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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 10 Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 10 Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

German: Jesu, Heiland, führe du Norwegian: Jesus, frelser, lods du mig Spanish: Cristo, mi piloto sé Text: Edward Hopper (1816-1888). Tune: John Gould (1821-1875) 1 Jesus, Savior, pilot me, Over life's tempestuous sea: Unknown waves before me roll, Hiding rocks and treach'rous shoal; Chart and compass come from Thee– Jesus, Savior, pilot me! 2 As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild; Boist'rous waves obey Thy will When Thou say'st to them, "Be still!" Wondrous Sov'reign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me! 3 When at last I near the shore, And the fearful breakers roar 'Twixt me and the peaceful rest– Then, while leaning on Thy breast, May I hear Thee say to me, "Fear not– I will pilot thee!"   REFLECTION When we go to worship in a typical church, we sit in what is called the nave, meaning that the place where we sit is like a ship. We are in the middle of a voyage to the harbor which is heaven, our final destination. The Christian life has been thought of as a voyage on a ship almost since the beginning. Jesus as the pilot, the mast as a cross, the anchor as Christ in whom we are anchored. Many churches from the Mediterranean to the Nordic countries have a ship hanging at the entrance to the nave pointing to the altar, the end of the journey. It is one of the oldest symbols for the church—many logos for church organizations use the ship as a sign.   The lesson for this Sunday, featuring the perilous journey on the boat in which Jesus stills the storm, is the place from which we get that image. The First Epistle of Peter 3:20 also elaborates on that image of the ark on the water (baptism) which saved the eight in Noah’s family. The Christian life as journey such as the Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is a long walk through the many dangers and joys on the way. Augustine says that not only is Christ the country to which we are going, but also the way there. The image of the journey as being in a storm tossed boat is fiercer and more dangerous than the walk. The wind and waves can create perilous moments in which one cries out for a Savior—a pilot.    Today in the turbulent times in which we live the idea of life as a stormy sea, of our being buffeted about by the wind and waves seems more apt as we feel "the fearful breakers roar." Many of us remember when we woke in the night with a nightmare and called to our moms to hold us and comfort us. In her arms we would feel assured and pacified, even if now we know that the promise of a parent to always be there and provide safety for the child cannot be kept, ultimately. Even if it works for the night.   However, the cry that the Savior be like the mother who comforts us gives us both the sense of how that promise we heard in our mother’s arms comforted us then, and also now in the arms of our Savior. He can give us eternal calm and peace--and it begins right now! He is here with us now saying Fear not! as he gives us the peace of heaven. How great that calm can be when we know the pilot who gave his all to give us peace.    HYMN INFO Born in New York City, Hopper attended Union Theological Seminary and then served the Presbyterian church in Sag Harbor on Long Island, after which he became pastor at the Church of Sea and Land in New York for sailors. His most famous hymn is "All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name." He wrote this hymn some time before 1871, but when he was asked to write a hymn for a seagoing organization, he remembered he had parts of this already written. John Gould was a native of Bangor, Maine. He worked in New York City and Philadelphia, composing music for several books of Gospel songs. LINKS The Mormon Tabernacle Choir https://youtu.be/zVcNIvZjarQ Mahalia Jackson https://youtu.be/Gb-yn859ZUo SE Samonte https://youtu.be/xgtz3V2IGdo Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys/Country Western version https://youtu.be/hSkziVWcnB4 KyleHannah Gilbertson https://youtu.be/1VT-kyKUvUk

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 9 Come, ye Disconsolate

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 9 Come, ye Disconsolate

Text: Thomas Moore (1779-1852) Third Stanza: Thomas Hastings Tune: Samuel Webb, Sr. (1740-1816)   1.     Come, you disconsolate, where'er you languish; Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel. Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal. 2.     Joy of the desolate, light of the straying, Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure! Here speaks the Comforter, in mercy saying, "Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot cure." 3.     Here see the bread of life; see waters flowing Forth from the throne of God, pure from above. Come to the feast prepared; come, ever knowing Earth has no sorrows but heaven can remove. REFLECTION These past weeks, especially the near miss of the assassin’s bullet by the former president, have been troubling, if not dispiriting in the extreme. Where can we go for comfort? We are disconsolate, a not much used word these days, but it feels like the right one. It seems like the sorrows of earth are flooding over us and there is no place to find rest. Our hymn tells us where to flee: To Jesus, the mercy seat, the Comforter. Jesus' compassions do not fail, no matter his weariness. He goes about healing and ministering to them, bringing the disconsolate, the wounded, the penitent, the desolate, comfort. They run to be with him, knowing that even to touch the hem of his garment will bring healing and consolation.   Hear this story and run! Despite his weariness, his emptiness, Jesus is filled with mercies that cannot be depleted, he will bring us healing and wholeness. He has the bread and water of life for us to feast on. Maybe, some will say, I go there often, but have never sensed the feeding, or the presence. These are just words. There is no food or drink in words, we might protest. Except somehow even in these words that do not give us an ecstatic experience, some nourishment is getting through that we would not be without. And without these words, nothing would happen. Sometimes words which may seem so absent of God or worn out may suddenly flash open with light and we will be comforted, maybe even healed. It happens. So always bring your sorrows to him. There is healing in his wings.   HYMN INFO Thomas Moore, who wrote the first two stanzas to the current tune, was Irish. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and became a lawyer, working as a civil servant for most of his life. He wrote many hymns. Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) a musician and choir director for many years in New York, wrote the last stanza which connects the singer to the congregation and the life that is there in word and sacrament. Scholars suggest that the tune may have folk song origins in Germany. Webb, despite being a Catholic made a way for himself as a prolific composer and musician in England. LINKS   Acapeldrige https://youtu.be/06q9am18p9k Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway   https://youtu.be/VmnnMHGvVJc Baylor Men’s Choir the Johnson arrangement   https://youtu.be/mNqzhfB4y1I Georgia Boy Choir the Johnson arrangement   https://youtu.be/ZhckAyO-OM8 Wartburg Choir   https://youtu.be/QNNqp2EkDxU Dixie Hummingbirds https://youtu.be/B_U3TKPvQxU

