Archive for the ‘Isaiah 42’ Category

A Light to the Nations IV   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of the World, 1726

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-62077




Eternal God, who by the birth of your beloved Son Jesus Christ gave yourself to humankind,

Grant that, being born in our hearts, he may save us from all our sins,

and restore within us the image and likeness of our creator,

to whom be everlasting praise and glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965)


Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 2

1 John 4:9-16

John 1:1-14


The most probable identity of the servant of God in Isaiah 42:1-9 is the people of Israel themselves.  They, the Chosen People, have the responsibility to be a light to the nations, or Gentiles.  This is a light the subjects of Psalm 2 oppose; the light of God is not a priority for them.  Another proposed identity for the servant in Isaiah 42 is the Messiah.  This fits well with John 1:1-14 and 1 John 4:9-16.  We can also discern from 1 John 4 that faithful Gentiles get to share with Jews and the Messiah in being a light to the nations.

The light we are supposed to share is one that places the spotlight on God, not on ourselves.  As the Westminster Catechisms state, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  Discipleship entails humility before God.  May we shed light on God humbly, unabashedly, and dutifully, by grace.






Posted August 29, 2017 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 4, Isaiah 42, John 1, Psalm 2

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Loyalty and Renewal   1 comment

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Above:  Icon of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Image in the Public Domain

Loyalty and Renewal

DECEMBER 23, 2015


The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

With your abundant grace and might,

free us from the sin that binds us,

that we may receive you in joy and serve you always,

for you live and reign with the Father and

the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 42:14-21

Psalm 113

Luke 1:5-25


Who is like the LORD our God, who sits enthroned on high,

but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?

He takes up the weak out of the dust

and lifts up the poor from the ashes.

He sets them with the princes,

with the princes of his people.

He makes the woman of a childless house

to be a joyful mother of children.

–Psalm 113:5-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The theme of pregnancy continues for the third consecutive set of pericopes.  The warrior-like Yahweh of Isaiah 42 remains loyal to Israel, will redeem it, and “will scream like a woman in labor” (verse 14c, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985).  The reading from Luke 1 tells of the conception of St. John the Baptist, the great forerunner of his cousin, Jesus.  Once again a barren woman becomes pregnant, losing the disgrace resulting from her childlessness in a patriarchal culture.

These are accounts of new life, both physical and spiritual.  God, the pericopes tell us, is loyal to certain people on the basis of grace even when they are disloyal to God.  (There is doom for others, however.)  Is not God due loyalty?  Nothing we can offer God can repay for divine grace, but God does not seek repayment.  Our responsibility is to trust in God, loving God fully and our fellow human beings as we love ourselves.  One way of expressing love for God is loving our neighbors.

This is a devotion for a day in the vicinity of December 25, Christmas Day.  In Jesus, the author of the Gospel of John tells us, the Word (or Logos) of God “became flesh and lived among us” (1:14a, The New Revised Standard Version, 1989).  Yet Jesus met with rejection (1:11).  That rejection was an example of disloyalty to God.

May Christmas become for you, O reader, an occasion to renew your loyalty to God in Christ.  May the season of Christmas be twelve days of spiritual renewal as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!





Adapted from this post:


Posted August 21, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 42, John 1, Luke 1, Psalm 113

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Apostasy and Fidelity   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

With your abundant grace and might,

free us from the sin that binds us,

that we may receive you in joy and serve you always,

for you live and reign with the Father and

the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (Thursday)

Isaiah 42:10-18 (Friday)

Psalm 80:1-7 (Both Days)

Hebrews 10:10-18 (Thursday)

Hebrews 10:32-39 (Friday)


Restore us, O God of hosts;

show us the light of your countenance,

and we shall be saved.

–Psalm 80:7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The motif of divine judgment and mercy continues in the readings for these days.  Exile will come to pass.  According to the theology of the Old Testament, the main cause was disobedience to the Law of Moses.  After the exile, however, divine mercy will shower upon the Hebrews.  The new covenant will be one written on human hearts, not scrolls or stone tablets.

