THE LORD FEEDS HIS PEOPLE
The Lord provided bread from heaven for His people in the wilderness (Ex. 16:2–21). Now He who is Himself the living bread from heaven miraculously provides bread for the five thousand (John 6:1–15). This takes place near the time of the Passover, after a great multitude had followed Jesus across the sea, and when He went up on a mountain. Seen in this way, Jesus is our new and greater Moses, who releases us from the bondage of Mount Sinai and makes us free children of the promise (Gal. 4:21–31). Five loaves become twelve baskets—that is, the five books of Moses find their goal and fulfillment in Christ, whose people continue steadfastly in the doctrine and fellowship of the twelve apostles, and in the breaking and receiving of the bread of life, which is the body of Christ together with His precious blood, and in the prayers (Acts 2:41–47). So it is that God’s people “shall not hunger or thirst” (Is. 49:8–13). For He abundantly provides for us in both body and soul.
Within the liturgy for each Lord’s day, we receive the Word of God through uniquely appointed readings, psalms, hymns, and prayers. This week we will pray the Divine Service Setting One (audio of this liturgy). The following guide will help you to prepare to hear and sing the Propers, i.e. the varied texts and hymns for this week.
Collect of the Day: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament: Exodus 16:2-21
Epistle: Gal. 4:21-31
Holy Gospel: John 6:1-15
Lazarus Spengler originally wrote “Durch Adams Fall ganz verderbt Menschlich Natur und Wesen” as a nine stanza text of eight lines. Matthias Loy freely translated Spengler’s text into Long Meter. Spengler’s hymn first appeared in Walter’s Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn (Wittenberg, 1524), Johann Walter’s choir book. This text was held in high regard at the time of the Reformation, but during the eras of Pietism and the Enlightenment, it fell into disuse. Matthias Loy’s free translation appeared in The Lutheran Hymnal (1880) of the Ohio Synod and in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Lutheran Worship (1982) and now in Lutheran Service Book (2006).
Johann Franck’s hymn is a love song from the bride (church) to her Lord Jesus Christ! This is not as easy to see in English as in the original German which includes this line: God’s Lamb, my Bridegroom. Jesus is the priceless Bridegroom, pleasure, friend, and Lamb who has ransomed us, not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood (1 Peter 1:18–19). Jesus defends his bride against all evils of body and soul, especially that accuser Satan. Christians also can also decry fear and death. The world and its treasures hold no sway over those who, in faith, rely on Christ. Faithful Christians, members of the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22–33), do not fear leaving this evil world, for then they will dwell forever before the face of their Bridegroom, their priceless Treasure, in heaven.
As a hymn-writer Rist takes high rank. He wrote some 680 hymns, intended to cover the whole ground of Theology, and to be used by all ranks and classes, and on all the occasions of life. Rist meant them rather for private use than for public worship, and during his lifetime they were never used in the church at Wedel. But they were eagerly caught up, set to melodies by the best musicians of the day, and speedily passed into congregational use all over Germany, while even the Roman Catholics read them with delight. Over 200 may be said to have been in common use in Germany, and a large number still hold their place. But speaking of Rist’s better productions, we may say that their noble and classical style, their objective Christian faith, their scriptualness, their power to console, to encourage, and to strengthen in trust upon God’s Fatherly love, and their fervent love to the Saviour (especially seen in the best of his hymns for Advent, and for the Holy Communion), sufficiently justify the esteem in which they were, and are, held in Germany.
This Sunday we’ll be singing many hymns from the German Reformation – specifically, the 17th century. This was a rich era of hymnody for the church, led by pastors like Johann Rist (above), Philip Nicolai, Johann Heerman, and Joachim Neander. But the most prolific German hymn writer of the 17th century was Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), who wrote more than 100 texts for the German church. One of Gerhardt’s lesser-known texts is “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?,” written in 1653 while he was a pastor in Berlin. The English text was translated by John Kelly in 1867, and has been slightly altered.