Tag Archives: gayness

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 6: “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall”

Before I get started on this week’s hymn, I need to give some explanations for a few things.

Someone was offended by my use of the word “rape” in my article yesterday. “Crude rape language doesn’t strengthen any argument,” this guy writes. Now, I am not an admin on the Facebook page, but someone who is handled this guy pretty well, pointing out that I used the word “rape” figuratively and sharing a link to Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock.” I don’t think this settled anything for this guy, though. Anyway, to clear the record on my own behalf, I just want to assure him and anyone else who may have been wondering that I was not actually accusing the LSB hymnal committee of engaging in forcible coitus with Lutheran hymns. (I also didn’t think that I was “strengthening my argument” by using the word “rape.”) I didn’t think I’d have to issue such a disclaimer, but there ya go. Also, if only because I came up with an extremely funny pun (please clap) for the series title, there will be no further triggering. Well, that’s probably not true, but at least the title won’t be the thing that gets you going, unless you hate puns.

Regarding yesterday’s post, a friend writes:

That particular variant in ‘Come Follow Me’ traces its origins to LBW. It’s actually quite interesting, because the text was altered significantly from TLH in LBW/LW, but the LSB committee returned to TLH in all but the last phrase. Same thing with ‘Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide.’ It was almost unrecognizable in LW, but it was somewhat restored in LSB, though still with fatal issues. Check out stanza five of LSB 585 (‘Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide’), and compare to TLH 292 stanza 6. Unbelievable. It has literally the opposite meaning. The original is a prayer against heresy/modernism/new theology, and the LSB/LW one is a plea that the fuddy-duddies and their tradition wouldn’t get in the way of the Holy Ghost. Anyway, I think it would be good to acknowledge the role that LW/LBW played in all of this, because it seems even more damning when you see the original modernist product and realize that it’s the source of this sewage. Otherwise, some people with a bit of knowledge will just blame the translation issues on LW and excuse the editors of LSB. Until you see that they did edit the modernist revisions, and retained far too many of them.

All of that is 100% true. “I think it would be good to acknowledge the role that LW/LBW played in all of this, because it seems even more damning when you see the original modernist product and realize that it’s the source of this sewage.” — Acknowledged!

And “Lord Jesus Christ With Us Abide” is totally the flagship example. It’s appointed for Easter evening or Easter Monday, but it’s also a great hymn all the time, especially at Vespers, so we will do a sneak peak of the two verses mentioned:

TLH 292 LSB 585
6. The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who o’er Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new,
Devised to change Thy doctrine true.
5. Restrain, O Lord, the human pride
That seeks to thrust Your truth aside
Or with some man-made thoughts or things
Would dim the words Your Spirit sings.

This is your synod on homosexuality.

You know what this … molested version is fit for? Clown mass. Episcopalian clown mass presided over by flamers—but I repeat myself. That’s it. This is state-of-confession stuff. If you have any love for the Lutheran Church, you cannot sing the LSB version.

LSB is a synthesis of a good hymnal (TLH) and some abominable hymnals (LBW/LW). This is like a synthesis of a barrel of fine wine and a teaspoon of raw sewage, which yields a barrel of what? Sewage. Why did they do this? Because everything has to be a compromise. Everyone gets their interests represented, even if their interests are heterodox, effeminate, and contrary to all sanity, because the LCMS is a “big tent.”

Great. Now I need a breakfast beer. I did not plan on that when I woke up, but writing this stuff has put me in a mood. Cheers.

The chief hymn for Trinity 6 is “All Mankind Fell In Adam’s Fall,” written by Lazarus Spengler in 1524. It has the distinction of being the only hymn quoted in the Book of Concord. In the Formula of Concord, which was intended to settle certain intra-Lutheran controversies, we read this:

23] 7. They are rebuked and rejected likewise who teach that the nature has indeed been greatly weakened and corrupted through the Fall, but that nevertheless it has not entirely lost all good with respect to divine, spiritual things, and that what is sung in our churches, “Through Adam’s fall is all corrupt, Nature and essence human,” is not true, but from natural birth it still has something good, small, little and inconsiderable though it be, namely, capacity, skill, aptness or ability to begin, to effect, or to help effect something in spiritual things. 24] For concerning external, temporal, worldly things and transactions, which are subject to reason, there will be an explanation in the succeeding article. (FC SD I, 23-24)

The words in bold are a translation of the first few lines of verse 1 of the hymn: “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt menschlich Natur und Wesen.” To read about the controversy, which was called the Flacian Controversy, click here.

