Christ Our Lord to the Jordan Came

Tune: Christ, unser Herr

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A spiritual song about our Holy Baptism, wherein is right briefly summarized what it is, who instituted it, of what use it is, etc.

Dr. Mart. Luth.

  1. Christ our Lord to the Jordan came,
    For thus His Father willed it,
    John’s baptism for Himself to claim,
    And thus the Son fulfilled it.
    Thereby He drew for us a bath,
    To wash us of transgression,
    And drowned He also bitter death,
    Through His own blood and passion;
    A new life thus availeth.

  2. So mark ye well and all perceive
    What God Himself calls Baptism,
    And what a Christian should believe
    Lest heresy deceive him.
    Though lowly water, plain and clear,
    Is His good will and pleasure,
    His holy Word is also here,
    His Spirit without measure;
    He does Himself baptize us.

  3. Such hath He made clear as can be,
    With signs both shown and spoken.
    The Father’s voice was openly
    Heard loud upon the Jordan.
    He said: This Man is My dear Son
    In whom I am delighted.
    I now command you, every one,
    That ye, through Him invited,
    Should follow all His teachings.

  4. The Son of God Himself here stands
    In tender human nature;
    The Holy Ghost on Him descends,
    Clad in a dove’s fair vesture.
    We therefore should not doubt at all,
    When to the font we’re wending,
    That all three Persons us do call,
    To earth in grace descending,
    With us to make their dwelling.

  5. To His disciples spake the Christ:
    Go hence, the whole world teaching,
    The lost, for whom I’ve paid the price,
    Repenting through your preaching.
    He who believes and is baptized
    Shall be thereby most blessèd
    And born anew in heav’nly wise,
    No more by death oppressèd;
    He shall inherit heaven.

  6. He who rejects this gen’rous grace,
    Sin still his soul possesses.
    He is condemned t’eternal death
    Deep in hell’s dark recesses.
    No help is his own holiness,
    His deeds have not availed him,
    Turned by that sin to worthlessness
    Which from his birth assailed him;
    He can’t himself deliver.

  7. The eye doth naught but water see,
    Plain men the water pouring;
    But from this blindness faith is free,
    Christ Jesus’ blood adoring.
    It is for faith a flood of red,
    By Christ’s own blood thus tinted,
    For all our sin and weakness shed
    Which Adam has transmitted,
    And we too have committed.

Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam
Martin Luther, 1541
Tr. composite


German Text

Tune: Christ, unser Herr

Ein Geiſtlich Lied / Von unſer heiligen Tauffe / Darin fein kurtz gefaſſet / Was ſie ſey? Wer ſie geſtifftet habe? Was ſie nütze? etc.

D. Mart. Luth.

  1. Chriſt vnſer HErr zum Jordan kam
    Nach ſeines Vater willen /
    Von S. Johans die Tauffe nam
    Sein werck vnd ampt zurfüllen /
    Da wolt er ſtifften vns ein Bad /
    Zu waſchen vns von ſünden /
    Erſeuffen auch den bittern Tod /
    Durch ſein ſelbs Blut vnd Wunden /
    Es galt ein newes Leben.

  2. So hört und mercket alle wol /
    Was Gott heiſſt ſelbs die Tauffe.
    Vnd was ein Chriſten gleuben ſol /
    Zu meiden Ketzer hauffen.
    Gott ſpricht vnd wil / daß Waſſer ſey /
    Doch nicht allein ſchlecht Waſſer.
    Sein heilgs Wort iſt auch dabey /
    Mit reichem Geist on maſſen.
    Der iſt alhie der Tauffer.

  3. Sölchs hat er vns beweiſet klar /
    Mit Bilden vnd mit Worten /
    Des Vaters ſtim man offenbar /
    Daſelbs am Jordan horte.
    Er ſprach / das iſt mein lieber Sohn /
    An dem ich hab gefallen.
    DEN wil ich Euch befolhen han /
    Das jr JN höret Alle /
    Vnd folget ſeinem Leren.

  4. Auch Gottes Son hie ſelber ſteht
    Jn seiner zarten Menſcheit.
    Der Heilig Geiſt ernider fert /
    Jn Taubenbild verkleidet.
    Das wir nicht ſollen zweiueln dran /
    Wenn wir getauffet werden /
    All drey Perſon getauffet han /
    Da mit bey uns auff Erden /
    Zu wohnen ſich ergeben.

  5. SEin Jünger heiſſt der HErre Christ /
    Geht hin all Welt zu leren /
    Das ſie verlorn in Sünden ist /
    Sich sol zur Buſſe keren.
    Wer gleubet und ſich teuffen leßt /
    Sol dadurch ſelig werden /
    Ein newgeborner Mensch er heiſſt /
    Der nicht mehr könne sterben /
    Das Himelreich ſol erben.

  6. WEr nicht gleubt dieſer groſſen Gnad /
    Der bleibt in ſeinen Sünden /
    Vnd iſt verdampt zum ewigen Tod /
    Tieff in der Hellen grunde.
    Nichts hilfft ſein eigen heiligkeit /
    All ſein Thun iſt verloren /
    Die Erbſünd machts zur nichtigkeit /
    Darin er iſt geboren /
    Vermag jm ſelbs nichts helffen.

  7. Das Aug allein das Waſſer siht /
    Wie Menſchen Waſſer gieſſen.
    Der Glaub im Geiſt die krafft versteht /
    Des Blutes Jhesu Christi.
    Vnd ist für im ein rote Flut /
    Von Christus Blut geferbet /
    Die allen Schaden heilen thut /
    Von Adam her geerbet /
    Auch von uns ſelbs begangen.

Martin Luther, 1541
Source: Geistliche Lieder zu Wittemberg, Wittenberg: Joseph Klug, 1543


 


Martin Luther

Martin Luther, 1483–1546, portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1533


Author: Martin Luther
Source: Geistliche Lieder zu Wittemberg, Wittenberg: Joseph Klug, 1543, p. 42v

“Christ Our Lord to the Jordan Came (Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam)” is Martin Luther’s catechism hymn on Holy Baptism. Probably first printed in broadsheet form in 1541, its first appearance in a hymnal is in Joseph Klug’s 1543 Geistliche Lieder zu Wittemberg. The hymn takes its tune from Johann Walther’s Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, Wittenberg, 1524, where the tune was originally associated with Luther’s hymn “May God Bestow on Us His Grace (Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein).” It is found in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book, 1930, No. 401, with an 1854 translation by Richard Massie, “To Jordan Came Our Lord the Christ,” but it is missing from The Lutheran Hymnal. The Lutheran Service Book, 2006, includes it as No. 406, “To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord,” but there is no harmony provided, and the translation is copyright 1976. The Free Lutheran Chorale-Book therefore makes use of a heavily revised version of the Massie translation, which includes enough new material that the translation is listed as composite. Both text and music may be freely used and reproduced for any purpose whatever, and are offered with the prayer that they may serve for the edification of Christian people everywhere.