My Items

I'm a title. ​Click here to edit me.

HYMN 252 Awake My Soul, And with the Sun

Norwegian: Nå stiger sol av hav igjen Text: Thomas Ken (1637-1711) Tune: François-Hippolyte Barthélemon (1741-1808) 1. Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

2. Redeem thy mis-spent time that's past,
And live this day as if thy last;
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

3. Let all thy converse be sincere,
Thy conscience as the noon-day clear;
Think how all-seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

4. Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing,
High praise to the eternal King.

5. Glory to thee, who safe hast kept
And hast refreshed me whilst I slept;
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless light partake.

6. Lord, I my vows to thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew;
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with thyself my spirit fill.

7. Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design or do or say;
That all my powers, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.

8. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, all creatures here below,
Praise him above, angelic host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. MEDITATION
This hymn was intended for the school boys at Winchester College where Bishop Thomas Ken served. It appeared in a booklet of hymns Ken wrote which included Morning and Evening prayers. There were hymns for three times of the day: morning, evening and midnight, through the week. They corresponded to the three hours that Martin Luther chose to take from the monastic hours—Matins, Vespers, and Compline—for family devotions. It concludes with the doxology for which Ken is known around the world. The doxology brings to mind an experience our family had once after the evening meal when we always had devotions. My father usually read from a devotional book, concluding with prayer. Once we had a guest, probably the prime exhibit in my catalogue of characters, an old lay evangelist with a booming voice. He was famous for taking over services, standing up and overpowering the preacher, or the event, and begin praying or preaching. My father was intent on preventing such a thing from happening after the meal. We had to get to Bible study. After reading a selection from Charles Spurgeon's devotional, I think it was, he prayed, sang the doxology, one of our guest’s favorite songs, and leaped up, but not fast enough. Our guest began, "Dear heavenly Father…." We sat down. The prayer went on and on...and on. My little brother crawled under the table and left the house to take his tricycle for a spin around the block. We heard the squeaky wheel as he left. After our guest had begun his prayer in which he rejoiced that we could go straight to the Lord in prayer, and not have to use borrowed oil or old ideas like my father had in reading a written prayer—the squeaking wheels made their way past the house again. And again. I peeked at my mom's closed eyes and saw her suppressing her giggles. My father steadfastly refused to look up or he would have lost it as well. When, after some 45 minutes, our visitor concluded, once again with the doxology, he thanked God that “even if some said he was nuts, thank God, he was screwed to the biggest bolt in this here universe, Jesus Christ.” Then we were done, and rushed off to Bible study making it just in time. He came along and continued to provide us merriments we would never forget. We told these stories over and over again. He could be a real pain and I am sure gained probably more opponents than followers, but some had come to faith through his witness and loved him. We pitied those in his railroad car whom he had preached to nearly the whole way out west, he said. That would be two and a half days! Thinking of his stentorian voice filling the car with his preaching to irritated passengers trying to sleep sent us off into further gales of laughter. Still there was something grand about his language. The Renaissance poets would call his imagery of the nuts and bolts a conceit—an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, of a strained or far-fetched nature. I learned something about language from him—vivid conceits and imagery are memorable and fascinating. And once again, we saw how God could use even the oddest among us to do some good, despite their annoying ways. So when I hear the doxology, my mind often returns to that evening in our kitchen with him preaching/praying while we solemnly tried not to giggle, hearing squeaking tricycle wheels outside the house going round and round. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! HYMN INFO
This hymn appeared first in 1674 in Bishop Ken’s Manual of Prayers for Winchester Scholars. In it he advised the students that “it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season.” It goes together with his more famous hymn “All Praise to thee, my God this night.” It was later appended to the Tate and Brady psalter. (For much more on Bishop Ken see HYMN 99) The writer of the tune, Barthélemon was a French musician who immigrated to England where he played the violin, taught music and composed operas, ballet and theater music along with several symphonies. An important musical talent at the time in England he came to be a good friend of Joseph Haydn who was in London for some time during the 1790s. He is said to have written this tune for the chaplain of the Female Orphan Asylum in London. It was printed in 1785 in a small collection of hymns published by the Asylum for its residents. With its simple melody it is especially effective with children, as it was intended to be. LINKS
Jubilate Singers Christian Hymnal/organ accompaniment Norwich Cathedral Choir Bagpipe version/rather nice Timothy Shaw on piano The NCrew/Song with guitar

HYMN 251 Thanks to God for my Redeemer

Norwegian: Takk min Gud Swedish: Tack min Gud, för vad som varit 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Text: Augustus Ludvig Storm (1862-1914). Tune. Johannes Alfred Hultman (1861- 1942) 1. Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul! 2. Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare! 3. Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!
Tr. Carl Backström MEDITATION
Something light after the heavy meal. This song is one of the gems in the crown of J. A. Hultman, a Swedish American composer and song leader. When people from my family were at Augsburg College from 1895 through the 1940s, Sunday evenings they would often go down town Minneapolis to what is now the First Covenant Church, known then as the Swedish Tabernacle, to hear the preaching and singing. As my great-uncle would say, "They sang awful good." My parents frequently went there on dates in the early 1940s and often sang this hymn with gusto. The Rosenius' revival had great musicians and hymn writers. Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-1868) and Lina Sandell (1832-1903), of course, whose texts set by Oskar Ahnfelt (1813-1882) created what is an identifiable Swedish gospel sound. It was brought to the States by the early Swedish immigrants who sang these spiritual songs as they settled into America. In the next generation, there were three Swedish- American musicians, Hultman, A. L. Skoog and Nils Frykman, who created a rich collection of hymns and spiritual songs prized by the Swedes, especially Swedish Covenant people. The people around the Mount Carmel Bible Camp—where Norwegian and Swedish Lutheran pietists worked together as they did in the LBI parent organization--also came to love them. This music became the stuff of Sunday nights. The texts were simple and uncomplicated; and the tunes were lovely. Some have thought this text especially is a bit weak and too repetitive with thanks as the first word in every line. It is repetitive, but as the poetry teacher says, repetition is a musical impulse. In the same way that one would not eat only fudge candies for an entire day—although it has been done, I am sure!--this hymn might not be sufficient if it were the only hymn you sang. But this is not only sweet—it includes the thorns and difficulties of life, even thanksgiving for them. That might take a bit of unpacking, but it could be a fruitful devotional exercise. After the singing of the song one might ask oneself or another to be precise and name what roses and what thorns they had experienced in their Christian journey. How are they thankful for them? The question might engender a rich conversation on a life fully lived in Christ. Give thanks in all circumstances, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This simple song helps us sing thanksgiving for all circumstances to a lovely tune. These days as we eat the tasty leftovers of the big Thanksgiving meal, we might name some of those pains and pleasures, thorns and roses and give thanks. HYMN INFO
Hultman was born in Småland near Jönköping in Sweden. He emigrated with his parents to farm near Essex, Iowa in 1869 and demonstrated even as a young boy that he had musical gifts. For some years he studied music at the Chicago Athenaeum. In 1900 he was ordained and served congregations in Worcester, MA and Nebraska. He soon turned to full time music, composing and singing. Known as the Sunshine Singer, he traveled with the leader of the Swedish Mission Covenant movement in Sweden, Paul Petter Waldenström, (1838-1917) on a preaching mission through the States. He founded, with his son, The Hultman Conservatory of Music in Worcester, Massachusetts which later moved to Chicago. He frequently traveled to Sweden for concerts and meetings. He came to be somewhat well heeled from his compositions and generously funded charities and North Park College where he gave the money to build Caroline Hall. He was a founding member of the Swedish Covenant church, a member of the North Park music faculty, and a contributor to the first Covenant hymnal August Storm was a member of the Salvation Army in Stockholm. He suffered in mid life a terrible back injury and was crippled for the rest of his life. How Hultman got the text is not clear. Storm's text has been variously translated. George Beverly Shea sang this one, bringing it to the attention of evangelicals in America when he included it in the Crusader Hymnal. That is probably why the hymn has made it around the world. Among many Swedes and evangelicals in America it became a Thanksgiving Hymn. In Sweden it is often used as a New Year’s Eve hymn. LINKS
SMS Male chorus Chae Eunok/Korean George Beverly Shea The Swedish text sung for New Year's Eve Ingman Nordström, Swedish jazz saxophone Kenneth Sivertsen, Melk og Honnig Romanian women’s chorus

