December 02, 2022

Christmas and Advent Hymns and their Story

“Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People”

This hymn by Johann Olearius [1611-1684] lets the words of Isaiah come alive for anyone who has experienced the pangs of sin, and then yearned for release from sin the bondage of their own sin.
The original German text was written for the Festival of John the Baptist, and was based on Isaiah 40:1-3 and following; “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Isaiah originally wrote these words [inspired, of course, by the Holy Spirit] to encourage God’s people that were exiled in Babylon. God was sending them Good News through the prophet, announcing to them the fulfillment of His gracious promise to cover their sins and end their “warfare”. They would soon be coming home as His restored people. The only cure for their mourning was the coming Messiah – take comfort in Him and Him alone.
God will remember their sin no more. In fact, their will be a “joyous exchange”, a redemption, and He will give them “ever-springing gladness” in exchange for their “pining sadness.”
The glory of the Lord stands graciously revealed here, proof that His Word is “never broken”; Isaiah 40:8, “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

“Comfort, comfort, ye My people, speak ye peace,” thus saith our God.
“Comfort all who sit in darkness, mourning neath their sorrows load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover, and her warfare now is over.”

LSB 347

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