Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Heart Would Ever Wander

(Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker)

1. My heart would ever wander
To where my Lord was born,
My thoughts return to ponder
That humble stall forlorn:
My faith there finds its treasure,
Its home of pure delight,
Its peace beyond all measure
This blessèd Christmas night.

2. Palm branches I would scatter
Around the place You lie.
For You alone, Lord, matter;
For You, I live and die.
Come, let my soul be finding
The joy that makes me whole:
Yourself to me, Lord, binding
Here, deep within my soul.

3. Lord, come, each bolt removing;
Unlock my heart and mind.
My longing sighs are proving
The welcome You will find.
Your love my heart obtaining:
You purchased it from sin,
Thus evermore remaining--
Your love, wrapped here within!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go

Our closing hymn today at St. John, Charles Wesley's "Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go," was a great hymn of sending in response to the Matt. 21 vineyard parable of the two sons in the Gospel lesson.  The hymn first appeared in 1749 in Charles Wesley's "Hymns and Sacred Poems."   The wonderful tune LAKEWOOD by Barry Bobb was composed for this text at the ordination of Ronald Roma in 1980.  Wesley's original hymn had six stanzas, however his third stanza was omitted by brother John Wesley in 1780 when John published his "A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists."  The omitted stanza reads:  Preserve me from my calling's snare, And hide my simple heart above, Above the thorns of choking care, The gilded baits of worldly love.

1.  Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go,
     My daily labor to pursue,
     Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
     In all I think or speak or do.

2.  The task Thy wisdom has assigned,
     O let me cheerfully fulfill;
     In all my works Thy presence find,
     And prove Thy good and perfect will.

3.  Thee may I set at my right hand,
     Whose eyes my inmost substance see,
     And labor on at Thy command,
     And offer all my works to Thee.

4.  Give me to bear Thy easy yoke,
     And ev'ry moment watch and pray,
     And still to things eternal look,
     And hasten to Thy glorious day.

5.  For Thee delightfully employ
     Whate'er Thy bounteous grace has giv'n,
     And run my course with even joy,
     And closely walk with Thee to heav'n.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh, How Good and Truly Pleasant

Set to the tune BEACH SPRING, the text was written in 2007 for Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  God bring His healing to the MNS Distict.

1. Oh, how good and truly pleasant 
    When we dwell in unity:
    Gentle sisters, caring brothers
    Loving others selflessly!
    This the oneness God desires
    For the people called His own,
    So that we, by our affection,
    Might His love to all make known.

2. Like the oil of consecration
    Running down from Aaron’s brow,
    On his beard and sacred collar,
    To his priestly role endow,
    So our love, to God devoted,
    Spreads His fragrance everywhere;
    Royal priests by God anointed,
    One in service, faith, and prayer.

3. Were the heavy dew of Hermon
    On Mount Zion to descend,
    There the Lord commands His blessing:
    Life eternal without end;
    So would God, from Calv’ry’s mountain,
    Rain down love on desert lives,
    Causing them to bud and flower
    Till His grace our world revives.

4. Come, O precious Oil of Gladness,
    Help us love and live as one,
    As the Son is in the Father
    And the Father in the Son,
    You, as love from both proceeding,
    Three in One and One in Three—
    One in love at the beginning,
    One in love eternally!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Call Of God Ordained You

This text was written for the 25th ordination anniversary and retirement of Pastor Richard A. Bolland.  It is set to the tune VON GOTT WILL ICH NICHT LASSEN  (LSB 713)

1.   The call of God ordained you
     A watchman for the Lord!
     Each day God has sustained you,
     To be His people’s ward,
     His counsel to proclaim:
     The Law—its condemnation;
     The Gospel—its salvation
     For all in Jesus’ name.
2.  The Lord does not desire
     That any die in sin;
     Instead He would inspire
     True change of heart within,
     And so He sends His Word—
     That all might be repenting,
     Their judgment thus preventing
     For wickedness incurred.

3.  How unforeseen that power
     Christ resurrected showed,
     When in that evening hour
     His Spirit He bestowed:
    “The sins that you forgive,
     They truly are forgiven,
     On earth and high in heaven.”
     Each penitent shall live!

4. “The sins you are retaining
     Before the Father’s face,
     Are debts by those disdaining
     My Father’s heart of grace.”
     Yet these Christ would receive:
    “How often, yes, how often,
     I prayed your heart would soften
     And you your sin would leave.”

5.  The watchman’s voice is crying,
    “Turn from your evil way!”
     Still some, his call defying,
     Resist and disobey.
     You died for these, Lord, too!
     Your mercy is most shocking;
      It seeks to save the mocking
     Who know not what they do.

6.  The watchman’s sacred duty
     Proclaims good news from God;
     His feet are rare with beauty
     And with the Gospel shod.
     God’s spokesman lifts his voice:
    “Those marred by sin’s defiling,
     God’s grace is reconciling.
     Return! Believe! Rejoice!”