HYMN 250 Now Thank We All Our God

Danish: Nu takker alle Gud German: Nun danket alle Gott Icelandic: Nú gjaldi Guði þökk Norwegian: Nå la oss takke Gud/ No takka alle Gud Swedish: Nu tacka Gud, allt folk Text: Martin Rinkart (1586-1649). Johann Crüger (1598-1664) 1 Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today. 2 O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next. 3 All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
Tr. Catherine Winkworth MEDITATION
Happy Thanksgiving! I had thought at the beginning I would reserve this hymn for the ending of the quarantine and all—it has been used for centuries as a hymn marking the end of hostilities—but here we are at the end of 8 months still in the battle. And not just against the virus, but against each other. The divisions go deep; families are divided on whether they can be together for the Thanksgiving dinner, even wondering about Christmas. Division is something Satan loves. He must be quite happy just now. It isn’t just that we disagree about a process; we disagree on realty it seems, so conversations are not really possible. Strange how in an age of utter relativism, we are absolute about many things, even the science. The scientists are also divided—from the Great Barrington Declaration which says the world is overreacting to others who say our response should be more draconian. What to do? It is hard to be rational when one is fearful. Is the fear justified? How do we handle fear? What are Christians saying? What should they say? Jesus and his angels usually began their encounters with "Fear not!" The writer of this great hymn knew fear, if not his own, his people's. He lived much of his adult life during some of the worst years in European history—the Thirty Years War. A native of Eilenburg, in 1601 he went to the Thomas church school in Leipzig to be in the choir and then entered the University of Leipzig where he spent the next few years. He was called back to his hometown to be a pastor, but an enduring conflict between him and another made it impossible. Finally, he became deacon and cantor at St. Nicolas church in Eisleben, then at St. Anne’s church. In 1617 he was finally called to Eilenburg where he remained until his death. In 1618, the Thirty Years’ War broke out and lasted until 1648. Eilenburg was a walled city, between Leipzig and Berlin, so it offered some relief from the raiding armies of Swedes that rampaged through the area between the years 1630-1635. Refugees crowded into the city to escape the conflict. Unfortunately, their crowding caused both famine and pestilence to break out. In 1637 bubonic plague devastated the city. The clergy in town all perished or fled and Rinkhart was the only one left to officiate at funerals which happened at the rate of 40 to 50 a day, among them his wife. At the end of the plague which lasted a few months he himself had buried over 4480 people. All told over 8000 people died from the plague. He also became ill but survived. As he was recovering, a great famine struck during which time the Swedes attacked. Rinkhart did much to help his charges, risking his life and substance for his people. When the Swedish army besieged it demanding a high tribute, he led his starving people out to the general who relented when he saw their parlous condition and reduced the tribute money which Rinkhart mortgaged his house to pay. Even as he did much to alleviate the suffering, his superiors criticized his work. He died in 1649, a year after the Peace of Westphalia was announced. The exhausted people who had suffered for thirty years from the war and the accompanying pestilence, famine and violence, held services in their local churches to thank God with this hymn we think. Rinkhart's hymn became traditional for the endings of conflicts and wars until the present. We can pray as we sing it this year in our homes that a witness as joyful and confident as this might emerge from our conflicts! And maybe bring us peace. Even so, Now thank we all our God! HYMN INFO
Rinkhart wrote the hymn around 1630 just as the Swedish armies started making their attacks on the German states. It was first published in his book of poems Jesus Hertz-Büchlein in 1636—and given the title "Table Prayer." It did not receive its tune until Johann Crüger’s 1648 version of Praxis Pietatis Melica. Scholars are quite certain that the tune is by Crüger. Over time it began to be called the German Te Deum. It was sung at the celebration of the completion of the cathedral in Cologne and at the laying of the cornerstone of the Reichstag building in 1884. The British and American people have used it for similar celebrations. Now it is one of the hymns associated with Thanksgiving, but also any other celebration which needs a song of Thanksgiving. Bach used the hymn in several works. We do not have the complete version of his cantata on the hymn, but we do have some of it. See below. A feast of possibilities! LINKS Royal Albert Hall The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Uppsala Cathedral service for the ordination of a bishop in 2018 Marko Hakanpää Finnish organist playing Virgil Fox arrangement Dresden Kreuzkor 800 Years celebration Ulm Brass bands/spectacular Icelandic Schola Cantorum Egil Hovland’s organ spectacular on the hymn Den Danske Salmeduo Bach Cantata BWV 79 Eliot Gardiner/Bach's incomplete version

