Amazing Grace Hymns

April 21

THE DAY OF RESURRECTION

John of Damascus, early 8th century
English translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14 KJV)

This hymn from the early eighth century is one of the oldest expressions found in most hymnals. Its origin is rooted in the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was written by one of the famous monks of that church, John of Damascus, c. 676–c. 780.

The celebration of Easter has always been a spectacle of ecclesiastical pomp in the Greek Orthodox Church. Even today, as a vital part of the ceremony, the worshipers bury a cross under the high altar on Good Friday and dramatically resurrect it with shouts of “Christos egerthe” (“Christ is risen”) on Easter Sunday. With this announcement begins a time of joyous celebration. Torches are lit, bells and trumpets peel, and salvos of cannons fill the air. The following account describes such a scene:

Everywhere men clasped each other’s hands, congratulated one another, and embraced with countenances beaming with delight, as though to each one separately some wonderful happiness had been proclaimed—and so in truth it was; and all the while rising above the mingling of many sounds, each one of which was a sound of gladness, the aged priests were distinctly heard chanting forth a glorious hymn of victory in tones so loud and clear, that they seemed to have regained the youth and strength to tell the world how “Christ is risen from the dead, having trampled death beneath His feet, and henceforth they that are in the tombs have everlasting life.”

John M. Neale is generally regarded as one of the leading translators of ancient hymns. He was recognized as one of the most learned hymnologists of his day and had a knowledge of twenty languages.

The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad—the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God! From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky, our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory!

Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light; and, list’ning to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain, His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

Now let the heav’ns be joyful, let earth her song begin, let the round world keep triumph and all that is therein; let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend, for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end!

For Today: Matthew 28:1–9; Acts 2:24; 13:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 15:54–58

Determine to make this Easter a spiritual highpoint celebration in your life and in the lives of your family members. Reflect on this portion of the hymn—

Osbeck, K. W. 

EZC

  • Now in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to draw, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers were astonied, and became as dead men. But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified.  He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Matthew 28:1–9
  • Whom God hath raised up, and loosed the sorrows of death,  because it was impossible that he should be holden of it. Acts 2:24
  • And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, they took him down from the tree, and put him in a sepulcher. But God raised him up from the dead. Acts 13:29-30
  • So when this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying, that is written, Death is swallowed up into victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54–58

Amazing Grace Hymns

April 13

IN THE GARDEN

C. Austin Miles, 1868–1945

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that He had said these things to her. (John 20:18)

It was in 1912 that music publisher Dr. Adam Geibel asked author and composer C. Austin Miles to write a hymn text that would be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.” Mr. Miles has left the following account of the writing of this hymn:

One day in April, 1912, I was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20—whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power and charm.

As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, “Rabboni!”

My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in, and hurried away.

John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

As they departed, Mary reappeared; leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing, so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried, “Rabboni!” I awakened in sun light, gripping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.

* * * *
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing; and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him tho the night around me be falling; but He bids me go—thru the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling.

Refrain: And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

For Today: Matthew 20:28; Matthew 28:5–9; John 20; Romans 5:6, 10, 11

Let your mind join Mary and the disciples in the garden when Christ first appeared to them following His resurrection. Respond as did Mary—“Rabboni!” (my Master). Carry this musical truth throughout the day—

Osbeck, K. W. 

EZC

  • Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many. Matthew 20:28
  • But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid, And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Gailee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Matthew 28:5–9
  • Now the first day of the week came Mary Magdalene, early when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. Then she ran, and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they came unto the sepulcher. So they ran both together, but the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooped down, and saw the linen clothes lying: yet went he not in. Then came Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and saw the linen clothes lie, And the kerchief that was upon his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also the other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw it, and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, That he must rise again from the dead. And the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulucher weeping: and as she wept, she bowed herself into the sepulcher, And saw two Angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where they body of Jesus had lain. And they said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She said unto them, They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She supposing that he had been the gardener, said unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and said unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and to your Father, and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. The same day then at night, which was the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said to them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands, and his side, Then were the disciples glad when they had seen the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father sent me, so send I you. And when he had said that, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive the holy Ghost. Whosoever’s sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whosoever’s sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord: but he said unto them, Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put mine hand into his side, I will not believe it. And eight days after, again his disciples were within, and Thomas was with them. Then came Jesus, when thedoors were shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. After said he to Thomas, Put thy finger here, and see mine hands, and put forth thine hand, and put it into my side, and be not faithless, but faithful. Then Thomas answered, and said unto him, Thou art my Lord, and my God. Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou believest: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. And any other signs also did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these things are written that ye might believe, that Jesus is that Christ that Son of God, and that in believing ye might have life through his Name. John 20
  • For Christ, when we were yet of no strength, at his time died for the ungodly. … For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life, And not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:6, 10, 11

Amazing Grace Hymns

April 11

ROCK OF AGES

Augustus M. Toplady, 1740–1778

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea … they all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1, 3, 4)

This fervent plea for Christ our eternal rock to grant salvation through His sacrifice and to be a place of refuge for the believer is one of the most popular hymns ever written. With strong emotional impact, it proclaims Christ’s atonement on the cross to be the only means of salvation, making man’s tears and efforts to justify himself of no avail. Also it urges us to find consolation and security in Christ our rock—even at the time of death.

Augustus Toplady’s strong and passionate lines were actually written to refute some of the teachings of John and Charles Wesley during a bitter controversy with them concerning Arminianism (which stresses man’s free will) versus John Calvin’s doctrine of election. “Rock of Ages” was the climax to an article that Toplady wrote in The Gospel Magazine in 1776, in which he supported the doctrine of election by arguing that just as England could never pay her national debt, so man through his own efforts could never satisfy the eternal justice of a holy God. Despite the belligerent intent of this text, God has preserved this hymn for more than 200 years to bring blessing to both Arminian and Calvinistic believers around the world.

At the age of 16, as he sat in a barn and listened to the preaching of an uneducated man, Toplady was dramatically converted. Later, he became a powerful and respected minister of the Anglican church. While he was the busy pastor of several churches in England, Augustus Toplady wrote many hymn texts, but few have survived. “Rock of Ages” is the one for which he is known today.

Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee; let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.

Could my tears forever flow, could my zeal no languor know, these for sin could not atone—Thou must save and Thou alone: In my hand no price I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling.

While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death, when I rise to worlds unknown and behold Thee on Thy throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.

For Today: Exodus 17:1–6; 33:17–23; Psalm 78:35; Acts 4:12

Give sincere praise to Christ our “Rock of Ages” for His great gift of salvation and for His provision of a place of refuge for us, even unto death.

Osbeck, K. W. 

EZC

  • And all the Congregation of the children of Israel departed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys at the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people contended with Moses, and said, Give us water, that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why contend ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? So the people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore hast thou thus brought us out of Egypt, to kill us, and our children, and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What sahll I do to this people? for they be almost ready to stone me. And the Lord answered Moses, Go before the people, and take with thee the Elders of Israel: and thy rod wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go: Behold, I will stand there before thee upon the rock in Horeb, and thou shalt smite on the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the peope may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the Elders of Israel. Exodus 17:1–6
  • And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this also that thou hast said: for thou has found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. again he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he answerd, I will make all my good go before thee, and I will proclaim the Name of the Lord before thee: for I will show mercy to whom i will show mercy, and will have compassion on whom I have compassion. Furthermore he said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock: And while my glory passeth by, I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with mine hand while I pass by. After I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. Exodus 33:17–23
  • And they remembered that God was their strength, and the most high God their redeemer. Psalm 78:35
  • Neither is there salvation in any other: for among men there is given none other Name under heaven, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12