Lectionary hymn for Christ the King Sunday
Matthew 25:31-46; Ephesians 1
Text: Gracia Grindal (1943-). Tune: Daniel Charles Damon (1945-) Or Castlewood or Angel Voices
1. Clothed with glory, Christ is coming
From the halls of light
With the multitudes of angels—
Hosts of heav’n in flight.
He will come to judge the nations,
Lost in night.
2. Then the King of kings will tell us
How he walked on earth
With the lonely and the hungry—
Those of humble birth.
He appeared: an unknown stranger
In a manger,
3. Look to see the Lord’s appearing
Not just in the skies.
Christ is also in your neighbors—
Look into their eyes.
In their gaze, you will meet Jesus.
He will see us
4. Jesus blesses those who feed him,
Give him clothes to wear “Come, O blessed of my Father. Come, I have prepared
Mansions in the courts of heaven.
All is given
For you there.”
Copyright 2006 Wayne Leupold Editions (see below for website)
An old pastor’s widow and I were talking about the coming Sunday, Christ the King Sunday. She had grown up in the Augustana Lutheran church and knew Swedish. She lamented. ”It used to be Domensdag, ( Judgment Sunday). I miss that. It made things much more serious than Christ the King.” I agreed. The Christian faith is about ultimates. When we take those things away, the grandeur of the faith tends to fade.
The irony is that not long after the change to Christ the King Sunday, some objected to that for its sexism and its old-fashioned notion of king. That is usually what happens when one tries to fix the old; new unexpected problems pop up. So some changed it to The Reign of Christ. That helps with king language, maybe, but it seems vapid next to Judgment Sunday.
This great parable from Matthew 25 is stranger than it seems on first reading. We get the separation of the people into sheep and goats. And the terror of it all. Michelangelo’s wall in the Sistine chapel is the picture most of us have of this parable. It captures the drama for anyone to see.
The strange part of the parable, however, is the part when Jesus commends those who have done his will by feeding the hungry and clothing the stranger. They don't know when they did. Neither the righteous nor the unrighteous know when that occurred. “When did we see you hungry and thirsty?”
“When you helped the least of these my brothers,” he answers.
Double surprise. If you go looking for God in all that is majestic and grand the way mortals might tend to look, you will miss the Christian God. We won't see God until the end. We can see his works, but not him. Except, and this is the other surprise, in a poor man named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem. One would scarcely expect to find God there. Nor in your neighbor. Small potatoes, that.
Not so fast. That he is here among us makes life holy. If Christ is in the other, that makes everything we do for them a meeting with the Lord Jesus. Christ is everywhere. And the neighbor isn’t far away, the neighbor is your family, friends and those with whom you are closest. Treating those nearest to us badly so we can help those far away kind of misses the point. I had a colleague who joked that in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and Levite passing by the wounded man on the road couldn’t stop because they had to get to a meeting to set up a committee to help the poor.
Jesus always judges those who profess pious beliefs but do not act on them. Hypocrites. No matter how much we say we care for the poor if we treat those near us badly we miss the whole point of his message. It is easy for us to judge each other, but be careful. Neither those who did the right thing nor those who did not had any idea when they had seen him. Those who were right simply did what they were called to do by the needs of their neighbor. You be the judge—not of your neighbor whom you are to serve, but of yourselves. It is Judgment Sunday. Christ still rules.
I wrote this so it could fit the tune, Castlewood, by Richard Proulx (1937-2010), one of the great church musicians of the twentieth century. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he attended St. Patrick’s grade school, MacPhail’s Music college and the University of Minnesota. He became church organist and served in St. Paul for some time before moving to Chicago where he spent the bulk of his career at Holy Name Cathedral. His impact on church music, hymnody and choral, was significant. He was on the Standing Committee on Church music of the Episcopal Church, and was a consultant for several Roman Catholic hymnals, the Methodist hymnal and others. He wrote over 300 works for choirs and congregations. He was honored with an honorary degree at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. I once spent a long taxi ride with him on our way to a conference in Texas. We had a wonderful talk about things having to do with the way the different churches arranged to host the musical questions of the day.
Dan Damon concluded our series A of lectionary hymns with this fine tune.
Anglican Christmas festival/Come to us Creative Spirit/Tune that can be used
Piano playing tune with the original text https://youtu.be/cFBYdXvBWZ0
Organ prelude on tune https://youtu.be/zz9yK5T0C28
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