Some Favorite Hymn Lines

In this Advent season of deep reflection, repentance, and preparation, so many hymns enter my spirit. And in particular are particular lines of hymns that always stop me in my tracks, asking me to unpack their meaning as I sing/say them. So here are a few I’m ruminating on today; what are some favorites of yours?

“Safe in God’s keeping, but never secure…” (Now, Anxious Heart, #472, verse 3). Some friends have expressed their reservations about this. While I understand, I find it to express the honest reality that people of faith suffer trials and tragedies just as all human beings do, while carrying with them the sense that “all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” (Julian of Norwich, 1343-1420). The long future view (safe in God’s keeping) informs the struggles (but never secure)of the present. The whole verse says it like this:

“Are not the saints a trifle confusing, they speak of joy but great trials endure, kingdoms possessing, pleading a blessing, safe in God’s keeping but never secure.”

The invitation is to live with hope whatever the present moment holds.

“Prone to Wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…(Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, #68, verse 3). Again, it tells the truth, that there is this part of me that is restless, and listening to another voice, another spirit that seems to want to pull me away from my new life in Jesus. It’s a beautiful and honest, heart-felt prayer that stunningly turns into a prayer..“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” The invitation is to offer this moment, these moments of my life back into God’s hands — God, who is faithful to bring mercy and grace.

“If you seem empty of any feeling, rejoice– you are his ransomed bride!” (O Let your Soul Now Be Filled With Gladness, #494, v. 2). The great reversal! All’s lost, all’s found it seems, if it be true. Realities are not what they seem to be. God’s holy love turns sadness into joy. This is the fullness of the Gospel in only 13 words. This speaks of God’s coming into the present moment, of incarnation, of God With Us.

It’s interesting to me how my soul seems drawn to these words which express both current realities into which God is coming to make everything new. That sounds like advent. Much to Ponder.

So what are the hymn texts that hold you?

Peter Hawkinson

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