08 August 2006

LSB Hymnody

In the past I've been critical of the way that hymnody new to Lutheranism (much of it of dubious value in my opinion) has replaced the "core chorales" of Lutheranism in the hearts and minds of our people. There's no doubt that whenever something new gets added into the limited space of a hymnal, something old gets shoved aside. With LSB, although there are certain hymns I would not have bothered including, I am struck by the fresh and beautiful imagery in many of the newer pieces. They are indeed very worthy additions to our hymn corpus.

Here's one of my new favorites: "O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life" by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. It's at LSB #552. It provides separate stanzas for the three times that our Lord was brought to a deathbed, but I'll just quote the ones for the widow of Nain's son. Is this awesome or what?

O Christ, who shared our mortal life
And ended death's long reign,
Who healed the sick and raised the dead
And bore all grief and pain;
We know our years on earth are few,
That death is always near.
Come now to us, O Lord of life;
Bring hope that conquers fear!

The ranks of death with trophy grim
Through ancient streets once trod
And suddenly confronted You,
The mighty Son of God.
A widow's tears evoked Your Word;
You stopped the bearers' tread.
"Weep not!" in pity then You spoke
To her whose son was dead.

The ranks of death, the Lord of life,
Stood face to face that hour;
And You took up the age-old strife
With words of awesome power:
"Young man, arise" You ordered loud,
And death defeated lay.
The widow's son cast off his shroud
And strode from death away.

Death's power holds us still in thrall
And bears us toward the tomb.
Death's darkening cloud hangs like a pall
That threatens earth with gloom.
But You have broken death's embrace
And torn away its sting.
Restore to life, our mortal race!
Raise us, O Risen King!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was told that, at a recent gathering of those people involved in the hymnal project, Jim Brauer (Dean of the Chapel at St. Louis Seminary) rose and made the point that "Lutheran hymnody in the English language has finally come into its own."

(or something to that effect)