O Word of God Incarnate (ELW 514)
1 O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky:
we praise you for the radiance
that from the hallowed page,
a lantern to our footsteps,
shines on from age to age.
2 The church from you, dear Master,
received the gift divine;
and still that light is lifted
o’er all the earth to shine.
It is the chart and compass
that, all life’s voyage through,
mid mists and rocks and quicksands
still guides, O Christ, to you.
3 Oh, make your church, dear Savior,
a lamp of burnished gold
to bear before the nations
your true light, as of old;
oh, teach your wand’ring pilgrims
by this their path to trace,
till, clouds and darkness ended,
they see you face to face.
Bishop William How was a pastor and later Bishop of the Church of England who served among the poor and factory workers of London. He wrote approximately sixty hymns which were published together in 1886. His poetry is both straightforward, yet detailed. “O Word of God, Incarnate” is a hymn that equates Epiphany with the Word. The Word is God’s revelation of God’s self to the world. Then it is the church which in turn reflects the light of that Word into the world’s darkness. But it is not only the church for whom this light shines; this light is also for the nations as a light which shines upon all into life eternal. This hymn’s poetry is very dense. Its images must be savored like enjoying a rich desert. Yet, in just three verses the panorama and intent of scripture is revealed for us all to sing.
God of light, we sing our praise. We sing your Word. Grant to us what your Word proclaims: light, life, and salvation. Through Christ our Light, Amen.