LSB 911 Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship – Eastertide

We have chosen LSB 911, Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship, as this year’s Eastertide seasonal hymn. The hymn is grounded in the Gospel reading for the evening service on the Feast of the Resurrection (as well as Easter Monday), namely the post-Resurrection narrative in Luke 24:13-35, about the encounter of the two men on the road to Emmaus with the risen Jesus.  In this pericope, or cutting from Scripture, and in this hymn, we see laid out the pattern of our Divine Service, namely that of teaching from God’s Word followed by eating in Table fellowship with Him, and with each other.  The hymn opens with the invocation of the Holy Trinity, reminding us that, having been cleansed in the waters of Baptism, we may confidently approach God, receive His gifts and return our sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 10:19-25; 1 Peter 2:4-5).  Like the men at Emmaus, we ask our Lord to be present with us (Luke 24:29), knowing now fully that He is the One inviting us and He is the Host.  The second stanza further reminds us that, having been justified, or declared right with the Father, through our Lord Jesus’ Resurrection (Romans 4:25), we are free to praise Him by receiving His gifts of Word and Sacrament, as have Christians from the time of the birth of the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:42).  The third stanza recalls the impact of God’s Word on the men at Emmaus; how their hearts burned, and how, once they fully understood what they had heard, were no longer shaken, but confidently returned to Jerusalem and proclaimed the risen Lord to the eleven (Luke 24:25-27, 32-34).  We pray that in turn, His Word will, “enrich our spirit,” and, “give us strength to do (His) will,” and constantly remind us of the glory that awaits us on the Last Day, no matter how bad things seem in this life. In His Resurrection, our Lord has conquered death.  Thus, although we too will die, we too will once again be raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:12-57)!  The fourth stanza recalls how our Lord was made known to the Emmaus men in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-31, 35).  We too meet our blessed Savior at His Table, and pray that we receive His very Body and Blood for, “strength and comfort,” namely the forgiveness of sins, and not to our condemnation (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-32).  Finally, we are reminded in the fifth stanza that every Sunday is a, “mini Easter,” on which we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection, receiving His gifts and singing His praise, throughout this life and into eternity (Acts 20:7).  Having completed a Lenten fast from the Alleluias, we joyfully sing these out six times at the end of each stanza, in two groups of three, along with the English translation, “praise the Lord!”

Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship is a recent hymn, written in 1995 to open the Divine Services at Resurrection Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO.  The text was penned by Rev. Dr. Richard C. Dickinson (1925-2010), an African American Pastor who was born in the Alabama black belt (this term referring to the soil in the area) during a difficult time of poverty and segregation.  He certainly benefitted from the work of Rosa J. Young (1890-1971), attending a Lutheran congregation and school in his youth and two of his undergraduate years at what would later become Concordia Selma.  Rev. Dr. Dickinson attended seminary at Immanuel Lutheran College in Greensboro, NC, and later earned graduate degrees at Concordia, Chicago and Chicago Theological Seminary.  He served a number of congregations, and eventually as executive director of the LCMS Commission on Black Ministry.  Additionally, Rev. Dr. Dickinson was the first African American Pastor to preach at an opening of a Synodical Convention. 

In spite of all that Rev. Dr. Dickinson faced growing up and into his adult life, by God’s grace, he received richness of spirit, strength and comfort through His Word and Sacraments.  The good Pastor now rests safely and peacefully in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22; c.f. LSB 708.3), awaiting the final Resurrection in glory.  This Eastertide is the second in the midst of the current global pandemic.  Over the past year, many have suffered from severe illness and some have fallen asleep in the Lord.  All of us have suffered significant stress.  Yet, through it all, we have been sustained through regularly and joyfully receiving God’s gifts in His weekly, “mini Easter” Divine Services, knowing that, because of the certainty of our Lord’s Resurrection, “death is swallowed up in victory,” a victory that is ours in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).  Alleluia, He is risen!!!  We are grateful for your presence with us today, pray God’s blessings on you as you receive His gifts in our midst, and a joyous and blessed Eastertide to you and your family.

LSB 401: From God the Father, Virgin-Born – Epiphanytide

The seasonal hymn chosen for this year’s brief Epiphanytide is LSB 401: From God the Father, Virgin-Born.  This hymn is at least 1,000 years old, and was originally written in Latin, in acrostic form, namely with lines beginning with successive letters of the alphabet (much like several of the Hebrew Psalms).  The Gospel texts during this portion of the Church Year point to various epiphanies, or manifestations of Jesus, and this hymn beautifully summarizes the underlying message conveyed through each of these. 

In the first two stanzas, we sing of our Lord Jesus coming down from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary, to die on the Cross to forgive our sins, and rise again to declare us right with the Father, and restore the fallen creation (John 1:1,14; Philippians 2:6-8; Romans 4:25, 8:19-21).  Additionally, we recall the Baptism of our Lord, at which He took on the sin of the world, foreshadowed His own death, and sanctified the water of Baptism through which He washes away our sin and re-births us from above (Matthew 3:13-17 and parallels; John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). The 3rd stanza reminds us of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in His wing (Malachi 4:2; LSB 380.3); leading His people from darkness to the clarity of His Light (Luke 4:18; John 1:4-5, 8:12; Acts 26:17-18); note that Epiphany is often known as the Season of Light.  In the 4th stanza, we urge our Lord to remain with us, as did the men at Emmaus (Luke 24:29), and apply His work of healing specifically on us, taking away the stain of our sin and bringing us from our darkness to His light.  We pray this with confidence, knowing that, as He remained at Emmaus, making Himself known to the men in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-31), He has promised to remain with us, calling and gathering us to receive His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation, nourishing us through His Word and Supper (Matthew 26:26-28 and parallels; John 20:22-23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  In the 5th stanza, we confidently confess His final coming (Matthew 25:31; Luke 21:27 and parallels; Revelation 22:6-20), and pray again His ongoing presence among us, to shield us from the attacks of the evil one as for now we remain in this fallen world (Revelation 12:17).  Again, we pray confidently, knowing that He has promised so to do (Isaiah 41:10).  During this time of pandemic and unrest, we are free to take comfort in these words!  The sixth stanza fittingly closes the hymn in a Trinitarian doxology, as we return our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to our Triune God for all He has done, is doing and will do for us, preparing to sing of Him into eternity (Revelation 5:13)!

