Posted by: rcottrill | April 4, 2011

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

Words: Isaac Watts (b. July 17, 1674; d. Nov. 25, 1748)
Music: Ellacombe, by William Henry Monk (b. Mar. 16, 1823; d. Mar. 1, 1889)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Watt’s original version had eight four-line stanzas. The first six of these are generally combined to make three, and the last two are omitted. Here are the oft omitted stanzas 7 and 8 combined:

In heav’n He shines with beams of love, with wrath in hell beneath:
‘Tis on His earth I stand or move, and ‘tis His air I breathe.
His hand is my perpetual guard, He keeps me with His eye:
Why should I then forget the Lord, who is forever nigh?

It’s interesting that Isaac Watts intended this to be, first of all, a children’s hymn. It is the second selection in his Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of Children, published in 1715. Of this collection he wrote:

“The children of high and low degree…may all join together in these songs, and as I have endeavoured to sink the language to the level of a child’s understanding, and yet to keep it, if possible, above contempt; so I have designed to profit all, if possible, and offend none.”

That begs the question: Did he misjudge the ability of children to grasp biblical truth? Or were children smarter, or better educated then, than now?) Maybe a little of both. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for simple children’s choruses such as This Little Light of Mine, or The Birds Upon the Treetops. But with careful selection, and patient teaching, I believe our children can be–and should be–introduced to many of the great hymns of the faith.

This is a hymn that praises God, particularly for His work as the Creator of all things. With David, we declare:

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours ; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name” (I Chron. 29:11-13).

Learning about, and acknowledging, the Creator’s handiwork is a good place to begin, because it’s where the Bible begins, and a subject to which God’s Word often returns (e.g. Ps. 19:1; 24:1-2; Jn. 1:1-3; Rom. 1:19-20; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:1-2; 11:3; Rev. 4:11). As Christians, we should also defend the teaching of the Scriptures on this subject as opposed to the manmade theories of evolution.

But there is more to it than that. The saints of old saw this as an important foundation truth that gave encouragement in prayer. Since the Almighty has brought into being all the wonders of the natural universe, and continues to sustain its intricate operation, then He is surely powerful enough and wise enough to help me in my need.

When persecution began against the early church, believers turned to God in prayer. “They raised their voice to God with one accord and said, ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them” (Acts 4:24). Trusting in the might of the Creator, they prayed for holy boldness to continue declaring His Word (vs. 29), and God answered that prayer (vs. 31). Centuries before, the prophet Jeremiah had done the same (Jer. 32:16-17; ; cf. Ps. 124:8).

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

Questions:
1) What encouragement do you draw from the fact that God created all things?

2) The other side of the coin: What is missing from the life of one who believes that all things simply evolved, out of nothing, by chance and accident?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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