Defend Thy truth, O God “O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold” (The Lutheran Hymnal 260) is Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) hymn on Psalm 12. Written in 1523, it is one of his earliest. In daily prayer in the monastery, Luther learned the psalms by heart, so they served as the basis for a number of his hymns. Luther also wrote hymns on Psalms 14, 46, 67, 128, and 130.
Though many things have changed since Luther’s time, his hymn is just as timely today as when it was written. Christians and the Church face relentless attacks from the devil and the world. “For them My saving Word shall fight.” In all times, Christ is our only hope: “The wicked everywhere abound, And would Thy little flock confound; But Thou art our Salvation.”
And from morn to set of sun, Through the Church the song goes on. The ENTRANCE HYMN, “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” (940) paraphrases the ancient canticle Te Deum Laudamus, sung at Matins on Sundays and festivals.
Originally in eight stanzas in German, it was published in the Allgemeines Katholisches Gesangbuch in 1775. The English translation has seven stanzas, five of which are included in our hymnal.
To Thee all angels cry aloud,
the heavens and all the powers therein;
To Thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry!
The CHORAL VOLUNTARY is a text written by Martin Franzmann (1907-1976) for the 450th anniversary of the Reformation in 1967. The tune was written by Richard Hillert (1923-2010), a professor at Concordia University—River Forest. The refrain draws together the themes from today’s Holy Gospel: “The feast is ready. Come to the feast, The good and the bad, Come and be glad! Greatest and least, Come to the feast!”
The lessons are Isaiah 55.1–9; Ephesians 5.15–21; and St. Matthew 22.1–14.