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

“Psalm 17”

Give ear, O Lord, and hear my earnest plea;
Come listen to my prayer, uphold my cause;
Establish righteousness upon the earth.
You know my heart, my thoughts, by day and night;
You see my foes accuse me without cause,
For by your law, the word you speak on high,
You kept my feet from ways of violent men,
From slipping from the safety of your paths.

O God, you who alone can answer prayer,
Bend down your ear to me to hear my call;
Show forth again the glory of your grace,
Savior of all who hide themselves in you.
Oh, shelter me beneath your mighty wings
From those surrounding me who seek my life:
The arrogant have sought me, tracked me down,
And lie in ambush, ready now to pounce.

Rise up, O Lord; rebuke my wicked foes,
Who only care for what they may acquire,
Their wealth amassed to pass on to their heirs,
But give no thought to righteousness—
Subdue them, so that they must bow the knee
And yield their lives before your holy name.

But as for me, my eyes shall see your face,
Your shining, everlasting righteousness;
Asleep or waking, and in life or death,
For me, to see your glory is enough.

This poem is the seventeenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 16, in August of last year, but because I put it down and worked on other things for several months I didn’t finish it until last month.

I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

An Important Anniversary

The Nailing of Luther's 95 Theses by Julius Hübner
Half a millennium ago today, the story goes, an obscure college professor posted a list of propositions for debate to the church bulletin board, and from that one spark God breathed his fire in the Church back to life again.

The central insights of the Reformation have been crystallized in what, five centuries later, we now think of as “the five Solas”: the salvation of Man is

  • By grace alone, not because we in any way deserve or could deserve it;
  • Through faith alone, not by or on the basis of anything we could or will do or accomplish;
  • Through Christ alone, for there is and can be no other way;
  • As recorded in the Scriptures alone, for they are the sole infallible Rule by and against which which all other claims of truth must be measured; and
  • To the glory of God alone: the salvation of Man is the means, not the end.

Oh, that the fire of the Holy Spirit would once again set the world ablaze!

“Psalm 16”

Protect me, God, my chosen hiding place!
As I have said, you are my only good,
And all my joy is in your holy ones
Whose lives show forth your glory in the land—
But those who leave the truth for other gods
Shall surely always see their sorrows grow,
So I will make no offerings to them,
Nor shall I even speak their names aloud.

Lord, you in grace have given me a share
Within your kingdom and among your folk,
And even welcomed me within your house;
Your will and law securely hold my cause,
And you assigned a pleasant place to me.
I praise you, Lord, for showing me your way;
Even at night my heart repeats your words,
And while you always stand at my right hand,
Nothing can move me or shall make me fall.

Even my flesh is safe within your care;
You will not let me slip out from your hand
To fall into the silence of the grave,
Nor suffer rot to touch your Righteous One,
And so my heart and tongue rejoice with praise.
For you will show the road of life to me,
The path to meet you, where is utmost joy,
And grant me pleasure for uncounted days.

A Summer Day (Eduardo Leon Garrido)

This poem is the sixteenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 15, back in February, but didn’t finish it until earlier this month.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Deo gratias”

“Thanks be to God!” let all my being say:
For light, and eyes to see it, breath of life,
Abundant water running clean and clear,
The harvest’s bounty, stars on high so fair,
Friendship’s warmth and kindness, family’s love,
The glory of the ever-changing earth,
And so much more—but let me not forget
That God deserves my greatest thanks of all
For the great mercy he has daily shown
To this unworthy sinner, in his grace
Accepting me, forgiving my offenses
(More each hour), and with his sworn assurance
Promising a lasting share in Christ.

Thanksgiving (Jennie Augusta Brownscombe)
I’ve had the beginning of this bouncing around in my head for several weeks, ever since I first tried to think about writing a poem for the week of Thanksgiving. But every time, it seemed, I tried to sit down to write any more of it, some distraction intervened, so I didn’t finish it until today.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Psalm 10”

Why, Lord, my Lord, are you so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in distress?
For wicked men, in pride, pursue the weak
And scheme until they catch them in their net;
They boast of all their great desires fulfilled
But ever want much more and “better” things.
They praise those who are like them in their greed,
And, when they think of God, revile his name,
For in their haughty arrogance of thought
They have no room to seek or follow God.

Despite the scorn they heap upon your law,
Their ways seem charmed and always prosperous.
They scoff at any foe, and sneer at danger,
For they say, “What woe can threaten me?
My life and wealth shall always be secure,
For I shall see untroubled happiness.”

But bitter poison spews out from their mouths;
They call down curses, issue monstrous threats,
And seek to drown the truth in floods of lies,
For words of evil flow up from their hearts,
And trouble comes to those beneath their tongue.

Because they stir up greed, they hunt the weak
And lie in secret ambush for the helpless,
To beat the innocent with brutal brawn.
Their only thought of God is but a sneer:
“God soon forgot my works and face and name,
And cannot call to mind what I have done;
He blinds his eyes, and I am unopposed.”

Not so! And therefore, Sovereign Lord, arise,
For neither grief nor woe escapes your eye,
Nor do you let them silently pass by.
And thus the helpless, fatherless, oppressed,
Who in disaster have no other hope,
Have trusted you and cry to you for help.
Rise up, O Lord, stretch forth your mighty hand,
And break the oppressors’ wicked, grasping army;
Lay bare and punish all their secret sins,
The crimes they hid from every mortal judge.

Lord, you alone are everlasting King,
And every prince or serf who does not bow
In fealty before your righteous throne
Shall surely perish from your scepter’s sway—
But you have ever bent your ear to hear
The longing of those broken down by woes,
The cries of those whose lives see much distress,
And ever shielded orphans and the weak.
For all whose boots oppressed them are mere men,
Creatures of earth, while you are of the heavens;
When you arise, they go down to the grave,
And you have banished even fear of them.

The Last Judgment by John Martin

This is the tenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 9 in early May, and finished it about a week ago.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.