Tag Archives: TLH

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – “Speak, O Lord, Thy Servant Heareth”

Even if the first time I encounter a Lutheran hymn is in its LSB version, I can somehow still tell that something is off. This isn’t too surprising, as most of us have this experience time to time when we read poetry. Translation is a poetic art, after all. And while the canons of poetry and verse are not mathematical, you can still sense when they’re being violated, much as you can get the sense that something is “off” in a house where nothing is quite square, level, or plumb.

I’ll call it “hymndar.” Like gaydar, hymndar is more intuition than anything else, and it can be wrong. Mine usually isn’t, though. The first alert is a sense of incredulity. Just as a well-calibrated gaydar will make you think, “Why on earth would a self-respecting man wear that?”—but in an instant, before you can even put the thought into words—hymndar makes you think, “There’s no way that the 17th century original says this,” or something along those lines. I would say that in both cases you are reacting to something gay, but I don’t want to be offensive.

Well.

Where to begin? Whether to begin? Why bother?

Sorry, George T. Rygh, your translation was sadly lacking. The LCMS has “updated” it for you. Just like this guy is updating a Chromebook:

Hymn-smoke. Don’t breathe this!

I’ve gotta say, this might be my favorite LSB edit so far:

Sort of the LSB writ small, innit? A needless verbal change, blunting the Law, and modernized language. Beautiful in its simplicity, and by beautiful I mean “Sad!” Put some clip-art on that sucker and sell it to some cat ladies. We got us a winner.

“Why are you so sarcastic and mean?” writes one person who read one of these hymn posts. That’s a good question. I don’t think I’ve been mean in these posts. I will admit that I’ve been sarcastic, though. I’ll peel back the mask and tell you why:

Because sometimes mordant sarcasm helps us cope with awful realities. Sometimes we laugh in order to keep from weeping.

When you get right down to it, I don’t think the destruction of our hymnal is actually a laughing matter. I think it’s deeply sad. I find it very frustrating that so many of our great Lutheran hymns have been bowdlerized, mutilated, and memory-holed by the very men who are supposed to be preserving our heritage. Maybe you don’t care about that. You’re free to not care. Am I not free to care?

I’m not alone, by the way. There are dozens of us. DOZENS, I tell you.

In closing, all I’ll say is that the LSB-Bingo (pronounced “ell-ess bəh-BING-go”) scorecard that I will eventually make is definitely going to have “glad anthems” and “banner” on it.

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W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – I’m not dead

I’ve really dropped the ball on this project, and I apologize. To you Brits, I apologise.

This post is short, but in it I’ll be “trialing” (see? Nagelite) a new method of highlighting textual discrepancies. Since it’s a new method, and things could go wrong in the laboratory, I’ve decided to do some animal testing: rather than a Lutheran hymn, I’m using an Anglican hymn.

I give you… “Glorious Things of Ze Are Spoken”

Just say this beautiful line a few times: “What can shake thy sure repose?” It’s great. Needs no modification.

Now say, “What can shake your sure repose?” Your sure. Yorshur. If you’re really good, yore shoor. Doesn’t matter. It’s ugliness on the level of “holy be Your name.”

Here is the only place that LSB and LW differ:

…because no one knows what a “worldling” is.

The LSB committee had the chance to undo the botches of LW, but by and large they simply did not. By and large, they simply took the offal from LW, and, well…polished it. If you work in the corporate tech world, you know what I’m talking about. This is a prime example.

I would have loved to be in the meeting, if one even happened, where they decided how to redact verse 3. Let me set the scene:

“So, guys, we’ve got this Scriptural image of the pillar of fire or cloud leading God’s people in the wilderness. My question is…how can we get rid of it?”

“Well, Floyd, I really think we should change it to a line about banners. I mean, we’ve got these horrendous things all over the walls of our churches, so why don’t we sing about them?”

“That’s a great idea, Ned. How about we say ‘thus deriving from their banner light by night and shade by day’?”