HYMN 249 My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker

Danish: Min sjæl, du Herren love German: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren Norwegian: Min sjel, min sjel, lov Herren Swedish: Min själ skal lova Herran Psalm 103 Text: Johann Gramann (1487-1541) Tune: Johann "Hans" Kugelmann (1495-1542) 1. My soul, now praise your Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who makes you full partaker
Of mercies more than you dare claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all your sin,
Who heals your ev'ry weakness,
Renews your life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved you through the past;
Who leaves no suff'rer friendless
But rights the wronged at last. 2. He offers all His treasure
Of justice, truth, and righteousness,
His love beyond all measure,
His yearning pity o'er distress,
Nor treats us as we merit
But sets His anger by.
The poor and contrite spirit
Finds His compassion nigh;
And high as heav'n above us,
As dawn from close of day,
So far, since He has loved us,
He puts our sins away. 3. For as a tender father
Has pity on His children here,
God in His arms will gather
All who are His in childlike fear.
He knows how frail our powers,
Who but from dust are made.
We flourish like the flowers,
And even so we fade;
The wind but through them passes,
And all their bloom is o'er.
We wither like the grasses;
Our place knows us no more. 4. His grace remains forever,
And children's children yet shall prove
That God forsakes them never
Who in true fear shall seek His love.
In heav'n is fixed His dwelling,
His rule is over all;
O hosts with might excelling,
With praise before Him fall.
Praise Him forever reigning,
All you who hear His Word--
Our life and all sustaining.
My soul, O praise the Lord!
Tr. Catherine Winkworth MEDITATION
Every Thanksgiving, before the meal, our mother would recite the King James Version of Psalm 103 in its entirety--by heart. It was her Thanksgiving devotional discipline. Simply hearing the first words “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy Name" brings back her mellow voice beginning the psalm and I am transported to those days. (Our hymn today is a close paraphrase of that psalm.) We don’t do much memorizing of Scripture these days—we can google what we need—but we have lost the way those phrases make grooves in our brains and give us words to express our thoughts and feelings when we need words that are bigger and more powerful than what we could dredge up on our own. That in some ways limits the expanse of our feelings and thoughts. Not all of us have the kind of eloquence of the Psalmist, especially the King James Version translated by English scholars and poets. They understood how words could be put together to move us to higher thought and emotion than our own words could. And when they do, we come to peace, for the words of this great psalm teach us what we believe. "He healeth all thy diseases…and satisfieth thee with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles.” John Calvin thought the only song in the church should be the psalms paraphrased exactly in the vernacular because in the Psalms God teaches us how to praise him. So Calvinist hymnals were called psalters of which there were a great number. The Pilgrims, 400 years ago this fall, left England with the Ainsworth Psalter, their preferred version. Henry Ainsworth, a Hebrew scholar, printed his psalter in 1612 with both a fine prose translation and one in verse so it could be sung. The Separatists preferred it. In James Fenimore Coopers’ The Last of the Mohicans, Natty Bumpo argues for the superiority of the Ainsworth psalter. When Luther began his hymn writing, he encouraged writers to use Scripture, but did not insist the new texts be closely paraphrased Scripture as Calvin would later. He wanted the hymns to be more like sermons or reflections on the text. At the same time, he wrote several hymns that began as close paraphrases, but then went on to proclamation, such as "Out of the Depths," (Psalm 130) or later, "A Mighty Fortress," a sermon on Psalm 46. This hymn is a fairly close paraphrase of Psalm 103. Written just as the Reformation was taking root among Germans, it did what Luther wanted most: made the Bible available to the masses in their own language. It is one of the finest of the hymns from the time of the Reformation and has pride of place in Lutheran hymnals of almost any nationality for its beauty and close attention to one of the most beloved psalms of all, entirely appropriate for our Thanksgiving time and all times. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Happy Thanksgiving! HYMN INFO
Gramann attended the Leipzig debate in 1519 between Luther and John Eck, serving as Eck's secretary and strongly opposed Luther. As the debate wore on, however, he noted that Luther never made a point without referring to Scripture. Not long after he became a Lutheran. At the time he had been serving at the Thomas church where Bach would later serve, but left it in 1522 for Wittenberg to be with Luther and Melanchthon. He was a powerful preacher and stood up against the Anabaptists during the Peasant’s War at great risk to his own person. That same year, he was called to serve the Altstadt Church in Königsberg by the Margrave Albrecht V. The music by Kugelmann is an adaptation of a folk song, "Weiss mir ein Blümlein blaue." The hymn was first sung around 1530 and appeared in Kugelmann's book Concentus Novi in 1540. Kurgelmann served the Margrave Albrecht V of Brandenburg as musician, playing trumpet, directing the musical groups and composing. He was a well regarded musician during Reformation times and worked for the Margrave at the same time as Gramann. LINKS
Cheironomy Copenhagen University Choir Kirsten Flagstad Bach BWV 490 Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren, Vocal consort, Berlin Heinrich Schütz’ arrangement of the hymn Brussels Muzieque Information on the Ainsworth Psalter

