Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Lift My Eyes to See

This text is a versification of one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 121, and is set to the beautifully crafted tune NO CHILD by Amanda Husberg.

1.  I lift my eyes to see
     The mountains soar and tower--
     How strong my Maker's power!
     How sure His help for me!

2.  God keeps your footsteps true;
     His eye is never sleeping,
     His Israel ever keeping--
     So great His love for you!

3.  God guards you by His might;
     The burning sunlight shading
     And when its glow is fading,
     God keeps you safe at night.

4.  At times of trial and strife,
     When evil foes assail you,
     God's presence will not fail you--
     The LORD preserves your life!

5.  When you walk out the door,
     To where your path may lead you,
     God's blessing will precede you,
     Both now and evermore.

6.  All laud and glory be
     To Father, Son, and Spirit,
     Through whom we life inherit--
     O blessed Trinity!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jerusalem, Awake! The Hour Is Near

As we enter a new Church Year, the traditional Gospel lesson for the First Sunday of Advent is Christ's entry into Jerusalem.  Such a lesson transports us to Holy Week and focuses our hearts upon the real purpose of our Lord's coming:  humbling Himself unto death, even death on a cross to secure our salvation.  The text was written in 1996 to the tune JESAIA, DEM PROPHETEN; the text is based on Matthew 21:1-9.

Jerusalem, awake!  The hour is near;
The day that brings your peace is almost here!
Christ comes to save all people from their sin;
He comes the sinner's heart and soul to win--
Not as a lord to reign in tyranny,
But as the Lord whose love rules inwardly.
This Sov'reign's stead proclaims His humble goal:
The true Messiah's mount, a donkey's foal.
Arise, O Israel!  Greet Your coming King;
Let ev'ry heart rejoice and gladly sing:
  "Hosanna, David's Son, hosanna!
   Hosanna, David's Son, hosanna!
   Hosanna, David's Son, hosanna!
   How blest is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
To death this king rides with determined pace,
As still He weeps and longs for your embrace.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lord, I Cry in Deep Despair

This hymn was written in 2008 and was inspired by the tune by Lois Brokering, EVERYTHING IS ONE.  Today's wonderful epistle lesson (1 Timothy 1:12-17) was a great reminder that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.  The Lord Jesus Christ alone justifies, purifies, fortifies, satisfies and glorifies all believers.

1.  Lord, I cry in deep despair;
     Do you hear my tear-choked prayer?
     Dare I come before Your throne
     With this weight of sin I own?
     Is there One to speak for me
     And declare this captive free?
        You and You alone, Lord Jesus,
        You need justify, justify my soul.

2.  All my scarlet sins you know,
     Can You make them white as snow?
     Ev'ry dark and crimson stain,
     Can You make like wool again?
     Will you cast into the sea
     All the sins that trouble me?
        You and You alone, Lord Jesus,
        You need purify, purify my soul.

3.  When I hear the tempter's voice,
     Can I make the godly choice?
     When the world would have me stray,
     Will I walk Your holy way?
     Though my nature is corrupt,
     Can its power You disrupt?
        You and You alone, Lord Jesus,
        You need fortify, fortify my soul.

4.  What of things that turn to rust--
     Are they worthy of my trust?
     What of things that moths destroy--
     Will they give me lasting joy?
     Can they make me rich indeed
     Or my beggared spirit feed?
        You and You alone, Lord Jesus
        You need satisfy, satisfy my soul.

5.  All my times are in Your hand,
     Yours alone, at Your command;
     Will You stay by me to cheer
     When my final hour is near?
     Will You then, Lord, be the Way
     That will lead from night to day?
        You and You alone, Lord Jesus,
        You need glorify, glorify my soul.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How Beautiful the Feet

This text was written to the glory of God for the recent Michigan District LWML convention (July 9-11) whose theme was "Beautiful Feet" based on Isaiah 52:7.  The tune is RHOSYMEDRE by John D. Edwards, 1805-85.

