Sing the Third, Please!

Easter 2022 felt more in the rhythm of past Easters before Covid, with breakfasts, in-person worship, masks optional. The weather was nothing to write home about; as usual for this time of year, crisp and cloudy. We gathered for the Sunrise Service at the Shiloh Moravian Church south of Sturgeon Bay. The brass band of high school students was magnificent. With a woodpecker hammering away on a nearby oak, we stood in the graveyard, recalling those who had died since last Easter while affirming our faith as Easter people.

The 10:30 service at the Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church opened with the first part of the Easter Liturgy (p.90 in the Moravian Book of Worship), the service closing with the second part so that we could conclude our Easter celebration with the singing of, “Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.”

Full organ led us into “Sing Hallelujah” and it hit me again…we were going to sing this hymn without the third verse. For whatever reason, those responsible for compiling the Easter Liturgy for the 1995 Moravian Book of Worship chose not to include the third verse written by the late Bishop Edwin W. Kortz in 1986. Everything within me was saying, “We must sing the third verse, it is essential to sing the third verse,” “We dare not run the risk of exhibiting any degree of exclusivity.” I did refrain from breaking in with, “But not for us alone this news was brought by Christ our Lord,” though I was tempted. Not for us alone. Far too many times, we ignore the fact that there is a third verse.

Bishop Ed got it right; he saw the danger in our singing, “For us, for us, the lamb was slain,” even with all of our great gusto and emphasis. Brother Ed is reminding us today, “But not for us alone….”

I don’t think there is anyone among us who would claim exclusivity inherent in the words, “For us, for us.” There is ample evidence that demonstrates our desire to reach out, include and welcome others to the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet, words are so important and lest we lead anyone astray by singing only, “For us, for us,” we must sing with equal enthusiasm and gusto, “But not for us alone this news was brought by Christ our Lord.” By the way, there is room on the bottom of page 94 in the Easter Liturgy, underneath the printed hymn, to attach the third verse! (The third verse may be found in the MBW, #543)

The Rt. Rev. Paul A. Graf is a bishop of the Moravian Church/Unity from Wisconsin.