, it fell into disuse.  Matthias Loy's free translation appeared in The Lutheran Hymnal (1880) of the Ohio Synod and in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Lutheran Worship (1982) and now in Lutheran Service Book (2006).

1.  All mankind fell in Adam's fall;
     One common sin infects us all.
          From one to all the curse descends,
          And over all God's wrath impends.

2.  Through all our pow'rs corruption creeps
     And us in dreadful bondage keeps;
          In guilt we draw our infant breath
          And reap its fruits of woe and death.

3.  From hearts depraved, to evil prone,
     Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;
          God's image lost, the darkened soul
          Seeks not nor finds its heav'nly goal.

4.  But Christ, the second Adam, came
     To bear our sin and woe and shame,
          To be our life, our light, our way,
          Our only hope, our only stay.'

5.  As by one man all mankind fell
     And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
         So by one Man, who took our place,
        We all are justified by grace.

6.  We thank You, Christ; new life is ours,
     New light, new hope, new strength, new pow'rs.
          This grace our ev'ry way attend
          Until we reach our journey's end.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Have You Known or Have You Heard

This text was written for the baptism of Edmund Carl Reske, infant son of Peter and Kim Reske.  Edmund was baptized today--April 19th, the Second Sunday of Easter--in St. Louis.  The opening thought of the hymn text is from Isaiah 40:28, which reminds us that the ways of our almighty God, the Creator, are unsearchable.  This seemed like a good starting point when considering God at work in infant baptism, which for many Christians is difficult to grasp.  How can Baptism save? (Baptism saves because it connects us to the death and resurrection of our ever-living Savior! )  Baptism seems so simple...too simple.  So this hymn seeks to answer that unspoken question in the hearts of many people (about God the Recreator), people who may not have  strong faith in the promises connected to Holy Baptism.  Have they known it and forgotten?  Have they heard it but rejected it?  Have they ever known or heard about the efficacy of Holy Baptism as a gracious act of God and an ongoing reality of His presence and power in our lives?  In light of this, the text seeks to instruct about some of the meanings of Baptism.  The first four stanzas go from the more simple to the more difficult biblical teachings on baptism: 1. definition/cleansing/claiming; 2. curing/cleansing/robing;  3. gift of faith/calling/keeping; 4. dying/rising/second birth.  The final stanza is a prayer to God the Holy Spirit to come and breathe His life-giving breath/bring spiritual life/anoint the child with His gracious presence to make him complete.  The text is set the tune THE CALL, which was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).  Williams was one of the most prominent English composers of the 20th century.   In writing this text, I strove to keep an open and easily singable vowel on the long melisma in the fourth musical phrase of this tune.  

God's richest blessings to Edmund Carl Reske now and always!  

1.  Have you known or have you heard?
     Here is water with the Word:
          Cleansing us from Adam's vice,
          Claiming us for Paradise!

2.  Have you known or have you heard?
     Here sin's leprous scars are cured:
          Washed by God, who makes us clean;
          Robed in Christ, we are pristine!

3.  Have you known or have you heard?
     Faith in Christ is here conferred:
          Called by God the Paraclete,
          His good work His shall complete!

4.  Have you known or have you heard?
     We with Christ are sepulchered,
          Raised to life from that pure tomb,
          Born again from fontal womb!

5.  Spirit, by Your living breath,
     Breathe Your life where there is death:
          Quicken now this precious soul,
          By Your chrism make him whole.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

When Time Was Full, God Sent His Son

This text was written in the Easter season of 1999 and focuses upon Christ as the second and greater Jonah.   Jesus compared Himself to Jonah when He spoke about His forthcoming resurrection triumph.  In 2005, Walter Pelz wrote a tune for this text called VALIANT ONE.

1.  When time was full, God sent His Son
          To save those under Law;
     His destined path, Christ did not shun,
          But faced death's hungry maw.
     As Life was swallowed up and died,
          Creation shook and groaned:
     Its Lord and Maker crucified,
          Deposed, entombed, disowned.

