“Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” is the title of the first communion hymn that we will sing this coming Sunday, on the Second Sunday of Advent. The author who wrote the text of this hymn, Johannes Olearius (1611-1684,) based the text on the Old Testament reading for this Sunday: Isaiah 40:1-11. Olearius was an influential church leader and was well-connected in the noble courts of Germany, just as Isaiah, who apparently had a connection with Judah’s royal court. Like Isaiah, he wrote both poetry and prose. And, also like Isaiah, the world of Olearius’ time was shattered by war and suffering.(*) Sound familiar? So, it is no wonder that the words of Isaiah and the interpretation by Olearius were received with great hope: hope for peace and hope for much-needed comfort.
This hymn is #67 in The Hymnal 1982. For some reason, the second stanza of Olearius’ poem is not included in our hymnal. Below are the first two stanzas of the text—the first one from our hymnal and the second one that is not included our hymnal. I encourage you to read the whole text of the hymn during the Prelude time this Sunday. May it speak comfort to you as we journey through this season of anticipation and expectation, hoping and praying for peace.
Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
Comfort, comfort ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God; comfort those who sit in darkness mourning ‘neith their sorrows’ load. Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them; tell her that her sins I cover, and her warfare now is over.
Yea, her sins our God will pardon, blotting out each dark misdeed; all that well deserved His anger, He no more will see or heed. She hath suffered many a day, now her griefs have passed away; God will change her pining sadness into ever-springing gladness.
(*) The Complete Book of Hymns, © 2006 William J. Petersen.