To His Supper leads us all Johann Olearius wrote the HYMN OF THE DAY, “Oh, How Great is Your Compassion” (559) based on today’s Holy Gospel. It was published in 1671.
Olearius (1611-1684) was educated in Wittenberg and was court preacher and chaplain at Halle and Weissenfels. He was the author of hundreds of hymns and a Bible commentary.
Our Lord saves us from “our depth of degradation” – suffering from the world, the devil, and our own sinful nature – by calling us to His Supper, where the Spirit witnesses “in Your Sacraments and Word.” In five stanzas, a wealth of Christian doctrine is covered: sin and grace, the Sacraments, the Word of God, and God’s mercy and salvation. Thanks be to Our Lord for this poetic gift to His Church at the hands of Johann Olearius.
You had mercy so that we
Might be saved eternally!
Many composers have written arrangements of this hymn. The PRELUDE is a partita of six movements by south-German organist Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). You will hear the hymn tune throughout the variations, sometimes plainly, other times more elaborately, concluding with the sixth movement with the melody in the bass line, played by the pedal.
The introduction to the hymn is a setting by Kevin Hildebrand (b. 1973), kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. Today, the melody is played by the flute.