Typically, From God the Father, Virgin-Born is sung as Chief Hymn on Epiphany 3, to support the Mathew 8:1-13 Gospel reading in which we hear of Jesus’ healing the leper and the centurion’s servant.  In this year’s truncated Epiphany season, we will not be observing Epiphany 3.  This hymn, though, was originally written as an Office hymn for the Feast of the Epiphany, and its words are appropriate for the entire season.  We are thankful that you are here today to receive God’s healing gifts in our midst and pray God’s blessings on you during this, the Season of His Light, and throughout the year! 

LSB 375: Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising – Christmastide

For this year’s (2020) Christmastide seasonal hymn, we have chosen LSB 375: Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising, by Paul Gerhardt (1607-76).  In his text, Gerhardt has given us a beautiful devotion on the response of the shepherds to the angels’ proclamation of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:15-17).  Like the shepherds, we too are invited to come in joy to Bethlehem and see Mary, Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger for us, and to tell everyone about that which we have witnessed.1 The Infant lying in the feeding trough is Christ Himself, descended from heaven to take our sin upon Himself, to die on the Cross to atone for it and rise again to declare us right with the Father, and worthy to sing His praise.  This Baby Jesus is Jacob’s star (Numbers 24:17), the Light of the World, who gives us the light of life, setting us free from the dark bondage of the evil one, sin, death and hell (Psalm 107:10-20; Isaiah 9:2-6, 61:1; Luke 2:29-32; John 8:12; 1 Peter 2:9).  The news out of Bethlehem grasped in The Faith brings greater joy than we can put into words (Luke 2:10; 1 Peter 1:8)!  In The Faith, Paul Gerhardt experienced this joy in spite of personal loss and devastation from war, the deaths of his wife and four of his five children, and revocation of his Divine Call due to his faithfulness to the Lutheran Confessions.  In The Faith, we too are free to experience this joy even in time of pandemic, and respond by confessing to our Lord that He is our Salvation (Psalm 107:21-22; Luke 1:68-71).  We pray to the Little Child of Bethlehem that, although we don’t deserve it, He keep us close to Himself, and lead us (Isaiah 11:6), until at last we join the heavenly chorus, singing His praise unto eternity (Revelation 5:13). 

For further devotional material on this hymn, we commend the entries for December 29, and January 1-5 in the Cause for Great Joy Advent devotional made available in the CLC Narthex. The material is also available for download at https://steadfastlutherans.org/parish/advent-devotional (accessed 7 December AD2020).  We are thankful that you are here today to receive God’s gifts in our midst and wish you a Christmastide of great joy and blessing.

Note:

  1. The LSB text, along with its immediate predecessor in LW 48, omit Gerhardt’s stanzas 2 and 3, which can be found in TLH 90.  In the original, the 3rd stanza begins, “See how God…”; thus, reflecting the, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see…” of Luke 2:15.

LSB 683 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me – Lawrencetide

We have chosen LSB 683, Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me, as the seasonal hymn for the AD 2021 Lawrencetide portion of the long Trinity season.  Lawrencetide begins with the August 10 commemoration of Lawrence (225-258), Deacon and Martyr, and ends with the September 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. During this time, we remember God’s gift to Lawrence of deep compassion for the poor, and His grace that enabled the Deacon to continue steadfast in the Confession of the Church to the point of suffering an excruciatingly painful death, all in good cheer. Thus, our overall emphasis in Lawrencetide is on sanctification, love of God, and good works which follow from His grace and mercy toward us.  Of note, the hymn is also Hymn of the Day for Trinity 13.  The Gospel reading that day includes the parable of the Good Samaritan, which reminds us that when we were dead in our sin, Jesus rescued us in Baptism. He brought us into His Church, to be cared for by His called and ordained servant, our Pastor, through His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation given in His services to us.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive these gifts as our own, and are free to do truly good works in sacrificial love to our neighbor.

Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me beautifully picks up on the Lawrencetide emphasis.  The first stanza begins with a reminder to our Lord Jesus of His limitless love to us, which is beyond human understanding. The stanza continues with an appeal to our Savior to unite our thankful hearts to Him in mystical union, that we have no other gods but Him.  As you sing these words, remember that in His Divine Services to us, He unites us to Himself!  In this manner we are sanctified, namely declared holy, set apart for Him.  The second stanza continues with a reflection on what this mystical union means for us.  We pray that nothing but Jesus’ pure love dwell in our souls and possess us, being our joy, treasure and crown.  Remembering that Jesus’ love is sacrificial (agape) love shown to us by His death on the Cross to rescue us from our sins, we ask for His grace that we turn away from our cold inward focus to fervent sacrificial love toward our neighbors, being His daily bread to them.  The third stanza continues with a focus on Jesus’ sacrificial love as the focus of our lives, our hope, indeed our very being.  We ask His grace that it so remain and that we recognize it as our own, our dearest treasure. The final stanza concludes with the acknowledgement that in this fallen world, we will experience suffering, weakness and stormy times. After all, our Savior Himself faced these, as did countless of His followers who have gone before us, including Lawrence, and Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), author of this hymn. We pray that in those times, we too receive our Good Shepherd’s gift to persevere in His sacrificial love, and in the end follow Him to an eternity by His side.

Paul Gerhardt
Theologian

We are thankful that you are here with us today as we mark the transition to Lawrencetide, and pray God’s richest blessings on you as you receive His gifts in our midst today, gazing at the reminder of how He died, through the arrangement of the Jerusalem cross on the paraments.  We further pray His favor on you as you serve your neighbors in the coming week in that sacrificial love that you have received from Him.

