Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Watts on Wednesday: Hymn 37 -- Proclaim Unparalleled Love and Arm With Heavenly Zeal

In Ephesians 5:15-20, Paul exhorts the saints in Ephesus to be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Therein he gives them commands on ways in which one does waste the time, then gives positive examples of ways in which ought to use their hours in these evil, finite days. One of the major ways that Paul commands us to “redeem the time,” and work out our having been filled with the Spirit takes up the entirety of verse 19. Here he lists an expression of being filled with the Spirit as “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,...”

Many of us, unfortunately, only engage in this activity of worshipping God on Sunday morning or Saturday evening. “The time,” Paul refers too is ALL the time--everyday. Therefore we ought to be engaged in the activity of worship on a daily basis, not just in the other forms of worship the Bible refers to (reading the Word, taking care of widows and orphans, preaching the gospel to the lost, prayer, etc.), but also as commanded here in Ephesians--singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

With that in mind I am going to try something new here. Every Wednesday I am going to post one of my favorite hymns from Isaac Watts. I have been including “The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts” in my daily readings/worship time for awhile now and have found doing so to truly lift my heart in love for God. Here is one I read today that put a “perma-smile” on my face. Watts’s hymns are only numbered not titled, and this particular hymn comes in two parts. If I were to give the first part of this hymn a title it would be a rephrasing of the first line of the third verse--“Proclaim Unparalleled Love.” The second part of the the hymn I would make a separate hymn out of and would give it the title “Arm With Heavenly Zeal” which is taken from the second line of the second verse. The scripture references below each title are the same Watts has listed as his inspiration for the words of the hymn.

Read the lyrics slowly and be conscious of the presence of God as you do so, making them a song of praise to Him, even if your mind isn’t capable of generating a melody to go with the verses. Saying them out-loud is also a helpful way to really make the force of the lyrics come to life. I pray that you are as blessed by this practice as I have been, and that they cause you to see the diverse excellencies of God more clearly and so worship Him more appropriately and make “the best use of the time.”

Proclaim Unparalleled Love (Part I)
Phil. 2:8,9; Mark 15:20, 24, 29; Col 2:15

The mighty frame of glorious grace,
That bright monument of praise
That e’er the God of love design’d,
Employs and fills my lab’ring mind.

Begin, my soul, the heav’nly song,
A burden for an angel’s tongue:
When Gabriel sounds these awful things,
He tunes and summons all his strings.

Proclaim inimitable love:
Jesus, the Lord of worlds above,
Puts off the beams of bright array,
And veils the God in mortal clay!

What black reproach defil’d his name,
When with our sins he took our shame!
He whom adoring angels bless’d
Is made the impious rebel’s jest.

He that distributes crowns and thrones
Hangs on a tree, and bleeds, and groans!
The Prince of Life resigns his breath,
the King of Glory bows to death!

But see the wonders of his power,
He triumphs in his dying hour;
And while by Satan’s rage he fell,
He dash’d the rising hopes of hell.

Thus were the hosts of death subdued,
And sin was drown’d in Jesus blood;
Thus he arose, and reigns above,
And conquers sinners by his love.

Who shall fulfil this boundless song?
The theme surmounts an angel’s tongue:
How low, how vain are mortal airs,
When Gabriel’s nobler harp despairs!

Arm With Heavenly Zeal (Part II)
Matt 5:16

Do I believe what Jesus saith,
And think his gospel true?
Lord, make me bold to own my faith,
And practise virtue too.

Suppress my shame, subdue my fear,
Arm me with heav’nly zeal,
That I may make thy power appear,
And works of praise fulfil.

If men shall see my virtue shine,
And spread my name abroad,
Thine is the power, the praise is thine,
My Saviour and my God!

Thus when the saints in glory meet,
Their lips proclaim thy grace;
They cast their honours at thy feet,
And own their borrow’d rays.

Are we the soldiers of the cross?
The followers of the Lamb?
And shall we fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?

Now must we fight if we would reign
Increase our courage Lord!
We’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they’re slain;
They see the triumph from afar,
And shall with Jesus reign.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thy armies shine
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.