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 Three (audio of this liturgy). Each week will also begin with a brief catechesis on each part of the liturgy of the Divine Service. The following guide will help you to prepare to hear and sing the Propers, i.e. the varied texts and hymns for this week.
JOHN THE BAPTIZER PREPARES THE WAY FOR THE LORD
The voice of the Baptizer cried out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord…” (Isa. 40:1). John called the people to be made ready for the Messiah’s coming through repentance, for “all flesh is grass” (Isa. 40:6). Now He asks from prison, “Are you the one who is to come… ?” (Matt. 11:2). Jesus’ works bear witness that He is. The sick are made well; the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Their iniquity is pardoned; they have received from the Lord’s hand double forgiveness for all their sins. The “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1) still deliver Christ’s overflowing forgiveness to the poor in spirit, comforting God’s people with the word of the Gospel which stands forever. This Gospel produces rejoicing among all those who believe.
Collect of the Day: Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85 ; antiphon: v. 9
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
When opening the prayer book to Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding parents can help their children imagine John the Baptist singing to them. It is a fine hymn as his person, life, and voice are heard prominently during Advent in readings and hymnody. In the angelic announcement, miraculous birth, preaching, convicting, consoling, Baptism, suffering, imprisonment, and death John prepares the way. Like John, Jesus too will be found announced by angels, in the womb, in the Word, in the water, against Herod, with the sinners, arrested, in prison and in death to save.
With stanza one sees John as that thrilling voice sounding “Christ is near…Cast away the works of darkness, All you children of the day!” Stanza two is his strong, brave, forceful call unto repentance heard by friend and foe alike. Stanza three is his pointing of his disciples and the crowds away from Himself and unto Jesus, the Lamb, so long expected. Stanza four sees John look unto the end as he sings to us of Christ’s great return in glory, bringing fear to the world and rescue unto the Church. Finally, the hymn concludes with a doxology, John and those who sing with him decreasing, and Father, Son, and Spirit increasing.
LSB receives a different tune over against Lutheran Worship. Whether it is more thrilling than the last, befitting the strength and conviction of John’s clear voice, congregations may consider putting to the test. (Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill for Logia Online)