Epiphany Hymns and Their Story

February 21, 2023

“Tis Good Lord, To Be Here

Joseph Armitage Robinson [1858-1933] wrote this hymn in 1888, basing it on the Gospel of the transfiguration of our Lord, celebrated back then, on August 6th in the Roman Catholic and Anglican calendars. He was not known as a hymn writer, but as the Dean of Christ’s College, Cambridge, he left this gift to the Holy Christian Church, to be sung and celebrated every Transfiguration Day.
What we have here is a poetic and worshipful portrait of the Transfiguration account from Luke 9:28-36 set in the voice of Peter, “Master, it is good that we are here” [vs. 33]. The radiance of the Lord and the appearance of Moses and Elijah complete the scene.
Verse three looks both to the past and the future. Jesu sis confessed as “fulfiller of the past”, as Matthew 1:22-23 describes “Immanuel,” fulfilling “what the Lord had spoken by the prophet. All those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Rev. 7:14] will their “redemption see.”
The final two verses complete this wonderful drama, with the singers entering the dialogue: “we need to hold the vision bright and make this hill our home”, exactly as did Peter, who suggested they make three tents. The hymn concludes with an appropriate prayer for God’s presence among those who must “leave the mount” and return “to the plain” [verse 5].

Tis good, Lord, to be here! Thy glory fills the night;
Thy face and garments, like the sun, shine with un-borrowed light.

LSB 414

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