.
John Greenfield
Power From On High


5. A New Song

(Complete Text)

 "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer's praise."


Introductory Thoughts

"I have written and preached much on the Holy Spirit, for the knowledge of Him has been the most vital fact of my experience. I owe everything to the gift of Pentecost…. I came across a prophet, heard a testimony, and set out to seek I knew not what. I knew that it was a bigger thing and a deeper need than I had ever known. It came along the line of duty, and I entered in through a crisis of obedience. When it came I could not explain what had happened, but I was aware of things unspeakable and full of glory. Some results were immediate. There came into my soul a deep peace, a thrilling joy, and a new sense of power. My mind was quickened. I felt that I had received a new faculty of understanding. Every power was alert. Either illumination took the place of logic, or reason became intuitive. My bodily powers also were quickened. There was a new sense of spring and vitality, a new power of endurance, and a strong man's exhilaration in big things. Things began to happen. What we had failed to do by strenuous endeavor came to pass without labor. It was as when the Lord Jesus stepped into the boat that with all their rowing had made no progress, immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. It was gloriously wonderful."- Dr. Samuel Chadwick, of Cliff College, England.

"Never shall I forget the gain to conscious faith and peace which came to my soul, not long after a first decisive and appropriating view of the Crucified Lord as the sinner's sacrifice of peace, from a more intelligent and conscious hold upon the living and most gracious personality of the Holy Spirit through whose mercy the soul had got that blessed view. It was a new development of insight into the love of God. It was a new contact as it were with the inner and eternal movements of redeeming goodness, a new discovery in divine resources."- C. G. Moule, Bishop of Durham.

"Often have I said to myself, as I have read Moravian history, and felt the sweet strength of the Moravian literature of devotion and praise: Si non essem Anglicanus utinem fierem Moravus; 'If I were not of the English Church I would fain be of the Moravian'."- Bishop Moule, of Durham.
 

A New Song

“HE HATH put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God." (Psalm 40:3.)

"Be filled with the Spirit: speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:18-19).

The baptism with the Holy Spirit upon our fathers two centuries ago produced such a spiritual floodtide of sacred song as had not been experienced in the Christian Church before or since. The majority of our best church hymns may be traced to this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Praise to Christ, adoration of Him as God, proclamation of His virtues and work are their constant theme.

These were true hymns. They are generally prayers to Christ. This may almost be considered a Moravian peculiarity: their prayers are generally addressed to their Saviour. Seldom do we find a Moravian hymn or prayer in those days directed to the Father. Thus honoring the Son they honored the Father who had sent Him as well as the Holy Spirit whose chief mission it was to glorify Him. Indeed nearly all of our great hymns are prayers addressed to Jesus. A truly converted Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Lutheran, Moravian or Arminian, Baptist or Quaker, when he is baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire often breaks out into sacred song and it is generally prayer or praise addressed to Jesus.

This was preeminently the case in Herrnhut two centuries ago. The chief singer of the period was the godly young nobleman, Count Zinzendorf. He became the prince of German hymn-writers. We have already referred to his great song which John Wesley translated:

"Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,
My beauty are my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed
With joy I can lift up my head."

Justification by faith and the new birth are to be found at the cross of Jesus. Here also does the believer grow in true holiness and obtains the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is set forth in another of Zinzendorf's great hymns, also translated by John Wesley:

“I thirst, Thou wounded Lamb of God,
To wash me in Thy cleansing blood;
To dwell within Thy wounds; then pain
Is sweet; and life or death is gain.

“What are our works but sin and death,
Till Thou Thy quickening Spirit breathe!
Thou bidst each good within us move,
O wondrous grace! O boundless love!

“How blest are they who still abide
Close sheltered in Thy bleeding side!
Who life and strength from thence derive,
And by Thee move, and in Thee live!

“Take my poor heart and let it be
Forever closed to all but Thee!
Seal Thou my breast and let me bear
That pledge of love forever there.”

Having received such abundant spiritual baptism it is not be wondered at that many of their hymns were also addressed to or occupied with the Holy Spirit. Again we quote several stanzas f from Count Zinzendorf on this subject:

"To Thee, God Holy Ghost, we pray,
Who lead'st us in the Gospel way,
Those precious gifts on us bestow,
Which from our Saviour's merits flow.