HYMN 248 We Gather Together

Dutch: Wilt heden, nu treden Psalm 55:3 Text: Anonymous, Theodore Baker tr. (1851-1934) Tune: Dutch folk Song, first appearing in a Dutch book of songs in 1626, then Eduard Kremser (1838-1914) 1. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own. 2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be thine! 3. We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Tr. Theodore Baker MEDITATION
This tune means Thanksgiving to Americans. It emerged from the Dutch victories over the Spanish in the late 16th century. When it was translated into English by Theodore Baker it was called a hymn of Thanksgiving and quickly became the hymn for the American Thanksgiving services which were almost universally celebrated in American churches. Such observances came with European settlers; they were common in Europe and celebrated through the decades by American pioneers. Abraham Lincoln made the day official in 1863. Ever since it has been observed on the last Thursday of November. Those traditional services have not been so universal in the last decades. but the holiday remains America's favorite holiday as does the hymn. The hymn tune is used as a marker for Thanksgiving—which for Americans is the beginning of the holiday season. This year with shutdowns fairly common in the States, especially in regard to Thanksgiving gatherings, people are still celebrating the time, either by making the meal for their own family in a small gathering or by ignoring the mandates. The papers reported on Monday that air travel was way up as people observed the holiday as they were wont to. The first line of the hymn really says it all. We gather together…. To pray, to hear and to praise. We want to be together with our families and friends for the holidays. And for worship. The congregation is where the Lord Jesus promises to be. Wherever two or three are gathered, Jesus says, in my name, there I will be also. That may be why so many of us are feeling a void. Of course, Jesus is with us as we are alone with his word, but the hunger for the sight and sense of another comes because we know that when we are with each other in Christ’s name, he is there. The Christian faith is a chummy one. Jesus calls us friends. We know and have experienced how things happen when we are together. We can tell stories about how one person started something in a group, and all of a sudden, like a match to kindling, it caught fire and suddenly the entire group was energized and changed, ready to do something it would never have thought possible before. We think of the disciples, bereft and lonely, watching Jesus disappear into the ether, and then following his instruction to wait for the coming of the Spirit. They went to the Upper Room. A scraggly group of poor people. Who were they? Poor fishermen, laborers, a despised tax collector, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, with many women. Not much there in worldly terms of power. And then the Spirit came upon them. With power. Peter began preaching and suddenly thousands were swept up into the church. These simple people went forth with the story of Jesus as he commanded them, and suddenly the Roman Empire was on fire for the Lord. By 325 AD it was the religion of the empire. Others went farther east and farther north and south with the Gospel and changed millions of lives. Praise the Lord! We Christians know we need to keep praying for humility and chastening in order to remain faithful to our mission and we rejoice as we see people around the world gathering together, even where there is great persecution. We praise God as they find life and power in the Spirit, and the courage to speak his name as they gather together. May we also receive that power and that courage. HYMN INFO
The text and tune were not in the English tradition until the 19th century when Theodore Baker, the first American musicologist, translated the text keeping the very tight rhymes. Baker, the first to include American composers in his dictionary of music, studied in Leipzig and wrote his dissertation on the music of the Seneca Indian tribe, the first scholarly work on such music. The tune was published anonymously in 1626 in a book Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck. Eduard Kremser, a Viennese choirmaster, made the tune known when he collected it into a book of Dutch songs for male choirs in 1877. When the Dutch Calvinists in America abandoned the notion that they should only sing psalms in church, this was the first hymn they included. Julia Bulkley Cady translated the text "We Praise thee, O God, our Redeemer Creator." Its Dutch tune goes well with the text. LINKS
Grace Community Choir London Festival Orchestra The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Robert Kreuz First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska/The Cory translation Organ

HYMN 247 When Christmas Lights are Sparkling

Isaiah 64:1-9 Text: Gracia Grindal (1943-). Tune: Iteke Prins, or Christus, der ist mein Leben 1. When Christmas lights are sparkling All through the busy town, And festive choirs are singing, There’s music all around. 2. Our hearts are filled and cluttered; There seems to be no place For God the Lord of Advent To come with light and grace! 3. O come, Lord, rend the heavens And break into our hearts, Where it is cold and lifeless, To drive away the dark. 4. Bring fire to cleanse our dwellings, And fill us with your light. Make way for joy and gladness, And take away our night! Copyright 2012 Wayne Leupold Editions. MEDITATION Advent 1, the great text from Isaiah, praying the Lord will come and even wondering if he is hiding from us. Quite apropos now. This hymn was written long before anyone could have imagined we would be on a long quarantine and everything shut down. Now we are caught in a social experiment never tried before. Usually the sick were quarantined. Now everyone is. I worry about the effects of isolation on the elderly, living and dying alone, and the young. We have no data on what the effects of this will be. Most organizations, from WHO on down, are advising that children be in school where they are safer from abuse and other pathologies. Children are made human and kept healthy by being with others. We all are. God, help us. Come down! The Isaiah passage is important to hear in this time. It speaks quite directly to our situation. We can still put up our Christmas lights and trees and be busy preparing for Christmas. We can keep the music playing in the house and enjoy what family we have with us. As we await Christmas, we are also waiting for the Lord to “rend the heavens and break into our hearts.” It is in times of waiting that our eyes are turned to texts like this. Do something! Change something! Break into our isolation! The Christian tradition describes original sin as being “curved in upon ourselves/incurvatus se.” As I examine my own heart in these times I have to admit the isolation has done little to cure me of being curved in on myself. Being alone—although I am privileged to have children in the house along with their parents so I am not nearly so isolated as I was—keeps me focused on myself. There is no one around to tell me what I have done wrong today! One of the things I am doing, in addition to these blogs, is reviewing some books. One of them is a recent translation of a novel Faith Alone: The Heart of Everything, (1943/2020) by Bo Giertz, the late bishop of Gothenburg, Sweden. The story involves two brothers living at the time of the Reformation during the civil wars of the 1540s in Sweden. Both are religious. They are on opposing sides and it is nasty. One, having been persuaded by Luther’s arguments, leaves the Roman church to follow the Lutheran king, Gustavus Vasa I. The other, a priest, remains. When the two meet after some time, the Protestant is now married with a wife and baby. The priest asks his married brother what being married is like. His brother answers that marriage is a school for faith. When his puzzled brother asks why, he answers that only after marriage did he understand what a great sinner he was. “As long as I lived the celibate life, I ruled over myself. Then it is no great skill to pretend to be a sanctified soul.” He goes on to describe how much more difficult it is to be saintly when one’s spouse interrupts one for help mending a shuttle or one’s child screams in the night. “A man learns to live from pure mercy.” The insight here is piercing. Christ needs to come to me, my heart curved in on myself and my own works and ways. I need a Savior to come and clean house. We all need a redeemer to come into the world and clear away our idols, maybe especially the delusion that we are in charge of our own destiny. We are not. God is. Meanwhile let us pray to the Lord of heaven, come down and fill our hearts with light. HYMN INFO
This text is from the collection of hymns on the OT lectionary, Series B, Advent 1, I wrote in 2010 the Saturday night before Advent Sunday. Wayne Leupold had asked me in 2004 whether I would be interested in writing a hymn on every Bible lesson in the Revised Common Lectionary. At the time I was 61 and thought the door was shutting on my creative activity. His request opened a door into a bright future for me. Every Saturday night for ten years, after the weather report, I would go down into my living room, and, if it was winter, start a fire in my Jøtul stove. After a brief prayer and some study I would start. By midnight I would be done with a first draft and retire. During the week I would fuss with it, while reading commentaries on the upcoming lesson. This setting is by Iteke Prins. She was born in Holland before WWII broke out, and lived there through the war. She remembers being taken by bicycle as a young child to be with a relative where she might be safer, food and clothing a constant worry. After the war she and her family emigrated to Canada and then to New York where she became a nurse and church musician. Now retired, she is continuing to compose tunes for new hymn texts. She set the entire collection of OT Series B texts for this collection. When I hear her music, I hear the grit of a young girl in wartime being bicycled through the winter snows of Holland toward safety. The text can be sung to a simple, but wonderful, old chorale melody, Christus, der ist mein Leben—Christ, who is my life. LINKS Andrew Remillard—piano of Bach’s harmonizaton Daniel Bonevac—a fine piece featuring the melody in a cantata by Johann Schelle One copy of this hymn may be downloaded for personal use only. For additional copies in any format a church must: 1. Have a license from CCLI,, or LicenSing, and report the use of WLE material directly to the respective licensing agency, or 2. Apply for a license directly from Wayne Leupold Editions (WLE). There are two types of WLE licenses:

