This is a a wonderful prayer for any time of the year and especially for the season of Lent, which we will enter on March 6. The text is by Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703), a Danish bishop, poet, and hymn-writer. The tune is by Johann Balthasar König (1691-1758), a German composer from Frankfurt. Let’s look at the hymn line-by-line:
On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of grace
At your Baptism, you were given Christ’s name. He put His stamp of approval on you and marked you as His own. The image of God, which humanity was given at Creation and which was lost in the Fall, was restored by Christ at the cross, so that all who have Christ’s name have full communion with the Holy Trinity. Christ, the second Adam, came to restore what the first Adam had lost. Your Baptism is God’s promise to you that you are His and nothing can snatch you from His hand.
That life’s riches, cares, and pleasures Never may Your work erase;
In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the sower. God sends His preachers into the world, sowing the seed of the Gospel far and wide. As the parable tells us, the devil, the world, and our sinful nature don’t want that seed to take root and seek every opportunity to choke out its growth. In this line, we pray that the seed of our faith would not be choked out, but would continue to grow and bear fruit abundantly. The devil and his minions want to take our focus off of Christ and put it anywhere else, for when our eyes are not fixed on Jesus, that is when we run into trouble.
Let the clear inscription be: Jesus, crucified for me,
In 1 Corinthians 2 St. Paul says, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” There is a reason for that: Christ’s death on the cross is the pivotal moment in history and the source of our redemption, for on the cross Jesus paid the punishment for the sins of the whole world. Notice those words “for me,” because those are the words of faith. The devil knows that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, but it is the Christian who can confess that Jesus died for me. Christ’s death for me (and for you) is the focal point of the entire Christian faith and without it there is no hope.
Is my life, my hope’s foundation. And my glory and salvation!
Not only did Christ die on the cross for you, thus appeasing the wrath of God against all of humanity, He rose again on the third day, triumphing over death and the grave. Because Christ lives, you will live also, and because of His resurrection, your resurrection is assured. You are baptized into Christ and because of that, you can know that when your final day arrives and you fall asleep in Jesus, you will go to be with Him to await that great and glorious Day when Christ will return and raise all the dead in Christ to live with Him forever in the New Heavens and the New Earth. In this Lenten hymn we are reminded that although we pass through the valley of the shadow of death all the days of our earthly life, Christ Jesus has won the ultimate victory and invites us to share in that victory through His Word and Sacraments. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!