LSB 672 Jerusalem the Golden

Jerusalem of the Future (c) Micael Muchnik

Selected as the seasonal hymn for AD 2023 All Saints-tide.  This final cycle of the long Trinity season is named for the November 1 feast which marks its beginning. For the past almost 5 weeks of Michaeltide, we have reflected on endurance in the face of tribulation.  As we close in on the end of the Church Year, we now turn our attention to our certain hope, grounded in the Eschaton (the Last Day) with its promise of eternal life in Jesus for those who believe in Him-crucified for the forgiveness of their sins.  Of note, it is no coincidence that God called Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) to nail his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door on All Saints Eve, to begin the Reformation.  By returning His Church to the truths that we are saved by His grace alone, through His gift of faith alone, all revealed to us in Scripture alone, God has assured us, and all of His people, that, indeed, our hope is secure (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 10:19-23).

Author: Bernard of Cluny (lived in the 12th century, birth and death years are unknown), about whom very little is known until he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, where he was a monk.1 He became well known for his sermons and other writings at Cluny, likely in part aided by the widespread influence of the Abbey. Bernard of Cluny is author of two hymn texts in LSB, this and LSB 513.

Translator: John Mason Neale (1818-1866), born in London and raised in an Evangelical Anglican home.2 From early on, he had an interest in ancient languages, and excelled in classics at Trinity College, Cambridge.  As a student in Cambridge, Neale co-founded the Cambridge Camden Society, the counterpart to the Tractarian Movement at Oxford, which called for a recovery by the Church of her liturgical and architectural treasures, which were increasingly becoming lost.3 He was ordained a deacon in 1841 and in 1842 was ordained a priest and married.  Throughout his time in the ministry, he was challenged by poor health (chronic lung disease) and at the same time, persecution from the church authorities for his views on ecclesiastical practices. Beginning in 1846, Neale served as an administrator at Sackville College, a home for elderly individuals who were poor, in East Grinstead, south of London.4 While there, he founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret (dedicated to visiting and assisting the sick and poor in their homes), an orphanage, a girls’ school and other agencies.  In keeping with his ecclesiastical interests and using his gift of the ancient languages, Neale translated more than two hundred of the great classic hymns from their Greek and Latin texts into English, regifting them to the Church.  LSB contains 22 of these hymns, have a look at these (listed in the index of the hymnal) and you will see how many of these hymns we regularly sing in the services here at CLC! Neale died at the age of 48 in East Grinstead.

Composer: Alexander C. Ewing (1830-1895), from Aberdeen, Scotland, initially studied law but later moved to Heidelberg, Germany to study music.5 He played a number of instruments and was best at piano.  He served in the British army in Turkey, Crimea, China, Ireland, Canada, Malta and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and eventually retired in Taunton, in southwest England, where he remained for the rest of his life.  He is known chiefly for the one tune named after him, and Jerusalem the Golden is the only use of the tune in LSB.

Hymn history: Jerusalem the Golden is taken from Bernard of Cluny’s 2,966 line poem De contemptu mundi (On Contempt of the World) which he penned in 1140.6 This poem, written in three books, is a satire which contrasts the corruption of the Church and of the society at the time, with the glory of heaven. Of note, it was written at a time when Muslim armies were threatening Europe, the Second Crusade had begun, and two popes claimed to be the true leaders of the western Church (which itself was corrupt). The poem was published by the theologian Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520-1575) to highlight the corruption of the 16th century Roman Catholic Church.  Several others later did the same.  By 1859, John Mason Neale had translated 432 lines of Bernard’s poem, from which a number of English hymns were written, including Jerusalem the Golden.7 

The hymn has appeared in every English language LCMS hymnal since the 1912 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book (ELHB 556). In the ELHB, the hymn appeared in three stanzas, corresponding to stanzas 1, 3 and 4 in LSB (though with major differences in the first two lines of the final stanza).8 The 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH 613) restored Neale’s second stanza, resulting in the four-stanza hymn we have today.  The 1982 Lutheran Worship (LW 309) used the text of TLH with very minor adjustments to language. The four-stanza LSB text has a number of alterations from that of LW.9 A selection of these:

First stanza

Beneath your contemplation Sink heart and voice oppressed à The promise of salvation, The place of peace and rest

I know not, oh, I know not What joys await us there à We know not, oh, we know not What joys await us there

Second stanza

They stand, those halls of Zion, Conjubilant with song à Within those walls of Zion Sounds forth the joyful song

And bright with many an angel à As saints join with the angels

The pastures of the blessed Are decked in glorious sheen à The city of the blessed shines bright with glorious sheen

Third stanza

There is the throne of David, And there, from care released à Around the throne of David, The saints, from care released

The shout of those wo triumph, The song of those who feast à Raise loud their songs of triumph To celebrate the feast

And they who with their leader Have conquered in the fight à They sing to Christ their leader, Who conquered in the fight

Forever and forever Are clad in robes of white à Who won for them forever Their gleaming robes of white

Fourth stanza

That eager hearts expect! à That faithful hearts expect!

