Monday, March 29, 2010

Lamb of God, Pure and Holy

Isaiah 50:5-10
The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
   and I was not rebellious;
   I turned not backward.

I gave my back to those who strike,
   and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
   from disgrace and spitting.

But the Lord GOD helps me;
   therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
   and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
   Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
   Let him come near to me.

Behold, the Lord GOD helps me;
   who will declare me guilty?
Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;
   the moth will eat them up.

Who among you fears the LORD
   and obeys
 the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
   and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD
   and rely on his God.

Lamb of God, pure and holy,
    Who on the cross didst suffer,
Ever patient and lowly,
    Thyself to scorn didst offer.
All sins Thou borest for us,
Else had despair reigned o’er us:
    Have mercy on us, O Jesus! [O Jesus!]

Lamb of God, pure and holy,
    Who on the cross didst suffer,
Ever patient and lowly,
    Thyself to scorn didst offer.
All sins Thou borest for us,
Else had despair reigned o’er us:
    Have mercy on us, O Jesus! [O Jesus!]

Lamb of God, pure and holy,
    Who on the cross didst suffer,
Ever patient and lowly,
    Thyself to scorn didst offer.
All sins Thou borest for us,
Else had despair reigned o’er us:
    Thy peace be with us, O Jesus! [O Jesus!]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exult Today, Jerusalem!

This text was written to the glory of God for the 25th anniversary of Glory of Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Minnesota, celebrating the occasion today, Palm Sunday, 2010.  The text is set to ZEHNDER, a new tune by Scott Hyslop.

1.   Exult today, Jerusalem!
     God comes to set you free!
     This royal son of Bethlehem   
     Fulfills all prophecy.
     This greater Jonah of renown
     God’s love and pow’r displays;
     He comes to tear God’s temple down
     And raise it in three days!
2.  With joy, the city resonates!
     O Zion’s daughter, sing!
     Lift up your heads, you mighty gates,
     And greet your coming King!
     He rides no horse with prancing strides,
     As kings before Him came,
     But on a donkey humbly rides,
     His office to proclaim:

3.   The Christ! A Prophet greater than  
     That giver of the Law;     
     A Priest, not born from Levi’s clan,
     But born without sin’s flaw;                 
     A King, one like that priestly king,
     Melchizedek of old,
     For Christ, as thorn-crowned King will bring
     God’s righteousness foretold.

4.  Christ’s glory is not seen by those
     Offended by the cross,
     For worldly wisdom never knows 
     How gain could come from loss;
     Yet, this the glory of the Christ:
     To claim our cross as throne—
     His perfect life He sacrificed
     That we might be His own!

5.  So wave your palms and fill the air
     With shouts of joy this day,
     The King of glory comes to bear
     Your sin and death away!
     Hosanna, Lord! Your people save!
     O come, Emmanuel,
     And by Your cross and shattered grave,
     Tear down the gates of hell!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Savior Has Shown Favor (Magnificat)

Nine months before Christmas, on March 25th, the Church Year pauses (in what is usually the midst of Lent) to recognize "The Annunciation of our Lord."  The angel Gabriel brought to Mary the startling news that she, a virgin, would give birth to the very Son of God!  Mary responds to the angel's message with faith:  "I am the Lord's servant...may it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38)  God had given Mary a sign of encouragement:  her elderly and previously childless relative, Elizabeth, was in the sixth month of her pregnancy. "For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)  When Mary left her home to visit Elizabeth, she discovered the truth of the angel's message.  Mary's inspired song of response is known liturgically as "The Magnificat" found in Luke 1:46-55 :
And Mary said:
   "My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
      holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
      from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
      but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
      but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
      remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
      even as he said to our fathers."

"My Savior Has Shown Favor" was my second attempt (2002) at the Magnificat after "My Soul Rejoices" (LSB 933) which was written in 1991.  "My Savior Has Shown Favor" is set to the hymn tune OASIS.

1.  My Savior has shown favor
        To me, of little fame;
    Now all those living hence shall
        My blessedness proclaim:
    For God has done great things
        And holy is His name—
                      Refrain:  O, magnify
                                   The Lord on high,
                                        O, magnify the Lord!

