I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 18 I will sing of my Redeemer
Norwegian: Jeg vil Prise min Gjenløser I Corinthians 15:7 Text: Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876). Tune: Jame McGrahahan (1840-1907) 1 I will sing of my Redeemer
and his wondrous love to me;
on the cruel cross he suffered,
from the curse to set me free.
Sing, O sing of my Redeemer!
With his blood he purchased me;
on the cross he sealed my pardon,
paid the debt, and made me free. 2 I will tell the wondrous story,
how my lost estate to save,
in his boundless love and mercy,
he the ransom freely gave.
I will praise my dear Redeemer,
his triumphant power I'll tell:
how the victory he gives me
over sin and death and hell. 3 I will sing of my Redeemer
and his heavenly love for me;
he from death to life has brought me,
Son of God, with him to be.
Sing, O sing of my Redeemer!
With his blood he purchased me;
on the cross he sealed my pardon,
paid the debt, and made me free. MEDITATION The hymns and songs of the Sunday School movement in England and America quickly traveled throughout the world, along with the music of the revivals, especially that of Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899), the Billy Graham of his age. Moody was known to have said that his song leader, Ira Sankey (1840-1908), brought more people to Christ with his music than he did with his preaching. To that end, Moody courted musicians for his revivals. We have noted several of his colleagues, most famous probably, Horatio Spafford, who wrote “When Peace Like a River,” after the loss of his daughters at sea. It was Philip Bliss who wrote the tune for that much beloved hymn. This hymn has a tragedy associated with it also involving Moody. Philip Bliss and his wife had arranged to work with Moody in January 1877 and planned to go to Chicago then. But they got a telegram from Moody asking them to come earlier. They booked passage on the train and left on December 29, 1876, for Chicago. It was a terrible night, a blinding snowstorm whipped over the tracks, leaving huge drifts in its wake. Because of the storm, the train had two engines. As they approached Ashtabula, a town on Lake Erie, they had to cross a trestle bridge. The first locomotive made it across, but when the second was on the bridge it collapsed, plunging the engine and the cars behind it down the 75 foot ravine onto the icy river beneath. A few minutes after that, fire broke out, fanned by the gale like winds. Bliss made it out of the car he was in, extricating himself from under a seat. He saw that his wife was pinned under her seat. He returned to try to get her out, but as he was doing so the flames took their toll. Not a trace of either of them could be found the next day. It was one of the worst rail disasters in American history. Almost 100 people perished. Investigations later found that the bridge was poorly designed, poorly built, and the icy conditions had weakened it further. Bliss’ trunk filled with the hymns he was writing did make it to Chicago. One of the texts in it was this one. The well-known gospel song writer, James McGranahan, wrote the tune shortly thereafter. After its publication in 1877, the hymn became a standard in Gospel song collections around the world. On December 31, 1876, they held a memorial service in Chicago. Over 8,000 mourners filled the hall, with 4,000 outside. Moody spoke. His sermon was a call to repentance. How little did the Bliss couple think of their imminent death when they boarded the train to Chicago, he asked. They were ready to die, he knew, but many others were not. What if someone would leave a meeting where he had preached and died on the way home? If he hadn't preached to prepare people for their deaths, their souls would be on his account, he lamented. During the pandemic much was done to keep people safe from the virus. We don’t want people to die. But did we speak about being ready to die? Moody regretted that he hadn’t. I didn't hear much about being ready to die in all our talk of avoiding death which ultimately none of us can do. Maybe people need to hear how to die in the Lord so they can live in him. Helmut Thielecke, the German theologian during WWII argued, life is more vividly lived and the truths we live on more clear when “we are presented to the borders of death.” In addition, the hymn deals with the soul being redeemed at great cost. We sometimes forget that transaction in our thinking about what Jesus did for us. This song tells us what the Lord has done to save us. He paid the debt to make us free. Prepare, and enjoy life to the full. Every minute. The Lord paid his own life to give you life. HYMN INFO When the text by Bliss was set by McGrahahan, it swept the world. One of the interesting side stories is how it got translated into Norwegian and is now in the 2013 hymnal. Elevine Heede (1820-1883) was a young woman with many gifts. Born into means—her father was a jeweler in Arndal—she was well educated. She studied some in Paris where she lived with an English Methodist pastor and his family. There she was converted and became a Methodist. In 1874 she was called to the Methodist seminary and publishing house in Kristiania. She taught future pastors English and Norwegian and edited the Sunday School magazine, The Little Child's Friend/Den lille Børnevennen, while she translated hymns and songs into Norwegian, hundreds really, from the Moody Sankey revivals and many others. Her translation of "What a Friend we have in Jesus/ Hvilken venn vi har i Jesus" and "Nearer My God to Thee/Nærmere dig, min Gud" have become classics of Norwegian hymnody. LINKS Gaither Music TV/Guy Penrod, Larry Ford, Larnelle Harris https://youtu.be/lA9Bi3Pi6Lw Fernando Ortega https://youtu.be/H2rojHcjJVU Travis Cottrell https://youtu.be/r6ASyPqIzT4 SKRUK/Bedehus songs https://youtu.be/udCl0rz-kBY Bedehus songs https://youtu.be/0C105lmrwFc
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 17 God Will Take Care of You
Text: Civilla Martin (1866-1948); Tune: Stillman Martin (1862-1935) 1 Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you; Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you. R/ God will take care of you, Through ev'ry day, O’er all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you. 2 Through days of toil when heart does fail, God will take care of you; When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. R/ 3 All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you; Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you. R/ 4 No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you; Lean, weary one, upon his breast, God will take care of you. R/ REFLECTION It is a dark day in late November, 1924, on a farm near Starbuck, Minnesota. In the gloomy light, a mother is singing to her five-year old daughter. “Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you.” The little girl looks up at her mother who is heavily pregnant. She does not know that her mother is suffering pre-eclampsia. She just feels the warmth in her mother’s rich mezzo, and the dancing reflections the fire in the pot bellied stove makes through the panes of isinglass. Two days later she will come down into the bedroom and find her father rocking her little sister, holding her close and weeping, her mother’s dead body in the bed beside them, with a newborn baby boy taking his last breaths. The song is nearly all she has to remember from her mother. But she will never forget it. It