“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God…’ and I heard around the throne …the voice of myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…’” Revelation 5:6-14
The above quote from our daily lectionary is a bit longer than the usual verses in this devotional booklet, but for good reason. It is John’s vision of the Lamb of God, who by his blood ransomed men and women for God! This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture as we see the whole heavenly host and all the saints around the throne of God and the Lamb, bowls full of incense burning with the fragrant prayers of the saints. And what are they singing? The new song that is the hymn we sing as part of our Sunday liturgy, “Worthy is Christ the Lamb who was slain…” It is commonly called, “This is the Feast,” sung as a hymn of praise after the Apostolic Greeting and Kyrie, before the Presiding Minister “collects” the prayers of the faithful in the “Prayer of the Day’.
Interestingly, the historic hymn of praise sung at this time in our worship was the Gloria—the song of the angels sung at Christ’s birth, recorded in Luke 2. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (RSV) While either hymn of praise is appropriate, “This is the Feast” became more popular with LBW, probably because it was new and was perceived as having a catchier tune! The season of Christmas and Epiphany are great times to return to the singing of the Gloria during worship, rather than “Worthy is Christ, the Lamb’. Still, it is the same Jesus who was born at Bethlehem who has now become sacrificial Lamb of God and High Priest!
Lamb of God, receive our hymns and songs of praise and thanksgiving for ransoming us for God! Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church