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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 8 The World is Very Evil/The Kingdoms of this World

The World is Very Evil (for information on this hymn, click below)

The Kingdoms of this World


The kingdoms of this world

Can not defeat Christ’s pow’r.

They try to silence what he says

And seek his final hour.


When John the Baptist died,

They thought his voice was gone,

But Jesus Christ did not give up

And Satan was undone.


The kingdoms of this world,

Though brutal, cannot last.

God’s kingdom is not of this world,

And Christ will hold it fast.


Text: Gracia Grindal    Tune: Amanda Husberg



I am fairly certain there is no hymn reflecting on this text: Salome’s request at her mother’s urging to have Herod present her with the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Excepting some awful stories in the Book of Judges—the sacrifice of Jeptha’s daughter, or the Benjamite woman—this is about as grisly and awful as the Bible gets. Lust, hatred, revenge, murder, royal power gone amok, all a picture of pure evil. Richard Strauss’ opera Salome (1905) while now considered a classic, rightly shocked and repulsed many with its telling of the story of lust, violence and necrophilia. No material for a hymn there!


It is interesting that our hymns tend not to treat some of these awful evemts, as I have noted lately. If we think hymns are only songs of praise to God, as per Augustine, then that makes such subjects verboten, I suppose. All one could do is write a hymn on how glad the singers were that Christ triumphed, sort of what I have done here. I just allude to John the Baptist’s death. All one can do. But still our hymns do need to face the evil around us. I have always thought that African American spirituals and the chorales of the period of Lutheran orthodoxy, an awful time in Europe, with the Thirty Years War raging all around Germany, were the best at facing such evils as slavery, famine, pestilence and constant war.


While this world is lovely and we confess that creation is good, there is a theme that thrums underneath us that says what the old medieval hymn says, The World is Very Evil. Both things are true. Many of us looking around at the turmoil in the world are seeing terrifying things. We can bear it only because we believe that Christ is the ultimate victor. As Bernard has it in his long poem, in spite of the evil swirling around us, we have a sweet and blessed country we can look forward to. It gives us peace and courage as we struggle to do our best in this life. To see it glimmering up ahead gives up hope..


I wrote this for my series of hymns on the lessons in the Revised Common Lectionary that Wayne Leupold asked me to do for his publishing company. It refers briefly to the death of John the Baptist but clings to the promises of our Lord. Amanda Husberg set this simple text to a simple tune.


There are no versions of this on Youtube, but the text can be sung to any SM tune that seems appropriate. I might choose Southwell or Kentucky 93rd.


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