By Timothy Siburg
I grew up in the choir loft of a Lutheran congregation in the Seattle area, where my mom served as music minister and choir director. I am also the descendant of generations of Scandinavian Lutherans.
One thing Lutherans historically have loved to do, is to sing hymns with four-part harmonies. One of my favorites, is “O Day Full of Grace.” Whether it was singing it in worship and knowing of its rich words, or singing it in choir in college in the moving arrangement by composer and arranger F. Melius Christiansen, the song always gets me.
There have been at least 8 different verses written for it. I will only include five of them. But the poetry speaks to- God’s work for us, God’s love and promises given for us; and the response of joy, hope, and praise because of what God has done and has continued to do. It’s a hymn that really gives my understanding of theology and stewardship a melody.
For example, “How blest was that gracious midnight hour, when God in our flesh was given…” God did all the work for us. Our joy is sharing that gift, and living in response to it through our stewardship.
O day full of grace that now we see appearing on earth’s horizon,
bring light from our God that we may be abundant in joy this season.
God, shine for us now in this dark place; your name on our hearts emblazon.
How blest was that gracious midnight hour, when God in our flesh was given;
then brightened the dawn with light and power that spread o’er the darkened heaven;
then rose o’er the world that Sun divine, which gloom from our hearts has driven.
Yea, were every tree endowed with speech, and were every leaflet singing,
they never with praise God’s worth could reach, though earth with their praise were ringing.
Who fully could praise the Light of life who light to our souls is bringing?
As birds in the morning sing their praise, God’s fatherly love we cherish,
for giving to us this day of grace, for life that shall never perish.
The church God has kept two thousand years, and hungering souls did nourish.
When we on that final journey go that Christ is for us preparing,
we’ll gather in song, our hearts aglow, all joy of the heavens sharing,
and there we will join God’s endless praise, with angels and saints adoring.
This hymn gained a new meaning for me ten years ago, when my maternal grandfather, a retired pastor passed away near midnight, the night before Thanksgiving (in the United States). We sang this hymn, a favorite of his, the day of his funeral. And since then, as both of my grandfathers passed away in November shortly before Thanksgiving, this hymn has always been a comfort, and a reminder that my Grandpas are with the other saints, joining in God’s endless praise.
As you celebrate this holiday season, whether it be Thanksgiving this week in the United States, or Advent and Christmas to come in the month ahead, I pray that you take the time to see what God might be up to. My hope is that as you celebrate and give thanks, you remember that which God has done for you and promises to do, like the words of this hymn remind me.
About the Author
Timothy Siburg is the Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a Deacon in the ELCA, and is a member of the COMPASS Steering Committee. His wife Allison serves as an ELCA pastor, and together with their cat Buddy, they reside in the greater Omaha area. Timothy attended college at Pacific Lutheran University, and graduate school at the Claremont Graduate University and Luther Seminary. Timothy can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on his blog.
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS Initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page, follow us on Twitter, and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.
Image credits: Timothy Siburg, pixabay.com