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

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) https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-for-last-days-of-the-church-year-the-world-is-very-evil 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   REFLECTION 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.. HYMN INFO 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. LINKS 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. Southwell https://youtu.be/JWEGuVQwt5g?si=EDJl05Szxq0KuMcq

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 7 Here am I, Lord

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 7 Here am I, Lord

Text and tune: Daniel Schutte (For copyright reasons I cannot print the text for this hymn) REFLECTION Here we see Jesus making disciples as he promised he would when he called them to follow him. Georg Sverdrup, the President of Augsburg Seminary in the last years of the 19th century, preached a sermon on the call to being fishers of people that I found clarifying. When Jesus says he will “make” his disciples into missionaries, he was aware that these men probably did not have the qualities for missionaries that bureaucrats might prefer. Now we see him teaching them to be missionaries. These instructions are clear: Take nothing of this world with you, when you find a place that welcomes you, stay in that place and don’t move around, and if you find the place inhospitable, leave and follow a small ritual known to the Jewish people of shaking off foreign dust as they came home from a strange place.   They come back to him amazed at what they were able to do. They were given power to heal and cast out demons! It astonished them. The power, however, was not theirs—it was the Lord’s. We should never go out to do mission work without the assurance that what we are bringing with us is not our own, but gifts from the Lord’s word and power.   We see at the beginning of the lesson how difficult it is even for Jesus to do much work around people who are sceptical of him. They know his family of origin, they think and dismiss him. In a way, when Jesus leaves behind his home town, he teaches his disciples how to leave a place where people do not welcome them.   Any of us, no matter our meager powers, can say with this hymn, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” We can trust the Lord to give us what we need. Wherever he sends us, we will be equpped, whether it is far off, next door or in the family. What the song says, and what we believe, is that because of the Lord’s good gifts to us, we can trust that he will send us wherever he judges we can carry out his mission best. After all, he is the Lord of sea and sky. And can open up the way for his word in places we cannot imagine. Make us faithful and willing, Lord Jesus!   HYMN INFO Schutte was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, and went to Jesuit schools. He entered the Society of Jesus in the 1970s, where he began working with a singing group, The St. Louis Jesuits. They wrote English songs for Catholics who were just beginning to worship in English. His group composed many new songs, but this is by far the most popular. He left the order in 1986, but continued to compose and write songs for worship. He is now Composer-in-Residence at the University of San Francisco.   Schutte’s hymn is second on lists of favorite songs from the 1990s after “On Eagle’s Wings.” In writing it he uses the story of Samuel hearing the call of God, adding the verse from Isaiah 6:8, "Here am I, send me." He wrote it quickly while suffering from the flu. He had been asked by a friend to write something for a deacon's ordination service. Starting on Wednesday, he fussed with it until just before the service that weekend when he delivered it to the friend in time to be sung. The rest is history, as they say. It spoke to that group and quickly spread around the world. It is a blessing to watch young people on the links below singing it, their eyes shining with hope and commitment, their future before them. The choral arrangement by Ovid Young (1940-2014) has made it something of a standard for college choirs.   LINKS Dan Schutte singing https://youtu.be/zBg-yDhM2KY   National Youth Choir of Scotland https://youtu.be/yhTpjdrLf0s   Luther College Cathedral Choir, Ovid Young’s arrangement/look at their faces! https://youtu.be/1W4gABkEGHA   Gustavus College Choir/Ovid Young's arrangement https://youtu.be/endq52Jw7ag

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 6 Great is Thy Faithfulness

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 6 Great is Thy Faithfulness