7.  You, son of man, unswerving,
     Have spoken for the Lord.
     We, whom you have been serving,
     Thank God with one accord!
     We say so gratefully:
    “Dear watchman, you have led us;
     Dear pastor, you have fed us—
     To God all glory be!”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When God Made Earth

This hymn was written for my daughter Stephanie and her husband, Justin's wedding on June 18th.  It was sung to the tune RATHERVUE by Alfred Fedak.

1.  When God made earth, the sun was warming
     A pristine world unmarred by death;
     From dust with care the LORD was forming
     A man, in whom He breathed life's breath:
     Then Adam rose from holy ground,
     But for him no fit help was found.

2.  So God caused man to sleep, removing
     A rib from lonely Adam's side;
     And from that bone, His wisdom proving,
     God fashioned Eve as Adam's bride:
     Her flesh, his flesh; her bone, his bone,
     And man no longer was alone.

3.  She was the half, his half completing,
     The complement that made him whole;
     She was the heart that set his beating,
     That sounded depths within his soul;
     She was the gift that graced his eyes,
     That perfect one for him to prize.

4.  Thus shall a man leave father, mother;
     With tender joy embrace his wife,
     For she alone, she and no other,
     Shall be his help, his love, his life--
     No longer two, but joined as one,
     Their pledge of lifelong love begun.

5.  Come now, O Lord, their promise sealing;
     Bind heart and hand with living grace,
     Each day Your love for them revealing,
     The shining brightness of Your face;
     Grant peace and joy in mind and heart,
     That nothing break their bond apart.

Friday, May 27, 2011

God Laid the Earth's Foundation

This text was written for First Lutheran Church in Boston and will be sung this coming Sunday in their worship service.  Set to the strong tune MOVILLE, the text expands upon the thought of the final stanza, "Sing to the LORD a new song..." (Ps. 96:1-3)  The response to God's great works throughout Scripture has been a new song, declaring all that our triune God has done.  Of course His greatest work accomplished was that which was completed through His only Son, the eternal Word made flesh, who came fulfilling all that was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

1.  God laid the earth's foundation;
     He placed its cornerstone.
     Do you have understanding
     Of such great knowledge shown?
     God set the bounds for water,
     Devised how clouds would hang,
     While morning stars of heaven
     For joy together sang!

2.  Proud Pharaoh's raging army
     Lay drowned beneath the sea;
     Great Moses and all Israel
     Praised God triumphantly.
     Then Miriam and the women,
     With tambourines raised high,
     All danced in joyful tribute
     Beneath the desert sky.

3.  God sent a greater Moses
     To free our captive race:
     Pure from the womb of Mary,
     Enfleshed as truth and grace.
     "To God on high be glory
      And peace to all the earth!"
     Thus sang the heaven-sent angels
     The night of Jesus' birth.

4.  Joshua fought and conquered,
     When he to Canaan came.
     God's Son, incarnate Savior,
     Fought fierce our rest to claim:
     No seven-fold blast of trumpets,
     No shout tore evil down,
     For Jesus chose as weapons
     A cross and thorny crown.

5.  Ark of God's holy presence,
     Before whom angels fall--
     How could the Lord of heaven
     Face scorn and spit and gall?
     Yet this High Priest most holy,
     Behind the veil went in;
     His own pure blood there sprinkled
     To cover human sin.

6.  Christ cried out, "It is finished!"
     And with His final breath,
     Committed to the Father
     His spirit at His death.
     Dark, rumbled dazed creation:
     "God died?  How can this be?"
     While foul, demonic minions
     Squealed loud cacophony.

7.  Sealed in the tomb, Christ rested--
     One final Sabbath day!
     Fulfilled the prophet's promise:
     "He shall not see decay."
     Our Lord to hell descended,
     Declaring victory,
     Then rising led hosts vanquished
     In full captivity!

8.  For forty days appearing
     To His own chosen band,
     Then Christ to heav'n ascended
     To rule at God's right hand.
     Soon to the ones He promised,
     The Holy Spirit came;
     With tongues they spoke God's wisdom
     'Mid rushing wind and flame.

9.  God laid a new foundation
     With Christ as Cornerstone;
     On prophets and apostles
     Through whom the Christ was known:
     One body and one Spirit,
     One Lord--one God of all,
     One faith that rests securely
     On one baptismal call!

10.  Sing to the LORD a new song!
       Applaud His selfless fame;
       Declare among the nations
       The glory due His name!
       Now roar, O seas, His power!
       Now wave, O fields, His worth!
       With righteousness and justice,
       He comes to judge the earth!

Friday, March 25, 2011

In My Place

My ears perk up when I hear a contemporary song that seeks to express more substantive biblical truths like propitiation (Christ's death on the cross which turns away God's wrath over sin) and the vicarious atonement (Christ's sacrifice was substitutionary in nature...He took our place on the cross).  This song by Matt Boswell and Michael Bleeker is based on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and Romans 5:8-9.