LSB 909, Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation – Johntide

We have chosen LSB 909, Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation, as our hymn for the 2021 Johntide cycle of the long Trinity season.  During Trinitytide as a whole, we focus on the marks of the Church, and during Johntide specifically, on Law and Gospel.  As explained in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, one of the confessional documents of the Book of Concord, the Church at its core is a “fellowship of faith and of the Holy Spirit in hearts,” recognized by the marks of the “pure Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ. This Church alone is called Christ’s body, which Christ renews, sanctifies and governs by His Spirit.” (Ap VII and VIII, 5).  Our chosen hymn beautifully expresses that which we believe, teach and confess about the Church.  In the first stanza, we sing of Christ, chosen and precious, as our head, cornerstone, help and confidence, who “binds all” of us, the living stones of the Church, “in one.” In this sung confession, we echo the words of the psalmist (Psalm 118:22), Isaiah (28:16), Peter (1 Peter 2:4-10) and Paul (Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:15-16).  In the second stanza, we echo King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the first Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 6:18-21), invoking God’s presence, His hearing our confessions and prayers and forgiving our sins. In the third stanza we continue the petition begun in the previous stanza, beseeching God to grant us His gifts of Word and Sacrament, through which He strengthens us in faith toward Him and fervent love to each other and our neighbors (c.f. Post-Communion Collect), and in the end bringing us to reign with Him in His glory (Revelation 21:1-4).  We sing these stanzas boldly confident that God will provide, as He has so promised!  We thus conclude with a stanza of doxology, namely praise, to our triune God, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

The text of the hymn is a translation by the Anglican clergyman John Mason Neale (1818-1866) of the second half of an 8th century Latin hymn. Of note, LSB 912, Christ Is Our Cornerstone, is Anglican clergyman John Chandler’s (1806-1876) translation of the very same Latin hymn.  The tune was written by Henry Purcell (1659-1695), who, in spite of his short life, is considered the most important English composer from before the 20th century.  Purcell served as organist at London’s Westminster Abbey, hence the title of the tune.

LSB 505: Triune God, Be Thou Our Stay – Trinitytide

We have selected LSB 505 as the AD 2021 seasonal hymn for Trinitytide, the first part of the long Trinity season. The Trinity season is known as the, “Time of the Church,” with the overriding theme of the Father’s love. The Trinitytide theme is the Marks of the Church (the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ1).

Contents

Hymn author
Hymn translator
Hymn history
Hymn text
End notes
Appendix

Hymn author:

Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) – see the author/composer notes for LSB 655 at https://catalinalutheran.org/blog/2020/05/25/lsb-655-lord-keep-us-steadfast-in-your-word/ (accessed 12 April, AD 2021)

Hymn translator:

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Richard Massie (1800-1887)2 – was born in Chester, Cheshire England, to an Anglican priest and his wife, and was the fourth of 22 children.  The family had considerable, “old money.” Richard himself inherited two estates. He was known as an eccentric man of wealth and leisure.  He married but his wife died seven years after the wedding; he did not remarry and had no children.  Massie’s chief interest was in literature and he is best known for his translations of Dr. Luther’s hymns.  His primary aim was to accurately translate the original text, to not risk doctrinal change in his translation.  As a result, many of his translations lacked poetic beauty in the English, and very few actually appear in hymnals today.  In addition to his translations of Dr. Luther’s hymns, Massie translated hymns by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) and others.  In addition to LSB 505, our hymnal includes his work at least in part on LSB 421, 458, 556, 724, 726, 766, 823-24, 872 and 977. Massie died in 1887.

Hymn history:3

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Dr. Luther adapted Triune God, Be Thou Our Stay from a popular mediaeval hymn which was sung on pilgrimages and processions, having likely first encountered it in the Latin schools in Mansfeld and Magdeburg4. The hymn was initially addressed to St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Christopher, the archangel Michael, or any of a number of other saints, prophets and angels, petitioning them for their aid (for an example of the pre-Reformation hymn addressed to Mary, see the appendix).  Often in one procession, the hymn was repeated, addressing different saints in the subsequent stanzas. Some versions were used as a litany for All Saints Day and some were sung in Rogation Day processions.5

Dr. Luther developed this mediaeval hymn into a thrice-repeating stanza.  In it, he substituted the names of the three Persons of the Trinity in the opening line for the names of the various saints. He largely retained lines 1-5, wrote new text for lines 6-12, along with the Amen and praise in lines 13 and 14.6 The hymn was first published in Johann Walter’s (1496-1570) 1524 Wittenberg hymnal Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn (Booklet of Spiritual Songs). Beginning with the 1529/1533 hymnal Geistliche Lieder auffs new gebessert zu Wittemberg D. Mart. Luther (Spiritual Songs, Newly Revised at Wittenberg, Dr. Martin Luther), the hymn was designated for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and immediately preceded the Catechism hymns.7

The German hymn was included in the CFW Walther (1811-1887) Hymnal (WH 145). The Massie translation was included in the 1918 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book (ELHB 271) and in altered form in the 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH 247). The single stanza option, “Triune God, Oh, Be Our Stay,” first appeared in the 1982 Lutheran Worship (LW 170). The alternate Lenten ending was first added in LW, “So sing we all, “Hosanna!” and altered in LSB to read, “O Lord, have mercy on us.”

The alterations in LSB of the original Massie translation (which are largely brought over from TLH and LW) are as follows:

When Hell’s dread powers assail us ➔ O let us perish never
Nor in our last hour fail us ➔ And grant us life forever
Firm in the faith abiding ➔ Uphold our faith most holy
In Christ our Saviour hiding ➔ And let us trust Thee solely
And heartily confiding ➔ With humble hearts and lowly
Amen, Amen, so be done ➔ Amen, Amen! This be done
So sing we Hallelujah ➔ So sing we, “Alleluia!”
(3rd stanza) Holy Ghost, be Thou our stay ➔ Holy spirit, be our stay

The hymn tune dates back at least to a choir book published in 1500 in Halberstadt, Germany. The tune accompanied the original mediaeval hymn addressed to the Virgin Mary. The composer is unknown.  The tune was well known to Luther and Walter and was brought forth to the 1524 hymnal with few alterations. It is written in the AAB, or repeated Stollen (stanzas) followed by an Abgesang (aftersong), barform pattern of the mediaeval secular court song. The barform was incorporated into many of the hymns of the Reformation and the years following.8 Interestingly, the pattern of the rhyme in Luther’s German, the Massie English and the LSB alterations, parallels the barform structure of the music:

Measures 1-4 (Stollen): a b a b
Measures 5-14 (Abgesang): c d d d; c e e e; c f (note the c rhyme integrating this section)
The overall rhythm of the tune mimics the marching of feet in procession.

