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Monday, May 15, 2006 

Easter Hymn For Cantate

Our hymn of the day this past Sunday was a seventeenth century hymn At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing as translated by Bohemian Brethren and sung to the tune Sonne Der Gerechtigkeit. This is considered an Easter hymn because of the numerous references to Christ’s sacrifice of His body and blood at the cross. It could easily be sung as a Eucharistic hymn for exactly the same reason.

I’ve said before in previous posts, (here and here), hymnody should always be confessional. And by this sung confession, the hymn becomes a proclamation of the Gospel. The text of the hymn is drawing inspiration from Revelation 5:11-13 (NKJV) which reads

“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“ Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

While the hymn does state what our response is to our crucified Lord, the subject of the hymn is Christ and not our emotional response to Christ. A good number of enthusiasts prefer hymnody that focuses on us and our responses. This would make us the subject of the verbs and that would be, of course, wrong. When the subject of a hymn is not Christ, it is not proclamation and therefore is not a hymn but rather a song. Songs have no place within the walls of our sanctuaries. Songs belong on the radio or around a campfire, not in Church.

One of the things that I love about this particular hymn is the Eucharistic language that celebrates Christ’s victory on the cross. The first verse confesses that it is Christ’s blood that makes us righteous before God. The second verse confesses that Christ as our High Priest willingly gives up his own body and blood to become our paschal lamb. Verse four confesses that even today we can physically grasp that same Host which was nailed to a tree. Today, it is that same body that hung on a cross that we eat at the Holy Supper. It is that same blood that cleanses us that we drink in the Cup. It is in the Sacrament of the Eucharist that we get a taste, of that eternal heavenly feast that waits for us on the other side of eternity.

And to top things off, this beautiful hymn ends with a doxological verse confessing the Trinity. The word doxological comes from the Greek word doxologia meaning praise and laudation from the root word doxa, and word, speech, and speaking from the root word logos. So the final verse ends with a Trinitarian confession to which my congregation stands as if it was hearing the Gospel itself.

Here is our hymn of the day for your enjoyment.

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing Praise to our victorious king,
Who has washed us in the tide Flowing from his pierced side. Alleluia!

Praise we him, whose love divine Gives his sacred blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast Christ the victim, Christ the priest. Alleluia!

Where the paschal blood is poured, Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go Through the wave that drowns the foe. Alleluia!

Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed, Paschal victim, paschal bread;
With sincerity and love Eat we manna from above. Alleluia!

Mighty Victim from the sky, Hell’s fierce powers beneath you lie;
You have conquered in the fight You have brought us life and light. Alleluia!

Now no more can death appall, Now no more the grave enthrall;
You have opened paradise, And your saints in you shall rise. Alleluia!

Easter triumph, Easter joy! This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s power, Lord, set us free, Newborn souls in you to be. Alleluia!

Father, who the crown shall give, Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days; Three in One, Your name we praise. Alleluia!




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