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Monday, March 23, 2009 

A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining

Every now and then during Lent, the penitential time of the liturgical church year, I find myself enjoying a hymn that would seem to go against the standard that I’ve set up as a guide for judging hymnody. I’ve said both in private as well as publicly on this blog that a hymn should always reflect the scripture readings. Is it possible though to have a good or even a great hymn that doesn’t just reflect ten to twenty verses of a given Gospel but an entire theme of a particular season? I’d have to say yes, absolutely yes.

One of my favorite hymn writers for the season of Lent is Paul Gerhardt. The thing I love about most of Herr Gerhardt’s hymns is how well he rightly focuses us on our utter depravity and need for the salvific work of Jesus’ cross at Calvary. Gerhardt’s hymns have a beautiful way of holding up the mirror that shows us the ugly side of sin that will only bring death deserved by the sin we all inherited from our father Adam. The other side to the great Gerhardt hymns is the certainty that we will end our journey at the foot of the cross that is our very salvation. Whether it’s willingly or whether it be kicking and screaming, we all wind up at Jesus’ cross.

Gerhardt’s hymn “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining” is one of those lovely hymns that we sing during Lent that encompasses not one or two verses of Scripture but rather Christ’s entire journey, heavy laden with the sins of all the whole world, to His cross where He will offer himself up as an atoning sacrifice and our propitiation. Nailed to the cursed tree, He who created all that is, dies in our stead so that we might wear His righteousness as our own. What better story could we sing than that?

Here’s the text for Gerhardt’s beautiful and sublime hymn from page 438 of the Lutheran Service Book:

"A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth"

1. A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,

The guilt of all sinners bearing;

And laden with the sins of earth,

None else the burden sharing!

Goes patient on, grow weak and faint,

To slaughter led without complaint,

That spotless life to offer;

He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies,

The mockery and yet replies,
"All this I gladly suffer."

2. This Lamb is Christ, the soul's great Friend,

The Lamb of God, our Savior;

Whom God the Father chose to send

To gain for us His favor.

"Go forth, My Son," the Father said,

"And free my children from their dread
Of guilt and condemnation.

The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,

But by your Passion they will share

The fruit of Your salvation."

3. "Yes, Father, yes, most willingly

I'll bear what You command Me;

My will conforms to Your decree,

I do what have asked of Me”
O wondrous Love, what have You done!
The Father offers up His Son!

Desiring our salvation
O Love, how strong You are to save!

You lay the One into the grave

Who built the world’s foundations.

4. Lord, when Your glory I shall see

And taste Your kingdom's pleasure,

Your blood my royal robe shall be,

My joy beyond all measure.

When I appear before Your throne,

Your righteousness shall be my crown;

With these I need not hide me.

And there, in garments richly wrought

As Your own bride, shall we be brought

To stand in joy beside You.

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Gerhardt has so many good hymns. We used him as an Advent dinner theme in 2008. It was great.

We also have a great (or great-great) granddaughter of his as a member of our congregation. Lovely lady.

Red, that is too cool! I could sing a Gerhardt hymn any time of the church year.

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