November 30, 2022

Christmas and Advent Hymns and their Story

“Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”

The author George Weissel [1590 – 1635] wrote “Lift Up Your Heads” while serving as a pastor in the Prussian city of Konisberg, Russia. Sadly, it was first published 7 years after his death in 1642 in the “Prussian Festival of Songs”. It is based on Psalm 24:7; “ Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” He also uses, as others have, Matthew 21:1-9 [Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem].
Weissel wanted people to remember and sing of the coming of the Lord to His people very richly: “life and salvation he doth bring” [vs.1], “the end of all our woe he brings” [vs.2], “the cloudless sun of joy is He who comes to set his people free” [vs.3]. Psalm 24 repeatedly asks, “who is this King of Glory?” The hymn answers this question that it is the Triune God: “To God the Father … the Christ the Savior … to God the Spirit raise your joyful/ grateful/happy shouts of praise.”
In the final two verses Weisell leaves no doubt that God’s Advent is “For Us”. He tells us that “Our Sovereign shall enter in and new and nobler life begin” [vs.4]. We then recognize and acknowledge that it is the Lord that opens our hearts to Him as our loving God: “Redeemer, come and open wide my heart to Thee”. This hymn, like all things from the Lord this Christmas are a gift, as is the star that was to guide the shepherds on that first Christmas night. Lift up your heads, and see the star.

LSB 341

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates, behold the king of glory waits.
The King of kings is drawing near; the Savior of the world is hear.
Life and salvation He doth bring; therefore rejoice and gladly sing.
To God the Father raise your joyful songs of praise

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