This week is Holy Week, the holiest week of the church year. On Sunday, we walked into church waving Palm branches, and tomorrow we will be remember the institution of the Holy Supper. Friday the church will be dark as we remember the suffering of our Lord. Finally, on Sunday the glorious resurrection!
Each week I have had a hymn that I want to share. This week I am stuck. Do I share a Palm Sunday hymn or a communion hymn or even another Lenten hymn? I don’t know. I want to share them all with you!
Just a quick note about the Lord’s Supper for those who may be unfamiliar with Lutheran doctrine. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament instituted by Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. We receive his body and blood at the supper and it brings faith and forgiveness to us. This is how Christ is present with us. We do not believe that the bread and wine changes in the sacrament, but we know that it is present. How is a mystery, but Christ said, “This IS my body given for you. This IS my blood shed for you for the remission of sins.” It is not a symbol, but it is really there for us. We call it the Real Presence. I wanted to share that with you because I do find that there are many who do not know what makes us different from other protestants when it comes to the Lord’s Supper.
Ok, back to the hymn of the week. There are so many hymns of the Lord’s Supper and many of them are very long. These early hymn writers were so prolific.
The hymn this week is Soul, Adorn Thyself With Gladness”. This hymn is very comforting to me. It was written in 1649 by Johann Franck and translated by the brilliant Catherine Winkworth for us. (What would we have without Catherine Winkworth?)
Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness
By Johann Franck, 1618-1677
1. Soul, adorn thyself with gladness,
Leave behind all gloom and sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Him whose grace unbounded
Hath this woundrous supper founded.
High o’er all the heavens He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.
2. Hasten as a bride to meet Him
And with loving reverence greet Him;
For with words of life immortal
Now He knocketh at thy portal.
Haste to ope the gates before Him,
Saying, while thou dost adore Him,
Suffer, Lord, that I receive Thee,
And I nevermore will leave Thee.
3. He who craves a precious treasure
Neither cost nor pain will measure;
But the priceless gifts of heaven
God to us hath freely given.
Though the wealth of earth were proffered,
Naught would buy the fits here offered:
Christ’s true body, for thee riven,
And His blood, for thee once given.
4. Ah, how hungers all my spirit
For the love I do not merit!
Oft have I, with sighs fast thronging,
Thought upon this food with longing,
In the battle well-nigh worsted,
For this cup of life have thirsted,
For the Friend who here invites us
And to God Himself unites us.
5. In my heart I find ascending
Holy awe, with rapture blending,
As this mystery I ponder,
Filling all my soul with wonder,
Bearing witness at this hour
Of the greatness of Thy power;
Far beyond all human telling
Is the power within Him dwelling.
6. Human reason, though it ponder,
Cannot fathom this great wonder
That Christ’s body e’er remaineth
Though it countless souls sustaineth,
And that He His blood is giving
With the wine we are receiving.
These great mysteries unsounded
Are by God alone expounded.
7. Jesus, Sun of Life, my Splendor,
Jesus, Thou my Friend most tender,
Jesus, Joy of my desiring,
Fount of life, my soul inspiring, —
At Thy feet I cry, my Maker,
Let me be a fit partaker
Of this blessed food from heaven,
For our good, Thy glory, given.
8. Lord, by love and mercy driven
Thou hast left Thy throne in heaven
On the cross for us to languish
And to die in bitter anguish,
To forego all joy and gladness
And to shed Thy blood in sadness.
By this blood, redeemed and living,
Lord, I praise Thee with thanksgiving.
9. Jesus, Bread of Life, I pray Thee,
Let me gladly here obey Thee.
By Thy love I am invited,
Be Thy love with love requited;
From this Supper let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep love’s treasure.
Though the gifts Thou here dost give me
As Thy guest in heaven receive me.
Just in case you want to hear how it sounds.