comes back to her many, many times as a message from her mother. And when the little girl becomes a mother and faces the danger of an operation that could leave her own five-year old daughter motherless, she sings it to her. This was my mother Jonette and her mother, Anda. Anda and my grandfather, Theodore, had been married in March of 1918, just as the Spanish flu was beginning its devastation. As the couple began farming on the western edge of Cyrus, Minnesota, the world around them was hurtling toward chaos. The First World War was raging and American soldiers were fighting in the trenches. The pandemic had been gathering strength through the summer and into October when Minnesotans began coming down with the flu. Doctors in the Twin Cities advised shutting down schools and banning public gatherings but civic leaders were slow to do so. Things finally got so bad, normal life almost collapsed. Much of life was put on hold, schools, church services and sporting events, canceled, etc. Over 10,000 Minnesotans died of the flu from October 1918 to the end of 1919. Estimates are that from 50 to 100 million people died from the pandemic, a large portion in the second wave, the fall of 1918. During these months, my grandmother was pregnant with my mother. Research today says that many children in utero at the time of the flu tended to be more anxious during their lifetimes. Anxiety was without doubt one of my mother’s besetting issues. As a little girl she would wash her hands over and over again until they bled. She remained anxious about things throughout her life. Only her deep faith and outrageous sense of humor kept her on keel, most of the time. Her mother’s song continued to comfort her for the rest of her life, as she sang it to us and told this story. One of the nice things about the hymn is that it is sung to someone else. It preached to the little one and every who hears it. This hymn was recommended for this Sunday. How it fits with Matthew 20, I am not sure, except that we all receive the same care from our Lord as the other, even in our days of toil. God's gift to us is equal for each of us, no more or less. He will take care of you, no matter what the test! (this is a slight revision of a previous blog.) HYMN INFO The hymn was written in 1904 after a little boy told his mother, Civilla Martin, who was ill and who served as an evangelist with her husband, that God would take care of her while her husband was preaching at a meeting. When her husband got home, she felt much better, so she wrote the hymn text. Not long after this, her husband composed this tune for her text. It is a very simple text and tune, one that children can easily understand. Today the hymn is speaking in its great simplicity to millions. Its direct message should be shared with the children you know. They need to hear its direct proclamation. They will remember it and sing it, and sing it to their children. We all need to hear this promise over and over. LINKS Fountainview Academy you can sing along with them https://youtu.be/u4Ez8m2ozf4 Ella Fitzgerald https://youtu.be/zH0RgPwWnIs Heritage Singers https://youtu.be/dgYVN3g5S7g This hymn from my hymns on the lectionary texts from Matthew does deal with the text in Matthew.
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 16 Forgive our Sins as We Forgive
Text: Rosamond E. Herklots (1905-1987). Tune: American tune Detroit (Because of copyright I cannot print the text, but you can find it in the links below with the music) REFLECTION Peter’s question about how many times he should forgive his brother gets a hyperbolic answer from Jesus. Seventy-seven times. In other word always. In a way, it is a restating of the Fifth Petition in the Lord’s Prayer, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Today's hymn by Rosamond Herklots dwells exactly on this question. Herklots takes the Lord’s Prayer language. and meditates on it in the hymn. This petition always give me pause as I pray the Lord’s Prayer. How necessary to the forgiveness of my sins is my forgiving others? Is that a condition on our forgiveness? I knew someone who thought it was a requirement for salvation and a difficult one. Maybe it is not a condition, but a result. Being forgiven should, but not always, open the heart to forgive others. Herklots asks in her hymn: “How can your pardon reach and bless/The unforgiving heart?” Peter’s question comes just after Jesus has taught the disciples about congregational discipline. That is a natural question of one pondering the nature of forgiveness. We all have sentences in our memory that treat this problem, I will forgive you, but never forget, which means I haven’t forgiven you. The parable is an example of the problem. Here the King hears the cry of the one with a debt so great it is unimaginable and forgives it. That act should have changed the heart of the debtor, but it did not. Instead of doing to the other who owed him a trifle next to what he had owed, he demands repayment and has the man sent to be tortured in debtor’s prison. We get this immediately. His heart has not been changed. Because he did not forgive, the King judges him severely. This is what the petition says, ultimately. An unforgiving heart is an unredeemed heart. The congregation which Jesus has already taught procedures for addressing sin in its midst must also come to terms with Jesus’ lesson here. The church is a community of forgiven sinners who know that their lives cannot flourish with old grudges running rampant in it. At the same time we know that congregations are turbulent complicated gatherings of different kinds of people who rub up against one another and there can be conflict. My mother once noted about a congregation that was always troubled. It was born in the contentious heart of a woman who was perpetually difficult. Her spirit seemed to permeate the entire group for a generation. It had a reputation among pastors for being tough to serve because of that. Knowing the congregation myself I thought it was pretty shrewd judgment. One could even wonder if Jesus’ suggestion for church discipline in the passage before this would have worked. Was it tried? I don’t know. But if it had been, and the behavior still persisted, one could remember Jesus’ parable and think here is what happens when an unforgiving heart, as per the hymn, stops the flow of grace into her heart and refuses to let it flow out to others. As the hymn ends, we sing “Let all resentments cease.” Amen. This is the hard part of the battle, but essential to our pilgrimage. HYMN INFO Rosamund E. Herklots was born in North India to missionary parents from Britain. She received her education at Leeds University and was a secretary in the field of medicine, ending her career working for the Association for Spinal Bifida and Hydrocephalus in London. Toward the end of her life she began writing hymns. Of the more than 70 she wrote, many for children, her most well-known is this hymn. The American tune is among the treasures we have from the Sacred Harp tradition. It appeared in the 1820 Southern Harmony and attributed to Bradshaw, although nothing is known about him. LINKS Koine https://youtu.be/HixCQUirJxg?si=eF42fjtvzG2vSjFy Westminster Presbyterian https://youtu.be/0pme3M50tyM?si=_ljOo83kktjgczem St. Paul’s Episcopal Milwaukee https://youtu.be/AEEtSqlenKU?si=eSghlUR43C7-z3wL UMH https://youtu.be/21yuRm3buvs?si=QdfTOzc4hardkwNA This hymn treats the text in the last stanza. A lovely tune.
