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Vicarious Satisfaction in Lutheran Hymns

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Lutheran Orthodoxy teaches that an indispensable part of the mighty work that God has done in Christ is atonement by vicarious satisfaction. Adversaries of Lutheran Orthodoxy deny vicarious satisfaction. They teach that God just “up and forgave” before and without the blood of Christ. They teach that Christ did not accomplish atonement on the cross and that atonement only happens when someone believes a bloodless word of absolution.

In a series of studies, the author examines how those claims stand up against established witnesses to the teaching of the Lutheran church. Prior writings in the series brought forth the orthodox Lutheran teaching of vicarious satisfaction in the Lutheran confessions in the Book of Concord and in explanations of the Small Catechism. This writing continues the series by examining the witness of Lutheran hymns.

Lutheran hymns have a special characteristic as confessions of the faith. That makes them witnesses to authentic Lutheran doctrine. This writing recites an abundance of evidence from the texts of Lutheran hymns confessing vicarious satisfaction.

As prolegomena to that recitation, this writing first presents a background about the eruption of Lutheran hymns, the character of Lutheran hymns as confessions of the faith, what Lutheran hymns confess, difficulties of the study of the hymns regarding vicarious satisfaction, a definition of the body of hymns reviewed, and the criteria for identification of lyrics that confess vicarious satisfaction. The criteria are derived from a stated formulation of the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction. Based on that formulation, a realization of the language of vicarious satisfaction is made. Application of the criteria to the texts of hymns is illustrated by examples with commentary.

With the criteria having been established, a sampling of the abundant evidence from the texts of Lutheran hymns is recited. Selected for recitation are explicit and brief excerpts from 58 hymns, explicit and extended excerpts from 35 hymns, and implicit excerpts from 5 hymns.

The essay concludes with two caveats.

The Question

In prior writings we have seen the abundant evidence for the Lutheran doctrine of vicarious satisfaction in the atonement from the Lutheran confessions in the Book of Concord[1] and in the way atonement is taught in explanations of the Small Catechism.[2]

Against that, the Fordeans and other adversaries deny vicarious satisfaction. They claim it is neither scriptural nor Lutheran. They teach instead such notions as that the incarnation of Christ was not necessary for the forgiveness of sin, that the obedient and righteous life of Christ in our stead was not necessary, that the innocent sufferings and death of Christ in our place under the Law were not necessary, and that the bodily resurrection of Christ after he had been made sin for us was not necessary for our justification.

The question in this writing is: What do hymns written or used by Lutherans confess about vicarious satisfaction? Do Lutheran hymns agree with the confessions and the catechism and join them as witnesses to vicarious satisfaction?

Summary of the Answer

Lutheran hymns tend to be confessions of the faith. They give predominance to objective truth rather than to subjective faith. While the way any Christian tradition sings the atonement is significant for that tradition, this trait special to Lutheran hymns makes them especially significant evidence of the doctrine of the Lutheran church.

The passages of Lutheran hymn texts that clearly confess vicarious satisfaction are numerous, span centuries, transcend ethnicities and synods, come from the pens of Luther himself and many others whose stature authoritatively represents Lutheran doctrine, spans the range of theological subtypes within Lutheranism from Orthodoxy to Pietism, and weaves itself into every other hymnic theme from the birth of Christ to his presentation, epiphany, his Baptism, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session with the Father, his coming again, justification, the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion, the church militant, the church triumphant, and so on.

Were we to deny vicarious satisfaction as the Fordeans and other adversaries do, we would have to gut our hymnals of large organic portions of their content. If the adversaries were right, we would have been singing error in most Divine Services, Matins, Vespers, and other services for more than 500 years. For that matter, some hymns Lutherans use that would have to be rejected were composed as early as the Sixth Century. The Lutheran church did not invent vicarious satisfaction. Rather, the Lutheran church confesses in continuity with the Church universal from Genesis 3:15 onward.

By contrast, the doctrine of the adversaries finds no expression whatsoever in our hymns. The notions that the incarnation was not necessary for the forgiveness of sin, that the obedient and righteous life of Christ was not necessary, that the innocent sufferings and death of Christ in our place under the Law were not necessary, that the bodily resurrection of Christ after having been made sin for us was not necessary, and that there is no atonement at the cross but only if and when some sinner believes a generic word of absolution shorn of the blood of Christ appear nowhere in Lutheran hymns. The notion that God just “up and forgave,” to use Forde’s expression,[3] without and apart from the blood of Christ no Lutheran sings. Lutherans and all “Christians throughout the ages have joined in the celestial singing” of the new song of Revelation 5:9.[4]

For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation

“In our generation, numerous Lutheran hymnals have a musical setting that includes the very words of this canticle.”[5]

It is very difficult for the adversaries to preach their sermons on the atonement and not be contradicted by the hymnal.


An Eruption of Lutheran Hymns

“The sudden bursting forth of the Lutheran chorale is one of the most thrilling chapters in the history of the Reformation.”[6] “Wherever the Reformation gained entrance, publishers vied in bringing out better and more comprehensive hymnals. Magdeburg, Zwickau, Leipzig, Erfurt, Nürnberg, Augsburg, Königsberg, and many other cities produced their own collections.”[7] “The Reformation produced close to one hundred hymnals from 1524 until Luther’s death in 1546.”[8] “In comparison, the English Reformation produced thirteen hymnals up to the end of the sixteenth century (Scottish hymnals included).”[9]

“A book with Lutheran hymns was sure to sell, for the chorales were the fanfare that opened many a Jericho to the advent of the Reformation.”[10]

A chronicler of the city of Magdeburg gives a vivid account of a peddler who on May 6, 1524, sang the new Lutheran hymns on the market place and sold the leaflets to the people. The mayor had him clapped in jail, but the enthusiastic burghers saw that he was freed in short order to continue singing the hymns of Martin Luther.[11]

Lutheran Hymns Are Confessions of the Faith

It is not a stretch to class Lutheran hymns along with the Lutheran confessions and explanations of Luther’s Small Catechism as witnesses to the doctrine of the Lutheran church. Granted, the confessions and catechism rank before the hymns, but along with the liturgy, Lutheran hymns are witnesses of the next highest rank.

In Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Richard Resch contributes the essay, “Hymns as Sung Confession.” He says:

Lutherans could rightly define the hymn as “a sung confession of the faith,” for it describes what they have required of their hymns from those first days of the Reformation.[12]

The word “confession” (as creed) fits this concise definition of a hymn so well, and it suggests this significant result: that Lutherans believe what a hymn puts onto their lips and into their hearts.[13]

Lutheran singing preeminently confesses the faith (fides quae). The sung confession of the individual Christian, my faith by which I believe (fides qua), is secondary.[14]

Every hymn by Luther conveys the faith. One would expect this didactic approach in his catechism hymns, but the same catechetical style continues in his psalm hymns, canticle hymns, liturgical hymns, and even his children’s hymns.[15]

The didactic hymn modeled by the Wittenberg hymnists dominated Lutheran hymn writing for more than a century and a half. This sung confession consistently proclaimed Christ, his work, and His saving benefits received by His people through faith, not the individual singer and his experience. The period of orthodox Lutheran hymnody gave the Church thousands of hymns that objectively teach the faith.[16]

Ulrich S. Leupold in “Introduction” to “The Hymns,” in the American Edition of Luther’s Works says, “Luther’s hymns were meant not to create a mood, but to convey a message. They were a confession of faith, not of personal feelings.”[17]

Carl F. Schalk says the church’s song “is a song in which proclamation, teaching, and praise interweave in a tapestry of music unique to the Church.”[18]

Herman Sasse explains the essence of a church confession as bearing witness to objective truths.

The essence of a church confession lies, first of all, in the fact that it bears witness to objective truths. These, like the incarnation of Christ, cannot be derived from subjective experiences and are independent of all subjective opinions. Second, it belongs to the nature of such a confession that it is the creed of the church, that it is confessed not only as an I but as a we.[19]

Robin A. Leaver speaks of the catechetical intentions of Lutheran hymns.

It is because the classic Lutheran hymns were Scripture-based that they functioned not only as worship songs, expressing the response of faith to be sung within a liturgical context, but also as theological songs, declaring the substance of the faith to be sung with catechetical intensions.[20]

That we should look to our hymns to combat the error of the adversaries against vicarious satisfaction is nothing new. On the contrary, not to look to our hymns would be an abandonment of one of their uses throughout church history. “Early in its history the song of the Church, as it developed in both East and West, became a vehicle for combating error and heresy.”[21] Gnosticism in the East and Arianism in the West from the second to fourth centuries immediately were combatted in hymns. Basil, Ambrose, Luther, and others extol the use of hymns to teach pure doctrine and guard against error.

Throughout its history, the song of the Church has been a guardian of the proclamation of the Gospel. It is the Church’s song that has often had to carry the story of salvation despite bad preaching or no preaching at all, despite bad liturgy or no liturgy at all.[22]

What Do Lutheran Hymns Confess?

What do Lutheran hymns confess? Carl F. Schalk shows that they do what Christian hymns always have done in continuity with the hymns of the Old and New Testaments. They proclaim the mighty acts of God. They are vivid, historical, and dramatic. They are not metaphysical or rationalistic. They are about what God has done.[23] With the coming of Christ and his work, “The song of the Church is a fruit of saving faith created by the Spirit in response to what God has done in Jesus Christ.”[24]

That being so, the question, what has God done in Jesus Christ is of the essence of Lutheran hymns.

The very first hymn in the earliest Lutheran collection of 1524, Luther’s ‘Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice’ (LSB 556,) underscores this point: . . . ‘Proclaim the wonders God has done.[25]

Along with Christus Victor and ransom (which Lutheran hymns clearly and abundantly sing), do Lutheran hymns sing vicarious substitution? Do they teach and confess that God laid our sin upon Christ as our substitute so that when He died, that was a stroke of justice under the Law? Do Lutherans sing that the sufferings and death of Christ were the just penalty of the Law for our sin? Do our hymns confess that Christ’s suffering in our place exhausted on our behalf the penalty of death, reversed the verdict of the Law that had stood against us, freed us from condemnation, and effected our justification?

As a foreshadowing, consider this lyric: “But the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that justice gave,” (“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted,” LSB 451:2, TLH 153:2, ELH 297:2, CW1993 127:2, LW 116:2, ALH 399:2). This lyric all by itself entirely refutes the errant doctrine of the adversaries such as Gustaf Aulén, Gerhard O. Forde, and Stephen D. Paulson. In their rejection of “the legal scheme” of the atonement, they deny that once Christ became sin for us, his death was justice under the Law, just as, had we no substitute, our deaths would be justice under the Law. But in this hymn, Thomas Kelly gives us words to confess and teach one another that not only did Jesus suffer a stroke of justice, but that it was the deepest stroke. It was deeper than the miseries of Jesus’ arrest, desertions, denials, mocking, scourging, beating, sleep deprivation, false accusations, illegal trials, miscarried verdicts of the mob, Pilate, and Herod, carrying the cross beam, degradation rituals attendant to Roman crucifixion, nails, exsanguination, exposure, shock, and asphyxia.

Those all were bad, “But the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that justice gave.” The adversaries deny the deepest stroke and thus deny Jesus’ deepest love for us that moved him to suffer that deepest stroke in our place, thus sparing us from it. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Method Used in this Study

Difficulties of this Study

Surveying the confession of vicarious satisfaction in the Lutheran confessions of the Book of Concord is relatively easy. Being familiar with the confessions, we already know off the tops of our heads where first to look to see how they confess the atonement. Added to that are aids in the tables of contents and indexes such as in the reader’s edition published by Concordia Publishing House. The dogmatics texts such as Pieper[26] cite the confessions and point to where they confess vicarious satisfaction.

