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 refer to “hymn”, I am most likely referring to the text by itself. Oftentimes, the text and the tune were written by different people.
796 How Firm A Foundation
This hymn was published in 1787 and emphasizes the foundation of our faith in Jesus. It also fervently expresses how Christ will be there for us when we experience trials and tribulations. “When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, my grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply”. This theme of the foundation especially relates to the Gospel reading for this Sunday (Matthew 21: 33 – 46), as it focuses on Jesus as the cornerstone. Very appropriately, the melody is called FOUNDATION, and has a very rugged feeling to it. The solid nature of the tune reflects the sturdiness of the text.
710 Let Streams of Living Justice
The text for this hymn is very much centered around justice. William Whitla wrote the text for this hymn in 1989 just after the events in Tiananmen Square in China and when the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina were bringing their campaign to the world. The hymn is hopeful and aspirational because parts of the world still have yet to see peace. The ending of the hymn reminds us that the way to peace is not always easy “Inscribe our hearts with justice; your way – the path untried; your truth – the heart of stranger; your life – the Crucified”. This partial verse has echoes in part of the Isaiah reading for this Sunday, “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed righteousness, but heard a cry!” (Isaiah 5:7).
580 How Clear Is Our Vocation
The author of the text, Fred Pratt Green, was a very prolific hymn text writer. Twelve of his texts appear in ELW, including such familiar ones as God Is Here. The text reflects the Lutheran understanding of the concept of vocation, that it doesn’t refer to only our jobs, but also our various roles in life, such as family member, friend, citizen, and other roles. The ending of the hymn refers to Christ as the cornerstone. In verse 4, the hymn states “in old routines or ventures new, may we not cease to look to you, the cross you hung upon, all you endeavored done”. Have a listen at this link!