Hymn text:

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Vocabulary: Triune (three in one); Stay (multiple definitions – dwelling fits best; also suspension of judicial proceedings, check or restraint); Perish (suffer death, complete ruin and destruction); Uphold (confirm/support); Shun (avoid, ignore, reject); Wiles and cunning (manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants); Amen (truly); Alleluia (all you praise the Lord)

Read John 3:5-8, 13; and Romans 11:36. How do these verses testify to our Trinitarian God?  Read Psalm 31:1-3; and Psalm 46:1, 7(11). Who is our stay?  Read the following: A. Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3-6; Ephesians 5:25-26; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:20-21; B. Matthew 26:26-28; C. Matthew 16:19, 18:18; John 20:22-23.  Through what means does God cleanse us from our sins? Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-22, 51-53. What has God promised? What historical event underlies our certainty in His promise?  Read Matthew 4:1-11, 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3. Who guards us from the evil one?  Read Exodus 20:3 (Deuteronomy 5:7); John 6:60-65; 1 Corinthians 2:14, 12:3; Ephesians2:8-9; Galatians 5:17 (among many others). Who upholds our faith and lets us trust wholly in God? Read 2 Chronicles 7:14; Philippians 2:8. What is meant by, “humble hearts and lowly”? Who was perfectly so?  Read Ephesians 6:10-17, noting that the imperatives are all plural. Why are we to put on the whole armor of God? (Read Hebrews 10:24-25. How do we put on God’s armor?). Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1-2. How do these passages describe the Christian life?  Read Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 46:4. On what basis can we proclaim Amen, Amen, or Truly, Truly?  Why is it meet and right at all times and in all places for us to thank and praise God?

End notes:

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  1. Ap VII/VIII 5
  2. Information is from Jon D. Vieker, “Massie, Richard,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske and Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 2 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) pp. 512-513.
  3. Except where noted, information is from Victor E. Gebauer, “Triune God, be Thou our Stay,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske and Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 1 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) pp. 441-444; also, AE 53:268-270.
  4. Robin A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music, Principles and Implications (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017) p. 25.
  5. The Rogation Days begin with Rogate (“Pray ye”) Sunday (Easter 6), and continue until the Feast of the Ascension, as a prolonged vigil of the Feast.  This occurs typically when the planted seeds are beginning to sprout, and faithful Christians would process around the countryside praying God’s blessings for a good growing season and bountiful harvest.  See Luther D. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1947) p. 513.
  6. The German text of the hymn may be found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale317-Eng.htm (accessed 12 April, AD 2021).
  7. Luther’s Liturgical Music, pp. 110-111.  Leaver points out that the hymn was followed by Dr. Luther’s translation of the Latin Collect for the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) chorale on the first stanza of the hymn may be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?=BILt4fhOTJ0 (accessed 13 April AD 2021).
  8. For more on barform, see Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music, pp. 13-15.

Appendix: example of the pre-Reformation hymn

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Holy Mary, stay with us,
and do not let us perish.
Free us from all sins.
And if we should die,
defend us from the devil;
help us, chaste Virgin Mary
to join the lovely angel host.
So we will sing alleluia,
alleluia we shall sing
in praise of the Almighty God.
Grant to us, Lord, as our reward
the heavenly crown.
Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!
All praise to you, Mary!

LSB 585 Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide – Gesimatide

Chosen as our seasonal hymn for Gesimatide, AD 2021. The three Sundays of Gesimatide, or, “pre-Lent,” date back at least to Gregory the Great (c. 540-604) 1 and mark the transition from the joy of Christmastide and Epiphanytide to the solemn penitential season of Lent.

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LSB 332: Savior of the Nations, Come – Advent

Advent 1, 29 November AD2020

Chief hymn for Advent 1, selected also as the Advent seasonal hymn this year. Since the 13th century, the Church has recognized Advent as the beginning of her year. During Advent, we prepare for Christmas as we remember Jesus’ coming in the flesh. We also anticipate His final coming with glory to judge both the living and the dead. The season is a “mini Lent,” a time of penitence and spiritual preparation, as we prepare for the coming of our Savior.

Original author: Ambrose of Milan (339/40-397)1 was born in Trier (now in Germany), where his father served as Praetorian Prefect (administrator) of Gaul, the westernmost portion of the Roman Empire. After his father died in 353, Ambrose moved with his mother and two siblings to Rome, where he studied Greek, and the liberal arts, and followed his brother into a career in law. He practiced in the court of the Pretorian Prefect of Italy, and in 370 was appointed Consular of Liguria and Aemilia, and moved to Milan. In 374, the Bishop of Milan died, and as Consular, Ambrose was called to mediate between the confessionally orthodox (Athanasian) and the heretical (Arian) factions, with regard to who would become the next Bishop. In his effort to keep the peace, he addressed the crowd that had assembled to elect the Bishop. During his address, someone cried out, “Ambrose is Bishop!” and all unanimously supported this move. At the time, Ambrose was still a catechumen and resisted the appointment (1 Timothy 3:6), but in the end humbly relented, was baptized and made Bishop on December 7.2 In office in both of God’s kingdoms, he resisted Arianism (the heresy that taught that Jesus was created by the Father and thus not coeternal and of one substance with the Father3) and paganism. In the Kingdom of the Left, Ambrose kept the pagan Altar of Victory from being restored to the Senate House in Rome, and resisted the Arian empress Justina and her imperial troops when they attempted to confiscate the basilicas in Milan. In the Kingdom of the Right, his preaching and writing emphasized theological orthodoxy and the condemnation of sin.4 God used Ambrose’s writings in part to convert Augustine, who was baptized by Ambrose in 386 and eventually became Bishop of Hippo, and one of the great theologians of the Church. Ambrose died on the eve of the Feast of the Resurrection, April 4, 397 and is commemorated on December 7. In 1298, along with Augustine, Jerome and Gregory I, Ambrose was named one of the four original Doctors of the Western Church.

Ambrose is considered the “father of Latin hymnody,” having brought congregational singing into the western Church from the east. His hymns typically consisted of eight 4 line stanzas, each line consisting of 8 syllables, an unstressed/short followed by stressed/long syllable (here veNI reDEMPtor GENtiUM), facilitating the singing by the laity.5 Ambrose initially wrote his hymns to counter the Arian heresy, and in time expanded his themes to include hymns for the Daily Office, the Church Year, the saints and martyrs and the communion of saints. Thus, like Dr. Luther some 1150 years later, Ambrose used the hymnody to teach and internalize The Faith and guide the proclamation of the Gospel. Ambrose’s hymn type remained standard until the 16th century. In addition to this hymn, LSB 874 and 890 have been attributed to Ambrose.6

Author and Composer: Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546), see the author/composer notes for LSB 655 at https://catalinalutheran.org/blog/2020/05/25/lsb-655-lord-keep-us-steadfast-in-your-word/ (last accessed 16 November, 2020).

