W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 10: “I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises”

I’m not reviewing “The Church’s One Foundation.” It’s not that it’s a bad hymn, it’s just that there’s little to say about it, and it’s not a very traditional selection for the chief hymn for Trinity 10. I had an interesting conversation about this with Pr. Jesse Krusemark in the comments on my post for Trinity 8. (For those of you who don’t know Pr. Krusemark, he’s the compiler of the list of appointed hymns that I linked to in the first post in this series. Here it is again.) Pr. Krusemark writes:

[N]ext week, Trinity 10, LSB departs in its selection from the Kernlieder with LSB 644 [The Church’s One Foundation]. Interestingly, American Lutherans (and maybe those on the continent) translated that hymn into German in order to sing it.

I just learned how to block-quote. Very cool. The bigger text makes it seem like I’m yelling, though, or at least speaking like John Nordling. That could be useful. I’ll have to see to what extent I make use of this newfound blogging gnosis.

Anyway, even though “The Church’s One Foundation” is not a Lutheran chorale, it was adopted into our usage before the switch to English, and that does give it a bit more Lutheran church-cred than, say, your favorite plodder by Tim Dudsmith. It also has good content.

Most versions of this hymn have a selection of only four or five verses. In fact the only source that I could find with more than that was “The Cyber Hymnal,” which records seven verses. The only noteworthy difference between TLH and LSB’s versions of this hymn is that they each omit a different verse. Below is the verse that TLH has which LSB does not, and the verse that LSB has which TLH does not:

TLH 430

LSB 644

3. The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end.
Tho’ there be those that hate her,
False sons within her pale,
Against both foe and traitor
She ever shall prevail.
5. Yet she on earth has union
With God, the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O blessed heav’nly chorus!
Lord, save us by Your grace
That we, like saints before us.
May see You face to face.

So take your pick: you can have a never-perishing Church -OR- mystic sweet communion with the departed, but not both. TLH’s verse 3 does seem pretty negative, what with its talk of “false sons” and “traitors” within the church, so I can see why LSB didn’t keep it. It probably wouldn’t be a good soundtrack for, say, a dream of a united synod. I mean, it might make into my dream of a united synod, but that’s a different story…which reminds some people of the Spanish Inquisition.

The more traditional Lutheran selection for Trinity 10, however, is “Lord To Thee I Make Confession.” The LCMS has this hymn appointed for Trinity 3. Here are the TLH and LSB versions in parallel:

TLH 326

LSB 608

1. Lord, to Thee I make confession:
I have sinned and gone astray.
I have multiplied transgression,
Chosen for myself my way.
Led by Thee to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Thy terrors.
1. Lord, to You I make confession:
I have sinned and gone astray,
I have multiplied transgression,
Chosen for myself my way.
Led by You to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Your terrors.
2. Yet, though conscience’ voice appal me,
Father, I will seek Thy face.
Tho’ Thy child I dare not call me,
Yet receive me to Thy grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Do not let Thy wrath o’ertake me.
2. Yet, though conscience’ voice appall me,
Father, I will seek Your face;
Though Your child I dare not call me,
Yet receive me in Your grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Let Your wrath not overtake me.
3. For Thy Son did suffer for me,
Gave Himself to rescue me,
Died to heal me and restore me,
Reconciled me unto Thee.
‘Tis alone His cross can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish.
3. For Your Son has suffered for me,
Giv’n Himself to rescue me,
Died to save me and restore me,
Reconciled and set me free.
Jesus’ cross alone can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish.
4. Then on Him I cast my burden,
Sink it in the depths below.
Let me know Thy gracious pardon,
Wash me, make me white as snow.
Let Thy Spirit leave me never;
Make me only Thine forever.
4. Lord on You I cast my burden—
Sink it in the deepest sea!
Let me know Your gracious pardon,
Cleanse me from iniquity.
Let Your Spirit leave me never;
Make me only Yours forever.

Boomer fingerprints everywhere. Was there something wrong with TLH’s version? No, there was not.