Divine forgiveness for human sins is a blessing and an expression of grace.  It also creates an obligation to respond favorably to God, out of awe and gratitude.  Such a favorable response will affect those around the one responding accordingly.  How can it not?  Consider, O reader, the commandment to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.  That one has societal implications.

The Letter to the Hebrews warns against committing apostasy, or falling away from God.  That emphasis is evident in 10:32-39.  One cannot fall away from God unless one has followed God.  As I wrote in the previous post,

Salvation…is a matter of God’s grace and human obedience.

Divine love for human beings is wonderful.  It does not, however, negate free will.  I recognize a role for predestination also, for I have come to accept the doctrine of Single Predestination, which is consistent with Lutheranism and Anglicanism, as well as moderate Calvinism.  For those not predestined to Heaven the witness of the Holy Spirit is available.  By free will (itself a gift of God) one can accept or reject that witness.  The correct choice is acceptance, but many opt to reject the offer.  Some of them had accepted it.

The responsibility to make the correct choice remains constant.  The necessity of choosing to persist in the faith is a constant once one has embraced wondrous grace.





Adapted from this post:


Continuity and Adaptation: Moravians, 1923-1994   3 comments


Above:  My Copies of the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923), the Moravian Youth Hymnal (1942), the Moravian Youth Hymnal (1961), and the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969), February 20, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor




Throughout, the revisers have striven to maintain the high standards and noble ideals handed down in the worship-song of the Moravian Church.

Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923), page 5



This post stands in lineage with the Preface and Parts I, II, and III.

With this post I enter the phase of this series in which I operate almost entirely from hardcopy sources.  This reality appeals to me, for I relate better to a book than to a PDF file of a book.  I prefer paper to a screen any day.  And I can open two books and compare them side-by-side more easily than I can compare pages on PDF files on the same computer.

The Moravian Church in America published two major liturgical books-hymnals–in 1923 and 1969–and two youth hymnals-songbooks during the span of time this post covers.  The two provinces usually succeeded in balancing quality of texts and music on one hand and cultural popularity of style on the other.


Hymnal and Liturgies (1923)

Above:  My Copy of the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923), February 20, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Perhaps the best way to commence an analysis of the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923) is with its appearance.  The gold-embossed letters in an ornate font set against a black cover proclaim a strong sense of reverence for God and the worship thereof.  Fortunately, most of the content is consistent with the formality of the external font.  Unfortunately, some of the content is inconsistent with the formality of the external font.

Next I move along to the Liturgy, which occupies pages 11-171.  Most of the content is identical to that of the 1890 expanded version of the 1876 Liturgy from the Liturgy and Hymns.  Some notable differences exist, however:

  1. The Lord’s Supper service permits the use of individual cups.
  2. The Communion for the Sick has become the Private Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
  3. Language in some rituals indicates the influence of the American Standard Version of the Bible (1901).
  4. The new Special Services section includes four new services:  Missionary, Patriotic, For Schools and Colleges, and the Office for the Service Preparatory to the Holy Communion.
  5. There is a second rite for the Burial of the Dead.
  6. The Liturgical Service in Memory of the Martyrs has become the rite for All Saints’ Day.
  7. The service for a Day of Humiliation and Prayer has departed the Services for the Church Seasons section for the new Special Services section.
  8. The service for the First Sunday in Advent also fits the Third and Fourth Sundays in that season as well as Palm Sunday.  (The Second Sunday in Advent retains a separate service.)
  9. The Communion Liturgies section has become the Communion Hymns section.

Of all of these changes, the one which arches my eyebrows the most is the fact that the service for three of the four Sundays in Advent applies also to Palm Sunday.  I, as an Episcopalian who uses The Book of Common Prayer (1979), am accustomed to a Palm Sunday ritual unique to that day.  The Moravian service in questions sounds like Advent, for it includes the hymn “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” and sounds like Palm Sunday, for it includes the hymn “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” and Isaiah 42:3 (Authorized Version):

A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench; He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

The Patriotic service (pages 79-81) replaces Office of Worship XXXI (pages 31 and 32 of the Offices of Worship and Hymns, 1891).  The new service replaces a certain prayer, the one with the morally troublesome petition to learn “submit ourselves to every ordinance of man” for God’s sake.  That prayer, in full is:

Watch graciously over all governments; establish them in truth and righteousness, and give them thoughts of peace.  Bless the President of the United States and both Houses of Congress; the Governor and Legislature of this Commonwealth, and all others that are in authority; and grant us to lead under them a quiet and a peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  Teach us to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for Thy sake; and to seek the peace of the places where we dwell.  Give prosperity, O God, to this land, and salvation to all its people.

