31 October 2014

I love thy Church, O God


There is a hymn text by the grandson of Jonathan Edwards that is still sung in many churches in North America. 
Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight

This text by the Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight IV (1752-1817) is the earliest hymn written by an U.S. American still in regular use.  Dwight reworked Psalm 137 and turned it into a hymn of love for the Lord Jesus Christ's Church.

The full text is never printed in today's hymnals, and it is the full text that most interests me. The theologically interesting note in the text is the identification of the Kingdom of the Lord with the Church on Earth.  The hymn text draws together the individual's Christian action together within the mission and work of the Church as the manifestation and revelation of the Kingdom on Earth.  This is a text a catholic Christian could pray with heart and soul.

The following version is a conglomerate text from several different printings. I suspect that the first edition of this text may be slightly different, but I do not have a copy in hand:

I love thy Kingdom, Lord,
The house of thine abode,
The Church our blest Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.

I love thy Church, O God.
Her walls before thee stand,
Dear as the apple of thine eye,
And graven on thy hand.

If e’er to bless thy sons
My voice or hands deny,
These hands let useful skills forsake,
This voice in silence die.

Should I with scoffers join
Her altars to abuse?
No! Better far my tongue were dumb,
My hand its skill should lose.

For her my tears shall fall
For her my prayers ascend,
To her my cares and toils be given
Till toils and cares shall end.

Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise.

Jesus, Thou Friend divine,
Our Saviour and our King,
Thy hand from every snare and foe
Shall great deliverance bring.

Sure as thy truth shall last,
To Sion shall be given
The brightest glories earth can yield
And brighter bliss of Heaven.

Tim­o­thy Dwight IV
Psalms of Da­vid