Hymn Summary: Advent 1

Savior of the Nations Come (LSB 332)

First Sunday in Advent – Ad Te Levavi

Savior of the Nations, Come is one of the oldest hymns in the prayer book.  Attributed to Ambrose (b. 340), it is a prayer Christ would come today.  This is not a vain hope as Christ has come from the Father in heaven. The second verse sings it this way “Not by human flesh and blood, By the Spirit of our God, Was the Word of God made flesh Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.”

The first verse of the hymn and then the sixth and the seventh are the petitions of the prayer, asking Christ to come and heal our ills of body and soul, and shine into the world.  That prayer is grounded on the facts contained in verses two through five.  While sung instead of spoken they are quite similar to our creeds.  Consider verse five “God the Father was his source, Back to God He ran His course.  Into hell His road went down, Back then to His throne and crown.”  Finally it closes with a doxology. 
The hymn sets the Advent theme, “Christ has come, is coming, and will come again.” It is particularly rich incarnationally, undeniably setting the tone for the season as a whole, the Time of Christmas, which includes Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  Luther translated this hymn for the people’s use almost literally.  It was arranged for congregational singing with the tune written by Johann Walter, Luther’s Kantor whose own hymn “The Bridegroom soon will call us” was sung by many on the last Sunday of the Church Year.

Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

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