Translators of Dr. Luther’s text:

Note the great care given to this Kernlied (core hymn) of the Church!

Stanzas 1-2: unidentified (per the Companion; incorrectly attributed in LSB to William Morton Reynolds [1812-1876], the text in LSB actually dates back to a composite translation in the 1889 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book)7

Stanzas 3, 6: Editors of LSB

Stanzas 4-5, 8: F. Samuel Janzow (1913-2001),8 Pastor and Professor of English and Theology at Concordia University Chicago. Dr. Janzow translated all of Dr. Luther’s hymns as well as his Large Catechism, wrote hymns of his own, and published articles and other versifications and translations in a number of publications. He served on the LCMS Commission on Worship, and made important contributions to the 1982 hymnal Lutheran Worship. Dr. Janzow’s original texts appear at least in part in LSB 389 and 859, and his translations, apart from LSB 332, appear in eight additional hymns in LSB (LSB 382, 581, 585, 627, 754, 766 and 938).

Stanza 7: Gifford A. Grobien (b. 1973),9 Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne. Note that the first line of this stanza is the Janzow translation; the second line was altered slightly from the Janzow text, and the third and fourth lines were translated anew from Dr. Luther’s German, during Dr. Grobien’s academic seminary year at Lutherische Theologische Hochschule in Oberusel, Germany.

Hymn history:10 Scholars are now certain that Ambrose is the author of the original Latin text of this hymn. As written by Ambrose, the hymn had 8 stanzas, the first beginning, Intende, qui regis Israel (Give ear, O Ruler of Israel).11 From the 9th century, hymnals dropped the first stanza and began with the second, Veni redemptor gentium (Come, redeemer of the gentiles). The doxological stanza (now the 8th) was added later, the date uncertain but before the 12th century. As early as the 14th century (possibly earlier), the hymn was being translated into various spoken languages. Dr. Luther first learned this hymn during his formative years in the Latin Schools. He likely translated it into German during Advent, 1523, considering it appropriate for the season (in the medieval church orders, the hymn had been used on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). His text, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Come now, Savior of the heathen), in eight stanzas, is a very close translation of the original Latin stanzas 2-8 plus the doxology, though with 7 syllables per line, rather than the Ambrosian 8.12 The German hymn was first published in the 1524 Erfurt and Johann Walter (Wittenberg) hymnals, and by the time of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), was consistently listed as Chief Hymn for the First Sunday in Advent.13 Bach incorporated the hymn into three of his cantatas for that Sunday.14

The English translation of Dr. Luther’s German translation of the hymn dates back to the mid 19

th century and is attributed to William M. Reynolds (1812-1876). The text began, “Come thou Savior of our race,” and only 7 stanzas were included (the 4th stanza in Dr. Luther’s German text, corresponding to the 4th stanza in LSB, was omitted).15 A composite 7 stanza translation, including some of Reynolds’ work, was used in Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book, the text now beginning, “Saviour of the heathen, come.” The 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal version of the hymn (TLH 95) brought back more of the Reynolds translation, though did not completely revert. The TLH text began with the now familiar, “Savior of the nations, come.” For the 1982 Lutheran Worship (LW 13), the editors chose the Janzow translation for the entire hymn, and for the first time in the LCMS English hymnals, included translations of all eight of Dr. Luther’s stanzas.16 As noted above, the editors of LSB took a fresh look at the hymn for the current hymnal. All of the English translations preserve Dr. Luther’s 7 syllable lines. Savior of the Nations, Come remains the Chief Hymn for Advent 1.

Hymn tune: The tune originally used in Milan to accompany the Ambrose hymn is unknown. For his German translation, Dr. Luther reworked a 12th century plainsong chant that accompanied the Latin hymn, and that had originated in German-speaking parts of Europe.17 In his reworking, Dr. Luther made modifications to the melody to better fit the spoken German. Additionally, he matched the 4th line to the 1st, giving the tune the ABCA structure common to religious folk melodies of the time. Dr. Luther used the same chant to compose the tunes for Erhalt uns Herr (Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word, LSB 655) and Verleih uns Frieden (Grant Peace, We Pray, in Mercy, Lord LSB 778). For more detail, including links to performances of the tunes, see the notes on LSB 655 at https://catalinalutheran.org/blog/2020/05/25/lsb-655-lord-keep-us-steadfast-in-your-word/ (last accessed 16 November, 2020). In addition to LSB 332, the tune accompanies LSB 352.

Hymn text:

Stanzas 1, 2 and 3

Vocabulary: marvel – be filled with wonder or astonishment; offspring – a person’s child or children

In the Old Testament (OT), the term frequently used for, “nations” is goyim, namely, people who are outside of God’s Church. Dr. Luther translates this as Heiden, or, “heathen,” both in the OT and in this hymn. Read Matthew 28:19-20 (remember, the Greek begins, “As you go…”) and Revelation 7:9. Who did Jesus come to save? How do the nations learn about Jesus and His work of salvation?

Read John 1:1 and 14. Who was the actor? (We see this language also in the 5th stanza of the Te Deum)

Read Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:26-38. How was the Word of God made flesh?

Read John 10:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22 and 1 John 3:5. How is Jesus, “pure and fresh”?

Read Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22-25. What do these passages tell us about Mary? Was all of this planned?

Read Luke 1:39-45. How was the truth shown in Mary’s womb that, “God was there upon His throne”? How far along was Mary in her pregnancy?

How does the language in these stanzas address the Arian heresy?

Stanzas 4, 5 and 6

Vocabulary: course – route/direction/way/path (c.f. for example Psalm 119:1); source – a place, person or thing from which something comes; victory – triumph, win

Read Philippians 2:5-11 and 1 Peter 3:18-20. Again, who was the actor? Where was Jesus before His incarnation? What was His heroic course? Where did Jesus’ glorification/exaltation begin? Where did He descend after His crucifixion, death and burial? To where did He ascend?

Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 21-26 and 50-56. What victory is being described? How did Jesus in the flesh win this victory? Is it appropriate to play the “Easter” portions of Haendel‘s Messiah during Advent and Christmas?

Read Matthew 9:1-8 (Gospel for Trinity 19); Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24. What is the root cause of illness (in general)? Who heals our ills of flesh and soul, and by what means?

