By Megan K. Mertz
A hymn (see below) written by Dr. Carol Geisler, a former Lutheran school principal who lives in St. Louis, was the winning entry in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Disaster Response Hymn Contest.
Five of the 122 entries were chosen as runners-up. They were written by Lisa Clark of St. Louis; Ben Culli of Germantown, Wis.; Roger Howard of Spring Valley, Calif.; and the Rev. Dr. Wilfred Karsten of Moline, Ill. A second hymn submitted by Geisler was chosen as well.
Geisler said her winning entry — “Lord and Savior, Do You Hear Us?” — was inspired by the psalms, especially when the psalmist asks questions such as: “God, why is this happening? Are You listening to us? Do You hear my cries for help?”
“Even in my small personal questions and prayers, those kinds of thoughts come to mind,” she said. “You think of what people are going through in disasters, and what they might feel. You think of the losses they experience, as they ask God why this is happening and yet look to Him for comfort and hope, too.”
A panel of judges reviewed all the entries and chose the winners in early February. Hymns were evaluated based on theological content, technical poetical soundness, imagery, structure, aptness for liturgical use and relevance for times of disaster.
The Rev. Dr. Jon Vieker, senior assistant to the LCMS president; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Starke, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Bay City, Mich.; and Peter Reske, senior editor of music and worship resources at Concordia Publishing House, served on the panel.
Those who submitted hymns for the contest — which was sponsored by LCMS Disaster Response — included laypeople as well as pastors and other professional church workers.
The entry from the youngest hymnwriter came from 11-year-old Julia Schulteis of Lakewood, Calif.
“I hope that whoever reads or sings [my hymn] will be thinking of those who are sick and need help and maybe pray for all of those people in the world,” Schulteis wrote in a letter that accompanied her hymn submission.
The Rev. Michael Meyer, manager of LCMS Disaster Response, said he was “very pleased” with the quality of the hymn submissions, which is why all six winning entries will be made available for LCMS members to use.
“So often, we are focused on the little — or big — disasters that affect our personal lives, or those within our narrow community,” Meyer said. “Yet when one part of the body suffers, all suffer, even when it takes place a world away. These hymns can provide another way for the church to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering, to pray for them in our corporate worship life and, Lord willing, to stir us up to works of love and mercy.
“We wanted hymns that the entire church could sing,” he continued. “We are one church, singing variations of the same song: that God is at work in the midst of suffering to bring about His good will of forgiving sins and bringing comfort to terrified consciences.”
The winning hymn and the five runners-up will be set to tunes that are familiar to LCMS congregations and made available in early April as free downloads at lcms.org/disaster.
Following is Geisler’s winning hymn.
“Lord and Savior, Do You Hear Us”
To “Lasset uns mit Jesu ziehen” (the tune for “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus”)
By Carol Geisler
Lord and Savior, do You hear us?
Have You turned Your face away?
Do You know the pain we suffer
And the fear we face each day?
Yet You, Lord, have known our sorrow;
You have shared our grief and pain.
As the Lamb for sinners slain,
You cried out in silent darkness,
Hanging from the dreadful tree:
“Why have You forsaken Me?”
Then, Your Father’s will accomplished,
And Your blood for sinners shed,
To Your Father’s hands committed,
You, dear Savior, bowed Your head.
Dying, trusting in our Father,
Knowing You would conquer death,
You gave up Your final breath.
May we also, though unseeing,
Trust our Father to fulfill
Ev’ry purpose of His will.
When distress and trouble grieve us,
Bringing illness, storm, or loss,
May we, patiently enduring,
Bear with faithfulness the cross.
As we, Lord, receive Your mercy,
May we then Your mercy share,
Giving comfort, hope, and care.
For this work may we be nourished,
As our hearts to love are stirred,
By Your Supper and Your Word.
In the world, Lord, You have told us
There is trouble to endure.
Fill our doubting hearts with courage,
For in You our hope is sure.
As with Your disciples sailing
On the windy, storm-tossed sea,
You awoke and heard their plea,
Stilling storm and wind and water
Bid our fear and sorrow cease
With Your quiet Word of peace.
Megan K. Mertz (email@example.com) is a staff writer and managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World for LCMS Communications.
Posted March 20, 2015 / Updated March 23, 2015