Hymns of Holy Week and their Story

March 30, 2023

“When You Woke that Thursday morning”

In 1991, the Commission on Worship of the Missouri Synod requested a new hymn to mark the 25th anniversary of the ordination of it’s executive director, Dr. James Brauer.  The commission asked Rev. Jaroslav Vajda (1919-2008) for a communion hymn, a nice coincidence, since he was already working on new hymn stressing Word and Sacrament in worship.  And so, Vajda, thought, when he woke up, what did Jesus think when He woke that Thursday morning?  He made a promise to be with us forever.  He believed he also meant He would be with us forever in the Sacrament of the Altar.
There is no doubt that this hymn is steeped in the Sacrament, framed by the Last Supper in the Upper Room.  “When You Woke” is actually part of a grouping of hymns he had written and collected on our Lord’s Supper.  
He carefully does no use the word, "I”, in the hymn.  All though are directed to “you”, the One who knew what would happen that Thursday.  This hymn never looks inward at the singer but voices the response of all the faithful.  The singer is neither self-absorbed nor intent on inserting personal thoughts into the Biblical account, as he reflects on the narrative of Holy Week.
The singer’s final reflections grasp the new reality unfolded in the sacramental meal.  We are “one body,” in unity with one another because of the unity we know in the Savior.  In the end, the gives us a “vision glorious” for all time.  It is rather joyous because of the union of the “Greatest and the least” at the “never-ending feast.”

When You woke that Thursday morning,
Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thoughts of self and safety scorning,
Knowing how the day would end;
Lamb of God, foretold for ages,
Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin’s wages;
You assumed their dreadful sum.

LSB 445

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