TODAY IS ASCENSION DAY!
He has raised our human nature in the clouds to God’s right hand;
There we sit in heavenly places, there with Him in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels; man with God is on the throne;
Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension we by faith behold our own.
—Hymn: “See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph” (Christopher Wordsworth; can be sung to the tune Austrian Hymn)
It is often said that Luther restored congregational singing. This is true, but he did more than that: Luther restored preaching to the congregation—a most appropriate activity for lay priests. “If, now, the congregation is to proclaim the divine truth, it must have a sermon worth preaching. This is the reason for the substantial…doctrinal content in many of the Reformation hymns.”
—P. J. Janson, “The Reason We Sing, Reformation and Revival 4.4 (Fall 1995), 19
When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth rate poems set to sixth-rate music.
—C.S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity” in God in the Dock:
Essays on Theology and Ethics, 61-62
O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
So freely shed for me.
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heart to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.
A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Him that dwells within.
A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good—
A copy, Lord, of thine.
Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart.
Come quickly from above.
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of love.
—Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
How shall I sing that majesty
Which angels do admire?
Let dust, in dust and silence lie:
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
Thy throne, O God most high;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
Thy praise; but who am I?
They sing because Thou art their Sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
For where heaven is but once begun
There alleluyas be.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
With all my fore and light;
Yet when Thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.
Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
Inflame it with love’s fire;
Than shall I sing and bear a part
With the celestial choir.
—John Mason (17th-century hymnwriter)
A verse may find him, who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.
–George Herbert (1593-1633)
A couple of options:
1. The last verse of “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” by Charles Wesley (same meter, works fine)
Finish then Thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee:
Change from glory into glory, till in heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder love and praise. [I especially like that last phrase]
2. A new verse penned by Bob Kauflin:
Oh that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Full arrayed in blood-washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace.
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Bring Thy promises to pass;
For I know Thy pow’r will keep me
Till I’m home with Thee at last.