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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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June 30, 2006

New words for a new child

Next Friday I won’t be blogging—I’ll be driving, to Wisconsin where we’ll join my daughter-in-law’s extended family for their reunion, a long-standing tradition for the Peras .

The newest member of their family is also a member of ours, a first grandchild. And the Pera grandfather, an ELCA pastor, will baptize the baby during the Sunday worship. We’ll sing new words of welcome—into a greater family, the family of God. The words are new verses to the hymn “Bind Us Together,” which the congregation sang five years ago when the baby’s parents were married.

Before you read them, or hum along to the lilting tune, here’s the wonderful story of how they came to be written. When Lutheran Services in American launched its “Trading Graces” on-line auction in February, I wrote the story for the magazine. LSA President Jill Schumann told me that among the more than 2,100 goods and services was an offering from her husband, Mark Oldenburg who is both professor of the art of worship and dean of the chapel at Gettysburg Seminary and, also, author of some 30 hymn texts: He would write new words to the tune of a hymn or lullabye.

My bid was one of the 952 successful ones, which netted $61,840 for Lutheran social ministry organizations across the U.S. and Canada. That’s good news for the 6 million people who receive services from LSA member organizations.

It’s also good news that Oldenberg’s new words can be sung by any and all congregations as they welcome new members in baptism. Just show your thanks by remembering to list him as writer.

Here they are:

Bind us to lift up this child;
Bind us to lead him through life;
Bind us to guard and to guide;
Show him your face by our love.

Bind us today with our past --
all those who lifted us up;
Bind us with days yet to come --
all whom this new life will touch.

Bind the water and Word;
Bind the future and past;
Bind the body of Christ,
sharing the Spirit’s new breath.

Mark Oldenburg, Prof. of Liturgics,
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
June 2006

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