How does the language in these stanzas address the Arian heresy?

Stanzas 7 and 8

Vocabulary: reside – Latin residere, remain; abide – live, dwell

Read Luke 2:29-32 (you should recognize this text); John 1:4-5, 9 and 8:12. How is Jesus described by Simeon, John and He Himself?

Read Isaiah 9:2 and 6 (and please pause between “Wonderful” and “Counselor” ), and 1 Peter 2:9. How do Isaiah’s text and the hymn describe the passage from unbelief to True Faith in Jesus?

How does the doxological language in the 8th stanza address the Arian Heresy?18

End notes

  1. Information from Carl F. Schalk, “Savior of the nations, come” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske and Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book, Companion to the Hymns, Volume 1 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019), pp. 5-9; Gifford A. Grobien, “Ambrose of Milan” in Lutheran Service Book, Companion to the Hymns, Volume 2 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) pp. 189-190, and the article “St. Ambrose,” compiling the work of several authors, at https://hymnary.org/person/Ambrose (accessed 13 November, 2020).
  2. Ambrose wrote, “I only desire to attain to that care and diligence in the sacred writings, which the apostle has placed last among the duties of the saints [1 Corinthians 12:10]. And this very thing I desire, so that, in the endeavor to teach, I may be able to learn. For one is the true Master, who alone has not learned what He taught to all; but men learn before they teach, and receive from Him what they may hand on to others. But not even this was the case with me. For I was carried off from the judgment seat, and the garb of office, to enter on the priesthood, and began to teach you what I myself had not yet learned. So it happened that I began to teach before I began to learn. Therefore I must learn and teach at the same time, since I had no leisure to learn before.” Quote from Scot A. Kinnaman, ed. Treasury of Daily Prayer (St. Louis: CPH, 2008) p. 992.
  3. Of note, the Feasts of Christmas and Epiphany became widely celebrated in the 4th century, in response to the Arian heresy. See Peter G. Cobb, “The History of the Christian Year” in Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold SJ, and Paul Bradshaw, eds. The Study of Liturgy, Revised Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) p. 467.
  4. Ambrose is quoted nine times in the Lutheran Confessions. Most commonly he is quoted on Justification by Grace through Faith (AC VI 3; AC XX 14; Ap IV 103; Ap V 219, 268; Ap XIIB 96). Other topics on which he is quoted include Original Sin and loss of the Image of God (Ap II 19), celibacy (Ap XXIII 20), and the Lord’s Supper (Ap XXIV 75).
  5. Ambrose’s style is clearly demonstrated in the John Mason Neale (1818-1866) translation Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth, set to the tune Puer Nobis. For Neale’s text, see for example http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/hymn-lyrics/come_thou_redeemer_of_the_earth.htm (accessed 13 November, 2020).
  6. The attribution of LSB 890 to Ambrose is not as solid as that of LSB 332 and 874, see the entries on these hymns in Companion, Volume 1. A medieval legend attributed the joint authorship of the Te Deum to Ambrose and Augustine on the occasion of the latter’s baptism, but this appears not to have been the case, see Luther D. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1947) p. 417. Dr. Luther’s comment on this is quoted in AE 53:171.
  7. “Savior of the nations, come,” Companion, Volume 1, p. 8
  8. Information from Carl F. Schalk, “Janzow, F. Samuel” in Companion, Volume 2, pp. 430-431.
  9. Information from D. Richard Stuckwisch, “Grobien, Gifford A.” in Companion, Volume 2, p. 367.
  10. Information from Schalk, “Savior of the nations, come”; Robin A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017) p. 200; AE 53:235.
  11. The Latin text can be found at http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/amb_hy08.html (accessed 16 November, 2020).
  12. Dr. Luther’s text can be found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale016-Eng3.htm (accessed 16 November, 2020).
  13. Guenther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis: CPH, 1984), p. 233.
  14. BWV 36, BWV 61 and BWV 62
  15. Hymn 776 in Hymns, Selected and Original for Public and Private Worship (Baltimore: T Newton Kurtz, 1851) pp. 483-484. Of note, in her 1863 Chorale Book for England, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) included the hymn (#23) Redeemer of the Nations Come. This is a translation of the Johann Franck (1618-1677) hymn Komm, Heiden Heiland, Lösegeld (essentially, “Come Savior, Price of heathendom”), which in turn is a German translation of the Johann Campanus (1565-1622) Latin hymn Veni Redemptor Gentium, which he based on the Ambrose hymn. On Campanus, see https://hymnary.org/person/Campanus_J1 (accessed 23 November, 2020). For the text of the Franck translation, see http://matthaeusglyptes.blogspot.com/2009/12/komm-heiden-heiland-losegeld.htm (accessed 23 November, 2020).
  16. An English translation of all 8 stanzas by George MacDonald (1824-1905) and revised by Ulrich Leopold (1909-1970) can be found in AE 53:236, beginning, “Come the heathen’s healing Light.”
  17. Information from Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music, pp. 199-203.
  18. During the 4th century, orthodox Christians began singing Trinitarian doxologies often, in response to the Arian heresy. See Companion, Volume 1, p. 7.

SDG

LSB 659: Lord of Our Life – Michaeltide

Selected for the fourth part of Trinitytide. Overall, Trinitytide is the “Time of the Church,” with the overriding theme of the Father’s love.  The fourth part of Trinitytide, namely Michaeltide, begins with Michaelmas, the September 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels; the theme is the struggle with Satan (Rev 12).

Contents:

Hymn text
Hymn authors
Hymn history
Hymn tune
Pulling it all together
End notes
Appendix

Hymn text

First stanza:

Vocabulary: supplication – act of earnestly and humbly begging for something

Read Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7 and Psalm 139:13-14.  Who created life?  Who created you?  What does this make you?  Read Matthew 6:25-34.  Who sustains you?  Read Psalm 79:9.  What is God’s glory, His proper work?  Read Revelation 22:16.  Who is the star of our night? Read Luke 24:46-47. Who is the hope of every nation?  Read Matthew 6:7-13; 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8.  What does God teach about prayer?  This stanza implores God to hear His Church’s supplication. Look again at Matthew 6:9, noting that the prayer begins, “Our Father…” (Gk: Pater hemon, lit. “Father of us”), then read Hebrews 10:19-25. What does Scripture tell us about gathering together to receive God’s gifts and worship Him?  Read Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 19:6. What does this tell us about Jesus? 