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 15 Trust and Obey
Test: John. H. Sammis (1846-1919) Tune: Daniel B. Towner (1850-1919) 1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey R/Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey. R/ 3. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet
Or we'll walk by His side in the way
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go
Never fear, only trust and obey. R/ REFLECTION There really aren't any hymns about the procedure Jesus recommends in Matthew 18. Looking back at my hymns on the subject I flunked the test and avoided the rules. What I focused on was forgiveness, but that is not what Jesus is talking about here. He is talking about how we live together in the Christian community and our duties to one another because of the love we have received from him. Even if there are few hymns on Matthew 18:15 especially, the passage appears almost always in congregational constitutions as instructions for how to deal with trouble in the group. Jesus gives us a very detailed piece of advice on how to deal with people in the congregation whose behavior and lives are unbecoming to a Christian. The advice begins with you going to the one who is offending quietly and reproving him or her. If that doesn’t work, then bring another or two, those who have witnessed the sin. Then if the offender refuses to listen you can bring the matter before the church. Then, and only then, the person can be expelled from the congregation. It is a procedure that protects the privacy both of the offender and those who are concerned for him or her. Today many get antsy about such a process. Who are we to judge, they ask? Jesus says, Judge not. Why should the Christian church have a process that seemingly goes against one of the core teachings of the church? Well, actually it doesn't. My Bible study group is studying Acts this year. We have just finished the strange story of Ananias and Sapphira. As you may remember, they conspire together to give a gift to the apostles and the young church, claiming it was the entire sum they had received for selling their property. When Ananias sets the gift at Peter’s feet, he claims it is all the money they received. Peter, prompted by the Holy Spirit, confronts him with his lie, not just to the church, but to God. When Ananias hears this, he falls down dead. The same thing happens to his wife when she repeats the lie. As our study group discussed the difficulties of the text, we discovered some things. Peter did not curse Ananias. He fell dead maybe from shock or fear, as did his wife. There is no mention of God’s action here. They die on hearing the truth. Something deeply evil and hidden had been revealed. It threatened the community. We have had conversations now and then tracing back in our own lives how a sin of a parent and grandparent or even great grandparent continues to affect our lives to the present. This is not God’s doing; this is our doing. There is no unraveling those twisted skeins on our own. Only Jesus can do that. But maybe if we followed Jesus' advice, it wouldn't have been quite so knotty. I heard once about a situation that should have had this kind of intervention. A leader in a congregation had left his wife and was having a flagrant affair with one of his young employees. It was truly a scandal. The pastor asked the trustees what they should do about church discipline. Should he be barred from the altar until he amended his life? The trustees were shocked by the idea. All of us are sinners, they said. When I told a seminary class about this, they were appalled by the pastor’s failure to understand the Gospel. How could one be banned from the table? It was for sinners. Yes, I agreed, but maybe there is more the church could have done. I was also told how the granddaughter of the man had been abused by her father and brothers. That man’s behavior was wreaking its terror still, and continues long after his death. What if the church had spoken clearly at the time? Could it have changed anything, or at least told the granddaughter that the church stood with her? I think that is what Jesus is talking about here. Although we fail often, to be a Christian is to trust and obey. HYMN INFO Sammis, born in Brooklyn, moved to Indiana when he was in his twenties. There he was converted. He worked in the YMCA and then studied at McCormack Seminary to become a Presbyterian pastor. He served churches in Iowa, Michigan and Red Wing, Minnesota. In 1909 he moved to Los Angeles where he taught at BIOLA, continuing to write hymns. This is his most famous, by far. D. B. Towner, the man who set the text to music was a long time colleague of Dwight L. Moody. He had heard a testimony of the man who had said, all I can do is Trust and Obey. He wrote it down on a scrap of paper and gave it to Sammis who wrote the text. Towner composed the tune that was published in Hymns Old and New in 1887. Towner studied briefly with Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) who also worked with Moody until his tragic death in a railroad accident. Towner earned a doctorate in music and became head of the music department at Moody Bible Institute. He composed over two-thousand hymn tunes during his life. LINKS Fountainview Academy https://youtu.be/oV8wfr1GK2Y Dan Moen https://youtu.be/4dh02OnJpIE drolas94 https://youtu.be/R0S8Z-dMM40 SE Samonte https://youtu.be/mmGb3zRv6xE
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 14 Take up thy cross/Korset vil jeg aldrig svike/Jesus' Cross, I'll never leave i
Text: Charles Everest (1814-1877) Tune: B. B. McKinney (1886-1952) 1 Take up thy cross, the Savior said,
If thou wouldst my disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me.
2 Take up thy cross; let not its weight
Fill thy weak soul with vain alarm;
My strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thine heart and nerve thine arm.
3 Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
And let thy foolish pride rebel;
Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
To save thy soul from death and hell.
4 Take up thy cross, then, in His strength,
And calmly every danger brave;
'Twill guide thee to a better home,
And lead to victory o'er the grave.
5 Take up thy cross and follow Him,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only he who bears the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown. KORSET VIL JEG ALDRI SVIKE Jesus' Cross, I'll never leave it Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764). Tune: Norwegian folk from Lesja Jesus’ Cross, I’ll never leave it, For I know its blessed end, For, to truly be a Christian, I must bear my cross to heav’n. Jesus welcomes all believers Knows them all and calls them friends. Jesus’ Cross, I’ll never leave it, For I know its blessed end. Though the way is dark and dreary, Soon we’ll see the Promised Land. Though we trudge through pain and sorrow, They will fade in God’s tomorrow. There our Savior shines with glory, Where we soon with him will stand. Though the way is dark and dreary, Soon we’ll see the Promised Land. REFLECTIONS It is surprising that there are so few hymns on this key passage in Jesus’ ministry. To take up one’s cross, Jesus says, is to lose oneself and gain life eternal. In other words, dying to the self and being raised in Christ so he is the one who lives in us. Peter, who hears this, will one day deny Christ not once but tree times! And then go on to be known as the first Pope! I remember vividly a young boy in a Sunday School class I was teaching. I told him that he had received the cross in his baptism and it was on his forehead, invisible to all except the Lord. But it was there. He protested loudly. I don’t want it there, how can I get it off? That was many years ago. I wonder if he ever struggled with that in his life and came to regard it as a gift or a curse. The boy was right in one sense. Bearing one’s cross means certain suffering and pain. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress , the pilgrim Christian on discovering in the Book of Life that he is damned, flees from his old life, his family and all, because he wants “Life, Life, Eternal life.” It is for him a death to turn from his old life, but life awaits him at the end of his journey. That is what the Gospel does to us. It kills the death in us (our own selves) and substitutes Christ, the one who was raised from the dead and will raise us. Christian's change of direction, however, does not mean it’s all happiness after that. He must suffer trouble and danger all the rest of the way. As Luther says in his Marks of the Church, suffering is the last mark of the church, after the Word, sacraments, ministry, prayer, and finally “The holy possession of the sacred cross, suffering and carrying the cross as followers of Christ.” This does not sound like a great slogan for growth. Come to us and suffer! But as Christiana, Christian’s wife in the second part of Bunyan’s classic, says, "The bitter comes before the sweet.” We know that is true. People who sign up for a life without suffering, and try to avoid it by choosing themselves as first, have actually signed up for a world of suffering that has no end. We are promised a journey whose end is glory. There God wipes away every tear. As both hymns make clear, we can take up our cross with joy because we know its joyful end.
