For All the Saints (LSB 677)
For All the Saints comforts us regarding those who have died in Christ and encourages us to share bravely their confession. It is a commentary on Christ's one church, here militant, there in glory. It was written off of the text "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses ..."
It is an example of liturgy and hymnody teaching the faith and comforting in the face of death and every lonely day thereafter. When sung many tears are on cheeks, with words such as "Oh blest communion, fellowship divine, we feeble struggle, they in glory shine..." "And when the fight is fierce the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song..." Who cannot help but give thanks to God in Christ Jesus for grandfathers and grandmothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, children and friends who have died in Christ Jesus? Who cannot be encouraged with God's sung Word to be brave that they might participate with them and join them once more?
The hymn was written by an Anglican bishop, William How. Among other things he was a higher critic and evolutionist. Yet in death, his best words remain and through song become our own. Through the ages hymns and liturgy have sanctified many wayward preachers and preserved faith in those who sing Christ's song. With its short stanzas and refrain, even small children, can be encouraged happily singing Alleluia time and again. There is no theology of glory here, but instead the truth that to be a Christian is a lifelong struggle that ends with yet more glorious days indeed the victor's crown of gold.
Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado.