Hymn for Lent (Day 28): Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness

Another day, and we’re still enjoying 1 Corinthians 11 in the Office. So, naturally, we get another Eucharistic hymn. It’s a good excuse to offer one of the best bits of music ever written (see below).

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight’s splendor,
there with joy thy praises render
unto him whose grace unbounded
hath this wondrous banquet founded;
high o’er all the heavens he reigneth,
yet to dwell with thee he deigneth.

Now I sink before thee lowly,
filled with joy most deep and holy,
as with trembling awe and wonder
on thy mighty acts I ponder;
how, by mystery surrounded,
depths no man hath ever sounded,
none may dare to pierce unbidden
secrets that with thee are hidden.

Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e’er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth:
at thy feet I cry, my Maker,
let me a fit partaker
of this blessed food from heaven,
for our good, thy glory, given.

Jesus, Bread of life, I pray thee,
let me gladly here obey thee;
never to my hurt invited,
be thy love with love requited;
from this banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
through the gifts thou here dost give me,
as thy guest in heaven receive me.

Words: Johann Franck, 1645; translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Here’s a congregation doing a nice job on this one. (Don’t complain to me about the lay person carrying the Gospel book; the rubrics say nothing about this, by the way.) J. S. Bach wrote several pieces based on the chorale, but my personal favorite is his breathtaking organ prelude, played brilliantly here by Ton Koopman. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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