The Only Son from Heaven The HYMN OF THE DAY (402) has its roots in last’s Sunday’s hymn of the day, the medieval hymn Of the Father’s Love Begotten: Christ comes forth from the heart of the Father (Corde natus ex parentis).
This hymn is by the first female hymn writer of the Reformation era, Elizabeth Cruciger (1500-1535). Her family fled religious persecution in Poland, and settled in Wittenberg. There, Elizabeth met her husband Casper Cruciger, one of Luther’s most promising students. He eventually became pastor in Magdeburg and professor in Wittenberg.
The Cruciger family and the Luther family were friends. Luther’s hymns were a regular part of their family life and influenced Elizabeth’s hymn writing. It is supposed that she wrote other hymns, although she died at a young age and “The Only Son From Heaven” has alone survived.
This strong Epiphany text reinforces Christ’s fulfillment of prophesy, to be the Light in the darkness, to open heaven for sinners and give life to the dead. Christians journey through life with Christ before us, allowing us a foretaste of heaven until we “may reap its fullness there.” The tune was an existing tune chosen by Cruciger for her text.
The PRELUDE is by Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748). The first movement is a quiet meditation with the hymn tune in the soprano voice. The second movement, larger and more lively, has the hymn tune in the bass voice. Listen for the long, low notes played on the pedals.