2.  To those who fear His greatness,
         His mercy He extends;
     Their children and their children
         His faithful love befriends;
     With deeds of great power
         His people He defends—

3.  He scatters all the prideful
         And those who have rebelled;   
     The rulers are brought down
         While the humble are upheld;
     He fills all the hungry,
         The wealthy are expelled—

4.   The Lord has helped His servant,
          His Israel, which He bore,
      Remembering His mercy
          Which long ago He swore
      To Abr’am and to his
          Descendants evermore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spirit, Come With Grace Renew

This confirmation text was written for my son Peter's confirmation in 2007 and is set to the Carl Schalk tune JESUS' NAME.  The tradition here at St. John remains Palm Sunday confirmation and Maundy Thursday first communion.
1.  Spirit, come with grace, renew
     These our children called by You;
     May their souls and bodies be
     Kept by You in sanctity.
           Refrain:   Breathe on them Your living breath;
                          Keep them faithful unto death.

2.  To the font their faith we trace,
      Where You touched them with Your grace,
      Grafting them by love’s design
      As a branch into the Vine.   Refrain
3.   Help them live, O holy Fire,
      By God’s Word, as You desire;
      Purge away all worthless dross,
      Forge their lives around the cross.   Refrain

4.   In the Eucharistic meal,    
      Your forgiveness to them seal                    
      As they feed on Jesus Christ,                                 
      For their sins once sacrificed.   Refrain

5.   May they fruits of faith display,
      Firm and steadfast till that day
      When all those who Christ confess
      Shall be crowned with righteousness.   Refrain

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

God's Glorious Way is Hard to See

This text by a Lutheran pastor in Canada, Kurt E. Reinhardt, confesses the theology of the cross: that God did His greatest work in the seeming weakness and foolishness of the cross.  God still hides the glory of His work in weak and common things--Word with water and Word with bread and wine, the preached Word and the Word of Absolution.  He uses common clay people to do His work in our world today.  Truly humble is God's chosen way!

God's glorious way is hard to see,
He hides it in humility;
The praise of this world leads astray,
For humble is God's chosen way.

A crown of thorns rests on His head,
He's robed in Roman mocking red,
"Hail, Israel's King," with scorn they say;
How humble is God's chosen way.

Then burdened down with heavy beam,
He stumbles through the jeering stream,
While mournful women weep and pray;
How humble is God's chosen way.

True hatred nails Him to the tree,
He hangs in tortured agony,
While for His clothes the soldiers play;
How humble is God's chosen way.

Now simple words proclaimed and read
With water, wine, and earthly bread,
Bring us the gifts He earned that day;
How humble is God's chosen way.

Dear mothers tend their children's needs,
And farmers sow their precious seeds;
The Lord works good through our poor clay;
How humble is God's chosen way.

A poor saint suffers on his bed
He longs to join the faithful dead,
But for some good he still must stay;
How humble is God's chosen way.

The way of life leads through the night,
So faith must lead instead of sight;
The cross seems humble in its day
But truly is God's glorious way.

I Bind Unto Myself Today

St. Patrick (389-461) brought the Christian faith to Ireland.  Born into a Christian family along the western coast of England, at the age of 16 he was kidnapped by coastal raiders and taken to Ireland as a forced worker.  After six years he escaped to a ship that was bound for France.  There he studied in a French monastery and eventually returned to England.  In 432, now a middle-aged man, Patrick returned to the place of his captivity as a Christian missionary, not a safe thing to do in light of the Irish chieftains and Druid priests. Fully away of the dangers, he wrote in his diary, "Daily I expect either a violent death or a return to slavery or some other calamity...I have cast myself into the hands of the Almighty God, for He rules everything."  Patrick had a long and productive career as a Christian missionary in Ireland.  His famous hymn, "I Bind Unto Myself Today" reminds Christians of the importance of remembering their baptism, that blessed day when they were baptized into the "strong name of the Trinity."  Each day we can recall and reclaim the blessings of our baptism.

I bind unto myself today
    The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
    The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
    By pow’r of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
    His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
    His riding up the heav’nly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
    I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
    The pow’r of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
    His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach,
    His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
    His heav’nly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
    The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
    The hostile foes that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
    In ev’ry place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
    I bind to me those holy powers.

I bind unto myself the name,
    The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
    The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
    Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
    Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lord, to You I Make Confession

It has been said that the Law afflicts the comfortable and the Gospel comforts the afflicted.  Afflicted by the harsh realities of the Law as they confronted him in the pig pen, the wildly wasteful son finally came to his senses. In the confession that the young son planned to offer his father as he returned to his father's house, he recognized that his sin had a vertical dimension (he had sinned against God) as well as a horizontal dimension (he had sinned against his father):  "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you."  (Luke 15:21)  Yet is was the character of his father that brought that tiny glimmer of hope into the heart of the prodigal son that perhaps his father would take him back, not as a son, but as a servant. The father's lavish love restored his sonship and celebrated the return of his son.  So too in our lives, when we approach God in repentance, after the Law has jolted us out of our sin and made us uncomfortable, we find a forgiving Father whose Son has taken our sins to Calvary and paid for our waywardness in full.

