Hymns, Hymnody, Translations and a few assorted
Exegetical and Historical Thoughts thrown in
Exegetical and Historical Thoughts thrown in
At a time when the estate of marriage is under great assault, when the devil has convinced the world that a man and a woman should live and sleep together before marriage, and how he turns married couples against each other, it is a great blessing to read the praises of marriage and its blessings from Lutherans in times past.
This hymn is the first of at a least a few hymns on marriage by Rist in the book I am translating. I am sharing it here for your blessing and edification. God be praised and thanked for His estate of marriage.
Hello dear readers. I know I haven't posted in a while, but I am still doing work with hymns. Right now, I am in the midst of a translation project. I am trying to translate a book of some 80 hymns by Lutheran hymn writer Johann Rist. It is called, "Frommer Gottseliger Christen Alltägliche Hausmusik, oder musikalische Andachten." It was written in 1654, published in Lüneburg, and is the fifth book of out of seven hymn-books that Rist wrote.
Why this book? More by chance than anything else. I found it online at Google Books, and was looking for a project. Since then, I've been keeping up at it. I have now translated 13 hymns from this source and am at work on the 14th.
So far, the list of topics the hymns cover include: New Years, Confession and Absolution, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Marriage, and Prayer. I have not looked too far at the rest - preferring to go one hymn at a time. But I am making progress, even if a little here, a little there. Such is the life of a scholar-pastor-husband-father.
Anyway, I will try to post some other hymns in the near future, and especially original hymn tunes. But just so you all know that my main focus is on a major translation project.
Rist; Johann Rist; Prayer; translation; Robert J. H. Mayes; Mayes; Lutheran Orthodox; Lutheran Orthodoxy; Lutheran hymn
The prolific Lutheran hymn writer Johann Rist (1607-1667) wrote several volumes of Lutheran hymn verses. While a few have been translated and are accessible today, most remain locked away in the German in out of the way resources. However, I am making an effort to bring some of these long-forgotten hymn verses back.
The following is a translation of a Rist hymn on prayer (a translation of “Mein Gott und Vater / der Du Mir,” from Rist's book, Frommer Gottseliger Christen Alltägliche Hausmusik, Lüneburg, 1654). Good hymns on prayer are either hard to find or not easy to sing. I don't know if this one will be easier to sing or not, but it does add one more Lutheran hymn on prayer for us to be aware of.
Congregation Anniversary; original text; original tune; Catechetical
A few years ago, I was commissioned by a congregation to write a new hymn for their upcoming congregation anniversary celebration. It happened that I knew both the pastor and the organist. The congregation (St. John Lutheran Church, Kimball, Nebraska) in 2016 was observing their 100th anniversary. Their theme text was 1 Jn. 3:23 - "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment."
Receiving this commission was an honor. It humbled me at the time (and still does). I wrote both text and tune (ST. JOHN'S KIMBALL), as well as an organ prelude and some instrumental descants. The hymn text and tune are listed below (if you want the organ prelude or instrumental parts, email me). (In the text, I apparently wrote 10 verses and have listed only 8 with the music. I do not remember why I did this).
Advent; Gabriel; Mary; Annunciation; James Blain;
This text by Pastor James Blain is a great Advent text based on the Annunciation. I do not know Pastor Blain, and only am aware of this one particular hymn text of his. There may be more he has written that I do not know. But working with this fine text, I hope he does have more, and if not, I hope he continues writing.
My original tune, MAGNUM MYSTERIUM, is wed to Blain's text and is embedded as a PDF after the text of the hymn. It is a favorite tune of mine.
Reformation; original text; contest entry;
This is a Reformation hymn text I wrote in 2016 for a contest sponsored by the LCMS. The Synod invited hymn writers to compose a text in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. I submitted the following text. Even though it did not win, I was proud of my effort.
I submit my text, "The Mercy of the Lord is Rich, Indeed."
Christmas; Henry Bramley; Incarnation; regular
This is a favorite of mine. I wrote this tune in 2001 when I was on vicarage in California, after finding the public domain text online. Since then, it has become a standard hymn we sing at Christmas in my churches. In 2002, I submitted this hymn in for consideration to the Lutheran Service Book hymnal. It did not make the final list, but it was on the cusp, so I was told by a friend on the hymn committee. (Coincidentally, there are some hymns I see in LSB sometimes that are of lesser quality than this, and I just shake my head at how those got in and this one didn't).
Here is a fine Christmas hymn, "The Great God of Heaven," text by Henry R. Bramley (1833-1917). My original tune, INCARNATION, is also attached beneath the text as an embedded PDF.
translation; Rist; Johann Rist; communion; Lord's Supper
The Lutheran hymn writer Johann Rist (1607-1667) was a pastor who lived during the 30 years war (1618-1648) and saw some of the hazards of the fighting and pestilence that spread around Germany at that time as well. While studying at the University of Rinteln, Rist became interested in writing hymns due to some influence by the Lutheran pastor Josua Stegmann. Throughout his lifetime, Rist wrote 680 hymns, 200 of which were widely used in churches. It is said that even Roman Catholics appreciated Rist's hymns.
2nd Sun. after Christmas; Lk. 2:41-49; Baue; temple;
Pastor Fred Baue is an emeritus pastor, and is also a published hymn writer and author. Pastor Baue is the author of the familiar communion hymn, "What Is This Bread" (LSB 629). So several years ago, when Fred contacted me to work on a collaboration with him, I was excited.
The following is Fred's text, "In The Temple" and begins with the account of Jesus as a boy who went to the temple (Lk. 2:41-49). However, it also traces all the times where Jesus interacts with the Temple either in fact or in prediction. The text has a unique meter (9999) that matches no tune in Lutheran Service Book. I'm always up for the challenge, though. It is wed to my tune TEMPLO CORPORUM (which means "Temple of the Body" in Latin).
Promised Rest Awaits the Weary - Text, Alan Kornacki, Jr. Tune - Robert J. H. Mayes (REQUIEM PROMISERAT)
Cross and Comfort; Tentatio; Anfechtung; Kornacki; I Kings 19; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 11:28
Since 2014, I have gotten more acquainted with Lutheran hymn writers across the country (and a few from other countries too). Pastor Alan Kornacki, Jr. is one text-writer I have collaborated with over the years. This is a text he wrote originally after a Doxology conference he attended, Sep. 28-20, 2020. "Promised Rest Awaits the Weary."
By the time I came to the text and decided to write a tune to it, I sent it to Pastor Kornacki, who at the time was undergoing hospitalization for Covid-19. He said it sustained him, and he also thinks it is the best tune I have written for him. All I can say is God be praised.
The tune name is called REQUIEM PROMISERAT, which means Promised Rest in Latin.
Rev. Robert J. H. Mayes is a justified sinner through faith in Christ. He is a husband, father, an LCMS pastor, musician, and has a strong interest in Lutheranism, Christ-centered Scriptural exegesis and the hymns of the Church. In his spare time, he likes to watch the Kansas City Chiefs.
- LCMS website
- Nebraska dist.
- Issues, Etc.
- Lutheran Public Radio
- PRDL (Post Reformation Digital Library)
Other Hymn sites
- What you need to know about hymns
- Public domain Lutheran hymns
- Mark Preus
- Matthew Carver
- Walther's Hymnal (ed. Carver)
- Stephen Starke
- Starke hymns vol. 1 & vol. 2
- Alan Kornacki Jr.
- Kathryn Ann Hill
- Robin Fish, Jr.
- Kurt E. Reinhardt
- Center for Church Music (Concordia Chicago)