Surveying the teaching of vicarious satisfaction in explanations of the Small Catechism is even easier. The explanations are organized pedagogically and didactically (if not systematically), and we only must flip a few pages to find the material teaching the atonement.

By comparison, surveying how Lutherans sing the atonement in hymns is much more difficult. There are multiple layers of difficulty. Following are some of them.

The corpus of hymns well used by Lutherans both currently and in prior times is vast. The universe of data is orders of magnitude greater than the explanations of the Catechism.

In English, a large fraction of the hymns are translations. Comparing a single hymn in various English hymnals shows alternative ways translators conveyed the original text with meter, length of clauses, and rhyme. Sometimes the original German or Latin clearly sings vicarious satisfaction, but as rendered in English, while the doctrine is evident, the clarity suffers. Ulrich S. Leupold describes the manifold aspects in which English translations of Luther’s hymns suffer much in meter, phrasing, and content.[27]

The work of Christ in atonement kills many birds with one stone and does so in a panoply of ways. Scripture speaks of atonement in words and themes of covenant, testament, sacrifice, Day of Atonement, Passover, Pascal Lamb, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, justification, the blood of Christ, Lamb of God, payment, Surety, covering, mercy-seat, deliverance, victory over our enemies (the Devil, the world, our sinful selves, death), and ransom, to name some. In Scripture and in dogmatics, these words and themes have usually related and sometimes partially overlapping meanings. Yet each remains a distinct theme. When these are expressed in hymns, owing partly to the poetic and lyrical nature of the hymn texts together with their brevity, sometimes distinct ideas seem to be blended together or at least coordinated.

For example, ransom and redemption are distinct, but sometimes hymn writers use the word ransom where, from the surrounding context, they seem to have redemption more or equally in mind. For this reason, I have omitted reliance on texts speaking of ransom unless the context clearly joins ransom in blending or coordination with vicarious satisfaction.

The same principle has been followed for other such overlaps, blends, and coordinations. An example of a stanza included is “The Royal Banners Forward Go,” ELH 273, LSB 455, TLH 168, LW 103 and 104, SBH 75, CSB 91.

The royal banners forward go
The cross shows forth redemption’s flow,
Where He in flesh, our flesh
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid

“Ours sentence bore” plainly is legal, juridical, and forensic and speaks to vicarious satisfaction.  The line immediately continues “our ransom paid.” The two phrases are glued together. If not a blending of ransom and vicarious satisfaction, it is at least a coordination of them, a singing of distinct but intimately allied themes.

A similar example occurs in “O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild,” LSB 546, CW1993 366, CW 2021 540.

O Jesus so sweet, O Jesus so mild
With God we now are reconciled
You have for all the ransom paid
Your Father’s righteous anger stayed

“Your Father’s righteous anger” plainly is legal, juridical, and forensic. The staying of that anger speaks to propitiation. These are joined in the stanza with the immediately preceding line about ransom. The stanza coordinates ransom with vicarious satisfaction.

The English word “for” has multiple uses. In one use, it is the most succinct way in English to speak of vicarious substitution. “Jesus died for me” easily could be talking about vicarious satisfaction, but the Fordean adversaries employ their high educations, facilities with language, and sophistry to formulate explanations of how “for” has a different meaning. Since this study has, among other things, a polemical purpose to refute the errors the adversaries, I have usually omitted hymn formulations using only “for” to express substitution because I can safely forego reliance on those theoretically ambiguous instances, having such an abundance of clear evidence without them. But believers of sincere and childlike faith no doubt are hearing and singing those lines in praise to their Vicar who substituted himself into the death they confess they by sin deserved.

Sometimes the lyrics of a hymn express vicarious satisfaction in explicit terms much like prose. Sometimes those expressions are brief, comprised of only a clause or two or four lines. Other times those expressions are extended for two, three, or four stanzas. Sometimes the fact that a stanza expresses vicarious satisfaction is clear only by considering it with the succeeding or preceding stanzas. In such instances, to demonstrate in a writing like this that a hymn is confessing vicarious satisfaction requires presentation of an extended portion of the text.

These properties of the hymns suggest an ordering of the evidence in the following categories:

  • Explicit and Brief
  • Explicit and Extended
  • Implicit

Hymns Reviewed

To fit the work into the time available, I had to limit the hymns to review. A more proper body of hymns to review no doubt could be selected because in the time available, I chose only from among those on hand at home. The sources included are:

AHAmbassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: The Coordinating Committee of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994).
CSBCommon Service Book of the Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: the Board of Publication of the United Lutheran Church in America, 1917).
CW1993Christian Worship (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1993).
ELHEvangelical Lutheran Hymnary (Mankato, Minnesota: Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1996).
LSBLutheran Service Book (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006)
LWLutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982)
SBHService Book and Hymnal (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House and Philadelphia: Lutheran Church in America, 1958).
TLHThe Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941)

Because I am a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod familiar with LSB and because I had at home a copy of the magnificent Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, I read all the stanzas of every hymn in LSB. Not having time to do that in all the other listed hymnals, I read a subset under the headings of Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter. Given that expressions of vicarious satisfaction are spread throughout LSB and are not concentrated only under those headings, no doubt I have missed many relevant instances in the non-LSB hymnals, which I regret. A person of proper qualifications with adequate time and resources likely would be able to marshal much evidence omitted from this study. If such a person is prompted by this study to carry out the research properly, this study might be considered a success.

Criteria for Identification of Lyrics

Formulation of Vicarious Satisfaction

From a survey of explanations of the Small Catechism, we may draw a useable and succinct formulation of the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction, as follows.

Jesus made satisfaction to God for us under the Law in two ways.

  • Active Obedience. On our behalf He lived a life of active obedience under the Law. He fulfilled all righteousness for us under the Law.
  • Passive Obedience. On our behalf He rendered passive obedience to God. He did this by his innocent suffering of the Law’s penalty of death.

