HymnSite.com's Suggested Hymns

First Sunday in Advent

November 28, 1999

Unifying Theme:
Preparations to find what we seek

Scripture Theme Hymns
Isaiah 64:1-9 Seeking God's presence and forgiveness 372: How Can We Sinners Know
382: Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 Seeking God's attention and our restoration 66: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
591: Rescue the Perishing
Mark 13:24-37 The coming of the Lord 190: Who Is He in Yonder Stall
214: Savior of the Nations, Come
221: In the Bleak Midwinter
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Be blameless at the Lord's arrival 246: Joy to the World
454: Open My Eyes, That I May See

Featured Hymn
Savior of the Nations, Come

Hymn #214
Words by Martin Luther (sts 1, 2); translated by William Reynolds
Music from Enchiridion Odeer Handbuchlein; harmony by J.S. Bach

Happy New Year! Advent is here again--one of the most exciting and uplifting seasons in the church calendar! It is a time for looking back, and a time for looking forward. First look back. We all know the story of Christ's victory over death through His resurrection at Easter, but the resurrection story did not begin on that day. First there was a period of preparation. This preparation began before the resurrection. It began before Christ's years of ministry . . . before the rule of the Romans . . . before time of the Hebrew kings, judges, and patriarchs. It began in the beginning. It began in Genesis, which is exactly where the book of John takes us. John's Gospel fills us with anticipation and expectation. It prepares us to celebrate the coming of Christ--the Advent--God made flesh.

Just as we look back during Advent, we also look forward--toward something that is yet to come. Can there be preparation without looking toward to something in the future? Of course not! What are we looking forward to? First, we look forward to Christmas day. We also look forward to the resurrection. Most of all, though, we should look forward to our continuing encounter with God, the deepening of our relationship with Him, and the sharing of that relationship with others.

The featured hymn this week, Savior of the Nations, Come, looks back through the eyes of John's Gospel, and at the same time it looks forward to the coming of the Savior. There seems to be some confusion over its authorship. However, most sources indicate that it was written by St. Ambrose in approximately 397 A.D. A German version was prepared by Martin Luther in 1523, and an English translation was prepared by William M. Reynolds in 1851. Stanzas 3 through 5 in The United Methodist Hymnal were prepared in 1969 by Martin L. Seltz. What was St. Ambrose looking forward to when he penned his words at the end of the fourth century? What was Seltz looking back on when he penned his lines in the twentieth century? With all of the church's preparation for Advent over the course of more than 1,500 years, is the church ready for Advent today? Are you ready for Advent today?

As you read the words of this hymn, look back at God's presence through the ages, and look forward to the coming of the Savior of the Nations.

1. Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin's son, here make thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
that the Lord chose such a birth.
2. Not by human flesh and blood;
by the Spirit of our God
was the Word of God made flesh,
woman's offspring, pure and fresh.
(other verses in The United Methodist Hymnal subject to copyright)
A version with seven verses may be found at

As you prepare for Christmas, look back and look forward. Remember and anticipate. Be filled with awe and be filled with joy.

God bless you--
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Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.