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At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing

May 7, 2009

“At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” (LSB 633) is one of my all-time favorites.  The tune (SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT) is awesome, although it can be difficult to sing if the organist does not pick just the right tempo.  But it’s the text that really draws me in.  This hymn expresses Lutheran  sacramental theology so well.  It reminds me of the Weimar Altar Painting, which was done by Lucas Cranach the Younger.

Right from the start of this marvelous hymn we see Christ giving us the gifts of His cross. “At the Lamb’s high feast we sing Praise to our  victorious King, Who has washed us in the tide Flowing from His pierced side.  Alleluia!” It is in the broken body and shed blood of Christ that  we receive the forgiveness of sins.  Some paintings show angels flying around Christ on the cross, collecting His blood with a chalice.  That is a wonderful picture of what the Lord’s Supper is.  Indeed, it is the very same blood depicted in the painting, the very same blood that stained our Lord’s cross that we drink in the Sacrament of the Altar.

This imagery continues throughout the entire hymn, not mourning the death of Christ, but celebrating the victory over sin, death, and the devil that He accomplished with His death on the cross and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.  See the third stanza, for example: “Where the paschal blood is poured, Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword; Israel’s hosts triumphant go Through the wave that drowns the foe.  Alleluia!”

There are so many images in this stanza that it is almost overwhelming.  First, we see the blood of the lamb at the Passover in Egypt, where God caused the angel of death to pass over those houses.  Then we see God rescuing His people by parting the waters of the Red Sea, and then causing those waters to drown the Egyptians.  But these point to even greater events, where the blood of Christ redeemed the entire world from their sins, which is then brought to us through the waters of Holy Baptism, where our Old Adam is drowned and the New Man rises from the depths.

I could go on and on about this hymn, but I will let you read the text yourself (and hopefully sing it this Sunday).

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing  – Lutheran Service Book 633

1 At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who has washed us in the tide
Flowing from His piercèd side.
Alleluia!

2 Praise we Him, whose love divine
Gives His sacred blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast—
Christ the victim, Christ the priest.
Alleluia!

3 Where the paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.
Alleluia!

4  Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed,
Paschal victim, paschal bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we manna from above.
Alleluia!

5 Mighty Victim from the sky,
Hell’s fierce pow’rs beneath You lie;
You have conquered in the fight,
You have brought us life and light.
Alleluia!

6  Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall;
You have opened paradise,
And Your saints in You shall rise.
Alleluia!

7   Easter triumph, Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s pow’r, Lord, set us free,
Newborn souls in You to be.
Alleluia!

8  Father, who the crown shall give,
Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days:
Three in One, Your name we praise.
Alleluia!

Public domain

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From → Church Music, Hymns

4 Comments
  1. Pete permalink

    I love the way you paired the hymn with the Cranach painting! I don’t know if it’s beyond the pervue of your blog, but if you’re interested, I would love to see a concise history of the use of this hymn, because I think it would be helpful. Then again, you could be too busy. That’s okay too. Well thought out and well done!

    • Nathan permalink

      I would also like to see a history of the hymn. Unfortunately I have no idea about the history of its usage. I’d probably have to ask Joe Herl…or maybe Sam Powell knows.

  2. Can’t get the music to play. ? help.

    • Is the music for a different hymn? Because I don’t think there’s any for this post.

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