Our Father, Who from Heaven Above (LSB 766)
Easter 6 (1 yr)
This hymn paraphrases the Lord’s Prayer and its seven petitions. This excellent hymn teaches children and all those learning how to pray. It does the same thing as memorizing the catechism, but in the happier and easier way that song provides. Interestingly enough the Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal declares, “We hold this to be Luther’s finest hymn,” placing it above his “A Mighty Fortress,” and his “Out of the Depths.” Of course when it comes to Luther hymns and favorite hymns it is not a contest, but this shows how highly regarded this hymn was by those fathers and mothers in faith who have come before us!
Its place in the Easter season begins the week of Ascension. Because Christ has burst the grave we now have one who is at the right hand of the Father advocating for us and hearing our prayers. In this way the hymn provides a transition and reminds us that Christ’s Resurrection grants us the rich honor of praying to a Father who loves us for his sake. It would be a most excellent hymn to use around the supper table, when beginning or ending the day.
Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice (LSB 556)
Easter 6 (3 yr)
Luther makes a second appearance in the Easter season with this hymn for Cantate. This is one of his earliest hymns, thought to be the second hymn he wrote. Lutheran theologians often like to compare early and late Luther as his theology develops and sharpens with age. This hymn shows a rich and beautiful grasp of the Gospel quite early in Luther’s study. Thus it comments on how fast the Gospel spread, doing its work as it was carried along especially by hymnody.
In Luther’s Law/Gospel fashion, he lays out the impossible struggle of justifying oneself through works before God (vs. 2 – 4). The hymn then follows with life giving relief through the Gospel (vs. 5 – 10). It tells the story of Luther’s own struggle with sin and death. This struggle is now shared by all who sin and try to find any hope in this life apart from Christ. The sung confession of verse five gives the world hope as Christ alone can and does set free from sin and sorrow, Christ alone slays bitter death that mankind may live forever. The whole hymn provides a concise creed on the work of God to save.
Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado.