Let’s Sing: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

This is the first post in the blog series Let’s Sing. To find the other posted Carols of the season, see the index, https://revbroyles.me/2020/12/06/lets-sing/

A Net in Time

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 here

O blest the land, the city blest
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes

Redeemer, come, with us abide; 
our hearts to thee we open wide; 
let us thy inner presence feel; 
thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on 
until our glorious goal is won; 
eternal praise, eternal fame 
be offered, Savior, to thy name! (UMH)

The great Advent hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” was written by a German-Lutheran pastor from East Prussia by the name of Georg Weissel. Weissel was also a writer of hymns and filled an important role in 17th century western history.

There has been talk in recent years in our society about the length of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some have talked about how a child not born yet on September 11, 2001 could be fighting in the war that began due to 9/11. We are rapidly approaching a twenty-year-old war.

Imagine a war ten years longer. For Weissel, who was born in 1590 and only lived 45 years, the war covered a big part of his life. He saw at least some of the causes of the war take place in his younger years. As Ferdinand II rose to power in the Holy Roman Empire, he tried to force Catholicism across the empire. While there were other factors in the war, Ferdinand’s actions were the biggest factor. For a man who would become a Lutheran pastor, it was a difficult position.

It is generally accepted that the war began in 1618 and ended 30 years later, therefore, in 1648. Weissel would have been 28-years-old when the war began. He saw the height of this war that, depended on who you read, civilian and military deaths over the course of the war was between four and eight million

Weissel, who died in 1635 died at height of the war, saw unbelievable difficulties in Germany. Because of plagues, various other disasters, and the flight of refugees from the war-torn parts of central Europe, the population of Germany alone it the fell from 16 million to 6 million.

Despite all the tremendous difficulties, grief, and pain going on around him, Weissel found Psalm 24 to be inspiring and that inspiration led him to write, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates.”

Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
    Ancient doors: rise up high!
        So the glorious king can enter!
Who is this glorious king?
    The Lord—strong and powerful!
    The Lord—powerful in battle!
Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
    Ancient doors: rise up high!
        So the glorious king can enter!
Who is this glorious king?
    The Lord of heavenly forces—
        he is the glorious king! Selah (Psalm 24:7-10, Common English Bible)

The language of gates and doors rising up to let in the Glorious King, a strong and powerful monarch, “the Lord of heavenly Forces.”

The words Weissel penned closely parallel the words of the psalmist. The allusions to war in the psalm had to remind Weissel of Europe’s war that had to seem without end.

The hymn was published posthumously in 1642. John Wesley, one of many who translated this hymn is sometimes credited with being its first translator from German to English. The translation most often used today in hymnals was the 1855 translation of notable British hymn translator Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).

I find it interesting that today we use this hymn, born out of tragedy, difficulty, and pain is a hymn used by today’s Church to usher in one of the most joyous times of the Christian year.

At the same time, however, we should also not forget that the birth of Jesus was not immune from pain and tragedy of that day. The forced march to everyone’s home city and the deaths of untold baby boys in an effort of early genocide.

In all we see today, from a war against a disease, an invisible foe, to difficulties related such as losses of jobs, and unrelated, the difficulties we see and experience in race relations, and such is in our own corner of the world.

And still, “The King of Glory waits.” Come Lord Jesus.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The United Methodist Hymnal #213, United Methodist Publishing House, 1989
Hawn, M, http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-lift-up-your-heads-ye-mighty-gates
Myers, Whitney V. https://www.whitneytunes.com/

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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