Much of the information is from The Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Worship and published by Augsburg Fortress in 2010. It was complied by Paul Westermeyer, one of the world’s foremost writers on church music in the Lutheran Church.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (803)
The text for When I Survey the Wondrous Cross was written by Isaac Watts, who wrote dozens of hymn texts. Ten hymns in the ELW have texts by Watts, including hymns such as Joy to the World and O God Our Help in Ages Past. The hymn for this Sunday was built on Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”. It also resonates with some of the themes for this Sunday. In Philippians 2:8, it says “And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” Earlier in Philippians 2, it says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves”. Verse 2 of the hymn contains echoes of that humility “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God;”
Lord Keep Us Steadfast (517)
The tune for this hymn is most closely associated with this text, although we sometimes hear the same melody with the Lenten text “The Glory of These Forty Days”. The composer of the tune, Joseph Klug, was a printer in Wittenberg in the very early Reformation and printed works of many of the first Lutheran reformers. He was responsible for editing the Gesistliche Lieder in 1543, a very important hymnal of the early Reformation. While the hymn seems straightforward, it has somewhat of a controversial past. The original first verse was a plea for protection but also asked God to drive off the murderous pope and Turk. Thankfully, the original version of the first verse has largely disappeared. Instead, it is a fervent plea for remaining steadfast in God, for protection, and for unity. Times have changed so much that during the National Conference for the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians in 2017, this hymn was sung during a joint vespers service between attendees of the conference and Roman Catholic monks at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN.
The Lord Now Sends Us Forth (538)
This catchy tune is from Central America and is folk-like in its simplicity. However, the driving rhythm urgently propels us to go out to the world to give and serve on behalf of Christ. The text is from Nicaragua and proclaims that we who receive Christ’s body and blood at the communion table are freed to do the will of the Lord. The hymn is another reminder of the body of Christ throughout various parts of the world. Here is an instrumental version of the hymn. Enjoy!