HYMN 246 All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

Psalm 72; Philippians 2:9-11 Text: Edward Perronet (1726-1792). Tune: William Shrubsole MILES LANE (1760-1806); Oliver Holden CORONATION (1765-1844); 1. All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him Lord of all! 2. O seed of Israel's chosen race
Now ransomed from the fall,
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
And crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
And crown him Lord of all! 3. Let every tongue and every tribe
Responsive to his call,
To him all majesty ascribe,
And crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe,
And crown him Lord of all! 4. Oh, that with all the sacred throng
We at his feet may fall!
We'll join the everlasting song
And crown him Lord of all.
We'll join the everlasting song
And crown him Lord of all. MEDITATION
This hymn, known as the “National Anthem of Christianity” if one can speak in that way, is a mission hymn. There are many Scripture references in it, but the main one is the notion from Philippians 2:9-11 that At the Name of Jesus every Knee shall Bow. Jesus is crowned because he defeated sin, death and the devil out of love for us. Our job is to go forward with the name and preach it around the world so at the end every “tongue and tribe” will have heard the good news. I have always loved stories of missionaries who went where they were called, regardless of dangers, illness, persecution or martyrdom simply to bring the good news to the people anywhere on earth. Here were true heroes. Many missionaries visited us when I was a kid and we learned about the countries of Madagascar, India, Japan, China and Formosa from personal accounts shared with us around the dinner table. It was the adventures and the romance of faraway places especially that caught my attention. I have noted elsewhere the generosity of the missionaries braving all these things simply because the Lord commanded it and with the dream of increasing the numbers in heaven. There was another part that became clear as I studied further the missionaries who went to China. (See my book link below.) They came in answer to the call of Hudson Taylor for thousands to come to China before the end of the 19th century. They weren't just being obedient to their Savior. They were in love. In love with Jesus. They believed that Christ would return when everyone on earth had heard the Gospel. They wanted to see Jesus soon and so they went. Hudson Taylor was the great missionary to China. His daughter-in-law, Geraldine Guinness (1865-1942) worked closely with him, helping him edit his magazine, China's Millions. She spoke and wrote tirelessly on behalf of the mission with her father-in-law. (She was from the Guinness family that owned and brewed the famous Guinness stout. Oz Guinness is a descendent.) In 1889 Taylor issued a challenge to the young—he wanted 1000 missionaries in China before the end of the century. Hundreds did answer the call. Miss Guinness tells how a young Swedish man appeared at the China Inland Mission headquarters in Shanghai to speak with Taylor and informed him that there were thirty-five young people following him. They knew that Jesus was Lord, that he reigned and one day they would worship him in heaven. And they wanted the courts of heaven to be filled with thousands they had helped bring to faith through their work. Most of all they wanted to be there, beside him. They made a difference. Though under persecution today, the church in China is surprisingly vibrant. Many Chinese have learned to call Jesus Lord and are yearning with the whole church to see Jesus in the flesh, resurrected, ascended, and Lord! All hail the power of Jesus' Name! HYMN INFO
Edward Perronet, a descendent of Huguenot refugees from France, grew up the son of an Anglican priest. He was a gifted young man who became more and more disenchanted with the established church. He became a co-worker with the Wesleys. He was a difficult person to be around, the histories say. Ultimately their disagreements separated Wesley from him. He became a dissenting pastor and wrote a book of verse, highly prized at the time. This hymn has been revised over time. It originally had some eight stanzas, but the stanzas here are the standard ones today. He was rather wealthy and left property in his will to William Shrubsole who wrote Miles Lane one of the preferred tunes for his text. Shrubsole was raised in Canterbury and was a boy chorister in the Canterbury Cathedral choir. He later became an organist at the Bangor Cathedral, but was let go as his dissenting views became stronger. He moved to become organist at Spa Fields Chapel. He taught music until his death. Oliver Holden wrote the tune Coronation. An American who fought in the Revolutionary War, Holden was a musician who worked in Massachusetts. When George Washington visited Boston, Holden wrote a piece of music a group sang for him. He published a book of sacred music, The American Harmony, in 1793, one of the first musicians to publish in the new country. This tune is the oldest American tune still in common use today. Hymnal committees usually can't decide which tune to use, so they tend to publish them both. Others have been written as well, most well known, Diadem. LINKS Duke University Chapel/Miles Lane—wow! Robert Shaw Chorale/Miles Lane First Plymouth Church Lincoln, Nebraska/Tune: Coronation Hour of Power/Tune: Coronation Bishop Clarence E. McClendon/Coronation Tommy Walker Ministries/contemporary version of Coronation My book on the missionary to China Thea Rønning with info on Hudson Taylor

