Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When in our music God is glorified . . .

I'm a somewhat different creature when I'm in the pew as opposed to when I'm in the pulpit. I guess it's only natural. After all, in the pulpit I'm delivering, while in the pew I'm receiving. So while I'm a trained theologian no matter where I am, what I notice and what I do and how I react . . . these things change when I'm in the pew.

One of the things that struck me as I sat in a pew at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, Louisiana, on the Feast of All Saints is the tremendous richness of the hymnody of the Church. As you may have noticed, I've put pen to paper in an attempt to write some hymns. Some are better than others, of course. But when I look at the hymnody which the Church has been blessed with over the past two-thousand years and more, it's not hard to see that I've got a long way to go.

This was made very plain to me as I attempted to write a Christmas hymn. I did manage to put together a hymn called "When All Was Still at Midnight's Hour", which is based on the Introit for the Eve of the Nativity of our Lord. This is a beautiful verse which comes from the Apocrypha, namely Wisdom 18:14-15.
When all was still, and it was midnight,
Thy almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne.

The verses I wrote based on this were adequate. Maybe. But when compared to the rich hymns of Christmas, especially "Of the Father's Love Begotten", it's a trifle. This doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing hymns. I thank God that I'm no longer writing trite love poems, and I see this joy in writing hymns as a blessing. I don't know if I'll ever write anything as profound as Franzmann's "Thy Strong Word", but maybe I can at least match a "Love in Christ Is Strong and Living".

I may post "When All Was Still at Midnight's Hour" one of these days. I certainly don't expect it to move heaven and earth, but it glorifies God, and I'm pleased how my prayer life has been enriched even with these poor verses.

In the meantime, my attempts at writing hymns will continue to give me a greater appreciation for the richness and wonder of the hymnody with which we have been blessed throughout the history of the Church. May we all enjoy the rich treasures of the hymnal.

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