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Pastor Philipp Nicolai: Hero of the Faith and Gift to the Church….The Story of the Queen of the Chorales: “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star”

October 26th, 2013 2 comments

Nicolai
I was looking at the German for “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star” yesterday and recognized that there are several very clear references to the Lord’s Supper that are missing from most English translations.

We need to be clear about one thing. “Translating” hymns is not merely a matter of putting the original language into English. There is quite an art and skill in rendering the hymn into English in such a way that it retains a poetic structure and style and, most importantly, still is able to be sung. So, before we ever get too hard on translators of hymns, we need to keep this in mind, but, having said that, it is good at times to take a look at the original language from a more literal/literalistic point of view to better see and understand the original words and the intent of the author.

Now, as you read these words, keep in mind the context in which they were written. Pastor Nicolai was watching as, literally, thousands of bodies were being carried out of town for burial due to the plague, and he himself was performing many of the funerals. Here is more information on Pastor Nicolai, who was a staunchly orthodox Lutheran, a great defender of Biblical truth against Calvinism, and a deeply spiritual, pious pastor and hymnist.

Here is a great mini-biography of Pastor Nicolai, and following it, you will find the literal translation of “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star.” If you read on to the extended entry, I’ve placed there a longer biographical article on Nicolai, from the Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia that offers a more complete look at his theological work.

Philipp Nicolai
(1556-1608)

Philipp
Nicolai was born at Mengeringhousen in Waldeck (near Arolsen), Hessen,
Germany, August 10, 1556, the son of a Lutheran pastor, Dieterich Nicolai. In 1575 Nicolai entered the University of Erfurt, and in 1576 he went to Wittenberg graduating in 1579 (D.D. at Wittenberg July 4, 1594).
For four years after his graduation, he lived at Volkhardinghousen,
near Mengeringhousen, and frequently preached for his father. In
August, 1583, he was appointed Lutheran preacher at Herdecke, but found
many difficulties there, the members of the Town Council being Roman
Catholics. After the invasion by the Spanish troops in April, 1586, his
colleague re-introduced the Mass, and Nicolai resigned his post.

In the end of 1586 he was appointed diaconus at Niederwildungen, near Waldeck, and in 1587 he became pastor there.1
He then became, in November, 1588, chief pastor at Altwildungen, and
also Hofprediger (Court Preacher)  to the widowed Countess Margaretha
of Waldeck, and tutor to her son, Wilhelm Ernst, Count of Waldeck in
Wildungen, Hessen (died at Tubingen, September 16,
1598, the result of the bubonic plague, and who formed the inspiration
of one of Nicolai’s greatest hymns, Wachet Auf).
In this position he found himself in disagreement with the Calvinists on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper (the “the
Sacramentarian controversy”), and was, in Sept. 1592, inhibited from
preaching by Count Franz of Waldeck. However, the prohibition was soon
removed, and in the Synod of 1593 held at Mengeringhausen, he found all
the clergy of the principality of Waldeck willing to agree to the Formula of Concord.

He
went to Unna in Westphalia in 1596 where he again was involved in
controversy with the Calvinists. The city of Unna fell victim to the
plague in 1597 and 1598, which took the lives of over 1,300 of its
inhabitants. From the parsonage which overlooked the churchyard,
Nicolai was deeply saddened by the continual burials. On one day thirty
graves were dug. On December 27, 1598, Nicolai was forced to flee Unna
before the invasion of the Spaniards, and did not return till the end
of April, 1599.

From these scenes of death he
turned to the study of St. Augustine’s “City of God” and the
contemplation of the eternal life, and so absorbed himself in them that
he kept himself “comforted in heart, joyful in spirit, and truly
content.” It was in the midst of this distress (e.g., 1599) that he
wrote a series of meditations to which he gave the title, Frewden-Spiegel dess ewigen Lebens,
(“Joyful Mirror of the Eternal Life”; opens in a new window at an
external site). It was a book of pious and devout reflection, which
included two hymns that quickly attained a wide popularity, and are
indeed admirable for their fervor of emotion and mastery over difficult
but musical rhythms.

Previously, the hymns of the
Reformation had been distinguished by their simplicity and
appropriateness to church use; their models had been found in the
earlier Latin hymns, or in the Psalms of the Old Testament and the
hymns handed down to us by St. Luke.

Now, however,
in Nicolai’s writings there is a new style, afterwards very prevalent,
which is similar to some of the later mediaeval hymns addressed to the
Virgin and saints, and finds its scriptural ground in the Song of
Solomon and the Apocalypse. As yet most hymns were addressed to God the
Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, or to the Holy Trinity, or in the
case of hymns of sorrow and penitence to the Savior. But afterwards the
mystical union of Christ with the soul became a favorite subject; more
secular allusions and similes were admitted, and a class of hymns
begins to grow up, called in Germany “Hymns of the Love of Jesus.”

Of his hymns, only four seemed to have been ever printed. Three of his hymns were first published in his devotional work entitled Frewden-Spiegel dess ewigen Lebens, published at Frankfurt-am-Main, 1599. Two of them — “Wachet auf” and “Wie schön” — rank as classical and epoch-making.

The former, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (“Wake, Awake, For Night Is Flying” and many other translations) is the last of the long series of Watchmen’s Songs, which begins:

“Wake, awake, for night is flying,

The watchmen on the heights are crying,

Awake, Jerusalem, at last!”

which
is well known in England from the use of its splendid chorale in
Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” to the words, “Sleepers, wake, a voice is
calling.” The opening lines of Wake, awake are probably
borrowed from a medieval “watch song”, but while those voices were
admonishing the workers of darkness to flee from discovery, “with
Nicolai it is a summons to the children of light to awaken to their
promised reward and full felicity.” The tune to the lyrics is also
ascribed to Nicolai (although adapted from an earlier hymn by Hans Sachs).

The other hymn, “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“O Morning Star, How Fair And Bright“)also
possesses a very fine chorale; and so popular did it soon become, that
its tune was often chimed by city chimes, lines and verses from it were
printed by way of ornament on the common earthenware of the country,
and it was invariably used at weddings and certain festivals. It is
still to be found in all German hymn-books, but in a very modified form
to suit more modern tastes.

Nicolai1
This hymn
marks the transition from the objective churchly period to the more
subjective and experimental period of German hymn writing. It began a
long series of Hymns of Love to Christ as the Bridegroom of the Soul,
to which Franck and Scheffler contributed such beautiful examples.
Marked by a new sincerity, they gave the church a new voice in song. Published just a few short years before Johann Arndt’s True Christianity, they reflect a similar feeling of devotion about Jesus.

Finally,
in April 1601, he was elected chief pastor of Katharinenkirche (St.
Katherine’s Church) in Hamburg, where he began his duties August 6,
1601. In Hamburg, Nicolai was universally esteemed,
was a most popular and influential preacher — he was hailed as a
“second Chrysostom” — and was regarded as a “pillar” of the Lutheran
church. In his private life he seemed to have been most lovable and
estimable, although some of his writings, according to Julian, were
“polemical” and “acrid in tone.”

On October 22, 1608, he took part in the ordination of a colleague, the diaconus Penshorn,
and returned home feeling unwell. He developed a violent fever, and
died October 26, 1608. He was buried at Katharinenkirche, Hamburg.
Sadly, the Katharinenkirche was almost destroyed in World War II,
though it was restored in the 1950’s.