You know what word is ugly when sung, besides “murmur”? “Your.” Very ugly when sung, probably 95% of the time. Now just think about how many times “Your” has been substituted for “Thy,” which is far more euphonious, in foolhardy attempts to “update the language” of beautiful old hymns.

I figured I would take this opportunity to highlight a hymn which no one has listed as the chief hymn for Trinity 10, but which is appointed as such by the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996). The ELH is arguably the best Lutheran hymnal out there: it has a larger percentage of great hymns than any other English-language hymnal in regular use* (*Walther’s Hymnal may have more) and the translations are un-mutilated. It also has the fewest omitted verses. Unfortunately, though, it’s not too great as a service-book: its version of the Common Service has been thoroughly modernized. This seems rather inconsistent with its excellent hymn-section.

ELH’s selection for Trinity 10 is one of the greatest hymns ever written, and one of Paul Gerhardt’s forgotten gems: “I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises.” Just how forgotten, you ask? So forgotten that the only decent recording of it that I could find is from a weird CREC “Federal Vision” church:

For shame, Lutherans. For shame. I am issuing a plea and a challenge right now:

Someone, anyone—please make a recording of this majestic Lutheran chorale in its rightful home: a Lutheran mass. (By anyone, I mean “any orthodox Lutheran congregation.” No sodomy-loving, chick-ordaining, inspiration-denying or otherwise nominal “Lutherans” need apply.)

These wannabe-Lutheran Calvinists know not the worth of the things they handle, and they skip vv. 2-4—puny Calvinist lungs can’t handle full-length Lutheran hymns! I jest, of course. Well, kind of. I’m not actually sure. Six verses is nothing, though: hymns with twenty or even thirty verses were common in the Age of Orthodoxy. These Calvinists do sing with gusto, I will give them that, and they know how to harmonize. Also, you can clearly hear men singing, which is another clue that this isn’t an LCMS church. If you’re thinking “Hey! You can hear the men sing in my church!” then your church is an exception—thank the Lord, and fortify the ramparts. Here’s the sadly typical progression:

  1. (Typically 25-40 years ago) The men of an LCMS congregation vote to let their women rule over them. (Famous last words: “Voting is ‘adiaphora,’ not in the Bible, etc.; therefore there’s no way this could be wrong, imprudent, a bad idea, etc.; no harm done when they did the same in the civil realm, amirite?”)

  2. The liturgical life and general parish life of a congregation come to reflect the demands of a new female voting-bloc (which includes, if not men, at least “males”) and new female officers, who are incapable of not power-tripping, because this is one of the ways in which the Curse affects women. (Note: I am not saying that all women participate in this degeneracy. Some do not, and they will get crowns in heaven.)

  3. Men consciously or unconsciously realize that they or their dads made a Faustian bargain, but…actually, not really. It was nothing that darkly Romantic. They just, shall we say, “unmanned” themselves. It’s as simple as that. Do you really think that that same church Voters Assembly, now flush with women, is going to vote to take the vote away from women? Correct. It is not.**

  4. Men submit to their wives and accept their new status as literal or figurative “house-husbands.” At church they are either cowed into silence or they become shameless patsies and white knights for an agenda set by women. (Single men attach themselves to factions led by various warring queen bees.) Pastors who attempt to circumvent, dismantle, or gainsay this caste-system either succumb to it, get canned and end up on CRM, or **God grants a miracle which results in a restoration of godly patriarchy.

  5. This is why men don’t sing.

Long digression, but my guess is that if you’re still reading this series (or this blog), you’ve come to expect such tangents and are willing to wade through them, and you might even think of them as features rather than bugs. I would like to point out that in addition to my block quotes I’m getting really good with asterisks. That’s twice now that I’ve used them to add caveats to my extreme pessimism.

Anyway, you won’t find “I Will Sing My Maker’s Praises” in the regular LSB. It’s in the accompaniment edition, and presumably that means that it’s also available in the Lutheran Service Builder Extended Universe—I take it that’s what the numbering of “977” indicates. But it’s not going to be in any church’s regular rotation that way, and if you were hoping to sing this hymn at home as part of your personal or family devotions, you’d be out of luck.

