Posted by: rcottrill | March 28, 2014

Revive Thy Work, O Lord

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Words: Albert Midlane (b. Jan. 23, 1825; d. Feb. 27, 1909)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune I’m most familiar with for this hymn is an unnamed one by James McGranahan. It is used in a number of hymn books, including the Worship and Service Hymnal, and Living Hymns. McGranahan’s tune includes a refrain, adapted from CH-5, which then is not used.

Revive! Revive!
And give refreshing showers;
The glory shall be all Thine own;
The blessing shall be ours.

The Cyber Hymnal suggests two other tunes for the hymn, and there is a fourth that is used by still others. The latter is called Swabia, after the birthplace of the composer, Johann Martin Spiess (1715-1772). (Swabia was a territory in the south of Germany.)

The author of the 1858 text, Albert Midlane, lived on the Isle of Wight, an island in the English Channel, off the coast of England. Mr. Midlane credits a Sunday School teacher, with encouraging him to write hymns–and he went on to write hundreds of them.

T his particular hymn was based on the prayer of the prophet Habakkuk for the people of Judah. His prayer was for the Lord to show His delivering power, as they faced the threat of an attack by the Chaldeans.

“O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2).

It’s not difficult to see a secondary application of this prayer to the spiritual condition of the church–whether, like the church at Ephesus, we have “left our first love” (Rev. 2:4), and there isn’t the warmth of loving fellowship there once was (cf. Eph. 1:15). Or, we have compromised with those who teach error, like the church at Pergamos (Rev. 2:14-15). Or perhaps we have grown cold and self-satisfied, like the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:15-17).

In all such cases, and others too, there is a need for spiritual renewal and revival. With the Apostle Paul we cry, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” Eph. 5:14). Revival, narrowly defined, involves the repentance and restoration of born again believers who have strayed, grown cold, and allowed worldliness and carnality to get a grip on their lives (cf. I Cor. 3:1-3). Though conversions often accompany a widespread revival, it’s the church–made up of those already saved–that first experiences the revitalization of the Spirit of God.

CH-1) Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Thy mighty arm make bare;
Speak with the voice that wakes the dead,
And make Thy people hear.

CH-2) Revive Thy work, O Lord,
Disturb this sleep of death;
Quicken the smold’ring embers now
By Thine almighty breath.

As the psalmist cries, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps. 85:6). When that happens to an individual, or to a community of believers, several things will be in evidence. Among them will be:

¤ A repentance of sin, and a new desire to live holy lives
¤ A renewed love for the Lord, and a longing to know Him and serve Him
¤ An increase and deepening of the study and application of God’s Word
¤ A love for the people of God and a desire to fellowship regularly with them
¤ A new earnestness and power in prevailing prayer
¤ A love for the great hymns and gospel songs of the church, and for singing them with others
¤ A greater passion to witness for Christ, and see others come to know Him

CH-3) Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Create soul-thirst for Thee;
And hungering for the bread of life
O may our spirits be.

CH-4) Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Exalt Thy precious name;
And, by the Holy Ghost, our love
For Thee and Thine inflame.

1) If the above are evidences of a spiritual renewal, what are the opposites–that is, the evidence that one is needed?

2) Is there, in your life, evidence that you need spiritual renewal? What will you do about it?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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