Posted by: rcottrill | January 9, 2012

Come, Thou Almighty King

Words: Possibly by Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Italian Hymn, by Felice de Giardini (b. Apr. 12, 1716; d. June 8, 1796)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: A pamphlet published by the Methodists contained this hymn, as well as one by Charles Wesley. Wesley’s name was not attached to Come, Thou Almighty King, but he may well have written it as well. For more about Charles Wesley and the nature of this hymn, see the Wordwise Link.

This hymn was printed at a time when the Methodists were enduring great persecution in Britain. Stanza CH-2 (now mostly  unused) is a prayer for God’s defense:

CH-2) Jesus, our Lord, arise,
Scatter our enemies, and make them fall;
Let Thine almighty aid our sure defense be made,
Our souls on Thee be stayed; Lord, hear our call.

Whoever the author was, this is a great Trinitarian hymn. CH-1 is addressed to the “Father all glorious;” CH-3 to the “Incarnate Word;” and CH-4 to the “Spirit of power.” Then, the final stanza addresses the “great One in Three.”

The actual word “Trinity” is not found in our Bibles. However, it is simply a theological short-form for a truth that is taught throughout the Scriptures. Further, the fact that there is nothing in creation that precisely illustrates the nature of this unique Being need not distress us. God is infinitely above all He has made, and ultimately beyond our comprehension.

Consider three key facts:

1) The Bible assures us that there is only one true God. “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deut. 4:35). “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6).

2) The three persons of the Trinity act separately, though not independently, and are spoke of as separate persons. Christians are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:2). “For through Him [Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18; cf. Matt. 3:16-17; II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 5:18-20; Jude 1:20-21).

3) The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each addressed and honoured as deity. “All should honour the Son just as they honour the Father” (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:23; Jn. 5:23; cf. 14:1; Jn. 20:27-28; Acts 5:3-4; Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 2:8; 3:16; Heb. 1:8).

It is difficult for us to comprehend the Triune Godhead. We are finite fallen creatures, and He is the eternal and infinitely great Lord of all. Yet that is clearly what the Bible presents to us, if all the evidence is taken in hand. (The above verses are simply a sampling of many.) The orthodox church, through twenty centuries, has done as Wesley has done, given full place and equal honour to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

CH-1) Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy name to sing, help us to praise!
Father all glorious, o’er all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

CH-3) Come, Thou incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

CH-4) Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour.
Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart,
And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!

1) What do you see as the practical results of this understanding of the Godhead?

2) How is each person of the Trinity involved in the work of salvation?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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