German: Meine Hoffnung stehet feste
Text: Joachim Neander (1650-1680) Tune: Michael by Herbert Howells (1930-1983)
1. All my hope on God is founded; He doth still my trust renew. Me through change and chance he guideth, Only good and only true. God unknown, He alone Calls my heart to be his own.
2. Human pride and earthly glory, Sword and crown betray his trust; What with care and toil he buildeth, Tower and temple, fall to dust. But God's power, Hour by hour, Is my temple and my tower.
3. God's great goodness aye endureth, Deep his wisdom, passing thought: Splendour, light, and life attend him, Beauty springeth out of naught. Evermore From his store New-born worlds rise and adore.
4. Daily doth th' Almighty giver Bounteous gifts on us bestow; His desire our soul delighteth, Pleasure leads us where we go. Love doth stand At his hand; Joy doth wait on his command.
5. Still from earth to God eternal Sacrifice of praise be done, High above all praises praising For the gift of Christ his Son. Christ doth call One and all: Ye who follow shall not fall. Tr. Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Johann Crüger or Iteke Prins
The Evening’s Dying Embers
76 76 66 66
1. The evening’s dying embers
Reveal what I regret—
The good I can’t remember,
The hurts I can’t forget
Still flicker in my heart.
They flare up, then go dark,
And fill me with regret
That I cannot forget.
2. For everything a season,
For everything an end,
For everything a reason,
I do not understand.
Lord, take my hurt away
And turn me toward the day.
Help my regret to end,
My few good deeds to stand.
3. The embers burn more brightly,
And then they flicker out.
I turn to you contritely
In weariness and doubt.
Consume my guilt and shame
With love’s pure cleansing flame.
Burn all my sorrows out—
My grief, regret, and doubt.
I hope in your tomorrow
And give you all my past
With all its joys and sorrows;
I come to you for rest.
My soul waits quietly
For peace to cover me.
Take all my troubled past,
And give me quiet rest.
Source: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
Possible tune: Auf, auf, mein Herz
Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
A common Bible lesson for the New Year, especially New Year's Eve, is the story of the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the brutality of Herod. The church saw that it represented the old passing away and coming back new. Jesus and his family had to flee to Egypt, and come back like Moses and the people of Israel, across the Red Sea, new and reborn. Out of Egypt have I called my son. Hosea 11:1. Only hope in God sustained them on the trip back.
Although it was not written for New Year’s Eve, the hymn for today it is at the top of the list for today. And why not? It places our hopes in God not in our resolutions to improve our lives by our own efforts. Those hopes are for the most part dashed by our irresolute wills. When the gyms were open, they would experience a surge in the first weeks of January, then a gradual downturn through the year as people's will power sagged. Our resolutions are not much to hope in. Nor our are institutions. “Sword and crown betray” God and us. “Tower and temple fall to dust.”
To think biblically about the turning of the year, we can think of the Holy Family hearing the call to turn around and come home. They make the journey in hope. Their lives will not be all roses. Jesus will suffer and die. And he will be raised from the dead to save us from the fleshpots of Egypt. So today is a time for a summing up of the year, repenting and looking forward in hope. Without hope or vision we perish. Even if we deeply regret something in our past, it is gone now, because we have been forgiven. Christ came to take away our "sorrows—our grief, regret and doubt."
Look up. You are journeying to the Promised Land, to eternal life. As we say good bye to a difficult year, we can still be thankful, and look forward with hope, since we know the one who holds the future.
HYMN INFO Joachim Neander, the writer of the original text in German, also wrote the great hymn of praise, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation." Neander, at first a scoffer, went to church with some friends to ridicule the preacher, but as he listened to the sermon, he was moved by it and changed. He became a believer and writer of hymns. In his short life, he wrote several hymns that are still sung. This hymn would not have been brought into the English tradition without the work of Bridges.
Bridges, a medical doctor, was a devout Christian and fine poet who became Poet Laureate in 1913-1930. He wrote many books of poetry, and befriended Gerard Manley Hopkins bringing him to the attention of the literary world. His fame has lasted because of the Yattendon Hymnal of 1899 which he produced to find music more in tune with the times than the Victorian tunes that were fading. It was for that he translated Neander's hymn but retained the German tune. In 1930 Howell, one of the greater English composers of his day, received the text in the mail with a request for a new tune. He reported that upon looking at the tune, between his sausage and bacon, the tune came to him. It was published in The Clarendon Hymn Book in 1936. Howell had lost his son to polio in 1935 so they named the tune Michael after him. The hymn did not receive much attention however, until 1969 when a supplement of 100 new hymns were published by Hymns: Ancient and Modern. It took off from there and has become one of the most popular hymns in the canon of English hymns.
My text was written for the Revised Common Lectionary lesson from Ecclesiastes. It can be sung to Crüger’s tune, "Auf, auf mein Herz," or a tune written by Iteke Prins.
LINKS Westminster Abbey 2007 https://youtu.be/W2oYTtyBSxk
Cambridge King’s College Choir https://youtu.be/5I1HTkKI7A8
Piano with lyrics https://youtu.be/oDpRxx51uAk
Jared Croel organist on a Rogers Organ https://youtu.be/zqs_Kq5DGYw
Bach Cantata BWV 153 The flight into Egypt https://youtu.be/zcZMRhLXMvk