19 August 2016

O Wonder, O Great Mystery

Here is an original hymn, so to speak. It is actually based on Chrysostom’s 46th Homily on John (6:52), sect. 3 & 4. I divided the pertinent sections into two hymns of different meters, the first being in the common German bar meter, 87.87.887. I think the most appropriate of the many available melodies is “Herr, wie du willst, so schicks mit mir.”

O WONDER, O great Mystery!
Behold what here is given,
That we may all one Body be
With Christ the Lord of heaven,
And members of His flesh and bone—
In deed and not in love alone—
Let us in Him be mingled!

2 This wonder comes by this great meal
Which here His hands afford us,
That by it we might know and feel
How great His love is tow’rd us,
He blends with us whom here He feeds,
His Body with our body kneads—
In Him, the Head, uniting.

3 What proof of love could He give more
To hearts that would enfold Him?
He grants to those who Him adore
Not only to behold Him,
But even more, to touch, and taste
Yea, eat His flesh, and thus embraced,
To find their longing sated.

4 From Jesus’ table forth we go
Like fire--breathing lions,
Made fearsome to the evil foe
And mocking his defiance:
Our hearts are bold and comforted,
Remembering our Lord and Head,
And all His love here shown us:

5 “I feed you not as fathers feed,
Their babes to nurses sending;
But with My very flesh indeed
I feed you life unending,
That you may all be nobly born
And hopeful in that blessed morn
When I shall come to fetch you.”

6 For He who gives Himself to you
Here in His true Communion
Much more will give in mansions new,
When perfect is that union:
“For you your Brother I became,
Your flesh and blood, and give the same
By which I’m made your kinsman.”

7 This Blood in us makes fresh and clear
The image of our Master,
Producing beauty without peer,
Permitting no disaster
To spoil our soul’s nobility
It waters it continually
And unto life sustains it.

8 This Blood, unlike all earthly food,
Our souls doth quench and nourish.
And causes in us, for our good,
Its mighty pow’r to flourish,
Drives devils to the farthest coast
And calls to us the angel host
And Christ, the Lord of angels.

9 For where the Savior’s Blood they see
All devils flee in terror
And angels hasten speedily
Regarding nothing fairer.
This Blood washed all the world of sin,
And cleansed the secret place within,
Yea, e’en the Holy_of Holies.

10 If blood of beasts had pow’r to save
In God’s own temple bloody,
And in the midst of Egypt old
Smeared on the door-post ruddy—
Much more the true Reality
Which on the altar here we see,
Brings healing, life, and blessing!

11 This Blood the altar hallowèd
Where lay the bull dissected;
The secret place no priest would tread
Save by this Blood protected;
It consecrated ev’ry priest,
Yea, cleansed all sin until it ceased,
In type and shadow working.

12 Behold, if types possessed such might,
If shadows had such powèr
That even death must shake with fright,
Oh, how would death not cowèr
The very truth to witness here,
Where its Fulfilment doth appear
And death itself is banished?

13 This Blood our soul’s salvation is,
Its bath, its beautifying,
It stokes the heart with holy bliss,
To burn with flame undying,
It makes the soul gleam more than gold.
This Blood outpoured doth heav’n unfold,
And open access grant us.

Text: © 2016 Matthew Carver.

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