Thursday, January 8, 2009

This Isn't Really New

Most everyone seems to think that what we are doing with Sermons in Song is new or novel, but the truth is that it is not. The idea isn't new with us, and while we can find Biblical examples (like Moses and Jeremiah), there are also several interesting examples of song-writers of the past doing the same thing.

For example, Phillip Doddridge wrote these words that you might know: "O happy day that fixed my choice, On Thee my Savior and my God". It was written in the mid 1700's and was originally titled, "Rejoicing in our Covenant." The text is as follows, but some might wonder where the chorus is. That was added in the mid-1800's and included in the Wesleyan Sacred Harp hymnal.

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

It's done: the great transaction's done!
I am the Lord's and He is mine;
He drew me and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life's latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.

It was his practice to write a hymn near the end of his sermon preparation, and then he would have it sung at the conclusion of the sermon. As I have been studying the history of hymns, it is striking how frequently examples of this practice have cropped up. In the future, I plan on highlighting some sermons-in-song examples from time to time, so stay tuned.


Michelle said...

Tom-- Edward Taylor is a significant American puritan poet who wrote hymns to prepare himself for his sermons. You might be interested in looking him up.

Thomas Pryde said...

I will; isn't it surprising how many there are? It was common among the dissenting puritans, but the practice can be seen even before that.