Sunday, February 11, 2007

O Dearest Jesus

We sang this hymn in church this morning, not all the verses that are listed here courtesy of the cyber hymnal, but wow...this song really spoke to me this morning and drew up my worship of God. The verses we sang I highlighted in bold.

O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession—
What dark transgression?

They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee;
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee;
They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee;
They crucify Thee.

Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish;
Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit,
This I do merit.

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted—
God is committed.

There was no spot in me by sin untainted;
Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted;
My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me,
Such woe it wrought me.

O wondrous love, whose depth no heart hath sounded,
That brought Thee here, by foes and thieves surrounded!
All worldly pleasures, heedless, I was trying
While Thou wert dying.

O mighty King, no time can dim Thy glory!
How shall I spread abroad Thy wondrous story?
How shall I find some worthy gifts to proffer?
What dare I offer?

For vainly doth our human wisdom ponder—
Thy woes, Thy mercy, still transcend our wonder.
Oh, how should I do aught that could delight Thee!
Can I requite Thee?

Yet unrequited, Lord, I would not leave Thee;
I will renounce whate’er doth vex or grieve Thee
And quench with thoughts of Thee and prayers most lowly
All fires unholy.

But since my strength will nevermore suffice me
To crucify desires that still entice me,
To all good deeds, oh, let Thy Spirit win me
And reign within me!

I’ll think upon Thy mercy without ceasing,
That earth’s vain joys to me no more be pleasing;
To do Thy will shall be my sole endeavor
Henceforth forever.

Whate’er of earthly good this life may grant me,
I’ll risk for Thee; no shame, no cross, shall daunt me;
I shall not fear what man can do to harm me
Nor death alarm me.

But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it;
Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it;
Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness
Nor shame my weakness.

And when, dear Lord, before Thy throne in Heaven
To me the crown of joy at last is given,
Where sweetest hymns Thy saints forever raise Thee,
I, too, shall praise Thee.

Isn't that a neat song? Doesn't it just draw you in to the love that God showed us? To the grace given us?

It was written by Johann Heerman. The cyber hymnal tells us this about Heerman.
Heerman re­ceived the­o­log­ic­al train­ing as a re­sult of a vow his mo­ther made when he was very ill as a child. Af­ter or­din­a­tion, he taught at the un­i­ver­si­ty, but in 1607, had to stop af­ter he con­tract­ed an eye in­fect­ion. Four years la­ter, he be­came a dea­con, then the Lu­ther­an pas­tor, in Koe­ben. His min­is­try was in­ter­rupt­ed sev­er­al times by the Thir­ty Years’ War, but the faith­ful min­is­ter re­sumed when­e­ver the fight­ing died down. In 1634, med­ic­al prob­lems forced him to stop preach­ing, and he fin­al­ly re­tired in 1638.
And the Center for Church Music tells us

Johann Heerman was born at Raudten, near Wohlaw, in Silesia. As a child he was very ill, and his mother vowed that he would receive theological training if he ever recovered. Heerman survived, and went on to study at Fraustadt, Breslau, and Brieg. In 1690, he entered the University of Strassburg, but eye trouble caused him to leave after just one year.

After his studies, Heerman was appointed diaconus of Koben, a small town near his hometown. For five years, he was well situated, but then a period of great struggle began. In 1616, Koben was devastated by fire. The next year Heerman's wife died. And in 1618 the Thirty Years' War broke out.

During the war, there was extensive fighting in Silesia, which belonged to Roman Catholic Austria. Koben was plundered four times and Heerman lost all his belongings several times. Then, in 1631, his town was also struck by the pestilence.

Heerman experienced severe throat problems during this time, which caused him to give up preaching in 1634. He retired to Lissa in Posen in 1638, where he remained until his death in 1647.

During his trials, Heerman wrote many fine hymns. Many of them were subjective hymns, making a transition from the objective hymns of the Reformation.

Even though short biographies can't tell us all about a man, from his music, and reading his biographies, to me he sounds like a man of God. :)

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