Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week Hymns: All Glory Laud and Honor

This year, each day of Holy Week, I will post one hymn, with a meditation or explanation afterward.  Some will be hymns I have written; others will be ones I just find meaningful.  I hope you will join me each day, at least to read the hymn if you don't want to take the time for the prose that follows it.
All Glory, Laud, and Honor
All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King, 
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring. 
1. Thou art the King of Israel, thou David's royal Son, 
who in the Lord's name cometh, the King and Blessed One. 
2. The company of angels are praising thee on high, 
 and we with all creation in chorus make reply. 
3. The people of the Hebrews with psalms before thee went; 
our prayer and praise and anthems before thee we present. 
4.To thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise; 
to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. 
5. Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring, 
 who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. 
If you’re not familiar with the tune, you can listen to the hymn here.

I chose this hymn to kick of my series on hymns for Holy Week because it is the hymn that I associate with Palm Sunday more than any other.  I have many memories of singing this hymn while processing into church with the children’s choir, holding the palms that the boys had only just stopped using as swords.  This year

The words are fairly self-explanatory, as long as you know that the word “laud” means “praise.”  The hymn invites the congregation to join the crowds at Jerusalem, who joyfully welcomed Jesus as their rightful king, the son of David who comes in the name of the Lord.

My favorite verse is the last one, which points out that Christ accepted these people’s praises.  When I was younger, I was confused by this.  Praise is good, so why wouldn’t God accept it?  Yet Jesus knew that the crowd’s cheering was motivated by a profound misunderstanding of his mission.  The people wanted Jesus to save them from the Roman Empire by conquering it, but Jesus planned to save them from sin by allowing sinners to kill Him.  He also knew that when He didn’t follow their expectations, the people would turn on him with the intense fury that comes from disappointment.  The same voices that were proclaiming Him to be their king would soon be shouting for his death and mocking Him on the cross.  And yet, despite all that, Jesus accepted their praises.

As much as I hate to admit it, too often, I am just like the crowd.  The praise I offer God is based on misunderstandings of His character and His promises.  My praise is often painfully short-lived; I can pledge allegiance to Christ as my king and a few minutes later blatantly violate His rules, indicating that I, too, wish Him dead.  And I am sure that I have this inconsistency in common with all the other sinful human beings that make up the Church.  It is a tremendous act of love and grace that God would even be patient enough to listen to our pathetic attempts at worship.  This grace should compel us to continue trying to worship Him as He deserves, to love Him as well as we can until He gives us new hearts that can worship Him fully.

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