Today our Synod remembers St. Ambrose:
Born in Trier in A.D. 340, Ambrose was one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church (with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great). He was a prolific author of hymns, the most common of which is Veni, Redemptor gentium (“Savior of the Nations, Come”). His name is also associated with Ambrosian Chant, the style of chanting the ancient liturgy that took hold in the province of Milan. While serving as a civil governor, Ambrose sought to bring peace among Christians in Milan who were divided into quarreling factions. When a new bishop was to be elected in 374, Ambrose addressed the crowd, and someone cried out, “Ambrose, bishop!” The entire gathering gave their support. This acclaim of Ambrose, a 34-year-old catechumen, led to his baptism on December 7, after which he was consecrated bishop of Milan. A strong defender of the faith, Ambrose convinced the Roman emperor Gratian in 379 to forbid the Arian heresy in the West. At Ambrose's urging, Gratian's successor, Theodosius, also publicly opposed Arianism. Ambrose died on Good Friday, April 4, 397. As a courageous doctor and musician he upheld the truth of God's Word. (Synod's Website)
Lutheran congregations across the world sing St. Ambrose's Veni Redemptor gentium on the first Sunday in Advent:
Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.
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.
Another popular hymn of St. Ambrose is the evening hymn: "O Blessed Light, O Trinity"
O blessed Light, O Trinity,
O everlasting Unity;
As now the fiery sun departs
Send forth Your light into our hearts.
To You our morning hymn of praise,
To You our evening prayer we raise;
We praise Your light in ev'ry age,
The glory of our pilgrimage.
All glory be to God above
And to the Son, the Prince of love,
And to the Spirit, One in Three!
We praise You blessed Trinity.
We also love to sing his morning hymn "O Splendor of God's Glory Bright." (LSB 874)
Ambrose wrote with particular clarity about the justification and forgiveness. One of his letters is cited in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession:
"The Law, which declared all people sinners, seemed to have done harm. But when the Lord Jesus Christ came, He forgave to all people the sin, which no one could avoid. And by the shedding of His blood, He blotted out the handwriting that was against us.... Christ took away the sin of the whole world, as John testified, saying in John 1:29 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!' And for this reason let no one boast about works, because no one is justified by his deeds." (Ap IV:103)
For Your servant, Saint Ambrose, O Lord, receive our thanks and our praise!