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XI1 - Number 03 - March 2020

posted Mar 30, 2012, 3:22 PM by Zion Lutheran Guthrie Oklahoma   [ updated Feb 26, 2020, 10:54 AM ]


ZioN NoiZ

March 2020

Zion Lutheran Church

424 E. Warner Ave.

Guthrie, OK 73044-3348

Phone – 405-282-3914                                                            Fax – 405-282-3918

Rev. W. R. Rains, Pastor                                                   Home Phone 405-728-8330   

 E-mail: faithokc@aol.com                                                  Website: zlcguthrieok.org


Sharing Grace: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense



 Volume XII                                                                                                                      Number 4       

Pastor’s Point of View

The hymn for March is “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” and is found in Lutheran Service Book (LSB) on page 434. The text and tune are both from Nicolaus Decius (ca1485 – after 1546). He was a native of Hof, a small town in Upper Franconia (Bavaria). He became a monk in 1519 at Steterburg, but three years later after identifying with the theology of Martin Luther, he took a post in Braunschweig. In 1524, he moved to Stettin. From there he served in several other places, including Mühlhausen in 1534. In 1540 he became the assistant cantor and second preacher in the court of Albrecht von Preuẞen in Kӧnigsberg only to return to Mühlhausen at what is assumed near the end of his life, since after 1546 nothing more is known about him.

Decius wrote three hymns in Low German and were versions of the Gloria in Excelsis (LSB 947), the Sanctus (not in LSB), and the Agnus Dei, our hymn of the month. Each was a trope. A trope is “a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression.” For many years the composer of the texts and tunes of this and the two others listed above was listed as anonymous. But it has been established that he is the composer of both the texts and tunes. He produced them in 1522-23, making them some of the earliest evangelical songs predating Luther’s call for vernacular hymns in 1523. But how does a hymn writer drawn to Reformation teachings in a place where the Reformation has not yet been introduced expand on its central thought? Decius points to the benefits of faith in the saving work of God’s holy, sinless Son.

The hymn recalls how Jesus accepted the wrath and punishment that we sinners deserve. Remember how God did this with Abraham by providing a substitute sacrifice in place of his son Isaac. And then he, God, ultimately sent and offered up his incarnate Son as his perfect sacrificial Lamb. Although Jesus was very God, he concealed his glory, and as St. Paul writing in Philippians writes, was “obedient to the point of death.” But that was the plan. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah God promised that he would send his Servant who would be “despised and rejected” and would know sorrow and grief because of “our transgressions.” And he would be silent and not complaining as he did his Father’s will.

It is not our good works but Christ the Lamb who took all our sins and the sins of the whole world on himself. So, we pray as the two blind men healed by Jesus cried out “have mercy on us,” knowing that we need not despair over our sin or fear punishment. Because of the “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” we focus not on God’s demands or his wrath, but on his gifts of mercy and peace.

It is possible that Decius based his tune on a Gregorian Agnus Dei melody from the thirteenth century. However, no hymnal printed a melody for this hymn until 1542. With its “interesting and varied rhythmic values, tune was preferred in middle and northern Germany where another tune with “well-balanced note lengths” was preferred in southern Germany. But it was the 1844 chorale book of Fredrich Layriz that helped bring the 1542 original into the LCMS. The repetition of the ending “O Jesus” seems to have appeared only in the twentieth century.    



                                                                                                                              Pastor Rains