One of the challenges in producing blog content is “what to write about”. One finds there is nothing to write about and, at the same time, far too many potential subjects making it impossible to choose just one. Decisions, decisions … Well. Given there are deadlines one has to make a choice. This post is about a hymn that we sang in a recent Sunday morning service.
Several years ago, the instructor leading a class on worship that I was attending noted that a typical service lasts around an hour. In that typical service, the sermon runs around fifteen minutes (sometimes more, sometimes less). The rest of service, liturgy and hymns, take roughly forty-five minutes. So, of the hour service, the congregation hears the pastor preach for roughly one quarter of the time, three quarters of the time, between the liturgy and hymns, the congregation is preaching to itself. We have wonderful resources, The Lutheran Service Book in particular, to provide a firm foundation for that preaching to each other.
Speaking of firm foundations, the closing hymn last Sunday was “How Firm a Foundation”, LSB 728, a personal favorite. As many of you know, my father passed away recently. This hymn provides great comfort to me and my family as it is a sermon or comfort in verse, with each of the five versus expressing a Biblical promise.
- Stanza one establishes the fact that the Christian faith IS the Word of God
Isaiah 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panicVerse 1:
"How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”
- Stanza two quotes Isaiah 41:10 almost verbatim. There is no need to fear.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Verse 2:
“Fear not! I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”
- In stanza three we see the promise that despite daily trials our Lord will never leave us.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.Verse 3:
“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake”
I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake!”
- The fourth stanza lets us know his grace is sufficient and all that is necessary.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.Verse 4:
“When through fiery trials your pathway will lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, will be your supply.
The flames will not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.”
- The final stanza states unequivocally that the Lord will not forsake us.
Hebrews 13:5…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”Verse 5:
“Throughout all their lifetime My people will prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hairs will their temples adorn,
Like lambs they will still in My bosom be borne.”
It is a wonderful thing to have hymns that so richly express our Christian faith and to be able to sing these hymns and preach the faith to each other Sunday after Sunday. We are truly blessed.