Commissioned for the 150th anniversary of Concordia Publishing House on September 11, 2019, pastor and hymnwriter Stephen P. Starke, and Kevin J. Hildebrand, kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, have produced For Faith, We Praise You, Lord, a sturdy hymn written to the tune VERITY.
The five-stanza hymn is scored for SATB choir, congregation, organ, and trumpet. The hymn charts the Christian life lived in faith, from birth in Holy Baptism, to the altar at the Lord’s Supper, and into the harvest field as workers in God’s earthly kingdom. The post below showcases each stanza of this hymn along with explanations and reflections on the lyrics.
For faith, we praise You, Lord,
From Spirit-opened hearts,
Pierced by Your two-edged sword
And all its truth imparts—
All Scripture is breathed out by You,
Is meant for all and not for few,
Is treasure old, yet ever new.
Stanza one sings of faith—the bedrock of the hymn as a whole. Our hearts are “Spirit-opened” so that we may receive this faith. This happens at our Baptism, where the Holy Spirit opens our sinful heart and plants in it the seed of faith. In our daily living, the Word of God then pierces our heart, where that faith is planted, so that we may confess and believe the truth of Christ imparted to us by our faith.
From infancy we’ve known
And firmly have believed;
Your Word of faith was sown,
When we Your name received—
Your potent, living Word, all-pure,
The Word that ever will endure
As light to make our pathways sure.
Stanza two sings again of Baptism: “From infancy we’ve known And firmly have believed.” The seed that has been sown will sprout and grow so that we, grafted to Christ, our Vine, may produce good works in faith. The Word of God, the Word that endures forever, continually nurtures our faith and lights our paths in life.
One soul needs solid food,
Another, milk is fed;
You feed, yet none exclude,
O Christ, true living Bread—
As manna, You from heaven came;
You placed Yourself beneath our blame,
To bear our cross, our guilt, our shame.
Stanza three sings of another nutrient for our faith: Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion. Jesus, the living bread, comes to us locally at our altars to feed our body and soul with true manna from heaven. He gives us His body and blood—indeed, His very life—on the cross at Calvary. He gives us faith to believe this, and comes to us in the Divine Service to grow that faith.
For master workers’ zest,
Who labored by Your grace
And crafted what was best
To send forth from this place—
For them our grateful thanks we raise,
For all accomplished in their days,
All done, O Lord, for Your sole praise.
Stanza four sings of Christ’s laborers in His harvest field, those whom He has called to guide and strengthen the faith of His people. These are pastors, teachers, theologians, writers, musicians, and the whole body of Christ’s Church. By His grace, they with zest have watered the seed of faith in our hearts so that we may then go and do the same for our neighbor.
For us, O Christ, we pray,
That we with clarity,
May also in our day
Hold fast Your verity—
Look on our world with mercy still;
Pour out Your grace, Your peace, goodwill,
And with Your zeal, O Lord, us fill!
The final stanza sings our prayer that Christ may continually keep us in this one true faith, that we may boldly confess the verity of this faith. May God grant that we do this with zeal all our lives, and that He would continue to send us laborers who faithfully serve us with gifts from above, even to life everlasting.
Text copyright © 2019 Concordia Publishing House.
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