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Comfort, Comfort Now My People (Isaiah 40:1-5)

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

This song is a versification of Isaiah 40:1-5, the passage that opens the final large group of prophecies in Isaiah 40-66. Many of these prophecies express consolation and hope that Judah's exile in Babylon is almost over. That is certainly the tone of 40: 1-5-words of comfort forecasting a new reign but also words that call for proper preparation–that is, repentance.
This biblical text opens the second section of prophecies by Isaiah (ch 40-66), which is characterized by offers of consolation and further calls to repentance.
 
Bert Polman

Call to Worship

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
As we worship today,
let us prepare to welcome God’s dramatic work in our midst,
in our hearts, in our community, and in all of creation.
Let us worship God.
—based on Isaiah 40:3, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
As we enter this season of Advent,
may the love of God the Father, and the grace of Jesus the Son,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with us all.
Amen!
[Reformed Worship 57:4]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

We are a people of hope
waiting for the return of our Lord.
God will renew the world through Jesus,
who will put all unrighteousness out,
purify the works of human hands,
and perfect our fellowship in divine love.
Christ will wipe away every tear;
death shall be no more.
There will be a new heaven and a new earth,
and all creation will be filled with God’s glory.
—from Our Song of Hope st. 1, 21
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
Remembering the promise
to reconcile the world to himself,
God joined our humanity in Jesus Christ—
the eternal Word made flesh.
He is the long-awaited Messiah,
one with us and one with God,
fully human and fully divine,
conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
We long for that day when our bodies are raised,
the Lord wipes away our tears,
and we dwell forever in the presence of God.
We will take our place in the new creation,
where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
and the Lord will be our light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
With the whole creation we join the song:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
He has made us a kingdom of priests to serve our God,
and we will reign on earth.
God will be all in all,
righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new,
and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God.
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus!

—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 1, 23, 56, 58
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Tune Information

Name
FREU DICH SEHR / GENEVAN 42
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
8.7.8.7.7.7.8.8

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

When introducing this hymn to the congregation, take great care to avoid singing it too slowly. The nature of the text (the coming of the Messiah) and the rhythm of the tune suggest that this hymn might be sung as a joyful dance.
 
The harmonization with descants given here is by Johann Criiger, who wrote choral and instrumental arrangements of Genevan psalm tunes in Psalmodia Sacra (1657). The descants, which are found with Psalm 42 in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal, may be played by flutes, recorders, or violins.
 
There is a wealth of organ music based on this tune, often under the German title Freu dich sehr. In addition, there are a number of good choral settings of the hymn, which choirs could sing in preparation for, or in place of, the congregation singing the hymn.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 13)
 
— Roy Hopp

Hymn Story/Background

— Bert Polman

Author Information

— Bert Polman

Composer Information

— Bert Polman
General Settings
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