Posted by: rcottrill | July 20, 2016

O Saviour, Precious Saviour

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Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Munich, a 1693 tune harmonized by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. Feb. 3, 1809; d. Nov. 4, 1847).

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Note: Miss Havergal put her faith in Christ in early childhood. She mastered several languages, and memorized most of the New Testament. An attractive woman, she received a number of marriage proposals, but chose to remain single. She authored many fine hymns, including Like a River Glorious, Take My Life and Let It Be, and Who Is on the Lord’s Side? The dedication to Christ expressed in many of her hymns was lived out in her daily life. It was her passion to win others to Christ, and encourage a deeper devotion to Him.

The last line of the first verse of this hymn seems to have been originally, “Our holy God and King.” It was likely changed to “Our holy Lord and King” to match the other stanzas. In that way the last four lines of each stanza could be printed as a repeated refrain. The tune of the present hymn (Munich) is also used with William Walsham How’s hymn O Word of God Incarnate. Produced in 1847, the music was one of the last pieces Mendelssohn worked on before his untimely death at the age of 38.

There are a number of possible reasons why something that exists cannot be seen. Some stars and planets in the heavens are too far away to be seen, except with a powerful telescope. Other things, such as the molecules that make up visible matter, are too small to be seen individually, except through an electron microscope.

Years ago, it was impossible to view something that was happening on the other side of the world. Until satellites and television shrank the world, people had to wait for the arrival of someone who had been there to find out about it. Or perhaps wait for a letter that would give them a written description. The journeys of Columbus, Drake, Hudson, Cabot, Cartier, and others, gave exciting accounts to Europeans of a “new world” far away.

The wind cannot be seen, but we can certainly observe its effects when it blows. In a way that’s similar to a whole host of human attitudes and emotions that are invisible until they affect behaviour. How we act, in a variety of situations, may demonstrate inner attitudes of love or anger, worry or wonder. It’s the same with covetousness or generosity.

The spirit world fits the category too–of things that are real but invisible. The holy angels and demons (evil angels) are at work around us, but we are not equipped to see them. Unless they choose to reveal their presence in some way, we must rely on the testimony of the Scriptures to learn about them. The Bible says God’s angels are spirits “sent forth the minister for [or serve] those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).

God is the supreme spirit Being, and invisible to us as well (I Tim. 1:17). In His spiritual essence, “no man has seen or can see” Him (I Tim. 6:16). But when God the Son came to earth, in His virgin-born humanity, He revealed God to us in a way we could better understand. “The Word [Christ] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).

However, we still have a problem today. The Lord was only on this earth in visible form for a few years. After His death and resurrection, He returned to heaven once more (Lk. 24:51). Now, though He promised to be with His followers in spirit (Matt. 28:20), He is seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Heb. 12:2).

The Lord recognized this problem, and spoke of it to a disciple. “”Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29). There is a special blessing for those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, in His absence. It’s the Spirit of God who reveals Him to us, through faith. Jesus said, “He will testify of Me….He will glorify Me” (Jn. 15:26; 16:14).

Peter recognizes the rejoicing this brings to the hearts of believers, speaking of:

“Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory….To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 1:7-8; 2:7).

Frances Ridley Havergal turned this into a beautiful hymn of worship in 1870.

CH-1) O Saviour, precious Saviour,
Whom yet unseen we love!
O name of might and favour,
All other names above!
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our holy God and King.

CH-3) In Thee all fullness dwelleth,
All grace and power divine;
The glory that excelleth,
O Son of God, is Thine;
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing:
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our glorious Lord and King.

1) Why is the Lord Jesus especially “precious” to you today?

2) Will this be any different to what we find especially precious about Him in heaven?

Wordwise Hymns
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