Book Recommendation: “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It”

Looking for a great baptism gift for a little one? Have I a book for you!

God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It illustrated by Jonathan Mayer shows the lifelong gift that baptism provides through the text of the hymn “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” The book journeys through a boy’s life, from the baptismal font as an infant to the end of his earthly life and start of his eternal life in Heaven. The illustrations are beautiful and engaging and the hymn text is the same that is found in the Lutheran Service Book.

We got this book for Sweet Pea for Christmas. She’s rather indifferent towards it (as she is to most things since she’s only 2 months old), but 2-year-old Babykins loves it. She asks me to sing it 3 or 4 times whenever she pulls out the book. A good bonus to this book is that I’m in the process of memorizing the hymn just from sheer repetition (I find this much more useful to me than memorizing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). Likewise, my husband used the book while teaching about baptism to his confirmation students. He said that they actually enjoyed having the hymn illustrated so clearly despite them being in 6th and 7th grade and past the age of picture books.

God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It: Buy it, sing it, enjoy it!

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

“Come, ye thankful people, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
All be safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.”

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” LSB 892:1


The Lyre Hymnal

It’s difficult juggling a toddler and a hymnal on Sunday mornings. If the toddler isn’t try to writhe out of your grasp, she is grasping for the hymnal in a desperate attempt to destroy look at it. Keeping the hymnal in hand–much less opened to the correct hymn–is a challenge.

That’s why I’m presenting the idea for the LSB: Lyre Edition. The idea is simple. Flutists and piccolo players in marching band have a lyre that straps onto their arms. Why not use a similar lyre on Sunday morning for those of us who need an extra hand free?

The LSB: Lyre Edition will provide small, printed sheets of hymns. Mothers can place in the lyre the hymns being sung that day prior to service (or another helpful member could do so for the members, because, let’s face it, many mothers come running into church as the service begins). LSB: Lyre Edition will provide better mobility for grabbing little ones than lugging a heavy hymnal. Likewise, LSB: Lyre Edition will be much quieter if it is dropped.

You may ask yourself, “Why wouldn’t churches just use projectors for the service?” First off, projector screens often don’t mix aesthetically with sanctuaries. They stick out like a proverbial sore thumb. Secondly, projectors rarely include the music of a hymn. Many of us mothers may not read music well, but we do rely on the hymnal to at least give us a guess where the next pitch should land.

LSB: Lyre Edition: Sing your favorite hymns while keeping your little ones corralled.

LSB Lyre

Okay, so this isn’t a perfect idea. First off, it would be difficult to keep the sheet music small enough for the lyre but big enough to read. Likewise, there’s a good chance the lyre will just wind up smacking a child in the face. But I’m just presenting the idea, I’ll leave wiser minds to perfect it. Not to mention that I’m mostly joking. 😉 

 

 


Where the Church is Built

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware now that SCOTUS ruled yesterday that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. Based on media coverage and businesses’s rainbow displays, you would think this ruling was in a strong majority. It wasn’t. The court was once again divided and passed the ruling 5-4.

However, the ruling also doesn’t take me by surprise. I have many friends and family members who fully support the SCOTUS decision. I’ve known where they stand on this issue for many years. But I also have many friends and family members who disagree with this decision.

For those of us who disagree with this decision (and yes, I’m one of them), it’s easy to let our fears run away with us. I have heard fears expressed that our fellow citizens will turn on us for holding an unpopular belief. Or that the government will force the Church to embrace this ruling. . . or else. Or even that this ruling ultimately will bring the fall of Christianity.

It would be easy for me to succumb to these fears. But then I remember that we have always lived in a sinful world, the SCOTUS  decision certainly didn’t bring about sin. We have always been battling the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh. And marriage has been far from perfect for a long time–really, since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That doesn’t make the SCOTUS ruling okay, just remember that there is nothing new under the sun.

Likewise, it’s important for me to remember that Christianity isn’t about the issue of gay marriage. It’s about love. And not this Love Wins nonsense going around the internet. No, it’s about God showing His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). It’s about the life-giving faith found in the waters of baptism. It’s about the forgiveness of sins given to us in Holy Communion.

Finally, I remember that God’s church doesn’t depend on the United States being a “Christian” country. The Church is built on Christ. He is our cornerstone, not the laws of this nation. I find my peace in this.

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land;
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the souls distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Here stand the font before our eyes,
Telling how God has received us.
The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice
And what His Supper here gives us.
Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
And evermore, our Redeemer.

Grant, then, O God, Your will be done,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
"I know My own; My own know Me.
You, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you. Amen."