“…yeah but who derives light from a banner?”

“Now, Ned, you know what I’m going to tell you, don’t you?”

“You know, Floyd, you’re right. I’d almost forgot! You can derive light from anything if you…”

(ALL, in unison) “Set it ABLAZE™!!”

(chortling and back-patting ensue; then they all go to lunch at Chili’s)

You know I’m right.

“Daily on the manna feeding” obviously might make people hungry to receive the Sacrament, if not daily, at least weekly, so that clearly had to be re-tooled to the limp “Safe they feed upon the manna.” They definitely had to be sure to include an overwrought reminder that God doesn’t just give us daily bread when we ask for it, because there’s just no way to read Newton’s original other than that God will only give you manna when you pray for it.

It’s just an Anglican hymn. But it’s not a bad one, and it sounds good to “Galilean,” “Abbot’s Leigh,” or “Austria.” There was nothing wrong with the text. So, naturally, LW ruined it, and LSB didn’t bother to undo the damage.

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 13: “Jesus Thy Boundless Love To Me”

We begin today’s hymnological examination with some wise words from Pastor David Peterson:

If we are to debate practices — and we must — then we will denigrate. This might be slightly painful, but it should be no surprise. Consider the matter of LSB hymnody. We must all surely know that its hymns are unequal. They all passed doctrinal review. Thus we trust that they are all free of blatant false teaching. But some are abysmally weak, have to be explained away from their original context, and do little actually to teach the faith. Others are confession, praise, and catechesis of the highest order. We may not agree on which hymns fall into which category, but we all know that some hymns are stronger than others. We all choose hymns in context. We don’t use the strongest hymn in the hymnal each Sunday. We vary hymns week to week. So also, not every hymn, regardless of its merits, is necessarily immediately accessible, while some hymns, weak as they are, are simply congregational favorites for sentimental reasons and for the sake of love we sing them. We don’t dogmatize the hymns of the day. But we certainly should teach both our pastors and laity to practice theological discernment in hymn choice and also encourage them to strive for stronger and stronger hymnody as they are able. A congregation or pastor without discernment who choses hymns merely for entertainment or emotional value deserves rebuke.

Good stuff. With respect, though I might qualify something he said: while the hymns in LSB are free of blatant false teaching, they are not free of subtle false teaching. That’s almost more of a problem. People get used to hearing and singing sub-orthodox formulations of our doctrine Sunday by Sunday, week by week. Eventually they will bristle when the weaknesses are pointed out to them. “Hey! I like that hymn. Quit being mean!” “Yeah, well it’s—” “SHUT UP. I LIKE THE LSB. THE LSB IS THE BEST. LOOK, I WROTE IN MY COPY. IT LOOKS LIKE A BAPTIST’S BIBLE.” Which proves…what, exactly? I happen to like cigarettes, which I know are bad for me.

The chief hymn for Trinity 13 is Paul Gerhardt’s “Jesus Thy Boundless Love To Me.” The first and most obvious problem with the LSB version of this hymn is the melody. Here is the melody for TLH’s version:

You probably already know the LSB melody. There’s no contest. LSB’s tune, composed by Norman Cocker (1889-1953), sounds like it’s straight out of Porgy & Bess. It’s not an unpleasant melody—I like Gershwin just fine. But this melody is not churchly. It’s big-band sing-songy schmaltz.