“God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.” (Galatians 4:4)

God demonstrated his satisfaction with the redeeming work of Christ by resurrecting him from the dead (Romans 4:25). God announces his satisfaction with the redeeming work of Christ by his “word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19) which He proclaims by the apostles and pastors in the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Consonant with this, Luther is fond of speaking of the frohlicher wechsel, “the joyous exchange,” or “the wonderful exchange.” Christ exchanges his righteous merit with us for our guilty sin. For a commentary on Psalm 22 in 1519, which he regarded as “a prophesy of the suffering and resurrection of Christ and a prophecy of the Gospel,”[28] Luther says:

[5] Atque hoc est mysterium illud opulentum gratiae divinae in peccatores, quod admirabili commertio peccata nostra iam non nostra, sed Christi sunt, et iustitia Christi non Christi, sed nostra est. Exinanivit enim se illa, ut nos ea indueret et impleret, et replevit se nostris, ut exinaniret nos eisdem, ita ut iam non modo obiective (ut dicunt) sit nostra Christi iustitia, sed et [10] formaliter, sicut non tantum obiective Christi sunt peccata nostra, sed et formaliter. Quo modo enim ille in nostris peccatis dolet et confunditur, hoc modo nos in illius iustitia laetamur et gloriamur, at ipse revera et formaliter in illis dolet, ut hic videmus.[29]

which may be rendered,

[5] And this is that rich mystery of divine grace for sinners, that by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours, but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ is not Christ’s but ours, for He emptied himself of his righteousness that He might clothe us with it and fill us with it, and He filled himself with our sin, that he might empty us to the same, so that Christ’s righteousness is no longer just objectively (as they say) ours, but also [10] formally, just as our sins are not only objectively Christ’s, but also formally. For in the same way that he suffers and is confounded in our sins, in this way we rejoice and glory in his righteousness, but he really and formally suffers in them, as we see here.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Language of Vicarious Satisfaction

That formulation may serve as a foundation for recognizing language that identifies lyrics as confessions of vicarious satisfaction. Some of the elements we could expect to see are:

  • Substitution
  • Active obedience
  • Passive obedience
  • Satisfaction
  • God’s Law, justice, verdict, judgment, condemnation, curse, counting, reckoning, imputation

In the formulation, the element of substitution is seen in “for us” and on “on our behalf.” We can recognize language hymn writers use that express substitution. “For us” and “for sinners” frequently are used. But language not expressly used in the above formulation also clearly express the same substitution, such as “in my place” and “in the sinner’s stead.” These and language of similar import, depending on context, can identify expressions of vicarious satisfaction.

The active obedience of Christ sometimes is expressed by forms of that word, “obedience,” “obedient,” or “obeying.” But hymn writers also refer to his active obedience by its fruits such as “his merit” or “his righteousness.” These and language of similar import, depending on context, can identify expressions of vicarious satisfaction.

The passive obedience of Christ often is expressed by words about his death, such as “death,” “dying,” “died,” and “his Passion.” “Christ has humbled himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) While death and burial are at the climax of Christ’s humiliation, our explanations of the Small Catechism teach us five steps in his state of humiliation. Hymn writers tend to associate all the steps with his passive obedience and frequently refer to his lowly birth, life of suffering, crucifixion, death, and burial. They tend to portray all of these as forming an organic whole in Christ’s mighty work of atonement. That is sound theology. To dissect and dismember any of the steps of Christ’s humiliation and exclude it from his passive obedience on our behalf would be rationalistic over-analysis and over-systematization. Language describing Christ’s humiliation, depending on context, can identify expression of vicarious satisfaction.

Satisfaction of God for our sin sometimes is expressed directly with words like “satisfied.” But hymn writers are not impoverished for poetic expressions of satisfaction. Language showing the response of God to the sacrifice of Christ, depending on context, can identify expression of vicarious satisfaction.

An interesting area is language that speaks all at once to the Law, substitution, and satisfaction. The scripturally related words of counting, reckoning, and imputation are legal words. “Sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Romans 5:13) Language of counting, reckoning, and imputation is used in Bible passages that Lutherans employ as key in teaching justification. In the atonement, our sin was counted, reckoned, and imputed to Christ and the righteousness of Christ was substituted for our sin. Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, James 2:28) Indeed, the whole extended argument Paul makes in Romans 4 and 5 is centered on imputation, reckoning, and counting. In two chapters, relying on the text as rendered in English by the New King James Version, Paul explicitly uses terms of imputation six times and terms of counted or accounted six times. It is the backbone of his argument. Remove imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us by substitution and the whole epistle to the Romans collapses.

Lutherans teach that we are justified by grace through faith for Christ’s sake. That last phrase, “for Christ’s sake” is associated with counting, reckoning, and imputation. We are justified when Christ’s righteousness and merit are counted to us, reckoned to us, imputed to us. God does not just “up and forgive” as the adversary Forde teaches. He forgives for Christ’s sake, which means on account of his vicarious satisfaction for us under the Law.

Lutherans added Public Confession and Absolution to the Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament in the Divine Service. The liturgy of “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” is from Psalm 32. Should we expect that Lutherans are ignorant of Psalm 32 when we pray this liturgy? Maybe some are, but we should not be. We should know Psalm 32.

1 BLESSED is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not 2 impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.         Selah
 5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.   Selah

Note 2 in the above quotation from the New King James Version provides an alternative translation for “impute” as “charge his account with.” The English Standard Version renders it “counts.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible and the International Standard Version use “charge” and “charges.” Luther renders it in German in the clause, “dem der HERR die Missetat nicht zurechnet,” “to whom the Lord does not reckon [alt. charge] transgression.”

Thus, not only do Lutherans sing of vicarious satisfaction in our hymns. We begin the Divine Service with allusion to it from the song in Psalm 32.

Hymn writers refer to the legal, forensic, and juridical aspect of Christ’s atonement in terms of “the law’s demands,” “the judgment that stood against me,” “just condemnation,” and “justice.” Despite the objections of the adversaries against Law, justice, and judgment as too uncivilized and barbaric, hymn writers are not ashamed to speak of avenging Justice. As rendered in English in “Enslaved by Sin and Bound in Chains,” TLH 141:4, CW1993 102:4, we sing not only of Justice and not only of avenging Justice, but by capitalizing Justice as a proper noun, the hymn translator intimates God Himself as avenging Justice.

