Posted by: rcottrill | February 6, 2012

Grace, ‘Tis a Charming Sound

Words: Philip Doddridge (b. June 26, 1702; d. Oct. 26, 1751), and Augustus Montague Toplady (b. Nov. 4, 1740; d. Aug. 11, 1778)
Music: Silver Street, by Isaac Smith (b. _____ c. 1734; d. Dec. 14, 1805)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Doddridge wrote stanzas CH-1, 2, 4, and 6, while Toplady (best known as the author of the hymn Rock of Ages) wrote stanzas CH-3 and 5. Hymn books today commonly use five of the seven original stanzas: CH-1, 3, 4, 5, and 7. Here are the other two stanzas:

CH-2) Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.

CH-6) Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.

There is a bit of a puzzle about the tune, which I and Dick Adams, creator of the Cyber Hymnal, haven’t been able to decisively unravel as yet. The Cyber Hymnal, as of the time I’m writing this, doesn’t include Ira Sankey’s fine tune as an alternative. That one has a nice refrain (see below) underlining the central message of the hymn.

Sankey’s tune, that I’m most familiar with, is found in a number of hymnals, including: Great Hymns of the Faith (1968), Praise–Our Songs and Hymns (1979), the Worship and Service Hymnal (1982), Living Hymns (2009), and Rejoice Hymns (2011). Strangely, the latter book calls Sankey’s tune Silver Street–though it’s quite different from the one by that name (composed by Isaac Smith) in the Cyber Hymnal. If you have a solution to the mystery, please let me know.

For Philip Doddridge, the sound of the word itself, “Grace!” was “charming”–a word meaning delightful and pleasing. His hymn tells us some of the reasons why.

CH-1) Grace, ’tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to mine ear;
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

Saved by grace alone!
This is all my plea:
Jesus died for all mankind,
And Jesus died for me.

The grace of God, His unearned, unmerited favour, is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible, and it will be our theme for all eternity. It’s first mentioned in our English Bibles when we’re told that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). But with the coming of Christ there was a kind of explosion of grace. The Lord Jesus was “full of grace” (Jn. 1:14), and from Him we receive grace [heaped] upon grace” (vs. 16).

In just two books of the New Testament, among other things, we learn of: great grace (Acts 4:33; 13:43); the grace of God (Acts 11:23; 14:26; 15:11, 40; 20:24, 32); the Word of God’s grace (Acts 14:3); and believing through grace (Acts 18:27). We discover: grace received (Rom. 1:5); that we are justified freely by God’s grace (Rom. 3:24); that we have access by faith into grace (Rom. 5:2); that there’s an abundance of grace (Rom. 5:17, 20); that we live under grace (Rom. 6:14, 15); and that we have gifts for service, according to grace (Rom. 12:6).

CH-3) ‘Twas grace that wrote my name
In life’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

CH-4) Grace taught my wand’ring feet
To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet,
While pressing on to God.

An appreciation of the grace of God will motivate us to dedicate ourselves wholly to live the the Lord and serve Him.

CH-7) O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine
My all my pow’rs to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.

1) For what reason(s) do some reject the grace of God, and even become enemies of grace?

2) Why is it impossible to be saved, apart from the grace of God?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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