Posted by: rcottrill | July 12, 2017

He Was Found Worthy

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Words: (source unknown)
Music: and old melody of unknown origin, arranged in 1946 by Charles Frederick Weigle (b. Nov. 20, 1871; d. Dec. 3:1966)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)

Note: In the nineteenth century, this song appeared. It’s origin is unknown. It sounds very much like it might have been a spiritual, an old slave song passed on orally over the years. The words are simple, yet profound and powerful. One version I saw has six stanzas, another uses only four. The information in is confusing. They credit someone named J. J. Smith as the author of the words, yet the printed version they include says the text is anonymous.

I went to YouTube to see if I could find an audio version there. A recording labeled “1960’s Jamaica gospel,” utterly appalled me. The singers hurried through the song, using a bouncy rinky-tink rhythm. Please! This is a song that should be rendered slowly and quietly, with a deep sense of awe and reverence.

Yes, there is joy in recognition of Christ’s worth. But “Oh, the bleeding Lamb!” (three times repeated) is an exclamation anguished adoration. That He would give His life upon the cross to ransom and rescue sinners from eternal condemnation should humble and hush our hearts before Him. Weigle had the right idea. In his arrangement he uses a fermata (a sustained note) three times, and calls for a retardondo, a gradual slowing of the tempo further, near the end.

The bruised head and heel mentioned in the second stanza is an early prophecy of Christ’s defeat of Satan (Gen. 3:15). Where Adam failed, Christ succeeded, and was victorious over the devil.

It’s a word in use seven centuries ago, but in Old English it was weorþful, which includes a letter called a thorn (þ), later replaced with th. But what does worthful (or worthy) mean? It describes a person who has sufficient character, merit, or ability to be deserving of some position, or be assigned some task.

Worthiness can also be attributed to individuals after the fact. In the early fourteenth century, Nine Worthies were selected from history, men who were deemed to be of exceptional character, courage and chivalry: three pagans (the Trojan warrior Hector, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar), three Israelites (Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabeus–from the time between the Testaments) and three professing allegiance to Christ (King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon).

A determination of worthiness also becomes a factor in more contemporary situations. When we vote for one candidate over another in an election, we are assigning worthiness. Whether this assessment proves to be justified by the words and actions of the individual in office, time will tell.

The same process takes place when a corporation hires a new employee. Resumés are received, references are contacted, and interviews are conducted, to determine who is worthy of taking the position. Something similar happens when researchers examine various products and brands being sold. For example, how is the title “car of the year” awarded. Specifications are checked, and car warranties, mileage claims, consumer satisfaction, and so on.

Worthiness is spoken of many times in the Bible. It becomes particularly significant in the Apostle John’s visions of future things recorded in the book of Revelation. John sees, in his vision, that God, on His heavenly throne, is holding a scroll sealed with seven seals (5:1). Scrolls of this kind were used as title deeds in the purchase of land. The agreement was written out, the scroll rolled up, and sealed with official seals (cf. Jer. 32:6-12).

In this case, the scroll is likely the title deed to the whole earth. And an angel asks the question, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?” (vs. 2). Who is qualified to claim sovereignty over the earth? At first, no one seems to meet the requirements, at which John is greatly upset (vs. 3-4).

But then, one of those around the throne says, ““Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root [or shoot] of David, has prevailed [conquered] to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (vs. 5)–both titles identifying Christ, who was from the tribe of Judah, and came from David’s family line (Matt. 1:1; cf. Rev. 22:16).

When Christ appears in John’s vision it is as “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (5:6). This image recalls the day when Christ is introduced by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). As Conqueror over sin, death and the grave, He receives the scroll and heaven rejoices (Rev. 5:7-10). Their song is:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (vs. 9).

1) When none was found to ransom me,
He was found worthy;
To set a world of sinners free,
He was found worthy.

Oh, the bleeding Lamb!
Oh, the bleeding lamb!
Oh, the bleeding Lamb!
He was found worthy.

2) To take the book and loose the seal,
He was found worthy;
To bruise the head that bruised His heel,
He was found worthy.

1) Do you agree that this song should be sung with quiet reverence?

2) Why did God provide for our salvation?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)


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