Posts tagged Hymn

The Name of Jesus!

The Gospel for New Year’s Day, the “Name of Jesus,” is very simple: “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).

That’s all. Eight days after his birth (which we celebrated December 25th), he was circumcised and given the name Jesus.

Yeshua = “the Lord saves” – “for he will save his people from their sins,” the angel had told Joseph in dream (Matthew 1:21).

So we begin the new year 2015 in the name of Jesus, as the church observes on January 1.

Whatever the new year brings, Jesus has it covered. Whatever happens to us, we bear the name of Jesus. Whatever we go through, Jesus has been there before us.

Eight days old and he already sheds his blood for us. Eight days old and the name he is given is for our redemption. Eight days old and he is already being prepared for his saving work for us. It is as the church sings:

Jesus! Name of mercy mild, Given to the holy Child
When the cup of human woe First He tasted here below.

Jesus! Only name that’s giv’n Under all the mighty heav’n
Whereby those to sin enslaved Burst their fetters and are saved.

Jesus! Name of wondrous love, Human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee Helpless, O our God, to Thee.

(Lutheran Service Book, #900, st. 4-6)

Happy New Year, then, in the name of Jesus. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).

A blessed New Year to one and all!

+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President – LCMS

A New Song to Sing

A friend of mine, and long time brother in the ministry, Pastor Mark Willig, recently sent me a hymn he had written, asking my thoughts.  I thought it quite good and a great confession of why Christ has come.  With brother Mark’s permission, we bring this new hymn to you here.  Pastor Willig says you can use it, if you wish, so long as you do so with attribution, not changing anything, and including the copyright mark.  Christ IS your Immanuel!  Enjoy!  Yours in Him, + Herbert Mueller

 

 

He’s Your Immanuel!
(Sung to the tune Forest Green, the alternate tune for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” LSB # 362)
(Note: words and syllables underlined are sung to 2 or more beats.)

1.  O sing to God a brand new song,
For now the world’s redeemed.
For He has giv-en us His Son
And in that gift received,
Our hearts He calls from wander–ing
Away from His embrace.
And brings us to the manger light
That we might see His face.

2.  The gentile kings from far a-way
Have heard the prophecies
And bringing gifts they worship Him
Who brings our souls release.
In-to His courts the nations come,
Are welcomed by the Son,
That we might live through endless days
With God the Three-in-One. 

3.  Into Je-ru-sa-lem Christ rode
As dark-ness gathered round.
In deepest ago-ny He prayed,
Sweat fall-ing to the ground.
A-rested, beaten, scourged and mocked
To Gol-go-tha He went,
And there to purchase souls from death
His ho-ly blood He spent.

4.  The dawn-ing sun on the third day
Reveals the wreckage well
It’s not His kingdom lying ruin’d
But rath-er death and hell.
The tomb is broken Jesus lives
And we are sent to tell,
Oh, world, He’s not for us a-lone
He’s your Im-man-u-el!

Copyright © 2013 Mark S. Willig

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

In the issue of Newsweek commemorating the September 11 attacks on America, in an article entitled, “How Should We Think About Islam?” (Newsweek, Dec. 31, 2001/Jan. 7, 2002, pp. 102-103), Kenneth L. Woodward wrote the following:

… even the acceptance of other religions as valid paths to God is insufficient.  What theologians from various traditions are beginning to realize is that we cannot truly understand the uniqueness of our own religion unless we also develop a deep understanding and appreciation of at least one other religion.  What committed Christians and Jews and Muslims must do is find within their own traditions sound theological reasons for valuing other faiths without compromising the integrity of their own.  (pp. 102-103)

He goes on from there to applaud the fact that some Catholic theologians are now asking how “the Holy Spirit might be at work within non-Christian religions” (p. 103).  Of course, he also tells us that some Muslim scholars are using the Quran to make the point that Allah blesses religions pluralism, too, and then opines, “Clearly, this will be the most important theological agenda of the new millennium” (p. 103).

I am sorry, Mr. Woodward, I beg to differ.  As an American citizen, of course, I am called to tolerate other religions.  We have religious freedom – a great blessing because it means I am free to live my faith and so is my Muslim neighbor.  As a Christian, one baptized into Jesus Christ, I am called to love my neighbor, no matter what his religion (or lack thereof).  Religious differences are never an excuse for hatred.  However, tolerance, freedom and love do not mean giving up the uniqueness of Jesus as the one and only Savior of the world. 

What Mr. Woodward does not understand (or has rejected) is that if I grant that another faith has value before God or if I accept another religion as a “valid path to God” then I have already compromised the integrity of my faith in Jesus.  There is a fundamental, radical difference between Christianity and religion.  Every manmade religion claims to be a “path to God.”  Christianity, however, is not a path we make to God, but is God coming to us in the One who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).  Christianity is not at heart a religion (a set of rules to follow), but Christianity is at heart God’s rule, God’s reign, in the person of Jesus Christ. 

