Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hymn: Eternal Light! Eternal Light!

I've been thinking recently of how much hymns have helped form my faith and continue to sustain me. Many of them seem to be almost unknown in today's world of "contemporary worship (sic)".  While I do indeed get a subjective thrill ("goose bumps") from a variety of musical styles, I find that lyric substance is much more important to my spiritual well-being than seeking a high from "three words + three chords + three minutes x 10".  Over the next days/weeks, I'll post the lyrics to some of the hymns that have formed me…. and sustain me.

The following was first introduced to me by the British revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, when he held meetings at my childhood church. This hymn takes us to the heart of reverence for a holy God, and the reality that we cannot bear the Consuming Fire apart from his gracious choice to forgive and cleanse us…. (forgiveness is only part of "salvation").

Eternal Light! Eternal Light!

Eternal Light! Eternal Light!
  How pure the soul must be
When, placed within Thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
  Can live and look on Thee.

The spirits that surround Thy throne
  May bear the burning bliss;
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
  A fallen world like this.

Oh, how shall I, whose native sphere
  Is dark, whose mind is dim,
Before th’ Ineffable appear,
And on my natural spirit bear
  The uncreated beam?

There is a way for man to rise
  To Thee, sublime Abode;
An Offering and a Sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
  An Advocate with God.

These, these prepare us for the sight
  Of holiness above;
The sons of ignorance and night
May dwell in the eternal Light,
  Through the eternal Love.

Thomas Binney (1798-1874)

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