"O God, O Lord of heav'n and earth, Thy living finger never wrote That life should be an aimless mote, A deathward drift from futile birth. Thy Word meant life triumphant hurled In splendor through Thy broken world. Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.
"Our fatal will to equal Thee, Our rebel will wrought death and night. We seized and used in prideful spite Thy wondrous gift of liberty. We housed us in this house of doom, Where death had royal scope and room, Until Thy Servant, Prince of Peace, breached all its walls for our release."
Ouch! Talk about some sobering lyrics on man's dismal condition! Were we to leave it there, what a state we would be in —our life an "aimless mote," a "deathward drift," a "futile birth," all housed in this "house of doom where death had royal scope and room."
Shoot me now!
I must admit singing Lutheran hymns, especially when I was younger, didn't really do much for me. I often found the melodies too staid and somber for my tastes. This song is no exception. With the congregation singing dirge-like lyrics like "Thou camest to our hall of death," my mind jumps to some distant shore where I, along with my slain Viking buddies, are staring into Valhalla and wondering what's next.
Still, I knew there was something there, and as I got older, I felt like I needed to rethink my connection to the Lutheran Hymnal. Now it's kind of difficult to begin liking music you never much cared for, but that doesn't mean the lyrics have to go out the window as well. So, over the years, I've come to a fresh appreciation of the church's vast catalog of music—and its melodies.
So, with that being said, let's not be too hasty with that trigger finger.
What some might find lacking in the music in some of these older, traditional hymns, is often made up for through lyrical power. And this song is no exception. One of songwriter Martin Franzmann's gifts was the pen, and with it he held a mighty torch in the cause of the Gospel.
"Thy Word meant life triumphant hurled In splendor through Thy broken world. Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man."
And again, speaking of our captivity under sin's bondage, "Until Thy Servant, Prince of Peace, breached all its walls for our release."
Franzmann puts our condition, freighted with sin and corruption, on the brink of a new horizon. God's Word, Jesus, makes that possible. He makes that available—to each of us—if only we will listen.
Here Franzmann shines again.
"Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air, to drink for us the dark despair that strangled our reluctant breath. How beautiful the feet that trod the road that leads us back to God! How beautiful the feet that ran to bring the great good news to man."
How beautiful indeed: Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior, the One who went the distance for us.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for putting the Savior's song on our lips and in our hearts. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber. It is based on the hymn, "O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth," which is found on page 834 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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