HYMN 245 The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ending

Norwegian: Den dag du gav oss, er til ende Swedish: Den dag du gave oss, Gud, är gången Genesis 1:3; Revelation 5:13 Text: John Ellerton (1826-1893). Tune: Clement Cotterill Scholefield (1839-1904) 1. The day you gave us, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at your behest;
To you our morning hymns ascended,
Your praise shall hallow now our rest. 2. We thank you that your church, unsleeping
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night. 3. As o'er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of pray'r is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away. 4. The sun, that bids us rest, is waking
Our brethren 'neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Your wondrous doings heard on high. 5. So be it, Lord; your throne shall never,
Like earth's proud empires, pass away;
But stand and rule and grow forever,
'Til all your creatures own your sway. MEDITATION
Queen Victoria chose this hymn to be sung at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. (Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017! And this hymn was sung.) The hymn was, for Victoria, in addition to a description of how the gospel had spread around the world, an accurate description of the British Empire—the sun never sets on it! It made the hymn known around the world. Ellerton, an English divine, wrote it as a mission hymn for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), one of the main organizations in the world for mission. While it was written in the context of the imperial reach of England, the hymn is enclosed in stanzas that set all worldly empires in their place. The first stanza is from Genesis and the creation of day and night, and the last from Revelation and the end times when the Lord will be seen to rule all things. When the LBW came out, this hymn, which had been in previous American Lutheran hymnals, became the hymn for evening gatherings, synod assemblies, where people were having an evening service. Both tune and text, however, are pure Victorian. Ralph Vaughan Williams disliked the Victorian tune, as he did most things Victorian. But regardless of what he thought, or anyone else, people have taken to it. The hymn is a vivid description of the way the gospel spread, like the sun rising and setting, like the day progresses from east to west around the globe. Many evening hymns, even the greatest by Paul Gerhardt, had been criticized for language that seemed to indicate the earth was flat—Now all the world is sleeping—was not true, people of the Enlightenment scoffed. It got so bad some hymn editors changed such phrases to "Now half the world is sleeping!" This of course missed one of the most common features of hymn language—hyperbole. As always happens, the criticisms of a piety or language of a hymn can make the next generation change it. Ellerton makes sure the sweep of the Gospel is vividly portrayed as it travels around the globe through different time zones. Victorian England thought a lot about the globe, well aware of it, given its empire. The grand sweep of this hymn—it is one of the finest of its kind—and its pleasure in how the gospel has spread over the world has made it a classic. The progress of the Christian faith around the world is something to be thankful for and something to continue to pray for. Many are the scholars who note today that the Gospel is sweeping across the southern hemisphere with its fires. Ellerton helps us rejoice in that. And that one day all believers from all the nations will be gathered around God’s throne in praise. HYMN INFO
The hymn first appeared in an 1870 publication called A Liturgy for missionary meetings and was then revised to be included in the SPCK hymnal, Church Hymns in 1871. It was included later in Hymns: Ancient and Modern of 1889. The hymn has become one that scholars point to as a prime example of THE Victorian hymn and its times. It is one of the top ten favorites in Britain today. The tune by Scholefield breathes deeply of that tradition with its walz like rhythms. Scholefield, an English priest, was chaplain in St. Peter’s Church, in Cranley Gardens, where Arthur S. Sullivan, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, was organist. Some suspect he had more to do with the tune than is believed. He named the hymn St. Clement for his friend. Stig Holter in his book on the new Norwegian hymnal thinks that by doing so Sullivan canonized his friend Scholefield! It was sung by English POW’s frequently at the end of the day during WWII, so it is always included in Remembrance Day festivities. There are millions of versions of this on YouTube. Click around! LINKS
Remembrance Day with Queen Elizabeth II King’s College Choir Tewksbury Abbey Royal Albert Hall 2008 Remembrance Day Royal Albert Hall 2013 Movie of the Parade at the 1897 Jubilee! Pieter Leebeeck/piano improvisations Swedish version/Finnish church

HYMN 244 Living for Jesus a Life that is True

Hebrews 13:21 Text: Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960) Tune: C. Harold Lowden (1883-1963) 1. Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
R/O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone. 2. Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all. 3. Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross. 4. Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him. MEDITATION
Just the first notes of this old chestnut bring up memories of fresh-faced youth singing their hearts out in a youth choir at Luther League conventions in the forties and fifties. We loved especially the high obligato on the refrain. My father would often be the director and would have them hold on the last line of the refrain, “Henceforth to LIVE….” It was thrilling, especially for those of us who came from small congregations with small young people’s groups to be in such a large group singing. One year we had packed up the DeSoto coup with three teenagers and drove from Rugby down to Medicine Lake MN to a camp where the Lutheran Free Church Luther Leaguers would gather. My little sister was squeezed into the front seat—this was back before seat belts—and I sat on the laps of the three kids in the back. We won the prize for the most leaguers from our size congregation. Those meetings under the leadership of Merton Strommen and the youth department were life changing for many a young person. To live for Jesus, that was the challenge. They were given pocket testaments and other challenges to stay close to the Lord. Many dedicated themselves to church vocations, many found life time mates—one of the unstated goals of the convention if you asked Strommen—and others turned their lives around in significant ways we did not know, but they would testify later, made all the difference. Then came the late sixties and as someone said, we went from "Living for Jesus" to "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore." Lutherans began to stress baptism instead of commitments to live for Jesus. It was a sea change. In compiling the Lutheran Book of Worship in 1973-1976, we left out hymns like "Living for Jesus" (which was not in any previous American Lutheran hymnal, but in the songbooks) and looked for hymns on the sacraments: baptism and communion. It was in effect a turning from Lutheran pietism to a Lutheranism that some said hatched, matched and dispatched its members with the rites of passage: birth, marriage and death without challenging the youngsters to living a life committed to living for Jesus. Merton Strommen, who died recently at 100, regretted this change very much. It made the Lutheran churches less able to appeal to Americans who understood conversion from several great awakenings. Americans could connect with Lutheran pietists in that way. They could not with the Lutheranism of the establishment churches from the old country. When we moved to Oregon in 1954, our little LFC church in Salem grew quickly from 250 to 600 because we were one of the Lutheran churches in the city who still preached conversion and the holy life. Most of the population in Salem at the time had southern roots, there was even a little twang in Oregonian speech that scholars said came from the Okies and Arkies who moved there during the depression, bringing their Baptist and evangelical connections with them. When at sixteen I began working in the canneries with many of them I would ask if they knew what a Lutheran was. They would wonder, isn’t it like Catholics? They didn’t think I was saved and were surprised that I could talk their talk. If a little chilly, I could be included in their list of Christians. As my colleagues in church history would say, when we wondered about this change, institutions can turn on a dime and become quite different from what they had been at the beginning. Later when I began teaching at Luther Seminary, some students would be yearning for a place where they could live their faith experientially. I would tell them about "Living for Jesus" and this story. They wanted the pietism of their grandparents, I would tell them. It is ever thus. As the saying goes, What grandchildren and grandparents have in common is the same enemy. A good many of them went on to become successful leaders in lively congregations that grew and flourished because they challenged their members, especially their youth, to live for Jesus and give themselves to him. It was a pathway of blessing for many. HYMN INFO Lowden wrote this tune in 1915 for a text that was something of a trifle, he said. When someone suggested it should be used for a better text, he sent the tune to Chisholm who had not written a hymn text before. He rejected the request, but after Lowden continued to press him, he finally came up with this text. Chisholm had been born in Franklin, Kentucky, on a farm. He taught in local schools and began editing a paper. After a conversion experience in his mid-twenties he moved to editing a regional magazine, the Pentecostal Herald. He became a pastor in 1903. His goal was to include as much Scripture as he could in his hymn texts. One can see that in this text, but even more so in his more enduring hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness". Lowden continued writing hymn tunes until his death. LINKS Andrew Remillard--with the descant Rosemary Clooney--start at 2:51 Old Fashioned Revival Hour Singers A Cappella hymns—sing along Eden Symphony Orchestra Cedar College of Education Choir at KwaSizabantu Mission in South Africa. Piano version

