Way to Rock My World, God

15Mar10

I’ve always had a love for the simplicity of old hymns.  Tenth is big on hymns – singing them, writing them, arranging them, discussing them, etc.  But mostly singing.  My hymn repertoire has grown exponentially since coming to Tenth (I remember one of the first Sundays we visited – “These people are crazy!” I thought.  “They sing all the verses to weird hymns!”  But now when I go elsewhere for worship I end up thinking something like, “Oh, how sad! They left out one or two verses of that beautiful hymn!  How can they call this singing hymns?!”).  Anyhow, having a physical Trinity Hymnal with me is now almost as important as having my Bible along when I go away somewhere – there’s a sweetness to reading and singing hymns that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else outside the Bible. :-)

So ten days ago I had the opportunity to attend our Urban Ministry Conference.  During the Saturday morning session, we sang three beautiful hymns.  The first two were familiar (I’d heard them or sung them once or twice before), but the third was completely new.  Now singing a “new” hymn is not unusual at Tenth.  Our pastor writes hymns and our music director (appropriately!) sets them to music (and I mean old-fashioned hymn music with the occasional harmonic twist).   The Trinity Hymnal holds 742 hymns.  In the evening service, they regularly print hymns in their entirety (words and music) in the bulletin so we aren’t limited to singing Tenth or TH hymns.  So the newness factor usually wouldn’t catch me by surprise.  This time, it did.

Almost as soon as we began singing, I had tears spring into my eyes.  By the last verse, the tears were falling freely.  Whether it was the beauty of the tune, the power of the words, or the quickening of the Holy Spirit, I realized that this was far and away the best hymn I had ever sung.  I came home and promptly learned to play it on the piano.  What comfort the words are when I begin to trudge through a day, forgetting God’s great love!

Soul, adorn yourself with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy your praises render
Bless the One whose grace unbounded
This amazing banquet founded.
He, though heav’nly, high, and holy,
Deigns to dwell with you most lowly.

Hasten as a bride to meet Him,
Eagerly and gladly greet him.
There he stands already knocking;
Quickly, now, your gate unlocking.
Open wide the fast-closed portal,
Saying to the Lord immortal:
“Come, and leave your loved one never;
Dwell within my heart forever.”

Now in faith I humbly ponder
Over this surpassing wonder
That the bread of life is boundless
Though the souls it feeds are countless;
With the choicest wine of heaven
Christ’s own blood to us is given.
Oh, most glorious consolation,
Pledge and seal of my salvation.

Jesus, source of lasting pleasure,
Truest friend and dearest treasure,
Peace beyond all understanding,
Joy into all life expanding:
Humbly now, I bow before you,
Love incarnate, I adore you;
Worthily let me receive you,
And, so favored, never leave you.

-Johann Franck (1649), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1858)

Alternate text (more verses!) here.

Martin Luther said, “Music is the handmaiden of theology.”  Truth is powerful, no matter how your slice it.  I’m so grateful the Lord gave me TH421.  It will be a great reminder to me in the days ahead – that Jesus is beautiful and what He has done for me is so utterly incomprehensible that the only response I can have is to praise Him with my life.  Thank you, Father!

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