Saturday, September 23, 2023

O come and mourn with me a while

134 St. Cross. L. M.

1 O come and mourn with me awhile;
   O come ye to the Savior's side;
   O come, together let us mourn:
   Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

2 Have we no tears to shed for Him,
   While soldiers scoff and foes deride?
   Ah! Look how patiently He hangs:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

3 Seven times He spake seven words of love;
   And all three hours His silence cried
   For mercy on the souls of men:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

4 O love of God! O sin of man!
   In this dread act your strength is tried;
   And victory remains with love:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!
                         Frederick W. Faber
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
We go from the exultation of Palm Sunday in yesterday's hymn to the agony of the passion in this one. I do like the fact that the hymn, despite being all about the agony of the garden and the cross, ends on a high note of "victory remains with love."
</idle musing>

Friday, September 22, 2023

Just? Not so much

Ancient Near Eastern gods were not just; although they valued justice (because order in the human world allowed humans to serve their function of providing for the needs of the gods), they themselves were petty, vindictive, and arbitrary in bestowing favor or disfavor. In contrast, because Yahweh’s identity is vested in justice, if Israel behaves according to its culture’s understanding of justice (circumscribed by the holiness code), it will be a recipient of blessing.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 122–23

<idle musing>
If ever there was an understatement, they just made it! Not just ANE gods, but ancient Greek and Roman gods fit that description. Remember, the Greek philosophers bemoaned the moral state of the gods! They were anything but just themselves, although they didn't like injustice among the people and were thought to be quick to judge it.

And this snippet brings up another thing that John Walton has continually pushed in his books: The gods created humanity to serve them so they could party/do their thing. So, basically people aren't valued as people, but as slaves. That's a radically different viewpoint from the biblical one, where humanity ('adam) is created in the image and likeness of God (בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ). Not as serving a needy god, but as stewards of his creation. There's a lot to unpack there, but we'll leave it alone today.
</idle musing>

Behold the savior of mankind

136 Dundee (Windsor). C. M.

1 Behold the Savior of mankind
   Nailed to the shameful tree!
   How vast the love that Him inclined
   To bleed and die for thee!

2 Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
   And earth's strong pillars bend!
   The temple's veil in sunder breaks;
   The solid marbles rend.

3 'Tis done! the precious ransom's paid!
   "Receive my soul!" He cries;
   See where He bows His sacred head!
   He bows His head and dies!

4 But soon He'll break death's envious chain,
   And in full glory shine;
   O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
   Was ever love, like Thine?
                         Samuel Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No, not that Wesley! His father Samuel, who also wrote some good hymns. And note that he ends on a high note, looking forward to the resurrection.

I know some people claim we don't dwell enough on the cruxificion and rush through it to Easter, but we are a resurrection people! Yes, Calvary had to happen, but if that were the end of the story, there wouldn't be a story. The resurrection affirmed what happened on Calvary. And the ascension (the part that really tends to get overlooked!) sealed it and proved that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, who then sent the Holy Spirit to his followers that we might live in the victory he won. (I won't get into the weeds as to whether the Spirit comes from the Father through the son or from the Father and the son, the so-called filioque clause in the creeds!)
</idle musing>

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Law-giver or scribe?

Most comparisons of the Bible’s legal literature with ancient Near Eastern law codes, specifically the Code of Hammurabi, typically cast Moses as the lawgiver (Hammurabi) and Yahweh as the transcendent divine sponsor (Shamash). However, in the epilogue of the Code the following appears: “Laws of justice which Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous law and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi, the protecting king am I.” In the biblical text, no such statement is ever attributed to Moses; the law is established by Yahweh, the decrees are Yahweh’s, and the refrain throughout is “I am Yahweh.” Yahweh is the lawgiver; Moses is merely the scribe.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 120–21 n. 3

Lift high the triumph song!

131 Suomi. L. M. D.

Lift high the triumph song today!
   From Olivet to Calvary;
   We tread again that ancient way
   Our Saviour rode in majesty.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour King,
   Goes bravely forth, to reign and die.

We climb again the wooded slopes
   Of Olivet and Calvary;
   We share with Him those radiant hopes,
   Which led at last to victory.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour King,
   Goes gladly forth to live-and die.

