Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gethsemane: Altered Lyrics

My pastor has mentioned a couple of times that one of my favorite Lenten hymns, "Go to dark Gethsemane", was one of his seminary professor's least favorite Lenten hymns because of its lyrics. I have to admit, when I sing it, the last lines of each stanza seem to lose the focus on Christ and put it back on us and, worse, turn Gethsemane, the cross, and the resurrection into an object lesson. The very last line of the hymn has always struck me as odd. "Savior, teach us so to rise"? Almost sounds as if Jesus is giving us resurrection lessons in a how-to kind of vein. Maybe I missed that lesson? ;)

So I have written new last lines for each stanza. If anyone cares to use these altered lyrics, I've made them Creative Commons. The altered lines are italicized.

Go to dark Gethesmane
All who feel the tempter's power
Your Redeemer's conflict see
Watch with him one bitter hour
Turn not from his griefs away
Humbly watch your Savior pray

Follow to the judgment hall
View the Lord of life arraigned
Oh the wormwood and the gall!
Oh the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss
Follow while he bears the cross

Calvary's mournful mountain climb
There, adoring at his feet,
Mark that miracle of time
God's own sacrifice complete.
"It is finished!" hear him cry;
Jesus Christ was sent to die.

Early hasten to the tomb
Where the laid his breathless clay
All is solitude and gloom
Who has taken him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes!
Savior, bring us so to rise.

Original lyrics James Montgomery, 1771-1854

Likely enough someone can do better than that on the alterations. But in the meantime, if someone wants to sing more Christ-centered lyrics for a Lenten meditation, this will be an inch in the right direction.


Steve said...

Nice job!

My pastor is constantly changing the wording of hymns to get away from 'us' and put focus back where it belongs...on Him and His work for us.

Martin LaBar said...

Interesting. I think you did improve the song.

Weekend Fisher said...

Thanks for the encouragement, both of you. I'm a tinkerer ... not 100% satisfied with the aesthetics ... it feels spliced to me. I'm sure someone will improve on this. But in the meantime, perhaps I can get my pastor to put "Gethsemane" back in the Lenten rotation. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,

I'm glad you enjoyed my post on Christian CADRE on movie ratings and the Bible. May I in turn complement you on your excellent blog. Just reading through some of your posts on early Christian scholars...great stuff. I wholeheartedly agree that the early scholars were much more careful and critical than most people think.

Weekend Fisher said...


I used to be in the CADRE myself, & am still fond of the good folks there. All the best to you.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Wickle said...

I like it!

And thanks for your submission to the Christian Carnival. I just wanted to let you know that I got it.