Hymn: “O God, our Help in ages past”

Continuing my series on great old hymns, today I’d like to focus our attention on another familiar (and so much-neglected nowadays in my experience) favorite. Continue reading

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Hymn: “All glory, laud, and honor”

Continuing my series on great old hymns, since tomorrow is Palm Sunday, I decided to focus our attention today on a hymn about the Triumphal Entry. I covered my favorite Palm Sunday hymn four years ago, and another particularly suitable text the previous Advent, but this is also a favorite hymn, and unlike “Hosanna, loud hosanna” (which only dates to 1873) this is actually an old hymn (the Latin more than a thousand years older than that). Continue reading

Hymn: “I sing th’almighty power of God”

My church is going to have the first sessions of its annual “Creation Conference” this evening. So I thought it would be particularly fitting to resume my series on great old hymns with one that is not only a good age in hymn terms, and not only a favorite from my childhood, but also aptly describes God’s power and detailed care shown to and in his creation. Continue reading

Ashes

For dust I am, and to dust I shall return.

And so shall all my works, such as have not already crumbled to ashes in my hand.

By the nature I have inherited from every ancestor, and recapitulated of my own doing, I am inherently inclined “to hate God and my neighbor.”

What life I have comes to me—and what of any worth I am able to do, I am able to do—only by the unfathomable grace of God extended to me for the sake of Jesus Christ his Son.

Whenever time and circumstance bring me to reflection, I can say little more than (to adapt the epigram of Ovid I found two years ago) “Videbam meliora probabamque, deteriora sequebar“: “I have seen and approved the better, [but] followed the worse.”

Lord, you have been gracious and merciful, permitting this unworthy person to continue in life, health, and breath. To this but add the mercy of repentance, and the grace to walk in your ways!

I am not my own; I have been bought at a price (a price far heavier than the symbolic ashes of last year’s palms), and so belong to Jesus Christ.

“That first Christmas evening”

I wish a merry Christmas and blessed Christmas season to all my readers.

It is common, in some circles in which I move, to say that Jesus was born “that first Christmas morning” or even “that first Christmas morn.” But I, being curious and something of a quibbler by nature, have at times wondered: what time of day was the Christ Child born? Is the idea that he was born in the morning “possible, but in this life we’ll never know,” like the popular notion that there were exactly three Magi (or in fact that he was born on what is now December 25), or “unlikely,” like Rossetti’s charming, picturesque, theologically on-point, but in-details-dubious poem “In the Bleak Midwinter”? Continue reading

“But Thanks Be to God”: A Ninth Reflection

Today is the day the United States government designated for public thanksgiving to God, and so it is fitting for me to, as I have done for the past eight years on this day, reflect on the various ways God has blessed me over the course of my life, and in particular in the past year.

The failure of time in which to write and of memory, and my instinct to prefer brevity over repeating myself, ensure that my first reflection on this theme, in 2009, remains the most extensive and detailed; in subsequent years I have mostly more-briefly listed blessings I had forgotten and those I saw as new. Continue reading