Norwegian: Stor er din trofasthet Text: Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960) Tune: William Runyan (1870-1957) 1. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. R/Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me! 2. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. R/ 3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! R/   REFLECTION This is a gospel song which is sheer gospel. Not only is the text filled with Scripture, but the tune is wonderful to sing. While there is no mention of the texts for this coming Sunday, it is a song both of the women Jesus healed and their family and friends could sing with their whole hearts. Mark's account gives it the most suspense—while Jesus is on his way to raise the dead girl, he is stopped by an unclean woman who has been healed by touching the hem of his garment. While Jairus and we, the readers are urgent about his daughter, Jesus takes time with the woman. We wait for her story to be told and then go on to where the girl is lying dead. In both cases Jesus’ works a miracle that astonishes everyone. The woman has been suffering her illness for a long as the young girl has been alive. And she is healed simply by touching the hem of his garment. There is even a laughable moment: the disciples are shocked when he asks, “Who touched me?” By their lights, everyone has. Jesus of course is divine and feels the power leaving him. And the woman knew it too.   Suddenly she feels whole and healthy. Maybe her healing is nothing beside the raising of the dead daughter of Jairus, but her sense of being healed is clear and something we can imagine with thanksgiving. We can also imagine the thanksgiving with which Jairus and his wife see their daughter back to life. Jesus has come to make things right, not just in eternal measures, but in our daily lives. “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” is how the song puts it, along with “morning by morning new mercies I see.” The Christian life is one of surprises. Sheer routine—the fact that the sun rises regularly every day is a miracle, something to give thanks for and surprising—but there are those moments when something happens we did not expect that completely overshadows our expectation. Sometimes we don’t even recognize it and need someone to point it out.   To be healed, made whole again. Scholars have pointed out that wherever Jesus goes he heals both soul and body, forgiving sins and healing the body. Jesus is all about life and wholeness. Since he is eternal life, there can be no death where he is, except his own, over which is was victorious. I read a story a long time ago about a woman of a certain age who saw something like angels in her back yard. They floated in to her and touched her, drawing out of her her many pains and sorrows. She felt resurrected. maybe that is what the resurrection will feel like, an utter new creation. We really can't know until then, but for now we have these daily little miracles that fill us with joy and hope. “Blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.”   What else can we sing, along with millions of others, “Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”     HYMN INFO Thomas O. Chisholm, was born in Franklin, Kentucky in 1866. After his conversion, he began working for the Pentecostal Herald . He became a minister in the M. E. Church South. When he spoke of his work, he said he wanted his hymns to be Scriptural. In his greatest hymn, he used Lamentations 3:23 as his source. “God is faithful, his mercies are new every morning.” William Runyan, the composer, is who made the hymn so beloved. Born in Marion New York, he began serving as a Methodist minister in 1891. He became most interested in evangelism and served the Central Methodist Conference. He then returned to being a pastor at Federated Church at John Brown University in Arkansas. He also worked with the Moody Institute and began as an editor at Hope Publishing Company where he worked until 1948.   LINKS Cathedral singing https://youtu.be/dTKIqmdfHSk Veritas https://youtu.be/N2i7_X8RQis

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 5 Eternal Father, Strong to Save

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 5 Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Psalm 107:23-30; John 6:23-27; Genesis 1:1; Text: William Whiting (1825-1878). John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876)   1.     Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep Its own appointed limits keep; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!   2.     O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard And hushed their raging at Thy word, Who walkedst on the foaming deep, And calm amidst its rage didst sleep; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea 3.     Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood Upon the chaos dark and rude, And bid its angry tumult cease, And give, for wild confusion, peace; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea! 4.     O Trinity of love and power! Our brethren's shield in danger's hour; From rock and tempest, fire and foe, Protect them wheresoe'er they go; Thus evermore shall rise to Thee Glad hymns of praise from land and sea   REFLECTION (A slight reworking of an older blog) The hymn for this Sunday is a beloved prayer for those facing perils of all kinds. Known as the Navy hymn, it comes to us from England. It was written by William Whiting, a musician, poet and hymn writer, born in Kensington, England. Because of his musical gifts he became master at Winchester College Chorister’s School. He lived near the sea and knew its perils.   As an island nation, England had to be a sea faring nation. Waterways were the only ways people had to leave the country. Hymn writers frequently used the language of the sea to describe their troubles and difficulties. In Whiting's age, people had faced the perils at sea. Whiting around this time had experienced a very rough voyage and remembered the passage from Psalm 107, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Soon after that a young man he knew spoke to him about going to America. He was fearful of being on the ship for such a long time. The ocean frightened him. Whiting wrote the hymn in 1860 to comfort him.   This was at the time the editors of the hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern were getting their first edition ready to be published in 1861. One of the most prolific composers of the Victorian Age, John Bacchus Dykes, wrote the tune Melita (a corruption of the word Malta, the island where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked) for the text and submitted it to the editors in time for it to be included. Almost overnight the hymn became the English Navy hymn. In 1879 it was adopted by the American Naval Academy in Annapolis. Every Sunday service at the chapel concluded with the hymn, led by the Midshipman’s Choir.   When people today hear it they may remember the funerals of presidents: John Kennedy was a Navy man; Franklin Roosevelt, (he had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy); Richard Nixon; and George H. W. Bush. It was also used by Senator John McCain; both he and Bush had been Navy pilots.   Benjamin Britten used the hymn in his opera Noyes Fludde for Noah's family to sing as the deluge begins. Winston Churchill made sure it was sung at the service he and President Roosevelt held on board the Prince of Wales battleship August 9, 1941, some months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Prince of Wales battleship was shot down in the Pacific by the Japanese just three days after Pearl Harbor had been attacked. It lost over 300 of its men.   Just the sounds of the opening strains bring us back to times when we heard it, usually in times of great national moment. It is a profoundly biblical text, and speaks to all three lessons for the day--referring to the Psalm, to Jesus calming the storm, to the Holy Spirit's breathing over the water, to asking for help for those in peril on the sea, but also in other situations of danger. Take courage!   HYMN INFO First included in Hymns: Ancient and Modern , in 1861, the hymn has become obligatory for many Armed services in the English speaking world. In Britain it is the hymn of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, the British Army; and in the US, the Navy, the Coast Guard and Marine Corps, as well as for the navies of many Commonwealth Nations. Over time many stanzas have been added for one or another armed service, the Air Force, even space travel. It can be found in almost all main line denominational hymnals in the USA.   LINKS Naval Academy https://youtu.be/hUtHK0WD4IM   Congregation in Portsmouth https://youtu.be/BjcSpCSUjdk   Prince of Wales meeting on August 9, 1941 https://youtu.be/OQwdyzkDjdA   In Noyes Fludde, Benjamin Britten's opera https://youtu.be/uW8obrzXfEM

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 4 When Seed Falls on Good Soil

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 4 When Seed Falls on Good Soil

