Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How, Before All Time Began

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will..."  (Ephesians 1:3-5)  
Text written in 2005 to the tune ANGELUS AD VIRGINEM.

How, before all time began,
Before the world’s creation,
Could the Lord conceive His plan
Of mercy and salvation?
Yet, from that high and timeless place,
God chose to save our death-bound race:
Emmanuel—as prophets tell the story
In Scripture as we know,
Would veil in flesh His glory                        
And dwell with us below!

To the darkness of our night
And to our need attending,
Came the Word as Light of Light
Beyond our comprehending—
Radiant within the virgin’s womb;
Dawning as day upon our gloom.
Hail, Jacob’s Star!  For all You are now shining
Your beam of grace on earth,
Your royal might confining
Within such humble birth.

As the presence of a king
Brings honor to a city,
Bethlehem, be glad and sing                               
Your Sov’reign’s tender pity;
Join all the angels who rejoice;
Let ev’ry creature raise its voice—               
Sing “Glory be to God!” For He is solely
The God who comes to save
And to our world unholy,
The Prince of Peace He gave.

Tarshish lords from distant shore,
Come pay your tribute to Him;
Kings of Sheba, kneel before
The One with worship due Him.
Rise up, O nations!  See!  Your Lord!   
Long may He live and be adored!        
Oh may His fame and holy Name, transcending
Each name upon this sphere,   
Be sung with praise unending
For love so pure and near!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Holy Word of God Endures Forever

This text was commissioned by CPH for the release of The Lutheran Study Bible, a hymn on the Word of God for Reformation five years ago, in 2009. Stanza 1, the power of God's Word to bring sight for those blind in sin.; stanza 2, the Gospel call goes out to all enemies of God, made such by their sin; stanza 3, the work of the Holy Spirit who makes spiritually dead people alive by the power of God's Word; stanza 4, God's Word as Law and Gospel, to cut (Law) and to heal (Gospel) with the result that our lives become Christ's letter to a fallen world. Jeffrey Blersch wrote a tune for this 11 10 11 10 D text and he named it CONCORDIA CINCINNATI.

The holy Word of God endures forever
With living truths the Spirit has revealed.
These are not myths conceived by authors clever;
They never fade like flowers of the field.
No Scripture came by human inspiration;
God breathed His life in each and ev'ry part,
So Christ, the Morning Star of our salvation,
Might dawn with sight for ev'ry blinded heart.

Christ Jesus is the content of this writing,
The banner of God's love for all unfurled,
For through the Word the Father is inviting:
"O wayward one, forsake your rebel world;
No greater gift I have than what I gave you--
My only Son for sin--that you might know
The distance that My grace stretched out to save you
And make your scarlet sins as white as snow."

O Spirit--calling, gathering, uniting--
Come, breathe Your life in all whose hope is lost
And in such lives with power come, igniting
The flames of faith first lit on Pentecost;
To those long dead, the victims of sin's vi'lence,
To all forgotten casualties of strife,
Now speak to driest bones and break the silence--
Where there is death, now raise enfleshed new life!

The holy Word of God endures forever!
It comes to hearts where sin remains concealed,
And like a two-edged sword, to pierce and sever,
It cuts the heart so that it might be healed.
With Gospel salve renew us, faith's Begetter;
Write living words, yet not with ink on stone,
But write upon our hearts, that as Christ's letter
We tell of how God saves by grace alone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Beloved Sets For Me

This text was inspired by an American Gospel song written in 1872 by Lewis Hartsough, the text and tune of which was transported to Wales, where it received its name, GWAHODDIAD*, Welsh for "invitation."   The imagery is from the Song of Solomon. 

My Beloved sets for me
A banquet from above
And over me He stretches forth
The banner of His love.

  “Come, both great and least,”
  Calls our great High Priest,
  “I, with My own flesh and blood,
  Will feed you at My Feast.”

My delight is in the shade
Beneath His holy tree;
How sweet the taste, how fair the fruit
That falls from Calvary!    Refrain

Every fear of mine is gone
Within His strong embrace;
His loving arms that bore my shame
Assure me of His grace.    Refrain

We are robed in purest white
As Christ’s beloved bride,
Made clean by water and the blood
That flowed from Jesus' side!   Refrain


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Holy Spirit, God Proceeding

This text was written to the glory of God in thanksgiving for Kantor Stephen Rosebrock and his ministry at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis.  It was sung on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 1, 2014 and set to the tune BLAENWERN by William Penfro Rowlands, 1860-1937.

Holy Spirit, God proceeding
From the Father and the Son,
For us sinners ever pleading
That God's will in us be done;
Deep the Spirit's groans and sighing
When we know not what to pray,
As we carry Jesus' dying
In these fragile jars of clay.

Holy Spirit, God releasing,
Setting captive debtors free,
Sins forgiving, faith increasing,
Through the gifts from Calvary.
Born again, a new creation,
What was old has been removed;
Clothed in garments of salvation
By the King of kings approved.

Holy Spirit, God indwelling,
Source of comfort in all strife,
With the love of Christ compelling
All our good throughout our life:
He our heart of flesh transforming,
Gone our hardened heart of stone,
To the world no more conforming,
Patterned after Christ alone.

Holy Spirit, God inspiring,
Sanctifying works we do;
Comes, ignites our heart's desiring
For the noble, right, and true;
With our spirit testifying,
We are God's adopted heirs:
"Abba, Father," we are crying;
Christ the "Amen" to our prayers!

Holy Spirit, God eternal
With the Father and the Son,
One in Three, the Lord supernal,
Mighty God, the Three in One!
Saints and angels sing, rejoicing,
Raising hymns with one accord;
We with them our praises voicing--
"Holy, holy, holy LORD!"