Tune: Of note, the rhythm originally composed by Ewing was altered for the 1861 Church of England Hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern, much to his displeasure. We have inherited the altered rhythm. Additionally, the tune was originally composed in D-major and appears in TLH, LW and LSB transposed to C-major.10

Hymn text

First stanza

Read the first stanza

Vocabulary: peace – reconciliation with God; radiancy – point from which rays (typically of light) proceed; glory – God’s glory being the manifestation of His attributes, especially His holiness and majesty, and the glory of the Church and believers as Christ’s Body and fully revealed on the Last Day;11 bliss – perfect joy/blessedness

Read Revelation 21:18-23.  How is the New Jerusalem described by John, as shown to him by the angel?  Read Exodus 3:8 (Exodus 13:5, 33:3; Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27; Deuteronomy 6:3, 26:9,15; Jeremiah 11:5, 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6).  What land is specifically blessed with milk and honey?  What is the significance of milk and honey?  Read Isaiah 65:21-22; Matthew 22:1-14; Revelation 19:6-9, 22:1-2. Why does Bernard apply “milk and honey” to the New Jerusalem? Read Isaiah 32:17-18, Revelation 14:13, 21:3-4. What is God’s certain promise for believers? Read Romans 8:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Philippians 4:7. Given all he faced, how did the promise in these texts give Bernard certain hope?  Given all you face, how does it do the same for you? 

Second stanza

Read the second stanza

Vocabulary: Zion – here, the New Jerusalem;12 martyr – witness (in our use, one put to death for his/her Christian witness); serene – calm, peaceful and untroubled; sheen – soft luster on a surface

Read Psalm 84:4; Revelation 14:1-5 (7:1-8); along with Psalm 96:1-2; Psalm 149:1-4; Revelation 5:8-14.  What is taking place in Zion? What is the joyful song all about?  Who is singing the song?  Who is in their presence?  Read Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 60:19-20; Mark 9:2-3 (Matthew 17:2; Luke 9:29); John 1:4-5 and 9, 8:12, 9:5, 12:46, 1 John 1:5; Revelation 21:23-27, 22:5,16. Who is the source of the light in the city of the blessed?  Why does Bernard describe the light as serene and glorious?

Third stanza

Read the third stanza

Vocabulary: care – here, object of concern or occasion for anxiety; gleaming – reflecting light

Read Psalm 110, including the superscription (Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44); Luke 1:32-33 and Acts 2:29-32.  Who sits on the throne of David? Read Revelation 7:9-17 (6:10-11), 12:7-12, 19:1-16 (20:1-15), 21:1-4.  As believers struggle in this vale of tears (Psalm 84:6) what certain promise awaits? What feast does Bernard describe?  How did Christ conquer in the fight?  How did the robes of the saints become white? Whose light do the saints reflect?

Fourth stanza

Read the fourth stanza

Vocabulary:sweet – delightful; country – here, the New Jerusalem; elect – chosen

Read Malachi 3:17; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 22:1-5 (Genesis 2:8-14), 16-17, 20.  What makes the country sweet and blessed?  Who is dwelling there?  When were they (we) chosen to dwell there?  What has God promised to His people? How does the closing petition remind Him of His promise? Why do we at Catalina Lutheran Church (CLC) traditionally end the Church Year with this hymn? How does it tie in to All Saints-tide and anticipate Advent?


Read Hebrews 12:22, keeping in mind that scholars consider the book of Hebrews to be a written sermon delivered to a congregation during the Divine Service (DS):13

  1. What do you experience in the DS at Catalina Lutheran Church (or anywhere you receive God’s gifts)?
  2. When God gathers us to receive His gifts, with whom do we sing His praise? How long will that continue?
  3. Read 1 Corinthians 11:20, 25 and Revelation 19:9 (same word for supper14).  Of what is the Lord’s Supper a foretaste?
  4. In times of tribulation whether from persecution, plague, threats of war, or anything else that attacks, where is the very best place you can be?  Of what are you reminded when you are there?
  5. How precious is Catalina Lutheran Church to you?

