Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Sweet and Awful is the Place

Since I've had some more time to catch up with some favorites in the blogworld, I saw that Semicolon is posting her 100 favorite hymns. I love hymns. I love the solid theological hymns--the ones with a sermon packed within the lyrics. Those hymns are like gourmet meals. You will never sing one of those hymns and come away unsatisfied.

Since I do not have the time to post my top 100 hymns (though I'd love to), I will post one of my most favorites, "How Sweet and Awful is the Place" by Isaac Watts. I first heard this hymn, probably thirty years ago, in the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church my husband was serving as pastor. Maybe I fell in love with the tune first, an Irish melody, I don't know. But the words are confirming and true. Note that the word awful means awesome, and in newer hymnbooks, is written that way.

I especially love the last verse.

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?

"Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing thy redeeming grace.

[This is the best, in my opinion, available audio of the hymn online;
the video is from the Together for the Gospel conference.]


Sherry said...

Thanks for stopping by and for linking. Actually not MY 100 favorites, although I really do like most if not all of them. I took a poll and had people send me their 10 favorite hymn titles. What I'm posting is the result of that poll.

It's a lot of fun, and since there are 100 hymns to go through, I'll be posting all summer about hymns. I enjoyed your contribution for today.

magistramater said...

Oh, how do I type through the tears. I do love this one. And it grips me each and every time I sing it.

(BTW, I'm so glad that "awful" is kept in the know how we moderns like to sanitize our hymns?)



magistramater said...

I also like hearing large groups of men sing. I did see some women in the group but it was predominantly men. Lovely sound.

robert said...

Wonderful hymn, and you've chosen a richly warm rendition to share. Sad that so many churches have abandoned the hymnal! God bless.