280. Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

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1 Blessed Jesus, at your word
we are gathered all to hear you.
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear you.
By your gospel pure and holy,
teach us, Lord, to love you solely.

2 All our knowledge, sense, and sight
lie in deepest darkness shrouded,
till your Spirit breaks our night
with your beams of truth unclouded.
You alone to God can win us;
you must work all good within us.

3 Glorious Lord, yourself impart;
Light of Light, from God proceeding,
open lips and ears and heart;
help us by your Spirit's leading.
Hear the cry your church now raises;
Lord, accept our prayers and praises.

Text Information
First Line: Blessed Jesus, at your word
Title: Blessed Jesus, at Your Word
Author: Tobias Clausnitzer (1663)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1858, alt.)
Meter: 78 78 88
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ;
Topic: Illumination; Preaching; Word of God (2 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Johann R. Ahle (1664)
Meter: 78 78 88
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Essentially a prayer asking for illumination by the Holy Spirit as the Christian community gathers around the Lord's Word, "Blessed Jesus" is a pre-sermon hymn by Tobias Clausnitzer (b. Thum, Saxony, Germany, 1619; d. Weiden, Upper Palatine, Germany, 1684). It was first published in the Altdorffisches Gesang-Buchlein (1663) and first attributed to Clausnitzer in the Nüremberg, Germany, Gesangbuch (1676). Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) translated the text and published it in English in her Lyra Germanica (2nd series, 1858).

Clausnitzer graduated from the University of Leipzig and became a chaplain in the Swedish army. He preached two sermons at memorable occasions: when Queen Christina ascended the Swedish throne in 1645 and when the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, was celebrated in 1648. Clausnitzer became a pastor in Weiden in 1648, where he remained until his death. In addition to "Blessed Jesus, at Your Word," his creedal hymn, “We Believe in One True God,” is found in many modern hymnals.

Liturgical Use:
As a sung prayer for illumination prior to the reading or preaching of the Word.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

LlEBSTER JESU is a rather serene German chorale that is ideally sung in three long lines and in parts with light organ accompaniment. In rounded bar form (AABA') LIEBSTER JESU (also called DESSAU and NURENBERG) was originally one of Johann R. Able's “sacred arias,” first published with Franz J. Burmeister's Advent hymn text “Ja, er ist's, das Heil der Welt" in the Mühlhausen, Germany, Neue geistliche auf die Sonntage . . . Andachten (1664). The tune was later modified and published in the Darmstadt, Germany, Das grosse Cantional (1687) as a setting for a baptism hymn by Benjamin Schmolck that had the same first line as Clausnitzer's text: "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier." Because several sources say that LIEBSTER JESU was first associated with Clausnitzer's hymn in the 1671 Altdoifer Gesangbuch, it seems probable that the tune name derives from that hymn text.

While studying at the university in Erfurt, Ahle (b. Miihlhausen, Thuringia, Germany, 1625; d. Miihlhausen, 1673) was a cantor at St. Andrew Church and director of the music school. In 1654 he became organist at St. Blasius Church in Mühlhausen, a position he held until his death. During those years Ahle also served as a councilman and mayor of the city. Ahle's compositions, often ornate and strongly dramatic, reflected some of the features of Italian opera; he called his religious vocal pieces "sacred arias." Although sometimes scorned by more traditional musicians, Ahle's music helped to revitalize the church music of his day.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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