Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice (LSB 556)
Easter 5 (1 yr)
Luther makes a second appearance in the Easter season with this hymn for Cantate. This is one of his earliest hymns, thought to be the second hymn he wrote. Lutheran theologians often like to compare early and late Luther as his theology develops and sharpens with age. This hymn shows a rich and beautiful grasp of the Gospel quite early in Luther’s study. Thus it comments on how fast the Gospel spread, doing its work as it was carried along especially by hymnody.
In Luther’s Law/Gospel fashion, he lays out the impossible struggle of justifying oneself through works before God (vs. 2 – 4). The hymn then follows with life giving relief through the Gospel (vs. 5 – 10). It tells the story of Luther’s own struggle with sin and death. This struggle is now shared by all who sin and try to find any hope in this life apart from Christ. The sung confession of verse five gives the world hope as Christ alone can and does set free from sin and sorrow, Christ alone slays bitter death that mankind may live forever. The whole hymn provides a concise creed on the work of God to save.
At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing (LSB 633)
Easter 5 (3yr)
Our victorious King through death and resurrection has caused the angel of death to stand down. You are redeemed by his blood. Paradise is open to you. You are free. These are not abstract thoughts, hopes, or slogans but concrete realities found in the Lord’s Supper and your eating and drinking of Christ. Such is the mighty comfort and preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection, which have been joined to his supper for us sinners to eat and drink. This truth you declare to all who will hear through song.
This hymn is a commentary on what Holy Communion is and does. It is the body and blood of Jesus delivered to you. Both Old and New Testament sacramental themes run throughout. The Lord God brought Israel out of Egypt through the sea into the promised land by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus through his death brings us through this wilderness sustained by this supper into paradise (6). The Passover and the Exodus were the great meal of old (3, 4). The death and resurrection of Jesus are the greater meal that now sustain us as he has put all things under his feet (5).
Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado.