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!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Darkness Shrouds the Awful Mountain

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.

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.

Be fulfilled, O sign of Jonah—
Bringing life from death on the third day.
God has not His Son abandoned
Nor will Jesus see decay!

What Kind of Love Is This?

This hymn originated in the early 1960's in Ethiopia, written by a 16-year-old girl, Almaz Belhu, who had submitted it for a hymn competition.  The original language was Amharic.  The English translation here is by Hartmut Schoenherr, with stanza four by Joe Herl.  The tune is also by Almaz Belhu.  The refrain asks the haunting question again and again.

When I behold Jesus Christ,
    True God who died for me,
I wonder much at His love
    As He hung on the tree.

What kind of love is this?
What kind of love is this?
    You showed Your love, Jesus,
    There to me on Calvary.
What kind of love is this?
What kind of love is this?
    You showed Your love, Jesus,
    There to me on Calvary.

For me You gave all Your love,
    For me You suffered pain;
I find no words, nothing can
    Your selflessness explain.  Refrain

You had no sin, holy Lord,
    But You were tortured, tried;
On Golgotha there for all
    My sins You bled and died.  Refrain

What love is this? Greater love
    No one has ever known.
My life with God— this I owe
    To You, and You alone.  Refrain

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Death of Jesus Christ Our Lord

My favorite Maundy Thursday Holy Communion hymn is LSB 634.  Text by Haquin Spegel, 1645-1714; stanza 5 by LSB.  In LSB it was moved from "Passion Week" section in LW to "The Lord's Supper" section because it can be used whenever we celebrate the Sacrament.

The death of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
We celebrate with one accord;
It is our comfort in distress,
Our heart’s sweet joy and happiness.

He blotted out with His own blood
The judgment that against us stood;
For us He full atonement made,
And all our debt He fully paid.

That this forever true shall be
He gives a solemn guarantee:
In this His holy Supper here
We taste His love so sweet, so near.

His Word proclaims and we believe
That in this Supper we receive
His very body, as He said,
His very blood for sinners shed.

We dare not ask how this can be,
But simply hold the mystery
And trust this word where life begins:
“Given and shed for all your sins.”

They who this word do not believe
This food unworthily receive,
Salvation here will never find—
May we this warning keep in mind!

But blest is each believing guest
Who in these promises finds rest;
For Jesus ever shall remain
With all who here His grace obtain.

Help us sincerely to believe
That we may worthily receive
Your Supper and in You find rest.
Amen! They who believe are blest.