Text: Norman Olsen (1932-2023)                         Tune: Fred Jackisch (1922-2022) 1. When seed falls on good soil It’s born through quiet toil, Where soil receives, The earth conceives The blade, the stem, the fruit, the leaves Good soil, oh, mother earth, The womb, where seed takes birth.   2. God’s Word in Christ is seed; Good soil its urgent need; For it must find In human kind The fertile soil in heart and mind. Good soil! A human field A hundred-fold to yield.   3. Plow up the trodden way, And clear the stone away; Tear out the weed, And sow the seed. Prepare our hearts your Word to heed, That we good soil may be. Begin, O Lord, with me!   REFLECTION Most stories, a famous critic Northrup Frye once noted, go from beginning, middle to end, from life to death. The Christian story, however, goes from middle to end to beginning. That is the good news and mystery of our faith. The poet Dante knew that—his great epic The Divine Comedy begins with his near drowning. As he is going under, a light from heaven comes to him and raises him up into new life.   The seed is a major image for Jesus. It is a central parable of the kingdom because it tells the story of the death and then life of the seed. It first of all describes faith, but he also uses it to describe himself. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24   It helps to be a farmer when one listens to Jesus—most everyone around him worked the land and understood his imagery in a way that today’s people may not. I can think of no better hymn than this one for Sunday. It is written by pastor Norman P. Olsen, a crusty, no nonsense Lutheran pastor, who served congregations that were filled with farmers or whose livelihood was directly affected by the weather and the flourishing of crops around them. This is where all eyes were looking west to see what the weather would bring.   Norman died last year at a ripe old age while living on a farm near Cyrus, Minnesota, where my mother grew up. He was a dear friend and colleague of mine.. He could see around him the way the seed was planted, how it took root in the rich soil, and then sprouted up into golden fields of wheat, waving under the blue skies of summer, then the harvest, the stubble plowed under and then winter. His earthy sense of the world around him and the Gospel makes this hymn so profound. This isn’t something that happened only in Jesus’ time and place; it happened as he looked out at the fields around him.   The notion of being fruitful is richly Christian. Our story which has a goal and a journey in it, is not about one triumph after another, a progress from lowly to holy. It is really a story of growth and fruitfulness on that journey—of savoring the life around us, of seeing what needs to be done and doing it, enjoying it fully, knowing there is a new world up ahead that will beggar our imaginations. We can enjoy the present because we know the future which is present to us in Jesus. St. Augustine said that Jesus is not only the country where we belong, but the way to it. To use a phrase from a translation of Paul Gerhardt's hymn, "If God Himself be for me," when Jesus is with us, our heaven has begun. So pray that God’s work will begin in you, as Norman has it in the hymn, and enjoy each phase of growth along the way.   HYMN INFO Born in New Jersey to Norwegian immigrants, Norm came to Minnesota when he enrolled at Concordia College in Moorhead. He served congregations around Minnesota. Norm and I worked for several years on the ReClaim hymnal. He knew how to write prayers with the kind of syntax that made Cranmer’s prayers in the Book of Common Prayer so powerful. They have that orotund sound and breathe the truth of faith into their hearers.   The LBW committee found this hymn to be one of the few contemporary texts they could use. A composer in his congregation had set it, but the LBW wanted another tune. So the chair of the music committee, Frederick Jackisch wrote the tune in the LBW. The text’s tight rhymes made for a good tune. Another piece of hymn trivia, the name of the tune: Walhof--Karen Walhof, secretary to the project, from Augsburg Fortress press who helped put the hymnal together, was much beloved by the LBW committees. Giving the tune her name was a nifty way to honor all her work. LINKS United Methodist Congregation   https://youtu.be/Z3Yr1WfvO9U Congregation and choir https://youtu.be/avDmNisejWg NB: To read my sonnets on Augustine's notion of Christ being the Country and the way, buy my latest book which has twelve sonnets on the idea, reflecting on Augustine's On Christian Doctrine. It is availabe at FinishingLinePress.com or Amazon.cpm, Barnes and Noble, plus several other sites. Thank you.

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 3 and remarks on the 500th anniversary of Lutheran hymnals

