Sunday, December 9, 2012

All Loves Excelling

“Love caused Your Incarnation, 
love brought You down to me;
Your thirst for my salvation
procured my liberty.
O love beyond all telling
that led You to embrace,
in love all loves excelling,
our lost and fallen race.”
“O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?”
by Paul Gerhardt
Germany, c. 1653

LOVE is an amazing thing. What a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by family for Christmas, to take marriage vows, to hold your brand new baby for the first time. LOVE is an amazing thing. What an awful feeling to miss your family on Christmas, to say goodbye to your dying husband or wife, to be handed divorce papers, to watch your baby suffer in any way...
Real, honest LOVE isn't all happiness & butterflies. The greatest example of LOVE the world has ever known began with the joyful birth of a perfect baby boy & ended with the bitter suffering & death of that same boy who'd done nothing wrong. But the best part of that Greatest LOVE is yet to come: LOVE will bring Him back, and on that day, the part of LOVE that hurts will disappearLOVE is an amazing thing.
“Greater love has no one than this:
that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13
I regret that I was unable to find a recording of "O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?" to share with you, so I pasted the lyrics below. Even as a poem it's breathtaking. Above, I'm sharing an advent hymn of equal beauty: "Of the Father's Love Begotten," written in the 5th century by the obviously very Roman poet, Aurelius Prudentius. Enjoy both. Please note the date of each hymn and marvel at the fact that good music and sound theology are both timeless.

"O LORD, How Shall I Meet You?"
by Rev. Paul Gerhard, c. 1653

O Lord, how shall I meet You? How welcome You aright? 
Your people long to greet You, my hope, my heart's delight! 
O, kindle, Lord most holy, Your lamp within my breast
to do in spirit lowly all that may please you best.

Your Zion strews before you green boughs and fairest palms.

And I, too, will adore You with joyous songs and psalms. 
My heart shall bloom forever, for You with praises new 
and from your name shall never withhold the honor due.

I lay in fetters, groaning; You came to set me free. 

I stood, my shame bemoaning; You came to honor me. 
A glorious crown You give me, a treasure safe on high 
That will not fail or leave me as earthly riches fly.

Love caused Your incarnation; Love brought You down to me. 

Your thirst for my salvation procured my liberty. 
O, love beyond all telling that led You to embrace 
in love, all love excelling, our lost and fallen race.

Rejoice, then, you sad-hearted, who sit in deepest gloom, 

Who mourn your joys departed and tremble at your doom. 
Despair not! He is near you, there, standing at the door,
Who best can help and cheer you and bids you weep no more.

He comes to judge the nations, a terror to His foes, 

A light of consolations and blessed hope to those 
who love the Lord's appearing. O glorious Sun, now come, 
Send forth Your beams so cheering, and guide us safely home.

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