Besides his fame as a preacher, his reputation rests mainly on his hymns.

Notes

1.
According to another account, from 1586 to 1588, Nicolai had moved to
Köln (Cologne), a thoroughly Catholic city, and was a preacher of the
Lutheran congregations, who at that time met secretly in houses. Return

Sources:

Here then, from the hymn-translating-machine, Matthew Carver, of
Hymnoglypt fame
, is a literal translation of “How Lovely Shine the
Morning Star” which he produced at my request.

1. How beautifully the Morning-star blazes (to us),
full of grace and truth from the Lord,
you sweet root of Jesse;
You—Son of David, from Jacob’s branch,
my King and my Bridegroom—
(You) have occupied my heart,
lovely, friendly, fair and splendid,
great and honorable, rich in gifts,
high and very nobly exalted.

2. Ah, my Pearl, You precious Crown,
true Son of God and of Mary, a high-born King,
my heart calls You a Lily,
Your sweet Gospel is sheer milk and honey.
Ah, my Flower, Hosanna,
heavenly Manna which we eat,
I cannot forget You.

3. You bright Jasper and Ruby,
Pour very deeply into my heart the flame of Your love,
and gladden me so that I may remain a living rib in Your elected body.
My heart is sick and smoldering for You
Gratiosa Coeli Rosa (Gracious Rose of Heaven)
(my heart is) wounded by Your love.

4. From God a glow of joy comes to me,
Whenever You give me a friendly look with Your eyes.
O Lord Jesus, my trusty good,
Your Word, Your Spirit, Your body and blood revive me inwardly.
Kindly accept me in Your arms, so that I may be warmed by grace.
At Your word, I come burdened.

5. Lord God Father, my strong champion,
You loved me in Your Son eternally before the world.
Your Son pledged Himself to me,
He is my treasure, I am His bride, greatly overjoyed in Him.
Eya, eya!
He will give me heavenly life yonder above;
Forever shall my heart praise Him.

6. Strike the cithara-strings
and let sweet music resound all full joyfully,
so that I may well up with constant love for Jesus
my wondrously beautiful Bridegroom.
Sing (you all)!, Jump (you all)!
Jubilate, be triumphant,
thank the Lord;
great is the King of Glory.

7. How heartily happy I am indeed
because my treasure is the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End;
He shall surely take me up to His prize into Paradise
for this reason I clap my hands.
Amen, Amen!
Come, you beautiful Crown of Joy,
Do not tarry long,
I wait for you with yearning.

Read more…

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Hymn Based on the Augsburg Confession

June 25th, 2013 13 comments

Matthew Carver translated the Augsburg Confession hymn Lord God, Ever Keep For Us The Augsburg Confession Pure. Here is his post from his blog: Hymnoglypt. I see Matthew is using Creative Commons to license his work for distribution, for non commercial purposes, with proper attribution. You’ll see that notice at the end of this post. The extended entry contains the German text. Most Lutherans will recognize both suggested tunes, the first is familiar to us with Luther’s hymn, “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” and the second tune is familiar to us as “Renew Me, O Eternal Light.” As Matthew says, you now have plenty of time to practice it for the next anniversary celebration of the Augsburg Confession, on June 25, from his blog:

“Here is my translation of the Augsburg Confession hymn, “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für / die reine Augspurgische… ” (C. Becker, 1631), after Helmbold’s “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für” (TLH#288), originally published with the title “The 21 articles of the Augsburg Confession summarized in song form.” This was later reworked by Sigismund von Birken, and appeared in that form in 1668. It is certainly more amenable to congregational singing in the divine service than a similar hymn with longer stanzas by Fabricius, though certainly at the expense of doctrinal precision. The melody appointed is, “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für,” or “Wohl dem, der in Gottes Furcht steht.” Other possible tunes would be “Erhalt uns, Herr, in deinem Wort,” and “Herr Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht.”

Please post any corrections or concerns over wording.



LORD, EVER keep for us secure
The Augsburg doctrine true and pure,
Which John th’ Elector did confess
Before the world with fearlessness.

Article I. Of the Divine Being.
2. That You are three in unity,
One God from all eternity,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,—
This is our clear confession’s boast.

Article II. Of Original Sin.
3. We further without fear confess
Our sin and gross unrighteousness
Inherited, for which, forlorn,
We perish would, unless reborn.

Article III. Of the Person and Work of Christ.
4. This also gives us hope and cheer,
That Jesus Christ, our Savior dear,
True God and Man came to us men
And all the world redeemed from sin.

Article IV. Of Justification of the Poor Sinner Before God.
5. A man is therefore saved and blest
If he believes in Jesus Christ,
Who makes our sin as white as snow,
And pays the debt He did not owe.

Article V. Of the Means of Obtaining Faith.
6. Such faith we surely too obtain
When we with eagerness remain
In Word and Sacrament, nor shirk;
The Spirit thus perfects His work

Article VI. Of the Fruits of Faith.
7. Where faith is found, there follow too
At every hour good works and true;
Yet only faith can justify,
Works to the neighbor help supply.

Article VII. Of the Christian Church.
8. The Church of Christ must there be sought
Where God’s whole Word is purely taught,
And Christ’s most holy Sacrament
Is given after His intent.

Article VIII. What the Church Is.
9. As in a flock strange sheep may go,
So in the Church it is also,
Where hypocrites may often lurk;
Yet this hurts not God’s holy work.

Article IX. Of Baptism.
10. Baptis’m’s font, the blessed bath,
Brings us God’s grace and stills His wrath;
It makes us children blest and new,
And washes off sin’s crimson hue.

Article X. Of the Supper.
11. Christ also therefore did ordain
The Holy Supper to retain:
Gives us His body and His blood
Under bread and wine for our great good.

Article XI. Of Confession and Absolution.
12. And of confession, it is taught
That none can know all errors wrought,
Yet one should come and humbly say
“Lord, loose the sins that on me weigh.”

Article XII. Of Repentance.
13. Repentance given was for them
Whose sins weigh heavy and seem grim,
And who believe in Christ their Lord,
And see what help it shall afford.

Article XIII. Of the Sacraments.

14. The Sacraments’ true, proper use
Our good confession also shows.
They are the tokens of God’s grace,
Faith’s aid of strength and resting-place.

Article XIV. Of Ecclesastical Order.
15. In church none teach, this we believe,
Save who a proper call receive,
And enter office orderly,—
A sheperd good they then will be.

Article XV. Of Church Customs.
16. Of useful customs, every one
In proper season may be done;
Your conscience only let think not
As if thereby you merit aught.

Article XVI. Of Civil Affairs.
17. All rulers, laws, and governments
Exist by God’s good ordinance,
And all their honor to sustain
Our good confession tells us plain.

Article XVII. Of Christ’s Return to Judgment.
18. The Final Judgment is to come,
When Christ shall raise His Christendom
In flesh to heaven’s hall, and send
The wicked to eternal pain.

Article XVIII. Of Free Will.
19. In outward matters man is free
To do or do not willingly,
But as for matters spiritual,
Man understands no thing at all.

Article XIX. Of the Cause of Sin.
20. Our God is not the cause of sin,
As unbelievers would maintain;
Sins only rise from Satan’s art,
With help of man’s perverted heart.

