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Words: Johann Franck (b. June 1, 1618; d. June 18, 1677); English translation by Catherine Winkworth (b. Sept. 13, 1827; d. July 1, 1878)
Music: Jesu, Meine Freude, found in Praxis Pietatis Melica, 1653; harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach (b. Mar. 21, 1685; d. July 28, 1750)
Note: Johann Franck was a lawyer in Germany. After his father died, when he was only two years old, Franck was adopted by an uncle who served as a judge. In that environment, his interest in the law blossomed. During his lifetime, the Thirty Years War raged in Europe. From university, Franck returned to his home town of Guben, at his widowed mother’s request. Their town was a hot spot in the war, and frequently ravaged by Saxon and Swedish troops. There he pursued his legal profession. Franck also wrote a number of hymns, including this one, written in 1653. (What I’ve designated as the fourth stanza is different from that in the Cyber Hymnal.)
CH-1) Jesus, priceless treasure, Source of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee, naught I ask beside Thee.
From time to time we hear of a piece of art selling for a million dollars or more. The works of the masters–Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn and others–are great treasures. But there are other things that are valued beyond price. Personal things, though perhaps these may seem mundane to some. That family photo album, lost in a house fire, that stolen memento of lovers’ meeting. Priceless.
In the Word of God, there are quite a number of things that are spoken of as being of special worth. In Proverbs 31:8-31, the author describes “a virtuous wife” (a woman of noble character) and says “her worth is far above rubies” (vs. 10). Job declares the same thing concerning godly wisdom (Job 28:10), and says its foundation is “the fear [reverence] of the Lord” (vs. 28).
The Lord Jesus tells His listeners that one’s eternal soul is of more value that all the world’s wealth. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36).
The Apostle Peter has a word that he uses a number of times that relates to our theme. It’s the word “precious.” It identifies something that is (or should be) held in high honour and esteem. That is how he rates the promises of God (II Pet. 1:4). Since He is a God of truth, and cannot lie, and since He has all the power necessary to fulfil His Word, His promises to us are of incredible worth. Also our faith as “more precious than gold” (I Pet. 1:7; II Pet. 1:1). In sovereign grace, God has given us the power to trust in Him and be saved. That’s precious indeed!
Peter uses his word again with reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is precious in His person: “to you who believe He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). Then there is the incredible value of His provision for lost sinners: we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19). Since the sacrifice of Christ has the power to cleanse from sin all who believe on Him (Jn. 3:16; I Jn. 2:2), it fully qualifies as that which is beyond price.
CH-2) In Thine arms I rest me; foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking, every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me, Jesus will not fail me.
4) Hence, all earthly treasure! Jesus is my pleasure;
Jesus is my choice.
Hence, all empty glory! What to me thy story
Told with tempting voice?
Pain or loss or shame or cross
Shall not from my Saviour move me, since He chose to love me.
CH-5) Hence, all thought of sadness, for the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father, though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within;
Yea, whatever we here must bear,
Still in Thee lies purest pleasure, Jesus, priceless treasure!
1) What are some of the things you value most in life?
2) What evidence is there in your daily conduct that you prize Christ, and your relationship with Him, above all else?