Friday, March 02, 2007

Cheesy Verse of a Great Hymn?

We all know this great hymn:
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God; to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings...

But when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
sent him to die-I scarce can take it in
that on the cross, our burden gladly bearing,
he bled and died to take away our sin;

Then sings...

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home-what joy shall fill my heart!
Then shall I bow in humble adoration,
and there proclaim: My God, how great thou art!

Then sings...

Russian hymn
tr. Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989) altd.
But I have to confess that vs 2 has always struck me as the weakest. A bit cheesy, a slight embarrassment, to be honest... Until today, that is!

Because it is all about Christ. I've no idea if that's deliberate or coincidental - a great example of coincidence being when God decides to remain anonymous.

Going line by line:
  • When a Christian sees woods, they (presumably) might remember the great tree in which all birds will seek refuge.
  • And who is like a bird, protecting chicks under wing-coverings? To whose glory do birds sing? What song does the whole creation sing?
  • Lofty mountains isn't a difficult one to someone writing a long dissertation on the Psalms.
  • And rivers are not unheard of in the Bible, speaking of Spirit-blessing.
But you can push all this, can't you? I wish that I knew the Bible better, and understood Jim Jordan's stuff, but I'm sure we can probably say something like this:
  • Tree of tragedy, exaltation and enthronement.
  • Bird of Spirit-life-breath.
  • All on a mountain-tabernacle, where we see the great eternal Tabernacle.
  • Dying for that river of Spirit-blessing to flow, purchasing and guaranteeing that eternal river-garden-mountain-city...
Not such a bad verse now, is it!


Blogger Ros said...

I've never understood why people want to leave that verse out. Even without the interpretive maximalist reading you've suggested, why wouldn't we want to express our wonder at seeing God reflected in his creation?

The line I can't bear is the first. My wonder is so far from awesome as to make this no more than a poor joke. I think what the author means is 'awestruck' - an entirely different concept!

1:58 pm, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Neil J. said...

Andrew, you're almost there (postmill)!

3:04 pm, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Andrew said...

Ros, I certainly agree re: awestruck, and there might be other words too, but that's closes to the original.

Neil, I'm not Post-mill, and you know that very well!

Am I right to feel I need less justification behind an MI interpretation of a hymn than a Bible verse?

3:50 pm, March 02, 2007  

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