Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)

Henry Francis Lyte

The other night, we were in church listening to the usual worship songs. It’s a non-denominational church, so it was light on the hymns and heavy on the more contemporary stuff, as you can imagine. I’ve made my peace with “worship music,” understanding that not everyone loves 300 year old hymns, and that’s ok. But the band began to play a song that I had never heard before, and the text and the melody immediately caught my attention. The melody was beautiful, simple, and so singable, but it was the text that really stood out.

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and Heaven are still mine own.

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, Abba, Father; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What a Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Certain lines from the text stayed in my head all night and into the next day, when I finally had a moment to sit down and search for the author. Turns out, Henry Francis Lyte (who, I am ashamed to admit, I’ve never heard of!) also wrote the text for two other well-loved and often-sung hymns–Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven and Abide With Me.

If you have a moment, give these a listen.

For more info on Lyte, here are some sources.

Look Father, look on his anointed face

In the Sunday Forum (10/16/11) we talked about the glory of God in the face of God; glory beyond human capacity to assimilate. Mose could only see the backside of God and live (Exodus 33:20-23). David remembered a hymn in which we sing our prayer to God to see the face of Christ when looking upon us (see verse 2). Glory looking upon Glory. Isn’t that a prayer worth singing?

And now, O Father, mindful of the love
that bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree,
and having with us him that pleads above,
we here present, we here spread forth to thee,
that only offering perfect in thine eyes,
the one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

Look Father, look on his anointed face,
and only look on us as found in him;
look not on our misusings of thy grace,
our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
for lo! between our sins and their reward,
we set the passion of thy Son our Lord.

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
by this prevailing presence we appeal;
O fold them closer to thy mercyís breast!
O do thine utmost for their soulís true weal!
From tainting mischief keep them pure and clear,
and crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.

And so we come; O draw us to thy feet,
most patient Savior, who canst love us still!
And by this food, so awesome and so sweet,
deliver us from every touch of ill:
in thine own service make us glad and free,
and grant us nevermore to part from thee.

Words: William Bright (1824–1901), alt.
Music: Unde et memores, William Henry Monk (1823–1889)

This is Hymn 337 in the Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church. Lately we have talked a lot about hymns and their role in shaping and defining and encouraging our faith; check these out:

Please continue the conversation begun on Sunday by leaving a comment to share. We welcome your responses.

Then sings my soul …

Over the past several weeks we have talked about music in the Sunday Morning Forum. We have shared how words and music combined in hymns to thrill us, inform us, inspire us, encourage us, and so much more. In the Forum and in this blog I’ll continue to share your musical insights.

Richard wrote to me “It’s true there is a huge amount of power in music. I have several favorites. My first choice would have to be “How Great Thou Art”. When ever I hear it I feel completely at one with the Universe and it’s celebration which never ends.” How Great Thou Art is in our Episcopal hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing II (No. 60)

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Send him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God how great thou art.

Words: Stuart K. Hine (b. 1899)
Music: Swedish Folk Melod; arr. Stuart K. Hine

Keep sharing your favorites (add a little note about why) and we’ll keep this conversation going. The Spirit is singing now!

Words or music? Music or words?

Sometimes the melody is all it takes to move my heart into the heart of God (or God’s heart into mine). Though I love to sing the words of this hymn and make them real by my actions, it is the melody which both embraces me and sends me heavenward.

Continuing the conversation begun on Sunday (9/25) “Be thou my vision” is the song I share today:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
all else be nought to me, save that thou art;
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father; thine own may I be;
thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

High King of heaven, when victory is won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Hymn 488 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982

Words: Irish, ca. 700; versified Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880–1931); tr. Eleanor H. Hull (1860–1935), alt.

Music: Slane, Irish ballad melody; adapt. The Church Hymnary, 1927; harm. David Evans (1874–1948)


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