Charles Everest was an Episcopal rector in Connecticut. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, he served the same parish in Hamden CT for thirty-one years. The original version of the poem was from a collection he published in 1833 Visions of Death and Other Poems . His work is almost unique in that this hymn was one of two included in the original version of Hymns Ancient and Modern 1861, the most influential English hymnal of its day. Hans Adolph Brorson is one of Denmark's greatest hymn writers. He wrote hundreds of hymns, his best were Christmas hymns like "Your Little Ones Dear Lord are We" and his Swans Songs (1765), which he wrote on his death bed, include this hymn and many others like "Behold a Host Arrayed in White." Norwegians especially loved his hymns and set them to folk hymns making them seem like Norwegian hymns. In this hymn, the cross is both Jesus' and ours. LINKS Grace Episcopal Boulder CO https://youtu.be/KJCm2-Z62w8?si=XuULlYS8d6D5UbDv Beckenhorst Singers https://youtu.be/wnLEYsJ__TQ?si=HsTX9B2PgjybEeXW Orchard Enterprises https://youtu.be/eFHdtVFtm64?si=U2D8jADhQDt9FAEV Korset vil jeg aldrig Svike https://youtu.be/kEgrdeXnBjU?si=0JwVLeshUlBRhk0f Arild Sandvold/Organ Improvisations on Norwegian Folk Tune Korset vil jeg aldrig svike https://youtu.be/f7brklvdFzU?si=7Q9Atiq_Ief2gspB Kåre Nordstoga Organ arrangement of tune https://youtu.be/Bbt-QHinyuY?si=SaR7VWTPESsvWzyk
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 13 Will you follow me?
English: The Summons/ When I call your name Norsk: Det er navnet ditt jeg roper, vil du følge meg? Text: John Bell (1949-) and Graham Maule Tune: Scottish folk For copyright reason I can’t print text, but you can find it on the links below REFLECTIONS: When Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is, they give a report on what they have heard. But when he asks them what they think, Peter, as usual, is right there. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus applauds his confession and announces that it will be upon that rock—Peter’s confession—that his church will be built. After Peter has been praised by the Lord, Jesus goes on to forecast his suffering and death at the hand of the rulers and then his resurrection. This is too much for Peter. He takes him aside in secret and rebukes him. How can the Messiah, so long expected, be treated like this? Don’t talk about these things. It isn’t seemly, we hear him say. Jesus then rebukes Peter. Just after he has called him the Rock on which he will build his church, he now calls him Satan! He then goes on to tell us the nature of discipleship, of what it will cost to follow him. What Jesus is saying to Peter is to follow me you must get behind me. You are not the leader here, I am. If you are the leader and not me, you will hinder my work. There has been a lot of talk about leadership in the church over my lifetime. But it is hard to find anything in Scripture about leadership, in fact, if a church leader is not a disciple following Jesus, their work will be Satanic, Jesus says. Discipleship is all about following Jesus. As the hymn says, Jesus calls us to follow and never be the same! That takes humility, but also a kind of courage. Jesus doesn’t promise us a rose garden if we follow him, at least not on the journey. To follow Jesus is to give up one’s life. Those who would save their lives will lose them, Jesus promises. The rose garden comes when he returns with his angels in the glory of his Father. Then he will repay us according to what we have done. Trying to save oneself with one’s own power is a burden every Christian knows. We carry the burden around to exhaustion. Its weight will finally kill us. To follow is to lose oneself in Christ. "You in me and me in you," How wonderful to know, as Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress learned, that beneath the cross there is a grave where our sins, and old self are buried with Christ so that we can be raised up with him. To follow him is to be free and capable of serving him with love. HYMN INFO John Bell has been something of the guru of recent contemporary hymnody over the past quarter century. A Scottish pastor and at one time serving the Iona community, he has been noted especially for his use of Celtic folk tunes for his texts. These folk tunes which seem washed in the deep blue waters of the turbulent North Sea can make almost any text sound great, but Bell’s skill with a text, especially in the repetitions one finds in this text, works especially well with this gorgeous Scottish tune. Bell, born in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, had musical talent from the beginning and intended to a music teacher, but a call to the ministry, especially to serve the poor, changed the direction of his life. He served as associate pastor at the English Reformed Church in Amsterdam. From there he returned to the Church of Scotland as a youth pastor. He began writing hymns along with his colleague Graham Maule, when he realized there were no hymns on various topics central to the Christian faith. This has become one of the most popular of his hymns and can be found in most contemporary hymnals around the world. It is all about what it means to follow Christ. Note too that it is from the point of view ofJesus who is the speaker calling us, something recent hymns have done, and oddly, many on the call of God to the Christian, such as "I, the Lord of Sea and Sky," and "Borning Cry." LINKS Chet Valley Churches (see the lyrics here) https://youtu.be/uu7ihXeTsMQ?si=YlD83WWPKKVfLTuR First Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska https://youtu.be/1EOmW1_gJwY?si=E0nuC0n5_pwgj3F6 The University of Notre Dame Folk Choir https://youtu.be/TY13dATqEKc?si=bThzR97H0vo9zw-_ Orchard Enterprises https://youtu.be/VFXAmB_Iq7k?si=4IfHBYfF_hElyUBn
PENTECOST 12 The Canaanite Woman
