Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saint Stephen Stood Boldly Before the Sanhedrin

My latest attempt at hymn writing is meant for the Feast of Saint Stephen the martyr, who was stoned for his testimony concerning Christ before the Sanhedrin. The Feast of Saint Stephen, Proto-Martyr, is celebrated on December 26. I've always been intrigued by the connection between the stoning of Stephen, the persecution which followed, and the spread of Christianity "to the ends of the earth". This hymn follows Stephen through his Acts 7 speech, though as other hymn writers have noted, it's not always easy to put the prose of Scripture into verses.

I took some liberties with the meter, since the hymn tune, Kremser (LSB 785: "We Praise You, O God") has some leeway in it. Anyway, here it is. Feel free to use it with proper attribution.

Saint Stephen Stood Boldly Before the Sanhedrin

1. Saint Stephen stood boldly before the Sanhedrin,
Charged falsely with blaspheming God and His Law.
His words caused dissension, his signs, apprehension,
Yet in the face of Stephen an angel they saw.

2. He answered their charges with covenant hist'ry—
How God unto Abraham showed forth His grace.
He gave circumcision and showed him a vision
Of homeland and of heirs—his children a race.

3. He spoke of how Joseph was sold by his brothers.
Yet God remained with him in Egypt the same,
And with Pharoah's favor he rose as a savior.
Thus to the land of Egypt the Patriarchs came.

4. He told them how Moses led God's chosen people
From bondage in Egypt to Sinai's broad plain.
God's people defected and Moses rejected.
They praised the golden calf, the cov'nant disdained.

5. The Lord is now dwelling among His own people—
No longer in temples by human hands made.
You stiff-necked, hard-hearted! God's Word you've departed.
You persecute the prophets; in their blood you wade.

6. The crowd was enraged; they no longer would listen.
Then from the great city they cast him away.
In anger they stoned him, but Christ did not disown him.
And having died in faith, in Christ's arms he lay.

7. The seed of the Church is the blood of the martyrs:
With Stephen’s death great persecution did spread.
Yet God brought conversion by means of dispersion.
The Gospel sowed abroad as each Christian fled.

8. All glory to God to whom Stephen was faithful:
For Stephen's confession and death taught the faith.
Lord, make our faith ample in Stephen's example
That we, like him, keep steadfast even in death.

(c) Alan Kornacki, Jr.
12 11 12 11
Tune: Kremser (LSB 785: "We Praise You, O God")

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