Sunday, January 10, 2021

Scratch and Dent 11

Just now, I created a new "scratch-and-dent" label for this blog, so I no longer need to link back to the previous installment. For those of you joining late, this is a thread where I refurbish hymns that I tried to write when I was in high school or college. They've been hanging out in a three-ring binder that's been through a lot of moves and I figure, the sooner I can whip them up into a publishable shape, the sooner they'll be off my conscience. Making no promises that they'll be in the better three-quarters of the hymns I've ever written, here are a few more.

288. The Word Becoming Flesh
Tune: SONG 22 (Orlando Gibbons)

The Word was God, when earth's keystone was laid.
He was with God; by Him the heavens were made.
In Him was life, and that the light of men,
Which pierces darkness and with it contends.

He was the truth, this living Word, and can
Bring light and life to every child of man.
He came unto His own; they thought Him fraud;
He made those who believed the sons of God.

The Word was flesh, and dwelt with us on earth;
In Him men saw God's glory, grace and truth.
And yet His height of royal majesty
We saw in squalid suffering on a Tree.

Of His full gift of grace we have received;
For not by human will have we believed,
Nor human blood, nor worthy works and wares,
But only by His choice are we His heirs.

With humble mind, the mighty Word came down;
For bonds of servitude He changed His crown.
Life's founder was obedient unto death;
Barred from the camp, the King of righteousness.

He bore all sin, who knew but holiness:
Denied by men, man's errors to address,
He hung for our own lust, wrath, greed and pride;
For our rebellion, in our stead, He died.

And yet He lives, arisen from the dead;
From Him, behold! A wave of life will spread
As God exalts Him o'er all things in love,
And He sits as our Advocate above.

From there He pours the Spirit on our hearts,
Rules all in all, indwells our deepest parts.
Now we have died in Him and live again:
Reborn in Christ, the Light and Life of men.

289. Sola Gratia Hymn (2)
Tune: NEW BRITAIN (Walker's Southern Harmony)

By grace through faith alone God gives
Salvation to the lost:
Not by our works, we freely live,
Lest anyone should boast.

The Law prepared my soul to dread
The judgment of the Lord.
Sin's price I never could have paid,
God only can afford.

The tidings of the off'ring made
Of Christ on Calvary
A storehouse in my heart have laid
For heaven's certainty.

By grace, the seers foretold His birth
And all Christ did for me;
By grace, He stooped to serve the earth,
My substitute to be.

By grace, the Law's demands He kept;
Men's scorn He bore by grace;
In death's shroud He, by grace, was wrapped,
And all this in my place.

By grace, His suffering satisfies
The toll for my own guilt;
His resurrection justifies,
Whereon my hope is built.

Though I remain, by nature, lost
And daily stray in sin,
By grace, thank God, the Holy Ghost
I have at work within!

In God I hope; in Christ I live;
My life on Him I base;
And by the Spirit I believe
All this, alone by grace.

Textual note: The "(2)" acknowledges that I already have another "Sola Gratia Hymn" on the books – and it was even a Scratch and Dent! See #61 here. Also, the typewritten manuscript of this hymn gives the date April 4-5, 1994, which is a rare detail for my hymn-writing at that stage. Finally, the tune choice with the tempo marking "moderately fast" was also in the ms., which suggests that I was trying to improve on "Amazing Grace."

290. Conversion and Election
Tune: FORD COTTAGE (Frederick C. Maker)

I did not choose to be the Lord's;
He made the choice by grace.
If it were mine to chart my course,
I'd turn aside my face.
No aptitude did Jesus scan
To aid His gracious plan.

My heart was dead; my soul was blind;
I hated God's good Law.
I did not seek; how could I find
Him and His Gospel know?
In me a miracle took place
By God's almighty grace.

I did not meet the Lord halfway;
I could not even move.
The Holy Spirit won the day;
He turned me in His love.
My only act was to resist
The grace of Jesus Christ.

God keeps me in the holy faith,
Without whom I would fall.
Though sin assails my every breath,
He holds me safe through all.
For me, then, nothing shall displace
My Father's priceless grace.

291. Peace with God
Tune: PEACE WITH GOD (an original tune)

Peace be with you, little children,
Though the foe still rages.
For our warfare, lo, since Eden,
God no longer wages.
Christ has paid your debt in full;
What was broken, now is whole.

Quarrel no more with the Father,
Who gave Christ to save you.
Fight the sin within you, rather;
Take the gift He gave you,
Nor surrender to despair:
He provides for every care.

Even in the thick of battle,
When the flesh comes foxing,
No more are you Satan's chattle;
Therefore, go on boxing,
Knowing Christ will brook no harm,
Swinging with your feeble arm.

Trust in Him and peace is certain,
Though the grave o'ertake you.
Christ has torn the final curtain;
He at last will wake you.
Death is made a sweet release,
Calling: "Children, be at peace!"

292. Mystery Hymn
Tune: MYSERIOUS MIGHT (a tune I wrote in 2019)

O Holy Ghost, revealing Lord,
We praise You that you gave to men
The right to know Your saving word
Through chosen bearers of the pen.
You spoke to men of feeble mind
Such things as only You impart;
Of secrets God alone can bind
Upon a doubt-encumbered heart.

From hell we could not hope to flee
Had not the Word of God been born
As Mary's Son. What mystery!—
That flesh the Godhead should adorn,
And, deigning to grow strong and wise,
His own word condescend to learn!
For only thus, in heaven's eyes,
Could any man God's favor earn.

Again, who would escape the grave,
Had God not loved the sinner so
That He that Son, His dearest, gave
Into men's hands and laid Him low?
That God such service should provide,
Our race to ransom and retrieve!
Yet Christ, portrayed as having died
For us, compels us to believe.

Man's mind, as well, can hardly frame
The dual nature of the Son,
And how the Father with the same,
And with the Holy Ghost, is One:
Had You, Unveiler from above,
Not unto men this secret sealed,
How would we know Your Triune love?
What God like You was e'er revealed?

For Baptism's mystery we sing
A new refrain of wondering praise:
For therein You the sinner bring
To dust, a new man thence to raise.
And who but You reveals that bread
Becomes Christ's body, wine His blood?
What once was given, broken, dead,
Thus lives and is life-giving food.

To celebrate Your mysteries,
Withheld from heathen sages' ears,
We'll bow to You our humble knees
And watch till You draw in the years.
Then, where Your hosts in glory teach,
All bonds of mind and tongue shall flee,
And things forbidden mortal speech
Will be our song eternally.

Textual note: Based on a few phrases that they have in common, I think hymn 60, here, may also be based on the original poem on which I base this (hopefully) last scratch-and-dent hymn. I saved it for last because it was evident that it needed the most work, which is perhaps why Hymn 60 is all but unrecognizable from the ditty's original form. Anyway, because bits of it that 60 left on the cutting room floor seemed to have some small merit, and because I found another angle in it besides inspiration as such, I decided to take another stab at renovating it. Oddly enough, its original title was Epiphany Hymn, though I can't detect anything in it particularly relevant to the Epiphany season.

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