"Would I have Answered as soon as You Called"by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.;The faith We Sing, No. 2137

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Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.

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Would I have answered as soon as you called,“Come, follow, follow me!”?Would ns at once have left behindboth work and family?Or would the old, acquainted roundhave held me by its claimand preserved the spark in ~ my heartfrom bursting right into flame?*

Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. (1923-2007) was one of the many prolific and also theologically thoughtful hymn authors in the United says at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Originally from Clarion, Pennsylvania, he was educated in ~ Susquehanna college (A.B.), Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg (B.D.), Union Theological Seminary, brand-new York (S.T.M.), and Southern California college of Theology in ~ Claremont (Th.D.). After serving parishes in Pennsylvania and also Maryland between 1947 to 1959, the Rev. Stuempfle joined the staff of the board of Social objectives of the unified Lutheran Church in America in 1959. In 1962, he came to be Professor that Preaching in ~ Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, a position he preserved until his retirement in 1989. Dr. Stuempfle also served the seminary as Dean from 1971-1976, and as chairman from 1976-1989. That was energetic in lot of his retirement in Gettysburg, proceeding to teach, preach, lead workshops and also conferences, and write hymns. He died on march 13, 2007 after a long fight with ALS.

“Would I have actually answered as soon as you called” employs the poetic device of rhetorical question properly throughout the chant to communicate the singer with Christ’s invitation to discipleship. Plenty of hymns created in the very first person refer an emotionally relationship between the singer and also Christ. The Rev. Stuempfle’s hymn, however, move the singers beyond sentimental piety come the challenge of deep Christian commitment.

Throughout the four stanzas, Dr. Steumpfle interweaves biblical allusions v first-person experience. Stanza one, though personal in its application, anchors the singer in the Scripture and the mandate that Christ, “Follow me.” Stanza two references “ancient Galilee,” the ar of Christ’s ministry, while still suggesting that the singer might have liked to “hurr earlier where home and also comfort drew” rather than following Christ.

The check of discipleship becomes much more intense in stanza 3 as the scene alters to the crucifixion and also the angry crowds yelling, “Crucify!” Again, the singer is posed v the hard question: “. . . Would I too have slipped away/ and also left you over there alone”?

The relentless soul-searching inquiries of the first three stanzas give method to the present we struggle to understand what our response might it is in if we are directly addressed by the Savior:O Christ, ns cannot find my heartthrough all its tangled ways,nor have the right to I v a certain mindmy steadfastness appraise.

We have the right to only pray, follow to the hymn writer, that once we hear the contact to discipleship, Christ will certainly “give strength past very own to follow faithfully.”

Two years before his death, during the slow, yet inevitable development of ALS, the Rev. Stuempfle reflected on this hymn to this writer: “"Would I have followed" is more subjective than many of my texts. It was triggered by reading and also reflecting on note 1:16-20. Mark’s brief narrative is like a winter that insists upon self-examination. Go the defense net of comfort and privilege many of us gain keep us from do the immediate and also total solution of those 4 fishermen? are we willing to salary what Bonhoeffer phone call ‘the expense of discipleship?’ Such concerns cannot be answered in the abstract. Answers show up only when our life circumstances lug us to moments of decision.”

Dr. Stuempfle to be the author of several publications on preaching and theology consisting of Theological and also Biblical Perspectives top top the Laity (1973), Preaching in the evil Community (1973), Preaching Law and Gospel (1978), and also Images for Ministry: Perspectives that a Seminary President (1995). His collection of hymn messages are published by GIA Publications, Inc., and include The Word goes Forth (1993), Redeeming the Time (1997), Awake ours Hearts come Praise (2000), and Wondrous Love Has dubbed Us (2006). His hymn messages have likewise been released by the Hymn culture in the unified States and also Canada and are found in many hymnals and also choral works. Dr. Stuempfle was honored as a fellow of The Hymn culture in the united States and also Canada, the Society’s highest possible honor, in 2004 for his contributions to chant writing.

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His obituary, released by The Hymn society states: “Stuempfle is among the most honored and respected the hymn authors of the 20th and 21st Centuries. His four volumes of singing texts, released by GIA Publications, incorporate songs of devotion and also reflection; dancing and jubilation; sorrow, wonder, and also delight.” Herman Stuempfle advocated the relationship in between preaching and hymn writing: “hymns are the sung testimony to God’s mighty action of grace and judgment.” To create hymns to be for the a “fundamental vocation to interact the Gospel.”

C. Michael Hawn is University differentiated Professor that Church Music, Perkins institution of Theology, SMU.