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Music for Septuagesima

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” (555), is one of the oldest core Lutheran chorales.  Written by Pastor Paul Speratus (1484-1551) in 1523, it was included in the first Lutheran hymnal Etlich Christlich lider, also known as the Achtliederbuch (“Eight Song Book”) of 1524.  In its first printing, it was described as “a hymn of Law and Faith, Powerfully Furnished with God’s Word.”

Originally in fourteen stanzas, in our current version it sets forth the doctrine of justification, man’s bondage to sin under the Law (stanzas 2-4), the work of Christ for salvation (stanzas 5-6), the Christian life, and rendering praise to the Triune God for His great work.

Speratus was forced to leave several parishes because of his evangelical views.  Eventually he came to Wittenberg and associated with Luther.  He became pastor in Königsberg and served as the Lutheran bishop of Pomerania until his death.

Though All Our Life is Like a Scroll   The CHORAL VOLUNTARY is a hymn for the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.  It was the winning submission in a competition, written by the Rev. Dr. Wilfred L. Karsten, pastor of Holy Cross—Moline, IL.  It reflected the theme “It’s Still All About Jesus,” Pastor Karsten noted: “Half a millennium later, the truths of the Reformation continue to apply.”  It is fitting during Septuagesima, as stanzas 2, 3, and 4 focus on grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone.  The tune was written by Dr. Jeffrey Blersch, professor of music at Concordia University Nebraska.

Though all our life is like a scroll; Unrolled with blemished pages;

Though sin has shredded what was whole; And death is now our wages;

Yet here we stand in confidence, With Jesus as our sole defense,

For He alone still saves us.

 

Though pompously we try to dress; In costumes of our making;

Though fig leaves of self-righteousness; Are futile and heartbreaking;

Yet filthy rags Christ gladly wore; So we would perish nevermore.

His grace alone still clothes us.

 

Though earth’s deep waters foam and roar; As surging waves are rolling;

Though all the nations rage with war; While bells of doom are tolling;

Yet God gives peaceful fortitude, He nurtures us with Heaven’s food.

True faith alone still anchors.

 

Though critics cut out Scripture’s claims; And treat them with derision;

Though they conduct their hostile aims; With scalpels of suspicion;

Yet how the living, two-edged sword; Proclaims the dead and risen Lord!

God’s Word alone: still truthful.

 

Now sing a high doxology; To God who gives salvation.

Both here and in eternity; Let this be our vocation.

To Father, Son, and Spirit raise; A symphony of grateful praise,

For He alone is worthy. Amen.

The lessons are Exodus 17.1–7; 1 Corinthians 9.24—10.5; and St. Matthew 20.1–16.
The hymns are: 724 If God Himself Be For Me
555 Salvation Unto Us Has Come
TLH 267 If God Had Not Been On Our Side
566 By Grace I’m Saved
640 Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior

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