Saturday, August 1, 2020

August 01 – Saturday prior to Pentecost 9 – Proper 13

Luke 1:68-79 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure.” {LSB 53}. They are the words of Zachariah as he prophesied concerning Christ at the circumcision of his son John. The words of the prophet are clear. Jesus, the Messiah from the house of David has the power to save and heal.

Johann Ludwig Conrad Allendorf was a Lutheran court preacher at Cöthen for a quartercentury after Bach departed for Leipzig. During his tenure he wrote 132 hymns, “hymns of love to Christ, the Lamb of God, and the Bridegroom of the believing soul” (Dictionary of Hymnology, New York: Scribner’s, 1892, p. 50), although only five found their way into English. “Jesus ist kommen, Grund ewige Freude” gained popularity in Germany during the 19th century. Thanks to Paul Bunjes, editor of Lutheran Worship (1982) (where it appears as #78), four stanzas of the original 23 have been made available to us in Oliver Rupprecht’s translation. In addition to LSB, these also appear in Christian Worship Supplement (WELS) as #711.

I couldn’t locate the full hymn text as Allendorf penned it, but nine stanzas in German can be viewed at From these we gain a wider perspective on the dazzling variety of implications that Jesus’ arrival on earth has for humanity. Jesus comes as the source of eternal joy; with thundering power he shatters chains of death and sets us free from our bondage to fear; as Redeemer of the world he overwhelms Satan; he takes his place as the king of glory; he is the prince of and wellspring of life, he is the offering for our sins, he is the origin of blessing and the source of grace.

The tune was known as originally known as CÖTHEN and must have been joined to the text at the time the hymn was written. This is a perfect marriage, for the music’s majestic, processional character invites us to be not only witnesses to this great event but also active participants in past, present and future. In the course of Rupprecht’s four stanzas we have a foot in the past as we ponder the miracle of the Word made flesh; we are grounded in the present as we reflect on what this means for our lives at this very moment (“See now the threatening strong one disarmed!”); and we face the future we ponder the implications of this mighty act of God’s love and what it means to “take the crown he has for you!”

It’s interesting to note that LSB places “Jesus Has Come” in its “Redeemer” section, whereas it was in the Epiphany section in Lutheran Worship and Christian Worship Supplement and under Advent in the older German hymnals. In the hymn’s context of Christ as Redeemer, we gain a deeper awareness of how the text can shape and transform our lives of faith. It pronounces that Jesus’ triumph over Satan means that we no longer need be imprisoned by the fear of death, a fear that wrenches us away from God to worship the false idols of money, power, and control. We are free to live fully, free to receive God’s love with open arms, and free to return that love to God in greater measure through all the gifts of ministry God has given us. On top of all that, the hymn sends us forth in mission: Jesus has come! Now proclaim this great wonder![1]

Nancy Raabe
Milton WI


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