Posted by: rcottrill | April 6, 2011

May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour

Words: Kate Barclay Wilkinson (b. Aug. 27, 1859; d. Dec. 28, 1928)
Music: St. Leonards, by Arthur Cyril Barham-Gould (b. 1891; d. Feb. 14, 1953)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Kate Wilkinson was involved in a ministry to girls. This hymn, expressed in simple terms, was published three years before her death, perhaps to convey to the young women with whom she worked what it means to have a truly Christ-like walk. Barham-Gould’s tune was written specifically for the hymn.

The Bible describes two important realities in the Christian life. One is “I in Christ.” That has to do with our legal standing before God. He views each believer as dressed in the righteousness of Christ, and accepts us on that basis (Eph. 1:3, 6; Col. 2:10). Our standing “in Him” is eternal. It never changes, as it’s based on Christ’s righteousness, and He is never anything but perfect.

The other reality is “Christ in me.” That speaks of our practical state in daily living. It is the desire of God that Christ’s character be seen in us (Phil. 2:5). Christians are called to a walk of humble obedience, just as Christ in His incarnation was humbly obedient to His heavenly Father (vs.8; cf. Gal. 2:20 ).

And clearly, though our standing is eternal, our state can fluctuate. We can stumble in sin, or drift spirituality into worldliness and carnality. It is this latter reality (He in me) that Kate Wilkinson writes about in her hymn. Stanza CH-1 introduces the theme, with an allusion to Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” It should be our goal to be submissive to Christ’s lordship in “all [we] do and say,” just as He was submissive to God the Father.

Stanza CH-2 uses the first part of Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” to remind us of the importance of the Scriptures in the Christian life. For God’s Word to “dwell richly” in us means that it will be at home in our lives, in all its abundant richness, and be consistently believed and obeyed. The parallel passage in Ephesians 5:18-19 shows that this is closely related to the filling of the Holy Spirit. (The phrase “the word of Christ” should not be confined to His teaching recorded in the Gospels–often printed in red. Since He is a Person in the triune Godhead, it is quite appropriate to consider the entire Bible as coming from Christ.)

Stanza CH-3 is about God’s peace (referred to in Philippians 4:6-7). But there is an interesting application of this. Many times, perhaps, we pray for God’s peace so that we can be more comfortable. But the hymn writer prays for it so that she might more effectively serve the Lord, and bring comfort to others.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

Both CH-4 and CH-6 express a desire that Christ’s Person would be seen and be glorified, rather than glory coming to the individual servant of God. Our prayer should be, “Him exalting, self abasing, / This is victory….And may they forget the channel, / Seeing only Him” (cf. Jn. 3:30). The life goal presented in CH-5 alludes to Hebrews 12:1-2, and it is a great prayer for every believer: “May I run the race before me…looking only unto Jesus.”

This is one of those hymns that I draw attention to from time to time that should be better known, and much more used, than it is.

1) List some of the qualities that will be seen in the kind of life this hymn describes. (And what are the opposites of each that should be avoided?)

2) What Bible character do you think most closely illustrates this ideal? (And can you name one or two in Scripture who failed in this at some point, and explain how and why?)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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