Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday of Lent 1

Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word - Lutheran Service Book #655
Psalm 119:5-10; 2 John 9; John 8:31; Ephesians 4:3-6

Lord Keep us steadfast in Your Word
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all He has done.

In 1541 the Turkish army was threatening to take Vienna. Convinced that the church was threatened not only by the Turkish army of Sultan Suleiman but also by the Roman Catholic Pope, Martin Luther wrote the hymn, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.” The German rulers called for special prayers for safety from these emerging forces.  Luther responded to this request by writing the original German text ("Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort") for a prayer service in Wittenberg.
The text was published in Low German in the Magdeburg Gesangbuch (1542) and in High German in Joseph Klug's Geistliche Lieder (1543). The English translation by Catherine Winkworth was published in her Chorale Book for England (1863).
The text is a fervent prayer in song cast into a Trinitarian mold. As we sing, we pray that God the Father will keep his kingdom from the powers of evil (stanza 1), that God the Son will rule the church (stanza 2), and that God the Spirit will bring peace and unity on earth and will support us in our "final [earthly] strife," the doorway to eternal life (stanza 3).

In times of stress and strife we call upon God to sustain us. In every circumstance, we pray that God would keep us faithful to His Words and promises.

Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so heart them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[1]

[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for the Word; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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