Tuesday, March 9, 2021

301. Epistles of Paul Hymn

Soon to be sectioned under "Scriptural Meditation" in Edifying Hymns, this is one of those hymns that aren't meant to be sung straight through, but broken up into three-verse segments – always using the first and last stanza, and inserting the appropriate second stanza from the choices in between. Possible occasions for using them would be to accompany a series of intro-level Bible studies of Paul's epistles, or to decorate a sermon series that hits a few high points from each letter. It might not be handy for everybody, but I suppose there might be a use for it here or there. With that in mind, I challenge anyone to complain that this hymn is too long – especially when you consider that I compressed 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Hebrews into two stanzas all together! I think, to avoid having to write yet another tune in this meter (of which I have written several, and a couple have been written for me by other composers), I'll just reuse one of those for this hymn – possibly SEVEN WORDS or SEMINARY.

Not unto man, but unto You,
Lord Christ, the church's praise is due
For making Her most hateful foe
A herald, keen to see Her grow.
Through Paul, sound teaching You have limned
And heathen tongues Your name have hymned.

Most precious in the holy tome,
Paul's letter to the church at Rome
Depicts all man to judgment sealed,
Were not Christ's righteousness revealed,
The merit of His life and death
Transferred to us by grace, through faith.

To Corinth's church, this man of God
Twice writes, correcting practice flawed.
God's strength in weakness he reports;
To trust God's folly he exhorts,
And in Christ's testament of blood
To share as faithful brethren would.

The church Galatian he upbraids
Which law for gospel wrongly trades.
God's oath to Abram he unfolds,
And thus faith's primacy upholds;
That, by the Spirit, we may be
For willing works of love set free.

To saints in Ephesus he says
What price our Lord's atonement pays,
Who by His blood established peace
That His work in us may increase.
This mystery Paul thus lays bare
That God's full armor we may wear.

To Philippi he writes in chains,
Christ glorifying by his pains.
He speaks of pressing toward the prize,
The cross of Christ fixed in his eyes,
And bids the saints with prayerful voice
Rejoice, and yet again, rejoice.

The church Colossian he enjoins
To traffic not in worldly coins:
Not comely words, as pagans speak,
Nor Jewish rules, but Christ to seek:
As those reborn, for glory meant,
In lowly walks of life content.

Twice to the saints of Macedon
Have Paul's consoling letters gone:
That Thessalonians may keep
A living hope for those who sleep
And understand how Christ will come
To bear the faithful to His home.

To fellow pastors Timothy
And Titus, Paul indited three:
Confessing Christ as God made flesh,
Commending Scripture's use afresh,
And urging those by grace reborn
His martyrdom to lightly mourn.

His Philemon epistle gave
A slave his lord, a lord his slave;
And if the Hebrews' letter be
His writing, here we richly see
How, with both Testaments in view,
Christ knits together Old and New.

For him, the chief of sinners, torn
From persecuting Christ, a thorn
Remained to show both us and Paul
That Christ alone is all in all.
In his pure doctrine, Savior, keep
Us, till eternal life we reap.

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