For the last couple of days, I’ve been reading through J.I. Packer’s, Knowing God. First of all, I can’t believe I’ve never read this! Anyway, I’m on the chapter talking about God’s Grace, and Packer starts quoting hymns left and right. He starts with an Isaac Watts hymn.
- But there’s a voice of princely grace
- Sounds from God’s holy Word;
- Ho! ye poor captive sinners, come,
- And trust upon the Lord.
- My soul obeys the sovereign call,
- And runs to this relief;
- I would believe thy promise, Lord,
- Oh, help my unbelief
- To the blest fountain of thy blood,
- Incarnate God, I fly,
- To wash my soul from scarlet stains,
- And sins of deepest dye.
- A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
- Into thy hands I fall;
- Thou art the Lord, my righteousness,
- My Savior, and my all
Where is this in the hymnal! Matter of fact, when I did a google search of these lyrics, the chapter I’m reading was the first result! To save on space, I won’t type the rest of them in, but there are several wonderful hymns that are no where to be found. Here’s what Packer has to say at the end of his chapter.
“No apology is needed for drawing so freely on our rich heritage of “free grace hymns” (poorly represented, alas, in most standard hymnbooks of the twentieth century); for they make our points more piercingly than prose could ever do.
I’ve got to go, but more thought is definitely needed on how the hymnal as it is today came to be, and what other gems are out there waiting to be rediscovered.
(editorial note: see the music section for my solution to this article)