Tuesday, September 25, 2012

With Glowing Heart

When the leader of the instrumental ensemble at church read the text of the hymn arrangement they would play next, the words caught my attention first. The great hymns weave theology as well as beauty into their lines. A character in a novel I read once commented, after her first church visit, that the congregation was singing poetry, but it went by in such a rush that they couldn't enjoy it. As I recall, her idea was to give everyone a few minutes to read the text and take it in before they sang. Reading this hymn yesterday afternoon reminded me that she might have been on to something.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, it was the words which first captured my attention. I was quite certain they were new to me, and I wondered the author's identity. The man at the chancel obliged my unspoken query, but it sounded like he'd said, "Francis Scott Key." Surely I'd heard wrong. Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." The bulletin confirmed that Mr. Key did, in fact, write the hymn in question. A brief Internet search produced a list of several other hymns he penned, but this one has best retained its place in hymnals even more than two-and-a-half centuries after its author's death.

Mr. Key, a lawyer by vocation, served faithfully in a lay capacity in his local church. In the first and fourth verses, the amateur poet lamented the poverty of his praise and asked God for help and blessing on his words. In the middle stanzas, he called on his soul to praise God and poetically pleaded his case to his soul with many evidences of God's praiseworthy grace. Although the hymn directly addressed only God and the author's inmost self, overhearing the prayerful testimony and claiming it as my own encouraged me. I pray your praise might also glow a little more for the reading.

Lord, with Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee
Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

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.
   Text credit: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/lord-with-glowing-heart-i-d-praise-thee/

"Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee":
My Savior God that drew me to that cross, new life to give
The one, full, perfect, eternal atonement worked by the Lord Jesus Christ
The grace that whispered peace to this sinner when she looked to Him at last

Catching up on my Bible study homework in time
Honest, vulnerable group discussion Wednesday last
Reminders that the Lord only allows sifting because something needs sifting out
Learning from Spurgeon about prayer
Finishing a breathtakingly poignant and beautiful novel

Flu vaccine that didn't leave my shoulder stiff and sore
Lunch visit with my parents
The way my dad listens and prays
Seeing them thrive in ministry and time together, gifts of Dad's retirement

Favorite whole grain bread on sale
Excellent Mexican food
Date at A Real Bookstore
Courageous pastor preaching sermon on church discipline and sin's impact on community

Quiet home days to begin slowly catching up on things neglected in busy season
Spider lilies blooming
Acorns clattering on roof (fall has arrived!)
Tired old sagging fence removed and posts set for new one
Remembering the Homegoing of the beautiful woman who set such a striking example of choosing joy in the midst of great affliction

sharing in community with Ann, Laura, and Jen

from the gratitude journal, #7389-7409

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Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.