A Hymn for Meditation

Rejoice, Rejoicehymnal

Rejoice, rejoice, believers,
And let your lights appear.
The evening is advancing,
And darker night is near.
The bridegroom is arising
And soon is drawing nigh.
Up, pray and watch and wrestle;
At midnight comes the cry.

The watchers on the mountain
Proclaim the bridegroom near.
Go forth as he approaches
With alleluias clear.
The marriage feast is waiting;
The gates wide open stand.
Arise, O heirs of glory;
The bridegroom is at hand.

Our hope and expectation,
O Jesus, now appear;
Arise, O Sun so longed for,
O’er this benighted sphere.
With hearts and hands uplifted,
We plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption
That sets your people free.
            Laurentius Laurenti

 Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Matthew 25:6 

  • The imagery of this hymn is drawn from Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The message of the hymn and the parable is preparation for Jesus’ return. How does the hymn make that point?
  • Laurenti speaks of the marriage feast. It is referenced in the parable of the virgins. Where else does the Bible speak of Jesus’ return in the context of a marriage feast? (See Revelation 21:1-8) What is so special about a wedding feast that it properly speaks of the relationship between Christ and his church?
  • What model for human sexuality is portrayed in the wedding feast?
  • What is the culminating gift of Christ’s return? Why is freedom such a remarkable gift, and why is it important both now and at the end of time?

 For further thought, you may enjoy reading the text of an aria in Bach’s cantata “Wachet Auf,” also a setting of the parable of the ten virgins. This aria is a soprano/bass duet, the cry of the human soul for Jesus to come quickly, a song from the hearts of lovers. 

My Friend is mine,
– and I am yours,
love will never part us.
I will with You

– you will with Me
graze among heaven’s roses,
where complete pleasure and delight will be.
 

The Song of Solomon also celebrates the love between Christ and his church in the imagery of the love between a man and a woman. 

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7

 This powerful image teaches us the power and richness of the sexual union of a man and a woman, both the physical and spiritual elements of that relationship. It is the image borrowed in Revelation at the redemption of all creation in the new heaven and earth when Christ returns.  

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.              Revelation 21:1-3

 How do these texts and this hymn help you answer the cultural challenges to our faith and to the biblical teaching about human sexuality? How do these texts help you to explain the teachings of the faith to your children?

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