Article XX. Of Faith and Good Works.

21. Though we good works may well revere
The Word of God is very clear,
That we are justified, we own,
And saved by grace, through faith alone.

Article XXII. Of Saints, How They Should Be Honored.
22. Pray not to saints, nor them invoke;
For such a thing God does not look;
They are examples, so that we
May live and trust Him blamelessly.

Conclusion.
23. Thus is our doctrine summarized.
If you would be of more apprised,
Read Holy Scripture, as you can,
And guard yourself from lore of man.

Petition.
24. O God, grant those who lead our land
In this confessions firm to stand,
That our descendants may enjoy
Their doctrine pure without alloy.

25. Amen, O Holy Trinity:
All glory ever be to Thee,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
You teach the faith we need the most.

Each translation ( © Matthew Carver) / CC BY-NC 3.0
Read more…

O Princely Child from David’s Stem

December 29th, 2012 2 comments

If you are not familiar with Studium Excitare, the web journal of confessional language studies at Martin Lutheran College, you may well wish to subscribe to its feed. It regularly publishes translations of previously untranslated treasures from the age of the Reformation and Lutheran Orthodoxy. Here is a translation of a hymn by Pastor Jeremiah Gumm for noting this on his excellent blog site, also recommended to you.

O Princely Child from David’s Stem
O Fürstenkind aus Davids Stamm (KELG133)

Sung to the tune of “O Morning Star”

by Philip von Zesen

Translated by Aaron Jenson

O Princely Child from David’s Stem,
My Life, my Comfort, and my Friend,
My Soul’s Bridegroom and Savior,
I should thank You eternally
That You draw near in poverty–
What could I give You ever?
We know
No woe,
Joyful always
Sing we God’s praise,
Sadness waning,
For the Prince of Peace is reigning.

I myself full of gladness live–
I know not what I ought to give
The chosen child from above.
Take for Yourself, O Child most kind,
Take now my courage, heart, and mind.
Ignite my soul with Your love.
And be
In me
Sealed securely
That I surely
Ne’er replace You,
But in love ever embrace You.

Stay, Priceless Treasure, Jewel most bright,
Stay with me, O my heart’s Delight,
The Hope of all the weary.
Dew from Heaven, O make me grow.
O Wondrous Manna, Yourself show
To outcasts poor and dreary.
Keep bright
Your Light
On the earth here
As in Heav’n clear.
To those pining
Bring Your Word forever shining.

Credit:

 

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Happy New Year! Happy Advent!

December 2nd, 2012 Comments off

Can’t think of a better way to kick off this new Church Year, than by sharing yet another wonderful treasure from Lutheran hymnody. Enjoy. Thanks to Matthew Carver, for this gem.

Here is Matthew’s translation of “Helft mir Advent jetzt feiren” (Michael Ziegenspeck), translated by Clauder as “Adventus appropinquat…” The German first appeared in the Königsberg Hymnal (1650). The tune is “Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen.”

NOW GLAD the Advent viewing,
Dear children, raise your voice
To hail the year’s renewing,
And let us all rejoice!
For Christ His Advent kept,
When He, the Prince of Glory,
To Salem turned His story,
O’er which He once had wept.

2. Yet did that Advent sadness
That filled our Savior dear,
Fill all the world with gladness
And bring salvation near.
Our Help and Righteousness,
Of whom the prophets chanted
His Passiontide was granted,
To win us heavn’ly bliss.

3. The Advent keep with singing,
No more let Zion groan,
As all, with Salem bringing
Their shouts, their Lord to own,
Hosanna loudly cry;
“Blest be King David’s Scion,
The Lord, who comes to Zion,
Hosanna sing on high!”

4. The King of Grace yet duly
His Advent keeps aright,
And, coming, makes most truly,
Our heart His palace bright.
Through Sacrament and Word:
Lord, let Thy help attend us,
Prosperity now send us,
Forever be our Lord!

5. Soon shall that Advent meet us
When in His glorious shape
The Lord again shall greet us,
And bring our glad escape.
O Bridegroom, dear art Thou!
Come, come, no longer tarry!
For lo, what griefs we carry,
How deep in sorrow bow!

6. But grant us to believe Thee,
And ever ready be
With shouts, Lord, to receive Thee
When we that Advent see.
Let heart and mouth then cry,
Blest be King David’s Scion,
The Lord, who comes to Zion,
Hosanna sing on high!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

The Beauty, Comfort and Power of the Doctrine of Objective Justification

August 26th, 2012 2 comments

It has come to my attention that there are some laypeople who read my blog, and follow my Facebook page, who have had the unfortunate experience of stumbling across very negative and harmful discussions on the Internet of what is called the doctrine of “objective justification.” There is a former Lutheran pastor who has made it his life’s mission to attack this comforting doctrine. I urge and warn all those who read this blog and my Facebook page to avoid any such discussions and to flee from any false teachers who would rob you of the comfort of the Gospel. They like to insert themselves everywhere they can on various forums where justification is discussed. Pray for their repentance and restoration to a true and living faith. They are the very kind of persons whom the Apostle warns us about when he urges us to make sure we are “keeping Faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). Mark and avoid anyone who casts doubt on the doctrine of objective justification, and particularly mark and avoid any pastor who does so Do not be deceived. Cling to the truth.

Rejoice in this beautiful explanation of the doctrine of objective justification written by the Rev. Dr. Robert Preus, in 1981.

“The doctrine of objective justification is a lovely teaching drawn from Scripture which tells us that God who has loved us so much that He gave His only to be our Savior has for the sake of Christ’s substitutionary atonement declared the entire world of sinners for whom Christ died to be righteous (Romans 5:17-19).

“Objective justification which is God’s verdict of acquittal over the whole world is not identical with the atonement, it is not another way of expressing the fact that Christ has redeemed the world. Rather it is based upon the substitutionary work of Christ, or better, it is a part of the atonement itself. It is God’s response to all that Christ died to save us, God’s verdict that Christ’s work is finished, that He has been indeed reconciled, propitiated; His anger has been stilled and He is at peace with the world, and therefore He has declared the entire world in Christ to be righteous.

THE SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT
“According to all of Scripture Christ made a full atonement for the sins of all mankind. Atonement (at-one-ment) means reconciliation. If God was not reconciled by the saving work of Christ, if His wrath against sin was not appeased by Christ’’ sacrifice, if God did not respond to the perfect obedience and suffering and death of His Son for the sins of the world by forgiveness, by declaring the sinful world to be righteous in Christ -–if all this were not so, if something remains to be done by us or through us or in us, then there is no finished atonement. But Christ said, “It is finished.” And God raised Him from the dead and justified Him, pronounced Him, the sin bearer, righteous (I Timothy 3:16) and thus in Him pronounced the entire world of sinners righteous (Romans 4:25).

