Sunday, July 10, 2011

Olney Lullaby, part 1

You know John Newton and William Cowper from two great hymns they wrote, "Amazing Grace" and "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood" respectively. But did you know they were close friends and wrote many, many hymns?

Newton was an Anglican priest (after his long experience as a sailor) and Cowper was a parishioner. They would meet together for prayer, and would write hymns for these meetings. Michael Hughes turned me on to this after I asked him to learn a hymn I love, "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder." The hymns, of which "Amazing Grace" and "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood" are a part, are called The Olney Hymns, from the village they were in.

I plan to delve into this a little more, as Michael Hughes has put music to two of the hymns, "The Lord Will Provide" and "The Good Samaritan," and the words are just too much, touching the soul.

But to the point: "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder" has become a lullaby for Nay Nay. And it is just so sweet to see her curled up in my arms, about to go to sleep. I suppose not simply the tune, but also the words are peaceful:

"Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior's Name.
He has hushed the Law's loud thunder,
He has quenched Mt Sinai's flame."

Of course, "hush" is the point of a lullaby. but what peace to the soul! The Law's loud thunder and Mt Sinai's flame are equivalent and mean the Ten Commandments. Mostly we think of the Ten Commandments as basically good advice. But are you aware of their awesome power? They are what the New Testament means when it talks about The Law. The Bible tells us that all the Ten Commandments can do is condemn you!

Yes, they are great advice--if we would or could live them!!

As it is, when we hear that we should not make idols, we are condemned for all the idols we have made-- anything that takes the place of the Lord in our hearts. When we hear that we should not commit murder, Jesus reminds us that anger is enough--the heart is where the terrible passions that spill into open sin come from.

So the Law condemns us. It is loud thunder and powerful fire. But praise God, Jesus has taken the punishment meant for us. On the Cross, He took the Law into His own hands-- and feet, as it were. And so indeed He has hushed its loud thundering against our souls and has quenched its burning flame.

And in its place has brought us His righteousness so that where we, in the natural body and mind might desire to follow the Ten Commandments yet find that we cannot, now under the discipline and power of the Holy Spirit, we can follow the Ten Commandments by following Jesus, by trusting that He will lead us.

I think this lullaby is more for me than for Nadia.

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