Offices of Worship and Hymns (With Tunes) (1891), page 32

Is there no exemption for civil disobedience against Jim Crow laws and genocidal dictators?  The replacement prayer is still troublesome from a post-Watergate perspective, however:

Bless the President of the United States and both Houses of Congress, the Governor and Legislature of this Commonwealth, and all others that are in authority.  Protect them from violence, and fill the hearts of the people with reverence and love for those who, as the ministers of God, have been set for the punishment of evil-doers and the praise of them that do well.  Raise up for us shepherds that shall perform Thy pleasure, who, in patience and fortitude, shall stay themselves upon their God.

The Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923), page 80

The Hymnal and Liturgies (1923) includes a lectionary table, a list of the festivals of the church year, 25 chants and responses, 952 hymns, and several indices.  The topically arranged hymns include a healthy representation of the output of Moravian authors, translators, and composers as well as products from ecumenical hymnody.

The hymns range from the old to the more recent, “recent” meaning the author, translator, or composer was alive in 1923.  Most of the hymn content of the book, however, comes from people who died before that year.  And the quality of texts ranges from John Mason Neale (1818-1866) translations of Greek and Latin hymns on the high end to Frances Jane Van Alstyne (Fanny J. Crosby) (1820-1915) hymns on the low end, with “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” occupying room in the middle (closer to Crosby than to Neale).

The format of the hymn section is old-fashioned by contemporary standards.  The musical systems contain the first verse only, so the other verses fill space below the systems.  This is a format consistent with practice of the time.  I have identified it in other volumes dating from 1895 to 1918 in my collection.  I have also noticed a different format–placing more or all verses inside the systems–in denominational hymnals as early as 1918.


Moravian Youth Hymnals

Above:  My Copies of the 1942 and 1961 Editions of the Moravian Youth Hymnal, February 20, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The First Edition (1942)

The Moravian Youth Hymnal for Use in Church School and All Young People’s Meetings stands in line with Moravian youth hymn books as far back as 1755.  It is certainly a successor to the Hymns and Offices of Worship (1866) and the Offices of Worship and Hymns (1872).  Those who prepared the Moravian Youth Hymnal manifested a commitment to quality.  As the Preface to the First Edition stated:

It is a lamentable fact that the Christian churches of America have been slow in giving their young people the best in sacred music.  Many testify to the fact that they find better music in their public schools than in their churches and church-schools.  The various denominations have been moving to raise the quality of church-school music.  With this hymnal, the Moravian Church makes its contribution to a great cause.

The First Edition opens with 219 hymns, arranged topically.   All the verses are inside the musical systems, unlike the arrangement in the Hymnal and Liturgies (1923).  The selection of hymns indicates a classical bias, of which I approve.  They range from antiquity (Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 170 to 220 C.E.) to the twentieth century, with Henry Van Dyke‘s masterpiece, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” set to a tune arranged from Ludwig von Beethoven‘s Symphony #9.  Also, “Jesus Loves Me! This I Know,” present in the Hymnal and Liturgies (1923), is absent from the Moravian Youth Hymnal.  The classical bias is also evident in the Orders of Worship.  The first Order of Worship opens with either “Morning” from Edvard Grieg‘s Peer Gynt or a hymn, “Light of the World, We Hail Thee.”  The hymnal impresses me.

