Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness (ELW 488)
1 Soul adorn yourself with gladness, leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight’s splendor, there with joy your praises render.
Bless the one whose grace unbounded this amazing banquet founded;
Christ though heav’nly, high and holy, designs to dwell with you most lowly.
2 Hasten as a bride to meet him, eagerly and gladly greet him.
There he stands already knocking; quickly, now, your gate unlocking,
open wide the fast closed portal, saying to the Lord immortal:
“Come, and leave your loved one never; dwell within my heart forever”.
3 Now in faith I humbly ponder over this surpassing wonder
that the bread of life is boundless though the souls it feeds are countless;
with the choicest wine of heaven Christ’s own blood to us is given.
Oh, most glorious consolation, pledge and seal of my salvation.
4 Jesus, source of lasting pleasure, truest friend, and dearest treasure,
peace beyond all understanding, joy into all life expanding:
humbly now, I bow before you, love incarnate, I adore you;
worthily let me receive you, and, so favored, never leave you.
This joyful 17th Century German hymn was written by the hymn-writer Johann Franck, and set to the tune, “Schmueke Dich,” by his friend and Lutheran cantor, Johann Crueger. Catherine Winkworth translated this, and numerous other texts in Lutheran hymnody.
In addition to a joyful melody in a major key, it includes syncopation—where we accentuate normally weak notes, in the third phrase of each verse. In verse 1 we accent: “Bless the ONE,” and in verse 2, “open WIDE the portal.” How fitting, that God (“the ONE” in the text), and the “open door” are not where we expect them in the phrase, just as God consistently surprises us.
Thanks be to God that they brought us this celebration of the light and love God brings us when we trust God. Here we rejoice that Jesus, the Bread of Life, feeds us, in a banquet that truly sustains us to go into the world and feed others.
God of joy and surprise, we thank you for the true bread that you feed us every day. We pray that you surprise us daily with your love and forgiveness, so that we may share your banquet with others. Amen.