Sunday, March 14, 2021

Not what my hands have done

“Not What These Hands Have Done” by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) first appeared in his Hymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1861, pp. 175-177) in 12 stanzas. Written in Short Meter, it is most often paired with the tunes Leominster by George W. Martin, and St. Andrew by Joseph Barnby. Any fine Sacred Harp Short Meter tune would set off this great hymn, which extols the work of God and discredits the righteousness of man.

1. Not what these hands have done 
Can save this guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh has borne 
Can make my spirit whole.

2. Not what I feel or do 
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers, and sighs, and tears ,
Can bear my awful load.

3. Thy work alone, O Christ, 
Can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, 
Can give me peace within.

4. Thy love to me, O God, 
Not mine, O Lord, to thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, 
And set my spirit free.

5. Thy grace alone, O God, 
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone, O Son of God, 
Can this sore bondage break.

6. No other work, save thine, 
No meaner blood will do;
No strength, save that which is divine, 
Can bear me safely through.

7. I bless the Christ of God; 
I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart, 
I call this Savior mine.

8. His cross dispels each doubt; 
I bury in his tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, 
Each lingering shade of gloom.

9. I praise the God of grace; 
I trust his truth and might;
He calls me his, I call him mine, 
My God, my joy, my light.

10. In him is only good,
In me is only ill;
My ill but draws his goodness forth,
And me he loveth still.

11. ’Tis he who saveth me, 
And freely pardon gives;
I love because he loveth me, 
I live because he lives.

12. My life in him is hid,
My death has passed away,
My clouds have melted into light,
My midnight into day.

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