Posted by: rcottrill | November 6, 2013

Fill All My Vision

Words: Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen (b. Oct. 11, 1895; d. Jan. 14, 1985)
Music: Hammontree, by Homer Alexander Hammontree (b. Mar. 3, 1884; d. Feb, 2:1965)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Avis Christiansen and Homer Hammontree)

Note: Mr. Hammontree ministered in army camps with evangelist Mel Trotter, during the First World War. Later, he traveled with Trotter, and with Billy Sunday in evangelistic work. From 1936 to 1942, he was director of the music department of Moody Bible Institute. This brought him in greater contact with Avis Christiansen, as her husband Ernest was a vice president of the school. Hammontree repeated his earlier ministry in army camps, during the Second World War.

The present hymn was first published by Moody Press in 1940, in a booklet of new songs by three hymn writers including Mr. Hammontree. It achieved great popularity after being included in Inter-Varsity Hymns, in 1947. Mrs. Christiansen commented in later years:

“Mr. Hammontree was always eager to receive hymn lyrics, and I wrote many for him. The song Fill All My Vision was truly my own heart’s desire. Though it was written many years ago, it is only in recent years that it has been used more extensively.”

The word “vision” (singular or plural) is found in our English Bibles ninety-seven times, from Genesis 15:1 to Revelation 9:17. It refers to a supernaturally produced image or experience that seemed to be detectable by the senses. That is, something was seen, heard or felt. In a way it was similar to a God-given dream, though the individual may not have been asleep when he received it. Visions were given in Bible times, as a means of divine revelation, especially useful before God’s written Word was completed.

However, Avis Christiansen uses the term in a different way. In her lovely hymn, the word “vision” (found nine times, including the refrains) describes a mental perception and understanding that grips the heart, and affects the entire life of the individual. It is a spiritual insight, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and made evident by the Spirit’s power in day to day experience. Perhaps the word “outlook” comes close to what the author has in mind. Our outlook on life is determined by our attitudes, and our desires and goals.

In the case of the hymn writer, we sense her desire that Christ be central in her life, that her desires and goals be focused on knowing Him and making Him known. That is similar to the passion of the Apostle Paul, who declared, “To me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

“I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

“I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

1) Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray,
Let me see only Jesus today;
Though through the valley Thou leadest me,
Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.

Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
Thy holy image reflected in me.

Two further thoughts from this hymn that are worthy of our attention:

1) The purpose of having this transforming perception of Christ is that “all my see [His] holy image reflected in [us]” (refrain). “Christ lives in me,” says Paul (Gal. 2:20). And “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:18). When the Spirit of God produces the fruit of Christian character in us, that is the essence of Christlikeness (Gal. 5:22-23).

2) We must “let naught of sin shadow the brightness shining within.” The Bible says, “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). If Christ is the spiritual light of our lives, it is equally true that sin is the darkness of it. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (I Jn. 1:6). Sin that is allowed to remain in our lives unconfessed (cf. I Jn. 1:9), will cast its shadow, weakening our testimony and bringing dishonour to Christ.

3) Fill all my vision, let naught of sin
Shadow the brightness shining within.
Let me see only Thy blessed face,
Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.

Questions:
1) What characteristics of light make it a good picture of Christ and the Christlike life?

2) What characteristics of darkness make it a suitable symbol for sin?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Avis Christiansen and Homer Hammontree)


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