We join the throng to welcome Him:
   From Olivet to Calvary-
   Descend the heights to shadows dim,
   Thro’ death with Him to liberty.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour, King,
   Goes bravely forth, to serve-and die.

We open wide the gates of love!
   By Olivet to Calvary,
   Acclaim Him Christ, from God above,
   Our King thro’ all eternity.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour, King,
   Goes nobly forth, no more to die.
                         Ernest F. McGregor
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
It wasn't easy finding out information about this author. Even the link that I do give doesn't tell very much about him. Seems he only wrote three hymns, none of which really caught on. This one only occurs in five hymnals.

I don't recall ever singing this hymn, but here's a link to a piano rendition of the tune.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

There is a development of the idea, though

It is worth noting, however, that these definitions do not carry over into the New Testament. The Greek hagios translates qdš in the Septuagint (and also several other words, most notably “clean,” ṭahôr, in Lev 10:14, and “nazirite” in Judg 13; these interpretive choices indicate that Greek hagios has a broader range of meaning than the more technical Hebrew qdš), but by the Second Temple period the definition of divinity and metaphysics in general has been reconceived in terms of essential categories. Since the purpose of the categorical system was to fix rigid boundaries between what a thing is and what it is not, some of the fluidity of the ancient, pre-Aristotelian classification system, used in the ancient Near East and the Old Testament, is lost (see Selz, “Prototypes,” 16, and especially Hundley, “Here a God,” 70–72). Accordingly, qdš/hagios does not describe the essential nature of divinity and divine identity (the theological ousion) in New Testament metaphysics. If there is any parallel to the ancient divine fluidity (described by qdš) inherent in the term hagios as used in classical and postclassical theology, it would be along the lines of theosis (participation in divine energeia, e.g., “God became man so that man might become God” (Athanasius, On the Incarnation 8.54), not Trinity.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 117 n. 41

<idle musing>
They must have been reading my mind from yesterday's post! They do believe there is a development of the idea through time. I still think the idea of yesterday that holiness is a status conferred by God is a good one to hang onto. After all, the Corinthians are called holy ones (saints), despite their obvious flaws. So, holiness is deeper than behavior, even while it calls for a change in behavior—remember that the priests had a set of rules that was stricter than the general population on how they were to live, "lest they die."
</idle musing>

Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!

130 Percival-Smith. C. M. D.

1 O Thou Eternal Christ of God,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   Establish Thou for evermore
   The triumph now begun.
   A mighty host, by Thee redeemed,
   Is marching in Thy train,
   Thine is the Kingdom and the power,
   And Thou in love shalt reign.

2 O holy Saviour of mankind,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   We bear with Thee the scourge and cross
   If so Thy will is done.
   And be the road uphill or down,
   Unbroken or well trod,
   We go with Thee to claim and build
   A city unto God.

3 O Thou whose dreams enthrall the heart,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   Ride on till tyranny and greed
   Are evermore undone.
   In mart and court and parliament
   The common good increase,
   Till men at last shall ring the bells
   Of brotherhood and peace.

4 O Thou who art the Life and Light,
   Exalted Lord and King,
   We hail Thine august majesty
   And loud hosanna sing,
   Until in every land and clime
   Thine ends of love are won:
   O Christ, Redeemer, Brother, Friend,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
                         Calvin W. Laufer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Laufer's biography is interesting. This, from the preface to Hymn Lore, is very good: "To live with hymns and to make them one's own is the only sure way of appreciating their literary beauty and spiritual power."

Indeed! That's what I'm trying to do by blogging my way through this hymnal!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


First, God does not, indeed cannot, desire holiness from anyone; holiness is a status, not a set of behaviors. Second, it is not a moral status; most holy things have no moral agency. The altar and lampstand are not living in accord with the desires of God. Third, holy status is conferred, not earned.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 116

<idle musing>
OK, I come from a Wesleyan/holiness tradition, with a strong emphasis on holy living and holiness. But I see this as a healthy corrective to the common checklist mentality about holiness. And if you read Wesley, he always is stressing that it is God living through you that does the living. It is a gift.

Even so, though, I'm wondering if they aren't creating too strong a binary here. Or perhaps not allowing for a development of the idea throughout the course of scripture?
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

Here is my thesis. No one, no thing, no circumstance can harm a good man; and if you will believe that, you can relax. If you believe that, you can stop worrying that somebody will do you dirt. Nobody can block you, hinder your manifest destiny, reduce the size of the mansion of your soul, make you any less valuable to God or less dear to the Father. Nobody can block your ministry or stop your forward progress. Nobody can do it, nothing can do it, only you can do it. Keep sin out of your heart, walk under the blood of Christ, keep in contact with Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You can be as free as an angel that walks the streets of God, for nothing can harm a good man.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 167

A Palm Sunday hymn

129 Tours. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 When his salvation bringing,
   to Zion Jesus came,
   the children all stood singing
   hosannas to his name:
   nor did their zeal offend him,
   but as he rode along,
   he let them still attend him,
   and smiled to hear their song.

2 And since the Lord retaineth
   his love for children still,
   though now as King he reigneth
   on Zion's heav'nly hill,
   we'll flock around his banner
   who sits upon his throne,
   and cry aloud, "Hosanna
   to David's royal Son!"

3 For should we fail proclaiming
   our great Redeemer's praise,
   the stones, our silence shaming,
   would their hosannas raise.
   But shall we only render
   the tribute of our words?
   No, while our hearts are tender,
   they too shall be the Lord's.
                         John King
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
For those of you who might not click through to the bio, this author is extremely obscure. All they know for sure is that he was an Englishman and that he apparently wrote five hymns. He might be the same as Joshua King, about whom we know nothing.
</idle musing>

Monday, September 18, 2023

Priests as holy

As with the [Mesopotamian] kings, the holifying of the Israelite priests indicated that the priestly office had a divine origin; it was instituted by Yahweh rather than by the people (Ex 28:1, notably in contrast to Israelite kingship, which is instituted by the people in 1 Sam 8; some Mesopotamian kings are DINGIRS, but Israelite kings are never holy). It also indicates that the priests were part of the divine realm, enabling them (among other things) to enter the sanctuary without defiling it (or dying). Thus it appears that Hebrew usage of qdš indicates that it means the same thing as DINGIR/ilu; it signifies that the element so designated was part of the divine constellation of a particular deity or a participant in a divine office.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 116

<idle musing>
I think they might be overstating things a bit here. What about you? But, we'll see where this is going, if anywhere.
</idle musing>

Gloria, laus et honor (All glory, laud, and honor)

127 St. Theodulph. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 All glory, laud, and honor
   To Thee, Redeemer, King,
   To whom the lips of children
   Made sweet hosannas ring!
   Thou art the King of Israel,
   Thou David's royal Son,
   Who in the Lord's name comest,
   The King and blessed One!

2 The company of angels
   Are praising Thee on high,
   And mortal men and all thing
   Created make reply
   The people of the Hebrews
   With palms before Thee went;
   Our praise and prayer and anthems
   Before Thee we present.

3. To Thee, before Thy Passion,
   They sang their hymns of praise;
   To Thee, now high exalted,
   Our melody we raise.
   Thou didst accept their praises;
   Accept the praise we bring,
   Who in all good delightest,
   Thou good and gracious King!
                         Theodulph of Orleans
                        Tr. by John M. Neale
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
An old Latin hymn from the ninth century; seems he was placed in his bishopric by Charlemagne. But, I must say that the variations on this one are amazing. I didn't find a single one on that agreed with the version here. You can find the original Latin here. Seems what the Methodist hymnal did is eliminate the chorus and make the six verses into three. The other editions picked and chose which verses and in what order, making adjustment here and there to the translation for language or theological reasons. I'll stick with this version.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Lift up your heads!

126 Truro. L. M.

1 Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
   behold, the King of glory waits;
   the King of kings is drawing near;
   the Savior of the world is here!

2 Fling wide the portals of your heart;
   make it a temple, set apart
   from earthly use for heaven's employ,
   adorned with prayer and love and joy.

3 Redeemer, come, with us abide;
   our hearts to thee we open wide;
   let us thy inner presence feel;
   thy grace and love in us reveal.

4 Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
   until our glorious goal is won;
   eternal praise, eternal fame
   be offered, Savior, to thy name!
                        Georg Weissel
                        Tr. by Catherine Winkworth
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition