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

He Knows Your Name

God calls the stars by their names, and He knows your name. We are not highly evolved slime, the result of random chance acting on matter. Where would the matter have come from anyway without someone to make it? We have a personal God who has stooped down to reveal Himself to His creation. These Psalms comfort us that while God is a God of holiness and justice, He is also a God of mercy and love. Unlike the capricious and terrifying pagan gods who must be appeased and who leave humans in an endless quest to somehow earn their own salvation, our God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. He tells us who He is and what He requires of us. He reaches down in love, because we cannot earn salvation by our own merit.

Whatever your heartache is today, whatever your need may be, God knows your name. God is near to humble and contrite hearts. He is near to those who seek Him in truth. God’s Word is truth.

He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The LORD lifts up the meek: he casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God… ~ Psalm 137:3-7

O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth, 
         Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 

 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
         You have ordained strength, 
         Because of Your enemies, 
         That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. 

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
 What is man that You are mindful of him,
         And the son of man that You visit him?
 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
         And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 

 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
         You have put all things under his feet,
 All sheep and oxen—
         Even the beasts of the field,
 The birds of the air,
         And the fish of the sea 
         That pass through the paths of the seas. 

 O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

~ Psalm 8