Posted by: rcottrill | March 25, 2010

Today in 1823 – Godfrey Thring Born

Godfrey Thring grew up in an English home, severely disciplined as a child. His father wanted him to have a career in the military, but a strong-willed mother pushed him into training to serve in the Anglican Church. He did become a clergyman, and though he seemed ill-suited to the role in some ways, he discharged his duties faithfully in a succession of churches.

Thring is remembered today chiefly as an author, editor and compiler of hymns. It is said his Church of England Hymn Book set a higher literary standard than anything else available at the time. Among the dozens of hymns he produced is God of Mercy, God of Might.

O God of mercy, God of might,
In love and pity infinite,
Teach us, as ever in Thy sight,
To live our life to Thee.

And Thou who cam’st on earth to die,
That fallen man might live thereby,
O hear us, for to Thee we cry
In hope, O Lord, to Thee.

And may Thy Holy Spirit move
All those who live, to live in love,
Till Thou shalt greet in heaven above
All those who live to Thee.

Godfrey Thring also added several stanzas to Matthew Bridges hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns (see Today in 1800). Thring contributed:

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

(2) Today in 1843 – Robert McCheyne Died
More than 150 years ago, there lived in Scotland a famed preacher named Robert Murray McCheyne. Though he died prematurely at 29 years of age,  McCheyne had a powerful impact on the Church of Scotland. In his brief years of ministry, he worked as a pastor and an evangelist, produced several books, and he wrote a number of hymns. In 1839, he went to Palestine to check on the possibility of his denomination launching missionary work among the Jews. Pastor McCheyne’s several hymns were published after his death in a book with the imposing title Songs of Zion to Cheer and Guide Pilgrims on Their Way to the New Jerusalem!

One of these songs was a fine hymn called Jehovah Tsidkenu (or, I Once Was a Stranger). Tsidkenu (pronounced sid-KAY-noo) is a Hebrew word meaning righteousness. It is used in a title for the promised Messiah. The prophet Jeremiah predicts a day when the Lord would raise to David a branch (that is, one of his own family) who would reign as a King and have the title “the Lord our Righteousness [or Jehovah Tsidkenu]” (Jer, 23:5-6).

The thrust of McCheyne’s hymn is that, in his blindness, spiritual truth is meaningless to the lost sinner. Unless God awakens his conscience to view Christ and His saving work in a new way, his response will likely be “Who cares?” But by the Spirit’s prompting and transforming power, all that changes.

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see–
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free–
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

(For another of Pastor McCheyne’s hymns, see the third item under Today in 1726.)


Responses

  1. “Crown Him With Many Crowns” — My favorite verse of this hymn is one that most hymnals do not print:

    Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time;
    Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime;
    All hail, Redeemer, hail, for Thou hast died for me,
    Thy praise shall never, never fail, throughout eternity.

    • For the sake of hymn book space, or the culture of the times, editors omit many verses of the older hymns. Sometimes wonderful ones. Occasionally, I include them on an overhead, or in a bulletin insert, so that we can sing them. “Potentate of time”–wonderful title! He’s sovereign over that too. The One who “inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15) created time for us, and He stepped into time to redeem us. Praise the Lord!

  2. […] Once Was a Stranger (Jehovah Tsidkenu) was one of Robert McCheyne’s hymns, as was When This Passing World Is […]

  3. Hello, thank you for your labour of love in producing and keeping up this website.

    I really like the hymn Jehovah Tsidkenu. I found this 7-stanza version online. With reference to the 3rd line of the last stanza, there’s also a story i found online that speaks of McCheyne writing this song while recovering from a bout of fever, which eventually took his life at age 30. http://www.wicketgate.co.uk/issue68/e68_4.html

    I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
    I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
    Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
    Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

    I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
    Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
    But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
    Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

    Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
    I wept when the waters went over His soul;
    Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
    Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

    When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
    Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
    No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
    Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

    My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
    My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
    To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
    Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

    Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
    Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
    In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
    My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

    Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
    This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
    For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
    Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

    • Thanks for getting in touch. Robert Murray McCheyne’s hymn is indeed wonderful. He was a deeply spiritual man. I wonder what other gems he might have given us if he had lived longer? All seven stanzas you quote are available on the Cyber Hymnal, along with the tune, a picture of the man, etc. But the reference to his fever is interesting. Good to hear from you. Drop by any time.

  4. […] 1864, Anglican clergyman Godfrey Thring took some of Bridges’ hymn and combined it with stanzas of his own. He was asked to do this as […]

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns (Bridges) Wordwise Hymns (Thring) The Cyber […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: