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Monday, May 25, 2020
I greet thee, who my sure Redeemer art,
my only trust and Savior of my heart,
who pain didst undergo for my poor sake,
I pray thee from our hearts all cares to take.
“I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art” (v. 1)
from Strasbourg’s Psalms (1545),
translation by Elizabeth Lee Smith (1868)
Hymn 624, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
To be honest, the tune for this hymn, while comforting, never thrills me. Pretty simplistic, not much harmony involved. But an explanation for this lies in its history. The hymn comes from The Strasbourg Psalter, assembled by various early Protestant reformers in the sixteenth century, with the intent of bringing the voices of the congregation into worship services in praise. (Prior to the Reformation, most church music was left to specialists and professionals.) This hymn is attributed to John Calvin, who is said to have taught simple hymns to the children, who then taught their parents so they could sing in church. A real-life example of “let the children come unto me”!
With this in mind, the lyrics become more poignant. Imagine a smiling child’s face saying, “Good morning, Master Calvin. Can you teach us another song? And another?” And picture that happy youngster standing ready to teach the older folks to greet the Redeemer with love and trust and thankfulness, as “the savior of my heart.” Among the shocks and upheavals of the Reformation, this might have been one of the more lovely ones.
Dear Lord, melt away my adult cares, doubts, and equivocations. Let me stand as a child and greet you in my heart as its only trust and savior. Amen.
Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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