“All this is put beautifully by an old Lutheran theologian of our church, “We are redeemed from the guilt of sin; the wrath of God is appeased; all creation is again under the bright rays of mercy, as in the beginning; yea, in Christ we were justified before we were even born. For do not the Scriptures say: ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them?’’ This is not the justification which we receive by faith…That is the great absolution which took place in the resurrection of Christ. It was the Father, for our sake, who condemned His dear Son as the greatest of all sinners causing Him to suffer the greatest punishment of the transgressors, even so did He publicly absolve Him from the sins of the world when He raised Him up from the dead.” (Edward Preuss, “The Justification of a Sinner Before God,” pp. 14-15)

OBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION AND JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
“The doctrine of objective justification does not imply that there is no hell, that God’s threats throughout Scripture to punish sins are empty, or that all unbelievers will not be condemned to eternal death on the day of Christ’s second coming. And very definitely the doctrine of objective, or general, justification does not threaten the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ. Rather it is the very basis of that Reformation doctrine, a part of it. For it is the very pardon which God has declared over the whole world of sinners that the individual sinner embraces in faith and thus is justified personally. Christ’s atonement, His propitiation of God and God’s forgiveness are the true and only object of faith. Here is what George Stoekhardt, perhaps the greatest of all Lutheran biblical expositors in our country, says, “Genuine Lutheran theology counts the doctrine of general (objective) justification among the statements and treasures of its faith. Lutherans teach and confess that through Christ’s death the entire world of sinners was justified and that through Christ’s resurrection the justification of the sinful world was festively proclaimed. This doctrine of general justification is the guarantee and warranty that the central article of justification by faith is being kept pure. Whoever holds firmly that God was reconciled to the world in Christ, and that to sinners in general their sin was forgiven, to him the justification which comes from faith remains a pure act of the grace of God. Whoever denies general justification is justly under suspicion that he is mixing his own work and merit into the grace of God.”

THE REALITY OF OBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION
“Objective justification is not a mere metaphor, a figurative way of expressing the fact that Christ died for all and paid for the sins of all. Objective justification has happened, it is the actual acquittal of the entire world of sinners for Christ’s sake. Neither does the doctrine of objective justification refer to the mere possibility of the individual’s justification through faith, to a mere potentiality which faith completes when one believes in Christ.

“Justification is no more a mere potentiality or possibility than Christ’s atonement. The doctrine of objective justification points to the real justification of all sinners for the sake of Christ’s atoning work “before” we come to faith in Christ. Nor is objective justification “merely” a “Lutheran term” to denote that justification is available to all as a recent “Lutheran Witness” article puts it – although it is certainly true that forgiveness is available to all. Nor is objective justification a Missouri Synod construct, a “theologoumenon” (a theological peculiarity), devised cleverly to ward off synergism (that man cooperates in his conversion) and Calvinistic double predestination, as Dr. Robert Schultz puts it in “Missouri in Perspective” (February 23, 1981, p. 5) – although the doctrine does indeed serve to stave off these two aberrations. No, objective justification is a clear teaching of Scripture, it is an article of faith which no Lutheran has any right to deny or pervert any more than the article of the Trinity or of the vicarious atonement.

THE CENTRALITY AND COMFORT OF THE DOCTRINE
“Objective justification is not a peripheral article of faith which one may choose to ignore because of more important things. It is the very central article of the Gospel which we preach. Listen to Dr. C. F. W. Walther, the first president and great leader of our synod, speak about this glorious doctrine in one of his magnificent Easter sermons: “When Christ suffered and died, He was judged by God, and He was condemned to death in our place. But when God in the resurrection awakened Him again, who was it then that was acquitted by God in Christ’s person? Christ did no need acquittal for Himself, for no one can accuse Him of single sin. Who therefore was it that was justified in Him? Who was declared pure and innocent in Him? We were, we humans. It was the whole world. When God spoke to Christ, ‘You shall live,’ that applied to us. His life is our life. His acquittal, our acquittal, His justification, our justification….Who can ever fully express the great comfort which lies in Christ’s resurrection? It is God’s own absolution spoken to all men, to all sinners, in a word, to all the world, and sealed in the most glorious way. There the eternal love of God is revealed in all its riches, in its overflowing fullness and in its highest brilliance. For there we hear that it was not enough for God simply to send His own Son into the world and let Him become a man for us, not enough even for Him to give and offer His only Son unto death for us. No, when His Son had accomplished all that He had to do and suffer in order to earn and acquire grace and life and blessedness for us, then God, in His burning love to speak to us sinners, could not wait until we would come to Him and request His grace in Christ, but no sooner had His Son fulfilled everything than He immediately hastened to confer to men the grace which had been acquired through the resurrection of His Son, to declare openly, really and solemnly to all men that they were acquitted of all their sins, and to declare before heaven and earth that they are redeemed, reconciled, pure, innocent and righteous in Christ.”

Source:

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
NEWSLETTER – Spring 1981
6600 North Clinton
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!

April 1st, 2012 2 comments

Palm Sunday Procession in the Streets of JerusalemPalm Sunday, or Passion Sunday as it is also called, begins Holy Week. This week is he “holy of holies” of the Christian Church Year. For today we begin our observance of the last days of our Lord’s early sojourn, “for us and for our salvation,” as He enters in the very heart of darkness, sin and death itself. The triumph of the humble King who enters Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, is marked on Sunday with a triumph: shouting crowds and exuberant shouts of welcome and celebration, but in only five days, the shouts of welcome turn to shouts of anger, hate and a call for his death. “O, Dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken?” as the old Lutheran hymn puts it. Let us then fix our hearts and minds  on prayerful watching and waiting during these days, as we again are led by the Holy Spirit to see in our hearts, and our minds, the evil sinful nature and the thoughts, words and deeds, which put our Lord on the Cross. And repenting of them, despairing of ourselves, we turn once more to Christ the Crucified One, on whom is placed the sins of the world: your sins, my sins. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” Here is the Hymn, O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken.”

[Painting: Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem, by James J. Tissot, (French painter and illustrator, 1836-1902)].

1. O dearest Jesus, what law hast thou broken That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken? Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession, — What dark transgression?

2. They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee; With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee; They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee; They crucify Thee.

3. Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish? It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish; Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit, This I do merit.

4. What punishment so strange is suffered yonder! The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander; The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him, Who would not know Him.

5. The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; The sinful child of man may live in gladness; Man forfeited his life and is acquitted, — God is committed.

6. There was no spot in me by sin untainted; Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted; My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me, Such woe it wrought me.

7. O wondrous love, whose depth no heart hath sounded, That brought Thee here, by foes and thieves surrounded! All worldly pleasures, heedless, I was trying While Thou wert dying.

8. O mighty King, no time can dim Thy glory! How shall I spread abroad Thy wondrous story? How shall I find some worthy gifts to proffer? What dare I offer?

9. For vainly doth our human wisdom ponder, — Thy woes, Thy mercy, still transcend our wonder. Oh, how should I do aught that could delight Thee! Can I requite Thee?

10. Yet unrequited, Lord, I would not leave Thee; I will renounce whate’er doth vex or grieve Thee And quench with thoughts of Thee and prayers most lowly All fires unholy.

11. But since my strength will nevermore suffice me To crucify desires that still entice me, To all good deeds, oh, let Thy Spirit win me And reign within me!

12. I’ll think upon Thy mercy without ceasing, That earth’s vain joys to me no more be pleasing; To do Thy will shall be my sole endeavor Henceforth forever.

13. Whate’er of earthly good this life may grant me, I’ll risk for Thee; no shame, no cross, shall daunt me; I shall not fear what man can do to harm me Nor death alarm me.

14. But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it; Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it; Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness Nor shame my weakness.