End notes

  1. Information from Paul A. Reske, “Bernard of Cluny,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske, Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 2 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) pp. 218-219. The Cluny Abbey is in Saône-et-Loire in the center-east of France. The Benedictines are an order of monks founded on the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia (c.480 – c.543), which set the pattern of the eight daily offices in the monastic community, especially emphasizing the praying of the complete Psalter over the course of each week.  For more detail, see Thomas M. Winger, “The Daily Office – Historical Introduction,” in Paul J. Grime, ed. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Services (St. Louis: CPH, 2022), pp. 651-665 (for the Rule of St. Benedict see specifically pp. 657-660). Of note, Bernard of Cluny was once known as Bernard of Morlaix, or Morlas (as in TLH), or Morval, referring to what was thought to have been his place of birth.
  2. Information from Jon D. Vieker, “Neale, John Mason,” in Companion, Volume 2, pp. 540-542.
  3. The Cambridge Camden Society later became known as the Ecclesiological society.  A full description is beyond the scope of these notes, for more, see Jacqueline Banerjee, “The Cambridge Camden Society and the Ecclesiological Society,” at (accessed 2 October, AD 2023).
  4. Sackville College still exists and is a beautiful facility, see (accessed 2 October, AD 2023).
  5. Information from Cathryn Wilkinson, “Ewing, Alexander C.” in Companion, Volume 2, pp. 319-320; and John Perry, “A. Ewing,” at (accessed 5 October, AD 2023).
  6. Information from Timothy H. Maschke, “Jerusalem the golden,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske, Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 1 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019), pp. 882-887. Also Reske, Companion, Volume 2, p. 218.
  7. Two of these hymns appeared in the1912 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book (ELHB): ELHB 556 – Jerusalem the golden; and ELHB 557 – Brief life is here our portion.  Four of these hymns appeared in the 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal: TLH 448 – Brief Life Is Here Our Portion; TLH 605 – The World Is Very Evil; TLH 613 – Jerusalem the Golden; and TLH 614 – For Thee O Dear, Dear Country. Of note, TLH 448, 605 and 613 all were set to the tune Ewing, as is LSB 672.  The 1982 Lutheran Worship included only Jerusalem the Golden (LW 309), and The Clouds of Judgment Gather (LW 463), an alteration of The World Is Very Evil by the editors of the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, and set to the Irish tune Durrow.  LSB includes these two hymns, and reset The Clouds of Judgment Gather (LSB 513) to the Welsh tune Llangloffan. The LSB text of Jerusalem the Golden traces back to three sources: John Mason Neale’s 1851 Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences; Neale’s 1859 The Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix, Monk of Cluny, on the Celestial Country; and the 1861 Church of England hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern for use in the services of the Church, with accompanying tunes. For more detail, see “Jerusalem,” Companion Volume 1, pp. 884-885.
  8. The first two lines of the ELHB third stanza read, “Exult, O dust and ashes! The Lord shall be thy Part: His only, His forever, Thou shalt be and Thou art!” In turn, the ELHB text appears to have deviated from Neale’s translation, which is closer to our text, “Jerusalem the glorious, the glory of the elect, O dear and future vision That eager hearts expect.” (Quote taken from “Jerusalem,” Companion Volume 1, p. 884.)
  9. A compendium of alterations from Neale’s texts, as well as a list of lines brought forward from the original poem of Bernard of Cluny may be found in “Jerusalem,” Companion Volume 1, pp. 884-885.
  10. “Jerusalem,” Companion Volume 1, pp. 885-886
  11., accessed 6 October, AD 2023; a full discussion of this is beyond the scope of these notes.
  12. The term Zion has multiple uses in Scripture, with the common theme of God’s saving presence with His people (Psalm 2:6, Psalm 48): the hill and walled settlement of the city of David, namely Jerusalem, and the location of His temple (2 Samuel 5:7; Psalm 132:13-18 and others); the heavenly/New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22 – note the application to any place where God’s Word is proclaimed and His Sacraments administered; Revelation 14:1); and God’s redeemed people (Psalm 97:8 and others). See the discussions in John W. Kleinig, Concordia Commentary: Hebrews (St. Louis: CPH, 2017), pp. 648-651; and Louis A. Brighton, Concordia Commentary: Revelation (St. Louis: CPH, 1999), pp. 364-365, 367-368.
  13. Kleinig, Hebrews, p.1 ff.
  14. The Greek word is δεῖπνον (deipnon).

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