-"Built on the Rock" LSB 645:1, 4-5

Hymns Can Be Creepy

As Lutherans, we’re not afraid to talk about death.  Death is inevitable, death can come at any time.  We cannot teach the full sweetness of the Gospel without talking about death (Why did Jesus die on the cross?  To save us from our sins and eternal death.  Why is Jesus’ resurrection important?  Among other things, it’s because it shows that He conquered death).   Likewise, Luther’s explanation of the seventh petition of the Lord’s prayer includes praying for a blessed end, that is, a death in the faith.

This acknowledgment of death is apparent in many of our hymns.  The last verse in “Abide With Me” states,

"Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me." LSB 878:6

Another example is found in “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus”:

"Let us gladly die with Jesus.  
Since by death He conquered death, 
He will free us from destruction, 
Give to us immortal breath.  
Let us mortify all passion 
That would lead us into sin; 
And the grave that shuts us in
Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus here with You I die,
There to live with You on high." 
LSB 685:3

Now look at “In God, My Faithful God”:

"If death my portion be, 
It brings great gain to me;
It speeds my life's endeavor
To live with Christ forever.
He gives me joy in sorrow,
Come death now or tomorrow." 
LSB 745:3

There are many more examples in which Lutheran hymnody acknowledges and embraces the inevitability of death.  For the most part, I find this openness about death comforting, especially when facing the life’s constant sorrows.

However, a couple of weeks ago my husband and I were looking at “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594).  It’s a wonderful baptism hymn filled with sound teachings of what it means to be a baptized child of God.  Then we get to verse 5:

"There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring;
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise!"

Opened-eyed my grave is staring?!  That’s a creepy image!

openeyed grave

Really, I’m not a great artist so I can’t capture how eerie a staring grave would look!

What adds to the creepiness of this phrase is the fact that the setting in the hymnal is very bouncy–it’s such a happy-sounding song!  Go ahead and listen to it if you want (this video is from a WELS church, hence the different hymn number).  Despite the spooky image, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” is a great hymn that teaches what baptism gives us, tells of Christ’s death and resurrection, beautifully explains what happens when we die, and provides comfort as we face sin and death.   I love this hymn, open-eyed graves and all.

What is your favorite “creepy” hymn?  


What’s So Good about Good Friday?

When I was in grade school, I hated attending the Good Friday Service of Darkness.  It was dark, it was sad, and it was scary.  I hated it so much that I could barely remember that Good Friday was called “good;” I wanted to call it Bad Friday because I knew what a terrible death Jesus died.  But whenever my siblings or I complained about going to the Good Friday service, my mom would say, “You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.”

Now I have a much better understanding of what is good about Good Friday.  Yes, Jesus died, but he died for my sins.  He bore the entirety of God’s wrath against His sinful creation.  Through the shedding of His innocent blood, I have been washed clean of my sins.  All of this done out of love.  Romans 5:6-11 explains Good Friday, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”  Good Friday services are often still dark, sad, and scary for me, but I also know that it is good because Christ died for us undeserving sinners so that we could be reconciled with God.  Thanks be to Christ!

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted (LSB 451)
Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, See Him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ, by man rejected; Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
‘Tis the long expected Prophet, David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it: ‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning, Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning, Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him, None would intervene to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him Was the stroke that justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, Here it’s guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation, Here the refuge of the lost:
Christ, the Rock of our salvation, Is the name of which we boast;
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded Who on Him their hope have built.


And the Very Exciting Thing Is. . .

About a month ago I wrote about a Very Exciting Thing that I couldn’t share at that time.  However, with the release of the church’s February newsletter, I can finally make my announcement:  our vicarage congregation is switching to the Lutheran Service Book (LSB)!  After using LSB throughout college and the first two years at the seminary, coming to a church still using The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) was a bit like saying goodbye to another friend and trying to reconnect with an old acquaintance.  I used TLH at my home church but after 6 years of using LSB, I liked the new hymnal.  It’s easier to use, easier to read, and has a wide selection of services.

However, in two weeks I will not have to pine for LSB any longer.  The pastor here is excited for the change and he and my husband are trying to get the congregation excited as well–we’ll see how that goes, you know how Lutherans can be like with change.  🙂


Hymnal Transition Fail

On Sunday morning I was really excited to see that one of the communion hymns was “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart.”  However, I learned the hymn using The Lutheran Service Book (LSB) and we were singing from The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH).  No biggie, right?  Wrong.  Apparently the two settings (tunes?) are just different enough to have me become completely lost while singing.  To make matters worse, the congregation hadn’t sang the hymn very often so they got lost as well.  Our joyful noise to the Lord was more of a confused mumble.