1.  How beautiful the feet
     That bring good news from God!
     With eager footsteps fleet
     And with the Gospel shod,
     They run with swift and steady ease;
     Their joyful tidings tell of peace,
     How Christ has gained for us release!

2.  How beautiful the feet
     That God the Father prized,
     That walked without deceit
     Yet came to be baptized:
     Christ strode the path from Jordan's stream,
     So our lost world He might redeem,
     Though some His way did not esteem.

3.  How beautiful the feet
     That took the servant's place,
     To selfish pride unseat
     By humble, selfless grace:
     Before disciples kneeling low,
     Christ washed their feet so they might know
     How they as servants still must grow.

4.  How beautiful the feet
     That climbed the skull-like hill,
     Our sin and death to meet
     And do the Father's will:
     Christ died for all, by all disowned,
     The sky grew dark, creation groaned;
     His "It is finished!" He intoned.

5.  How beautiful the feet
     That came at rosy dawn,
     With caring to complete
     But found Christ's body gone:
     The sealing stone they did so dread
     Was rolled away as angels said,
     "The Lord has risen from the dead!"

6.  How beautiful the feet
     That brought good news from God!
     Our steps be likewise fleet
     And with the Gospel shod!
     Come, run with swift and steady ease;
     With joyful tidings tell of peace,
     How Christ has gained for all release!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Eternal Gates Are Lifted Up

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens."  (Hebrews 7:25-26)

This Ascension text is by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-95)

1.  The eternal gates are lifted up,
     The doors are open wide;
     The King of glory is gone in
     Unto His Father's side.

2.  Thou art gone up before us, Lord,
     To make for us a place,
     That we may be where now Thou art,
     And look upon God's face.

3.  And ever on our earthly path
     A gleam of glory lies;
     A light still breaks behind the cloud
     That veiled Thee from our eyes.

4.  Lift up our hearts, lift up our minds,
     And let Thy grace be given,
     That while we live on earth below,
     Our treasure be in heaven.

5.  That where Thou art, at God's right hand,
     Our hope, our love may be.
     Dwell Thou in us, that we may dwell
     Forevermore in Thee.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Whom God Has Summoned By His Word

Timothy Dudley-Smith wrote this text in August of 2005 at Ford in Great Britain.

     Whom God has summoned by His word
        shall they, like Johah, flee,
     far from the presence of the Lord
        across the waste of sea?

     The waves and billows work His will
        the storms His word obey;
     so God provides a refuge still,
        and spurs the heart to pray.

     When from the depths the people cry
         their pleas are not in vain;
     His grace and mercy make reply
         to grant them life again.

     From grief and loss to joy restored,
        from death to life above!
     How slow to anger is the Lord,
        how strong His steadfast love!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses

Justin Martyr was an apologist, a defender of the faith, in the early Church.  June 1st on the Church calendar commemorates Justin Martyr as we remember his life and witness.  When Justin was arrested for his faith in Rome, the prefect asked him to denounce his faith by making a sacrifice to the gods. Justin replied, "No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false."  He was taken out and beheaded.  Since he gave his life for the "true philosophy," Justin has been surnamed Martyr.

"Justin's conversion to Christianity is thought to have happened at the city of Ephesus, around A.D. 130, when our inquisitive young Samaritan was roughly thirty years of age. And though he was undoubtedly given a warm reception into the Christian congregation there in Asia—that venerable church founded by  John, written to by Ignatius from the house of Polycarp—Justin, to tell the truth, may have raised a few eyebrows by his conduct as a new believer. For the fact is that he continued to frequent his old haunts. He kept all his old friendships and ran with the same unregenerate crowd he had associated with as a heathen. In short, Justin of Neapolis became known, much like his Lord before him, as "the friend of publicans and sinners"—only in Justin's case, the publicans and sinners were not prostitutes or winebibbers, but mystic Pythagorean mathematicians and long-faced logicians studiously following Xenophon and Parmenides. In other words, Justin became an apologist—a defender of the faith, a philosophical evangelist—and from the day of his redemption he seems to have been possessed by one burning desire: to see his own people, his brother philosophers, come to the knowledge of the truth."  Rod Bennett | From "Justin Martyr", in Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words | Ignatius Insight 

1.  Saints, see the cloud of witnesses surround us;
     Their lives of faith encourage and astound us.
          Hear how the Master praised their faith so fervent:
          “Well done, My servant!”