HYMN 243 Yes, Jesus, You are King, most Clear

Icelandic: Vist ertu Jesú, Kongúr klár Norwegian: Ja, du er konge, Jesus Krist John 19: 13-15 Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674) Tune: Icelandic folk, or Conditor Alme siterum 9. Yes, Jesus you are king, most clear The King of glory through the years The King of angels, mankind’s King, The King of all created things. 10. You stood to wait your judge in bonds While howls of torture clamored round, Forsaken, mobbed by enemies. Oh what a wonder here I see! 11. Lord, Jesus, hear me, hear me One day you shall be my delight When I will see your glory, Lord, Your judgment seat beyond the clouds! 12. Fearless I’ll face your final word Redeemed to hear your judgment, Lord When in your name all chosen ones Will call me chosen with your Son. 13. King I can call you, Lord, and King: Call me your thrall, your underling; There is no dignity on earth Compared to what God’s slave is worth. 14. The paved high street has proved a snare, Often my footsteps stumbled there. But you were led there willingly So grace came washing over me 15. Your church elects you, hear it sing For you, her one and only King Now may your Lordship guide her ways To heaven’s light and shining peace. Amen. Tr. Gracia Grindal 2019 Hymns of the Passion MEDITATION Although this Passion hymn is usually sung in Lent, this hymn by Iceland’s greatest hymn writer can well be used for Christ the King Sunday. A collection of 50 hymns, about one for each day in Lent, one of its major themes is Jesus, the suffering king. The highest expression of that theme is Psalm 27 from which the hymn for today is taken. John 19:13-15 and Luke 23:23 are the texts he meditates upon in the hymn. Jesus becomes king by his obedience to his father and his willingness to suffer the passion. That Christ becomes king by suffering the most vile punishments, abuse and scorn, goes against worldly wisdom, but when we see it in the klieg lights of eternity, what he has done is truly royal. The phrase, character is king flashes into my mind as these words appear. Because Jesus suffered these terrible things, and did not flinch, we know his true character—only a God could do such a thing. Hallgrímur fully understood the scandal of the gospel. It is when Jesus is most cruelly abused that the poet sees his true kingly character emerge. “When I will see your glory, Lord, Your judgment seat beyond the clouds!” We know that simply being called a king is no proof of great character, in fact the pampering and privileges given royal children is not destined to produce great character, which is probably why the British royal family sends its sons into the military where they actually serve, as did Prince Harry in Afghanistan. Soldiers learn quickly whom to trust among their comrades. This explains the fierce attachments of veterans to each other. Character is revealed under fire. Aristotle taught in his Poetics that we do not know another’s character until we see them make a choice. In making their choice, we see the inner being of a person come forth. Some might remember when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came home from his conversation with Hitler on September 30, 1938, with a document that he said “Insured peace in our time.” Eleven months later Germany invaded Poland and England declared war on Germany. The world was engulfed in the most terrible war of all time. His appeasement and unwillingness to stand against Hitler at the time is considered one of the greatest failures of character in the annals of twentieth century history. As we have seen just now, running for office in a democracy can be awful, mostly because it is how the public tests the characters of the candidate. One's life, family, work and associations are all fair game in this brutal work. Very few people whom we need as leaders are willing to suffer that kind of abuse. Who can blame them? So as some say we have the kind of leadership we deserve. Ultimately, only the decisions leaders make show us their characters. We know we can trust in Jesus because he chose to suffer and die on the cross for us. It gives us the faith to trust him with our lives. How could he take the abuse, the shaming, the violent and deadly rejection of the entire establishment and leadership class? He did it for love of us. Today we need to look more closely and see how easy it is to domesticate Jesus and miss how we as leaders of the establishment would have looked on him. The other day I heard a preacher say that none of the martyrs ever said as they faced the flames that they were doing so in order to go to heaven. What they always said was something to the effect that because Christ loved them enough to suffer all this humiliation for them, they could face suffering as well for his truth. Christ’s suffering showed us his kingly character when he went to the cross for us. What he says can be trusted! HYMN INFO
This is a central text in the collection of Passion Hymns by Hallgrímur. As I have written elsewhere, Hallgrímur was a brilliant young boy whose antics got him sent off to Denmark where he worked as an apprentice to a blacksmith. He was discovered by an Icelandic scholar in Copenhagen and sent to the cathedral school where he distinguished himself as a scholar and poet. When he returned to Iceland, under a cloud, he suffered more. Because of the understanding of his bishop, he was finally given a living in Hvalsnes, a remote parish near Keflavik. There he and his wife suffered the death of their young daughter (for whom he wrote a great hymn) and lived in penury. The bishop took pity on him and sent him to a much richer parish in Saurbær where he wrote these hymns, making a name for himself as a scholar, preacher and poet. He died from leprosy. He is remembered throughout Iceland today as not only a great poet, preacher and pastor, but also a character with a fascinating life story. The church in the middle of Reykjavik is named in his honor. (For more see HYMN 19.) LINKS Schola Cantorum Mótettukór Hallgrímskirkju Jazz version, Sigaður Flosason Petur Grétasson SPeter iSigurður Flosason · Pétur link to my translation of the Passion Hymns