Second stanza:

Vocabulary: billow – large sea wave; unfurl – spread out from a rolled or folded state; spite – desire to hurt

Read 1 Peter 3:20-21 (consider also the Baptism liturgy).  What is God’s ark?  Read John 6:16-21.  Who controls the sea?  Why might God send storms into our midst? Read John 8:44. How does Jesus describe God’s foe, namely Satan?  Read Numbers 21:8; Jeremiah 4:6.  What is the function of a banner/signal?  What is our banner?  Read Ephesians 6:16 and Revelation 12:10, 17.  What does it mean that God’s foes are unfurling their banners and hurling their fiery darts? Note that in the Ephesians text, “take up” (or, in the Greek, “having taken up”) is expressed in the plural. What is the implication here?  Why did Dr. Luther use the Ephesians text in his exhortation to Christians to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible (LC V 82)?  How does our Lord preserve us?

Third stanza:

Vocabulary: veil – conceal, obscure; assail – violently attack

Read Acts 26:18. What does it mean to be in darkness?  Read Psalm 84:11; John 1:4-9. Who is our light?  Read Psalm 146:3; Hosea 1:7.  What are examples of “earthly armor” in which we might sinfully put our ultimate trust? Who is truly our shield? Read Ephesians 6:10-18; Revelation 12:17. How does hell assail?  Read Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20. What is God’s peace? Read Acts 10:34-48.  Where does God grant us His peace? Read Matthew 16:18. What has God promised His Church?

Fourth stanza:

Vocabulary:  assuage – make an unpleasant feeling less intense

Read Mark 7:20-23 (Matthew 15:18-19).  What is the impact of sin on the heart?  Read Psalm 51:10; Philippians 4:7. Who is the antidote for this?  Read Psalm 51:1-2; Luke 18:13-14. Who assuages our troubled souls?  Read John 14:27. Can we have peace when “the world its endless war is raging”?  Read Matthew 26:26-29 (Mark 14:22-25); Revelation 19:6-9.  Where do we receive a foretaste of God’s heavenly peace?

Hymn authors:

[table of contents]

Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern (1594-1648)1 was born as Matthäus Apelt in Prudnick (also known as Neustadt), Silesia (now Poland), in 1594.  His father was a saddler.  He studied at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder (249 miles to the northwest, currently on the German-Polish border), and then returned to Prudnik to become musical director of the church there.  In 1625, he was invited by Duke Heinrich Wenzel of Münsterberg (1592-1639) to be his music director and treasurer in Bierutow (also known as Bernstadt), about 70 miles to the north.  In 1631, he was appointed as Rath (senior official, member of the royal council), Secretary and Director of Finance.  He later served under the Roman Catholic Emperors Ferdinand II (1578-1637) and Ferdinand III (1608-1657), under whom he entered the nobility.  All of this took place during the time that the Thirty Years’ War came to Silesia, a war that had originated in the determination of these Roman Catholic emperors to enforce the counter-Reformation and eradicate the various Protestant confessions.2 His final position was that of State Councilor to Duke Karl Friedrich of Münsterberg (1593-1647).  Von Löwenstern was associated with the hymn writers David Behme (1605-1657) and Andreas Tscherning (1611-1659), and himself composed thirty hymns, “for spreading God’s glory and the building up of His Church and its members.”3 These hymns were published in Breslau in 1644.  Von Löwenstern died at Wroclaw (also known as Breslau, 71 miles north-northwest of his birthplace) in 1648.

Philip Pusey (1799-1855)4 was born in Pusey, England, and was the brother of Edward Bouverie Pusey, who was one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which was dedicated to the reinstatement of catholic doctrine and practice into the Anglican liturgy and theology.  He studied at Eton and then Christ Church College at Oxford, but did not earn a degree.  Pusey had an interest in agriculture and helped found the Royal Agricultural Society.  He was a founder of the London Library and served many years as a Member of Parliament.  In 1823, Pusey expressed a desire to write theological material. In the five years immediately following, Pusey and his wife spent lengthy periods of time in Rome, where he got to know the Prussian diplomat, theologian and hymnologist Christian Carl Josias Bunsen (1791-1860).5 In time, Pusey himself became a hymn writer, and earned Bunsen’s admiration.  Following a series of strokes, he died in Oxford in 1855.  LSB 659 is Pusey’s only hymn in our hymnal.

Hymn history:

[table of contents]

The Thirty Years’ War brought disease, destruction and death to many parts of Europe.  Silesia was among the hardest hit areas, with a loss of more than one third, and even in parts two thirds, of her population, as depicted on the map below (shadings indicate percent population loss):6

It is out of the turmoil of that devastation that Matthäus von Löwenstern penned his hymn Christe, du Beistand deiner Kreuzgemeine, published in 1644.  A rough translation of the hymn may be found in the appendix.7

Two hundred years following the Thirty Years’ War, the leaders of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England were undergoing struggles of their own in their campaign against the latitudinarianism (the push against specific doctrine) in the church.  Lawsuits were filed, and Bishops refused to provide livings for Oxford Movement clergy.  In the midst of these struggles, Philip Pusey was inspired by von Löwenstern’s hymn, and paraphrased it into a 5-stanza hymn, thus bringing it into the English hymnody.8 The hymn was first published in 1839. The first appearance of the hymn in the LCMS hymnody was the 1941 The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH), which used all 5 stanzas of the Pusey text with minor alterations (TLH 258).  The 1982 Lutheran Worship (LW) dropped the 5th stanza, keeping stanzas 1-4 (LW 301), with further minor alterations in the text.  The LSB hymn retains stanzas 1-4. Other than modernized language (ex: thy ➔ you), the alterations from the original Pusey text are as follows:

Stanza 2: “Lord, while their darts of venom they are hurling” ➔ “And with great spite their fiery darts are hurling”

Stanza 2: “Thou canst preserve us” ➔ “O Lord preserve us”

Stanza 3: “Lord, Thou canst help when earthly armor faileth” ➔ “Lord be our light when worldly darkness veils us”

Stanza 3: “Lord Thou canst save, when sin itself assaileth” ➔ “Lord, be our shield when earthy armor fails us” (first two clauses in this stanza flipped; more discussion below)

Stanza 3: “Christ, o’er Thy rock nor death nor hell prevaileth” ➔ “And in the day when hell itself assails us” (TLH substituted “Church” for “rock;” the shift to the current text dates to LW, using “appalls” which LSB changed to “assails.”  Pity to lose the direct reference to Matthew 16:18, thoughts?)