 2.   These saints of old received God’s commendation;
       They lived as pilgrim-heirs of His salvation.
            Through faith they conquered flame and sword and gallows,
            God’s name to hallow.

  3.   They call to us, “Your timid footsteps lengthen;
        Throw off sin’s weight, your halting weakness strengthen.
             We kept the faith, we shed our blood, were martyred;
             Our lives we bartered.”

  4.   Come, let us fix our sight on Christ who suffered,
        He faced the cross, His sinless life He offered;
             He scorned the shame, He died, our death enduring,
             Our hope securing.
  5.   Lord, give us faith to walk where You are sending,
        On paths unmarked, eyes blind as to their ending;
             Not knowing where we go, but that You lead us—
             With grace precede us.

  6.  You, Jesus, You alone deserve all glory!
       Our lives unfold, embraced within Your story;
            Past, present, future—You, the same forever—
            You fail us never!

Almighty and everlasting God, You found Your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and You revealed to him the sublime wisdom of Your eternal Word: Grant that all who seek You, or a deeper knowledge of You, may find and be found by You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

My Soul Rejoices (Magnificat)

1.  My soul rejoices,
     My spirit voices—
          Sing the greatness of the Lord!
               For God my Savior
               Has shown me favor—
          Sing the greatness of the Lord!
     With praise and blessing,
     Join in confessing
          God, who is solely
          Mighty and holy—
               Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!
     His mercy surely
     Shall rest securely
          On all who fear Him,
          Love and revere Him—
               Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!

  2.  His arm now baring,
       His strength declaring—
            Sing the greatness of the Lord!
                 The proud He scatters,
                 Their rule He shatters—
            Sing the greatness of the Lord!
       Oppression halted;
       The meek exalted.
            Full are the hungry;
            Empty, the wealthy—
                 Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!
       Here is the token
       All that was spoken
            To Abr’am’s offspring
            God is fulfilling—
                 Oh, sing the greatness of God the Lord!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hail Thee, Festival Day!

Pentecost refrain:
Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when the Holy Ghost
Shone in the world with His grace.

Bright and in likeness of fire,
On those who await His appearing,
He whom the Lord had foretold
Suddenly, swiftly descends:  Refrain

Daily the loveliness grows,
Adorned with the glory of blossom;
Heaven her gateway unbars,
Flinging her increase of light:  Refrain 

God the Almighty, the Lord,
The ruler of earth and the heavens,
Guard us from harm without;
Cleanse us from evil within:  Refrain

Jesus, the health of the world,
Creator of all and redeemer,
Son of the Father supreme,
Only-begotten of God:  Refrain

Spirit of life and of pow’r,
Now flow in us, fount of our being,
Light that enlightens us all,
Life that in all may abide:  Refrain

Praise to the giver of good!
O Lover and Author of concord,
Pour out Your balm on our days;
Order our ways in Your peace:  Refrain

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

See, the Lords Ascends in Triumph

This Ascension text by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) highlights many Old Testament saints: Enoch, Aaron, Joshua, and Elijah.  All these find their perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the greater Prophet, Priest, and King.

See, the Lord ascends in triumph;
    Conqu’ring King in royal state,
Riding on the clouds, His chariot,
    To His heav’nly palace gate.
Hark! The choirs of angel voices
    Joyful alleluias sing,
And the portals high are lifted
    To receive their heav’nly King.

Who is this that comes in glory
    With the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
    He has gained the victory.
He who on the cross did suffer,
    He who from the grave arose,
He has vanquished sin and Satan;
    He by death has crushed His foes.

While he lifts His hands in blessing,
    He is parted from His friends;
While their eager eyes behold Him,
    He upon the clouds ascends.
He who walked with God and pleased Him,
    Preaching truth and doom to come,
He, our Enoch, is translated
    To His everlasting home.

