28 March 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:55-56; KJV only)
This is an ancient hymn composed by Peter Abelard (1079-1142) especially for the seasons of Passion, or Palm, Sunday. It is intended as an evening hymn most suited for Evening Service on Good Friday. The tune for the hymn in the 1940 Hymnal (#68) is Bangor by William Tan’sur.
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ALONE THOU GOEST FORTH, O LORD
Alone thou goest forth, O Lord,
in sacrifice to die;
is this thy sorrow naught to us
who pass unheeding by?
Our sins, not thine, thou bearest, Lord;
make us thy sorrow feel,
till through our pity and our shame
love answers love’s appeal.
This is earth’s darkest hour,
but thou dost light and life restore;
then let all praise be given thee
who livest evermore!
Give us compassion for thee, Lord,
that, as we share this hour,
thy cross may bring us to thy joy
and resurrection power.
Alone thou goest forth, O Lord, in sacrifice to die; is this thy sorrow naught to us who pass unheeding by? The depth of meaning and beauty of just the first line of this hymn is beyond the scope of a short devotional – and even volumes of commentary “Alone thou goest forth, O Lord.” All His disciples deserted Him at His betrayal into the hands of the Jewish brigands. Even Peter, the bold fisherman, lost all courage as he was separated from Christ. It must have been so that our Lord would go forth alone as the Pascal Lamb of those of faith. No other could satisfy our sin debt but Christ. Only His going forth as the Passover Sacrifice could satisfy the Law and Prophets, and the wrath of the Father against sin. Regardless of the multitudes around Him at the cross, He died alone – the loneliest death in all time and eternity. He died between Heaven and earth as He hung on the cross between two thieves, and He was the first of the three to expire. (see John 19:31-34) His death, too, was unique in that it represented the death of all in trespasses and sins (He bore our sins on the cross), but also, His later resurrection would insure the resurrection of the faithful as well on the Last Day according to the discretion of the Father.
Our sins, not thine, thou bearest, Lord; make us thy sorrow feel, till through our pity and our shame love answers love’s appeal. I have often described the love of God as an echo. He loved us first so that we may respond as an echo to that divine love. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) His compassion for us exceeds every value we could ever imagine, but that compassion He has for us requires a corresponding response evoked by faith and love. It is only by His grace that we can know Him and respond in like manner to His love and sacrifice for us. As we do so, the wells of compassion burst the boundaries of selfish consideration and open the floodgates of unrestrained devotion – not only for God – but all His creatures.
This is earth’s darkest hour, but thou dost light and life restore; then let all praise be given thee who livest evermore! Yes, the darkness covered the land from the sixth to the ninth hour (12 noon until 3 PM). There was fear and trembling as the greatest and most inconceivable sacrifice was made for us on the cross. The darkness was both spiritual and physical, but the spiritual darkness persisted until the third day following when the Tomb of the Garden was discovered to be empty and the Savior risen. In this life, too, our darkest hour may precede the greatest awakening to love and truth with the burst of restored life promised in the Resurrection.
Give us compassion for thee, Lord, that, as we share this hour, thy cross may bring us to thy joy and resurrection power. Herein lies the mystery and joy of the ages – the very moment our blind eyes are opened by the Holy Ghost to our nakedness and grave need for forgiveness and salvation, and not only that, but to the realization that God has called us to repentance and the gift of eternal life through His blessed only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Before we can fully appreciate that sacrifice on the cross, we must at least recognize a glimmer of that suffering through our common compassion for His own suffering. That great event of suffering and death was substitutionary for us. It was we who should have paid the price the sinless Savior paid for us.
In Christ Alone during Season of LENT,