Jesus the Sacrifice became
To rescue guilty souls from hell
The spotless, bleeding, dying Lamb
Beneath avenging Justice fell.

This soundly presents scriptural doctrine, as Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns explains in its commentary on “the deepest stroke . . . that Justice gave” in “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.”

The “deepest stroke,” then, was heard in Jesus’ cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) For this was the stroke of divine justice, executing judgment for the sins of all humanity. Jesus truly was ‘smitten by God’; yet ‘with His wounds we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:4-5).[30] [emphasis added]

American Lutheran Hymnal even renders it “Was the stroke God’s justice gave.”[31] “Smitten by God” in Isaiah 53:3 is among the grounds for the lyric “the stroke that Justice gave.” Thus, this same intimation where “Enslaved by Sin and Bound in Chains” capitalizes Justice also occurs in the rendering of the phrase in “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” in TLH and ELH,  “But the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that Justice gave.”

This is profoundly dissonant from the claim of adversaries like Paulson who deny that the Law is concordant with and expressive of God’s inherent and eternal nature. Hymns like “Salvation unto Us Has Come,” LSB 555, AH 410, CW1993 390, CW2021 558, ELH 227, explicitly confess that the Law must be fulfilled and was fulfilled for us by Christ.

Yet as the Law must be fulfilled
Or we must die despairing,
Christ came and hath God’s anger stilled,
Our human nature sharing.
He hath for us the Law obeyed
And thus the Father’s vengeance stayed
Which over us impended.

Given the organic and multi-organed fabric of Law-substitution-satisfaction, it will not be surprising to see hymn writers speak of it in a variety of ways. As one more example, consider the language of “curse.” Sinners under the Law are cursed because they do not obey it.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” (Galatians 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26)

“What Wondrous Love Is This,” LSB 543:1, AH 72:1, CW1993 120:1, CW2021 526:1, ELH 306:1, a hymn that appears in no less than 241 English hymnals,[32] sings vicarious satisfaction in a most compact line using the language of curse, “To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.” This confesses that my soul was under the curse of the Law for disobeying it. It confesses that Jesus bore my curse “for my soul.” There is no escaping substitution, vicarious satisfaction, and Law in this lyric.

Foci of Criteria Recapped

We can recap the foregoing as follows:

  • Satisfaction language
  • Substitution language, including language of “wonderful exchange”
  • Active obedience language
  • Passive obedience language
  • Legal language

The mere presence of such language, which alerts us to take a closer look at the passage, is not adequate alone to conclude that a hymn writer is speaking of vicarious satisfaction. The context and usage of the language always remain indispensable to the criteria for identifying vicarious satisfaction in the hymns.

Criteria Illustrated by Examples

Let us apprehend the criteria by way of examples and illustrations.

A common phrase in Lutheran hymns is “Jesus’ blood and merit.”

The usage of the word “merit” in this common phrase often references the full righteousness of Christ in his active obedience, and hence speaks to vicarious satisfaction. In Luther’s “wonderful exchange,” Christ exchanges our sin and his righteous merit. That is vicarious satisfaction.

The usage of the word “blood” typically references Christ’s death on the cross. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) By humbling himself to death on the cross where his blood was shed for the remission of sin, Jesus suffered the penalty of the Law for us. This passive obedience that atones for us is vicarious satisfaction.

The hymn “Through Jesus’ Blood and Merit,” LSB 746, CW1993 445, ELH 414, LW 369, TLH 372 confesses:

Through Jesus’ blood and merit
I am at peace with God

Paul says that in our sinfulness, we are “enmity” against God (Romans 8:7). Therefore, on our own we have no peace with him. This hymn confesses what reversed that calamity. Through Jesus’ blood and merit, the enmity is gone and peace reigns. (Romans 5:1, 14:17, 15:13)

Thomas Kingo’s cherished Baptism hymn, “He That Believes and is Baptized,” SBH 259, AH 270, ELH 241, CW1993 299, CW2021 692, LW 225, TLH 301, LSB 601 ties salvation, Baptism, and eternal life to God looking on us “through Jesus’ Blood and merit.”

“Like the Golden Sun Ascending,” TLH 207, CW1993 147, CW2021 470, ELH 354 may be used as an example of context clarifying that usage of the English word “for” speaks of vicarious substitution.

Thou hast died for my transgression
All my sins on Thee were laid
Thou hast won for me salvation
On the cross my debt was paid

The adversaries might try to manipulate the first line to make “for” means something besides Christ being substituted in our place. But the next line elucidates what “for” means. “All my sins on Thee were laid.” They are my sins, but they are laid on him. That is substitution. Then the next line says that by being substituted into my sins and dying for my transgression, “Thou has won for me salvation.” How has He done that. To childlike believers, that answer is obvious, but the stanza goes on to make it explicit, saying, “On the cross my debt was paid.” Sin makes us debtors to God. When Jesus pays our debt for us, that is substitution and satisfaction. Put all that together and you have vicarious satisfaction.

Hymns like “To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord,” LSB 405, CW1993 89, CW2021 377 explicitly say that Jesus acted as “our substitute” even in actions like being baptized by John. John’s was a baptism of repentance. Jesus had no sin of his own for which to repent. John, therefore, tried to prevent Jesus’ from being baptized. But Jesus told him to allow it “to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus already was fully righteous, so for whom was He fulfilling all righteousness? He did this for us, to give us his righteousness.

Luther captured the primary meaning of his Baptism: “[Christ] accepted it from John for the reason that he was entering into our stead, indeed, our person, that is, becoming a sinner for us, taking upon himself the sins which he had not committed, and wiping them out and drowning them in his holy baptism (AE 51:315)[33]

“Entering into our stead” is plain language of substitution. Thus, “To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord” continues, explicitly using the language “Christ, our substitute.”