HYMN 243 O Love that Wilt not Let me Go

German: O Liebe, die nicht lässet mich Jeremiah 31:3; Matthew 11:28; 1 John 3:1-2 Text: George Matheson (1842-1906) Tune: Albert Lister Peace (1844-1912) 1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be. 2. O Light that follow'st all my way,
I yield my flick'ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be. 3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be. 4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be. MEDITATION
I couldn’t get the rhythm right. Here I was playing this hymn on the Baldwin electronic organ for morning chapel at Augsburg College in Si Melby Hall, probably in 1963. The bleachers were full as per usual. Everyone, including me, knew the hymn and loved it, but for some reason the rhythm on the page undid me. As I struggled, Leland Sateren, the choral director, rose up and came to me and started directing me! I can still see his figure looming out of the corner of my eye! A vivid memory that always comes to me with this great hymn. The story of the hymn has moved many people over the years. Matheson, a Scot, born in Glasgow, became a minister in 1868 after his university work in Edinburgh where he did well, although his eyesight was failing. By the time he was twenty he had gone completely blind. He resolved that this would not stop him in his callings and it did not. He served parishes in Scotland while continuing to write. He became one of the most eloquent preachers in the country. He preached once to Queen Victoria who found his sermon moving. By Matheson's account this hymn arose from a time in which he was filled with a terrible despair and as he was dealing with it, he said, “It was the night of my sister's marriage...Something happened to me, which was known only to myself and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself." The hymn expresses his grief and sorrow well, but also the hope he found in the Lord. It is a vivid text with many visual images that stick. The beginning two words of each stanza O Love, O Light, O Joy, O Cross, are really names for Jesus. He describes in strong images what these names imply—Christ’s Love is like an ocean in which he loses himself, the Light of the world that gives him light, Joy that seeks him and shows him “the rainbow through the rain” and the Cross that lifts him and becomes the place from which life arises, “there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.” This is a hymn that brings solace in the midst of great stress and suffering. Something we need today. It is interesting to see how well the hymn has done on Youtube today. People are finding it a great comfort during COVID-19 time. The comfort that Matheson found in God’s love, knowing that even if he lost his grip on Jesus, that Jesus would not let him go, or abandon him, is a promise that many of us need to hear now. Even if one’s own faith seems weak, Matheson teaches us in a wonderful hymn that got a lovely tune, God will not let us go. To know that all we have to do is look at the cross where life is blossoming. Our future is secure! HYMN INFO
This hymn, as I noted above, came almost instantly to Matheson. Despite his handicap he became a noted pastor and scholar, honored with lectureships at Edinburgh University. He served at Innellan, Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde, for many years. The poem was published in the Church of Scotland magazine, Life and Work, in 1883. It was then included in the Scottish hymnal of 1884. Matheson published it in his Sacred Songs that came out in 1890. The tune by Peace is a fine Victorian tune that lends itself to barbershop harmonies or now kind of the Swingle Singers sound. About Peace we know very little except that he was English. LINKS Ernie Rushing Westminster Chorus Fountainview Academy Mormon Tabernacle Choir Elaine Hagenberg New Voices with cello Art Turner Piano Solo

HYMN 242 When I Needed a Neighbor, Were You There

Norwegian: Da jeg trengte en neste, var du der, var du der? Swedish: Jag behövde en näste, var du där, var du där? Matthew 25:31-46 Text: Sydney Carter (1915 -2004). Tune: Sydney Carter (1915-2004) 1. When I needed a neighbour
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a neighbour, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there? 2. I was hungry and thirsty
Were you there, were you there?
I was hungry and thirsty, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there? 3. I was cold, I was naked
Were you there, were you there?
I was cold, I was naked, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there? 4. When I needed a shelter
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a shelter were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there? 5. When I needed a healer
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a healer, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there? 6. Wherever you travel
I'll be there, I'll be there
Wherever you travel, I'll be there
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
I'll be there. Sydney Carter © 1965 Steiner & Bell MEDITATION Uppsala, for two weeks in July, 1968, the meeting of the World Council of Churches. It was a turbulent time in the world, felt keenly by the churches. The organization had begun in 1948 in Evanston, Illinois. It had been a place where theologians from churches around the world could gather to give speeches and make theological and ecclesiastical agreements. The meetings had been headline news in the secular press. The Uppsala meeting was held after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and the death of Franklin Clark Fry. The meeting had a long agenda: it addressed ecumenism—made more possible after Vatican II, racism, nuclear war, problems in the Middle East, the need for more youth representation, etc. General Secretary Eugene Carson Blake in his report noted, in his acknowledgement of the unrest, what was beginning to be called the Generation gap. The question of European formal worship over against the emerging churches in Africa and Asia, and the young, began to break out. One reading the official report may not get all the ferment of the event—such things tend to be bureaucratic snoozers, but there was recognition something had happened which does not quite make these reports. The best place to see it is in contemporary reports in the media of the day. A representative from Canada wrote back to his local paper in Regina, Saskatchewan with more details—noting especially the presence of youth. A great number of youth from around the world, but especially Scandinavia, had organized a forty mile march from Stockholm to Uppsala to protest the contradictions of an Assembly with the theme "I make all things new" led by clergy in “medieval regalia.” Dressed as hippies they drew attention to that issue. James Baldwin spoke, remembering Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger was there with his protest songs and folk music; there were jazz worship services in the Cathedral—all of which put the older delegates a bit on edge, judging from the reports. I knew some of the people who organized the protest during that time and they were very effective in making their case. Their theme song, whenever they were asked to settle down, was this song. The group discussing worship trends and how the church should meet the new age didn’t really get to have a good discussion according to my old colleague Pastor Henry Horn who was there, I believe. I heard him many times lament that just as things were about to get going the kids started holding up their banners and singing this song. And although as a campus pastor at University Lutheran in Cambridge MA he understood student protest, he regretted the interruptions. That was the nature of the time and of protests. Hearing this song brings me back to that turbulence again. I started teaching at Luther College that fall, 1968. My students were all baby boomers, privileged by their parents from the Greatest Generation who had wanted to spare their kids from the issues they had faced as youth: the Depression, and WWII. It was an upsetting time for me personally—here I was just 25 years old, not even 30 yet, and the students, on whose side I was, to an extent, marked me as an enemy. As faculty, I was on the wrong team. It was a difficult year. Fifty years later it is interesting to see that generation of baby boomers, now long in the tooth and struggling with Covid-19. The colleges which started booming at that time are dealing with shut downs and survival. The questions the WCC Assembly were asking are still with us, even more urgently . We are having a rough ride politically today, much rougher than it was back then. And then the pandemic. Still, the question of the neighbor posed by this song is salient. Have we been good about serving them? Our prayer should be that we have been. HYMN INFO Sydney Carter, something of a darling of the youth movement, and best known for his song, "The Lord of the Dance," wrote this in the early 1960s. A member of the greatest generation, he lived through WWII as a conscientious objector and was much taken with the Quaker faith. It became, like this one, a product of an effort to write texts and tunes that people of many faiths could sing together without causing division. This hymn is in the Norwegian and Swedish hymnals and many throughout the world. It is an easy song to sing—one simply adds new concerns to the sentence “When I needed a ….” Carter died in 2004 probably from some form of Alzheimers. LINKS Romsey Abbey Choir at a hymn sing about a housing crisis in the UK Norwegian version/Marit Carlsen og Simon Flem Devold/Barnetro Swedish/Lars Åke Lundberg 1969 version Daniel Shiells Cornerstone Methodist

©2020 by Hymnblog. Proudly created with