The Worship Section of the Moravian Youth Hymnal (1942) contains Orders of Worship, Aids to Worship, and a Devotional Poetry section.  There are sixteen Orders of Worship:

  1. Morning Watch;
  2. Divine Guidance;
  3. The Word of God;
  4. The Lord Is Come;
  5. The Lord is Risen;
  6. The Spirit-Filled Life;
  7. The Good Shepherd;
  8. Worship and Admonition;
  9. Christian Education;
  10. Worship Through Music;
  11. Life, a Stewardship;
  12. The Christian Home;
  13. For God and Country;
  14. Peace and World Brotherhood;
  15. The Field is the World; and
  16. A Service for the Out-of-Doors.

Order of Worship XIII, the patriotic service, includes the troublesome prayer about submitting “ourselves to every ordinance of man” for God’s sake, unfortunately.  I have too much of a rebellious tendency in my thinking to consent to that sentiment.

There are six categories of Aids to Worship:

  1. Calls to Worship,
  2. Prayers,
  3. Offertory Sentences,
  4. Benedictions,
  5. Suggested Scripture Selections; and
  6. Responsive Readings.

The Devotional Poetry Section has twelve categories:

  1. Worship,
  2. Prayer,
  3. God’s Word,
  4. God’s Time,
  5. Faith and Trust,
  6. The Child Christ,
  7. The Man Christ,
  8. Salvation and Easter,
  9. The Christian Life–Brotherhood-Aspiration,
  10. Nature and the Out-of-Doors,
  11. Peace, and
  12. Morning Worship.

Indices complete the volume.

Subsequent Editions and Printings

The Moravian Youth Hymnal went into multiple printings and editions.  I acquired two different versions via the Internet for my library.  One is the First Edition (1942); the other comes from 1961.  The title page of that volume contains four years:  1942, 1954, 1956, and, of course, 1961.  That book has two prefaces and claims to be the Second Edition.  I notice some discrepancies, however:

  1. The Preface to the Second Edition states that the hymn section remains unaltered and that the Orders of Worship have undergone extensive revision.
  2. Yet that same Preface mentions junior hymns supplement (#222-235), all classical, tasteful hymns, such as “Away in the Manger” and “We Three Kings.”
  3. The 1961 version of the Moravian Youth Hymnal also contains hymns #220 (Christian Gregor‘s Hosanna of 1783) and #221 (Francis Florentine Hagen‘s Morning Star).

The revised Orders of Worship exist in two sections:  Services of Worship and Liturgical Forms.  The revised forms quote the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1952), not the Authorized Version.  Updated versions of all of the sixteen orders from 1942 are present, with one name change; “Divine Guidance” has become “Choosing the Way.”  The two new Services of Worship are “The Church” and “Thanksgiving and Harvest Home.”  The eleven Liturgical Forms are:

  1. Worship,
  2. Beatitudes,
  3. Christ (Lent),
  4. Trinity,
  5. Christian Life,
  6. Christian Growth,
  7. Love,
  8. Humility,
  9. Peace,
  10. Stewardship, and
  11. Youth.

The Aids to Worship section has five categories–the six from 1942 minus Prayers.

Indices complete the volume.

I know from Internet searches that the Moravian Youth Hymnal remained in print at least as late as 1966.


Moravian Fellowship Songs is a volume considerably less illustrious than the Moravian Youth Hymnal.  The slim paperback (96 pages, to be precise) offers no publication date, but my review of internal evidence (copyright notices on songs) indicates that the American Moravian Youth Fellowship published the book no earlier than 1954.  The range of quality of the 112 songs ranges from the abysmal to the excellent.  Classics of hymnody rub shoulders with “This Old Man” and “Hiking Song.”  Between those two extremes reside rounds and spirituals, far from my favorite genres.  (I am a European classicist.  Brian Wren takes this attitude to task in Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song, 2000.  It is an expression of classism, he writes in disapproval.  Nevertheless, I remain an ardent European classicist.)  Forms for a communion service and a lovefeast fill the back of the book, which ends with an index and a list of fun songs.


Hymnal and Liturgies (1969)

Above:  My Copy of the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969), February 20, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The final volume I analyze in this post is the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969), the one with a cross and a chalice on the red front cover.  My copy of the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) is thicker than my copy of its 1923 predecessor despite the fact that the 1969 book contains 358 fewer hymns than the Hymnal and Liturgies (1923).  The 1923 volume offers 952 hymns and 25 chants and responses, but its immediate successor contains 594 hymns and 29 chants and responses.  Another difference is that the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) offers a more ecumenical hymnody than does its immediate predecessor.  The selection in the 1969 volume is more contemporary relative to its publication date and contains more folk and gospel hymns than does the Hymnal and Liturgies (1923).

