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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, March 28, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Unheeding, we will have
our dear Lord made away,
a murderer to save,
the prince of life to slay.
Yet steadfast he
to suffering goes,
that he his foes
from thence might free.

“My Song Is Love Unknown” (v. 4) by Samuel Crossman
Hymn 209, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Carl P. Daw Jr.’s very useful companion to Glory to God: A Presbyterian Hymnal explains that the third and fourth verses of “My Song Is Love Unknown” were altered in 2006 by the editors of Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the primary worship book for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Carl P. Daw Jr., Glory To God: A Companion). Those alterations are retained in the version we sing at Fourth Church.

The alterations are simple and singular: the pronouns “they” and “their” become “we” and “our.” So the first line of this stanza (stanza 4) originally said, “Unheeding, they will have / their dear Lord made away” but now says “we will have / our dear Lord made away.” Daw explains that this simple substitution “acknowledges our shared human involvement in Christ’s persecution.” It answers another hymn writer’s question unambiguously: yes, we were there. We still are. We, and not some long-ago-and-far-away they, chant for the satisfying spectacle of conviction even as we wink at actual violence.

Yet as poignant as it is to claim our complicity in the miscarriage of justice, then and now, we are not the verse’s center of gravity, nor the hymn’s. The quartet of four-syllable lines that complete the verse snap our attention to the persecuted one with a cadence as resolved as its subject: yet-stead-fast-he-to-suf-fering-goes. Our song is about him, the way his love, unknown, frees its foes.

That includes us. As Paul instructs the church in Rome, “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son ” (Romans 5:10), though we knew nothing of it.

Thanks be to God.

God of love, even as your love marches to our rescue we don’t know it. We don’t see it, don’t acknowledge it, don’t praise you for it. Make us to know your love with our whole selves, that knowing it we might make it known to your great glory. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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