This hymn by no means the only one whose glorious traditional tune LSB has dispensed with in favor of some airy schlock. This isn’t even the worst offender. The worst offender may in fact be LSB 941, “We Praise You And Acknowledge You,” which is set to a theme from Gustav Holst’s suite The Planets, movement four: “Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity.” Don’t get me wrong, I like Holst fairly well, and I once enjoyed a live performance of “The Planets.” Holst does a masterful job in the fourth movement of acoustically conjuring Jovial imagery in the minds of his hearers. That said, I don’t worship Jove/Jupiter/Zeus, so I personally find it a little off-putting that this theme is used as the musical setting for a (mediocre) paraphrase of the Te Deum, which is a glorious hymn to the One True God. (Unsurprisingly, the Te Deum only made it into LSB’s Matins after a botched plastic surgery—that might merit its own piece.) Yes, the theme from “Jupiter” is beautiful and soaring…in the context of the movement and of the whole Planets suite. When it gets looped for use as a hymn tune, though, it sounds canned, kitschy, and sentimental. To adapt the great Scaer the Elder: it makes your mother, who is a Methodist, want to sing with her eyes closed. It simply is not churchly. As for the lyrics…Stephen Starke is a good man, but St. Ambrose of Milan he ain’t. As for me and my house, we will sing the actual Te Deum—from TLH.

At least there is some context in which Holst’s music is beautiful and fitting, though. Look up LSB 406, Martin Luther’s “To Jordan Came The Christ Our Lord,” a very welcome addition to the Kernlieder, and set to Johann Walter’s beautiful 1524 melody. Not so fast, though! With fear and trembling, turn the page to 407. What’s this? Same hymn? No, not exactly. The “alternate melody” for this great hymn is truly awful. It sounds like somebody mashed up the soundtrack of Muppet Treasure Island with something by Rodgers & Hammerstein. If you have never sung this hymn to this tune—if you have never even heard this tune—pray that you never do. Unfortunately, your chances of hearing it are higher than you might have thought: turn to LSB 823 & 824, two facing pages containing two settings of Luther’s “May God Bestow On Us His Grace.” There it is again on 824, ringing the changes. Not content to let either of these marvelous hymns come into our use in their singularly majestic musical idioms, LSB’s editors had to provide a way to make them sound jejune. Somebody once told me that they liked 824 better “because it’s sort of fun and bouncy.” Indeed. It is certainly bouncy. With that said, I’d like to cede the rest of my time to my opponent.

I’ve gotten off track from “Jesus Thy Boundless Love To Me.” So far I’ve only talked about the music, but that’s not the only problem with LSB’s version. Here are the two versions in parallel:

TLH 349

LSB 683

1. Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart with Thee
And reign without a rival there.
To Thee alone, dear Lord, I live;
Myself to Thee, dear Lord, I give.
1. Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart to Thee,
And reign without a rival there!
Thine wholly, Thine alone I am;
Be Thou alone my constant flame.
2. Oh, grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell but Thy pure love alone!
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My Joy, my Treasure, and my Crown!
All coldness from my heart remove;
My ev’ry act, word, thought, be love.
2. O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but Thy pure love alone!
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heart remove;
My ev’ry act, word, thought be love.
3. O Love, how cheering is Thy ray!
All pain before Thy presence flies;
Care, anguish, sorrow, melt away
Where’er Thy healing beams arise.
O Jesus, nothing may I see,
Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!
4. This love unwearied I pursue
And dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
Oh, may Thy love my hope renew,
Burn in my soul like heav’nly fire!
And day and night be all my care
To guard this sacred treasure there.
3. This love unwearied I pursue
And dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
Oh, may Thy love my hope renew,
Burn in my soul like heav’nly fire!
And day and night be all my care
To guard this sacred treasure there.
5. Oh, draw me, Savior, e’er to Thee;
So shall I run and never tire.
With gracious words still comfort me;
Be Thou my Hope, my sole Desire.
Free me from every guilt and fear;
No sin can harm if Thou art near.
6. Still let Thy love point out my way;
What wondrous things Thy love hath wrought!
Still lead me lest I go astray;
Direct my work, inspire my thought;
And if I fall, soon may I hear
Thy voice and know that love is near!
7. In suffering be Thy love my peace,
In weakness be Thy love my power;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
O Jesus, in that final hour,
Be Thou my Rod and Staff and Guide
And draw me safely to Thy side!
4. In suff’ring be Thy love my peace,
In weakness be Thy love my pow’r;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
O Jesus, in that final hour,
Be Thou my rod and staff and guide
And draw me safely to Thy side!