This text in Lutheran Service Book is  LSB 608 and was written by Johann Franck, 1618-77 and translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1827-78.  The tune by Johann Crueger, 1598-1662, is HERR, ICH HABE MISSGEHANDELT.

Lord, to You I make confession:
    I have sinned and gone astray,
I have multiplied transgression,
    Chosen for myself my way.
Led by You to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Your terrors.

Yet, though conscience’ voice appall me,
    Father, I will seek Your face;
Though Your child I dare not call me,
    Yet receive me in Your grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Let Your wrath not overtake me.

For Your Son has suffered for me,
    Giv’n Himself to rescue me,
Died to save me and restore me,
    Reconciled and set me free.
Jesus’ cross alone can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish.

Lord, on You I cast my burden—
    Sink it to the depths below.
Let me know Your gracious pardon,
    Wash me, make me white as snow.           
Let Your Spirit leave me never;
Make me only Yours forever.

As Rebels, Lord, Who Foolishly Have Wandered

Lectionary Series C had "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" as the Gospel lesson for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.  One of my favorite parables, we sang "As Rebels, Lord" as our sermon hymn at St. John-Amelith.

1.  As rebels, Lord, who foolishly have wandered
        Far from Your love--unfed, unclean, unclothed---
     Dare we recall Your wealth so rashly squandered,
        Dare hope to glean that bounty which we loathed?

2.  Still we return, our contrite words rehearsing,
        Speech, that within Your warm embrace soon dies;
     All of our guilt, our shame, our pain reversing
        As tears of joy and welcome fill Your eyes.

3.  A feast of love for us You are preparing;
        We who were lost, You give an honored place!
     "Come eat; come drink, and be no more despairing--
        Here taste again the treasures of My grace."   

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rebuke Me Not, O Lord, in Wrath

This versification of Psalm 6 was written in 1998 to the tune CHRISTIAN LOVE.  Another suggested tune is CONSOLATION.

1.  Rebuke me not, O Lord, in wrath,
         Nor judge me for my sin,
     But lead me on Your righteous path
         And cleanse my life within.

2. Have pity, hear my weakened sighs
        And heal all that is wrong;
    With anguished fright my spirit cries:
       “How long, O Lord, how long?”
3. Deliver me from sin and shame,
        Lord, turn to me and save—
    For who in death recalls Your name?
        Who thanks You from the grave?

4.  My eyes are worn away with grief,
         My bed is drenched with tears;
     From all my foes, Lord, grant relief
         And save me from my fears.

5.  You workers of iniquity
         Who fill my heart with care:
     In God’s strong name depart from me—
         The Lord has heard my prayer!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee

Martin Luther's (1483-1546) setting of Psalm 130 in Lutheran Service Book  (LSB 607) is a slightly altered version of the translation by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78).

From depths of woe I cry to Thee,       Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
    In trial and tribulation;                  Lord, hear my voice!
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,      Let Your ears be attentive
    Lord, hear my supplication.            To the voice of my supplications.
If Thou rememb’rest ev’ry sin,            If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
Who then could heaven ever win          O LORD, who could stand?
    Or stand before Thy presence?

Thy love and grace alone avail             But there is forgiveness with You,
    To blot out my transgression;          That You may be feared.
The best and holiest deeds must fail
    To break sin’s dread oppression.
Before Thee none can boasting stand,
But all must fear Thy strict demand
    And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my hope is in the Lord          I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
    And not in mine own merit;             And in His word I do hope.
It rests upon His faithful Word
    To them of contrite spirit
That He is merciful and just;
This is my comfort and my trust.
    His help I wait with patience.

And though it tarry through the night     My soul waits for the LORD
    And till the morning waken,              More than those who watch for the morning--
My heart shall never doubt His might      Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
    Nor count itself forsaken.
O Israel, trust in God your Lord.            O Israel, hope in the LORD;
Born of the Spirit and the Word,
    Now wait for His appearing.

Though great our sins, yet greater still   For with the LORD there is mercy,
    Is God’s abundant favor;                  And with Him is abundant redemption.
His hand of mercy never will    
    Abandon us, nor waver.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free               And He shall redeem Israel
    From all their sin and sorrow.           From all his iniquities.    (NKJV)