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Our Paschal Lamb, That Sets Us Free

May 3, 2009

The opening hymn we used for the Fourth Sunday of Easter is Our Paschal Lamb, That Sets Us Free (LSB 473).  The text is by Martin Franzmann, who also wrote such hymn texts as Thy Strong Word (LSB 578), Preach You the Word (LSB 586) and O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth (LSB 834).  The tune (REGION THREE) is by Walter Pelz.

I first sang this hymn as a member of the A Cappella Choir at Concordia University, Nebraska, and have loved it ever since.  The hymn has great imagery and expresses the jubilation of Easter so well.

Our Paschal Lamb, That Sets Us Free – Lutheran Service Book 473

Our Paschal Lamb, that sets us free,
Is sacrificed. O keep
The feast of freedom gallantly;
Let alleluias leap:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Again
Sing alleluia, cry aloud: Alleluia! Amen!

Let all our lives now celebrate
The feast; let malice die.
Let love grow strong anew, and great,
Let truth stamp out the lie.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Again
Sing alleluia, cry aloud: Alleluia! Amen!

Let all our deeds, unanimous,
Confess Him as our Lord
Who by the Spirit lives in us,
The Father’s living Word.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Again
Sing alleluia, cry aloud: Alleluia! Amen!

© 1974 Augsburg Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET no. 100011479.

I love how this hymn begins by putting the offense of the cross front and center.  It makes no sense to the world to celebrate a death, but this hymn explains that it is precisely that sacrifice that has set us free.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have forgiveness, life, and salvation, and we will celebrate the feast gallantly, with leaping alleluias.  The music for the refrain of alleluias that keeps coming back literally makes them leap for joy, as if they cannot be contained.  

Then in the second stanza, Franzmann says that our lives will celebrate and bear witness to the freedom won for us by our Paschal Lamb.  The freedom we have in Christ destroys malice, lets love grow strong, and brings the truth that defeats all falsehood.  I think this is also a reference to Christ, as we see in the Garden of Eden after the fall that “He (Christ) shall crush your (Satan) head, and you shall strike His heel.”  We are also told that Satan is the father of lies, so Christ is literally destroying Satan by being the Way, the Truth, and the Life.   Because of this, we again break into jubilant alleluias.

In the third stanza, we again pray that our entire lives may confess Christ as Lord.  This is not something we can do on our own, but only through Christ who now dwells in us through the Spirit.  As Luther said in the explanation of the Third Article, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him;  but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.  In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.  In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.  On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.  This is most certainly true.”  It is God who brings us to faith through the Word and the Sacrament of Baptism, keeps us in that faith by the Word and the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and brings that faith to its completion on the Last Day.  God gives all things to us for the sake of Christ, and because of this we will again sing the triumphant alleluia: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Again Sing alleluia, cry aloud: Alleluia! Amen!  

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From → Church Music, Hymns

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