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Worship and Hymn Writing Part V – Write of Coming Glory

June 30, 2007

If you write music for your church or for the Greater Church, please write on our coming glory. Write on the promises that we have after this life and after the grave. Songs and hymns that we sing should be filled with the ultimate hope and stock we put into a greater world beyond this one. Mark Dever said this once:

In my own denomination’s hymnals, hymns about the afterlife drop in number from over 100 in the late 19th century to about 15 in the latest Baptist Hymnal (1991). Remaining hymns are neutered. The Baptist hymnal (1975 & 1991) both omit the wonderful 5th stanza from Cowper’s great hymn “There is a Fountain”. If you have the 1956 Baptist Hymnal you can still find it. “When this poor lisping stammering tongue Lies silent in the grave, Then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to Save.” Our reluctance to sing about the grave in church on Sunday only reveals how much our hopes have been entrusted to this life–and we do not wish to conceive of them being lost. Our treasures have been put too much in this world.

Sadly, I believe Dever is right. Our lack of rejoicing in what will come shows our contentment with what we already have. This should not be the case for Christians because what will come is immeasurably greater that what we have now.

As song and hymn writers, our endeavor should be to encourage joy and hope in the afterlife. Why is this important? One reason, as we have already mentioned, it encourages congregations to put a greater stock in the coming day of Christ. Another reason, it glorifies the person and work of Jesus Christ. We did nothing to inherit this hope of eternal joy. We did not work our whole lives in order to retire easy for eternity. We didn’t make a risky investment that will pay out big time in the end. We were beneficiaries of grace. A third reason is this, rejoicing in our coming inheritance is rejoicing in Christ – for our greatest and ultimate inheritance will be Christ. We will be met with the face of Jesus, the source and object of everlasting delight. Let us praise and glory in the grace and hope that is ours through the person and work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Please, write of coming glory.

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