Oh, Blest the House

Oh, Blest the House

Hymn of the Month for August

This Pastor's Pen article continues Pastor Cowell's "Hymn of the Month" series in which he shares a brief commentary on the theology and history behind some of the hymns we enjoy singing from the Lutheran Service Book.  The full text of the hymn is included at the bottom of the post.  
Fritz von Uhde, Das Tischgebe (The Mealtime Prayer), 1885. 
Our hymn of the month for August is a hymn from the Christian Home and Education section of our hymnal: Oh, Blest the House.  The writer of Oh, Blest the House, Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil (1712-84), was neither a professional theologian nor a full time musician.  Nevertheless, von Pfeil wrote and published 950 hymns during his lifetime.  The tune of the hymn is also the tune for The Star Proclaims the King Is Here (LSB 399) and My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord (LSB 934) in Lutheran Service Book.

Von Pfeil’s inspiration for Oh, Blest the House was the account in Holy Scripture of Joseph and Mary finding the boy Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:41-52).  In fact, at the top of the page of the hymnal in which the hymn was originally published, there is a note which says (in German): “A pretty picture of a house that serves the Lord. About the parents of Jesus.”

There are quite a few other references and images from Scripture in the hymn which encourage Christians toward establishing a godly household.  The most recognizable Scripture reference comes in the final stanza where von Pfeil and the translator, Catherine Winkworth, quote a phrase from Jeremiah 24:14-15:
Now therefore fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

In stanza three we hear an echo of Ephesians 6:4 where St. Paul says:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Finally, like many hymns focused on Christian households and the education of children, Oh, Blest the House brings to mind God’s words in Deuteronomy chapter 6, such as these: 
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. - Deuteronomy 6:5-7

God be with you as you enjoy our hymn of the month at church, and as you take the encouragement and instruction of the hymn with you into your home!

Used throughout the devotion is content from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 1 (CPH: 2019), p. 1334-1336.
Oh, Blest the House, LSB 862

Text and tune: Public domain
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Thomas Cowell