Posted by: rcottrill | June 28, 2013

Ye Christian Heralds

Words: Bourne Hall Draper (b. _____, 1775; d. Oct. 12, 1843)
Music: Missionary Chant, by Heinrich Christoph Zeuner (b. Sept. 20, 1795; d. Nov. 7, 1857)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Hymn books today commonly use only three stanzas of this 1797 hymn (CH-1, 6, 7), which originally had seven. As he wrote it, Bourne Draper’s text began with CH-2, and what is given in the Cyber Hymnal as CH-1 was stanza five. This means that we actually use the last three stanzas of the poem as the hymn.

This hymn was first called “Farewell to Missionaries,” and in a later publication, “On the Departure of the Missionaries.” It was awhile before the identity of the author was known. Early on, it was attributed to a mythical Mrs. Voke. Then, it was said to come from “A Bristol Student”–which was closer to the truth. Bourne Draper studied at the Baptist Academy in Bristol, England, before becoming a pastor.

Mr. Zeuner, composer of the tune, in some books is called Charles H. C. Zeuner. He himself took the more American-sounding name Charles, when coming to live in the United States in 1824. The hymn also works well with the tune Duke Street, more familiarly used with the hymn Jesus Shall Reign, by Isaac Watts.

The word “herald” (CH-1) refers to a forerunner or announcer. In early times, it was a royal messenger who represented his sovereign as a kind of advance man or ambassador. The term is found in Scripture only once (NKJV). King Nebuchadnezzar had a huge image erected, which all were commanded to worship. To fail to do so would be punished by a terrible death.

“Then a herald cried aloud: ‘To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace’” (Dan. 3:4-6).

Isaiah succinctly describes the work of a herald this way: “”Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet” (Isa. 58:1). The most famous herald in the Bible (though he is not specifically called that) is John the Baptist, the forerunner who announced the coming of Christ. John’s coming was prophesied by Isaiah, and his role was identified in a prophecy given by an angel to his father Zacharias.

John was, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isa. 40:3; cf. Jn. 1:22-23).

The angel said to Zacharias, “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him [the Lord Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:15-17).

Christians are described as “ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20), and Paul in prison describes himself as “an ambassador in chains” (Eph. 6:20). As Christ’s ambassadors we are to “go into all the world and preach [herald, proclaim] the gospel” (Mk. 16:15). Some form of the word “preach” is found sixty times in the New Testament–including descriptions of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1).

In Acts, the apostles are often said to preach (herald) the gospel message. And Paul declared, “I preach Christ crucified” (I Cor. 1:23), and, “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (II Cor. 4:5). His exhortation to young Timothy was, “ Preach [herald] the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Tim. 4:2).

CH-1) Ye Christian heralds, go proclaim
Salvation through Emmanuel’s name;
To distant climes the tidings bear,
And plant the Rose of Sharon there.

There are certainly rewards now for faithfully serving the Lord. I can personally testify to that. But these are just the tip of the iceberg as it were. In the heavenly kingdom we’ll be rewarded by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:21; I Cor. 3:14; Rev. 22:12), and also experience the joy of seeing others there whose lives were touched in some way by our ministry (I Thess. 2:19-20).

CH-7) And when our labours all are o’er,
Then we shall meet to part no more;
Meet with the blood-bought throng to fall,
And crown our Jesus, Lord of all!

1) We normally think of a Christian ambassador as one involved in a ministry to larger groups (such as pastors, evangelists and missionaries are). How can the average Christian function in this way?

2) What are some of the present-day rewards enjoyed by ambassadors for Christ?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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