English: Jesus, I Long for your Blessed Communion Norwegian: JEsu, din søte forening at smage Text: Johan Ludvig Conrad Allendorf, (1693-1773) tr. in Danish, Peder Hygom (1692-1764) Tune: Folk tune from Ryfylke 1. Jesus, I long for your blessed communion, Yearning possesses my heart and my mind. Break down all barriers that hinder my union. Draw me to you, O Redeemer most kind! Show me now clearly my need that is crying. Show me the pain of the wrongs that I do. That unto sin I may daily be dying, And in the Spirit live only to you. 2. Quicken my soul thro’ your blood and your merit. Send me your Spirit and help me to prove I am your captive in soul and in spirit. Lead me and draw me to you with your love. Come, let my heart from all idols be severed; So that you only can dwell in my soul. Grant me your peace that continues forever, Peace beyond all I can fathom or know. 3. O that I only might learn consecration, Fully surrender my heart day by day! O that my Jesus might be my sole portion, I am, alas! All too far, far away. Jesus, whose voice full of love’s gentle warning, Gladly I follow, O give me your hand, That in pure holiness, faith’s bright adorning, Like a true Christian I walk to the end. 4. Jesus, O hear now your dove’s gentle cooing! Shepherd, go seek the lost, wandering lamb! You that have won me by love’s tender wooing Cleanse now my heart from its sin and its shame. May I not be like a sepulchre whited, Fair and all beautiful outside alone: But may your law in my heart be indicted, That in full truth I may call me your own. 5. Jesus, when shall I find rest in your haven? Take up my burden, Lord, lift it from me! When shall I see you, my Savior, in heaven? Waken and quiet the wild, troubled sea. O loving Jesus, come help me, be speedy; Hide not your face from me, always be near. You are the wealth of the inwardly needy. Come, fill my heart with your mercy and cheer. 6. Jesus, let not my love go unrequited: See my poor soul growing weary, O Lord, Let us, Immanuel, now be united, When you are with me, my soul is restored. Once you did say, “They will hunger and perish, If I permit them to go on their way!” Love everlasting! Refuse not to nourish Souls that are hung’ring for crumbs for today. 7. Merciful Jesus, I pray, hear my pleading. Do not forget what you said in your word: “Ask and receive; you will find when you seek me. This you have said, and your people have heard. I, like the woman at Cana, keep pleading, Crying to you till my longing is stilled. And you have spoken with grace to my needing, “Amen, yes, Amen; be done as you will.” Tr. Carl Døving; Georg Rygh, alt REFLECTION Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman is one of the more troubling of all that we find in the Gospels. Jesus seems brusque and otherwise engaged with his own people, not foreigners. His sentence “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” makes us cringe. Is he comparing this woman to a dog? Commentators over the years have tried to make the text say what it isn’t saying. But that is not fruitful. Luther took it straight on and marveled at the woman’s faith. She had heard of Jesus, believes in him and makes him hold to his mission, indeed widen it. Faith is refusing to believe bad things about Jesus, one scholar says. One can also hear in this encounter some theological banter. While we hear dogs in a perjorative sense in this saying, such as "going to the dogs," we are a people who, on the whole, love man’s best friends and make them part of the family. When the woman hears the word "dogs" she takes that phrase and lawyer-like uses it—dogs around the family table get the crumbs. So I am part of the family to whom you were sent, she says. Jesus agrees with her logic immediately and remarks on the faith of the woman. “Be it done for you as you desire!” That is a surprising statement. All that she wants and desires will come true: the daughter is healed! "Amen, yes, amen, be done as you will!" Faith clings and is busy, fussing and arguing, complaining, doubting and contending with the Lord, but never giving up on him. "You promised!" This is the one hymn I know that deals with the Canaanite woman. The writer of the hymn for today shows us how rich and complicated our prayers can be. The hymn is drenched in Scripture: the better portion that Mary chose at Bethany, hypocrites as whited sepulchres, the feeding of the five thousand, the calming of the storm at sea, the Good Shepherd seeking the lost, the Canaanite woman. As we pound away at a difficult text, Luther says, we will find the sweet meat of the gospel. Strange isn’t it, how delving into a Scriptural passage we may not like profits us much! HYMN INFO The hymn, which Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), sang before he had his experience plowing in the fields on April 5, 1796, had been cherished among Norwegians and Norwegian Americans ever since. We are not sure which tune he used, although there are some good guesses. Hauge’s experience and his work as an evangelist utterly changed Norway and Norwegians. The tune most favored today is the folk tune Ryfylke, an area northeast of Stavanger. The original German text by Allendorf was "Jesus--Sophia! ich suche und verlange/Mit dir alleine verbanden zu sein/Jesus, Sophia! I seek and demand to be connected to you.” The pietists often thought of Jesus as wisdom—Sophia—and Matthew’s gospel is filled with hints of Jesus as wisdom. Hygom, a Danish cleric, translated it into Danish and it became popular after it was published in Pontoppidan’s 1740 hymnal. It can be found in the Lutheran Hymnary 1913 and the Concordia 1932. THE CANAANITE WOMAN AND HER DAUGHTER In a far country, out of Israel,
Jesus meets a woman who believes
He is “the Lord, the Son of David.” She yells
For him to heal her daughter; she needs reprieve.
The demon never lets her rest; her cries
Irritate the disciples who beg the Lord
To send her away. He’s silent. Then replies,
“I was not sent to you.” She sinks to the floor,
“Help me!” A cry as plaintive as it gets.
“Even the dogs eat the table crumbs!”
Her faith surprises him. He sees a net
Singing across the waters, the kingdom come.
Her parable opens him to all the earth,
Stunned as she sees his wonder show its worth. Matthew 15:21–28; Matthew 28:19–20; Romans 15:8 LINK for Jesus the Harmony https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Harmony-Gospel-Sonnets-Days/dp/1506464556/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=&asin=1506464556&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1 LINKS Sissel https://youtu.be/jMFKIHbnCmk Knut Nystedt choral arrangement https://youtu.be/IMAJUIkxLU8 Sondre Bratland—He is Norway’s expert in using quarter tones common in folk tunes https://youtu.be/FAxDbNjv5JY
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 11 I Was Sinking Deep in Sin
Text: James Rowe (1865-1933) Tune: Howard Smith (1863-1918) 1 I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me –
Now safe am I.
Love lifted even me,
Love lifted even me,
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me;
Love lifted even me,
Love lifted even me,
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.
2 All my heart to Him I give,
Ever to Him I'll cling,
In His blessed presence live,
Ever His praises sing.
Love so mighty and so true
Merits my soul's best songs;
Faithful, loving service, too,
To Him belongs. [Refrain]
3 Souls in danger, look above,
Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love
Out of the angry waves.