Stanza 4: “Peace in our hearts, our evil thoughts assuaging” ➔ “Peace in our hearts, where sinful thoughts are raging”

Stanza 4: “Peace in Thy Church where brothers are engaging” ➔ “Peace in Your Church, our troubled souls assuaging”

Stanza 4: “Peace when the world its busy war is raging” ➔ “Peace when the world its endless war is raging”

Stanza 4: “Calm Thy foes raging” ➔ “Peace in Your heaven” (summarizes the closure in the original stanza 5)

Stanza 5 (TLH):

Grant us Thy help till backward they are driven;
Grant them Thy truth that they may be forgiven;
Grant peace on earth or, after we have striven,
Peace in Thy heaven.

While the page in LSB classifies the Pusey hymn as a translation of the original German hymn, the editors of the Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns classify the hymn as, “a new text … based on Löwenstern’s.”9 Either way, the hymn poignantly reminds us that in the struggle with Satan, our one and only certain hope is in our crucified, risen and ascended Savior.  It is well positioned in the Church Militant section of our hymnal. Of note, Lord of Our Life is the Chief Hymn for Oculi (Lent 3; Luke 11:14-28, Jesus accused of driving out demons by Beelzebub, “if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?”, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me…”).

Hymn tune:

[table of contents]

Von Löwenstern composed a tune to accompany his hymn, which was used by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) for his chorale on the hymn (BWV 275). The Bach chorale can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PguOUKi7Ic (accessed 7 August, 2020). TLH used the Johann Crüger (1598-1662) tune Herzliebster Jesu (O Dearest Jesus, LSB 439) to accompany the hymn. 

In the LCMS hymnody, the tune Iste Confessor was first used in LW to accompany the hymn, and was brought forward to LSB.10 The name of the tune is derived from the first line of the Latin hymn which it originally accompanied, Iste confessor Domini sacratus (This is the holy confessor of the Lord, an 8th century hymn written for the commemoration of Confessor Bishops).11 The composer is unknown. The tune first appeared as a chant, in the Antiphoner (bound collection of antiphons) published in Poitiers, France in 1746, a time when the Catholic church in France worked to limit papal authority, and liturgies were developed for individual French dioceses.12 The tune falls into a category known as “neo-Gallican Chant,” recalling the time when the French had their own “Gallican” uses, before the late eighth century standardization of liturgical practices under Charlemagne’s rule. These chants were first brought to England around the turn of the 20th century by JB Croft, who served as both priest and organist. The metering of the tune that is in our hymnal is not original to the chant, but was added later, possibly when adapted for English language use.13 The tune is written in minor key, and conveys a sense of struggle, but with a beat indicating confidence in the ultimate outcome. The Iste Confessor tune is used also for LSB 840 and 916, with the arrangement in 840 being unique to that hymn. Other tunes in our hymnal, derived from neo-Gallican chants, include LSB 401, 504/875, 640, 520/675, and 630/847.

Pulling it all together:

[table of contents]

  1. Who is the Author of Life and Salvation?
  2. Who is always in control?
  3. In the midst of war, disease and devastation, what do we have left?
  4. In Whom are we to put our ultimate trust?
  5. What is our ark in stormy waters? Where does God will to gather us to receive His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation? Are there exceptions to this during times when the evil one attacks, even with infections?
  6. How might the evil one use times of pandemic to wage war on God’s people?

End notes:

[table of contents]

  1. Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern, https://hymnary.org/person/Lowenstern_MA (accessed 6 August, 2020); Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthäus_Apelles_von_Löwenstern  (accessed 6 August, 2020); Aryeh Oron, Matthäus Appelles von Löwenstern (Hymn-writer, Composer), https://bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Lowenstern.htm (accessed 6 August, 2020); Löwenstern, Matthäus Apelles von, https://www.deutsche-biographie.de/sfz54002.html (accessed 6 August, 2020).
  2. Löwenstern was ennobled by Ferdinand III would indicate that he had the Emperor’s favor, and might possibly have used that to negotiate salutary terms for his fellow Lutherans.  The Lutheran church organist Andreas Rauch, contemporary of von Löwenstern, acted similarly; see Andrew H. Weaver, “The Materiality of Musical Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe: Representation and Negotiation in Andreas Rauch’s Currus triumphalis musicus (1648),” The Journal of Musicology 35 (2018): pp. 460-497.
  3. Information from Stephen M. Rosebrock, “Pusey, Philip,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske, and Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 2 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) p. 592; David R. Fisher, Pusey, Philip (1799-1855) of Pusey, nr. Faringdon, Berks. https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/pusey-philip-1799-1855 (accessed 6 August 2020).
  4. Bunsen would later go on to influence the career of Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).
  5. Map from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bevölkerkungsrückgang_im_HRRDN_nach_dem_Dreißigjährigen_Krieg.PNG (accessed 7 August 2020).
  6. For the German text, see for example http:// http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale275-Eng3.htm (accessed 7 August, 2020).
  7. Information from Robert Kolb, “Lord of our life and God of our salvation,” in Joseph Herl, Peter C. Reske, and Jon D. Vieker, eds. Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns, Volume 1 (St. Louis: CPH, 2019) pp. 845-847.
  8. Companion, Volume 1, p. 847
  9. Information from Companion, Volume 1, pp. 1466-1467. Of note, Iste Confessor was the tune used in the 1906 English Hymnal, to accompany the hymn (435).
  10. Joseph Connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster: Newman Press, 1957) p. 151.
  11. See the essay by Joseph Herl in Companion, Volume 1, p. 793-795.
  12. The metering is present in the 1906 English Hymnal.

Appendix:

[table of contents]

Christe, du Beistand deiner Kreuzgemeine

Christ, support of Your Cross-fellowship
Hurry, with help and rescue appear to us,
Control the enemies, their blood-judgments
Make nullified


Fight yourself for us poor children
Fight the devil, his power prevent
All that fights against Your members
Fall down


Peace in church and schools grant to us
Peace at the same time to the authorities grant
Peace to the hearts, peace to the consciences,
Give to enjoy


Thus shall in time Your goodness be raised
Thus shall forever and without end praise
You, O You guardian of Your poor herd,
Heaven and Earth