15. And when, dear Lord, before Thy throne in heaven To me the crown of joy at last is given, Where sweetest hymns Thy saints forever raise Thee, I, too, shall praise Thee.

Notes: Hymn #143 from The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Luke 23: 20-24 Author: Johann Heermann, 1630. Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt. Titled: “Herzliebster Jesu” Composer: Johann Crueger, 1640 Tune: “Herzlebster Jesu”

A Hymn As We Approach the End of the Church Year

October 19th, 2011 Comments off

As we approach the end of the Christian Church year, the lectionary turns our thoughts to the time of Christ’s blessed return. From Matthew Carver’s Hymnoglypt blog: Here is hymn #432 in Walther’s hymnal, “Die Zeit ist nunmehr nah” (P. Gerhardt, 1653), translated by J. Kelly, formerly appointed for Trinity XXVII (Matt. XV). I offer my own emendation, update, and recommended cento (about 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes). Schamelius (the first publisher) gave it the title: “Sweet Thoughts on the Entrance to Eternal Life at Christ’s Last Coming.” Here is the tune.

Tune: Auf meinen lieben Gott.

THE TIME is very near
When, Lord, You will be here;
The signs of which You’ve spoken
Your advent should betoken;
We’ve seen them oft fulfilling
In number beyond telling.

2. What shall I do then, Lord,
But rest upon Your Word,
The promise You have given
That You will come from heaven,
Me from the grave deliver
And from all woe forever?

3. O Jesus Christ, how fair
Will be my portion there!
The welcome You’ll address me,
Your glances, how they’ll bless me,
When I, the earth forsaking,
My flight to You am taking.

4. Oh, what will be the word
You’ll speak, my Shepherd Lord!
What will be then Your greeting,
Me and my brethren meeting?
Your members You will own us,
And near Yourself enthrone us.

(5) 7. I’ll see then and adore
Your body’s bruises sore,
Whereon our faith is founded—
The prints of nails that wounded
Your hands and feet be greeting,
Your gaze with rapture meeting.

(6) 8. O Lord, alone You know,
The joys so pure that flow
In life’s unfailing river
In paradise forever,
You can portray and show them:
By faith alone I know them.

(7) 9. What I’ve believed stands sure,
And shall remain secure;
My part that wealth surpasses
Which here the rich amasses;
All other wealth will wither,
My portion holds together.

(8) 11. You’ll say, “Come, taste and see,
O child beloved by Me,
Come, taste the gifts so precious
I and my Father gracious
Can give you without measure,
Come, bask in endless pleasure!”

(9) 16. How sad, O Lord, am I,
Till I shall see on high
You come in glory hither
To bring Your Church together;
Were You but now revealing
Yourself, my wish fulfilling!

(10) 17. The time is known to You;
This is my action due:
To be prepared for going,
And all things so be doing,
That every moment even
My heart may be in heaven.

(11) 18. This grant, Lord, and me bless,
That so Your truth and grace
May keep me ever waking,
Lest Your day, overtaking
Me unawares, affright me,
But may, O Lord, delight me.

Translation J. Kelly, alt. by M. Carver, 2011.

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Translation of Hymn by Philip Melanchthon

September 16th, 2011 1 comment

Another interesting hymn translation from Matthew Carver.

Here is my translation of Dicimus grates tibi summe rerum Conditor (P. Melanchthon, 1539) from the Latin rather than from the German paraphrase by Paul Eber (†1569; translations of that have been made by Seiss and Cronenwett). This one preserves the 11.11.11.5 meter. I provide the melody from Lossius Psalmodia (1579):

THANKS UNTO THEE, O highest Lord, Creator,
We for Thy faithful ministers now render,
Whose host Thine hand as flames of fire created,
Holy and blameless.

2. Of Thine own light they shine with radiant glory,
Ever Thy face with raptured gaze beholding,
From Thee Thy words and heav’nly wisdom drawing,
Filled by their Fountain.

3. Thou dost not suffer this Thy holy people
Idly to throng, nor futilely to flutter
Round the vast realms of ether, nor unheeding
Through winds to frolic.

4. Them hast Thou bidden to be Christ’s attendants,
And to defend the gath’ring of the godly,
Duly revering all Thy holy statutes,
Tending their teaching.

5. For hotly burning with ungodly hatred,
Against Thy camp, the dragon, ever furious,
Wages his war, by whom both sin and dying
This world first entered.

6. Here seeks he naught but ruin and destruction
Of house and city, church and congregation,
And every thought of Law and fitting conduct:—
Fain would he raze them.

7. Yet o’er us watch the heav’nly troops of angels
Following Christ, their Captain and Commander,
Curbing the cruel weapons of the dragon,
Where’er he rages.

8. Angels saved Lot from Sodom’s devastation,
Harbored Elisha from the hostile armies;
Ringed round by angels, he beheld unfearing
Banners of battle.

9. Safe mid the circling lions stood the prophet
Daniel, surrounded by a hedge of angels;
Thus doth God ever by His faithful servants
Keep us all covered.

10. Of Thy protection we would now be mindful,
As unto Thee our choirs, their voices blending
With choirs angelic, thankful anthems render,
O kind Creator.

11. Set these Thy watchmen o’er Thy temple ever,
And o’er Thy people, which esteems as sacred
The Word of Christ, Thy Son; this we beseech Thee
With all devotion.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.

LATIN

1. Dicimus grates tibi, summe rerum
Conditor, gnato tua quod ministros
Flammeos finxit manus angelorum
Agmina pura.

2. Qui tuae lucis radiis vibrantes
Te vident laetis oculis, tuasque
Hauriunt voces, sapientiaeque
Fonte fruuntur.

3. Hos nec [non] ignavum sinis [finis] esse vulgus,
Nec per ingentes volitare frustra
Aetheris tractus, temere nec inter
Ludere ventos.

4. Sed jubes Christo comites adesse
Et pios caetus hominum tueri,
Qui tuas leges venerantur, atque
Discere curant.

5. Impiis ardens odiis et ira
Nam tuis castris draco semper infert
Bella, qui primis scelus atque mortem
Intulit orbi.

6. Hic domos, urbes, tua templa, gentes
Et tuae legis monumenta tota
Et bonos mores abolere tentat
Funditus omnes.

7. Interim sed nos regit angelorum,
Quae ducem Christum sequitur, caterva,
Atque grassantis reprimit cruenta
Arma draconis.

8. Angeli Lothon Sodomae tuentur,
Inter infestos Elisaeus [C…] hostes,
Angelis cinctus, nihil extimescit
Bellica signa.

9. Tutus est inter medios leones,
Angelis s(a)eptus Daniel propheta:
Sic tegit semper Deus his ministris
Omnia nostra.

10. Hoc tuum munus celebramus una,
Et tibi noster chorus angelique
Gratias dicunt simul accinentes,
Conditor alme.

11. Et tuo templo vigiles ut addas
Angelos semper, populoque, Gnati
Qui tui verbum colit, obsecramus
Pectore toto.

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

My Light and Savior is the Lord: Beautiful Old Lutheran Hymn

July 14th, 2011 4 comments

Here is Matthew Carver’s translation of “Mein Licht und Heil ist Gott der Herr” (C. Becker, 1628), a paraphrase of Dominus lux mea (Psalm XVII). Be sure to follow Matthew’s blog site. Originally intended to be sung to either “Durch Adam Fall ist ganz verderbt” or “Was mein Gott will das gscheh allzeit,” it was given a proper tune by Schütz in the following form:

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY LIGHT and Savior is the Lord
Of whom shall I be fearful?—
My strength of life, crown, and reward,
In whom my heart is cheerful!
My foes may rage at every stage,
And seek me whole to swallow,
Their wicked will shall come to nil,
Sucess shall never follow.

