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

Hymn Summary: Last Sunday of the Church Year

Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying (LSB 516)

Last Sunday of the Church Year

Wake, Awake, for Night, written by the Lutheran Pastor Phillip Nicolai (1599), is referred to as the King of the Chorales. Outside of its outstanding confession concerning the coming Christ it entails some beautiful hidden gems.  Each verse is written in the shape of a chalice, alluding to the Christ and the host of heaven we now participate with in the Lord’s Supper.  The German original contains three initials at the beginning of each verse vs. 1 – W, 2 – Z, and 3 – G.  These belonged to Count Wilhelm Ernst a student of Nicolai’s who died a year before.  Its specific occasion for writing was a horrible plague that claimed thousands with as many as thirty people being buried each day.  Their committals were said to be in the view of Nicolai’s from his office window.  Thus it serves as a comfort to the dying and their families, causing it to be appropriately heard not only at weddings but also funerals.
 
It is based primarily on Matthew 25; the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.  Earlier translations both in TLH and LW missed the reference to the Lord’s Supper in verse two (Das Abendmahl).  LSB has rightly restored it.  The hymn makes the text seen to its hearers and from leads one from the beckoning of the Word of God to the Supper to full participation with Christ and all the saints in heaven.


Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending (LSB 336)

Last Sunday of the Church Year

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.”


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: Third to Last Sunday of the Church Year

Preserve Your Word, O Savior (LSB 658)

Third to Last Sunday of the Church Year
 
This end of the Church Year hymn makes clear that missions and outreach are not mutually exclusive, but hand in hand. They are the work of God and the hope of every Christian.   “Preserve Your Word, O Savior to us this latter day,” asks that the saints of God below would remain in the faith and be joined by others in Christ’s kingdom.  Those who sing begin by praying for the extension of the kingdom and finally ask the Father to preserve the little flock, the singer’s own parish.

The first verse asks that the Holy Trinity would enlarge the kingdom.  Its vast concern is for people everywhere and yet personal: “Oh keep our faith from failing.”  Verse two is concerned with neighbor, those who are not Christians, as we cry alongside of one another, “Convince, convert, enlighten . . . to all who dwell below.”  Verse three turns to Zion, historically a reference to the stronghold of the New Testament Church, that she would be defended from all danger.  Verse four narrows the circle still more as it prays for faithful pastors and faithful preaching.  Finally our hymn concludes with the picture of Christ Jesus bringing each little congregation over the wind and the waves of life on the last day, “Then we will reach the harbor In Your eternal Light.”
 


Lord of all hopefulness (LSB 738)

Third to Last Sunday of the Church Year – Series B
 
This is a vocational hymn that follows the Christian through the course of their day’s activities: from waking to labor, to homing, to sleeping.  Each of four verses also highlight the various times of the day beginning, noon, evening, and end.  Those who sing pray for blessing at the different hours according to the Lord’s presence in these various endeavors of life.  Its usage as the chief hymn of the day seems curious as it is quite general, not specifically Trinitarian, Christological, Sacramental, or a clear pairing to the widow’s mite (Mark 12:38–44).  One may find a reference to the Second Person of the Trinity in the phrase “Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe . . .”  With its beautiful tune one can imagine a usage perhaps with children in its simplicity, at the beginning or ending of the day in the family devotional.  As for its use in the Church Year, parishes may consider their Christian liberty to highlight the text with something stronger or more in keeping with end time themes.


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

Hymn Summary: Easter

Christ Jesus lay in Death’s Strong Bands — LSB 458

Easter (Main Service) (1 and 3 year)

Luther writes the text and his Kantor Johann Walter the tune to one of the strongest sung confessions of piercing Law and heavenly Gospel ever written. “Death is now dead,” is the theme. The hymn invites the singer to share with Jesus in full-throated rejoicing that our last enemy of ours has been embarrassed and laid waste. A strange and dreadful fight to the death develops through seven verses, with Jesus tearing us free from death’s chains by being captive Himself. He turns the tables and the tide of fallen human history destroying sin and taking death’s crown. You may be confident because, “Holy Scripture plainly saith that death is swallowed up by death . . .”

The first four verses depict Jesus’ entrance, fight, and securing of man’s salvation. The final three locate where we lay claim of this resurrection and how to partake of its benefits. We sing with Luther to eat and drink the Supper is to join Jesus in His reign, transporting us from death’s darkness into the light, made strong and well fed for whatever trouble comes our way. Together in song and meal we brag what Christ has done, “And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!”


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