Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Confession of Saint Peter

In many liturgical churches, January 18 marks the Confession of Saint Peter, which commemorates the apostle's declaration of the Godhood of Jesus, as told in Matthew 16:13-20. This is apparently the first time that the followers of Jesus realized exactly who they had been following.

Today's hymn is by the Anglican hymnwriter (and eventually Bishop) William Walsham How, and first appeared in Church Hymns (1871), a hymnal produced by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (still in existence today). How was also the chair of the committee that compiled this hymnal.

“Thou art the Christ, O Lord,
The Son of God most high!”
For ever be adored
That name in earth and sky,
In which, though mortal strength may fail,
The saints of God at last prevail!

Oh,great was Peter blest
With blessedness unpriced,
Who, taught of God, confessed
The Godhead in the Christ!
For of thy Church, Lord, thou didst own
Thy saint a true foundation stone.

Thrice was he put to shame,
Thrice did the dauntless fall;
But, oh, that look that came
From out the judgment hall!
It pierced and broke his fearful heart,
And foiled the Tempter’s sifting art.

Thrice fallen, thrice restored!
The bitter lesson learnt,
That heart for thee, O Lord,
With triple ardor burnt.
The cross he took he laid not down,
Until he grasped the martyr’s crown.

Oh, bright triumphant faith!
Oh, courage void of fears!
Oh, love most strong in death!
Oh, penitential tears!
May all these keep us lest we fall,
And make us go where thou shalt call.

William Walsham How, 1871; alt.
Tune: BEVAN (
John Goss, 1853

There are not many hymns written specifically for this day, but the theme certainly suggests several general hymns which could be sung.

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