Now our heav'nly Aaron enters
    With His blood within the veil;
Joshua now is come to Canaan,
    And the kings before Him quail.
Now He plants the tribes of Israel
   In their promised resting place;
Now our great Elijah offers
    Double portion of His grace.

He has raised our human nature
    On the clouds to God’s right hand;
There we sit in heav’nly places,
    There with Him in glory stand.
Jesus reigns, adored by angels;
    Man with God is on the throne.
By our mighty Lord’s ascension
    We by faith behold our own.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Church's One Foundation

Frederick the Wise was Luther's political guardian who protected the Reformer, most notably when Frederick had Luther kidnapped and hidden at the Wartburg Castle after the Diet at Worms.    God used Frederick in His plan to protect Luther, who helped restore the truth of the Gospel to the Church.  The Church Militant is ever in the midst of her toil, tribulation and tumult of constant battle this side of the grave.  LSB commemorates Frederick the Wise on May 5th. 

The Church’s one foundation
    Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is His new creation
    By water and the Word.
From heav’n He came and sought her
    To be His holy bride;
With his own blood He bought her,
    And for her life He died.

Elect from ev’ry nation,
    Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation:
    One Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy Name she blesses,
    Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses
    With ev’ry grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
    The world sees her oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
    By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping;
    Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
    Shall be the morn of song.

Through toil and tribulation
    And tumult of her war
She waits the consummation
    Of peace forevermore
Till with the vision glorious
    Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
    Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth has union
    With God, the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
    With those whose rest is won.
O blessèd heav’nly chorus!
    Lord, save us by Your grace
That we, like saints before us,
    May see You face to face.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Long Before the World Is Waking

This hymn by the late Herman Stuempfle narrates last Sunday's Gospel lesson, the third resurrection appearance of our Lord to His disciples.

Long before the world is waking,
    Morning mist on Galilee,
From its shore, as dawn is breaking,
    Jesus calls across the sea;
Hails the boat of weary men,
Bids them cast their net again.

So they cast, and all their heaving
    Cannot haul their catch aboard;
John in wonder turns, perceiving,
    Cries aloud, “It is the Lord!”
Peter waits for nothing more,
Plunges in to swim ashore.

Charcoal embers brightly burning,
    Bread and fish upon them laid:
Jesus stands at day’s returning
    In His risen life arrayed,
As of old His friends to greet,
“Here is breakfast; come and eat.”

Christ is risen! Grief and sighing,
    Sins and sorrows, fall behind;
Fear and failure, doubt, denying,
    Full and free forgiveness find.
All the soul’s dark night is past;
Morning breaks in joy at last.

Morning breaks, and Jesus meets us,
    Feeds and comforts, pardons still;
As His faithful friends He greets us,
    Partners of His work and will.
All our days, on ev’ry shore,
Christ is ours forevermore!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

All the Earth With Joy Is Sounding

Written in 1995, the text was inspired by the tune MICHAEL.  The hymn explores lesser-used images of the resurrection: Christ as the greater Jonah, the One stronger than the strong man (the devil), Jesus as the author of salvation and the Paschal Lamb slain, raised and reigning.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

All the earth with joy is sounding:
   Christ has risen from the dead!
He, the greater Jonah, bounding
   From the grave, His three-day bed,
        Wins the prize:
        Death’s demise—
        Songs of triumph fill the skies!                                             

Christ, the devil’s might unwinding,
   Leaves behind His borrowed tomb.
Stronger He, the strong man binding,
   Takes, disarms his house of doom;
       In the rout
       Casting out
       Pow’rs of darkness, sin, and doubt.

Jesus, author of salvation,
   Shared in our humanity;
Crowned with radiant exaltation,
   Now He shares His victory!
        From His face
        Shines the grace
        Meant for all our fallen race.
Praise the Lord, His reign commences,
   Reign of life and liberty—
Paschal Lamb, for our offenses,
   Slain and raised to set us free!                                     
        Bow before
        Christ, the Lord of Life adore!