Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Preparing for Death - Part 6 "Hymnody and Prayer"

"Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart" is perhaps my favorite hymn. The best efforts of composures and musicians to duplicate its intimacy and love of Jesus seem to just fall short. This is nothing less than a faithful prayer set to music. To me, the text that we have read from St. Ignaitus and this kind of hymnody go hand in hand. We are called to die daily to sin and earthly desire. With eyes on Christ, wordly concerns and terrors hold no sway in us. This is a song of proximity to Christ and His endless grace. The words remind me of St. Stephen and his testimony during his martyrdom in Acts.

This is a hymn that should be studied line for line and meditated upon. Conform yourself to the holiness and faithfulness expressed here. This is the essence of the Christian life: that it humbly seeks to be close to Christ. In my mind, there is no greater hymn that connects the daily dying of Christian discipline to our faithful death and promise of Resurrection on the Last Day... and it does so while bowing in loving awe of Our Savior Jesus Christ.

If you attend my funeral, odds are pretty good that you are going to sing this one.

"Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart"
by Martin Schalling 1532-1608

1. Lord, Thee I love with all my heart;
I pray Thee ne'er from me depart,
With tender mercies cheer me.
Earth has no pleasure I would share,
Yea, heaven itself were void and bare
If Thou, Lord, wert not near me.
And should my heart for sorrow break,
My trust in Thee no one could shake.
Thou art the Portion I have sought;
Thy precious blood my soul has bought.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
Forsake me not! I trust Thy Word.

2. Yea, Lord, 'twas Thy rich bounty gave
My body, soul, and all I have
In this poor life of labor.
Lord, grant that I in every place
May glorify Thy lavish grace
And serve and help my neighbor.
Let no false doctrine me beguile
And Satan not my soul defile.
Give strength and patience unto me
To bear my cross and follow Thee.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
In death Thy comfort still afford.

3. Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram's bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.

The CTS Kantorei sings a wonderful third verse here under a title bearing the first line of the stanza, "Let at Last Thine Angels Come". You can listen to a sample on the webpage, but I encourage you to buy this and other Kantorei CDs. Having personal copies of these performances is a heavenly blessing that far outweighs the earthly cost.

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