Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Father, we thank Thee



Father, we thank Thee who hast planted
Thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus Thy Son to us imparts.
Watch o'er Thy church, O Lord, in mercy,
Save it from evil, guard it still.
Perfect it in Thy love, unite it,
Cleansed and conformed unto Thy will.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for Thy pleasure,   
Didst give us food for all our days,
Giving in Christ the Bread eternal;
Thine is the pow'r, be Thine the praise.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
Was in this broken bread made one,
So from all lands Thy church be gathered
Into Thy kingdom by Thy Son.

"Father, We Thank Thee, Who Hast Planted" has long been one of my favorite hymns. Its tune, taken from the sixteenth-century Genevan Psalter, is eminently singable. The hymn text...is even better. For Francis Bland Tucker’s lyrics put twenty-first-century congregations in touch with the second generation of Christians, and perhaps even the first, by combining various phrases from an ancient Christian prayer book and catechism, the Didache.

Scholars continue to debate whether the Didache, more formally known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, comes to us from the second or first Christian centuries, but the weight of academic opinion now favors the earlier date. Thus, The Teaching (“Didache” in Greek) links us to what biblical scholar Raymond Brown called “the churches the apostles left behind”: the Christians who were taught by those who were taught by the Lord himself. Singing “Father, We Thank Thee, Who Hast Planted,” we are praying as second-generation Christians, formed by those who had known the Lord Jesus and were witnesses to his resurrection, prayed. ....