Saturday, April 03, 2010

A great hymn for Passion Week, or any other

Last evening, we attended The Good Friday Tenebrae service at our church. Each year this simple, ancient service, moves me. Even last night, on a very sparsely attended night (this year, school spring break coincides with Easter and the town has emptied...) I was moved by the recitation of scripture, retelling the story of Passion Week, and then responding to the Scripture with great hymns of the faith. After each reading, the sanctuary lights are dimmed, and we are left in near-darkness, awaiting Resurrection morning. The order of worship is at the bottom of this post. Its power is the power of God's Word.

The most beautiful hymn of the night for me was "Ah, Holy Jesus". It has all the things a great hymn needs; Biblical truth written in beautiful and fitting words, matched well to a timeless melody with beautiful harmonization, singable for a congregation. If you don't know this hymn, Gentle Reader, learn it. It will bless your soul.

Ah, Holy Jesus Words by Johann Heerman, 1630; music by Johann Cruger, 1640

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

Tenebrae Service:
Call to worship from Isaiah 53
"Lift High the Cross"
Confession of faith from 1 Timothy 1;15, 2 Cor 9:15, Rom 5:8, 1 Tim 1:17
The Shadow of Betrayal: Matthew 26:20-25
"Man of Sorrows"
The Shadow of Desertion: Matthew 26:31-35
"Ah, Holy Jesus"
The Shadow of Agony of the Spirit: Luke 22:39-46
"'Tis Midnight and on Olive's Brow"
The Shadow of Accusation: Matthew 27:11-26
"Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted"
The Shadow of the Crucifixion: John 19:28-37
"O Sacred Head Now Wounded"
"The Shadow of Death: John 19:28-37
"Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed"
The Shadow of Burial: John 19:38-42
"When I Survey the Wonderous Cross"
Prayer of hope and dismissal; Exiting in silence.

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