German: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren
Norwegian: Min sjel, min sjel, lov Herren
Text: Johann Gramann (1487-1541) Tune: Hans Kugelmann (ca:1540)
1 My soul, now bless thy Maker! Let all within me bless His name, Who maketh thee partaker Of mercies more than thou dar'st claim. Forget Him not, whose meekness Forgiveth all thy sin; Who healeth all thy weakness, Renews thy life within; Whose grace and care are endless, And saved thee through the past; Who leaves no sufferer friendless, But rights the wronged at last. 2 He shows to man His treasure Of judgment, truth, and righteousness, His love beyond all measure, His yearning pity o'er distress, Nor treats us as we merit, But lays His anger by; The humble, contrite spirit Finds His compassion nigh; And high as heaven above us, As break from close of day, So far, since He doth love us, He puts our sins away. 3 For, as a tender father Hath pity on his children here, He in His arms doth gather All who are His in childlike fear; He knows how frail our powers, Who but from dust are made: We flourish like the flowers, And even so we fade; A storm but o'er them passes, And all their bloom is o'er,-- We wither like the grasses, Our place knows us no more. 4 God's grace alone endureth, And children's children yet shall prove How He with strength assureth The hearts of all that seek His love. In heaven is fixed His dwelling, His rule is over all; Angels, in might excelling, Bright hosts, before Him fall. Praise Him who ever reigneth, All ye who hear His Word. Nor our poor hymns disdaineth,-- My soul, O praise the Lord!
Tr. Carl Døving
“My soul, now bless thy maker, Let all within me praise thy name.” We hear echoes of Psalm 103, the great psalm of Thanksgiving, in this hymn. It is not so well known today among American Lutherans, but was at one time much loved. I have been reading the minutes of my congregation as I am writing a book on its early history, and this hymn was sung more frequently than almost any other. It is still a favorite among Northern European Lutherans, I hear. Written in Luther’s time, it has endured rather well, all things considered.
The hymn is suggested for the text this Sunday. Ten are healed, only one comes back with thanks. An outsider at that. The others were on their way rejoicing. With nary a thought of giving thanks. Thanks implies worship. And worship implies another being. As G. K. Chesterton “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”
Maybe it is hard for some to give thanks because it implies that we owe something to someone who is maybe greater than we are. But these lepers aren’t even there. They are just getting back to their former lives maybe. I can understand something of that. When one has been healed or recovered from a bout of illness, it is difficult sometimes to remember exactly what it was like to be infirm. How to even describe it? It is easy to feel as though everything is fine now, normal, and one doesn’t need a doctor now. We forget that normal is a miracle.
Then, something happens, and we realize how dependent we are on God for good health and healing. As I have gotten older, and recovered from something, when I have stood up straight and walked around completely normal, sometimes I have broken into praise. How could this be? Maybe that is what the leper who returned teaches us. All we have is from God and he is good. And thanks are due. Back to Chesterton again, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
This is about worship. The leper’s heart was filled "with happiness doubled by wonder." He needed to give thanks. “Bless the Lord, O my Soul…!” And sing this wonderful old hymn.
CLEANSING THE TEN LEPERS [A] They knew him, from far off, calling him by name,
“Jesus, Master,” their voices hoarse from disease.
He saw them, all ten, quarantined by shame.
Without touching them, he sent them to the priest
To be declared clean. They knew the rules, The measures from Leviticus, the rite To bring them home. Quickly their ardor cooled.
Going for their exam, what was it like? Noses growing back, their toes restored, Rotten flesh healed, no need to shout unclean,
Their keenest nerves knitting together, the Lord
Left behind as they fingered their new skin,
Walking back to health, into a new day, Each hurt more distant every step of the way. Luke 17:11–14; Leviticus 13:2–3; 2 Kings 5:1–14
Gracia Grindal from Jesus the Harmony
The hymn, with very long stanzas--12 lines--comes from Luther’s time. Gramann was a teacher at the Thomas Church School in Leipzig, the church where Bach would later serve. Gramann heard Martin Luther and John Eck debate at the Leipzig debate in 1519. At first he took Eck’s side, but as time went on, he became more and more in agreement with Luther. His preaching showed it. When he moved to Königsberg (Kalingrad now), he brought the Reformation with him and went on to reform the schools in Brandenburg. The tune is an old melody from around the time of Luther as well and appeared in a book of melodies Concentus novi, trium vocum from 1540.. The great Lutheran composers, Schütz, Buxtehude and Bach used the hymn frequently in their works.
St. Paul Lutheran Church Austin
Brother Downs/Old Paths New Feet
Kirsten Flagstad, the Norwegian version
Bach Cantata, Kosova Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra
Buxtehude organ piece Ton Koopman
For those thinking of Christmas gifts, you might consider the book Jesus the Harmony. It has a poem for every day of the year and Bible references for each poem that put Jesus in what has been called "the red thread of salvation." Many have been using it for daily devotions; others in group Bible studies.