Posted by: rcottrill | March 25, 2013

My Saviour’s Love

Words: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: For some reason, the Cyber Hymnal adds four “O’s” to the refrain of this song. Perhaps the words supplied for the alto, tenor, and bass parts were inserted by mistake (i.e. “Oh, how marvelous! oh how wonderful!”). The Cyber Hymnal also uses the first line of the hymn as a title, though the original title was My Saviour’s Love, and many hymnals use it.

This 1905 hymn, for which Gabriel wrote both words and music, is a fine song of worship. On the Wordwise Hymns page, however, I make a case for singing it more slowly than some congregations are in the habit of doing. Due consideration needs to be given to the awe-inspiring, and sometimes sombre themes dealt with (the last stanza being the exception).

Charles Gabriel was one of the most prolific and influential gospel song writers toward the end of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth. Hymnary.org has a lengthy biography of the man that may be of interest to you.

The hymn writer refers to the Lord as “Jesus the Nazarene” (CH-1). This alludes to a statement in Matthew’s Gospel:

“He [the Lord Jesus] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (Matt. 2:23).

This verse has puzzled commentators, since nowhere in the Old Testament do the prophets predict that Christ would dwell in the town of Nazareth. (Some point out that He is called a netzer in Hebrew, “a Rod from the stem of Jesse,” Isaiah 11:1, but that does not tie Him to the town of Nazareth.)

A more likely explanation lies in the fact that Nazareth had a poor reputation generally. It was looked down upon, even by the people of Galilee. When Philip calls the Lord “Jesus of Nazareth” (Jn. 1:45), Nathanael’s response is, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (vs. 46; cf. 7:52). Later, when followers of Christ are spoken of as “the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), it is meant as an insult and a put-down.

For Jesus to be called a “Nazarene” might therefore be a way of saying He would be One who was despised and rejected. This scornful contempt was spoken of prophetically, a number of times (e.g. Ps. 22:6-8; 69:8, 20-21; 49:7; 53:2-3; Dan. 9:26). The Gospel writers call attention to this same rejection (cf. Matt. 11:16-19; Jn. 1:11).

The “wonder” of the hymn writer is that One so disdained and spurned by human beings would love him enough to die for his sins. But this is the message of the gospel of grace, the good news that the holy Son of God came to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). He died as our Substitute under the wrath of God, that we, through faith in Him, might be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 1:7; I Cor. 15:3).

CH-1) I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful!
Is my Saviour’s love for me!

CH-4) He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.

Since the only way by which we can reach our heavenly home is through Christ (Jn. 14:6), it’s understandable that the redemptive work of Christ will become a major theme of our worship and our heavenly songs (Rev. 5:9-14).

CH-5) When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.

Questions:
1) Is there any explanation for why the Lord should love “a sinner, condemned, unclean”?

2) What does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says, “Let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:12-13)?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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