The Savior came to be baptized
The Son of God in flesh disguised
To stand beneath the Father’s will
And all His righteousness fulfill
Now rise, faint hearts, be resolute
This man is Christ, our substitute
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream
Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme

Whole stanzas of favorite hymns make no sense without substitution. Consider this stanza from “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted,” LSB 451, TLH 153, ELH 297, CW1993 127, LW 116, AH 75, ALH 399.[34]

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly
Here its guilt may estimate
Mark the Sacrifice appointed
See Who bears the awful load
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed
Son of Man, and Son of God

How may we “here,” that is, at the cross, views the nature of sin rightly? How may we estimate its guilt? We may do so by marking the Sacrifice appointed, by seeing Who bears the awful load. If He is not bearing our sin, if He is not our substitute, if He is not making vicarious satisfaction, then our sin, its nature, and its guilt are not seen at the cross. It is just because of vicarious satisfaction that the cross exposes the enormity of sin by showing Who had to be our Substitute.

“When You Woke That Thursday Morning,” LSB 445, CW1996 717, CW2021 416 confesses the same thing in a similar but varied formulation.

When but One could pay sin’s wages
You assumed their dreadful sum

From this we see that language of debt and payment can speak to vicarious satisfaction. Similarly, the beloved Baptism hymn, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” LSB 594, ELH 246, CW2021 679 confesses:

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ
He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price
Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity

This hymn uses the language of payment and expresses the payment of “redemption price.” The word redemption is drawn from the law of debt and mortgages. When a debtor defaults in making payments, the creditor may judicially foreclose the mortgage and take the land. Moses’ law gave debtors a right of redemption if they later could muster payment of the debt. That law also allowed vicars (substitutes) closely related to a debtor to pay the redemption price on their behalf. If no qualified person could redeem, then God himself redeemed all bonded land in the Jubilee Year. (Leviticus 25:23-38) In the hymn, “He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price” Christ as our qualified Vicar makes vicarious satisfaction. He is qualified because, in the incarnation, He is fully human, our Brother.

The expressions in the third line about one treasure worth more than any refers to the treasury of Christ’s righteous merits. The hymn gives us words to confess and teach one another that in Baptism, Christ gives us his treasure of righteousness.. The last line plainly says his giving that treasure brought me eternal salvation. That is vicarious satisfaction.

Lutheran hymns expose the errors of the Fordean adversaries as being completely untenable. In the broadly used hymn, “The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord,” LSB 634:2, TLH 163:2, ELH 329:2, CW1993 135:2, CW2021 677:2, LW 107:2, THOS 234:2[35], consider how the rejection of “the legal scheme” by Paulson and company fares against what the church confesses:

He blotted out with His own blood
The judgment that against us stood
For us He full atonement made,
And all our debt He fully paid.

Face it. The word “judgment” is forensic, juridical, and legal. These lyrics are strongly referent to Colossians 2:14 (ESV):  “Having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”[36] The Lutheran Study Bible note on this verse says,

2:14  record . . . legal demands. The debtor kept a handwritten bill of indebtedness; in this case, it is the record of all our violations of God’s Law. This record is wiped away by Jesus’ death on the cross.[37]

The work of Christ on the cross was not merely to make a grand gesture of a free-floating general amnesty that results in atonement only if and when someone believes a bloodless word of absolution. No. Christ atoned there and then on the cross. Christ blotted out the judgment with his own blood. He cancelled the record of debt. He nailed that record to the cross, showing that it was exhausted and fulfilled in his death. My faith is not what blots out the judgment. Christ’s blood blots it out. Faith does not cause justification but merely receives it. As we sing in “Let Me Be Thine Forever,” LSB 689, CW1996 596, CW 2021 715, ELH 427, LW 257, SBH 506, TLH 334, CSB 271:

For Thou has dearly bought me
With blood and bitter pain
Grant that in Jesus’ merit
I always may confide

When we confess that we are saved by faith, that does not mean we confide in our faith. We confide in Christ, his blood, his bitter pain, and his merit.

Returning to “The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord,” in addition to judgment being forensic, debt is legal and foreclosure is juridical and forensic. Those last two lines literally say that Christ’s atonement was a payment of our debt.

The stanza accords with Paul in Galatians 4:4: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Even adoption is not by nature but by law.[38] Rid that Scripture of “the legal scheme” and there would be no redemption, no adoption, no justification – no Christianity.

In the realm of bluntness, the church sings in “I am Content! My Jesus Ever Lives,” LSB 468:1, TLH 196:1, CW1993 158:1, CW2021 464:1,

He has fulfilled the Law of God for me
God’s wrath He has appeased

How can anyone evade “the legal scheme” of “He has fulfilled the Law of God for me?” How can anyone evade the substitution of Christ fulling the Law for me? How can anyone evade the satisfaction of God’s wrath being appeased? How can anyone sustain the claim that God, before and without the sacrifice of Christ, just “up and forgave” sin when we sing that what appeased God’s wrath was Christ’s living and dying for us?

Similarly, how can one evade substitution under the Law and vicarious substitution in “The Night Will Soon Be Ending,” LSB 337:2?

Thus God, the judge offended
Bears all our sins deserve

If “the judge offended” is not legal, juridical, and forensic, what would be? If God “bears all our sins deserve” is not substitutionary, what would be?

In the same way, and without any necessity of elucidating it by analysis or commentary, “Lift Up Your Heads You Everlasting Doors,” LSB 339:3 plainly sings the righteousness of Christ meeting the Law’s demands in claiming the cross a his throne.

Who may ascend Mount Zion’s holy hill
To do God’s will
The One whose unstained hands
Can meet the Law’s demands
Whose purity within
Reveals One free from sin
Come praise this King who claims the cross as throne
Praise Him alone

A hymn that tightly wraps together many elements of vicarious satisfaction in four lines is “Before the Throne of God Above,” LSB 574, CW2021 561.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

The active obedience of Christ: “the sinless Savior.” The passive obedience of Christ: “Savior died.” Imputation: “my sinful soul is counted free.” The Law and justice: “For God, the Just.” Satisfaction: “is satisfied.” Substitution: “to look on Him and pardon me.”

