Abba, Father

Translation from the Dutch lyrics.

Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.
You only have searched my heart,
You belong to it.
Let my heart be still fervent,
You never leave alone.
Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.
That my will forever be
Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours and Yours alone.
May my will forever be evermore Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be Yours
and Yours alone.

Old Hundredth

Of the 23 years of Christian radio programming I did, one of the favorite programs that sticks out in my mind was the interview I conducted with one of the editors of the Trinity Psalter, a book of metrical Psalms with accompanying CD’s by the Scottish Festival Choir.

The history of Psalm singing obviously goes thousands of years back in history, but Psalm singing was also a significant part of Christian worship until the 20th century did its damage. The singing of metrical Psalms has been an historic part of Reformed worship, while Lutheran worship tends to use Psalm chant in the liturgy. Whatever the musical settings, Psalm singing incorporates the inspired Word of God into public worship.

Younger generations are often clueless about hymn singing, many believing that gospel songs are actually hymns, and even those are fading in favor of contemporary choruses, or in the worst cases, secular rock songs. (I’m not kidding about that.) But if hymns are now largely unknown to large swathes of the Protestant world, Psalm singing is even less familiar. Old Hundredth, as it was called, used to be a staple in Christian worship, shortened to what some call the Doxology, and then largely forgotten.

I came across this gorgeous rendition of Old Hundredth (the metrical form of Psalm 100.) The music may be at Westminster Abbey in this particular clip, but as one musician put it at a Psalm workshop I attended, metrical Psalms can be sung with a simple piano or guitar, and Old Hundredth certainly used to be sung out in humble little churches as well as big churches all over the West.

Here are the words from the Psalter, sung by those whose trust is in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Psalm is ended, as always, with a metrical form of the ancient Greek words of the Gloria Patri.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Amen.

Songs of Praises Lift Our Hearts

sunriseScripture records how David the shepherd boy played his harp and drove out the evil spirit of King Saul. What an incredible thing music is and what it can accomplish, both good or evil.

It can fuel hatred and alienation and violence, or it can sooth someone’s mind, lift their spirits, and as believers in Jesus Christ, it can help us to forget ourselves and move us to worship God.

The poet William Cowper suffered from severe, terrible bouts of depression at times in his life. Yet in 1779, he wrote these words:

Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

Although he had a physical body and mind that gave him much torment in his life, he recognized the lifting power of singing of God’s mercies and salvation in Jesus Christ.

HPIM1336.JPGWhile looking for a hymn on YouTube this morning, I experienced the same encouragement. Having put to memory a number of hymns years ago, I enjoy (privately) singing along with them when I get to hear them. One hymn led to another and another. Both the Scriptural texts of these hymns and the music supporting the texts can lift you out of yourself and into heavenly places. This hymn here, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, really blessed me today. That kind of meaty, muscular, vital hymn singing is often missing in churches today, but thankfully, we can still hear it elsewhere. Also, reading the words of Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor, I was reminded of God’s great redemptive plan, and the offering on Calvary, once for all, for our sin. I wonder today if many of our young people even recognize the Old Testament references to Christ in rich hymns like this. Here are the words to this great Communion hymn.

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor,
first-begotten from the dead.
Thou alone, our strong defender,
liftest up thy people’s head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living bread!

Here our humblest homage pay we,
here in loving reverence bow;
here for faith’s discernment pray we,
lest we fail to know thee now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou art here, we ask not how.

Though the lowliest form doth veil thee
as of old in Bethlehem,
here as there thine angels hail thee,
branch and flower of Jesse’s stem.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
We in worship join with them.

Paschal Lamb, thine offering, finished
once for all when thou was slain,
in its fullness undiminished
shall for evermore remain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Cleansing souls from every stain.

Life-imparting heavenly Manna,
stricken Rock with streaming side,
heaven and earth with loud hosanna
worship thee, the Lamb who died.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Risen, ascended, glorified!

~  George Hugh Bourne, 1874

Our little daughter, Emmy, folded her hands over breakfast this morning and prayed, “O Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For his steadfast love endures forever!” We can sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, and as we do, we can often see our gloom fall away in the light of our Savior’s face.

Looking for a New City

It would be hard to find a more joyful musical scene than this one in the video below. Nederland Zingt (Netherlands Sings) is my favorite channel to visit on YouTube. It’s a TV program that features hymns and gospel songs. Most are in Dutch, so sometimes I have to ask somebody what they are singing, but they also feature gospel songs and hymns in English occasionally.

My friend Desiree helped me out with the words on this one. The tune is familiar, as my mother used to sing a song with this tune that began, “Love Divine, So Great and Wondrous…” But this song is called New Jerusalem. Desiree, who is Dutch, but lives in Singapore, sent me a translation of the words, so I could learn what they were singing with such gusto!

What I love about this is that children and adults of all ages are singing together in the mix. The beautiful words speak of a day when all barriers will be gone, all divisions, all pain and suffering and sadness. Here are the translated words of New Jerusalem that the crowd is singing together.

City of light with your pearly gates Wondrous city built so high Never did anybody on this earth see your beauty / loveliness 

Holy place full of light and glory
Where the tree of life grows and the source of living water through the golden city of God flows

Beautiful home for worn (or tired) pilgrims coming from the sandy desert where they will rest from all their works at the springing fountain

What a joy that will be to be united with Him at that time In that city with its pearly gates in the new Jerusalem

Chorus: There I will meet my Lord Listen to His lovely voice There will be no more mourning and no more tears In the new Jerusalem

Paul Gerhardt’s Counsel to His Son

Paul Gerhardt is remembered for his beautiful hymns. He was a German pastor in the 17th century who suffered much loss. But he is remembered today as the “Sweet Singer of Lutheranism” for both his unwavering faith in Christ, his beautiful hymn texts and his personal integrity.  He wrote this “testament” on his 70th birthday to his young son, the only surviving child of his five.