2. And if they all their weapons take
And loose a host upon me,
My heart will neither fear nor quake;
For God His aid will loan me.
If war arise, I’ll win the prize,
I trust Him in full measure.
My faith fails not, Thus set in God,
He helps with truest pleasure.

3. One thing of all I most would love,
Which with all joy would fill me,
Wherefore I pray Thee, Lord above,
By grace that prize to will me:
That I may call Thy heav’nly hall
My home and habitation.
Yet, while I live, that vision give
Of Thy fair acclamation.

4. Have I but this, I may be sure
That Thou wilt e’er defend me
From every trouble, trick, and lure,
And all Thy goodness send me.
God is my Shield upon the field,
My Rock on which I conquer,
Though much defied on every side.
The Lord my God is stronger.

5. My thanks and praise to Him I’ll give,
Sweet hymns of gladness singing.
My pray’r, O Lord my God, receive,
Thy mercy to me bringing!
My heart holds Thee to Thy decree,—
Thy pledge to spurn them never
Who Thee adore; grant me therefore
To see Thy face forever.

6. Turn not from me, Thy servant poor,
Thy face of gracious favor,
Thou art my refuge evermore,
My faithful God and Savior,
My hope I’ve sought, / forsake me not,
Withdraw Thy hand not wholly;
Thou art alone My help, I own,
My consolation solely.

7. My father and my mother well
May wish from woe to save me,
Yet they are human and shall fail
And in my trouble leave me.
Without my God, whose shoulder broad
With comfort thence will take me,
I surely would be lost for good,
When creatures all forsake me.

8. Lord, teach me Thy right way to wend,
All by Thy Scripture living,
My task and conscience to attend,
No cause to others giving
To blaspheme Thee, who shamelessly
Deceive and lie like devils;
Lord, let me not by foes be caught
Who wish me countless evils.

9. But what care I what ills may come?
My faith shall not deceive me,
For well I know my final home,
God’s Word no lie can give me.
With God in heav’n I shall be giv’n
To live in joy forever.
So have no fear, Be of good cheer,
Wait on Thy true Deliv’rer.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Praise the Lord! Beautiful Contemporary Setting of a Gerhardt Hymn

March 6th, 2011 9 comments

This presentation of Paul Gerhardt’s hymn really helps you see how beautifully his German poetry is. You don’t have to know German to see the rhyming and lyrical qualities of original Gerhardt hymnody. I’ll give you the video performance first, and I’m working on getting an English translation, with the German original after it. I’ll put the German in the extended entry, so just click through to read it.

English Translation
The use of the word “Jehovah” nice preserves the two-syllable of the original German word: Herren/Lord.

Praise ye Jehovah,
All ye men who fear Him!
Let us with gladness to His name be singing,
Be thanks and praises to His altar bringing.
Praise ye Jehovah!

The life we’re living
Who is ever giving;
Care all the night who like a father taketh,
And who with gladness us from sleep awaketh.
Praise ye Jehovah!

That we enjoy them,
And can still employ them,
Our mind and senses and our every member,
Thanks do we owe for this let us remember.
Praise ye Jehovah!

By flames o’erpowering,
Us and ours devouring,
From house and homestead that we’ve not been driven
We owe it to the care of God in Heaven.
Praise ye Jehovah!

That no thief, breaking
Through our doors and taking
Our property, and us assaulting hurt us,
Is that He sent His angels to support us.
Praise ye Jehovah!

Oh, faithful Saviour!
Fount of every favour!
Ah! let Thy kindness and protection hover,
By day and night our life at all times over.
Praise ye Jehovah!

Deign, Lord, to hear us,
And to-day be near us!
Supported by Thy grace, may nought e’er hinder
Our progress; and, in need, help speedy render.
Praise ye Jehovah!

Our will subduing,
Make us Thine be doing,
Teach us to labour faithfully; whenever
Beneath the load we’re sinking, then deliver.
Praise ye Jehovah!

Do Thou direct us
When Thou dost afflict us,
That we may never mock; but be preparing
Before Thy throne hereafter for appearing.
Praise ye Jehovah!

And all true-hearted
Who’re by grace converted
Wilt Thou, Lord, come for, and by grace be bringing
Where all Thine angels evermore are singing,
Praise ye Jehovah!

Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs, 1867

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Converting Hymns to Mary Into Christian Hymns

October 12th, 2010 8 comments

It is interesting to me to notice how Lutherans used traditional hymns and prayers to Mary and converted them (yes, pun intended) into faithfully Christian hymns. Here is a great example, courtesy of Mr. Carver, as posted on his blog site.

Here is my translation of “O Jesu zart göttlicher Art” (H. Sachs, 1523), “the hymn ‘Maria zart von edler Art’ altered and Christologically corrected,” as Sachs puts it in the Nürnberg Enchiridion of 1527. It was part of a collection of spiritual songs “founded in Scripture…for the Laity to sing.” The melody is the original tune from “Maria zart…” The same original hymn was similarly amended in a 5-stanza form beginning “O Jesu zart in neuer Art,” appearing in the Bohemian Brethren Kirchengeseng (1533).


O JESUS mine, Thou love divine,
Sweet rose of thorn divested:
Thou hast with might restored to sight
What long ago was wrested
By Adam’s fall; Thou didst for all
Appoint Thyself our Savior
To win us back God’s favor
And clear our name of sin and shame;
Where Thou art not, no hope is got
To win God’s gracious pleasure,
Who lacks Thy grace must ever face
Hell’s torment without measure.

2. O Christ so mild, Thou hast fulfilled
The patriarchs’ deep yearning,
Who for relief with patient grief
In darkness long lay mourning,
And cried in need, “O God, give heed
And rend the heaven’s portals!
The Savior send to mortals,
Thy Christ, that He may set us free
From groaning pain.” This cure we gain
In Thine own blood availing.
Wherefore let all the world down fall,
And Christ as Lord be hailing.

3. O Jesus pure, the sinner’s cure,
Our hope and brightest garnet:
Thou didst fulfill th’ eternal will,
Becoming Man incarnate,
Thine heirs to save from death and grave,
And Thou shalt judge all people,
Both wicked men and faithful.
O Fruit most dear, my Refuge here
Amid the strife: eternal life
Thou hast procured and bought me;
I hope in Thee unswervingly,
Thou dost Thy grace allot me.

4. O Christ, sweet Rose, Thy hands disclose
All grace and goodness ever,
How graciously Thou winnest me
By opening Thy favor
Which in Thy Word Thou makest heard;
Once, with false prophets straying,
My soul did suffer slaying,
By many a sly hypocrisy.
In works I hoped, and often groped
To win Thy grace by doing.
Relent, O Lord; Thy grace afford.
Judge not my senseless ruin.

