Posted by: rcottrill | October 12, 2015

We Sing the Boundless Praise

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Words: Joseph Cordner MacCaulay (b. _____, 1900; d. _____, 1982)
Music: Boundless Praise, by Harry Dixon Loes (b. Oct. 20, 1892; d. Feb. 9, 1965)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Harry Loes)
Hymnary.org

Note: Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dr. Macaulay served churches in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Wheaton Illinois. He was president of London College of Bible and Missions, in Ontario, and later was a faculty member of Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. He was an author and hymn writer of note, as well, not only of the texts but of the tunes for the songs. I can recall a time when he preached at my home church in Hamilton, Ontario, when I was a boy.

When Hope Publishing Company was compiling a new hymnal, in 1957, to be called the Worship and Service Hymnal, Macaulay wrote the words of We Sing the Boundless Praise, for the book. Says editor Donald Hustad, he did so, “in his desire to maintain the note of praise in modern evangelical hymnody.”

To say something is “boundless,” is to suggest it’s without distinguishable boundaries. In other words, it’s limitless or endless. But we need to consider whether that is actually so, or whether we’re talking simply about how it seems to us at the moment, and from our limited perspective.

For example, years ago, some may have thought there was an inexhaustible supply of fresh air and fresh water for all. But as earth’s population has increased, and our ways of carelessly polluting our environment have done likewise, we are suddenly confronted with the finiteness of these natural resources. There are limits.

It is only when considering the person of God that we find a subject that is truly measureless and boundless. The Westminister Catechism, from over three centuries ago, says it, with a flood of richly expressive adjectives, in response to the question: “What is God?” It answers:

“God is a Spirit, in and of Himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”

Each of these points can be supported from the words of Scripture. In time, God’s existence is boundless. “Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps. 90:2), and in space, His presence is likewise. “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You” (I Kgs. 8:27). In knowledge and power as well. “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5).

He is the I Am (Exod. 3:14), the uniquely self-sustaining One, existing in the eternal now. In a declaration of His deity, the Lord Jesus took this title to Himself (Jn. 8:58), adding to it other descriptive phrases, such as “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:48), and “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). Yet breathtaking though all this is, it merely scratches the surface. “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).

Not only is God infinite in all the qualities of His nature, but there is an infinity of infinites about Him. And if the greatness of God is, in all respects immeasurable, it stands to reason that the worship and praise directed to Him must be boundless too. Declarations of His infinite greatness will arise from His creation, not only for all time, but for an endless eternity as well. “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!” (Ps. 106:48).

That was the belief of Joseph Macaulay, and he expressed it well in the present hymn, a song which deserves wider use. It says in part:

1) We sing the boundless praise of Him who reigns on high,
And of his glorious Son, the Lamb who brought salvation nigh.
Thine everlasting pow’r and majesty we sing,
But with our songs of sov’reign grace we’ll make heav’n’s arches ring.

2) All hail! Redeemer, King, Thou Lamb of Calvary!
Let ransomed sinners sing Thy name through all eternity.
When stand the ransomed throng before the great I Am,
This shall their endless anthem be, “All worthy is the Lamb!”

Questions:
1) What are some of the infinite things about God that come to your mind?

2) Which of the things you listed above means the most to you personally, at this time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Harry Loes)
Hymnary.org


Responses

  1. A wonderful hymn that never “caught on.” I grew up with the Worship and Service Hymnal, and I don’t think we ever sang this hymn.

    • Great to hear from you again, Carol. And I think I was in the same boat. the Worship and Service Hymnal was the standard of its time. We used it in our church for years. But I’m not sure we ever sang that hymn! Or did rarely.


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