Posted by: rcottrill | March 30, 2011

Holy Ghost, with Light Divine

Words: Andrew Reed (b. Nov. 27, 1787; d. Feb. 25, 1862)
Music: Mercy, by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (b. May 8, 1829; d. Dec. 18, 1869)
           Arranged by Edwin Pond Parker (b. Jan. 13, 1836; d. May 28, 1925)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune, Mercy, was arranged by Edwin Parker from Gottschalk’s piece for piano called “The Last Hope.”

The use of the term “Holy Ghost” for the third Person of the Trinity has fallen into disuse in many circles today. Most Christians speak of the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit. In fact, the two words, ghost and spirit, have exchanged meanings, since the King James Version was produced in 1611.

In referring to the virgin birth of Christ, the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee” (Lk. 1:35, KJV). Later, when the resurrected Christ came to His disciples, we read, “They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Lk. 24:37, KJV). Newer translations, such as the New International Version, and the New Living Translation, read “Holy Spirit” in Luke 1:35, and “ghost” in Luke 24:37.

With this change in terminology in view, the title and first stanza of Reed’s hymn are sometimes revised to read “Holy Spirit, Light Divine,” and CH-3 and 4 begin, respectively, “Holy Spirit, Power divine,” and “Holy Spirit, Joy divine.”

Andrew Reed’s hymn is a prayer requesting the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. The Bible does not tell us to direct our prayers to Him. We are to pray to our heavenly Father, on the authority of our relationship with Christ, enabled by the Spirit of God. “For through Him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18; cf. Matt. 6:9; Jn. 14:13; 16:24). Since the Holy Spirit is Himself God, it is not heresy to pray to Him; it is simply not the pattern the Scriptures have given to us.

Leaving that aside, let’s consider this hymn. In the four stanzas commonly used today, there is a noticeable progression.

In CH-1, the author asks for the illumination of the Spirit. It is the work of the Spirit of God to reveal the Person of Christ to us, in order to bring glory to Him (Jn. 16:14). Also part of His ministry is the opening of our understanding to grasp the spiritual truths of God’s Word (I Cor. 2:9-10, 12). This is further explained in Reed’s seldom used second stanza.

Let me see my Saviour’s face,
Let me all His beauties trace;
Show those glorious truths to me
Which are only known to Thee.

As we come to a deeper understanding of these things, we become more and more aware of how far short we come of God’s holy standard (Rom. 3:23). With that in mind, Andrew Reed prays for the Spirit to cleanse him (CH-3), and bring a renewal of the joy of his salvation (CH-4) (cf. Ps. 51:7, 12).

We might challenge the plea in CH-5 for the Holy Spirit to “dwell within this heart of mine.” There is ample Scripture to show that the Spirit of God indwells each Christian heart (Rom. 5:5; I Cor. 6:19-20; II Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5) . “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His [he is not a Christian at all]” (Rom. 8:9).

But without reading too much into Reed’s words, there is perhaps a parallel to Paul’s prayer (to Christians) “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17). Christians without Christ? Impossible. But the word dwell can have the sense of settle down and be at home in. The NLT correctly paraphrases the text, “I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts.”

That would certainly fit Reed’s lines. And the rest of the fifth stanza, as well as the seldom used sixth stanza, show that his intended desire is that the Lord reign supreme within him.

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme, and reign alone.

See, to Thee I yield my heart,
Shed Thy life through every part;
A pure temple I would be,
Wholly dedicate to Thee.

1) In First Corinthians 3:16 asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God?” The Greek word translated “you” is plural. The text means that all who make up the body of Christ are, corporately, a spiritual temple of the Spirit of God (cf. Eph. 2:22). What does this imply about the priorities and work of the local church (see I Cor. 3:16-17)?

2) The Bible also speaks of each individual Christian as a “temple” of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20) What does this suggest about Him? And about how we should act?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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