He's the Master of the sea,
Billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be –
Be saved today. [Refrain] REFLECTIONS I used this hymn for Epiphany II this year, but it is one of the few exactly on this text, and works especially well for this Sunday. Based on a line in Psalm 40:2, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock,” it also uses very directly the imagery of Peter walking out onto the water and beginning to sink and crying out to the Lord for help. Save me!. In the translation of what Jesus says in Matthew—It is I—we miss what the Greek says: I AM. Jesus is telling the disciples that he is Jaweh, God. And then, "Be not afraid!" This greeting is always the first sentence in a greeting from heaven. We are right to be shaken to the core by such an encounter. After he has saved Peter, and stilled the storm, the disciples, fearful and astonished, worship Jesus. They, to some extent, answer Jesus proclamation that he is Jahweh, “Truly you are the Son of God!” It makes me a little nervous that Jesus upbraids Peter for being “of little faith.” I plead guilty to that. And it usually comes when I think I am walking on water on my own. My faith is little when I feel all sufficient. Jesus can say that to all of us, even the rock upon which he builds his church. While the psalm has more of quicksand in it than sea, the thought of sinking into the waters was well known to everyone. Dante begins his Divine Comedy with a description of himself almost drowning but being lifted up by Lucia, a messenger from Beatrice who brought the love of God to him. The very physical image of sinking into a mire or deep sea is a great metaphor for our being caught in sin. The hymn writer uses that image very well. Especially in a miry bog. The more one tries to get out, the deeper one sinks. There is no way we can get out on our own. The only salvation is when someone comes along with a rope or board that can bring us to solid ground. We cannot save ourselves. This is true whether our miry bog is just that or our own sins. All of us know how tangled up we can get by trying to extricate ourselves from our own messes. We need help. Christians learn these lessons over time. We need to look up for help and cry out. The Lord is waiting for that cry and will come at once. He loves to save us. And must be amused at our thrashing around in our own messes as we struggle to free ourselves, waiting for the cry that comes when we realize we cannot save ourselves. His coming to lift us out of the mire or deep waters shows us his very nature: Love. The God of the universe who made worlds on worlds stooping down to lift insignificant souls like us out of sin. That is love. God's plan of salvation is about love for sinners. God’s whole work is designed to lift us out of the mire, save us and finally bring us into fellowship with him, when we confess that he is God. "He is the master of the sea!" HYMN INFO James Rowe, the writer of the hymn text, was born in 1865 in England.. He worked in the Government Survey Office in Dublin. In 1890 he emigrated to New York and employed by the railroads, until he became superintendent of the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society. Not until 1896 did he begin writing hymns, songs and poems. He died in 1933. Over the years the song has become a favorite of the African American church but remains well known in evangelical circles. Almost nothing is known about the composer Howard Smith. LINKS Justa Nudda https://youtu.be/ZJvo_dsIHQA LA Mass choir https://youtu.be/5_ckHj0VH18 Kim Hopper/Gaither Music TV https://youtu.be/YbE3Rmfhtz4 Bebe Winans https://youtu.be/2btUHZuR_Kc
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 10 Praise, my Soul, the King of Heaven
Text: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1841). Tune: John A. Goss (1800-1880) 1. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; To his feet your tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Evermore his praises sing. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise the everlasting King! 2. Praise him for his grace and favor To his people in distress. Praise him, still the same as ever, Slow to chide, and swift to bless. Alleluia, alleluia! Glorious in his faithfulness! 3. Fatherlike he tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame he knows. In his hand he gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes. Alleluia, alleluia! Widely yet his mercy flows! 4. Angels, help us to adore him; You behold him face to face. Sun and moon, bow down before him, Dwellers all in time and space. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise with us the God of grace!
MEDITATION (a reworking of a previous blog) There really aren't many hymns on the feeding of the five thousand. Most hymns we use for that lesson are general, like this one. We just sang it at the funeral of my oldest colleague Roy Harrisville, who died at 101. A general hymn of praise, it has images from Psalm 23 and 103, where God is the one who shepherds and sees to it that we are fed. A miracle that is. The people are hungry, the disciples tell Jesus, and he asks them what they have and all they have is five loaves and two fishes. Almost nothing. Jesus shows them with God nothing is impossible. One of the mysteries of faith is that we rarely understand this until we need something or are struggling with something that drives us to ask for something we don't have. Need really speaks to our helplessness. We turn to God and then we see what God is able to do. It is trouble and sorrow that are the handmaids of faith. We know it, when suddenly in a time of desperation, we cry out for help. Luther thought struggle was necessary to a living faith. When we think we are self-sufficient we are a danger to ourselves and society. We, in a sense, become our own Gods. The late Queen Elizabeth II used this at her wedding and it became something of a royal psalm. What I like best about using that hymn at such occasions is the clear statement that even kings, queens, presidents and potentates owe worship to a higher power, Jesus, the King of heaven. Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his classic Democracy in America that a system like America's cannot flourish if people do not have a notion that one day they will have to give account to their God for their deeds. If there is no accounting to give, then, anything goes . If God does not rule over the earthly king, as we read in the Book of Judges, chaos comes. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, scholar of medieval Norwegian Law, has written about the legal tradition established by King Magnus VI in 1274. All legal decisions had to be made in the presence of “the four daughters of God,” from Psalm 85, Truth, Justice, Mercy and Peace. Every judge had to know that his rulings were always made in the sight of God under the eyes of the Daughters of God. G. K. Chesterton said once "The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank." The necessity to give thanks means we owe someone, that we are not our own sovereigns. This should give us humility. It makes us treat our families and friends better to know there is one watching to see what we are doing. It really is about obedience to the First Commandment, "Thou Shalt have no other Gods before me. What does this mean? We should fear and love God above all things ." Martin Luther taught that if people could have kept the First commandment, and honored God above all things, none of the rest of the story of redemption would have been necessary. So we teach and sing this hymn with joy that we can bow before our King and Creator whose miracles every day nourish and sustain us as Jesus did for the crowd when he fed them. He deserves all our tribute and worship for we are frail and unable to rule ourselves successfully. With joy we want to have all creation worship with us, from the angels, even the sun and moon, all created beings, who owe their very existence to the Lord of heaven. The hymn expresses our right relationship to the Creator, made possible by King Jesus. Worship him today with joy and praise! HYMN INFO Henry F. Lyte, who also wrote "Abide with Me," broke through the notion that any paraphrase of a psalm was to be exact. This is his response to Psalm 103, using its concepts to shape a new hymn. Lyte was a gifted man, born in Ireland. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and received high honors there and considered going on for a medical degree, but then decided for Theology and the ministry. While serving in Cornwall, he suffered a profound spiritual experience that changed his ministry and drove him to write many hymns and poems and reflections on the poetry of others, especially the English poet Henry Vaughan. John Goss was sent to London to sing in the Chapel Royal where he suffered a harsh teacher. who would not let him learn to play the organ. Despite that he became one of the leading musicians of the English church during his life time, playing the organ at St. Paul's for much of the Victorian era. His gentle spirit and mild nature made him beloved by his colleagues and students, such as Arthur Sullivan and John Stainer.
LINKS Westminster Abbey Choir
https://youtu.be/sx1eMwlDFb8 Jubilee service for Queen Elizabeth II in St. Pauls https://youtu.be/4d9RJMOP9Tw Golden Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke Philip https://youtu.be/RJPWgr7EVmM Rob Charles at the Organ https://youtu.be/213AmHJrl_I
HYMN FOR PENTECOST 9 The Mustard Seed
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: João Wilson Faustini (1931-2023) The Savior said to the multitudes: “Behold, the Kingdom of Heaven Is like a grain of a mustard seed, The smallest seed that God has given.” The mustard seed is the least of seeds But when it grows, it’s the grandest, The greatest plant; it’s a might tree Where birds can nest within its branches.” O Lord, my faith is a tiny seed; Show me the kingdom of heaven. I look to you to supply my needs; Your word is life, a holy leaven. Come raise in me, from this mustard seed, A tree of faith that will flourish And bring forth fruit in each word and deed. You died so I will never perish. Teach me to praise you with all my heart For saving me from destruction; Take me at last to your heav’nly home When I can praise you with the angels. REFLECTIONS Each little parable in this lesson deserves its own sermon. I resist the idea of finding the theme for all of these little gems and then preaching on the theme—that takes away the sharp two-edged sword of the word. Themes are not Scripture, even if one can find them in Scripture. At the same time, God does work with the small and out of the way things to save us. The entire story of our salvation is about the small and unexpected becoming the Savior of the World. Jesus compares himself to a seed in John 12 that “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”. So Jesus is that grain of wheat, a seed. When I was writing my sonnets on Jesus, this was one of several themes that struck me as overpowering. So even the smallest part of his Word, entering into my soul through my ears is enough to grow into a great tree and become something more than I had ever expected. Some of these small parables really show the hiddenness of the word and the power there is in the seed. From an almost invisible speck, suddenly a large productive plant. So then we crave it. We search for the hidden treasure, we give up everything for the pearl of great price, because nothing else matters except Jesus’ living in us. It becomes like an obsession. And when it is achieved it is enough simply for the man to enjoy the pearl of great price rid of all his other treasures. I know something about the obsession to acquire something in my own life, and the emptiness that comes when, having gotten what one is obsessed by, not being satisfied, but wanting more. I live with young children in the house. I am asked frequently to buy something on line that will satisfy all their longings, but it lasts only briefly. Then they are on to another request. William Blake’s cartoon "I want! I want!" seems a perfect parable for those feelings. But to be filled, to be satisfied, as the Samaritan woman was, that is quite another thing. Like the satisfied farmer who has bought the field so he can enjoy the great treasure in it. We have no suspicion that he will ever weary of it and go on to something else. No, the kingdom of heaven slakes our thirst, and satisfies us completely. It started out so grand, at creation, and then became so small, "infinity cloistered in a womb" John Donne said once, so we could know it. And now nothing can contain the joy our Lord gives us. Nothing. He is enough. PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED The smallest seed becomes the largest plant
In the garden. One for the books but workaday.
A girl from a backwater in a little land
Hears an angel. She wonders what to say—
Then assents. A lily shudders. A dove descends.
Beyond our grasp, the consequence breaks through.
The egg in her womb grows. It will have no end.
Its provenance unlikely, strange, but true.
A boy is born in a stable. The family moves
To Nazareth; he learns his Father’s trade,
Healing the sick and hated for his love.
He is crucified—died and buried—then raised.
From the dead, he ascends. Now all the books in all
The world cannot contain him. They are too small. Matthew 13:31–32; John 21:25; 2 Peter 3:18 Poem by Gracia Grindal From Jesus the Harmony (Fortress Press, 2021) HYMN INFO This hymn is part of my Treasury of Faith hymn collection which includes all the texts, excluding the Psalms, in the Revised Common Lectionary. One day almost twenty years ago Wayne Leupold asked me if I would write a hymn on every text in the lectionary. I was about 60 and had felt the end of my writing career was nearing and then suddenly a door opened up and for the next 9 years every Saturday night I sat down by the fire when it was winter, studied the text, prayed and then started scribbling. The first line gave me a sense for the meter and I was on my way! over 750 hymns later, I went on toe write much more, the door opened wider and wider. Thanks be to God! It was my privilege to be able to work with composer, pastor, and musician Faustini. long time pastor, and church musician, who studied at Westminster Choir College and the Sacred Music Program at Union Seminary. After retirement he returned to his native Brazil where he was the most prolific composer of Portuguese hymns and church music in the world. He lived in New Jersey for many years, serving a Portuguese church there. He died this February. He was widely respected and loved wherever he worked as is evident from these videos below! LINKS I can't find a performance of this hymn, but there are many Youtube performances of Faustini's work. Here is one on Christ lives and a long concert of homage to him and his work in the Protestant Cathedral in São Paolo. Christo Vive/Christ lives https://youtu.be/e-BiTl3ap5s Homage to Faustini/long choral program https://www.youtube.com/live/fxywnUGornM?feature=share Hosana https://youtu.be/Fi88zU5KtQM Ó Senhor, te agradecemos https://youtu.be/LdVcb1Ef2JI
HYMN for PENTECOST 8 The Wheat and the Tares/ Come Ye, Thankful People Come
Test: Henry Alford (1810-1871) Tune: George Elvey (1816-1893) 1 Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
That our wants are all supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
2 We ourselves are God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
3 For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take the harvest home;
From His field shall purge away
All that doth offend that day,
Give his angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.
4 Even so, Lord! quickly come,
To Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy presence to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.
