My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker (LSB 820)
Trinity 12 — One year
John Poliander (pen name of John Graumann, 1487–1541) was at one time the secretary of Luther’s great opponent, Dr. Eck. But after the Leipzig Disputation in 1519, he was convinced by the Gospel and joined the Reformation. He spent his life furthering the Reformation and combatting errorists such as the Anabaptists, especially in Prussia. He wrote this hymn in 1525 at the request of Margrave Albrecht, who loved Psalm 103, of which this hymn is a summary.
The Margrave, according to Chemnitz, had it sung at his death bed. It was also sung by Gustavus Adolphus after taking back Augsburg in the 30 Years War. It is a song of praise that matches the closing of the Gospel, “He has done all things well.” Jesus is our maker as much as is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus opened the deaf-mute’s lips, and those lips spoke plainly, so we open our lips to praise and bless God for all the benefits we have received from him. It is always through Jesus that we receive not only health for our bodies, but for our souls as well. It is in the person and work of Christ alone that we truly come to worship our maker in spirit and in truth.
Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain (LSB 865)
Ludwig Hembold (1532–98) left many honors, including being a poet laureate of the Holy Roman Empire, to stay true to the true faith of the Lutheran Church. He is known for many hymns he wrote for the use in schools to help teach the Bible and the Confessions. He even wrote a metrical version of the Augsburg Confession!
His best known hymn is From God Can Nothing Move Me (LSB 713), but Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain is a masterful summary of the catechism’s doctrine that finds good use at home, in schools and also in the divine service on Sunday. Considering that the Gospel lesson from Mark 7 warns against the harm of following tradition over Scripture, this hymn is very fitting, as it points us to the plain doctrine of Scripture which Luther summarized in the Small Catechism, often called “The Layman’s Bible.” Each part of the 6 Chief Parts of the Catechism are referenced in the hymn, showing how the whole of Christian doctrine is applied to our life and conscience.
Rev. Mark Preus serves as a campus pastor at St. Andrews in Laramie, WY.