Today we’re going to take a look at our first Hymn from the Lutheran Service Book (LSB), “544 – O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High”. We sang this song during Epiphany 2, where the Gospel text was John 1:29-42John 1:29-42, when John the Baptist announces Christ, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
I’ve been working on ways to complement our DiM series throughout the week. One way I thought would be helpful for me and for my readers is to take some time to examine the doctrine found in the traditional hymns. I will be pulling hymns from the LSB as these are what I’m engaging in on a regular basis. As with our DiM series, I’ll do my best to offer a good recording of the hymn as well as the lyrics. Regarding the audio recording, it can be quite a challenge to find good audio recordings that include the congregational singing. Sometimes choir recording are unintelligible due to the intense operatic mode of singing. Most of the time what I find online are accompaniment tracks of just the organs or various orchestra arrangements. There is a real need for recordings of these hymns for everyday listening. If your church has good recordings of the congregation singing these hymns, please send me a link via the Contact Us page.
Higher Things – O How Deep LSB 544
Lyrics (via Hymnary.org)
1 O 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!
2 He sent no angel to our race,
Of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame,
And to this world Himself He came.
3 For us baptized, for us He bore
His holy fast, and hungered sore;
For us temptation sharp He knew;
For us the tempter overthrew.
4 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.
5 For us by wicked men betrayed,
For us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
He bore the shameful cross and death;
For us He gave His dying breath.
6 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.
7 All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.
Unlike our modern-day songs, this hymn is written for congregational singing (as opposed to having a band perform the song in hopes the congregation might follow along) where the congregation sings the same tune through 7 verses (no chorus/bridge) confessing Christ. For all of its doctrinal content, the song doesn’t take longer to sing as a congregation than your typical 2 verses + Chorus + emotional refrain loop performed by a band.
The Tune/Accompaniment. We’ll eventually cover songs whose tunes I find absolutely impossible to enjoy, but this one isn’t one. The tune is smooth and easy to follow. Were it not for the congregation singing aloud with one voice, I would find the sound of that organ bothersome; however, with so many voices there needs to be a unifying accompaniment. The organ here is suitable for the task. If you don’t like the organ, you have a friend in me. However, the true value of our music is in the lyric, not in the instrumentation.
Lyric. One need only read through the lyric as though it were a poem to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly proclaimed. Let’s move through the verses briefly to see how the theme of this hymn unfolds.
- The Incarnation. God, God the Son took on human flesh for our sake. Emmanuel, God is with us.
- Again, God Himself came to us, He didn’t send another. Emmanuel, God is with us.
- FOR US: He was baptized for us, suffered hunger for us, tempted in the wilderness and defeated Satan in the wilderness for us.
- FOR US: He prayed for us. He taught for us. He fulfilled the LAW for us. He fulfilled the Prophets for us.
- FOR US: He was betrayed by wicked men for us. He bore the crown of thorns for us. He hung on a shameful cross for us. He gave His dying breath for us.
- FOR US: He rose from the grave for us. He ascended into heaven for us. He sent God the Holy Spirit to us, for us.
- and it was all out of His Great Love for us. All glory and honor be to God the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
The hymnary website gives the following citations for the hymn: Ephesians 3:17-21; Philippians 2:6-9; Hebrews 2:9-18; John 1:1-14
In looking at these citations, I don’t like beginning or ending a reading of scripture with an incomplete thought. So I’ve made the following adjustments, and we’ll look at how these passages work together to teach us about the person and work of Jesus: Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:9-18; John 1:1-14
John 1:1-14 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Hebrews 2:9-18 (ESV)
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This is the rich theology we find in the great hymns. Such wonderful proclamation of Christ FOR US shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed by modernists with no appreciation for theology. Yes, seasons change and so do musical fads and trends, but the Word of God is timeless. I’m all for having new tunes written for these hymns. I’m in favor of having newer songs written in keeping with the rich theology found in these hymns. We haven’t been doing this. The evangelical industrial complex has been trading out spiritual meat for artificial sweetener completely lacking in substance.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,