5. O Jesus fine, Thy Word doth shine
Bright as a gem unclouded,
It helps the sore oppressed and poor
Who lie in darkness shrouded;
Who have no peace and find no ease
In doctrines of man’s making:
Let them Thy Word be taking,
Show them ere late Thy pathway straight,
Thine aid allot! For hast Thou not
Redeemed all nations wholly,
That they as one not vainly run
But hope in Thee, Lord, solely?

6. O Christ so dear, if Thy Word e’er
Should be forgot, and leave me,
Then hasten to my aid anew
Lest doctrine false deceive me,
Which worded smooth, may seem to sooth—
Who may discern its cunning,
That such fair dress is donning?
Yet in the strife it lacketh life!
Thy Word alone my moveless stone
Shall prove, and life availing!
Feed this to me, nor let it be
In time eternal failing!

7. O Jesus Christ, once sacrificed,
True God, the Lamb unspotted:
The pow’r to tell Thy glory well
To no man is allotted;
Thy praises whelm th’ eternal realm;
To Thee all rule whatever
Thy Father did deliver,
And all is Thine. O King divine,
Then when my breath must cease in death,
And body low be wending,
Then help me by Thy Word to die,
My soul to Thee commending.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns

The Treasures of Lutheran Hymnody

August 25th, 2010 2 comments

If you do not follow Matthew Carver’s blog, you are really missing out on a lot of great translations of classic treasures of Lutheran hymnody. Today, for example, this one came across my RSS reader. Check it out. Notice the richness of the Christ-centered, Law and Gospel, deeply Biblically based text.

Lässet Gottes Sohn sich taufen?
from HYMNOGLYPT by Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)

Here is my translation of the Epiphany hymn, “Lässet Gottes Sohn sich taufen?” (S. von Birken). Many thanks to Armin Wenz for pointing out and providing the words. The appointed melody is “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele.”

ART THOU baptized, God most holy?
Art Thou bathed in Jordan thus?
Though in sin we sank so lowly,
Thou the Clean One cleansest us.
All earth’s waters as a flood
Thou wouldst purple with Thy blood
Making robes of royal station
For the heirs of Thy salvation.

2. Now this flood for us is given
By the Clean One pow’r to cleanse;
All the wounds by Adam riven
Now this fount of life amends.
Jesus, oh! to Thee I look;
Thou the Jordan, Thine the brook
Which upon my soul hath showered,
Washed me, and all filth devoured.

3. Wide the heavens opened o’er me,
Even as they did o’er Thee,
When Thy Word and water bore me
To God’s cov’nant family:
“This is My beloved child,
With whom I am reconciled.
In whom I take all My pleasure.”—
This is mine in fullest measure.

4. From above the Dove, descending,
Also to my cleansing came,
Thus the Holy Ghost attending,
Did my soul for heaven claim,
As Thy crimson ink, Thy blood
Reconciled me to my God,—
With Thy friends a place awarded—
In Thy book my name recorded.

5. Lamb of God, then didst Thou bind me
To Thy service as Thy knight;
Of Thy very wool consigned me
Warrior’s robes of purest white.
This fair garment, O my groom!
Is my bride-gift from Thy loom;
That my soul, to Thee united,
May be Thine, as Thou hast plighted.

6. Though Thy hellish competition
Ever still doth me pursue,
Makes my fall His constant mission,
Coaxing me to be untrue.
Oh! if once he tempted Thee,
Will he stay away from me?
Nay, at peace he’ll leave me never:
With the head the limbs go ever.

7. When in grief I seem to lose Thee,
Satan says, “Art thou God’s child?
Why then doth He thus abuse thee?
When have fathers e’er beguiled,
Giving stones instead of bread?
Hath He left thee then for dead?
If His pow’r hath not deserted,
Have this stone to bread converted!”

8. Soon would Satan, thus deceiving,
Turn to pride my trust in Thee,
Of Thy help my soul bereaving;
Make me thrall to vanity,
To the world would lure my soul,
Glory, lust, and wealth extol,
Till I sell Thee for the famine
Of his empty lies and Mammon.

9. Dearest Jesus! Make me stronger,
That, as Thou hast done, I too
May the devil crush and conquer;
With resolve my faith endue.
Let Thy Word my weapon be,
And Thine angels be with me.
Though I suffer, let him sever
Me from my dear Jesus never.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Read the extended entry for the German text. Read more…

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Interview on the Hymn “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart”

August 12th, 2010 3 comments

Here is the interview I did on Issues, Etc. yesterday on the hymn: “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart.”

http://issuesetc.org/podcast/553081110H2.mp3

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

Beautiful Reformation-Era Lutheran Paraphrase of Psalm 23

June 10th, 2010 4 comments

1. What shall we want if Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
Our soul’s refreshment doth He bring,
Revives us with His flowing spring,
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely doth escort us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame,
When need or anguish hurt us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Thy blessed staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is Thy cross, that from our lust
And harm doth e’er protect us.
It drains the poison of our sin
And all the evils wrought within
which else would rage and flourish.

4. Thy table Thou dost rich prepare,
And e’er to sight divest it—
Thy Holy Word’s delicious fare—
We with our heart digest it.
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Thy Spirit’s fullness.

5. Thy goodness and Thy mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through Thee, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Thy dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Thy gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Mr. Carver notes: Here is my translation of the early paraphrase of Psalm 23, “Was kann uns kommen an für Noth” (A. Knöpken, 1534), originally written in Low German: “Wat kan uns kamen an vor not.” It took a while to find the original German, as quite a few later paraphrases of the psalm have had significantly more popularity. Ludecus (1589) appoints it as a hymn for Trinity III. The proper melody is well known as an organ piece, but I could not find any notation for a congregational melody line.

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns

A Lutheran Hymn on the Saints of God in the Scriptures

May 8th, 2010 1 comment

A fascinating post by Matthew Carver.

Here is my translation of “O starker Gott, Herre Zebaoth” which I dedicate to Brian Westgate on his birthday. Probably written by Musculus in Low German in the 1540s (when it was published on a broadsheet as “Ein Lobgesang der Altväter”), this High German version appeared by 1550 and continued in several hymnals up through the early 17th century. Some suggest because of the rough, archaic wording of the German, that it may have originated as a late medieval or pre-Reformation Christian folksong. Its intent is to show that all the Biblical heroes and heroines of the Old and New Testaments had faith in God and the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (who gets a stanza, too), and otherwise attempts only a very cursory account of their stories.

The melody is proper, based on the “second verse” of the Latin hymn “Rex sanctorum angelorum,” probably suggested because of its sanctoral litany. Here the litany is corrected and changed into a history of the Biblical saints: patriarchs, prophets and apostles, etc., or as it was once called, “the Bible in 35 stanzas.” Here is the Latin melody; the second and third rows form the basis of our present melody:

Here is the melody as recorded by Praetorius (ed. Friedrich Blume).
Here is the 4-part melody in midi format.

MIGHTY GOD, Father, Lord of Hosts on high,
Strong Defender! To Thee we cry
King of our nation,
And of all creation
Lord of great and small,
Of heav’n, and earth, and all:
Oh, grant us all that we may find salvation.

2. All who want wisdom, and would fain discern
What is truth, repent ye, and turn
To God your Maker,
Scripture not forsaking,
O’er your sins now grieve,
With humble faith receive
The Word of God, all trust upon it staking.