HYMN FOR PENTECOST 3 and remarks on the 500th anniversary of Lutheran hymnals

Text: Martin Luther (1483-1546)                             Tune: Martin Luther (1483-1546) Hymnody tends to be on the more positive side of the faith. It is difficult to find popular hymns treating Jesus’ rejection by his family, or the failures of his disciples. If, per St. Augustine’s maxim that hymns are songs in praise of God, then all hymns must be praise songs. The Protestant hymn, whose 500th anniversary we are observing, developed by Luther was a different animal. While there are hymns of praise in his corpus to be sure, they tend to be more meditations on biblical texts or proclamations to the congregation, such as his greatest, A Mighty Fortress. In it there is only reason for praise—that God’s Word endures forever.   Luther’s reform may well have come out of the genre of music he chose to use for his songs—the ballad. Ballads told stories and were used by minstrels traveling about the realm singing songs which told the news of what had happened elsewhere so people could know what was going on. His first hymn, A New Song we now Begin was closely modeled on his first ballad which he wrote about his students who had returned to Brussels. They brought his message with them and were martyred for it. He used the form to tell the story of their martyrdom. From there it was a small step toward writing his first hymn, Nun freut euch, Good Christians, One and All Rejoice, in which the singer tells the story of salvation to the G’meinde/congregation. It sets up Luther’s own story of realizing his need for the gospel—the first four stanzas—and then tells the story of what God has done to remedy Luther’s sense of abandonment and terror. He dramatizes the story of God the Father and the Son in conversation about what they will do. In a sense the Father preaches to the Son. And then the Son preaches to us about his work among us to bring us to salvation. All ten stanzas are a sermon in the mouths of the singers, the congregation, who are singing the meditation or sermon to each other. Those who followed Luther, especially the Lutheran Orthodox singers like Paul Gerhardt, used that same rhetoric in their hymns. Those who sang them learned how to meet various problems in their lives. No better example than the young girl Heidi, in the novel Heidi , who after learning to read, learns Gerhardt’s hymns and uses his greatest one, “Befiehl du deine Wege,/Give to the winds thy fears” as per John Wesley’s paraphrase, to give solace to Clara’s doctor who has come with the rich family from Frankfurt to Heidi’s mountain home with her grandfather. Friends of mine have argued that these hymns kept the theology of the Reformation far more lively and present in the lives of people than the dry and scholastic Latinate fencing of their pastors’ sermons against Catholics and Calvinists. With the liturgical revival, most of the efforts of contemporary worship leaders, was to renew the music for the liturgy, or ordinary of the mass, rather than write hymns that preached and did more than tell the story of the Scripture which they were treating. They did not use—or maybe did not know—the rich hymnody that taught people how God lived with us. But if one thinks about our favorite hymns they tend to use the rhetoric of proclamation—Amazing Grace, Borning Cry, Built on the Rock, What a Friend We have in Jesus, etc. In the mediation or proclamation we find reason to praise and should. But first people need to know what there is to praise God for. That is what Luther’s renewal of hymnody gave to people and which, maybe, our current hymnwriters could think about. As we say often, the faith isn’t just about Sunday morning, it is for the entire week. Our hymns, of late, have concentrated on the Sunday liturgy, not the daily life of Christians. They should help us do that. Listen to the first hymn of Luther and hear the Good news!   https://youtu.be/ZJF3xuytmFw?si=vZAIxTFj_D4Gu6Co    Below one can find hymns for the Sunday and and a kid's song--a ballad-- to help get ready for St. Barnabas feast day June 11. Barnabas is one of the few people in Scripture who really comes off as good. Most of the rest, except Mary and Elizabeth, have some work to do!     Text: Gracia Grindal                      Tune: Amanda Husberg   Christ Jesus speaks with love to those who have no family “All those who do my will are close As any kin can be.”   To those whose families are cruel, The Master speaks again, “All those who love and do my will, Are closer than my kin.”   “With me you never are alone, I give you each to each For in my body we are one, It is the truth I preach.”   Christ Jesus’ Spirit makes us one. More close than flesh or blood. We’re one in him, our Father’s Son Who makes us kin to God.     Text: Gracia Grindal                           Tune: James Clemens Barnabas was good Gave all that he could To support Jerusalem When they needed help Thought not of himself Went there to encourage them.   Barnabas knew Paul When he still was Saul He brought Paul to meet the rest since he knew the Way Knew that Christ would say "Follow me, Oh, come be blest!”   Then he walked the walk, Preached in Antioch Went with Paul to serve the Lord Gathered help for those Needing food and clothes For Judea’s needy poor.   Once they went abroad Preaching one true God Teaching all their Lord's good news Once they healed a man People marveled and Thought that Barnabas was Zeus!   Soon they met again  In Jerusalem To decide the Gentiles’ fate They decided all Who believed Christ's call Were in him and could be saved.   Then they disagreed Went their separate ways Barnabas did all he could, Traveled through the world Preaching Jesus’ word: Barnabas was kind and good.

