Posted by: rcottrill | June 20, 2019

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

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: John Newton (b. July 24, 1725; d. Dec. 21, 1807)
Music: All Saints Old, from Darmstadt Gesangbuch, 1698

Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune Regent Square, by Henry Smart (1813-1879) works with the present hymn too. This is the tune used for the carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory.

Some consider Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece, Citizen Kane, to be the greatest movie Hollywood ever produced. In it, among many gems of acting, staging and cinematography, there’s a famous scene depicting Charles Foster Kane having breakfast with his wife.

Using a montage of short clips, Welles shows the passage of time, and the increasing estrangement of the couple. In the first shot, Charlie kisses Emily good morning, and tells her he adores her. In the next there’s complaining, later comes criticism, then angry contradiction. And in the final scene, coldness. They sit at opposite ends of the table reading newspapers, and communication has ceased. It’s become a marriage in name only. (You can view the montage here.)

We have an expression for that: going through the motions. It means doing a thing without enthusiasm or personal commitment. Maybe even faking it, putting on an act as if something is real, when it’s not.

That can happen in a marriage. It can also happen in a local church. A church can have magnificent decor, robed choristers, perhaps a great pipe organ–or even an orchestra. It can have stirring rituals, candles, incense, and large numbers in attendance. But if those present aren’t doing business with the living Christ, if it’s all surface and no soul, all words and no holy wonder, then it’s an abomination to God.

That was true of a church described in the Bible–a church in the city of Laodicea, situated in what is modern day Turkey. The glorified Christ describes several things wrong with them.

1) One was their insensitive and prideful self-satisfaction. They were totally blind to their spiritual poverty. “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

2) Then there was their lukewarmness concerning service for God–about which He has searing criticism. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (vs. 15-16).

3) And finally, the Lord pictures Himself on the outside, looking in. They may have had fine music about Him, they may have read Scriptures about Him, they may have had rituals meant to represent Him, but He was not a living presence among them. Christ says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine [fellowship] with him, and he with Me” (vs. 20).

Expressing a stark contrast to this is a little known hymn by English clergyman John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, and many others. Published in 1774, his song Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder is a call for a depth of heartfelt passion that should regularly characterize our assemblies. We need divinely inspired love, songs from the heart, and awed wonderment at the greatness of our God.

The last lines of the hymn (in stanza 6) are sobering. They call attention to the weakness of our praise, even at our best. Congregations for which the singing of our great hymns has become a kind of meaningless ritual need to give Pastor Newton’s words careful thought.

Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

CH-1) Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Saviour’s name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

CH-2) Let us love the Lord who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

CH-3) Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

CH-4) Let us wonder, grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth….loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5).

1) What does it mean to “wonder,” (or have wonder) as John Newton uses the term?

2) How would you assess the hymn singing of your own church?

Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal


%d bloggers like this: