Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Simple, strong, and focused on God"

Nathaniel Peters was curious about the way a Lutheran radio program would discuss Bernard of Clairvaux. The program inspired Peters to reflect on "Bernard the Hymn-Writer" and to comment on the purpose of hymns:
What struck me were the remarks of the host in the beginning of the program: "Some of the greatest preachers we’ve had have been our hymn-writers." He noted that the sermons preached through hymns are heard not only by one audience in one time, but by countless men and women throughout the ages. In this Bernard was no exception, authoring the hymns we know as "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," "O Jesus, King Most Wonderful," and the variously translated "Jesu, Dulcis Memoria."

All of these are rich, beautiful, and focused clearly on the adoration of Christ. Which is exactly what liturgical music should be–a supplement to the order of service that lifts our minds to God instead of sinking them back into ourselves. ....

Simple, strong, and focused on God: not an easy set of criteria for hymns, but a lofty one. Hopefully the writers of the next generation will look to figures like Bernard as models for their craft.
One of the translations of "Jesu, Dulcis Memoria":
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.