Posted by: rcottrill | August 3, 2011

I Would Be True

Words: Howard Arnold Walter (b. Aug. 19, 1883; d. Nov. 1, 1918)
Music: Peek, by Joseph Yates Peek (b. Feb. 27, 1843; d. Mar. 17, 1911)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

It’s important to have some goals in life, to give us a sense of direction. Of course there are many personal decisions to be made that can affect our course. But the Bible lays down the moral and spiritual perimeters within which we are to choose our path. Howard Walter believed that. He intended the poem that became his hymn as a statement of “My Creed,” a brief statement of the spiritual goals he espoused.

It doesn’t cover everything, but there are some good pointers here. He begins, in CH-1 with, “I would be true [faithful, trustworthy], for there are those who trust me.” Perhaps it’s a friend, or a spouse, or our children. Whoever it is, they need to know that our word is reliable, that they can count on us. And the desire to be “pure” often relates to that. A broken trust, such as when one partner cheats on another, or when a child is abused, is a terrible thing. It can take a long time to mend.

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

Then, there’s friendship and love–and not just for those who love us in return. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Lk. 6:32). We need to show the kindness and love of Christ to “the foe, the friendless” (CH-2). To those who oppose us, and those whom others have cast aside (cf. Lk. 15:1-2). And “I would be humble, for I know my weakness.” The common phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I,” is more than a trite truism. We each can say, “by the grace of God I am what I am” (Cor. 15:10).

Howard Walter also expresses the desire to walk with the Lord (CH-3). To be “constantly in touch with God,” to “follow where He leads me,” and “keep the path Christ trod.” For Him, that was a path of consistent obedience to His heavenly Father. “I always do those things that please Him,” Jesus declared (Jn. 8:29; cf. I Pet. 2:22). The path Christ trod was also one of loving sacrifice. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). In these things, we’re to follow His example (Jn. 13:14-15; I Cor. 11:1; I Pet. 2:21).

It’s a fine aspiration, but it’s humanly impossible. As Paul puts it, “What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Rom. 7:15). We’ve all been there, wanting to do better, but seeing each day our weakness and fallibility. Doing right is impossible without the enabling grace of God, moment by moment. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Walk in the Spirit [submissive to His leading, and dependant on His power] and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

I would be faithful through each passing moment;
I would be constantly in touch with God;
I would be strong to follow where He leads me;
I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.

1) In CH-2 Walter says, “I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.” In your own words, how do these four things relate to our Christian lives?

2) If you were to write your own “creed,” what are some of the things you would include?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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