HYMN FOR THE VISITATION AND PENTECOST 2

HYMN FOR THE VISITATION AND PENTECOST 2

Somewhere I hear the Church Bells Ringing/Pentecost 2 O Christ the Healer we have come   Text: Gracia Grindal                                        Tune: Daniel Charles Damon 1.        Somewhere I hear the church bells ringing From cities, towns and countryside And every cell within me singing A song that cannot be denied: The bells are telling with their sound Good news to everything around!   2.        For as they ring, I feel my body Leap up with joy to hear the news. For now we know that youthful Mary Is certain that the news is true: The time has come—she is with child! Ring out, wild bells, ring joyful, wild.   3.        For Mary, blest among all women Is bearing God within her womb Through her our Lord is fully human In her divinity makes room And comes to us as long foretold; Ring in the new, ring out the old!   4.        Look up and see the sun is shining, The bells are telling, bright as noon, That in this joyful noonday chiming We know that Christ is coming soon! Through Mary’s body, heaven nears! Ring out, wild bells, ring out with cheer!   REFLECTIONS Even though the Visitation receives little attention in our Sunday lectionary, this Friday, when the church marks the day, I would urge congregations and pastors to make note of this event in the life of Mary and its significance to us today. Maybe even remember it on Sunday where the assigned lesson is Jesus’ healing. Without Mary’s yes to bearing the Lord, the story would have been rather different.   Mary has maybe gone to her cousin Elizabeth to escape the gossips in her home town. Maybe Joseph has advised her to do so. She knows that Elisabeth is pregrant as well. When she goes, Luke invests her journey and her meeting with Elizabeth with a great deal of biblical weight. The richest resonance is David’s bringing the ark to Jerusalem. Mary is like the ark of the covenant now in her body as she bears the Incarnate one in her womb. In 2 Samuel 2: 1, we see David going to Judah to bring up the ark of God. Mary is the ark of God now bringing the king of heaven to the people.   David, for good reason is afraid to carry the ark since God had struck down Uzzah for inappropriately touching it. “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” he asks. Elisabeth on greeting Mary says much the same, “Why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Lk 1:43.   As the ark stays in Obededom three months, Mary stays with Elisabeth for three months. Elisabeth knows, as does the baby John in her womb, this is the holy one. She tells Mary that the child she is bearing, to her great surprise, kicked with joy as his Lord, in Mary’s body, came near.   All this in the simplest of people. The holy has chosen to dwell in the most ordinary of places with the most ordinary of people.   No wonder that the medieval church in its wisdom made the Angelus a daily prayer. In between the Hail, Marys are three responses, one to remember the conception of our Lord, the second, to remember Mary’s gracious acceptance, and the third, to remember and renew our belief in the promise of the Incarnation. For more on this rich history click here    https://en .wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelus   It has a long and complicated history that I cannot treat here, but it is a part of the incarnation that we should treasure. It prompted some of the most beautiful paintings in the history of the church. One of which has been misunderstood is Millet’s painting of a couple out in the fields at sunset praying. The painting is called The Angelus. They are praying the Angelus prayer which was prayed three times a day. Many people, even art historians, who look at the picture have described it purely in terms of the couple and their work, missing the religious significance of it.   It is a beautiful statement of the way our Christian lives are to be lived: entirely in the routine of the rhythms of planting and harvest, of finding in the earth and from it all we need to sustain our lives and giving thanks. The Christian life is not a movement of greater to greater conquests. It is the faithful daily round of activities in which we work and rest knowing that God is with us in every part of the day, in our routine, our joys and our sorrows. It is what he came for, what his incarnation means. And, it has the happiest of all endings: eternal life. Because of Mary, and her trust in God, we have Christ the Healer   HYMN INFO There are not many Protestant hymns for the Visitation, but there should be. I wrote this one and Daniel Damon wrote this very lovely melody. F. Pratt Green led the Hymn Explosion of the 1960s in England. He and Fred Kaan responded to the call for new hymns, in much the same way that Anders Frostenson did in Sweden. As a long time Methodist pastor Pratt Green knew the issues in congregations and wrote hymns that spoke for the people in them. After his retirement, he devoted himself to writing hymns. He wanted to write hymns that were better poetry than some of the poorly wrought songs of his day, he said. He became extremely popular over his long lifetime as a hymn writer. People loved his message and his concerns. In 1993 he was awarded an MBE from the Queen for his work in hymnody. The tune is from the Sacred Harp tradition and much beloved. Several tunes work well with the text. LINKS Robert Powell playing the tune Distress https://youtu.be/QcX00qTmcUE Nativity Church/another tune https://youtu.be/P6H5haq7k10 First Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska/Talllis Canon https://youtu.be/1O5vdLNE-Gw

HYMN FOR TRINITY SUNDAY Isaiah in a Vision did Behold

HYMN FOR TRINITY SUNDAY Isaiah in a Vision did Behold

Isaiah 6:1-4 (For the text click on the first link below) Text: Martin Luther (1483-1546) Tune: Martin Luther (1483-1546) REFLECTIONS (Slightly revised and recast from before) Isaiah's vision of the Lord of Hosts is one of the grandest in Scripture, chosen as the Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday. It endures in The Sanctus, central to the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper. Luther’s version is called the German Sanctus. It gives more of the context for the hymn than the Latin liturgy does. Here we get the context of the biblical text: who saw it and where--Isaiah in the temple which was filled with smoke from incense and the seraphim singing. In it we also have the language of Palm Sunday, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna!. This was part of Luther’s Deutsche Messe, or German mass. He prepared a hymn version of the Latin mass so people could sing it in the language and music they understood. Because the Gregorian chants were right for the Latin language and the people had heard it for generations sung to the chant music, it was not strange for them, but trying to get the chants to speak German, a highly accented language, as opposed to the syllabic unaccented poetry of Latin or Greek, was difficult. When Luther translated the Latin into German he realized the natural vernacular of the German people was the chorale melody. So his German mass or chorale mass as some call it uses German hymns for what is called the Ordinary of the Mass—the five parts of the communion liturgy that are always part of the service: the Kyrie, The Gloria, the Creed, the Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Germans could easily sing them because they were in their vernacular music and text. The hymn mass became the standard service for many Lutherans, especially the Dano-Norwegian church. Thomas Hansen Kingo (1632-1703), the Danish bishop, prepared a hymnal with a hymn mass for every Sunday—using hymns for the ordinary, especially the Kyrie and Gloria, and Creed. So the first hymnals of the Dano-Norwegian tradition until the Lutheran Hymnary  of 1913 in America, were organized by Sundays: The First Sunday in Advent, the Second, etc. Appropriate hymns for the lesson of the day appeared under the Sunday, not the theme of the hymn. Since communion was celebrated less frequently, they could add the Sanctus and Agnus Dei on those days. With the liturgical revival, the hymn mass has been replaced by the chants for the ordinary of the liturgy. Now chants reign in most lituriges of the liturgical churches. While Luther’s version of the Sanctus is difficult for someone who has never heard it before, those who grew up singing it, find its majesty almost as mystical and powerful as the event Isaiah pictured: of being in the temple, overwhelmed by the incense, hearing the six-winged seraphim thundering out their song. It also reminds us of the poor welcoming our Lord riding a donkey into the Holy City, crying Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Both the very grand and the very humble gather together here when we celebrate the coming of our Lord in the elements which we receive at the altar. (In Luther’s time, the congregation went up first for bread, returned, and then back for the wine, singing Agnus Dei, O Lamb of God.) Luther concludes his reflections on the Sanctus with this note: "[Christ} is only apprehended by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives his body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us.” Christ is hidden to those without faith. Those who see with only their worldly eyes will be puzzled. How is it that in this simple man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, greeted with joy by the most simple, the unwashed, and poor, the majesty of God appears? How is it that in a word, a crumb of bread, or sip of wine, God in all his grandeur himself becomes one with us? It is the glory and mystery of our God who loves the least of us enough to become one of us. Hosanna! HYMN INFO This year is the 500th anniversary of Lutheran hymnals. A year after his first hymnal appeared, Luther wrote this hymn in 1525 upo seeing the many German masses that were flooding the market, many of which were ungainly and rough. He thought that the text, notes, accent and melody “ought to grow out of the true mother tongue and its inflection...otherwise all of it becomes an imitation in the manner of the apes." ( Luther's Works  vol. 53, p. 54.) In his preface to the service, he showed his great skill with both language and melody, concerned for how the tune and text enhanced one another. It was first used in Wittenberg on October 25, 1525 and was published in 1526. It has been set by a good number of Reformation musicians, Praetorius' the most beloved. LINKS Lutheran Summer Camp--This gives you a sense for the glory of the hymn https://youtu.be/qAtMh2oKGwA   Dresdener Kreuzkor https://youtu.be/FQ4d3BQjQ64   Jeff Windolski Organ version https://youtu.be/DPgIyb498K4   Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle https://www.reverbnation.com/thescholacantorumofstpetertheapostle/song/16176709-isaiah-in-vision-did-behold-setting   Michael Praetorius Motet on the hymn https://youtu.be/gMW5VgwIcX4   NB A new book has just been published by Fortress Press and is well worth examination. Yours truly has a chapter on Nordic hymnals. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/New-Song-Now-Begin-Celebrating/dp/1506487440/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1BPP70HR5J6VC&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.BcSZzMMLXayuJMKrgg3ooNeheNRbUfPXXVpBWZwvSgW6wpz72glDTBy3Jb5CqEYFa31yMWDqkBwPRK_3XcyeJKGVSLha39dAMnYCp6-TADA.9SPubIcP3TVG3wzFPJuqIS2DFrXKu4AXVRBCZGNhr48&dib_tag=se&keywords=a+new+song+we+now+begin&qid=1716222216&sprefix=A+new+song%2Caps%2C284&sr=8-1

