Posted by: rcottrill | September 22, 2017

O Lord, How Full of Sweet Content

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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: Jeanne Marie Bouvières de la Mothe Guyon (b. Apr. 16, 1648; d. June 9, 1717); English translation, William Cowper (b. Nov. 15, 1731; d. Apr. 25, 1800)
Music: Hamburg, by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; d. Aug. 11, 1872)

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

Note: Madame Guyon, was a Roman Catholic mystic who taught the philosophy of Quietism. Quietism proposes that the indwelling Holy Spirit is able to impart added truth beyond the Bible. But most orthodox Christians reject the possibility of divinely inspired truth beyond the Scriptures (Rev. 22:18). Rather, they believe the work of the Spirit of God is to illuminate the Word of God and give us an understanding of what He has already revealed (Jn. 14:26).

Guyon was often condemned and ostracized for her views, even by the church she espoused, and she spent time in prison. But hymn writer William Cowper thought enough of the present hymn to translate it into English. Hamburg is a tune often used with When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

The air we breathe is pretty much available to us everywhere on the planet–though the quality of that air isn’t always the best. Especially in our major cities, and near various industrial facilities, the smog can be suffocating.

Earth’s atmosphere is about three hundred miles thick (480 kms), but most of it is concentrated in the ten miles immediately above the ground, and not even all of that is habitable by human beings. Altitude sickness, and serious health problems can develop beyond about one and a half miles (1 km) above sea level. This is why mountain climbers must supplement their oxygen at extreme heights.

However, it’s possible to adapt, over time, to living and working even higher. There is a gold mine and a settlement housing thousands of workers about three miles (4.8 kms) up in the Peruvian Andes. That’s the highest inhabited location on earth, a forbidding place of barren rock and bitter cold, but they have air enough to live.

If the air we breathe is virtually present everywhere, God is even more so. Theologians have a word for it, calling it God’s omnipresence. And whereas the atmosphere is simply diffused across the surface of the earth, so that part of it is here, and part of it is there, the Lord is unique in being fully present everywhere. All of God is where I am, and equally all of God is where you are.

“‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jer. 23:24).

“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool” (Isa. 66:1).

And when Jacob dreamed a strange dream about the presence of God and holy angels, he was filled with the wonder of it and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16).

There is a warning in this for those who would do evil. God sees and knows all that we do. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” asks David. “If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol [the grave], behold, You are there” (Ps. 139:7-8, NASB).

But the nearness of God can bring assurance to those who love and serve Him. To them the Lord says, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper’” (Heb. 13:5-6).

Our differences with Madame Guyon’s beliefs being recognized, her hymn, My Lord, How Full of Sweet Content (or O Lord, How Full of Sweet Content), touches on a area of truth for which we find full biblical support–that the presence of God is a reality in the believer’s life, wherever we go. Though we may part from friends and family, we have the Lord’s promise, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

CH-1) My Lord, how full of sweet content;
I pass my years of banishment!
Where’er I dwell, I dwell with Thee,
In heaven, in earth, or on the sea.

CH-2) To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.

CH-4) Could I be cast where Thou are not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot:
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.

Questions:
1) When is the last time, in a trying situation, you were particularly aware of the presence of God?

2) How does an awareness of the presence of God change your attitudes and actions?

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


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