REFLECTIONS Some translations use the term darnel for weeds in this parable. Darnel looked like wheat, but it had properties that made it poisonous in large doses. You couldn’t really see what it was until it had fully grown. Then it could be harvested and separated from the good seed and burned in the fire, mostly to keep it out of the flour, given its poisonous properties. We read the parable today with the tares as weeds, innocuous, but a nuisance. In Jesus' time, they were deadly. The idea of a wicked man coming and sowing a dangerous weed in one’s fields was terrifying when all you had for food was growing on your farm. But Jesus also knows about weeds. Trying to get rid of them while they are tiny sprouts and very like the good wheat will only bring disaster—the good wheat will be ruined as well. So wait until you can see the difference and then weed them out. I remember when I was about ten years old, my great uncle paid me a penny a weed I could find in his wheat field in western Minnesota. I knew the fields around the farm well so he could let me spend the morning cleaning up his fields for a better harvest. The golden grain was waving in the blue August morning as I walked through it. The weeds were bright green, easy to spot against in the gold. I picked 50 and threw them away into the fires of the August sun. One can apply this to both the harvest in the fall and the harvest of the latter days. Our hymn writer, Henry Alford, an English divine who knew the rituals of the English countryside well, starts with the annual harvest, but moves quickly to the spiritual meaning. The devil is always scheming and dangerous with his poison. This is a topic when theologians talk congregations. The congregation of believers is divinely called into being by the Spirit, but invisible. No one can really judge who is a believer or not. That is for the Lord, thus the reluctance of an older generation of Lutheran pastors to pray for the dead to be accepted into heaven.That transaction was already over. Pastors also learned over time to be careful praising the deceased for being a fine Christian. Sometimes, there might be an abused child who knew the deceased to be a monster. That would be dangerous to the faith of the child. The service is for the mourners. For example, Johannes Brahms’ great Lutheran Requiem. Instead of the “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,” Brahms begins his with a prayer for the mourners in the words of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are they that mourn.” In Lutheran tradition, funerals were designed to comfort the mourners. This did not mean there was no judgment. We were, however, not the judge. That was for the Lord. Thus we commit the dead to the Lord who judges both the living and the dead as we say every Sunday. This is serious stuff and pastors were taught in seminary to preach sermons that would preach for a verdict..Preaching was consequential—one professor at Luther Seminary was reputed to have told his classes that if they did not preach the Word of God on a Sunday and one of their hearers died during the week, the soul of that hearer could be on their record. Preaching had eternal consequences. It made many a seminary student, at the time, tremble in his boots. Jesus isn’t fooling around here. There are two options with eternal consequences. Jesus explains the parable to his disciples: when the angels have gathered up all the causes of sin and cast them into the fire, the righteous will shine like the sun. Alford paints a beautiful picture of what happens to those who remained faithful: “Come with all thy angels, come/raise the song of harvest home.” HYMN INFO Alford wrote this hymn text and published it in 1844. He would edit it down to four stanzas some years later. Written for a harvest festival in his village, it also used the imagery of Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares to make the harvest a harbinger of the last judgment. Alford had an illustrious career as an English rector, serving as dean of Canterbury Cathedral and a scholar whose four volume commentary on the Greek New Testament was widely used in the English speaking world. George Elvey sang in the Centerbury Cathedral choir when he was a boy. Educated at Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music, he began as organist while still a teenager at St. George Chapel where he worked until his retirement. He composed this tune for another text, but it soon became associated with Alford’s text and has been its most popular setting ever since. LINKS
The Temple Choir in Salt Lake City https://youtu.be/msOzJ6DY7EA Piano playing hymn with text https://youtu.be/RrDQiJJClak Chet Valley Churches https://youtu.be/5FqdCskC0QE
HYMNS FOR PENTECOST 7 The Parable of the Seed
Seed that in Earth is Dying Svein Elllingsen, Harald Herresthal A seed beneath the ground Gracia Grindal Danial Charles Damon When Seed Falls on Good Soil. Norman Olsen Fred Jackisch A seed beneath the ground Waits patiently for sun, Warm light to lift it toward the day When darkness will be gone. For as it waits below In bondage to decay, It hears the whole creation groan In pain and agony. The seed can live in hope For what it cannot see; The glory that will be revealed, It waits for patiently. Though everything seems dark And death appears to reign, Out of the seed new life will sprout, And joy will come again. Lord, I am like that seed Whose harvest will be soon. Make me an heir with Jesus Christ And all that he has done. Mere words cannot express The glory there will be, When we are shining like the sun With you eternally. Gracia Grindal REFLECTIONS One cannot exhaust the parable of the seeds. God’s word—Jesus—is the seed. Any words we speak of him to others are like seeds sown on the ground. In order to live, we must, like the seed, die, Jesus says. This is the secret of our faith. Death brings life. Jesus died to give us life. The old person in us has to die in order to give birth to the new, who is Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ. These deaths are hard. The old Adam and Eve in us want to survive at all costs. The hard lesson is that until they are dead, we cannot live in the fullness we were created to live. The grain must be ground to make flour, the grape be crushed to make wine. We know that. Is it also true of us? How are we kneaded and broken so we can be raised up to life? We don’t have to seek the suffering, it comes to us, unbidden. It may completely crush us. And then there is no place to look but up. But many don’t know there is anything to see when they look up. Religious thinkers are telling us there are millions of young people in our world who already feel dead and without meaning. What an opportunity we have to go to them with true life, to feed and water the dead seed and nurture it so it grows into new fruitful life. In these days of AI and other robotic threats to our humanity, many fear we have forgotten that we are human. We don’t know how to be human, partly because we don’t know we are creatures. Partly because we no longer believe we are creatures of a God who made us in his image. A current thinker, Ingolf Dalferth, makes this argument saying that as passive creatures we receive life, both our physical and our spiritual, from outside of us. And the life we receive gives us the agency to live in freedom. Christians believe we are both animal and angel--we know we are dust, and yet, we know because of Christ we are eternal. Like the seed waiting in the ground. It cannot live in a paper package. It has to be tended. It is entirely passive. This spring my four year old grand niece and I found a little pail with dirt in it and she asked me to help her plant something in it. I had a package of seeds we could use. We took out the minuscule hard seeds from the packet and put them in the dirt, watered them and left it in the sun and sort of forgot about it, but then a few days later we found it brimming with green shoots that we needed to thin so that a few shoots could actually grow and flourish. Without being planted, without the sun and rain, they would have stayed infertile and dead on my shelf. And without our continuing to tend them, they would have choked on their own growth, or died for lack of water in our drought or been devoured by hungry birds or squirrels. Here is the mystery of faith. If Jesus, the word, is planted in us, he will grow into something we haven’t even imagined. We know we are all thistles and thorns, or thin hard dust. And so we pray, Lord Jesus, let me be good soil. One of the old salts I know, Pastor Norman Olsen wrote a lovely hymn When Seed Falls on good soil which I have shared several times on this blog. It gets better with every reading. HYMN INFO All of these hymns work over the various uses of seeds in Scripture. Svein Ellingsen of Norway has written one about which you can read here. It is in the ELW in English https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-358-såkorn-som-dør-i-jorden-now-the-green-blade-riseth Norm Olsen’s hymn can be found here, https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-320-when-seed-falls-on-good-soil And mine, written to respond to the parable of the seed. Look out at the garden you are tending and wonder how the garden in your heart is growing. Dan's tune is perfect. LINKS Seed that in Earth is Dying/Ellingsen https://youtu.be/brLbjDGce_4 https://youtu.be/FtZTrQy3Wfo When Seed Falls on Good Soil/Olsen Congregation and choir https://youtu.be/avDmNisejWg