TLH has seven verses, LSB has four. LSB’s first verse has been neutered, because twenty-first century Lutheran antinomians are unable to comprehend the Scriptural truth that while unregenerate man is incapable of “giving himself” to Jesus in any sense, the the regenerate Christian’s entire life is a living sacrifice in which he constantly gives himself to Jesus for the sake of his neighbor and his neighbor for the sake of Jesus. This is not some automatic phenomenon effected by vocation tractor-beams. Yes, it has to do with vocation, but it involves your active striving. (See my comments on LSB’s edits to verse 3 of “In God My Faithful God”; the same are applicable here.) Unable to handle nuanced (or just plain basic) spiritual truths, the neo-Lutheran editors of the LSB have ensured that no one will experience the discomfort of encountering such truths in the hymns of our church. Instead we get “Be thou alone my constant flame,” which is bad poetry and weirdly vague. For one, fire is the heraldry of the Holy Spirit, not of Jesus. For two, “Jesus, be my flame”? I’ll pass. You should, too.

Mark well the verses that LSB omits. Read them. Sing them—but don’t sing them to the LSB tune: not only is it inferior, it doesn’t work metrically with these verses. Ask yourself, “Why would someone leave these verses out?” Well, they really needed to save space so that we could include the Jamaican sing-along, “All You Works of God Bless the Lord,” (LSB 930). Yeah, mon! Get out de steel drum and pass de chalice! Let’s ruin de Easter Vigil…

Worst construction? It’s not even a construction. It’s just what happened when LSB was put together. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the LSB is the camel built by the committee that was charged with building a horse. A committee is a democracy in miniature, and democracy is a cancer.

Here’s TLH’s version of “Jesus Thy Boundless Love To Me.” Sing it, and be blessed!

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 12: “My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker”

Here are the TLH and LSB versions of what should be the chief hymn for Trinity 12:

TLH 34

LSB 820

1. My soul, now bless thy Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who maketh thee partaker
Of mercies more than thou dar’st claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all thy sin,
Who healeth all thy weakness,
Renews thy life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved thee thro’ the past;
Who leaves no suff’rer friendless,
But rights the wronged at last.
1. My soul, now praise your Maker!
Let all within me praise His name
Who makes you full partaker
Of mercies more than you dare claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all your sin,
Who heals your ev’ry weakness,
Renews your life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved you through the past;
Who leaves no suff’rer friendless
But rights the wronged at last.
2. He shows to man His treasure
Of judgment, truth, and righteousness,
His love beyond all measure,
His yearning pity o’er distress,
Nor treats us as we merit,
But lays His anger by.
The humble, contrite spirit
Finds His compassion nigh;
And high as heav’n above us,
As break from close of day,
So far, since He doth love us,
He puts our sins away.
2. He offers all His treasure
Of justice, truth, and righteousness,
His love beyond all measure,
His yearning pity o’er distress,
Nor treats us as we merit,
But sets His anger by.
The poor and contrite spirit
Finds His compassion nigh;
And high as heav’n above us,
As dawn from close of day,
So far, since He has loved us,
He puts our sins away.
3. For as a tender father
Hath pity on his children here,
He in His arms will gather
All who are His in childlike fear.
He knows how frail our powers
Who but from dust are made;
We flourish like the flowers,
And even so we fade;
The wind but o’er them passes,
And all their bloom is o’er,
We wither like the grasses,
Our place knows us no more.
3. For as a tender father
Has pity on His children here,
God in His arms will gather
All who are His in childlike fear.
He knows how frail our powers
Who but from dust are made.
We flourish like the flowers,
And even so we fade;
The wind but o’er them passes,
And all their bloom is o’er.
We wither like the grasses;
Our place knows us no more.
4. God’s grace alone endureth,
And children’s children yet shall prove
How He with strength assureth
The hearts of all that seek His love.
In heav’n is fixed His dwelling,
His rule is over all;
Angels, in might excelling,
Bright hosts, before Him fall.
Praise Him who ever reigneth,
All ye who hear His Word,
Nor our poor hymns disdaineth—
My soul, O bless the Lord!
4. His grace remains forever,
And children’s children yet shall prove
That God forsakes them never
Who in true fear shall seek His love.
In heav’n is fixed His dwelling;
His rule is over all;
O hosts with might excelling,
With praise before Him fall.
Praise Him forever reigning,
All you who hear His Word—
Our life and all sustaining.
My soul, O praise the Lord!