For a final example of an explicit and brief confession of vicarious satisfaction, consider “Of My Life the Life,” ELH 336.[39]

For my proud and haughty spirit
Thy humiliation paid
For my death Thy death and merit
Have a full atonement made

My proud and haughty spirit references sin. “Thy humiliation” references Christ humbling himself to the death of the cross. “For my death Thy death and merit” is a plain and compact confession of the active obedience of Christ in “merit,” of the passive obedience of Christ in “death,” and substitution in “For my death Thy death.” All these come to satisfaction in “Have full atonement made.”

As an example of the importance of context, consider “Make Songs of Joy,” LSB 484:2, LW 132:2.

Our life was purchased by His loss
He died our death upon the cross

The language of purchase by itself is ambiguous. It could refer to ransom, which in and of itself would not be vicarious satisfaction. It could refer to redemption and thus could involve vicarious satisfaction, though not necessarily. But the lyric, “He died our death” plainly states substitution and passive obedience for us under the Law. Taken together, then, this hymn sings vicarious satisfaction.

Let us review just two instances of explicit and extended expressions of vicarious satisfaction. The first is one of Paul Gerhardt’s many great hymns, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth,” LSB 438, TLH 142, ELH 331, CW1996 100, CW2021 422. “Except for Gerhardt’s other Passion hymn, ‘O sacred Head, now wounded’ (LSB 449-50), it is probably the most significant Good Friday text in Lutheran practice.”[40] LSB uses stanzas 1-3 and 10 of the original.[41] Here we review stanzas 1, 2 and 4 from LSB.

1.  A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
The guilt of sinners bearing
And, laden with the sins of earth,
None else the burden sharing;
Goes patient on, grows weak and faint,
To slaughter led without complaint,
That spotless life to offer,
He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies,
The mockery, and yet replies,
“All this I gladly suffer.”

2.  This Lamb is Christ, the soul’s great friend,
The Lamb of God, our Savior,
Whom God the Father chose to send
To gain for us His favor.
“Go forth, My Son,” the Father said,
“And free My children from their dread
Of guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Your passion they will share
The fruit of Your salvation.”

4.  Lord, when Your glory I shall see
And taste Your kingdom’s pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be,
My joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before Your throne,
Your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought,
As Your own bride shall we be brought
To stand in joy beside You.

The single word “Lamb” in the opening phrase would refer to what, if not “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?” (John 1:29) Verse two rounds out the reference to “the Lamb of God, our Savior.” How, in the Bible, does a lamb take away sin and save? He does it in the same way that the next two lines of the stanza say, “The guilt of sinners bearing, and, laden with the sins of earth.” The Lamb of God bears our sin and substitutes for us in what we are about to sing next. He goes on to slaughter without complaint. Plainly, this references the death of Christ.

The sixth line, “That spotless life to offer” plainly references the active obedience of Christ. No one else has succeeded in living a life without spot. Though with extreme brevity, the word “offer,” in the contexts of both the hymn and Scripture, intimates both a satisfying sacrifice and a substitution of the Lamb for sinners. Without both satisfaction and substitution, the Lamb could not obtain the Father’s favor as confessed in the fourth line of stanza 2.

In the second half of the second stanza, the passion, which is to say, the death of the Lamb, frees sinners of guilt, condemnation, wrath, and stripes, and gives them salvation. This is an extended depiction of satisfaction and its effects.

For the sake of time and to avoid being pedestrian, let us skip forward to the last stanza. “Your righteousness shall be my crown,” references the active obedience of Christ for us in his fulfillment of all righteousness. That we are allowed to wear Christ’s righteousness as our crown is a gleaming depiction of wonderful exchange and substitution. In Christ’s state of exaltation, his mighty work of vicarious satisfaction is on parade.

“Your blood my royal robe shall be” says that the blood and death of Christ cover my sins and make me royal. When they had fallen into sin, Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 3:8), but now with the crown of Christ’s righteousness and the royal robes of Christ’s blood, we sing, “With these I need not hide me.” We wear the active and passive obedience of Christ as our own. This is a pageantry of vicarious satisfaction.

A hymn that wraps together many of the elements of the formulation above of the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction is “O Perfect Life of Love,” LSB 452, TLH 170, CW1993 138, CW2021 431, CSB 103, SBH 89.

O perfect life of love
All, all, is finished now
all that he left his throne above
to do for us below

No work is left undone
of all the Father willed
his toil, his sorrows, one by one
the Scriptures have fulfilled

And on his thorn-crowned head
and on his sinless soul
our sins in all their guilt were laid
that He might make us whole

In perfect love he dies
for me he dies, for me
O all-atoning Sacrifice
you died to make me free

In ev’ry time of need
before the judgment throne
your works, O Lamb of God, I’ll plead
your merits, not my own

Hymns Singing Vicarious Satisfaction

Following is a presentation of some of the evidence discovered by the described review of the defined body of hymns.

Selected for presentation are:

  • Explicit and brief excerpts from 58 hymns
  • Explicit and extended excerpts from 35 hymns
  • Implicit excerpts from 5 hymns

NOTE: The presentation from the texts of the hymns is included in the downloadable PDF of this article, but is omitted here because of length


Caveat 1.  Love and Blood

The adversaries say that the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction as a “legal scheme” is contrary to God’s love. They say that if the penalty of the Law for sin was suffered for us by Christ, then the forgiveness of sins is not based on mercy. Does that fairly represent Lutheran Orthodoxy?

Consider the question, Did God’s love move him to forgive sin or did the blood of Christ move God to forgive sin. Lutheran Orthodoxy answers, “Yes.” Both are true. Picking one and rejecting the other is a false dichotomy and a monistic failure to recognize the mighty acts of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in our salvation. The Father acted. The Son acted. The Holy Spirit acted. This is spread all over the pages of Scripture, but we can find it in one tidy package in a single verse:

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

Christ offered his blood. The Father who had send Him, received and accepted his blood. He offered it through the Spirit. Other passages ascribe the justifying resurrection of Christ (Romans 4:25) to the Father (Romans 6:4, Galatians 1:1, Acts 5:30), and to the Son (John 10:18) , and to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). Oversimplifying the atonement entails an oversimplification of God into a monism of so-called “love.”

