My Faith Has Found A Resting Place

After a couple of crazy months, I finally have the time and motivation to post again! One of the things that kept me busy was planning and leading worship at my church a couple of weeks when our regular worship leader was out of town.

On the day we started a new series from the book of Jude on contending for the faith, I had the congregation say the Nicene creed (see this post) followed immediately by this hymn. At first glance that combination may seem odd, considering the first two lines of the hymn say “My faith has found a resting place, Not in device or creed.” But here’s what I told the congregation:

I grew up in a church that said the Nicene Creed probably every other week, and I think I saw it as a part of a ritual I was relying on to make me right with God. After I came to trust Christ to give me a right relationship with God through His death on the cross, I had a really negative opinion of religious ritual. But since then I’ve learned some things about the Nicene Creed that have made me appreciate it more. It is a statement of faith hammered out by the early church during a time of heresy, and now I see it as a way to publicly declare my faith in the one true God.

Even though this hymn was written many centuries later, and in a more emotional style, it too is a public declaration of faith in the one true God.

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s Name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.

– Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920), under the pseudonym of Lidie H. Edmunds

Be Thou My Vision

In honor of St. Patrick, here is another of my favorite hymns. When this post originally went out on Friday, I unintentionally plagiarized, because I neglected to include the source of the following description! The Cyber Hymnal is a searchable online database of thousands of hymns, with lyrics, MIDI files, scores, pictures, history and more. I loved the story of Patrick at Slane Hill found on that website, so here (with correct attribution, this time!) is the entry for Be Thou My Vison from The Cyber Hymnal.

Words: Attributed to Dallan Forgaill, 8th Century (Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride); translated from ancient Irish to English by Mary E. Byrne, in Eri, Journal of the School of Irish Learning, 1905, and versed by Eleanor H. Hull, 1912, alt.

Music: Slane, of Irish folk origin. Slane Hill is about ten miles from Tara in County Meath. It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Patrick defied a royal edict by lighting candles on Easter Eve. High King Logaire of Tara had decreed that no one could light a fire before Logaire began the pagan spring festival by lighting a fire on Tara Hill. Logaire was so impressed by Patricks devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it), he let him continue his missionary work. The rest is history.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

While growing up I often heard this hymn sung during communion services. Years later, though, I heard it sung as a Christmas hymn, and I was blown away at how appropriate it was. These words, from 4th century Greek Liturgy, remind me in a powerful way of the complete and utter devotion I owe to Christ, the God-man who came to earth to rescue me from the powers of hell.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

– Li­tur­gy of St. James, 4th Cen­tu­ry; trans­lat­ed from Greek by Gerard Moultrie, 1864

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

In the traditional church calendar (used mainly by liturgical denominations), December is Advent season, the time of year leading up to Christmas. Advent literally means “coming”, and in the evangelical churches I’ve attended (and there have been several, because I’ve moved a lot), it has been seen as a preparation for the celebration of Christ’s first coming. But in my childhood church there was an equal or greater focus on His second coming. I remember how much I loved singing some of the Advent hymns that focus on Christ’s return as King, like this one, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates. But what I didn’t remember until I looked up the words last week was the way it also focuses on giving Christ rule over our individual hearts. Did I ever pay attention to those verses or really understand them as a kid? I don’t think I did then, but I do now, and I want this to be my heart attitude this Advent, and all year round.

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!

A Helper just He comes to thee,
His chariot is humility,
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress.

O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes!

Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven?s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to Thee we open wide;
Let us Thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
Until our glorious goal is won;
Eternal praise, eternal fame
Be offered, Savior, to Thy Name!

Words: Ge­org Weiss­el, 1642; trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth, 1855

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

This hymn has a simple tune set to hauntingly beautiful harmony by my favorite classical composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. I’ve seen several versions of the words, and I’m not sure which is the most authentic, so I’ll post them as I learned them. Their message of deep devotion to Christ in response to His sacrifice never fails to touch my heart.

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How art Thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners? gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ?Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

– At­trib­ut­ed to Ber­nard of Clair­vaux, 1153; trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish James W. Al­ex­and­er, 1830.

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