Skip to main content

A tale of two hymnals

I was recently attending a church service where, as it so often happens, the hymn "O Church Arise" was on the hymnal list. The hymn is generally very lovely, but I always struggle singing this verse :

So Spirit, come put strength in every stride,
Give grace for every hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When with Christ we stand in glory.

It is clear that this verse is inspired by Revelation and Hebrews. But unfortunately, the last lines can be easily misunderstood by non-Christians or those new to Christ. In other words the sort of people churches ought to pay special attention to.

There is also potential for grow misunderstanding from those raised in certain cultural and religious traditions. For example, the error of ancestral worship is prevalent in African traditions. There is also the flawed saints theology of Anglican and Catholicism.

The line of particular interest is this : "As saints of old still line the way/ Retelling triumphs of His grace/ We hear their calls and hunger for the day". We certainly don't hear the words of the saints. We hear the words of God. And if we are hearing words of saints we should quickly speak with church leaders.

The hymn writers cleared want to reflect the Hebrews 12:1 spirit. They presumably want to say we are inspired by the old saints. Unfortunately, it comes out slightly dangerous. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses but we cannot hear the witnesses directly, except through the words of the Bible.

On the flip side, I have been very encouraged recently singing Amazing Grace recently. The full traditional seven verses. I have noticed that some modern versions try and shorten it. The casualty is usually this verse :

Through many dangers, toils and snares, 
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

I find this verse to be the most encouraging. It is no good holding onto great promises if such promises have no real world validity. Faith is not something that just floats heavenly. True faith proceeds from God's word which directs us to look around and see how God is working. As the Bible, "taste and see that the Lord is good!"  

That knowledge of how God is already at work in our lives builds our confidence to trust God more and more. We can be sure that we will see God face to face, not only because the Bible says so, but because we can see God already at work in our olives. God is at work through all dangers, toils and snares!

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2015

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jesus Never Fails

Many a times in my life, the words of this childhood hymn has been a tremendous encouragement. I pray this may encourage you too. Keep looking to Jesus! Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your mother will let you down Your father will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your husband will let you down Your wife will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your brothers will let you down Your sisters-will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your church will let you down Your work will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your friends will let you down Your country will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your wealth will let you down Your health will let you down The man of the world

God on the Brain - A Review

A Christian understanding of human nature holds that human beings are made in the image of God. As His image bearers we are created by God with an immaterial soul that survives death. This soul comes with the capacity and moral inclination to know and relate to God. All of this means that for Christians how we regard the relationship between the soul and the brain matters because it affects the validity of the Gospel.  The good news of Jesus presupposes some fundamental things about our human nature. It assumes that we are moral beings who have fallen off an objective moral standard and in need of forgiveness. It tells us that death is not the end. We must one day give an account. Most importantly, Jesus who is fully God and fully man is our only hope for life with God.  This good news of Jesus has become increasingly challenged by a materialist worldview of the brain led by secular neuroscientists. They argue that science and faith in God are opposed to one another; religious belief e

An Empty Page

I am nothing without you I am not ashamed to say But sometimes still I doubt you along my way I am nothing without you An eagle with no wings If I forget about you, I lose everything My heart is an empty stage O let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love It’s such a common feeling to be misunderstood But from you there’s no concealing You know my bad and good So I am not pretending my story never fails But I have already read the ending And your love prevails My heart is an empty stage Let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love The words are from Jonathan Veira’s song Empty Page one of the tracks off ‘ Rhythms of the Heart’ album. I like his music, especially this song. Sadly, I couldn’t find the lyrics online, so I had to write them down word for word. I have had this song for many years and it has always spoken me at many levels.