Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hope and Freedom Gave Us

The church year begins again today with the first Sunday in Advent. As in previous years, we won't see any Christmas carols in this season, even though you have probably been hearing them in public places for at least a few days. Today's sixteenth century hymn comes from the Bohemian Brethren, a German sect with a strong tradition of congregational singing which later became the Moravian Church.   Johann Roh (also known as Jan) was a priest of the Brethren who also edited their first two hymnals.  Catherine Winkworth, the great translator of so many German hymns, included this in her Chorale Book for England (1863).                                                          
Once he came in blessing,
All our ills redressing,
Came in likeness lowly,
Child of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us,
Hope and freedom gave us.

Still he comes within us,
Still his voice would win us
From the doubts that hurt us;
Would to truth convert us
Not in torment hold us.
But in love enfold us..

Thus if we can name him,
Not ashamed to claim him,
But will trust him boldly,
Nor will love him coldly,
He will now receive us,
Heal us, and forgive us.

All who thus endureth,
Bright reward secureth;
Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our fears release us;
Let us here confess thee,
Till in heav’n we bless thee.

Johann Roh, 1544;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863; alt.
Michael Weisse, 1531

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