Some church calendars mark this day in remembrance of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha of Bethany, that family of close friends to Jesus. They were so close that he encouraged Mary (and even Martha) to listen as he taught, which was not considered proper for women in that time, and so close that he wept at the death of Lazarus and restored him to life.
The familiar story of Lazarus, told in John 11:17-44 is where Jesus proclaims "I am the Resurrection and the Life." This hymn for the day is a prayer for renewal and strength in the promise of resurrection.
Dear Jesus, who at Lazarus’ tomb,
To weeping friends in wearied gloom,
Didst bring new joy to life,
Grant unto those who stand forlorn
A vision of that larger morn
Where peace has conquered strife.
May we behold across the bar
The saints immortal as they are,
Empowered in act and will,
With fuller voice their praises sing,
With larger hearts their tributes bring,
With strength to help us still;
Not fettered now by fleshly bond,
But tireless in the great beyond,
And growing day by day.
Can we not make their gladness ours,
And share their thoughts, their added powers,
And follow as we pray?
O Holy Spirit, Strength and Guide
Of those who to this earth have died,
But live more near to God,
Give us thy grace to follow on,
Till we with them the crown have won
And heaven's paths have trod.
Hardwicke D. Rawnsley, 1922; alt.
Tune: INNSBRUCK (220.127.116.11.8.6.)
Heinrich Isaac, c. 1500
P.S. The painting above is The Raising of Lazarus (1675), detail of a larger work by Luca Giordano of Naples.
Two Years Ago: Martha and Mary