Posted by: rcottrill | April 10, 2013

We Gather Together

Words: (author unknown) translated from German into English by Theodore Baker (b. June 3, 1851; d. Oct. 13, 1934)
Music: (composer unknown) hymn arrangement called Kremser, by Eduard Kremser (b. Apr. 10, 1838; d. Nov. 27, 1914)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: In the historical background of this hymn is the Dutch War of Independence to gain liberty from Spanish oppression (1568-1648). The Cyber Hymnal gives a date of 1597 for the writing of this hymn, but it’s difficult to be specific, since we know nothing of the authorship. The first publication of the hymn took place in 1626 and, if Baker’s translation is accurate, the last line suggests the battle was still going on (“O Lord, make us free!”).

The stern words of the hymn (“the wicked oppressing”) reflect the conflict to which it refers. It became popular in the United States in the early twentieth century. Americans, in their celebration of Thanksgiving, claimed the fight for freedom and the battle against oppression as their own. It’s certainly legitimate to make this patriotic and nationalistic use of the song. However, I wonder if it might not suit a broader application.

Christians in all times and places have been engaged in a spiritual conflict with the devil and the host of evil angels he commands. “He was a murderer from the beginning…there is no truth in him” (Jn. 8:44), but “we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Cor. 2:11).

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:10-13).

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (I Pet. 5:8-9).

CH-1. With these sobering truths in mind, we gather together with God’s people to ask for His blessing, and His aid against the enemy of our souls. In this we can be confident that God “forgets not His own.” If we face the chastening of the Lord, we are also assured that it is administered in love (Heb. 12:5-7), and will purify us and make us stronger.

CH-1) We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.

CH-2. “From the beginning the fight we were winning.” That is an encouraging word! Almighty God ordained our truimph through Christ from the very beginning (Gen. 3:15), and we can be confident of ultimate and final victory.

CH-2) Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death’” (Rev. 12:9-11).

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).

CH-3. It seems to me that, applied to our spiritual conflict, this hymn offers great assurance to the people of God, and great reason to praise the Lord, our Leader and Defender, the Lord Jesus Christ.

CH-3) We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Questions:
1) Since Satan is the great deceiver, what is our greatest weapon against him (see Eph. 6:17; cf. Matt. 4:3-4)?

2) With this in mind, how can we best arm ourselves, and those for whom we’re responsible, to be victorious against our enemy?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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