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Prepare the Royal Highway (Repost)

December 1, 2010

(I wrote this piece last year and as we’ll be singing this hymn this coming Sunday, I thought I’d post it again)

Advent is upon us and one of my favorite Advent hymns (and there are many) is “Prepare the Royal Highway” (LSB 343).  It is a Swedish Lutheran hymn with text by Frans Mikael Franzen (1772-1847) and a 17th century Swedish tune (BEREDEN VÄG FÖR HERRAN).  I love that in Lutheran Service Book they brought back the original 6/8 meter, which really makes the hymn dance.  (The hymn was in 4/4 in Lutheran Worship and just could not compare to the original.)

The Gospel reading for Advent 1C is Luke 19:28-40, which is the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday and this hymn gives us both an Advent and Palm Sunday feel.  Here is stanza one: Prepare the royal highway; The King of kings is near!  Let ev’ry hill and valley A level road appear!  Then greet the King of Glory Foretold in sacred story: Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God’s Word! I love how this hymn, which is generally sung in Advent, points us to Holy Week and Christ’s reason for coming: to fulfill God’s Word by dying for our sins and rising again on the third day to announce His victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil.

Stanza two: God’s people, see Him coming: Your own eternal king!  Palm branches strew before Him!  Spread garments!  Shout and sing!  God’s promise will not fail you!  No more shall doubt assail you!  Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God’s Word! With this stanza we continue to see Palm Sunday, with the excitement of the people for their Messiah and their King.  And because He is our King, we know that God’s promises are sure.  Christ comes to calm all fear and doubt.

Stanza three: Then fling the gates wide open To greet your promised king!  Your king, yet ev’ry nation Its tribute too should bring.  All lands, bow down before Him!  All nations, now adore Him!  Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God’s Word! Here we turn the corner and clearly see that Christ has not come only to save Israel, but to save all people.  He is King over the entire world, whether they recognize it or not.  But He is not a political king, as the fourth stanza points out:

His is no earthly kingdom; it comes from heav’n above.  His rule is peace and freedom And justice, truth, and love.  So let your praise be sounding For kindness so abounding: Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God’s Word! This brings to mind the words of Christ when He said to Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Christ has not come to be our earthly king, or our “bread king,” as many people, including the disciples, thought on Palm Sunday.  Instead, He has come to save the entire human race; Thanks be to God!  So throughout this Advent and Christmas season, while we are focusing on the birth of Christ, we must never forget why He came: to suffer and die for us and for our salvation.

Prepare the Royal Highway – Lutheran Service Book 343

1 Prepare the royal highway;
The King of kings is near!
Let ev’ry hill and valley
A level road appear!
Then greet the King of Glory
Foretold in sacred story:

(Refrain)  Hosanna to the Lord,
For He fulfills God’s Word!

2 God’s people, see Him coming:
Your own eternal king!
Palm branches strew before Him!
Spread garments! Shout and sing!
God’s promise will not fail you!
No more shall doubt assail you!  (Refrain)

3 Then fling the gates wide open
To greet your promised king!
Your king, yet ev’ry nation
Its tribute too should bring.
All lands, bow down before Him!
All nations, now adore Him!  (Refrain)

4 His is no earthly kingdom;
It comes from heav’n above.
His rule is peace and freedom
And justice, truth, and love.
So let your praise be sounding
For kindness so abounding:  (Refrain)

© 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, no. 100011479.

 

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