Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Other "Harks" Ye Knew Not Of


For this season of Advent at Hope Chapel we have preached our way through a standard of Christmas hymns. My father began the series on Dec. 2 (as guest preacher) by expositing the 4th century hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." I followed the week after with Charles Wesley's "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus." It was a great experience to be able to do both poetic analysis and theological exegesis. On Dec. 16 Steve Hawthorne took up the two hymns "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Joy to the Word." The series concluded with Dan Davis handling both "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
It was this past Sunday that I found out something I'd not known: that Wesley's "Hark" was originally written as a ten-verse poem. Ten verses. As with many of the 6,500 hymns plus that he wrote, there was usually more to be read than we would ever get to sing.
I'm posting here the last four verses as an aid to meditation on the Incarnation. I'm tempted sorely to grab one of our musicians at Hope so we could turn the text into a new hymn. I would rise ecstatically to the heavens if I could sing this with the music of King's College or Sufjan Stevens (or even David Crowder). Give me such good words and I am the happiest camper on the block.
I pray you would know the deep and mystic love of Jesus Christ for you on this Christmas day.
Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner Man:
O! to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

1 comment:

iguana banana said...

I, too, hear the music in those words. Imagine the pure voices of King's College Choir... Ahhhh.
I am the daughter of a musician father and a painter/writer mother. I am an actor and an elementary theater teacher. I am a mother and a wife. I am a Christian.
I remember the moment that I sat at the kitchen table with my Norwegian Lutheran father as we talked about the gifts that God has given us. He firmly believes that music is his gift from God. He has shown me throughout his lifetime the profound way that he worships and serves God through music. I watched my father weep for the first time in my life as we spoke that night of music and God and art and play. He wept with such humility (We Norwegians are not known for our outward displays of emotions, so you can imagine the impact this had on me as a young girl.)
It was on that day that I really began to appreciate the poetry and music in a hymn. Weekly, I stand in our congregation and sing hymns with my faith community. Some hymns are familiar, some are new - I could spend an entire worship service simply singing hymns. (OK, perhaps that service would have to be traditional hymns. I have not yet learned to embrace the whole "Rocking for Jesus" movement. I can not yet find the sacred in that kind of musical worship service. I know that only means that I need to open my ears and listen...)
This is the long way around asking this question, do you have your sermons on line anywhere? I'd very much like to read what you and your partners in faith have to say about the hymns that you've mentioned.
Thanks.
BTW - I've very much enjoyed reading what you have posted on line so far. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!