Saturday, February 27, 2010

Francis Scott Key in the Hymnal

This week, my eighth graders finished learning all four verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key. Not only did I think it important for them to know the first verse as American citizens, I thought it a worthy endeavor to learn all the verses.

Francis Scott Key was a man who thought deeply and understood theologically God's relationship with his people, he had a gift of amassing meaning into phrases and arranging them poetically.

In the last verse of the our national anthem, Key pens, "Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation." If you look further, you find that he has written other lyrics that found their way into some hymnbooks.

One
has been arranged with music and is in the Trinity hymnbook. Many years have passed since I've been in a church that uses the Trinity, so I've not been able to sing this hymn corporately for a long time. But the tune is in my mind and I often find myself singing through the hymn myself. I especially appreciate how Key embraced in every single verse the fact that God Himself must draw us. . . . must warm our hearts, must rouse our lives.

Listen here and sing!

"Lord, with Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee"
Francis Scott Key

Lord, with glowing heart I’d praise Thee,
For the bliss Thy love bestows,
For the pardoning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows:
Help, O God, my weak endeavor;
This dull soul to rapture raise:
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.

Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wanderer, far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love’s devoutest feeling,
Him Who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.

Praise thy Savior God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to Him and live.
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease;
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.

Lord, this bosom’s ardent feeling
Vainly would my lips express.
Low before Thy footstool kneeling,
Deign Thy suppliant’s prayer to bless:
Let Thy grace, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise;
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth Thy praise.



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