The Liturgy of 1969 is similar to that of 1923 in many ways.  There are, however, some noticeable differences:

  1. The Liturgy of 1923 contains two General Liturgies, I and II.  The Liturgy of 1969, however, contains four, the Liturgies of Confession, Trust, Adoration, and Covenanting.
  2. The version of the Church Litany in the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) is abbreviated and revised to remove duplications.
  3. There is just one rite for the Burial of the Dead again.  (There are two in the Liturgy of 1923.)
  4. The Liturgy of 1969 merges the Liturgical Services for the Church Seasons section and the Special Services section from 1923 into the Church Year and Special Occasions section.
  5. Some of the rites in Church Year and Special Occasions section have different names than their 1923 counterparts.  “Missionary” has become “the Spread of the Gospel,” “Epiphany” has become “Epiphany and Christian Witness,” “Whitsunday” has become “Pentecost (Whitsunday),” “All Saint’ Day” has become “All Saints,” “For Schools and Colleges” has become “Education,” “Patriotic” has become “National Occasions,” and “A Day of Humiliation and Prayer” has become “Penitence and Prayer.”
  6. The Communion Hymns section has become the Holy Communion section.
  7. The preparatory service for the Lord’s Supper, located in the Special Services section in 1923, has moved to the Holy Communion section.
  8. The Liturgy of 1969 merges the services for Pentecost and August Thirteenth.
  9. The Liturgy of 1969 merges the confirmation service and the rite for Baptism of Adults, adds the Reaffirmation of Faith, and creates a unified rite for the Admission of Adults with the option of omitting unnecessary elements in congregational settings without, as the Preface says, “damage to the whole.”

The Liturgy of 1969, debuting on the cusp of great change in the language of worship and in the calendar of much of Western Christianity, retained old-fashioned pronouns (Thee, Thy, et cetera) and the old calendar, complete with Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and Sundays after Trinity.  (The revised Roman Catholic calendar and lectionary, which influenced much of Protestantism and Anglicanism, became effective on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969.  The -gesimas were gone and Sundays after Pentecost replaced Sundays after Trinity.)  These facts, combined with the rapidly changing hymnody of the 1970s (not to mention the 1980s), rendered the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) outdated when it was young.  The volume was not unique in this regard; I can name other books of the same genre and generation (about 1965-1973) to which that statement applies.  Many of them were excellent books of greater quality than then-contemporary, Low Church Evangelical resources.  And, as much as I pray to God as “You,” not “Thee,” I would rather sing out of the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) than out of non-denominational Evangelical hymn books such as Hymns for the Living Church (1974), Hymns for the Family of God (1976), and The New Church Hymnal (1976).

As usual with Moravian hymnals, the indexing is thorough.  Also, the biographical notes in one index are quite helpful.


The Moravian Book of Worship (1995) replaced the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969).  Just as use of the Hymnal and Liturgies (1923) continued after 1969, use of the Hymnal and Liturgies (1969) persists.  (I have found evidence of this on congregational websites.)  The increasing diversity of the Moravian Church in America, fed in large part by immigration, has led to more variety in worship and song styles.  Official and unofficial Moravian Church publications I have read accept, if not praise, this change.  I, however, remain a staid Episcopalian and an unapologetic European classicist.  I know what I like, and old Moravian hymnals approach that ideal more often than contemporary ones do.











The Book of Common Worship:  Provisional Services and Lectionary for the Christian Year.  Philadelphia, PA:  Westminster Press, 1966.

The Book of Worship for Church and Home; With Orders of Worship, Services for the Administration of Sacraments, and Aids to Worship According to the Usages of The Methodist Church.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1965.

Burcaw, Robert T., ed.  The Moravian Book of Worship Manual for Worship Planners.  Bethlehem, PA:  Interprovincial Board of Publications and Communications, 1995.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication of the United Lutheran Church in America, 1918.

