Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation 2007

A hymn that is always meaningful to me is even more appropriate at this time of year when we observe the 490th anniversary of Martin Luther's publication of the 95 Theses. See how many Reformation themes you can spot in this hymn:
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;

In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,

As thy days may demand, so your succor shall be.

Fear not -- I am with you; O be not dismayed,

I, I am your God and will still give you aid;

I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I cause you to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not you o'erflow;

For I will be with you your troubles to bless,

And sanctify to you your deepest distress.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,

My grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;

The flame shall not hurt you: I only design

Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.

Even down to old age all my people shall prove

My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has lean'd for repose,

I will not, I can not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never -- no never -- no never forsake!

-- Words from The Christian Hymn Book: A Compilation of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Original and Selected by A. Campbell and Others. Cincinnati 1866
Foundation, in the Presbyterian Hymnal, is the tune that I prefer over all others. Like many of the hymn tunes arising from the American shape note tradition, it is in a pentatonic scale. The melody can be played using only the black keys of the piano.

With a meter of, there are a limited number of hymn tunes that can be used here -- St. Denio (Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise); Mueller (Away in a Manger) -- to name a couple.

You could even sing it to "The Streets of Laredo", but let's not go there...

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