Epiphany Hymns and their Story
February 17, 2023

“To Jordan Came the Christ, our Lord”

As early as 1523, Martin Luther [1483-1546] contemplated the use of hymns to be sung by the congregation during the distribution of Holy Communion. Recognizing the teaching benefits of congregational singing, Luther spent considerable time writing original hymn texts.
He wrote 37 hymns texts, and most were for the purpose of teaching the congregation.
The most famous musician/composer to revel, write/sing/play his hymns for the congregation was Johan Sebastian Bach.
Verse 1 was written to set the stage: Christ at the Jordan, following His Father’s will, being baptized by John. The second half states that according to Christ’s institution, Baptism is a washing that cleanses us from sin [Titus 3:5].
Verse 2 echoes the catechism’s answer to the question “What is Baptism?” by affirming that “our Lord here with His word endows pure water, freely flowing.”
In verse 3, the story unfolds with the Father’s public affirmation for His Son in the voice from the cloud. Verse 4 continues with the event that happened immediately afterward; namely, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, coupled with more assurances of God’s promise to comfort and sustain His children.
Verses five and six spells out the sad consequences “to those who cast aside this grace so freely given.”
Finally, verse 7 testifies that although the Sacrament appears to be only ordinary water, Christians know by faith that it is a washing that actually saves because it is combined with God’s Word.

1 To Jordan came the Christ, our Lord, to do His Father’s pleasure;
Baptized by John, the Father’s Word was given us to treasure.
This heav’nly washing now shall be a cleansing from transgression
And by His blood and agony release death’s oppression.
A new life now awaits us.

LSB 406

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