Posted by: rcottrill | January 15, 2014

Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

Words: John Fawcett (b. Jan. 6, 1740; d. July 25, 1817)
Music: Sicilian Mariners Hymn (also called O Santissima, meaning “O most holy”–a phrase praising Mary, in a Catholic hymn); the tune is of unknown origin, first published in the eighteenth century

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn first appeared in 1773, with no author identified. Later, it was credited to “F.” Extensive research by eminent hymn historian John Julian indicated it was likely written by John Fawcett. Pastor Fawcett also gave us the hymn Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

This is a closing hymn, though not as often used for that purpose as Fawcett’s other hymn referred to above. Its third stanza, in the author’s original, is not usually used now. It says:

So, whene’er the signal’s given
Us from earth to call away,
Borne on angels’ wings to heaven,
Glad the summons to obey,
May we ever, may we ever
Reign with Christ in endless day.

This is a little awkward, and perhaps not up to the quality of the previous stanzas. But Albert E. Bailey, in The Gospel in Hymns (p. 139), is too scathing in his criticism:

“The last stanza, which introduces angel transportation to heaven, and endless reigning with Christ over some unidentified domain, is so foreign to modern thought that editors have rewritten practically all of it.”

This carping is almost entirely unfair, if not inaccurate. Never mind “modern thought.” What does the Bible say. First, though we do not know for certain that we’ll have an angel escort to heaven, it seems Elijah did (II Kgs. 2:11-12). So did the beggar Lazarus (Lk. 16:22). God will do whatever is necessary to insure our safe arrival home. Second, does Bailey not know that the Bible specifically declares we shall reign with Christ (Rev. 1:6; 5:9-10; 20:4, 6; 22:5).

Third, I don’t know what other “editors” have done, but Godfrey Thring (1823-1903), who also wrote some of the stanzas of the hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns, produced a greatly altered and generally accepted version of that last stanza.

CH-3) So that when Thy love shall call us,
Saviour, from the world away,
Let no fear of death appall us,
Glad Thy summons to obey.
May we ever, may we ever,
Reign with Thee in endless day.

The world is indeed a spiritual wilderness (CH-1). Fawcett’s original line was “In this dry and barren place.” We need the Lord’s refreshing touch, and the Spirit’s awakening of joy, peace, and love in our hearts. “ the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22; cf. Phil. 2:2).

CH-1) Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing;
Fill our hearts with joy and peace;
Let us each, Thy love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace.
O refresh us, O refresh us,
Traveling through this wilderness.

With the second stanza, Fawcett offers thanksgiving and adoration (worship) to God for the good news of the gospel, a “joyful sound” to the people of God.

“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted” (Ps. 89:15-16).

Also in that stanza, there is a prayer that we would live out what the Lord has worked within us. That we would “walk worthy of the calling with which [we] were called” (Eph. 4:1).

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Tim. 1:15). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

CH-2) Thanks we give and adoration
For Thy gospel’s joyful sound;
May the fruits of Thy salvation
In our hearts and lives abound.
Ever faithful, ever faithful,
To the truth may we be found.

Questions:
1) What things could be listed among the “fruits of salvation”?

2) What other hymns do you like to use for closing a service?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but traditionally this hymn and its first half, ‘Lord Behold Us’, has been used in schools and colleges in Ireland for opening and closing terms and academic years for over a hundred years. Schools where I have taught in the ex-Colonies also still use it. We still sing it in September and June and every child who has gone through our doors since the early ’70s probably knows the ‘dismissing’ half by heart! Its odd though because we would only sing it in school, I’ve never heard it played in Church.

    • Interesting. Thanks for your input.


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