HYMN FOR PENTECOST Dry Bones

HYMN FOR PENTECOST Dry Bones

James Weldon Johnson  (1871–1938) J. Rosamond Johnson ( 1873-1954) Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,     Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,   Now hear the word of the Lord. Dem bones Dem bones Dem dry bones Dem bones Dem bones Dem dry bones Dem bones Dem bones Dem dry bones, Hear the word of the Lord. R/Toe bone connected to the foot bone Foot bone connected to the heel bone Heel bone connected to the ankle bone Ankle bone connected to the leg bone Leg bone connected to the knee bone Knee bone connected to the thigh bone Thigh bone connected to the hip bone Hip bone connected to the back bone Back bone connected to the shoulder bone Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone Neck bone connected to the head bone Hear the word of the Lord. R/ Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around. Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around. Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around. Now hear the word of the Lord!   REFLECTION While this spiritual may seem more fun than pious, it is exactly the story of the Spirit. Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones in the desert (Ez. 37) describes how the Lord creates life out of dead bones in the valley. A great lesson for the day.   Without the Spirit we are all like those dry bones. God breathed into Adam and he became a living being. Christ breathed into the disciples and the church was born. He breathes into us when we are born and when we are born again in baptism. Without his breath, we are simply like dry bones and inert corpses. Anyone who has stood at the side of someone dying can mark that moment when the breath becomes different and suddenly gone. Then the body of the beloved is different. It is hardly recognizable as the beloved because the breath is gone. From John the Baptist’s cry as he is about to baptize Jesus, we know that Jesus brings the Spirit with him, and to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is how and when he imparts his Spirit to us. Anyone reading the Book of Acts, which is the account of how the Spirit breathes life into the apostles as they breathe it into others, will see how the Spirit enlivens and quickens everything so much that very simple men and women become powerful witnesses to another kind of kingdom and king. It allows the fisherman Peter to stand up against the treachery of Herod who plans to execute him. It gives Paul the courage to travel throughout the ancient world changing the lives of millions with his proclamation of the word as it has given courage to thousands of missionaries and faithful Christians. Where they go they bring the Spirit and it changes things   Wherever the Word of the Lord is, the Spirit is also there. It is why we simple people can, by our speech change lives. Not because we have the power, but because the words that we speak, if they are of Jesus, contain the Spirit who will do the work in the hearts of our listeners.   Reading Scripture to someone in pain or need can be like a balm on their beings, body and soul; praying with them like an arbor of calm and joy, even when the prayers are frantic. Going to the Lord in prayer is going to the power of the fire in the tongues of the disciples that first Pentecost and hearing a rushing wind blasting out the dead air and raising up the dry bones in our being. Come Holy Spirit, come!   HYMN INFO The brothers James Weldon Johnson and his brother Rosamond Johnson are credited with writing this spiritual. They also collaborated on the hymn “Lift every Voice and Sing,” and "God’s Trombones." This has been sung by many groups, secular to sacred. I remember Augsburg Quartets coming to our congregations in the summer and singing it to our great delight. Enjoy the versions below!   LINKS Delta Rhythm Boys https://youtu.be/hYeQUXXYvK0?si=KHiHCxLjuHV36_UP   Cathedral Quartet https://youtu.be/sLg-v4CS4nQ?si=AAV-EPQr6eI4ZMX0   Calvary Bible School Choir https://youtu.be/jMxGiLfryK8?si=q1BX4Reon390UtLZ   Lam Woo Music https://youtu.be/q0HIe9TQ9LQ?si=yYaZSvgMM7xpN-xU    The King’s Heralds https://youtu.be/79iN4Y1uXho?si=dncu7XKuIJafSk77

