Posted by: rcottrill | March 25, 2015

Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

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Words: Unknown author, from the 6th to 9th century; English translation from the Latin original by John Mason Neale (b. Jan. 24, 1818; d. Aug. 6, 1886)
Music: Regent Square, by Henry Thomas Smart (b. Oct. 26, 1813; d. July 6, 1879)

Wordwise Hymns (John Neale)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The dating of the original is uncertain, and its authorship unknown. Neale’s 1851 English hymn comes from a longer Latin hymn entitled Urba Beata Hierusalem (Beautiful City, Jerusalem), with reference to the city of God, New Jerusalem, the heavenly city where the throne of God is. The opening line of the original was, “Blessed city, heavenly Salem [an early name for Jerusalem, Ps. 76:2].” Neale chose to begin with the fifth stanza (of nine) in the Latin version.

Henry Smart’s tune, Regent Square, is the one we traditionally use with the carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory.

CH-1) Christ is made the sure Foundation,
Christ the Head and Cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord, and precious,
Binding all the church in one,
Holy Zion’s help forever,
And her confidence alone.

The opening stanza of the hymn brings together a number of titles and descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Foundation (I Cor. 3:11), the Head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23), and the Cornerstone (Acts 4:11; cf. Matt. 21:42-44.) The entire church, including the saints in heaven and on earth, are bound together in Christ (Eph. 3:14-15).

It is in and through Christ that the heavenly Zion, also called “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22-23), and “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2), is being prepared as a dwelling place for the saints (Jn. 14:2-3). What all this preparation will include, we aren’t told. But we know the city will be precisely fitted for us in every respect.

CH-2) All that dedicated city,
Dearly loved of God on high,
In exultant jubilation,
Pours perpetual melody,
God the One in Three adoring
In glad hymns eternally.

Notice the reference to the Trinity in CH-2 (a theme that will be taken up more boldly in the final stanza). God is declared to be “the One in Three.” This was a direct contradiction of Arian heresy that troubled the early post-apostolic church. Arius (circa AD 250–336) contended that Christ is not God, but rather a creation of God, and thus inferior to Him. Athanasius ably defended Trinitarian doctrine and Arius was declared a heretic.

At this point, the hymn writer turns from his contemplation of the heavenly city, and represents the congregation of a local church calling upon the Lord for His blessing–“fullest blessing” now, followed by eternal blessing, reigning with Christ (cf. Rev. 5:9-10).

CH-3) To this temple, where we call Thee,
Come, O Lord of Hosts, today;
With Thy wonted lovingkindness
Hear Thy servants as they pray.
And Thy fullest benediction
Shed within its walls alway.

CH-4) Here vouchsafe to all Thy servants
What they ask of Thee to gain;
What they gain from Thee forever
With the blessèd to retain,
And hereafter in Thy glory
Evermore with Thee to reign.

Finally there is a benediction, reflecting in brief the declaration of the lengthy Athanasian Creed, which says, in part:

“We worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity; neither confusing the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost; the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Ghost uncreated; the Father infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Ghost infinite…”

CH-5) Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One;
Consubstantial, co-eternal,
While unending ages run.

“Consubstantial” is a theological term meaning that each Person of the one Triune Godhead has the same essence or nature. No Person of the Three is inferior to the others, but each is fully God and has all the attributes of deity.

1) Why would Satan raise up men such as Arius to deny the deity of Christ?

2) What is lost Christ is not fully Man and fully God?

Wordwise Hymns (John Neale)
The Cyber Hymnal


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