Biographical information on the author here.

If I have any commentary to add, I will update this post later. For now I just want to make good on my promise to get the side-by-side translations up and circulating a week ahead of time.

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 11: “Oh, How Great Is Thy Compassion”

Sorry, I’m late.

Here’s the damage:

TLH 384

LSB 559

1. Oh, how great is Thy compassion,
Faithful Father, God of grace,
That with all our fallen race
And in our deep degradation
Thou wast merciful that we
Might be saved eternally!
1. Oh, how great is Your compassion,
Faithful Father, God of grace,
That with all our fallen race
In our depth of degradation
You had mercy so that we
Might be saved eternally!
2. Thy great love for this hath striven
That we may from sin be free
And forever live with Thee;
Yea, Thy Son Himself hath given
In His grace an earnest call
To His Supper unto all.
2. Your great love for this hath striven
That we may, from sin made free,
Live with You eternally.
Your dear Son Himself has given
And extends His gracious call,
To His Supper leads us all.
3. And for this our souls’ salvation
Voucheth Thy good Spirit, Lord,
In Thy Sacraments and Word.
He imparteth consolation,
Granteth us the gift of faith
That we fear nor hell nor death.
3. Firmly to our souls’ salvation
Witnesses Your Spirit, Lord,
In Your Sacraments and Word.
There He sends true consolation,
Giving us the gift of faith
That we fear not hell nor death.
4. Lord, Thy mercy will not leave me—
Truth doth evermore abide,—
Then in Thee I will confide.
Since Thy Word cannot deceive me,
My salvation is to me
Well assured eternally.
4. Lord, Your mercy will not leave me;
Ever will Your truth abide.
Then in You I will confide.
Since Your Word cannot deceive me,
My salvation is to me
Safe and sure eternally.
5. I will praise Thy great compassion,
Faithful Father, God of grace,
That with all our fallen race
And in our deep degradation
Thou wast merciful that we
Might bring endless praise to Thee.
5. I will praise Your great compassion,
Faithful Father, God of grace,
That with all our fallen race
In our depth of degradation
You had mercy so that we
Might be saved eternally!

Boomer fingerprints everywhere.

I’d turn this into a shorthand, “BFE,” but in addition to referring to a certain unpleasant locale in Egypt, in Lutheran-land this acronynm also refers to a certain editor-in-chief of Gottesdienst, and I don’t want to suggest that he is somehow culpable for the desecration that I’ve been cataloguing here. He is not.

Just…look what they did to this hymn.

Hymnary doesn’t have a scan of TLH’s version available. Sorry.

Does anyone else feel like they’re watching a train-wreck? I sure do. On to the next disappointment.

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:

 

W(h)ither the Great Lutheran Hymns? – Trinity 9: “What Is The World To Me”

The chief hymn for Trinity 9 is “What Is the World to Me,” by Georg Michael Pfefferkorn, who, incidentally, is my favorite deceased musician named George Michael. Granted, he had the advantage of not being a degenerate. Also, talent.

This week’s post will be shorter. There just isn’t as much to say. Going forward, I will at least post the parallel versions and the scan from TLH way out ahead of time for convenience’s sake if people want to print it out and use it. Then, if I have commentary and time to add it, I will go back and do so and then update the post.

