“Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word”

“…Master…at Thy word I will let down the net” (Lk. 5:5)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which indicates that we should hear and obey the word of our Master is “Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word.”  The text of stanzas 1-3 was written by Tobias Clausnitzer, who was born on Feb. 2, 1619, at Thum near Annaberg in Saxony, Germany.  After studying at various universities, and final­ly at Leipzig where he received an MA in 1643) he was appointed chaplain to a Swedish regiment in 1644. In that position, he preached the thanksgiving sermon in St. Thomas’ Church, Leipzig, on the accession of Christina as Queen of Sweden in 1645, and also the thanksgiving sermon at the field service held by command of General Wrangel, at Weiden, in the Upper Palatine on Jan. 1, 1649, after the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia.  In 1649, Clausnitzer became minister at Weiden, also in Upper Palatine, also later serving as a member of the Consistory, and inspector of the district.  This hymn (Liebster Jesu wir sind hier) first appeared in the 1663 Altdorf­fisches Gesang-Büchlein.   Clausnitzer remained at Weiden until his death there on May 7, 1684.

     Stanza 4, by an unknown author, dates to around 1707.  The English translation was made by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878).  It first appeared in her Lyra Germanica of 1858.  The tune (Liebster Jesu) most often used with Clausnitzer’s text was composed in 1664 by Johann Rudolf Ahle (1625-1673).  Today, in many books it is usually associated with Percy Dearmer’s “Book of Books, Our People’s Strength.”  Another tune (St. Albinus) that can be arranged to work with Clausnitzer’s text was composed in 1852 by Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876).  It was probably intended to be used with Christian Gellert’s 1757 “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song, I believe, may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forest M. McCann; the Gauntlett tune may be found with Brian Wren’s 1977/1995 hymn “Jesus, on the Mountain Peak” in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.
     The hymn emphasizes the blessings that are to be gained by gathering to hear the Lord’s word.

I. Stanza 1 points out that it draws us from earth to God
“Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word
We are gathered all to hear Thee;
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
Now to seek and love and fear Thee,
By Thy teachings sweet and holy,
Drawn from earth to love Thee solely.  Alleluia!”
 A. While we can and should search the scriptures on our own, there are times when, like Cornelius and his household, we are gathered together to hear the word of God: Acts 10:33
 B. If our attitude is right, our hearts and souls will be stirred up and burn with us when we hear the scriptures, just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when they heard Jesus open the scriptures to them: Lk. 24:32
 C. Through these teachings, as we are taught, hear, and learn from the Father, God draws us to Christ: Jn. 6:44-45

II. Stanza 2 points out that it gives us knowledge
“All our knowledge, sense and sight
Lie in deepest darkness shrouded,
Till Thy Spirit breaks our night
With the beams of truth unclouded.
Thou alone to God canst win us;
Thou must work all good within us.  Alleluia!”
 A. God has provided all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue: 2 Pet. 1:3
 B. This knowledge is provided by the Holy Spirit, who breaks our night with the beams of truth revealed in that which He guided the inspired apostles and prophets to write: Eph. 3:3-5
 C. Thus, through His work in revealing the scriptures, the Spirit wins us and works all good within us because He is the one who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment: Jn. 16;7-13

III. Stanza 3 points out that it imparts light from God
“Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of Light, from God proceeding,
Open Thou our ears and heart;
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading;
Hear the cry Thy people raises;
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.  Alleluia!”
 A. God is light: 1 Jn. 1:5
 B. He opens our ears and hearts by the word which reveals unto us the Spirit’s pleading and thus brings light to our feet: Ps. 119:18, 105
 C. In return, we should bless Him with prayers and praises: Rev, 4:9-11

IV. Stanza 4 points out that it will help us obtain true consolation
“Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Praise to Thee and adoration!
Grant that we Thy Word may trust
And obtain true consolation
While we here below must wander,
Till we sing Thy praises yonder.  Alleluia!”
 A. Whenever we praise God, we are praising Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Matt. 28:18-19
 B. Only as we trust their revealed word can we obtain true consolation: 2 Cor. 1:3-5
 C. This consolation will guide us while we here below must wander until that time comes when we sing God’s praises yonder: Rev. 15:1-4

     CONCL.:  During the time of the Reformation, the German churches were singing chorales, while the English churches were using primarily the Psalms.  Gradually, “hymns of human composure” came to be predominant in the English churches in the eighteenth century, but it was not until the nineteenth century that English churches began to be introduced to the rich tradition of German chorales in English translations.  While most everyone is familiar with Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” many of the others have only recently come to be included in books published by those associated with churches of Christ.  Surely, as we assemble together, we should have an attitude by which we say to the Lord, “Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word.”


2 thoughts on ““Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word”

  1. Karen,
    Just use the search function on the right hand of this blog, type in “Samuel Longfellow,” and it will take you to entries which tell everything that I know about Samuel Longfellow.


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