God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It
by Barb Below
Today in chapel we sang a great hymn, God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It. This is a “new” hymn to our church in that it is included for the first time in the recently published Lutheran Service Book (p. 594). It is a great baptismal hymn that poetically describes the power of baptism over sin, death and the devil. Even though the words tell a powerful story, the tune is light and seems to float through the air as it is sung. Click here to listen to the tune. I was so uplifted and enchanted by this hymn I had to learn a bit more about this hymn and who wrote it. I found some interesting history and information about this hymn and the three men who played a role in bringing this hymn to us today[i].
The tune was written by Johann Caspar Bachofen and first published in 1727. He studied theology but served the church and community as a musician, teacher, music director and composer his whole life. Johann, who grew up in Zurich, Switzerland, served in the Reformed Church and he published several collections of hymns that were very popular in his day.
The lyrics were written by Edmann Neumeister and published in 1718. Neumeister was a German Lutheran theologian, poet, hymn writer, and strong opponent of Pietism and is best known for writing the texts for five of Bach’s cantatas.
“The main ideas of the hymn are taken directly from the section on Holy Baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism, which, in answer to the question “What benefits does Baptism give? says: “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare”[ii].
The hymn was translated (below) in 1991 by an LCMS pastor, Rev. Robert E. Voelker who was a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne (1984) and, according to the LCMS church worker directory, currently is a pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Windsor, Ontario.
The Hymnal Supplement Handbook paints a perfect picture of the hymn stating that “one cannot escape the impression of a child standing by an adult protector and ridiculing the neighborhood bully.”[iii] Looking forward to celebrating my baptismal birthday in a few weeks, I sang this song today with confidence that in baptism, through the Holy Spirit and with God’s Word, I am united with Christ in His death, resurrection and eternal life and can boldly turn and tell Satan to “drop your ugly accusations”. Thank you Bachofen, Neumeister and Voelker for your gift to the church, and to me, as I look forward to my baptismal birthday.
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It
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!
Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?
Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!
Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.
There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!
[i] Grime, P. & Herl J. (Eds.). (1998). Hymnal Supplement 98. St. Louis: LCMS Commission on Worship, pp. 107-108.
[ii] Grime, P, & Herl J., p. 107.