Posted by: rcottrill | September 6, 2017

As the Deer

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

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: a meditation on Psalm 42:1 by Martin L. Nystrom (b. Oct. 17, 1956, some erroneously have 1957)
Music: Martin L. Nystrom

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Martin Nystrom)

Note: has more detail on Nystrom’s biography. His is a popular contemporary version of the opening of Psalm 42. A longer, metrical version of the psalm from 1562 is As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams.

Thirst. It’s something we’re familiar with. On a hot day, or after physical exertion, our mouth is dry, and we may even feel a little light-headed, or find our muscles cramping. We want and need something to drink.

The body’s thirst monitor in the brain is the hypothalamus, an organ that also regulates such things as body temperature, sleep, and appetite. When sodium levels in the body are high–for example, after we eat a salty snack–the message is sent out that we need to drink something. The same thing happens when blood pressure drops to a low level (suggesting a lack of fluids in the body).

Surprisingly, this sensitivity decreases with advancing age, sometimes to the point where the individual loses the sense of thirst completely. Or, the opposite can happen. Certain diseases or conditions cause an extreme and uncontrollable thirst.

The word “thirst” itself has been around for centuries, and it’s been used since the early thirteenth century, not only of a physical craving, but of emotional desires as well. With reference to the emotions, thirst describes an ardent desire, a yearning, a craving or passion for someone or something. A person may thirst in this way for knowledge, or for truth. Or strongly desire the presence and affection of another individual. When the latter is not controlled by dependence on God and moral convictions it can become sinful lust.

The Bible uses the word thirst many times. Sometimes a physical thirst is in view. The Israelites thirsted for water in their journey through the wilderness (Exod. 17:3). The Lord Jesus thirsted during His agony on the cross (Jn. 19:28). And in describing the hardships of his missionary work, the Apostle Paul spoke of being “in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst” (II Cor. 11:27).

But the thirst God’s Word describes as more significant is emotional and spiritual. In warning of coming judgment on Israel, the Lord says, “I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). And in the Beatitudes, Christ says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6).

In John’s Gospel, we learn that eternal life comes through a spiritual birth, which is an inner work of the Holy Spirit, a ministry symbolized by water. Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14). And later, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (Jn. 7:37; cf. Isa. 44:3).

In Psalms, David uses thirst as poetic imagery to express his intense longing for fellowship with God.

“Early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1).

“As the deer pants for the water brooks [perhaps as it flees from a hunter], so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2).

It is these last verses that Martin Nystrom turned into a hymn in 1984. A Seattle school teacher in his mid-twenties, Marty enrolled in a six-week summer course in Dallas, chiefly so he could get to know a girl who was also taking the course. However, things didn’t work out romantically with her, and he was heart-broken and discouraged. It was then, after a period of fasting and prayer, he said, “My spirit became more and more hungry for communion with God.”

Sitting at the piano with this heart desire, he wrote a musical setting for Psalm 42:1. Ten years later he was thrilled to hear a gathering of 100,000 believers in Seoul, Korea, sing his song, which begins:

As the deer panteth for the water,
So my soul longeth after You.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship You.

Significantly, given Nystrom’s prior romantic disappointment, the second stanza of his hymn says, “I love You more than any other,” and, in the final stanza, “only You can satisfy.”

1) Do you have a deep thirst or hunger for God, and His Word?

2) If you do, how does it express itself? (If you don’t, what might be the reason?)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Martin Nystrom)


%d bloggers like this: