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Who Are You Who Walk in Sorrow?

April 29, 2009

This past Sunday was the Third Sunday after Easter. The sermon hymn was absolutely fantastic. It puts the congregation in the place of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, including both despair and joy. Here is the text, written by the late Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.

Who Are You Who Walk in Sorrow – Lutheran Service Book 476

Who are you who walk in sorrow
Down Emmaus’ barren road,
Hearts distraught and hope defeated,
Bent beneath grief’s crushing load?
Nameless mourners, we will join you,
We who also mourn our dead;
We have stood by graves unyielding,
Eaten death’s bare, bitter bread.

Who is this who joins our journey,
Walking with us stride by stride?
Unknown Stranger, can You fathom
Depths of grief for one who died?
Then the wonder! When we told You
How our dreams to dust have turned,
Then You opened wide the Scriptures
Till our hearts within us burned.

Who are You? Our hearts are opened
In the breaking of the bread—
Christ the victim, now the victor
Living, risen from the dead!
Great companion on our journey,
Still surprise us with Your grace!
Make each day a new Emmaus;
On our hearts Your image trace!

Who are we who travel with You
On our way through life to death?
Women, men, the young, the aging,
Wakened by the Spirit’s breath!
At the font You claim and name us,
Born of water and the Word;
At the table still You feed us,
Host us as our risen Lord!

“Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Is the Easter hymn we sing!
Take our life, our joy, our worship
As the gift of love we bring.
You have formed us all one people
Called from ev’ry land and race.
Make the Church Your servant body,
Sent to share Your healing grace!

© 2000 National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License 100011479

The tune for this hymn is JEFFERSON, familiar to most as “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (LSB 338). It has a minor sound to it which does not seem to be an Easter hymn at all. I like to play this hymn with a plodding accompaniment, which helps to emphasize the downtrodden feelings of the first stanza and a half. The hymn changes halfway through the second stanza, when Christ reveals Himself, making their hearts burn within them, and then in stanza three where their “hearts are opened in the breaking of the bread.”

This hymn wraps up in a great way by showing how we travel with Christ through this life, claimed at the font in Holy Baptism and sustained by His Word and Holy Supper. As this leads us into the final stanza, though the accompaniment has not changed, the journey is no longer one of sorrow, but of joy as we travel with Christ through this life. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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From → Church Music, Hymns

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