Sunday, April 19, 2009

We're travelling to the grave

HYMN 55, C. M.

Frail life, and succeeding eternity.

Thee we adore, Eternal Name,
And humbly own to thee
How feeble is our mortal frame!
What dying worms are we!

Our wasting lives grow shorter still
As months and days increase;
And every beating pulse we tell
Leaves but the number less.

The year rolls round, and steals away
The breath that first it gave;
Whate'er we do, where'er we be,
We're trav'lling to the grave.

Dangers stand thick through all the ground
To push us to the tomb,
And fierce diseases wait around,
To hurry mortals home.

Great God! on what a slender thread
Hang everlasting things!
Th' eternal states of all the dead
Upon life's feeble strings.

Infinite joy or endless woe
Attends on every breath,
And yet how unconcerned we go
Upon the brink of death!

Waken, O Lord! our drowsy sense,
To walk this dangerous road;
And if our souls be hurried hence,
May they be found with God.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II, 1707.


Jokers55 said...

Good song although pretty intense compared to the mental junk food that make up today's lyrics. If we sang more like these with the truth and all its barbs I wonder what the result would be?

R. L. Vaughn said...

I agree that this and many of the old hymns are more intense and often deal with the stark realities of life in this sinful world in a way that many modern songs do not. I think if we sung more such songs, we would be better instructed in God's Word, and perhaps better adjusted in dealing with life. This morning we talked a little about this while talking about Colossians 3:16. The purpose and benefit of singing is seen in three directions:

1. For others, "teaching and admonishing one another"
2. For one's self, "in your heart"
3. To God, "to the Lord"

I think one thing -- even when we exclude songs that are straight out unsound in doctrine -- is that we sing an overabundance of "experiential songs" in relation to the amount of "doctrinal songs" that we sing. I don't think it is wrong to sing these songs when they describe our experience in accord with the truth, but we also need to sing songs that are poetic paraphrases of scripture, or nearly so. And then with the "experiential songs" they often tend to always be "light and happy" and never "dark and heavy" -- like Watts' hymn here.

Jokers55 said...

You are right about the happy light weight songs. They get used a lot.While they aren't all bad, there is something to be said about the ones that are more direct and doctrinal. People learn what they sing, good or bad. They tend to remember songs better than some sermons.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Yes, I think there is a place for scriptural "happy songs". I just think they're overused in relation to other songs. I have observed personally and with others that we tend to remember songs better than sermons -- and poetry even better in songs than poetry alone.