O Lord how shall I meet you? How welcome you aright? Your people long to greet you, my hope, my heart's delight!
"Ah! Lord How Shall I meet Thee" was published in 1658 by Paul Gerhardt, who is considered one of the most popular Lutheran hymn writers after Martin Luther. Written in German and ten stanzas long, the text is drawn from Matthew 21:1-9. This passage details the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, and although part of the Easter story, was the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent in Gerhardt's time. In this way, the text takes the listener from a personal reception of the Messiah to prophecy and the Easter sacrifice, and onward to the second coming.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” ~ Matthew 21:9
A prolific hymn translator, Catherine Winkworth translated the text from German to English in 1863. The tune most often associated with the text is ST. THEODULPH, written by Melchior Teschner in 1613 and harmonized by William Henry Monk in 1861. The tune is also commonly known for its use in "All Glory, Laud and Honour".
"O Lord, How Shall I Meet You" focuses very much on preparing for the Messiah's arrival ~ but it asks the challenging question 'How?': "How shall I meet you? How welcome you aright?" Love that excels all known love, and which caused the incarnation of God among us is incomprehensible based on our own human experience. How does one prepare for the arrival of someone among us who brings justice, reconciliation and peace to the world?
Questions for reflection:
- Spend some time imagining a light in your heart, or your heart blooming. How does it feel?
- What opportunities might a heart in bloom create?
- What are some ways that the Easter story informs both the work we do and the way we abide with one another during the Advent season?