The Covenant Hymnal.  Chicago, IL:  Covenant Press, 1973.

Frank, Albert H.  Companion to the Moravian Book of Worship.  Winston-Salem, NC:  Moravian Music Foundation, 2004.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints.  New York, NY:  Church Publishing, 2010.

The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada.  1971.

The Hymnal.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1895.

The Hymnal.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1911.

The Hymnal.  New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 1918.

Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church.  Bethlehem, PA:  Moravian Church in America, 1969.

Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum).  Bethlehem, PA:  Moravian Church in America, 1923.

The Hymnal with the Supplement of 1917.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1917.

Hymnbook for Christian Worship.  St. Louis, MO:  Bethany Press, 1970.

Hymns for the Family of God.  Nashville, TN:  Paragon Associates, 1976.

Hymns for the Living Church.  Carol Stream, IL:  Hope Publishing Company, 1974.

Knouse, Nola Reed, ed.  The Music of the Moravian Church in America.  Rochester, NY:  University of Rochester Press, 2008.

The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America Together with the Psalter Selected and Arranged for Responsive Reading.  Gerrit T. Vander Lugt, Ed.  New York, NY:  Board of Education, 1968.

The Methodist Hymnal.  New York:  Eaton & Mains, 1905.

The Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1966.

Moravian Book of Worship.  Bethlehem, PA:  Moravian Church in America, 1995.

Moravian Youth Hymnal.  Bethlehem, PA:  Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, 1942.

Moravian Youth Hymnal.  Bethlehem, PA:  Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, 1961.

The New Church Hymnal.  Lexicon Music, 1976.

The New Psalms and Hymns.  Richmond, VA:  Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1901.

The Pilgrim Hymnal with Responsive Readings.  New York, NY:  Pilgrim Press, 1904.

The Pilgrim Hymnal with Responsive Readings and Other Aids to Worship.  Boston, MA:  Pilgrim Press, 1912.

Worship in Song Hymnal.  Kansas City, MO:  Lillenas Publishing Company, 1972.

The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns.  Philadelphia, PA:  Westminster Press, 1972.

Wren, Brian.  Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.


A Light to the Nations II   1 comment

Candle Flame

Above:  Candle Flame

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond understanding.

Pour into our hearts such love for you that,

loving you above all things,

we may obtain your promises,

which exceed all we can desire,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:5-6 (Thursday)

Isaiah 42:5-9 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 32:44-47 (Saturday)

Psalm 98 (All Days)

Acts 10:1-34 (Thursday)

Acts 10:34-43 (Friday)

Mark 10:42-45 (Saturday)


Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing….

In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:5, 10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


A sense of having a covenant with and a special revelation from God ought not to lead one into spiritual and theological elitism, the religious equivalent of ethnocentrism, which is just as false as cultural relativism.  Of course I condemn legalism and spiritual and theological elitism wherever they rear their ugly heads, but more importantly I advocate a healthy sense of ecumenism.  I emphasize what I favor–loving one’s fellow human beings in the name of God and behaving toward them accordingly.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

–Mark 10:45, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I, as a professing Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  Thus, if I am to be an intellectually and spiritually honest Christian, I must serve others in the name of Christ, regardless of the human categories into which they fit.  I retain definitions of true religions (Judaism and Christianity), merely false religions, and predatory cults, for I am not a Universalist.  Yet my theology is ecumenical, drawing from Judaism and various Christian traditions.  Those Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (members of merely false religions) who come to my front door and whom I fail to avoid sometimes, do not understand this, for they think that they have the ultimate revelation of God.  Meanwhile, I live in a home with crucifixes, a menorah, hymnals and service books from a range of denominations, and Bibles from Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant backgrounds.  I remain an observant Episcopalian, but other denominations fascinate me–some more than others.  Lutherans and Moravians are especially interesting.

