“How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119: 9-11)
My very favourite hymn is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” To hear a really beautiful rendition see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3w9nvXuVnk. I would sing this in church every Sunday if I could.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
The poetry is old; penned by Robert Robinson in 1757, and yet it is timeless. It is prayer; a longing for God to come give words to that for which no human words can ever be adequate, to say all that is held in the heart for God, thank you, praise you, bless you, I love you.
The tune familiar to me is Nettleton (same as in video link). Even the music reflects the heart’s desire to move ever-nearer to God. The notes, phrasing of lines 1 and 2 reach up, stretch out, like a hand reaching to grab hold of something (God) in the distance.
But not reaching quite far enough, they retract for an instant and then stretch out again, lines 3 and 4 (same notes, a little louder). But this time they grab hold of what they seek, and the singer rises…”teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above,” and words are found, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love!”
I have sung this hymn so many times in my life that I need only hear the first note and the whole of it comes flooding back, my heart sings, and in an instant there is peace for my soul. This peace is more than just a feeling brought on by memories or a sentimental song. It is deeper than that; like a spiritual synchronizing between me and the universe (okay, as weird as that may sound).
There are no words to describe it other than peace and joy. This hymn takes me home, to a place near God, where all those Sunday school lessons and scripture verses and loving people I remember and who have shaped my life are with me again; holy wonder. I am reminded of who I am, and whose I am, and that the whole of my life belongs to God.
And through baptism I belong to Christ, and that means something; it is Jesus who is the centre of my life, and when I wander away from him I am lost. God’s Word, Jesus the Risen Christ, is that song that lives in me and in us all, by the power of the Holy Spirit; a Living Word, God has placed within my heart. To treasure it, to treasure him, is sublime delight; to wade into the renewing waters of his grace, pure bliss…. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.”
AMEN, amen, amen