No, not really—actually you’d be in luck, because LSB is pretty worthless as a home devotional or prayerbook for many reasons beside the fact that it omits this hymn. Just use TLH. TLH’s version of this hymn has six verses; LSB’s has only five, and the five that it has have been severely beaten with the ugly-stick. See for yourself:

TLH 25

LSB 977

1. I will sing my Maker’s praises
And in Him most joyful be,
For in all things I see traces
Of His tender love to me.
Nothing else than love could move Him
With such sweet and tender care
Evermore to raise and bear
All who try to serve and love Him.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
1. I will sing my Maker’s praises
And in Him most joyful be,
For in all things I see traces
Of His tender love for me.
Nothing else than love could move Him
With such sweet and tender care
Evermore to raise and bear
All who try to love and serve Him.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
2. Yea, so dear did He esteem me
That His Son He loved so well
He hath given to redeem me
From the quenchless flames of hell.
O Thou Spring of boundless blessing,
How could e’er my feeble mind
Of Thy depth the bottom find
Tho’ my efforts were unceasing?
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
2. He so cared for and esteemed me
That the Son He loved so well
He has given to redeem me
From the quenchless flames of hell.
O my Lord, the Spring of blessing,
Could somehow my finite mind
Of Your love the bottom find
Though my efforts were unceasing?
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
3. All that for my soul is needful
He with loving care provides,
Nor of that is He unheedful
Which my body needs besides.
When my strength cannot avail me,
When my powers can do no more,
Doth my God His strength outpour;
In my need He doth not fail me.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
3. All that for my soul is needful
He with loving care provides,
Nor of that is He unheedful
Which my body needs besides.
When my strength cannot avail me,
When my pow’rs can do no more,
Then will God His strength outpour;
In my need He will not fail me.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
4. When I sleep, He still is near me,
O’er me rests His guardian eye;
And new gifts and blessings cheer me
When the morning streaks the sky.
Were it not for God’s protection,
Had His countenance not been
Here my Guide, I had not seen
E’er the end of my affliction.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
5. As a father never turneth
Wholly from a wayward child,
For the prodigal still yearneth,
Longing to be reconciled,
So my many sins and errors
Find a tender, pardoning God,
Chastening frailty with His rod,
Not, in vengeance, with His terrors.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
4. As a father, ever yearning
Longing to be reconciled,
Seeks the prodigal’s returning,
Loving still the wayward child,
So my many sins and errors
Find a tender, pard’ning God,
Chast’ning frailty with His rod,
Not in vengeance with His terrors.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.
6. Since, then, neither change nor coldness
In my Father’s love can be,
Lo! I lift my hands with boldness,
As Thy child I come to Thee.
Grant me grace, O God, I pray Thee,
That I may with all my might,
All my lifetime, day and night,
Love and trust Thee and obey Thee
And, when this brief life is o’er,
Praise and love Thee evermore.
5. Since there’s neither change nor coldness
In God’s love that on me smiled,
I now lift my hands in boldness,
Coming to You as Your child.
Grant me grace, O God, I pray You,
That I may with all my might,
All my lifetime, day and night,
Love and trust You and obey You
And, when this brief life is o’er,
Praise and love You evermore.

No contest.

Dr. D. Richard Stuckwisch selects this hymn as an option for Quinquagesima, Pentecost Tuesday, and Trinity 3; Dr. Daniel Reuning selects it as an option for Trinity 9 and 19, and Zion Lutheran Church in Detroit selects it as an option for Trinity 11 and 19. I’m sure all of these congregations (Emmaus South Bend; Redeemer St. Wayne; Zion Detroit) could do justice to this hymn on a Sunday morning. Here’s hoping they set up some (discretely placed) microphones some Sunday and rise to my challenge!

Once again, I’m sorry that this post is appearing too late to be of any potential use in picking the upcoming Sunday’s hymns. We’ll see what the week brings. I will try to get parallel versions of the chief hymns for Trinity 11 and 12 posted soon.

Here’s TLH 25:

 

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