Judge eternal, purge this land of bitter things

In a certain city, there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for his people.

An unjust judge? In today’s political climate, I dare not say nor type a word about an unjust civic leader, even if said judge is mentioned by Jesus in Sunday’s (Oct. 16) Gospel lesson from Luke 18.

Of course, Jesus clearly makes his case (pun intended) in a lesson we all should remember. While the earthly judge wants to grant the widow her wishes just to get rid of her,  God will do just the opposite. He will “grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night.”


Our hymnal (and its predecessor hymnals) contains a grand text that addresses God as “Judge eternal, throned in splendor.” Composers old and new throughout the years have set this text in anthem form as well. The hymn/anthem text is actually a prayer of petition, praying for personal needs and the needs of others:

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, Lord of lords and King of kings:

with thy living fire of judgment purge this land of bitter things;

solace all its wide dominion with the healing of thy wings.

                                                            Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)


I love word-twists, especially when nouns are used as verbs. Such occasions make me pay closer attention. I always notice when “hymn” or “choir” are used as verbs, and I immediately noticed the verb forms of “throne” and “solace” in this text.

The mere idea of God “solacing” the world with healing is precisely what we need today. I’ll go with God and leave the judging and politics to the professionals. Thanks be to God.

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 16:02