There is God; no such beings as gods exist.  Thus all of us are children of God, although many do not know that.  To be an effective light to the nations one must, among other things, lay aside contempt for the people one hopes to convert.  The failure to do so has been among the most grievous faults of many missionaries for centuries.  They people who have set out to do something righteous have destroyed cultures and functioned as agents of imperial powers instead, for the shackles of ethnocentrism have chained them.  Fortunately, modern schools of missions are among the places where one may learn how to avoid following in those footsteps.

To be a light to the nations–or one’s community–is a great responsibility, one to approach with much reverence and humility.  It is a goal one can accomplish only by grace and which requires the acknowledgment that one does not have a complete understanding of God.  Nobody has such a grasp of the divine, but some of us have learned more of the truth than others.








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The Lamb Who Has Conquered   1 comment


Above:  Stained-Glass Version of the Moravian Logo

Image Source = JJackman



The Collect:

O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy

and to the cross before glory.  Plant his cross in our hearts,

so that in its power and love we may come at last to joy and glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 36:5-11

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 42:

Hebrews 9:

John 12:

Prayer for Monday of Passion Week/Holy Week:


Your righteousness stands like strong mountains,

your justice like the great deep;

you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

–Psalm 36:6, Common Worship (2000)


The Synoptic Gospels tell us something powerful and vital visually:  Jesus entered Jerusalem that signal day on the back of a beast of burden.  This was a clear sign within his culture, for a king who had won already rode such an animal to the peace talks.  Thus our Lord and Savior entered Jerusalem triumphantly not as a conquering hero but as one who had triumphed already.  As the wordy Jesus of the Fourth Gospel says,

I have overcome the world.

–John 16:33b, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

The servant of God in Isaiah 42:1-9, in the original meaning, is the Hebrews, the Chosen People.  That mandate is also the assignment of all the faithful people of God—Jews and Gentiles—to shine brightly for God and to work justice-righteousness.  (Justice and righteousness are the same in the Bible.)  One test of how well we perform on that standard is how we treat others, especially the vulnerable.  That is a good idea to remember as we proceed through Holy Week and approach the liturgical observance of our Lord and Savior’s judicial murder—his crucifixion.








Adapted from this post:


Posted January 17, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 9, Isaiah 42, John 12, John 16, Psalm 36

Tagged with , , ,

A Life Worthy of the Lord   1 comment


Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Window Showing the Conversion of Paul

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress



The Collect:

Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us.

By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness

of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign

with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 59:9-19 (23rd Day)

Isaiah 42:14-21 (24th Day)

Psalm 146 (Both Days)

Acts 9:1-20 (23rd Day)

Colossians 1:9-24 (24th Day)


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 59:

Isaiah 42:

Acts 9:

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (January 25):

Colossians 1:


Judgment and mercy go hand-in-hand in the Bible.  The assigned readings for today demonstrate this well.  Psalm 146:5-9 reads:

Happy is he whose helper is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is the LORD his God,

maker of heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them;

who maintains faithfulness for ever

and deals out justice to the oppressed.

The LORD feeds the hungry

and sets the prisoner free.

The LORD raises those who are bowed down;

the LORD loves the righteous

and protects the stranger in the land;

the LORD gives support to the fatherless and the widow,

but thwarts the course of the wicked.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Deliverance of the faithful and destruction of the wicked occurs in the readings from Isaiah.  In the Bible justice and righteousness are the same thing; our English-language words “justice” and “righteousness” are translations of the same term.  Thus corruption and economic exploitation are both unrighteous and unjust.

Sometimes, however, God grants persecutors opportunities to repent and convert.  If they refuse, that is solely their responsibility.  St. Paul the Apostle, with human guidance sent by God, accepted.  He, in the Letter to the Colossians, wrote eloquently in terms he drew from his life:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

–1:11-14, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

Some people have dramatic experiences.  Others of us do not.  Contrary to what some say, being able to document when one came to God is not requisite.  Yet being of God is necessary for salvation.  God, who works in more than one way, is the arbiter of these matters.

So, regardless of how we came to God—gradually and quietly (as I did) or dramatically (as St. Paul did)—may we honor God daily by keeping our Lord and Savior’s commandments (

If you love me, keep my commandments.

—Jesus) and following the Apostle’s advice

to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

–Colossians 1:10, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)






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