Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Lord, Why Was I a Guest?"

At the Together for the Gospel conference in April we sang a unfamiliar hymn (to me) by the great poet Isaac Watts (think "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" or "O God Our Help in Ages Past") called "How Sweet and Aweful Is the Place."

It's obvious that the tittle is not politically correct for modern evangelicalism and that is part of what makes the hymn so "relevant" for today. We need a fresh view of God from those who went before us.

This hymn marvels at the saving and electing grace of God. It ponders with amazement the question--"why did you choose me to share at your table of salvation when so many have chosen rather to starve?" The hymn doesn't end with this question alone but turns into a prayer of longing, asking God to bring the nations to the same redeeming grace.

Here is the audio stream of the song from the conference led by Bob Kauflin. I would recommend listening to it more than once and follow along with the words below. (Download here by right clicking and saving)

How sweet and aweful is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

No comments: