Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The course a Christian must steer

Last Sunday Eld. C. C. Morris called my attention to this beautiful old hymn by Joseph Hart. To my way of thinking Hart was blessed to be one of the great experiential hymn writers. I love his "dialogue between a believer and his soul", which shows the mastery he was given to handle such a topic and style poetically -- as well as some pretty sound theology. IMO, it is a pity we don't sing more of his hymns. Part of this may be due to his use of many poetic meters that are not as commonly used for tunes. The following hymn meter is 11s.9s. I found no tunes set in this meter in The Sacred Harp. The Lone Pilgrim (11s.8s., p.341) could be easily adjusted to fit the hymn. With slightly more effort, p. 422a -- Away Here in Texas -- or p. 123a -- The Dying Christian -- could also be made to work.

How strange is the course that a Christian must steer,
How perplexed is the path he must tread!
The hope of his happiness rises from fear,
And his life he receives from the dead.

His fairest pretensions must wholly be waived,
And his best resolutions be crossed;
Nor can he expect to be perfectly saved,
'Til he finds himself utterly lost.

When all this is done, and his heart is assured
Of the total remission of sins,
When his pardon is signed and his peace is procured,
From that moment his conflict begins.

By Joseph Hart. Found in Beebe’s Collection, #1037, Gadsby's #309 and other books as well. In both these books, the "title" is "The Christian's Life a Paradox". Beebe gives with it the text Gal. 5:17 and Gadsby gives II Cor. 4:8-11.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

II Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.


amity said...

That's a great one, Robert. I probably would never have found it any other way. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In the Durand/Lester Hymnal this appears as hymn #394 on page 159. Also, on that same page appears hymn #393, "O thou in whose presence my soul takes delight", a song metered in 11 & 8. Durand/Lester intended hymn #394, a song metered in 11 & 9, to be sung using 11 & 8, the same as used for hymn #393. Hoyt Sparks

Anonymous said...

The tune for "In songs of sublime adoration and praise, Ye pilgrims for Zion who press...." is quite close, perhaps only needing a slight adjustment to the first few syllables of the second line.
CC Morris