Epiphany Hymns and their Story
February 10, 2023

“Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”

James Montgomery [1771-1854] wrote this hymn for use in a congregation in Yorkshire, England for Christmas in 1821.  This occasion gave the lines a deeper resonance, confessing the Christ Child to be “the Lord’s anointed” and this day to be “the time appointed” for “His reign on earth begun”.  By 1822 this hymn had also begun to be used by the Church in England for Mission Sunday festivals.  
He begins by anchoring Christ’s reign in time: in the first lines, messianic prophecy takes us to “Great David’s Greater Son” in verse 1, who was the heir of Nathan’s promise in 2nd Samuel 7:12, which initiated the Messianic age.  The end of the first and the entirety of the 2nd verse celebrate the coming of this Messianic age as reflected in Psalm 72, but also in Isaiah’s wonderful prophecies, and the first sermon of Jesus in Nazareth [Luke 4:14-21]. 
In the 3rd verse there is a shift to the future of God’s people, as we see a re-creation of the faithful, extending to the ends of the earth, bringing the gift of divine righteousness from heaven to earth.  In the 4th verse, the world responds to God’s gracious work.   We see the converted nations responding to God’s love with adoration, praise, prayer, and “daily vows”.
And so, the hymn closes by celebrating Christ’s eternal rule.  While increasing in glory “from age to age”, His reign will never end, for that was the promise and covenant He made with Abraham [Genesis 12:3; Psalm 71:17].  It is just unfortunate that the depths of God’s love must be shown in the delf-sacrifice of our Lord Jesus at Calvary’s cross, yet we still praise and adore Him above all things.   

Hail to the Lord’s anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun.
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free,
To take away transgression and rule in e – quity.

LSB 398

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