2.  This holy Jonah undecayed
          Lay still with the whale;
     This Lord of Life on death then preyed,
          Hell's titan to impale:
     From gaping jaws came forth this King,
          With death the casualty!
     Colossal foe, where now your sting?
          Where grave, your victory?

3.  God's valiant One, once sacrificed,
          Is high-exalted now,
     That at the name of Jesus Christ
          Each knee should surely bow;
     Each tongue confess and praise the Lamb,
          Our resurrected Lord,
     The First and Last, the great I AM--
          Acclaimed, enthroned, adored!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Darkness Shrouds the Awful Mountain

1.  Darkness shrouds the awful mountain;
          Christ our Lord yields up His final breath:
               "Father, now receive My spirit,"
          As He bows His head in death.

2.  Silent is the deposition
          Of His sacred body from the cross;
               Quickly to the tomb they bear Him
          Hushed by grief at their great loss.
3.  Be fulfilled the sign of Jonah--
          Bringing life from death on the third day.
               God has not His Son abandoned
          Nor will Jesus see decay!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Purple Robe

This past Sunday in church, one of the preschoolers here at St. John, a bubbly little boy who also thinks deeply about spiritual things, greeted me at the door after worship not with his usual zest, but instead with a serious look on his face and a series of questions.  His first question was this:  "When they put the crown of thorns on Jesus' head, didn't that hurt Jesus?"  I said to him that it did hurt Jesus a great deal.  His next question was this:  "Why would the soldiers want do that and hurt Jesus?"  I said that not everyone liked Jesus and some people were trying to hurt Jesus on purpose.  His final question was the clincher and one about which I have been thinking all week:  "When the soldiers put the crown of thorns on Jesus' head, didn't that hurt their fingers too?"   I assured him that it probably did hurt the men who did this as well.  His final question was a reminder that while our sin was the cause of Jesus' suffering, our sin also hurts us as well. Jesus spoke about the faith of a child and it was very touching for me to see this Passion detail of Christ's suffering through the little eyes of this child.

The text is by British hymn writer Timothy Dudley-Smith.  The tune A PURPLE ROBE is by Noel Treddinick.   Text and tune are found in Worship Songs, Ancient and Modern, published in 1992 by The Canterbury Press Norwich and in the United States by Hope Publishing Company. The tune follows an A B C A B pattern with stanzas 1 and 4 sharing the same melody, stanzas 2 and 5 sharing the same melody. Stanza 3 has a unique melody and stands alone as a bridge.

1.  A purple robe, a crown of thorn,
         a reed in his right hand;
    before the soldiers' spite and scorn
         I see my Savior stand.

2.  He bears between the Roman guard
          the weight of all our woe;
     a stumbling figure bowed and scarred
          I see my Savior go.

3.  Fast to the cross's spreading span,
          high in the sunlight air,
     all the unnumbered sins of man
          I see my Savior bear.

4.  He hangs, by whom the world was made,
          beneath the darkened sky;
     the everlasting ransom paid,
          I see my Savior die.

5.  He shares on high his Father's throne,
         who once in mercy came;
     for all his love to sinners shown
         I sing my Savior's name.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jesus, Greatest at the Table

1.  Jesus, greatest at the table,
          The almighty Son of Man,
               Laid aside His outer clothing,
          Poured some water in a pan;
                    As the Twelve lay, hushed in silence,
          He the servant's task began.

2.  Marvel how their Lord and Teacher
          Gently taught them not to vie
               As He humbly knelt before them,
          Dusty feet to wash and dry,      
                    By His tender touch expressing
          True compassion from on high.

3.  Jesus took the role of Servant
          When upon that gruesome span,
               For all human sin He suffered
          As a vile and loathsome man;
                    On the cross poured out like water
          To fulfill the Father's plan.

4.  Can we fathom such deep mercy?
          Do we see what God has done?
               Who can grasp this great reversal:
          Love that gives His only Son?
                     Christ, the sinless for the sinner,
          For the many dies the One.

5.  Jesus gave to His disciples
          A commandment that was new:
               "Show My love to one another,
          Do as I have done for you;
                    All the world will know You love Me
          As you love each other too."