Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An Easter Hymn to ENGELBERG

I noticed that the hymn tune ENGELBERG is on the liturgy schedule for the Colloquium, and it reminded me to find this hymn text from among its mothballs.

One of the things I admire most about the excellent Charles Wesley is his ability to paraphrase Scripture in a hymn. We see that in his Christ the Lord Is Ris'n Today:
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Where thy victory, O grave?

Another hymn writer who excelled at Scriptural and even Patristic paraphrase was F. Bland Tucker, a Southerner who may or may not be a relative of Jeffrey Tucker but who is very smart, so perhaps. Tucker set in hymn form not only the anaphora of the Didache (Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted) but also St. Paul's magnificent Hymn to the Philippians, from the second chapter of that Letter (All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine). This latter outstanding hymn, overlooked for some reason at ordination time, for which it would be perfect, is best sung to ENGELBERG.

In the text below I've tried to include Scriptural and liturgical references, and some paraphrases in verses 2 and 4. The first line of the fourth verse consciously riffs on Wesley's brilliant employment of a hymn convention: the list. (Other hymns using this include George Herbert's poem Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life, and Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, which lists the 9 choirs of angels in its first verse.) I offer an homage to Wesley, who in one of the marvels of hymn writing history, expressed the entire Easter mystery in seven Scripturally rich monosyllables:
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal
Please feel free to sing the hymn below at your parish this Eastertide.

Let Easter alleluias fill this place
for God has sanctified the human race,
fulfilling all the pledges of His grace,

Why seek the Living One among the dead?
The Lord was raised in glory as He said.
That we might follow where our Master led,

The path of glory shines before our eyes:
the Christian road that leads beyond the skies.
By crucifixion and by death we rise,

The stone and soldiers kept their watch in vain,
And Christ, once raised, shall never die again.
All praise and honor to the Lamb once slain.

Come quickly, Jesus, prove your promise true.
Bring all creation into life anew:
a living sacrifice of praise to You,