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About Sunday’s Music – Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lord, Let at Last Thine Angels Come   The final stanza of “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart” (708), the HYMN OF THE DAY, is often sung at the bedside of dying Christians.  It confesses the hope of comfort that we have in Christ in heaven, like Lazarus at Abraham’s side.  Our body will rest in peaceful sleep until Christ’s reappearing at the last day…

And then from death awaken me,

That these mine eyes with joy may see

O Son of God, Thy glorious face,

My Savior and my fount of grace!

In heaven, in Our Lord’s presence, we will praise Him without end!

This hymn has been described as “a prayer to Christ, the Consolation of the soul in life and in death, after Psalms 18 and 73, a treasure bequeathed to the Church from the heart of Schalling.”  Martin Schalling (1532-1608) studied in Wittenberg, and served pastor in Regensburg, Amberg, Heidelberg, and finally at Nürnberg, where he died.

J.S. Bach brings his Passion according to St. John to a thrilling conclusion with the final stanza of Schalling’s hymn.

He is our one Redeemer!   Written in 1523 by Paul Speratus, “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” (555), the DISTRIBUTION HYMN, was included in the first Lutheran hymnal, the Achtliederbuch (“8 Song Book”), also known as Etlich christlich lider of 1524.  There it was described as “A Hymn of Law and Faith, Powerfully Furnished with God’s Word.”  It originally had 14 stanzas.

This hymn was possibly inspired by one of Luther’s earliest hymns, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” (556), which shares the same meter.

Various hymnologists have described this hymn as “the true confessional hymn of the Reformation” and the “poetical counterpart of Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans” (W.G. Polack, Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal).

“Salvation Unto Us Has Come” demonstrates the importance of hymns and music in the Reformation.  It sings of the distinction of Law and Gospel, the atonement, the means of grace, and the role of good works in the life of a Christian: “For faith alone can justify: Works serve our neighbor and supply, the proof that faith is living!”

It is a hymn of hope in Christ’s saving work:

Since Christ has full atonement made,

And brought to us salvation,

Each Christian therefore may be glad,

And build on this foundation.

Your grace alone, dear Lord, I plead,

Your death is now my life indeed,

For You have paid my ransom.

The lessons are Deuteronomy 10.12–21; 1 Corinthians 1.4–9; and St. Matthew 22.34–46.

The hymns are: 904 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word; 708 Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart; 581 These are the Holy Ten Commands; 555 Salvation Unto Us Has Come;  402 The Only Son from Heaven; 972 I Trust, O Christ, in You Alone.

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