3. When for sin, ADAM Eden’s Garden left,
Of true faith he was not bereft,
His trust not broken
in God’s promise spoken:
From the woman’s seed
A Man shall come indeed,
And many an age will long to see this token.

4. Adam’s son, ABEL, this same truth confessed,
In true faith he gave God his best,
And praised no other,
Therefore, Cain, his brother,
Was enraged with spite,
And envied Abel quite:
Foul murder wrought, and Abel’s life did smother.

5. NOAH had warning of God’s wrath and flood,
And he made a great ark of wood;
Faithful, devoted,
For a year he floated,
Through the wind and rain,
Thus eight did life retain,
With all the beasts which God to him allotted.

6. ABRAHAM trusted in God’s holy Word;
More than his dear home, he preferred
Strange habitations,
Where, by intimations,
God swore in that place,
The Savior would by grace
Descend from him to bless the sinful nations.

7. Abraham’s wife SARAH barren was for long
Yet her faith was constant and strong,
In God’s apprising:
“Lo, by God’s devising
You shall soon conceive,
This cov’nant to believe,
And shall bring forth a son, and call him Isaac.”

8. So was their ISAAC in the Spirit firm,
He believed, and never did squirm,
Of death unfearing,
Abraham revering,
Who gave up his son.
But as the knife was drawn,
God said, “Wait, thou hast shown Me thine adhering.”

9. JACOB, born second, still the blessing sought
And the birthright from Isaac got,
Blest by his father;
He escaped his brother,
From his home he went
In faith where’er God sent,
Who brought him safe to kinsmen of his mother.

10. JOSEPH was faithful, and endured his cross,
As his brothers him did oppose.
And sore misused him
In a pit they threw him,
Grieved his father good,
They stained his coat with blood,
For thirty silver coins a slave they sold him.

11. Righteous LOT trusted in the Lord his God,
Warning to the five kings he brought:
“Love God and fear Him.”
But when none would hear him,
God his life did save,
Escape from fire he gave.
Lot ran to safety with two daughters near him.

12. MOSES was beckoned into Egypt land
by the Lord and brought by His hand,
His flock to sunder;
And with many a wonder,
Brought the children out,
Through waters, dry of foot.
While Pharaoh’s forces all were swallowed under.

13. AARON was chosen and ordained high priest,
God arrayed him to keep the feast,
With every splendor ,
The true faith’s defender.
God He glorified,
His calling was his pride:
Before the Lord, His people’s mediator.

14. JOSHUA, faithful, CALEB at his side,
As God bade them, Canaan they spied,
Patiently waited,
With faith unabated;
Others feared to go
But these two feared no foe,
And captured Canaan by God’s dominating.

15. GIDEON, mighty, battle’s glories knew,
Many a king and heathen he slew,
All foes he conquered,
In their countries entered,
City walls he broke,
And all their goods he took,
All things according to God’s will he ventured.

16. To old ELIJAH all the world did wrong,
Persecuted and plagued him long,
Sorely complaining,
So a drought sustaining,
For three years and more,
He caused no rain to pour;
He prayed again and heav’n resumed its raining.

17. Woe did ISAIAH suffer in his day,
For the truth he met with dismay,
By men rejected.
He the just protected,
Whom men counted last.
False idols he unmasked,
And so they slew him as their hearts directed.

18. When JEREMIAH saw the great disgrace
Which the Jews did in every place,
It so appalled him
That he boldly told them
“God ye sore offend!
His warning now attend,
Or He in hands of wrath will soon enfold you.”

19. AMOS the prophet would his flock defend,
Saying, “Listen! God soon will send
Drought and great famine,
So your lives examine,
For your sin and vice
This drought shall be the price;
God’s Word shall be withheld from all in common.

20. Unto the shepherds cried EZEKIEL,
“Feed the sheep and pasture them well;
Leave no one wanting,
You will give accounting
For your life and way
When comes the Final Day,
And there shall be distress and woe surmounting.”

21. God’s true servant JOEL hope in Jesus laid,
Kindly warned the people and said
God’s wrath lay o’er them,
So with pray’r implore Him,
And in Godly fear
Await His advent near,
When good and wicked both must stand before Him.

22. JOB, the long-suff’ring did God prove and test,
And to send him grief and unrest
Satan did borrow.
Quickly came Job’s sorrow,
Friends and wealth he lost,
His body bore the cost.
In faith he said, “God can right all tomorrow.”

23. Youthful TOBIAS by the angel stood,
Trusted in his words, as was good,
Went from his father,
Rightful gold to gather,
Sara loved he fain,
Whose seven grooms were slain
He chased the slayer off, and they were wedded.

24. JONAH the prophet Nineveh forsook,
Fled to sea, to God would not look,
When storm inflated
Drew the lot ill-fated
Leapt into the sea,
And swallowed up was he
And brought alive to land full three days later.

25. By faith SUSANNA found deliverance
From the plot of two wicked men,
Who would abuse her.
But ere they so used her,
God did them prevent,
His messenger he sent
Disproved and put to death the false accusers.

26. DANIEL knew sorrow, but to God held fast;
Down into a pit he was cast
With lions seven,
That had not been given
Meat for many a day,
But God had heard him pray,
And shut the lion’s mouths, and him delivered.

27. JUDITH the widow, led the battle bold,
Acted sweetly, prayed unto God,
Of foes unfearful;
Holofernes, evil,
Promised her to wed,
And as he lay in bed,
She cut his head clean off, and freed her people.

28. DAVID, God’s servant, as a prophet reigned,
He had faith and steadfast remained,
Giving God’s pleasure
Writing all in measure
Which he saw by grace
Full many things took place,
And at last he gave all confirmation.

29. SOLOMON, glorious, waxed in wealth and fame,
Kings and rulers all knew his name,
And his wise writing,
All his words reciting.
These words still remain
In hearts that love God’s name:
By faith in God, the truth was his delighting.

30. God gave assurance to ELIZABETH
That she would behold by true faith
Fruit of her body:
John his parents called him:
Precious man of God,
And witness of His Word,
Whose like there hath not been nor ever shall be.

31. Saint JOHN the Baptist to the Jordan came
To the world God’s Word to proclaim,
Baptism giving
For repentance living;
Witnessed to God’s Son,
And said, “This holy One
Baptized by me, shall for all sins make payment.”

32. MARY, pure virgin, was by grace alone
Chosen to give birth to God’s Son
In womb so lowly,
Jesus Christ most holy,
Who alone could save—
To Him her flesh she gave,
Remaining ever virgin, God’s true Mother.

33. SIMEÒN righteous, in old age found grace,
In his arms his God to embrace,
And see salvation,
In the incarnation
Christ, his infant Lord,
Whom God o’er all adored,
And said, “God here restores His lost creation.”

34. Our LORD, CHRIST JESUS, very Man and God.
As all saints bore witness and showed;—
Glad news they gave us:
He won God’s good favor
For His sons most dear
And brought His children cheer,
Defeating death upon the cross to save us.

35. Sing we together to the Lord of heav’n,
Praise to God our Father be giv’n,
With Christ, the Savior,
And the Spirit ever,
One true God for ay!
In choirs of endless day,
To Him be glory, laud, and praise forever.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Categories: Lutheran Hymns