In my place, He stood condemned
He who knew no sin became sin for us
That we might become, His righteousness

Bearing all my sin and shame
The punishment and blame  He conquered the grave
That we might become, the heirs of grace

In my place, Jesus died
The spotless Lamb laid down His life
The wrath of God was satisfied
In my place, Jesus died  

Nail pierced hands, Bleeding side, His body bruised, My God crucified
A crown of thorns, Dying cries, His flesh was torn, My God crucified

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spirit of God, You Know Our Every Need

This text was recently written for a friend at the passing of his father. It is set to the tune ELLERS.  It contains thoughts from Romans 8 and the book of Revelation.

1.  Spirit of God, You know our ev'ry need;
     You hear our cries and for us intercede;
     Your sighs and groans, too deep for any word,
     Before the throne of grace are clearly heard.

2.  As for God's saints, all things work as they should;
     Both fair and foul are molded for their good:
     Foreknown, predestined, called and justified;
     Washed clean in Christ, in Christ are glorified.

3.  What shall we say to all that God has done,
     Who, in His love, conforms us to His Son?
     Shall tribulation, nakedness or sword
     Remove us from the love of Christ our Lord?

4.  No!  For we conquer in and through His grace;
     Not even death can loosen His embrace!
     He, our Good Shepherd; we without alarm
     Pass through death's valley cradled in His arm.

5.  In life and death, God's own are dressed in white;
     Christ's righteous robe clads children of the light
     Through death to life, with those from ev'ry land
     Who sing His praise with vict'ry palm in hand:

6.  "Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who once was slain!
     Worthy is Christ, forevermore to reign!
     Blessing and honor, might and glory be--
     Amen!"  They sing with joy eternally.

7.  They serve the Lamb who sits upon the throne;
     Hunger and thirst by them no more are known;
     Nothing will cause them pain or want or fear,
     As from their eyes God wipes away each tear.

8.  Spirit of God, support us now we pray,
     Keep us by grace through faith until that day
     This earthly temple too is put to bed,
     To wait the resurrection of the dead.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Now, Even Now, Declare a Fast

This Ash Wednesday text was written in 2006 to the glory of God for Henry V. Gerike who had requested a text specifically for Ash Wednesday.  It is written to the somber tune LLEF.  The text speaks of the ongoing significance of Holy Baptism in the life of the believer who lives in daily contrition and repentance: daily dying to sin and daily rising again to new life in Jesus Christ.

1.  Now, even now, declare a fast;
     Tune, humbly turn--renounce your sin;
     Tear not your robe for guilt amassed
     But truly rend your heart within!

2.  What shall I bring for daily vice
     Proffered before my Maker's eyes?
     A contrite heart, the sacrifice
     That You, O God, will not despise.

3.  Ash, only ash I am, O Lord;
     Dust, and to dust I shall return.
     Death is my end, my just reward,
     Solely the wage for sin I earn.

4.  What shall I do?  Where ought I go
     To gain the grace I dearly want?
     Only to Christ, who will bestow
     Life from His pure baptismal font.

5.  Drown, sinner, drown beneath its wave;
     Rise, saint, arise--in Christ made new:
     Live out the life your Savior gave,
     By words you say and works you do.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Perpetua, the Noble

On this date in the year 203, two North African women, Perpetua and Felicity, were martyred at Carthage along with three Christian men, Saturninus, Secundulus, and Revocatus.  All five were thrown to the beasts in the arena for the sport of the pagan crowd.  The three men faced a bear, a leopard and a wild boar; the two women faced a rabid bull.  After being mauled by the animals, the five were put to death with the sword by the Roman soldiers.  "They were killed with the sword...of whom the world was not worthy."  (Heb. 11:37-38)

Perpetua, the noble;
Felicity, her slave:
They would not turn from Jesus
And so their lives they gave!
May we, who trust in Jesus,
By word and deed proclaim
A faith that will not ever
Renounce His saving Name.

Monday, January 10, 2011

God Chose the Foolishness of Christ

Written to the glory of God for the 50th anniversary of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It was sung there for the first time this past Sunday and I had the joy of being present as guest preacher for the occasion.  The text is set to the tune IN ARMOUR BRIGHT by Edward Norman Hay (1889-1943).  The text is based on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, which is the appointed epistle lesson for The Baptism of our Lord in the one-year lectionary.

1.  God chose the foolishness of Christ,
     To shame the worldly wise;
     To shame the strong, God chose the weak,
     The lowly and despised.

2.  God chose the folly of the cross,
     That Christ be crucified:
     To bear sin's curse, to die man's death,
     That all be justified.

3.  God chose each one of us in Christ
     Before the world began,
     Adopting us by lavish grace
     According to His plan!

4.  God chose that water with the Word
     Should cleanse us from our sin:
     Baptized into Christ's death and life,
     His Spirit lives within.

5.  God chose that preaching of the cross--
     His wisdom from on high--
     Should be the Church's mighty pow'r
     To grow and multiply.

6.  God chose that simple bread and wine
     Christ's Word should thus decree:
     "This is My body and My blood,
     From sin to set you free."

7.  God chose for us in Christ the best
     Our world has even known;
     For all His good and perfect gifts,
     We boast in God alone!