Using contemporary songs to illuminate Scripture and life

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"Ah, Holy Jesus" - Traditional - performed by Jonathan Rundman (Holy Week)

Connect with Scripture: Romans 5:6-11
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Sound Theology
Today’s Song: “Ah, Holy Jesus” performed by Jonathan Rundman, from the album, Sound Theology - Disc One) - (tune: Johann Cruger, 1598-1662)

Instrumental - Jonathan: acoustic guitar

Lyrics from Lutheran Book of Worship
1. Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended
That man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

2. Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.

3. Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

4. For me, kind Jesus, was thine incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and thy bitter Passion,
For my salvation.

5. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee;
Think on they pity and thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

Text: Johann Heermann, translation Robert Bridges
From the Yatterndon Hymnal, Oxford University Press.

Jonathan’s comments on “Ah, Holy Jesus”
I truly grasped this music for the first time when my high school band director had our low brass section play a whole series of Cruger pieces. I couldn’t believe how beautiful they were. Check out the chilling lyrics. . .this hymn is #123 in the Lutheran Book of Worship.

Jonathan’s Question to Ponder
How have “secular” events engaged your spirituality?

Behind the Music
1. Stanza 1, the words to this hymn still use older English and poetic structures that we might not be used to. Rephrase Stanza 1 to help make it easier to understand.
2. Who is guilty in Stanza 1?
3. How does this stanza connect with the Passion?
4. Stanza 2, rephrase it to help make it easier to understand.
5. Stanza 2, Which sins from the Passion History are mentioned? Who is guilty of these sins?
6. Stanza 2, How does this stanza connect with the reading from Romans?
7. Stanza 3, what are the two ways of explaining the Great Reversal in this stanza?
8. Stanza 3, how does Paul explain the Great Reversal in Romans 5:6-11?
9. Stanza 4, what did Jesus do for us?
10. Stanza 5, how do we react to Christ’s act?
11. Stanza 5, how does this stanza pick up on the theme of grace that Jonathan has developed in Sound Theology?
12. This hymn is appointed for Holy Week in Lutheran Book of Worship. Can you find connections in this hymn for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil?

Comments and questions reprinted with the kind permission of Jonathan Rundman.

Jonathan wrote these songs with an eye to the Lutheran Book of Worship appointed readings for each week of the church year but has told me that he does not necessarily connect a specific reading with each song. Therefore, the reading I have selected to use for reflection is my choice and not Jonathan's.

Click here to find out about Jonathan Rundman or his record label, Salt Lady Records
Click here to read my review of Sound Theology.