Friday, March 17, 2017

Singing the Faith: Day 12: Praise and Thanksgiving

Immortal invisible, God only wise

This hymn was inspired by 1 Tim 1.17 “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” It was written by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908), who was born in Aberdeen, and subsequently ministered in the Scottish Church in Chadwell Street, Islington before becoming minister of various Free Church congregations in Scotland. He was moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 1893.
Originally the hymn’s last two verses were slightly different,

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.

All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.

The original verses make much plainer the intention of Chalmers in this hymn to remind the singer that though the Bible is important in shaping our faith in fact it is only the direct experience of God in Christ which can really show us the heart of God. God can’t be tied down in words on a page. As a Free Church minister this would have been a very challenging idea for his, very Bible-based, congregation.
The tune, St Denio, is based on a Welsh folk song.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most bless├Ęd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest — to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
’Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

  • How has your image of God been formed? What authority do you give to the Bible in your life?
I couldn't embed this video, but the link for you to watch it is here. 

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