Might we all agree that Who knows the answer to those two questions is Jesus himself? He says:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

To the question, “Did God’s love move him to forgive sin,” Lutheran Orthodoxy trustingly, gratefully, and adoringly answers “Yes.” Jesus himself says that “God so loved the world” that the world not be condemned but saved. Unlike fallen humanity, however, God in his love knows what love must do to save. God understands love better than we do. Jesus reveals here that God did not just “up and forgive” but instead, because of his love, “gave His only begotten Son.” In this giving of the Son, what was the Father’s will? Paul greets the churches of Galatia, saying

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Galatians 1:3)

The Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins according to the will of our God and Father. That is what God in his love knew love had to do for us. Jesus reveals that this was a commandment He received from his Father.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17-18)

Thus, the question, “Did the blood of Christ move God to forgive sin,” Lutheran Orthodoxy also trustingly, gratefully, and adoringly answers “Yes.” To deny this is a one-sided reductionism. Lutheran Orthodoxy is the full-orbed truth that teaches the “full counsel of God.”

In the touching and affective scene of Paul’s departure from those he so loved in Ephesus after ministering there three years, the longest of any of his missions prior to his imprisonment, he says:

And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:25-28)

The whole counsel of God embraces that God purchased the church with his own blood. Because Paul declared the whole counsel of God including Christ’s blood atonement, he is innocent of the blood of all men.

Caveat 2. Richness of Atonement Themes

The work of Christ in atonement kills many birds with one stone and does so in a panoply of ways. Scripture speaks of atonement in words and themes of covenant, testament, sacrifice, Day of Atonement, Passover, Pascal Lamb, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, justification, the blood of Christ, Lamb of God, payment, Surety, covering, mercy-seat, deliverance, victory over our enemies (the Devil, the world, our sinful selves, death), and ransom, to name some.

Themes of Christus Victor, ransom, and others hold prominent places in Lutheran hymns along with vicarious satisfaction. This writing is not intended to imply that vicarious satisfaction is the only theme of the atonement that Lutherans sing or which receives prominence in Lutheran hymns.

[1] T. R. Halvorson, “Vicarious Satisfaction in the Lutheran Confessions.”

[2] T. R. Halvorson, “Vicarious Satisfaction in Explanations of the Small Catechism.”

[3] “Why could not God just up and forgive? Let us start there. If we look at the narrative about Jesus, the actual events themselves, the “brute facts” as they have come down to us, the answer is quite simple. He did!” Gerhard O. Forde, “Caught in the Act: Reflections on the Work of Christ,” World in World, 3/1 1983, p. 26.

[4] The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2208-2209 n. 5:9.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ulrich S. Leupold, “Introduction” to “The Hymns,” Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965), 53:191.

[7] Leupold, op cit., 193.

[8] Leupold, op cit. 194.

[9] Ibid, n. 25.

[10] Leupold, op cit., 195.

[11] Leupold, op cit., 191.

[12] Richard Resch, “Hymns as Sung Confession,” Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns (St Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 2019), II.131.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Resch, op cit., 133.

[16] Resch, op cit., 134

[17] Leupold, op cit., 197

[18] Carl F. Schalk, “The Church’s Song: Proclamation, Pedagogy, and Praise,” Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns (St Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 2019), II.123.

[19] Hermann Sasse, We Confess Jesus Christ, trans. Norman Nagel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1984), 74.

[20] Robin A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007), 107-108.

[21] Schalk, op cit., 127.

[22] Schalk, op cit., 129.

[23] Schalk, op cit., 123-129.

[24] Schalk, op cit., 123, emphasis added.

[25] Schalk, op cit., 125, (emphasis added). The hymn also is in ELH 378, CW1996 377, CW 2021 557, TLH 187.

[26] Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950).

[27] Leupold, op cit., 197-201.

[28] Martin Luther, Reading the Psalms with Luther (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2007), 56.

[29] D. Martin Luthers Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Critical Complete Edition), (Weimar: Herman Böhlau, 1892), 5:608.5-10 (Operationes in Psalmos, 1519-1521).

[30] Companion to the Hymns, I:311.

[31] American Lutheran Hymnal (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1930) (American Lutheran Church) 399:2.

[32] Hymnary,com,

[33] The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1582 n. 3:15. The citation to AE is to Martin Luther, Luther’s Works: American Edition (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing Houses; Philadelphia:; Muhlenberg Press; and Philadelphia: Fortress Press).

[34] American Lutheran Hymnal (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1930) (American Lutheran Church).

[35] The Hymnal and Order of Service (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1926) (Evangelical Augustana Lutheran Synod of North America).

[36] NKJV:  “Having wiped out the handwriting of [NKJV note 9, alt. “certificate of with its] requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

NASB:  “Having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

NIV:  “Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

HCSB: “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.”

ISV:  “Having erased the charges that were brought against us, along with their obligations that were hostile to us. He took those charges away when he nailed them to the cross.”

LEB:  “Having destroyed the certificate of indebtedness in ordinances against us, which was hostile to us, and removed it out of the way by  nailing it to the cross.”

NET:  “He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.”

[37] The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2046, n. 2:14.

[38] Admittedly, it is taken over by the Gospel in Baptism. Moses, whose name means “drawn from water,” was drawn from water in an ark. The ark of Noah and the ark of Moses both prefigure Baptism. When Moses was draw from water in this foreshadowing of Baptism, he was adopted. We, too, are adopted as sons of God in our Baptisms by Gospel grace. In both Law and Gospel, however, sonship by adoption is not by nature.

[39] Also in The Lutheran Hymnary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1913), 319:4.

[40] Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2019), I.277.

[41] Companion to the Hymns, I:278.