On Sunday, May 5, 2019, the UniLu choir and instrumentalists performed a new setting of Deo Gracias by Bruce Brolsma as the musical sermon for Church Music Sunday. Jonathan Mott, music director–choir, conducted.
Deo Gracias is hymn 322 in our hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Bruce writes, “The tune was the setting for a fifteenth century English ballad commemorating the victory of King Henry V of England over the French at Agincourt in 1415. The text is part of an anonymous fifteenth century Latin hymn, Apparuit benignita, on the incarnation of Jesus. Based on its affinity to some of his other works, scholars (and our hymnal) attribute its authorship to Thomas à Kempis (Thomas from Kempen), who was a priest and scholar at Mount St. Agnes near Zwolle in Holland in the fifteenth century. The Latin text would have likely remained unknown to us, except for the efforts of Benjamin Webb, a church and music scholar in nineteenth century England. From the original 23 stanzas, he select eight for use in an 1854 hymnal. (Thanks to Marilyn Stulken, author of Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, for much of this background information.)
Text of Deo Gracias
Oh, love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals’ sake.
God sent no angel to our race,
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe of human frame,
in Christ our Lord to his world came.
For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptation sharp he knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.
For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought,
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.
For us by wickedness betrayed,
for us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us he gave his dying breath.
For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.
All glory to our Lord and God
for love so deep, so high, so broad:
the Trinity whom we adore
forever and forevermore.