Hymn of the Day: ACS #1016 "Cast Out, O Christ"
Tune: CONSOLATION, A. Davisson, Theodore A. Beck (1929-2003), arr.
Text: Mary Louise Bringle (1953)
RELC begins including hymns from the new hymnal All Creation Sings with this pairing of the text, “Cast Out, O Christ” by Mary Louise Bringle and the Kentucky Harmony tune, CONSOLATION. Although this text is published in 2 other hymnals, this is the first published pairing of this text and tune.
Dr. Bringle’s fresh and captivating texts bring biblical passages to life in unique ways. Her text “Cast Out, O Christ” (2006) focuses on the Gerasene demoniac whom Jesus healed. This story appears in all three of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) immediately following the account of Jesus calming the storm. She notes that in the biblical text, Jesus does not allow the healed man to accompany him, but rather sends the man out to tell people about the miracle. The author writes a hymn that implores Christ not only to cast out “demons that destroy,” but also to send those newly rehabilitated into the world to “spread abroad [Christ’s] joy.”
“Cast Out, O Christ” brings to life a story of a man who is the epitome of an outcast—a figure to whom Dr. Bringle often draws attention. Confined to a cave, isolated from human contact, he is locked in the prison of his demons, called Legion. Rather than merely relaying the story of a man dealing with demons (the third-person tense would make it quite easy to dismiss it all as being separate from our personal journeys), Dr. Bringle weaves first-person pain into her description of the man’s suffering.
Thus, the story is not confined to the caves of Mark, Luke and Matthew. Instead, it resounds among all people who are trapped by demons. Most importantly, the story continues beyond the dread, hate, grief, fear, shame, imprisonment and despair, urging us to keep our eyes locked on the One who gives “life and health and hope,” and who supplies the tremendous strength that is required to heal fully.
This hymn not only names the troubles and fears of our lives today, but also speaks far beyond our own time and space. In singing the verses, we find ourselves able to glimpse a hope that transcends time. Perhaps the greatest purpose of any hymn text is, as the author wishes for her own poetry, that it may provide a glimpse of “the hope beyond all hope for a world in which, finally and fully, God’s peace will come to fruition, and the very hills and mountains shall break forth with singing.”
Musical Reflection: Schmucke dich (Deck Thyself, My Soul) J. S. Bach
This text is often considered the best and most popular of the Lutheran chorales for the Lord's Supper. The dominant tone is one of deep joy enhanced by a sense of awe. We express joy and praise for "this wondrous banquet" (st. 1), and we show reverence in receiving Christ (st. 2). Thankful for "heavenly food" and drink (st. 3), we rejoice in Christ's love for us and in its power to unite us (st. 4).
Johann Cruger composed the hymn tune specifically for the text. Johann S. Bach used this tune in his Cantata 180; he and many other composers have written organ preludes on the melody.