Now that I have reached the 70th year of my life and also have the joyful hope that my dear, holy God will soon rescue me out of this world and lead me into a better life than I have had until now on earth, I thank Him especially for all His kindness and faithfulness which, from my mother’s womb until the present hour, He has shown me in body and soul and in all that He has given me. Besides this, I ask Him from the bottom of my heart that when my hour comes He would grant me a happy departure, take my soul into His fatherly hands, and give my body a peaceful rest in the ground until the dear Last Day, when I, with all of my [family] who have been before me and also may remain after me, will reawake and behold my dear Lord Jesus Christ face to face, in whom I have believed but have not yet seen. To my only son whom I am leaving behind I leave few earthly goods, but with them I leave him an honorable name of which he will not have to be ashamed.

My son knows that from his tender childhood I have given him to the Lord my God as His possession, that he is to become a servant and preacher of His holy Word. He is to remain now in this and not turn away from it, even if he has only few good days in it. For the good Lord knows how to handle it and how sufficiently to replace external troubles with internal happiness of the heart and joy of the spirit.

Study holy theology in pure schools and at unfalsified universities and beware of the syncretists [those who mix religions or confessions], for they seek what is temporal and are faithful to neither God nor men. In your common life do not follow evil company but rather the will and command of your God. Especially: (1) Do nothing evil in the hope that it will remain secret, for nothing is spun so small that it is not seen in the light of day. (2) Outside of your office and vocation do not become angry. If you notice that anger has heated you up, remain still and speak not so much as a word until you have first prayed the Ten Commandments and the Christian Creed silently. (3) Be ashamed of the lusts of the flesh, and when you one day come to the years in which you can marry, then marry with God and with the good advice of pious, faithful, and sensible people. (4) Do good to people even if they have nothing with which to repay you, for the Creator of heaven and earth has long since repaid what humans cannot repay: when He created you, when He gave you His beloved Son, and when He accepted you in Holy Baptism as His child and heir. (5) Flee from greed as from hell. Be satisfied with what you have earned with honor and a good conscience, even if it is not all too much. But if the good Lord gives you something more, ask Him to preserve you from the burdensome misuse of temporal goods.

In summary: Pray diligently, study something honorable, live peacefully, serve honestly, and remain unmoved in your faith and confessing. If you do this, you too will one day die and depart from this world willingly, joyfully, and blessedly. Amen.

Source: Christian Bunners, Paul Gerhardt: Weg Werk Wirkung (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), 301-302. Translated by Benjamin T. G. Mayes, 5/4/2007

Here is one of his hymns. Find the full text of the hymn below the video, as there are more verses than what is sung in this clip.

 

 

Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near with His cheer,
Never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the Heaven
That God’s Son for my own
To my faith hath given?

Though a heavy cross I’m bearing
And my heart feels the smart,
Shall I be despairing?
God, my Helper, who doth send it,
Well doth know all my woe
And how best to end it.

Hopeful, cheerful, and undaunted
Everywhere they appear
Who in Christ are planted.
Death itself cannot appall them,
They rejoice when the voice
Of their Lord doth call them.

Death cannot destroy forever;
From our fears, cares and tears
It will us deliver.
It will close life’s mournful story,
Make a way that we may
Enter heavenly glory.

What is all this life possesses?
But a hand full of sand
That the heart distresses.
Noble gifts that pall me never
Christ, our Lord, will accord
To His saints forever.

Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.
Thou art mine; I was Thine
Even ere I knew Thee.
I am Thine, for Thou hast bought me;
Lost I stood, but Thy blood
Free salvation bought me.

Thou art mine; I love and own Thee.
Light of Joy, ne’er shall I
From my heart dethrone Thee.
Savior, let me soon behold Thee
Face to face—may Thy grace
Evermore enfold me!

~ Paul Gerhardt

Broken Places, New Again

There’s a story behind me posting this video clip below. A couple of years ago, I was in a very discouraged place. A number of things had happened to our family in a short space of time that shattered much around us that we valued. I often felt that God was silent.

One night I was watching hymns on YouTube and came across this clip. Previously, I have found such strength in hymns and songs of faith, and that night was no different. The words of the song below were:

Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here

Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire
With splendor He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of light
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around

Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place

The singer, Aled Jones, in the early part of the video is standing in a restored church, but as the video goes along, suddenly it shows a clip of him in the same place, several years earlier, when that abbey was an abandoned shell. It was such a broken down place that the windows were shattered, the roof was open to the elements and the interior ruined. When the dove flies upward, you see the results of the restoration of that same abbey. The broken windows are whole again. The roof is repaired, the interior beautiful once again.

While watching this video that night, it was impressed strongly on my mind, “That’s you, Ingrid. You’re broken down with all that has happened and the pain you’ve gone through. But God’s presence within restores and rebuilds. Your “windows” may be shattered, God will make new and better ones. Your “roof” is in disrepair, God will put a better one on. The interior which lies in ruins will be restored. God will do it.”

Despite times where evidence looks to the contrary, that is God’s specialty—restoring what looks like total ruination in us. He does it His way, and in His time. We can’t tell Him how to do it. It’s His work. It takes time. Like all restoration projects, it is not accomplished overnight. But in quiet hope and patience, with faith in the master Architect and Chief Contractor, the work is accomplished in our souls.

So this video is special to me. I want to share it again here at the Hope Blog.

“…Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27