Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Psalm 24:7-10
It is estimated that twelve million people died across Central Europe during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Historians suggest that twenty percent of the people of Germany died during the conflict that ripped their land and people apart. Just a year before conflict broke out, Georg Weissel returned to the University of Konigsberg to prepare for pastoral ministry. He would complete his studies and be ordained at a Lutheran church in Konigsberg where he would serve his entire ministry until his death in 1635.
Though his ministry would take place in the midst of death and destruction, Weissel would be remembered as prolific writer of hymns of joy. During the dark days of the never-ending war, he would write the beloved Advent hymn “Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates.” Based on Psalm 24 and authored by King David, scholars believe that the hymn was a celebratory call to the people of Jerusalem to welcome the return of the Ark of the Covenant. Like David, Weissel applies the text to God’s people preparing for the coming of the true King of glory.
During this Advent season, it often seems that the darkness is overtaking the light. The days are short and the nights long. The disdain for the King of glory is as apparent today as it has been in the past. But we joyfully lift up the gates and the doors in preparation to welcome the King of glory, whose first Advent we remember and whose second Advent we await. And though we may live in the midst of darkness, with King David and Georg Weissel and the countless host who have suffered while waiting for the King of glory, we raise our “joyful songs of praise” to the One has come and who will come again.
While these are dark days, we are sustained by waiting for the New Jerusalem, where the gates will always be open because there is no darkness and the King of glory will give it light. Dear friends in Christ, we do not lose heart or despair because we wait with certain hope of the return of the King. Through the Spirit’s work of calling and enlightening us, we are bold to fling wide the portals of our hearts in repentance and faith, “adorned with prayer and love and joy” as the King of glory comes to us through His Word and Sacraments and as we wait for His final coming on the last day.
Prayer – Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan