"Would I Have Answered When You Called"by Hermale G. Stuempfle, Jr.;The Faith We Sing, No. 2137

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Herguy G. Stuempfle, Jr.

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Would I have actually answered as soon as you called,“Come, follow, follow me!”?Would I at as soon as have actually left behindboth occupational and also family?Or would certainly the old, familiar roundhave actually held me by its claimand also maintained the spark within my heartfrom bursting into flame?*

Hermale G. Stuempfle, Jr. (1923-2007) was one of the most prolific and also theologically thoughtful hymn authors in the USA at the turn of the twenty-initially century.

Originally from Clarion, Pennsylvania, he was educated at Susquehanna College (A.B.), Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg (B.D.), Union Theological Seminary, New York (S.T.M.), and Southern The golden state School of Theology at Claremont (Th.D.). After serving parishes in Pennsylvania and also Maryland also between 1947 to 1959, the Rev. Stuempfle joined the staff of the Board of Social Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America in 1959. In 1962, he ended up being Professor of Pgetting to at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, a position he preserved until his retirement in 1989. Dr. Stuempfle likewise served the seminary as Dean from 1971-1976, and as President from 1976-1989. He was energetic in much of his retirement in Gettysburg, proceeding to teach, preach, lead workshops and also conferences, and also compose hymns. He died on March 13, 2007 after a lengthy battle with ALS.

“Would I have actually answered as soon as you called” employs the poetic tool of rhetorical question successfully throughout the hymn to interact the singer through Christ’s invitation to discipleship. Many hymns created in the first perchild expush an emotional relationship in between the singer and Christ. The Rev. Stuempfle’s hymn, however, moves the singers beyond sentimental piety to the obstacle of deep Christian commitment.

Throughout the 4 stanzas, Dr. Steumpfle interweaves biblical allusions with first-perboy suffer. Stanza one, though personal in its application, anchors the singer in the Scripture and the manday of Christ, “Follow me.” Stanza 2 referrals “primitive Galilee,” the place of Christ’s ministry, while still saying that the singer might have actually liked to “hurr earlier wright here residence and comfort drew” rather than following Christ.

The test of discipleship becomes even more intense in stanza 3 as the scene transforms to the crucifixion and the angry crowds yelling, “Crucify!” Aobtain, the singer is posed via the hard question: “. . . would certainly I too have slipped away/ and left you tright here alone”?

The relentmuch less soul-browsing inquiries of the initially three stanzas provide way to the realization we struggle to recognize what our response might be if we are straight addressed by the Savior:O Christ, I cannot search my heartwith all its tangled methods,nor have the right to I with a certain mindmy steadfastness appraise.

We have the right to only pray, according to the hymn writer, that as soon as we hear the call to discipleship, Christ will certainly “give strength beyond own to follow faithtotally.”

Two years before his fatality, during the slow-moving, yet unpreventable breakthrough of ALS, the Rev. Stuempfle reflected on this hymn to this writer: “"Would I have actually followed" is even more subjective than a lot of of my messages. It was motivated by analysis and also mirroring on Mark 1:16-20. Mark’s brief narrative is favor a mirror that insists upon self-examination. Does the security net of comfort and also privilege the majority of of us gain save us from making the instant and also full response of those 4 fishermen? Are we willing to pay what Bonhoeffer calls ‘the price of discipleship?’ Such inquiries cannot be answered in the abstract. Answers show up just as soon as our life scenarios carry us to moments of decision.”

Dr. Stuempfle was the author of several books on preaching and theology consisting of Theological and Biblical Perspectives on the Laity (1973), Pgetting to in the Witnessing Community (1973), Preaching Law and also Gospel (1978), and Imeras for Ministry: Perspectives of a Seminary President (1995). His collections of hymn messages are publimelted by GIA Publications, Inc., and incorporate The Word Goes Forth (1993), Redeeming the Time (1997), Awake Our Hearts to Praise (2000), and Wondrous Love Has Called Us (2006). His hymn messages have likewise been publimelted by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and are discovered in countless hymnals and also choral functions. Dr. Stuempfle was honored as a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the USA and also Canada, the Society’s greatest honor, in 2004 for his contributions to hymn writing.

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His obituary, published by The Hymn Society states: “Stuempfle is among the a lot of honored and also respected of hymn authors of the 20th and also 21st Centuries. His 4 quantities of hymn messages, published by GIA Publications, encompass songs of devotion and reflection; dancing and also jubilation; sorrow, wonder, and also delight.” Hermale Stuempfle promoted the relationship in between pgetting to and also hymn writing: “hymns are the sung testimony to God’s mighty acts of grace and also judgment.” To compose hymns was for him a “basic vocation to interact the Gospel.”

C. Michael Hawn is College Distinguiburned Professor of Church Music, Perkins School of Theology, SMU.