In Jesus, God has come to us.  “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14).  “In him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His desire is to bring us under His sway, fully and completely.  And He brooks no rivals. 

This Jesus, God in our flesh, still comes to us in His Word, in the water of Baptism and in His body and blood.  Christian faith is receiving Jesus, receiving Him where He has promised to be present for us.  “There is no other name…”  (Acts 4:12). 

So despite the pressure of “the most important theological agenda of the new millennium,” we cannot give up the uniqueness of Jesus.  Why not?  There is no comfort anywhere else.  When you are at the grave side, every other religion (and unfortunately some Christians) will point you to the good things that the dead person has done, to the efforts he made to follow the path to God.  In the face of death, we who believe in Jesus know we cannot trust anything we have done, but we cling to everything Jesus has done for us. 

Here’s the real difference between our faith in Jesus and every other religion.  The initiator of every other religion is still dead and buried.  Jesus’ grave is empty.  And it’s not because his body was stolen, but because He is alive, bodily raised from the dead.   By His resurrection He forgives our sins.  Because He lives, we shall live also.  “You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”  (Colossians 3:3-4).

My sisters and brothers in Christ:  I know there are many pressures (often subtle but still very real) to “fudge” on the uniqueness of Jesus.  Even many of our people have bought the “spirit” of this age that, no matter what the religion, “we are all praying to the same god anyway.”  That’s why God is calling you and me to renewed faithfulness and trust in Christ, who “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,” and “sat down at the right hand of God”  (Hebrews 10:12).  

We are in the midst of the season when we examine over and over again the reason for the uniqueness of Jesus – His cross and His resurrection.  His victory there over our last enemy, death itself, is what fuels our confidence and joy.  It is as the great Easter hymn has it:

They who sorrow here and moan
There in gladness shall be reigning;
Earthly here the seed is sown,
There immortal life attaining.
Here our sinful bodies die,
Glorified to dwell on high.

Then take comfort and rejoice,
For His members Christ will cherish.
Fear not, they will hear His voice;
Dying, they shall never perish;
For the very grave is stirred
When the trumpet’s blast is heard.

Laugh to scorn the gloomy grave
And at death no longer tremble;
He, the Lord, who came to save
Will at last His own assemble.
They will go their Lord to meet,
Treading death beneath their feet.  (TLH #206, st. 7-9)

And that’s what we are doing already this Easter Season, by our preaching and teaching, by our joy and gladness even now: “treading death beneath (our) feet.”

Yours in the living One!
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President – LCMS

 

God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It

by Barb Below

Today in chapel we sang a great hymn, God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It. This is a “new” hymn to our church in that it is included for the first time in the recently published Lutheran Service Book (p. 594).  It is a great baptismal hymn that poetically describes the power of baptism over sin, death and the devil.  Even though the words tell a powerful story, the tune is light and seems to float through the air as it is sung. Click here to listen to the tune.  I was so uplifted and enchanted by this hymn I had to learn a bit more about this hymn and who wrote it. I found some interesting history and information about this hymn and the three men who played a role in bringing this hymn to us today[i].

The tune was written by Johann Caspar Bachofen and first published in 1727. He studied theology but served the church and community as a musician, teacher, music director and composer his whole life. Johann, who grew up in Zurich, Switzerland, served in the Reformed Church and he published several collections of hymns that were very popular in his day.

The lyrics were written by Edmann Neumeister and published in 1718. Neumeister was a German Lutheran theologian, poet, hymn writer, and strong opponent of Pietism and is best known for writing the texts for five of Bach’s cantatas.

“The main ideas of the hymn are taken directly from the section on Holy Baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism, which, in answer to the question “What benefits does Baptism give? says: “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare”[ii].

The hymn was translated (below) in 1991 by an LCMS pastor, Rev. Robert E. Voelker who was a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne (1984) and, according to the LCMS church worker directory, currently is a pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Windsor, Ontario.

The Hymnal Supplement Handbook paints a perfect picture of the hymn stating that “one cannot escape the impression of a child standing by an adult protector and ridiculing the neighborhood bully.”[iii] Looking forward to celebrating my baptismal birthday in a few weeks, I sang this song today with confidence that in baptism, through the Holy Spirit and with God’s Word, I am united with Christ in His death, resurrection and eternal life and can boldly turn and tell Satan to “drop your ugly accusations”. Thank you Bachofen, Neumeister and Voelker for your gift to the church, and to me, as I look forward to my baptismal birthday.

God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It

Stanza 1

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!

He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!

Stanza 2

Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!

I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.

Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me

In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?

Stanza 3

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!

Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.

Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,

And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!

Stanza 4

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!

When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!

Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:

Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.

Stanza 5

There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!

Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.

Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:

I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!

__________________________________________________________

[i] Grime, P. & Herl J. (Eds.). (1998). Hymnal Supplement 98. St. Louis: LCMS Commission on Worship, pp. 107-108.

[ii] Grime, P, & Herl J., p. 107.

[iii] Ibid.

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