Here are the TLH and LSB versions of the hymn in parallel:

TLH 369 LSB 562
1. All mankind fell in Adam’s fall,
One common sin infects them all;
From sire to son the bane descends,
And over all the curse impends.
1. All mankind fell in Adam’s fall,
One common sin infects us all;
From one to all the curse descends,
And over all God’s wrath impends.
2. Thro’ all man’s pow’rs corruption creeps
And him in dreadful bondage keeps;
In guilt he draws his infant breath
And reaps its fruits of woe and death.
2. Through all our pow’rs corruption creeps
And us in dreadful bondage keeps;
In guilt we draw our infant breath
And reap its fruits of woe and death.
3. From hearts depraved, to evil prone,
Flow tho’ts and deeds of sin alone;
God’s image lost, the darkened soul
Nor seeks nor finds its heav’nly goal.
3. From hearts depraved, to evil prone,
Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;
God’s image lost, the darkened soul
Seeks not nor finds its heav’nly goal.
4. But Christ, the second Adam, came
To bear our sin and woe and shame,
To be our Life, our Light, our Way,
Our only Hope, our only Stay.
4. But Christ, the second Adam, came
To bear our sin and woe and shame,
To be our life, our light, our way,
Our only hope, our only stay.
5. As by one man all mankind fell
And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
So by one Man, who took our place,
We all received the gift of grace.
5. As by one man all mankind fell
And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
So by one Man, who took our place,
We all were justified by grace.
6. We thank Thee, Christ; new life is ours,
New light, new hope, new strength, new powers:
This grace our every way attend
Until we reach our journey’s end!
6. We thank You, Christ; new life is ours,
New light, new hope, new strength, new pow’rs:
This grace our ev’ry way attend
Until we reach our journey’s end.

As with pretty much all German Lutheran chorales, the version we sing in English is not a straight-across translation but a paraphrases and adaptation. A literal translation of the original German of verse 1 reads as follows:

By Adam’s fall, human nature and being is corrupted;
Which same poison has been passed down to us,
With the result that we could not be saved without the consolation of God,
Who has redeemed us from the tremendous damage,
Wherein the Serpent compelled Eve to invite upon her the wrath of God.

I can’t really imagine singing that, can you? Obviously there’s some adaptation involved, sometimes borrowing of material from other verses, or even distributing material from other verses entirely so that the result is often very different. I don’t want to get too bogged down talking about translation, as I am not an expert. I always at least look at the original version, but my concerns are mainly with the already-existing English versions of our hymns. Very rarely does the change from the TLH version to the LSB version have anything to do with being more faithful to the German (or Latin); usually it has nothing to do with translation at all.

LSB can’t really avoid the word “mankind” in the opening line, but they avoid it for the rest of the hymn. The line “from sire to son the bane descends” gets the axe, and instead we have the limp “from one to all the curse descends,” because (a) patriarchy is bad, and (b) you don’t know what a bane is and can’t be bothered to learn. LSB’s version doesn’t even say the same thing. TLH’s version teaches us that every generation since Adam, and every act of generation, passes on original sin. “From sire to son.” This is why the Jews circumcised their sons: the organ by which a man sired sons was marked to show that his generation was corrupted by sin. TLH’s version puts you in mind of this truth, which is not taught as often as what LSB’s “from one to all” refers to. LSB’s version, while not untrue, is just neutered. (I hope that “neutered” doesn’t trigger people on Facebook. I can read it now: “Crude neuter language doesn’t strengthen any argument”!) It’s also bland and ugly by comparison, and that matters.

Verse 2 has more pointless gender-neutral “we” language, which, instead of directing our thoughts “extra nos” to the archetypes of the Old Adam and the New Adam (Christ), makes us all introspective and pietistic. On the bright side, if you know the old version and you’d like to sing it from memory, you’ll trip up at this point, get distracted, and have to fumble for the page number to see what other booby-traps are waiting for you. Oh wait that isn’t a bright side.

Verse 5 has one of those stupid Lutheran corrections. “We all received the gift of grace” doesn’t thread the needle tightly enough, because people might think that grace is infused or something. I don’t know what the deal is here. “We all were justified by grace” doesn’t actually fix the problem of potential misunderstanding; it, too, is lacking in precision…which is OK, because hymns have a bit more latitude than dogmatics textbooks. That doesn’t mean any amount of imprecision is allowable, but it does mean that there’s some leeway and poetic license. If you want to sing Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics set to music, you might be a good guy and all, but you know nothing about beauty. (And don’t give me some derp “precise doctrinal formulation is the most beautiful thing.”) Again, why change the words? Is “we all received the gift of grace” unbiblical? No, it’s not. It ain’t broke, and it doesn’t need fixing, but some people just can’t leave well enough alone. Once again, this is a pointless booby-trap that cuts people off from one another and creates factions. But then if you don’t want to get on board with the new and inferior stuff, you’re the one who’s being divisive and a stick-in-the-mud.

I’ll stick with this mud, thanks. It’s actually very nutrient-rich soil, and it will be growing good things long after your bed of modernist clay has dried up. So there. See you next week sometime.