Posted by: rcottrill | December 4, 2013

O Breath of Life

Words: Elisabeth Ann Porter Head (b. Jan. 1, 1850; d. June 28, 1936)
Music: Spiritus Vitae, by Mary Jane Hammond (b. _____, 1878; d. Jan. 23, 1964)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: “Bessie” Head (as she was known) was an English hymn writer and a member of the Anglican Church. Her husband, Albert Alfred Head was an insurance broker with the Henry Head Company, and he was chairman of the Keswick Convention (a holiness group) for a number of years. Mrs. Head’s hymn was written around 1914, and first appeared in a hymnal in 1920.

This hymn is a penetrating and powerful prayer that God would equip and use His church in the world of today, by His Spirit. It’s a prayer for revival and renewal, a prayer for cleansing and equipping, in light of the words of the Lord Jesus:

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (Jn. 4:35).

“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).

CH-1) O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us,
Revive Thy church with life and power;
O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us,
And fit Thy church to meet this hour.

But instead of the missionary zeal of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we see, by and large, a weakened and compromised church. There is doctrinal compromise, a setting aside of the fundamentals of the faith with the plea, “Let’s just get together and love one another.” Forgotten by many is the exhortation that we are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

There is also moral compromise in the church. Things are permitted and even endorsed by Christians that violate the holy separation God expects (II Cor. 6:17). Indeed, too often, the world has made more of an impact on the church than the church has on the world. Paul faced that in the Corinthian church (I Cor. 5:1-8), and it is still around.

“The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (I Pet. 4:17).

The church in North America is relatively free of concerted and organized persecution–at least in comparison to many other parts of the world. But the Bible teaches that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). And the Lord may permit it, in the days ahead, as part of His loving chastening.

“You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’…Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:5-6, 11).

CH-2) O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,
Till humbly we confess our need;
Then in Thy tenderness remake us,
Revive, restore, for this we plead.

CH-3) O Breath of love, come breathe within us,
Renewing thought and will and heart;
Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
Revive Thy church in every part.

Christ is our example, as One who demonstrated holy love (Jn. 13:34-35), and brooked no compromise with error (Jn. 8:44; 17:17; cf. I Jn. 1:6). He is also our source of strength, and the One in whose authority we can seek mercy, and grace to help in time of need (Phil. 4:13, 19; Heb. 4:14-16).

CH-4) O Heart of Christ, once broken for us,
’Tis there we find our strength and rest;
Our broken, contrite hearts now solace,
And let Thy waiting church be blest.

CH-5) Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
While harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive, us Lord, the world is waiting,
Equip Thy church to spread the light.

1) What is the major hindrance to this kind of renewal and sacrificial Christian service in our day?

2) What can be done to stir the church to renewed action?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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