Sunday Hymn: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim

This hymn is an English rendering of Psalm 135:1-6. I love singing the Psalms, and this is perhaps one of the most fitting to begin a Lord’s Day worship service. The lyrics are as follows:

Exalt the Lord, His praise proclaim;
All ye His servants, praise His Name,
Who in the Lord’s house ever stand
And humbly serve at His command.
The Lord is good, His praise proclaim;
Since it is pleasant, praise His Name;
His people for His own He takes
And His peculiar treasure makes.

I know the Lord is high in state,
Above all gods our Lord is great;
The Lord performs what He decrees,
In heaven and earth, in depths and seas.
He makes the vapors to ascend
In clouds from earth’s remotest end;
The lightnings flash at His command,
He holds the tempest in His hand.

Exalt the Lord, His praise proclaim;
All ye His servants, praise His Name,
Who in the Lord’s house ever stand
And humbly serve at His command,
Forever praise and bless His Name,
And in the church His praise proclaim;
In Zion is His dwelling place;
Praise ye the Lord, show forth His grace.

And while I’m thinking about it, the hymn puts verse 6 this way: ‘The Lord performs what he decrees, in heav’n and earth, in depths and seas.’ Of all the sermons I’ve heard in my life, one of my favorites is John Piper’s sermon on that text called ‘The Pleasure of God in All That He Does.’ If you’d like to check it out, you can read it or listen (by all means listen) HERE. There’s also a newer version by Piper (not the exact one I loved so much) available on YouTube HERE.

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Sunday Hymn: Jesus, My Great High Priest

As is my Saturday custom, I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tonight. In it, speaking of ‘the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel,’ he quoted the words of this great hymn:

Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the Throne.

Jesus, My Great High Priest is another beauty from Isaac Watts. The tune, Bevan, is very easy to pick up. You can click the link HERE for the words and tune. You can find it in the Trinity Hymnal at number 306. Here are the lyrics:

Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the Throne.

To this dear Surety’s hand
Will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfills
His Father’s broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set;
My Surety paid the dreadful debt.

My Advocate appears
For my defense on high;
The Father bows his ears
And lays his thunder by.
Not all that hell or sin can say
Shall turn his heart, his love, away.

Should all the hosts of death
And pow’rs of hell unknown
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
His conqu’ring pow’r and guardian grace.

Sunday Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy

I am asked from time to time about my favorite hymns. I always list this one as number one (despite the fact that it is not written by Isaac Watts!). There is no greater joy for me than opening a Sunday service with this song. The tune and words are flawless in my book – they fit each other perfectly. The theology is glorious, biblical, and richly Trinitarian. If you don’t know it, now’s your time:

Sunday Hymn: There is a Fountain

The story of hymnwriter William Cowper is the stuff of legend. No less than G.K. Chesterton saw fit to devote a few paragraphs in Orthodoxy to lambast him because of Cowper’s well-known bouts with depression. (It was all Calvinism’s fault or course!). Cowper wrote hymns in order to fight for his sanity. So what if perhaps he went insane. As he did so he gave us hymns about the Lord Jesus Christ that have continued to minister to the sanity of other saints for generations.

It is the pain in Cowper’s life, and knowing of that pain, at least for me, that adds power to the beautiful words of so many of his hymns. Today I want to share one of my favorites. Plus, you can read about Cowper HERE. May we all, whether happy or sad, joyful or miserable, say with Cowper, ‘Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.’

Sunday Hymn: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

This past week I found myself studying the doctrine of the ‘eternal generation of the Son’ (you can read a couple of interesting articles on that HERE and HERE). I wasn’t introduced to that great doctrine until I took an elective course on the doctrine of the Trinity a few years ago. I somehow felt I had been robbed by not having learned about it sooner. There is beauty in it that I cannot describe. In light of that, this great hymn comes to mind, especially as we get closer to the Christmas season. In reference to the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Christ, the English translation begins with the words,

Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

It is one of those hymns that evokes Joy (of the C.S. Lewis variety) in me almost every time I hear it or sing it. You can also listen to a very interesting discussion about the ancient origins of the hymn, and its plainchant style, HERE. Enjoy:

Sunday Hymn: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want

All October I’ve been sharing hymns that came out of the Protestant Reformation (remember October 31st is Reformation Day!). This week I want to share a favorite from Scotland. This English rendering of Psalm 23 came out of the Scottish Reformation and appeared in the Scottish Psalter of 1650. Enjoy:

1. The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

2. My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.

3. Yea, tho’ I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

4. My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

5. Goodness and mercy, all my life,
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

FYI: The West Bromwich Albion Premier League football (soccer) team uses this hymn as a club anthem:

Sunday Hymn: A Mighty Fortress is Our God

As we get closer to October 31st, this is the one Martin Luther hymn we can’t miss. It is still one of my favorites. I can still remember hearing this song for the first time as a young Christian, whose introduction to church music involved mostly contemporary songs, and feeling as though I had entered another world; it was so unlike anything I had ever experienced. We sang it at my wedding. And not many days go by when I’m not singing it to myself. I can’t think of anything that goes better with an old fashion pipe organ either! Enjoy:

Sunday Hymn: From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee

Since it’s October, I am sharing hymns that came out of the Protestant Reformation (beginning October 31, 1517) in the 16th Century. From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee is an English rendering of Martin Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 130.

For the record, this is an amazing version of the song to sing congregationally; it is also relatively easy to play on a guitar. Here’s a video with the lyrics below:

From depths of woe I raise to Thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication;
If Thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before Thee?

To wash away the crimson stain,
Grace, grace alone availeth;
Our works, alas! are all in vain;
In much the best life faileth:
No man can glory in Thy sight,
All must alike confess Thy might,
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His Word
Upholds my fainting spirit:
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort, and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience.

What though I wait the livelong night,
And till the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in His might;
It doubteth not nor feareth:
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
And wait till God appeareth.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.
From all their sin and sorrow.

Sunday Hymn: I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art

It’s October, the time of year when convinced Protestants think of the events of October 31, 1517. So, this month, why not remember some hymns from the Reformation? I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art came out of Strasbourg in the mid-16th Century. It is believed to have been written, in French (Je Te Sa­lue Mon Cer­tain Re­demp­teur or Salutation à Jesus-Christ), by none other than John Calvin (though there is some question about his authorship). Enjoy: