Hard to believe that we have reached our final “month” of Favorite Hymns Summer! (I put “month” in quotes because local school years begin mid-month, with Canton starting on August 15.) As promised, this article is the last in my summer series describing the three hymns I selected for our summer of favorites.
This month’s selection is quite unlike those of the previous two months, as it has absolutely nothing to do with early Methodists--particularly Thomas Olivers, whose fifteen minutes of fame at Trinity included appearances in both our June and July articles. No, this month we take a look at “O Christ, What Can It Mean for Us” (#431 in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal), which comes to us from other branches of the Christian family. The text was written in 2001 by Delores Dufner, a nun in the Order of St. Benedict at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, while the tune, ALL SAINTS NEW, was composed by Episcopalian organist Henry S. Cutler (1825-1902).
The text is one of several great ones from Dufner that made it into our hymnal, and I appreciate her work because both she and I often do the same thing--pair fresh words and thoughts with good older tunes that are easy to sing but not used as frequently as they should be. Some of Dufner’s other texts that may be familiar to you include “What Feast of Love” (#487), “To Be Your Presence” (#546), and “The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve” (#551). Regarding “O Christ, What Can It Mean for Us”, I love Dufner’s text because it bids us wrestle with and flesh out what we mean when we proclaim Jesus Christ as our king. Indeed, many around Jesus seem quite confused when he demonstrates God’s power not through military or political might but through weakness, vulnerability, and complete submission to his Father’s will. Rather than obscure Dufner’s message with any additional commentary, I instead invite you to read through her words below a few times and reflect on the ways in which Jesus establishes himself as “a different kind of king.”
1. O Christ, what can it mean for us to claim you as our king?
What royal face have you revealed whose praise the church would sing?
Aspiring not to glory’s height, to power, wealth, and fame,
you walked a different, lowly way, another’s will your aim.
2. You came, the image of our God, to heal and to forgive,
To shed your blood for sinners’ sake that we might rise and live.
To break the law of death you came, the law of love to bring:
A different rule of righteousness, a different kind of king
3. Though some would make their greatness felt and lord it over all,
You said the first must be the last and service be our call.
O Christ, in workplace, church, and home, let none to power cling;
For still, through us, you come to serve, a different kind of king.
4. You chose a humble human form and shunned the world’s renown;
You died for us upon a cross with thorns your only crown.
But still, beyond the span of years, our glad hosannas ring,
For now at God’s right hand you reign, a different kind of king!
Pastor Micah Garnett has been our Pastor since July 2016. He grew up in York, PA and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. He enjoys worship, working with social services in Fulton County, writing hymns, and cycling.