Hymn Summary: Advent 2

LO! HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING (LSB 336)

Advent 2 (1 yr)

The brothers John and Charles Wesley saw that, according to Luther, music teaches the faith and imprints it strongly upon the heart. So he did in this hymn. The tune is new to LSB, but not to the text and a more beautiful pairing to the hymn.  The tune does what the text declares.  As the music descends so the text confesses “. . . with clouds descending.” As the congregation and musicians swell so we sing “Swell the triumph of His train, Alleluia . . .”  It is well worth learning if your parish has not yet undertaken the task. 
 
The hymn primarily pictures through song the words of Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”   Some slight editing has taken place from Wesley’s original which shows theological difference between the Methodists and Lutherans, “once for favored sinners slain,” now reads “Once for every sinner slain.”


On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist Cry (LSB 344)

Advent 2 (3 yr)
 
In light of the recent horrible attacks in Paris, our hymn brings specific comfort to those who mourn and pray.  Hear it well in the middle of tragedy and death, “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s cry Announces that the Lord is nigh.”   The author Charles Coffin was a theologian, hymnist, and Frenchman who among other things served as Rector at the University of Paris.  
 
With these things on our minds, of particular note, verse four, “Lay on the sick Thy healing hand And make the fallen strong to stand,” but also verse three “We hail Thee as our Savior Lord, Our refuge and our great reward.”  So the Word of God speaks particularly to those who suffer most horrible things, as we together in song call out with the comfort that only Christ Jesus can give.
 
As the Church Year has different rhythms, John the Baptist is a central character during Advent with his preaching of repentance.   He signals the season’s penitential character, and prepares the Church for a time of joy: for some Christmas, for all Christians Christ’s return.  Certainly one result of tragedy all about us, is the encouragement to repent.  “What shall we do?” many wonder.  Our hymn provides the way,  “Then cleansed be every life from sin; Make straight the way for God within, And let us all our hearts prepare For Christ to come and enter there.” (vs. 2)
 
The great Lutheran composer Michael Praetorius’s hand is at work in the tune.  Charles Coffin also is the author of the first hymn in our hymnal (LSB 331) The Advent of our King.


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


As an extension of LOGIA, LOGIA Online understands itself to be a free conference in the blogosphere. As such, the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LOGIA’s editorial board or the Luther Academy.

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. 


As an extension of LOGIA, LOGIA Online understands itself to be a free conference in the blogosphere. As such, the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LOGIA’s editorial board or the Luther Academy