Lenten Hymns and their Story

March 15, 2023

“Glory be to Jesus”

This hymn, so essential to the keeping of a Holy Lent within the Missouri Synod, emerges from a strong Italian Catholic root. The hymn was brought to protestant attention through a nineteenth century translation by Edward Caswall (1814-78),a former Anglican who had “gone over”, as he recorded, to Rome.
The earliest known source is in an 1818 edition of a hymn book, though the claimed author, by some, was not yet alive? There have been many claims of the text, so it is still uncertain as to whom it is that actually first wrote these words.
The Apostle Paul tells us: “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” [Ephesians 1:7]. The hymn text rises from these and similar phrases of Scripture and passes into the exuberant Italian “Viva! Viva! Gesu,” – loosely rendered as “Glory be to Jesus.”
Luther’s Small Catechism, glorifies the Jesus of the cross with a true theology of the cross, saying that He “has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sons, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”
The first four verses refer to the pouring out of blood in vicarious suffering [verse1], the finding of grace and life eternal [verse 2], the stream of salvation through time [verse 3], and the contrast of Abel’s blood [verse 4]. Verses 5 and 6 earth and heaven resound and heaven replies.

Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains
Poured for me the lifeblood from His sacred veins!

LSB 433

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