A Hymn to Hope

In this world where dreams die and love we thought would be forever isn’t, where what seems authentic can turn out to be false, where disappointment can be so deep at times, we can still carry a hymn of hope in our heart. It’s an act of defiance, to smile and laugh and hope anyway.

A Reflection for Today

Hymn reflection. These old treasures of English hymnody are largely unknown to younger generations. I share this one today in fitting contemplation of our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. The music sung below only uses four of these stanzas, but the totality of the text tells the full story.

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!

Here the king of all the ages,
Throned in light ere worlds could be,
Robed in mortal flesh is dying,
Crucified by sin for me.

O mysterious condescending!
O abandonment sublime!
Very God Himself is bearing
All the sufferings of time!

Evermore for human failure
By His passion we can plead;
God has born all mortal anguish,
Surely He will know our need.

This—all human thought surpassing—
This is earth’s most awful hour,
God has taken mortal weakness!
God has laid aside His power!

Once the Lord of brilliant seraphs,
Winged with love to do His will,
Now the scorn of all His creatures,
And the aim of every ill.

Up in Heaven, sublimest glory
Circled round Him from the first;
But the earth finds none to serve Him,
None to quench His raging thirst.

Who shall fathom that descending,
From the rainbow circled throne,
Down to earth’s most base profaning,
Dying desolate alone.

From the Holy, Holy, Holy,
We adore Thee, O most High,
Down to earth’s blaspheming voices
And the shout of Crucify.

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!

Text: William J. Sparrow-Simpson, created for John Stainer’s oratorio, The Crucifixion

An Evening Gift

Our son, Will, is busy at college, but this evening he sent this beautiful and ancient hymn. It came for me at exactly the moment that God wanted it to. Will attached a version of this hymn with a French choir singing along with organ. The setting is by the compose,r Vierne. The organ music is powerful, contrasting with the voices of the choir. The cry of the supplicant, and the answering, response of the Spirit of our all powerful God. I hope this blesses you as it did me tonight. The words echo the cry of our hearts: Come, Holy Spirit. Without you, we can do nothing.

 

COME, HOLY GHOST
send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.

O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.

O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
the pilgrim’s sweet relief.

Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.

O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.

Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.

Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.

To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.

Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.

Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia!

 

We Need Him Every Hour

We need the Lord every hour of every day. These two versions of an old hymn were a blessing to me tonight, so I thought I would share them. Burdens seem to heavy for you? They are. That’s why Jesus said that all who are weary and heavy laden should come to Him, and He will give us rest.
 

 

Here is the same old hymn sung so beautifully in Dutch. I find many of our familiar hymns sung by the musicians on Nederland Zingt, so I haunt their YouTube page frequently! I love this.

 

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.