Monday, June 6, 2011

Christ is Lifted on High

Mr. Spicer, the choir director at my home church, First Church of Christ, is very aware of the church calendar.  Even when the rest of the church didn’t even notice that it was, All Saints’ Sunday, for example, he would choose hymns and anthems appropriate to the occasion.  This, combined with the fact that my mother grew up Lutheran, has given me a sense of appreciation for the church year.

A few weeks ago, I received the best voicemail message ever.  It was from Mr. Spicer, asking me to write lyrics for a hymn about the Ascension that would go to the tune Personent Hodie.  (The reason it was the best message ever was that he accompanied what he was saying with appropriate music from the organ, such as Pomp and Circumstance when he mentioned that I was graduating.)

Ascension Sunday was yesterday, so we sang the hymn in church.  It’s always gratifying to hear my words with the melodies that they were intended to go with.  But the best part was the way the lyrics interacted with the sermon.  After some thought and prayer, I had decided to focus on the Ascension as proof of Jesus’ kingship and glory.  Amazingly, our pastor had independently prepared a sermon based on Daniel 7:9-14 that focused on Christ being king of all, and especially of the Church.  It sounded like the hymn had been written to match the sermon, or vice versa.  In fact, I am sure that the similarity was not the result of our planning but of the Holy Spirit working through both of us.

Here are the lyrics to the hymn:

Christ is Lifted on High

Christ is lifted on high.
Angel hosts glorify
Him who once came to die,
Rose alive and glorious,
Over death victorious

All creation sings
To the King of Kings
Joy will shine; love divine
Soon will rule the nations

Lifted up from our sight,
Up to sit at God’s right
He will rule with God’s might.
Sin and evil cower,
Conquered by His power.


Christ is King, all must know.
In His strength we must go.
To the world we must show
His true saving story:
Death and life and glory.


He shall come from on high,
Breaking down every lie
Heaven and earth glorify
Him who rules the nations,
Savior of Creation.


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