Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wide Open Stand the Gates

This translation by Herman Stuempfle of Wilhelm Loehe's communion text is a wonderful addition to Lutheran Service Book! 

Wide open stand the gates adorned with pearl,
    While round God’s golden throne
The choirs of saints in endless circles curl,
    And joyous praise the Son!
They watch Him now descending
    To visit waiting earth.
The Lord of Life unending
    Brings dying hope new birth!

He speaks the Word the bread and wine to bless:
    “This is My flesh and blood!”
He bids us eat and drink with thankfulness
    This gift of holy food.
All human thought must falter—
    Our God stoops low to heal,
Now present on the altar,
    For us both host and meal!

The cherubim, their faces veiled from light,
    While saints in wonder kneel,
Sing praise to Him whose face with glory bright
    No earthly masks conceal.
This sacrament God gives us
    Binds us in unity,
Joins earth with heav’n beyond us,
    Time with eternity!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mark How the Lamb of God's Self-Offering

This text is by Carl P. Daw, Jr. (b. 1944), former president of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.  In the first stanza, Daw points the worshiper to Christ's baptism in the Jordan.  In stanza 2, he points to what took place after the Jesus' baptism, when the Spirit led our Lord to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for forty days. Halfway through the second stanza, Daw transitions to application for the life of the Christian and then concludes the hymn with a prayer for the baptismal life of the Christian in the third stanza.  This hymn is 600 in Lutheran Service Book.

Mark how the Lamb of God’s self-off’ring
    Our human sinfulness takes on
In the birthwaters of the Jordan
    As Jesus is baptized by John.
Hear how the voice from heaven thunders,
    “Lo, this is My beloved Son.”
See how in dovelike form the Spirit
    Descends on God’s Anointed One.

From this assurance of God’s favor
    Jesus goes to the wilderness,
There to endure a time of testing
    That readied Him to teach and bless.
So we, by water and the Spirit
    Baptized into Christ’s ministry,
Are often led to paths of service
    Through mazes of adversity.

Grant us, O God, the strength and courage
    To live the faith our lips declare;
Bless us in our baptismal calling;
    Christ’s royal priesthood help us share.
Turn us from ev’ry false allegiance,
    That we may trust in Christ alone:
Raise up in us a chosen people
    Transformed by love to be Your own.