HYMN FOR EASTER 7 Built on the Rock the Church Does Stand (Kirken den er et gammelt hus)

HYMN FOR EASTER 7 Built on the Rock the Church Does Stand (Kirken den er et gammelt hus)

Text: Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) Tune: Ludvig Lindemann (1812-1887)   1.        Built on the Rock, the church does stand Even when steeples are falling: Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land, Bells still are chiming and calling: Calling the young and old to rest, But above all to souls distressed. Longing for rest everylasting.   2.        Surely in temples made with hands, God the most High is not dwelling: High above earth his temple stands, All earthly temples excelling: Yet he whom heav’n cannot contain Chose to abide on earth again, Building in mortals his temple.   3.        We are God’s house of living stones Made for his own habitation; Through his baptismal grace he owns Us by his wondrous salvation; Though we were only two or three He, as he promised us, will be Here with his grace and his favor.   4.        Now we may gather with our Lord Here in the lowest of houses. As Peter said, “Lord, it is good Being with you on this mountain.” Jesus his grace to us accords; Spirit and life are all his words His truth will hallow our temples.   5.        Still we our earthly temples build So we may herald his praises; They are the homes his presence fills And little children embraces, Beautiful things in them are said, God has in them his promise made, Making us heirs of his kingdom.   6.        Here stands the font before our eyes Telling how God has received us; Here we recall Christ’s sacrifice And what his table does give us; Here sounds the word that still proclaims Christ yesterday, today the same, Always and now our Redeemer.   7.        Grant, then, O God, where’er we live, That, when the church-bells are ringing. Many will faith in Christ receive Where he his message is bringing. “I know my own, my own know me; You, not the world, my face shall see. My peace I leave you forever.”   8.        Never forget what God has done, Making us stones that are living, Built by the Word, God’s only Son, Whom we by faith are receiving. All that the Spirit does will last Everything else will fade and pass, Only God’s Word makes us holy!                   Tr, Carl Døving (1867-1937) Stanza 8 Grindal REFLECTION Grundtvig’s great hymn says in hymnody what Jesus has been saying all through the Gospel of John, plus words from 1 Peter 2:5. This last stanza, usually omitted, has in it the key to the entire church—it is God’s Word that makes us holy. Ever since Eden, God’s project has been to make us holy. Of course, we know that God is holy. It sounds a little much to say that we are holy. But that is the goal of the entire plot—from Creation. Jesus, in his intimate talk with his Father in John 17, says he has come to sanctify us, to make us holy. He makes that clear in the prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.". My father never read Scripture at the Sunday morning service without ending it with this verse. I have loved the sentence from the first I remember hearing it. The radicality of it strikes me more and more. The Book of Acts makes it clear that the mission of Jesus and his commission, now that they are the temples of God, is to spread the temple throughout the world. Eden was God’s temple where he walked with Adam and Eve until their disobedience. The entire Old Testament is the story of God’s building a place where he can dwell—the tabernacle, the temple. Then Jesus shocks everybody by saying he will destroy the temple and in three days raise it up. He is the temple, and he makes us his temple where he dwells. The temple now is us—we are a building of living stones, Grundtvig says, quoting 1 Peter, in his great hymn. The church is not a building—it is the congregation where people gather together to be sanctified by the sharing of the word. They are changed by this sharing and made new. In fact, one cannot be a Christian alone very easily. We need to gather, "two or three" and be filled with God's word which shapes us into holy people. That gives us the fervor to go out to spread the temple—that is Jesus Christ—into the hearts of everyone in the world. Church buildings from "the lowest of houses" or huge cathedrals, are where the Lord dwells with his people, in the fellowship of believers who come together to be sanctified. That the Lord dwells within us makes us holy; we find our meaning elsewhere from the world, and that is why the world hates us, Jesus says. It cannot abide holiness! That does not matter, we have another place, another home in him, as he does in us. Grundtvig says all of this in his wonderful hymn. "Never forget what God has done!" Remember that you have been made holy by his word. That is what you crave: to be made holy, not to be better than others, but to be closer to your Lord. HYMN INFO This first appeared in Grundtvig’s collection Sang=Værk in 1837. Lindemann’s tune appealed very much to Grundtvig. This is the one hymn from the Dano-Norwegian tradition popular world wide. While the first line is not a literal translation of the Danish—The church is an ancient house—Døving’s version resonates with the other images of God’s living stones. We can also see that Grundtvig is remembering the bombardment of Copenhagen by the British during the Napoleonic wars in which the cathedral in Copenhagen was destroyed. LINKS National Lutheran Choir with Dave Cherwien/a bit long but thrilling! https://youtu.be/Wa_0IONyMbM St. Olaf Choir with F. Melius Christiansen’s famous arrangement https://youtu.be/EmbxUBViA3Y Muica Ficta Bo Holten’s Choir https://youtu.be/cWQnSuv6C80 Danish jazz group https://youtu.be/u12szEE82TE Mons Takle’s version played by Jan Peter Teeuw https://youtu.be/e2Oloao-PPM Norwegian Choir from Hymns Minute by Minute https://youtu.be/O2KYhmbghhY Iver Kleive and Knut Reiesrud https://youtu.be/IcPAPAtWk_4 Kirsten Flagstad https://youtu.be/DCHuNskQUjo

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