Holding God to His Word
Jacob wrestled with God; he would not let Him go until he received a blessing from Him (Gen. 32:22_32). So it was with the Canaanite woman. Though Jesus seemed to ignore and reject her, she continued to call upon His name and look to Him for help (Mt. 15:21_28). Even when the Lord called her a little dog, she held on to Him in faith and would not let Him wriggle out of His words: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” This Gentile woman shows herself to be a true Israelite, who struggles with God and man in Christ and prevails. “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (Mt. 15:27_28). This is the sanctifying will of God (1 Thess. 4:1_7) to test your faith in order that it may be refined and strengthened. For tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope in Christ does not disappoint (Rom. 5:1_5).
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 Office of Matins (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: O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; 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: Gen. 32:22-32
Epistle:1 Thess. 4:1-7
Holy Gospel:Matt. 15:21-28
When in the Hour of Deepest Need is by Paul Eber, who was a contemporary of Luther. Paul Eber was a student at the university of Wittenberg and later joined the faculty as professor of Latin. He was a friend of Phillip Melanchthon and stuck by Melanchthon throughout the controversies that followed Luther’s death. This hymn is based on an earlier Latin hymn by Eber’s teacher, Joachim Camerarius. When in the hour of Deepest Need is wonderful for the way it takes the themes and imagery from several Psalms and Epistles and combines them in hymn form. In this hymn we fall on our knees and beg our Lord for mercy. We ask for deliverance from our sins and from the troubles that we face in this life.
This hymn talks objectively about justification, Christian vocation, and the joyful hope of the resurrection. And the hymn uses subjective, personal language to express a powerful prayer. Also, the text is paired with a perfectly fitting tune that expresses the hymn’s beauty and depth. I should also note that Bach used this hymn to close his Saint John Passion.
The text was written by a man named Martin Schalling, who lived from 1532-1608. He was a student at the University of Wittenberg and studied under Philipp Melanchthon and became a Lutheran pastor. A pattern seems to be emerging that hymn authors I really like lose their positions because they won’t compromise their beliefs. So it was with Schalling, who lost his job three times due to such circumstances. Twice he lost his job for his Lutheran beliefs. He was also removed from a post for refusing to sign the Formula of Concord (a document that Lutheran pastors and teachers today swear to uphold); which he felt was too harsh on his mentor, Philipp Melanchthon.
One of my favorite new hymns from Lutheran Service Book is LSB 941 “We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God.” As it says in the notes “This hymn is a versification of the Te Deum laudamus.”) Another good versification of the Te Deum is LSB 940 “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” especially with its additional stanzas. This versification is done by Pastor Stephen Starke, a prolific hymn-writer who has many hymns in LSB. The tune is from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, specificall the movement “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.” The tune is from a section in the middle of the movement. Both text and tune combine to create a majestic hymn that confesses so much about our God and especially what He has done for us by sending Christ to redeem the world.