Posted by: rcottrill | February 3, 2017

Ancient of Days

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Words: William Croswell Doane (b. Mar. 2, 1832; d. May 17, 1913)
Music: Albany, by John Albert Jeffery (b. Oct. 26, 1855; d. June 4, 1929)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: William Doane was the son of hymn writer George Washington Doane, who gave us Softly Now the Light of Day, and Fling Out the Banner. William Doane became the Episcopal Bishop of Albany, New York. He wrote the present song to be sung at the city’s bi-centennial. William Croswell Doane should not be confused with William Howard Doane (1832-1915) who wrote the tunes for many of Fanny Crosby’s gospel songs.

There are many fine Trinitarian hymns, such as: Reginald Heber’s familiar Holy, Holy, Holy, and Elizabeth Charles’s Praise Ye the Triune God. Another is Doane’s. It has been praised by historians, though I don’t believe it belongs in quite the high rank of the other two mentioned. The title “Ancient of Days” (from Dan. 7:9, 13, 22) refers to the eternal Father.

There’s a word game called Taboo, which the inventors describe as “the game of unspeakable fun.” One player draws a card and tries to get teammates to say the key word that’s on it. But he is not allowed to say any form of the word, and there are other related words that are “taboo” as well, as well as related hand actions and sound effects.

Suppose the word is EGG. The card prohibits using words such as: scramble, yolk, chicken, bacon, and breakfast. No hand motions or sounds (clucking like a chicken) can be used, either. You might try saying: hatch, Easter, or nog.

While the game can be great fun, it’s also a reminder of the importance of words. We need them, and we have lots of them. The unabridged Oxford Dictionary (in twenty volumes) currently contains definitions for 171,476 English words. And if there isn’t a word for something, we invent one, and the dictionaries will add it later.

Long before television sets were found in our homes, they were the province of science fiction, and scientific theories. In the nineteenth century, they spoke of having telephote and televista. The word television was apparently used first in a scientific paper, around 1900. It combines two Greek words: tele (far), and visio (seeing). The short-form TV came along in the 1940’s.

The English Bible is made up of words–783,137 of them, in the King James Version. These are, in turn, translations of words in the original Hebrew (with some Aramaic) and Greek texts. And whenever we move from one language to another there can be complications. For example, the Bible speaks of Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29). But the first Christian missionaries to the Inuit in the far north had a problem. The people there had never seen a lamb, and didn’t know what it was. Calling Jesus “the Seal of God,” as they did, at least conveyed the idea of innocence to them.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of familiarity, is the word “God.” Virtually every religion speaks of a deity of some kind. But that does not mean all religions identify the same one. Jehovah God of the Bible, the one Supreme Being who created all things and rules over all, says,

“There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides Me” (Isa. 45:21). “The LORD [translating Jehovah, or Yahweh] is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer. 10:10).

One of the things that distinguishes the one true God is His tri-unity. The Bible is adamant that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4). Even the demons accept that, and tremble in terror of Him (Jas. 2:19). Yet there are three distinct and co-equal persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each has His own distinct but fully harmonious ministry in the Godhead, and is worthy of equal honour (cf. Jn. 5:23).

Though the word Trinity is not found in the New King James Version of the Bible, the concept certainly can be defended from Scripture. We say, therefore, that God is a Trinity, a term borrowed from the Latin trinitatem. A denial of orthodox teaching in this regard is heresy. From its earliest times, the church has defended the full deity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

All three Persons were active at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:13-17), and the later baptismal formula invokes the authority of all three Persons: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). God’s blessing is pronounced in the name of all three: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (II Cor. 13:14).

As with other hymns dealing with the Trinity, succeeding stanzas of Doane’s hymn worship and praise, in turn, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Here are two stanzas.

CH-1) Ancient of Days, who sittest throned in glory,
To Thee all knees are bent, all voices pray;
Thy love has blessed the wide world’s wondrous story
With light and life since Eden’s dawning day.

CH-5) O Triune God, with heart and voice adoring,
Praise we the goodness that doth crown our days;
Pray we that Thou wilt hear us, still imploring
Thy love and favour kept to us always.

1) Why is the teaching of one God in three Persons difficult to understand?

2) What is the best explanation or illustration of the Trinity you have found?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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