Sunday, April 02, 2017

The ministry, a noble scheme

The following hymn can be found on pages 20-21 in Customs of Primitive Churches by Morgan Edwards. This is the only known printing of it. The hymn is found within the text of “Prop. VIII. Of the election of a minister.” There a suggested hymn is sung in a service for the licensure of a minister. “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story”: a History of Baptist Hymnody in North America, by David Music, is the only other place I have seen it mentioned. It is mentioned there among five texts in Edwards’s church manual “that lack attributions.”[i] Music contrasts its “rough style” with the poetry by Isaac Watts included in the manual. This ministerial hymn may have been written by Edwards specifically for his church manual – or by him or one of his associates for use at such a service recorded in the manual.

1. The ministry! a noble scheme! 
‘Mongst all the means of grace, supreme; 
And best contriv’d to save. 
We sing the author’s worthy praise 
And bless the care he took to raise 
The ministers we have. 

2. He, bounteous still, bids others rise,
In lieu of each that fails, or dies; 
Nor shall the order cease; 
And when he sends by whom he’ll send. 
He makes the means attain the end,
By adding the increase.

3. Let each that hears the preached word,
Admire this goodness of their Lord, 
And in his praise agree; 
For ministers, their work, and call, 
Their shining gifts, their use, and all 
Are fruites of his decree.

The suggested tune for the hymn ( meter) is by Thomas A. Arne:

[i] “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story”: a History of Baptist Hymnody in North America,  David Music, Paul Richardson, 2008, p. 122

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