Posted by: rcottrill | July 28, 2017

We Give Thee Thanks, O God

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Robert Marshall Offord (b. Sept. 17, 1846; d. Jan. 30, 1924)
Music: Federal Street, by Henry Kemble Oliver (b. Nov. 24, 1800; d. Aug. 12, 1885)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Robert Offord)
Hymnary.org

Note: Robert Offord was born in England, but later emigrated to the United States. There, for a time, he became editor of the New York Observer newspaper, a paper now owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law. Offord also became a pastor and wrote many hymns. Among them is this song of thanksgiving. The tune, Federal Street, is used also with the hymn Ashamed of Jesus.

Of hymns in general Pastor Offord said:

“I have a great fondness for hymns. Who will say that we shall not sing new versions of Rock of Ages and many other grand old earth melodies in heaven?”

We must not, I think, be too quick to dismiss Offord’s idea here, as though the great hymns of the faith will not be worth singing again when we get to Glory. The Apostle John saw saints in heaven singing “the Song of Moses” (Rev. 15:3–perhaps Exodus 15:1-18, about Israel’s triumph at the Red Sea). It could be that, in remembrance of God’s redeeming work, we’ll sing again together Amazing Grace, and other wonderful songs.

It was American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who spoke of “self-made men,” in a speech first given in 1859. But is there such a thing?

Douglass said these are “men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited, or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any of the favouring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results.” Douglass also discredited luck. For him, men are self-made by working hard and making something of themselves, virtually to no one else’s credit.

Frederick Douglass was a great man. He’s been called the most influential African-American of the nineteenth century. That being acknowledged, this idea is nonsense. There are no self-made men or women. As poet John Donne wrote, about two centuries before Douglass’s time, “No man is an island entire of itself”–even to the point that, Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Someone was responsible for our birth and nurture, for our growth of knowledge, and the formation of our view of life. We each had teachers and role models of one kind or another. Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli,” raised in the jungle by wolves, is fictional, but even there the young man’s incredible skills in hunting and tracking are credited to the wolves among which he lived.

In all likelihood we have many people to thank for what we have become and what we have achieved. Even negative influences are capable of bringing about a positive result, or of being turned to a good purpose. And that spirit of thankfulness is in itself an admission that others have had a part in the story of our lives.

There is One to whom we should be grateful above all others, and that is God. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts. 17:28), and “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17; cf. Matt. 5:45). Ingratitude to Him is thus a serious sin. Included in the horrendous moral collapse described in Romans 1:18-32, we find, “They did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (vs. 21). And in describing the “perilous times” coming in the last days unthankfulness is highlighted (II Tim. 3:2).

This actually began in Eden, though the word is not used. Adam and Eve became dissatisfied with the great abundance God had provided (Gen. 2:16). They believed the serpent’s (Satan’s) lie that the Lord was holding out on them, and that if they ate of the fruit of the one tree forbidden to them (vs. 17), they would become “like God” (Gen. 3:4-5). In effect they would no longer need God, but would become a self-made man and woman.

As the Word of God exhorted Old Testament Israel to be thankful (Ps. 100:4), so the same exhortation is given to Christians (Col. 3:15). “In everything [in all circumstances] give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18). There’s an element of faith in this. That even in trying and difficult situations we are able to lift up praise to God, because we believe He’s still in control, and will bring out of our trials His own good and perfect will.

1) We give Thee thanks, O God, this day,
For mercies never failing:
Thy love hath brought us on our way
For all our wants availing.

4) The seasons come, the seasons go,
But each shall find us singing;
For each shall greet us, well we know,
New favours from Thee bringing.

5) Through endless years Thou art the same,
Thy mercy changes never;
Then blessed be Thy mighty name
Forever and forever.

Questions:
1) Why are we able to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God, not only in seasons of joy and blessing, but when trials and difficulties come upon us?

2) What are three blessings you are enjoying today for which you can thank the Lord?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Robert Offord)
Hymnary.org


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