Here are the TLH and LSB versions of this week’s hymn in parallel:

TLH 430

LSB 730

1. What is the world to me
With all its vaunted pleasure
When Thou, and Thou alone,
Lord Jesus, art my Treasure!
Thou only, dearest Lord,
My soul’s Delight shalt be;
Thou art my Peace, my Rest–
What is the world to me!
1. What is the world to me
With all its vaunted pleasure
When You, and You alone,
Lord Jesus, are my Treasure!
You only, dearest Lord,
My soul’s delight shalt be;
You are my peace, my rest.
What is the world to me!
2. The world is like a cloud
And like a vapor fleeting,
A shadow that declines,
Swift to its end retreating.
My Jesus doth abide,
Tho’ all things fade and flee;
My everlasting Rock–
What is the world to me!
3. The world seeks to be praised
And honored by the mighty,
Yet never once reflects
That they are frail and flighty.
But what I truly prize
Above all things is He,
My Jesus, He alone–
What is the world to me!
2. The world seeks to be praised
And honored by the mighty
Yet never once reflects
That they are frail and flighty.
But what I truly prize
Above all things is He,
My Jesus, He alone.
What is the world to me!
4 The world seeks after wealth
And all that Mammon offers,
Yet never is content
Tho’ gold should fill its coffers.
I have a higher good,
Content with it I’ll be:
My Jesus is my Wealth–
What is the world to me!
3. The world seeks after wealth
And all that mammon offers,
Yet never is content
Though gold should fill its coffers.
I have a higher good,
Content with it I’ll be:
My Jesus is my wealth.
What is the world to me!
5. The world is sorely grieved
Whenever it is slighted
Or when its hollow fame
And honor have been blighted.
Christ, Thy reproach I bear
Long as it pleaseth Thee;
I’m honored by my Lord–
What is the world to me!
6. The world with wanton pride
Exalts its sinful pleasures
And for them foolishly
Gives up the heavenly treasures.
Let others love the world
With all its vanity;
I love the Lord, my God–
What is the world to me!
7. The world abideth not;
Lo, like a flash ’twill vanish;
With all its gorgeous pomp
Pale death it cannot banish;
Its riches pass away,
And all its joys must flee;
But Jesus doth abide–
What is the world to me!
8. What is the world to me!
My Jesus is my Treasure,
My Life, my Health, my Wealth,
My Friend, my Love, my Pleasure,
My Joy, my Crown, my All,
My Bliss eternally.
Once more, then, I declare:
What is the world to me!
4. What is the world to me!
My Jesus is my treasure,
My life, my health, my wealth,
My friend, my love, my pleasure,
My joy, my crown, my all,
My bliss eternally.
Once more, then, I declare:
What is the world to me!

Obviously you have only half the number of verses in LSB as you get in TLH. That’s sad, if you ask me. Thankfully, the verses that you do get are relatively unmaimed, but the language has been modernized because, again, you just can’t understand Jacobean (or Elizabethan, etc.) English unless you’re praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Personally, I’d rather have the extra page or half-page with the four deleted verses of this wonderful hymn than any modern hymn whose printing required the same amount of ink. I mean, I would have been glad to see some of the Methodist hymns from TLH get the axe so that previously absent Lutheran chorales could be included. Yet if LSB isn’t as thick with Methodist hymns as TLH, it is far thicker with bad hymns in general—hymns that I won’t ever review in this column because, one, they’re never appointed as the chief hymn (mercy), and two, they’re just so bad.

Anyway, as you look at this week’s hymn (below), just remember that instead of four extra verses of wonderful, comforting doctrine, you got a two-page spread of schlock about high school chemistry class, construction work, and the pep band at a football game.

(Note: I haven’t cropped the second page of this hymn. The hymn that follows it in TLH, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” is beautiful. Sadly, the version of this hymn in LSB is set to another melody, which, for all of its merits (I personally find it kind of Schwaermerisch), was not written by Michael Praetorius. Abandoning a melody by Praetorius is pretty much always a downgrade.)