I Cannot But Rejoice

“Sometimes a light surprises, the Christian while he sings,
It is the Lord Who rises, with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again,
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after the rain.

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue,
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow, bring with it what it may.

Tomorrow can bring us nothing, but He will bear us through:
Who gives the lilies clothing, will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens, will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither, their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither, nor flocks or herds be there,
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.”

– William Cowper

photo: apdk

Celebrate the Incarnation

As an FYI, the lyrics to this well known Christmas hymn are absolutely fantastic.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Shine Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

photo: Mark Gstohl

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,

and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,

clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins;
no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

– “Continual Repentance,” Valley of Vision, Ed. Arthur Bennett (East Peoria: Banner, 2007), 76.

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer

photo: davedehetre

Sovereign Ruler of the Skies

Sov’reign Ruler of the skies;
Ever Gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command,

His decree who form’d the earth
Fix’d my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.

He that form’d me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Order’d by his wise decree.

Times of sickness; times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Savior’s love
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

– John Ryland

photo: Brenda Starr