Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spiritual Songs (Part 7 of 8)

“Arise My Soul Arise” by Charles Wesley

Arise, my soul, arise, (Ps.42:5,6,11)
shake off your guilty fears: (Ro.3:19-26)
the bleeding Sacrifice
in my behalf appears: (Heb.9:11)
before the throne my Surety stands,
before the throne my Surety stands, (Heb.7:22, 12:2)
my name is written on his hands. (John 10:28-29)

He ever lives above,
for me to intercede, (Heb.7:25)
his all-redeeming love,
his precious blood to plead; (Micah 7:9)
his blood atoned for ev’ry race,
his blood atoned for ev’ry race,
and sprinkles now the throne of grace. (Heb.9; I John 2:2)

Five bleeding wounds he bears,
received on Calvary;
they pour effectual prayers,
they strongly plead for me.
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“nor let that ransomed sinner die!” (Heb.7:26-27)

My God is reconciled; (II Cor.5:18-20; Eph.2:16; Col.1:20-21)
his pard’ning voice I hear;
he owns me for his child, (Heb.2:10-12)
I can no longer fear; (Ro.8:1,15)
with confidence I now draw nigh,
with confidence I now draw nigh, (Heb.10:22)
and “Father, Abba, Father!” cry. (Ro.8:15; Gal.4:6)

Just reading the lyrics gives you the sense of depth and strength of the doctrine within this great hymn.  While the Wesley’s may fall out of favor to the Reformed community, Charles’ lyrics truly plumb the depths of biblical truth.  Notice the lack of direct biblical quotations.  Some think this necessary for excellent hymnody, however wise, proper, and effective use of biblical allusion beats mindless copying from scripture, especially if used out of context.  From the Psalms to the book of Hebrews, this song alludes to the breadth of the Bible.  It speaks the bloody necessity of Christ’s death to satisfy God’s wrath for our sin.  It declares our freedom from sin’s guilt.  It demonstrates the love of God and His acceptance of our person before the throne of grace.

For another example, let us look at another example of great hymnody.

“God Is Known among His People” in The Psalter, 1912

This is Psalm 76 versified and put to music.  Sometimes great hymnody plagiarizes from the inspired hymnbook of the Old Testament saints.  Because we live in after the work of Jesus, we must understand these words in the context of Christ.  “[W]hile to save the meek and lowly God in judgment wrought his will,” we understand as a reference to the person and work of Jesus.  Notice the contrast between God’s care of His people and anger against their enemies.

Finally, we move to a different era of time.

“In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

I include this rare example of modern hymnody to show that the best hymnody does not remain in the past.  It even can be performed by the Newsboys.  Notice the balance between the love of God and wrath of God in verse two.  This hymn takes you through the person and work of Christ and applies it to how Christians ought to live in response to all that He has done.

(Continued next week)

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