305. Clothe Yourself, My Soul, with Gladness
st. 1 = Isa. 61:10, Rev. 21:3
st. 2 = Rev. 3:20
st. 4 = Rev. 19:9
The first stanza of "Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele" by Johann Franck was published in Johann Crüger's Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien (1649). Crüger and C. Runge published the complete hymn in nine stanzas in their 1653 Gesangbuch. The hymn has since appeared in virtually all German hymnals and in many English language ones. The English text in the Psalter Hymnal is a revision of select stanzas from two translations by Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194), one published in her Lyra Germanica (2nd series, 1858) and the other in her Chorale Book far England (1863). Winkworth's first line read "Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness."
The dominant tone of this text is one of deep joy enhanced by a sense of awe. We express joy and praise for "this wondrous banquet" (st. 1), and we show reverence in receiving Christ (st. 2). Thankful for "heavenly food" and drink (st. 3), we rejoice in Christ's love for us and in its power to unite us (st. 4). Often considered the best and most popular of the Lutheran chorales for the Lord's Supper, this text, according to John Julian,
is an exhortation to the soul to arise and draw near to partake of the Heavenly Food and to meditate on the wonders of Heavenly Love; ending with a prayer for final reception at the Eternal Feast.
-A Dictionary of Hymnology (2nd ed., 1907), p. 1014
Johann Franck (b. Guben, Brandenburg, Germany, 1618; d. Guben, 1677) was a law Student at the University of Köningsberg and practiced law during the Thirty Years' War. He held several positions in civil service, including councillor and mayor of Guben. A significant poet, second only to Paul Gerhardt (PHH 331) in his day, Fran wrote some 110 hymns, many of which were published by his friend Johann Cruüer in various editions of the Praxis Pietatis melica. All were included in the first part of Franc Teutsche Gedichte bestehend im geistliche Sion (1672).
Lord's Supper–probably most effective during distribution of the bread and wine.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Johann Crüger (PHH 42) composed SCHMÜCKE DICH for Franck's text and first published the tune as a setting for Franck's first stanza in Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien. The tune name is the incipit of the original German text. Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) used this tune in his Cantata 180; he and many other composers have written organ preludes on the melody ,
Like many chorale tunes, SCHMUCKE DICH is in bar form (AABC); it has a melodic; repeat and a delightful, though challenging, change of rhythm in its third line. This music serves well for unison or part singing; a good pace and light accompaniment help to create the joyful intimacy and wonder expressed by the text. "Leave the gloom haunts of sadness"; in other words, avoid the funereal tone that sometimes characterizes Reformed observances of the Lord's Supper–this is dance music for a feast!
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook