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Wednesday, April 26, 2006 

An Easter Hymn


I’d like to use this post to once again explain why confessional Lutherans sing the hymns they do. As I’ve said before, hymns should proclaim the Gospel. Let’s look at the reading for the first Sunday after Easter: the Holy Gospel according to St. John, 20:19-29 :
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Our hymn of the day was O Sons and Daughters of the King. John M Neal 1818-1866 attributes the text of the hymn to Jean Tisserand with the translation. The text is confessional. By confessional I mean that it confesses the Gospel message of Scripture. The hymn repeats back the Gospel reading for the day in beautiful words set to the tune O Filii Et Filiae and in doing so it becomes proclamation. Confessional hymns let Scripture shape the text. The alternative is to let flawed human reasoning and emotion filled text twist Scripture into what we would have it say.

I have said before in numerous posts that I very fortunate to attend a church sings and confesses the Church’s Gospel message. This past Sunday’s hymn of the day is evidence of this. The text for this beautiful hymn is as follows:

O sons and daughters of the King, Whom heavenly hosts in glory sing,
Today the grave has lost its sting:Alleluia!
That night the Apostles met in fear, Among them came their master dear And said:
"My peace be with you here":Alleluia!
When Thomas first the tidings heard That they had seen the risen Lord,
He doubted the disciples word:Alleluia!
“My pierced side, O Thomas see, And look upon My hands, My feet;
Not faithless but believing be":Alleluia!
No longer Thomas then denied; He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
"You are my Lord and God," he cried:Alleluia!
“Blessed are they who have not seen And yet whose faith has constant been,
For they eternal life they shall”:Alleluia!

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Good post.

I serve as a substitute organist for our congregation and another about 40 miles away. This last Sunday I filled in at our church and chose this hymn as our sermon hymn. It was, after all, the hymn of the day--it fit perfectly with the Gospel lesson, our sermon text.

After the service ended, a woman asked me, "Why don't we sing more joyful songs? It's Easter! We should have more happy, joyful songs!"

I was flabbergasted.

I can only wonder as to what the woman who talked to you wished to sing. Hymnody is not there for the purpose of creating an emotional response! If that where the case, the focus is on us instead of Christ. Of course, this is not to say there be no emotional response to a hymn. There are many hymns that can move me to tears, but they all preach Christ and His cross.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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