"Thou Heavenly Teacher, Thee we praise,
For Thy instruction, power and grace,
To love the Father, Who doth own
Us as His children in the Son.

"Most gracious Comforter, we pray,
O lead us further every day:
Thy unction to us all impart,
Preserve and sanctify each heart!

"Till we in Heaven shall take our seat,
Instruct us often to repeat
'Abba, our Father'; and to be
With Christ in union constantly."

Next in ability, influence, piety and spiritual power to Count Zinzendorf was Bishop Spangenberg, Wesley's first Moravian teacher. He also wrote a number of hymns, in one of which he prays to the Holy Ghost as follows:

"The Church of Christ, that He hath hallowed here
To be His house, is scattered far and near,
In North, and South, and East and West abroad;
And yet in earth and heaven, through Christ, her Lord,
The Church is one.

"One member knoweth not another here,
And yet their fellowship is true and near;
One is their Saviour, and their Father one;
One Spirit rules them, and among them none
Lives to himself.

"They live to Him Who bought them with His blood,
Baptized them with His Spirit, pure and good;
And in true faith and ever-burning love,
Their hearts and hopes ascend, to seek above
The eternal good.

"O Spirit of the Lord, all life is Thine;
Now fill Thy Church with life and power divine,
That many children may be born to Thee,
And spread Thy knowledge like the boundless sea,
To Christ's great praise."

Christian women and young people also were filled with the Spirit and prophesied. Their prayers and praises often found expression in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Countess Zinzendorf composed the beautiful hymn beginning:

"Reach out Thy scepter,
King of Love,
Let us Thy royal favor prove!"

The second stanza is a particular prayer for holiness and power from on high:

"O ground us deeper still in Thee,
And let us Thy true followers be;
And when of Thee we testify,
Fill Thou our hearts with heavenly joy;
May Thy blest Spirit all our souls inspire,
And set each cold and lifeless heart on fire."

One of the many who experienced the new birth and the assurance of salvation through Zinzendorf's preaching was Louise Van Hayn. She also wrote a number of hymns, one of which is a favorite in the American Moravian Church:

"Jesus makes my heart rejoice,
I'm His sheep and know His Voice."

Amongst the youth who composed songs of praise and adoration may be mentioned Count Zinzeiidorf's son, Christian Renatus. Perhaps his best lines are the following:

"Lamb of God, Thou shalt remain forever
Of our songs the only theme;
For Thy boundless love, Thy grace and favor,
We will praise Thy saving Name;
That for our transgressions Thou wast wounded,
Shall by us in nobler strains be sounded,
When we, perfected in love,
Once shall join the Church above."

Another young man whose heart was set on fire with the love of Jesus was John de Watteville, Zinzendorf's son-in-law. His best known hymn is the one beginning:

"Jesus, Thyself to us reveal,
Grant that we may not only feel
Some drawings of Thy grace,
But in communion with Thee live,
And daily from Thy death derive
The needful strength to run our race."

One of the most remarkable and gifted youth of this great revival period was Christian Frederick Gregor. The brief biographical note in our Moravian Hymn Book indicates his versatile genius as follows:

"Financial agent of Zinzendorf, organist at Herrnhut, member of Unity's Elders Conference and Bishop." His hymns are all deeply spiritual. Perhaps his famous passion hymn is a favorite in all Moravian congregations. The two best known stanzas are the following:

"In this sepulchral Eden
The tree of life I've found;
Here is my treasure hidden,
I tread on holy ground;
Ye sick, ye faint, and weary,
Howe'er your ailments vary,
Come hither, and make sure
Of a most perfect cure. "

"Here lies in death's embraces
My Bridegroom, Lord and God!
With awe my soul retraces
The dark and dolorous road,
That leads to this last station
Here in sweet meditation
I'll dwell by day and night,
Till faith is changed to sight."

This great musician, financier and bishop was also the author of that most popular Palm Sunday chant, "Blessed Is He That Comes," or "Hosanna in the Highest," and of the following doxologies:

"O, form us all while we remain
On earth, unto Thy praise!"

"The Lord bless and keep thee in His favor
As His chosen property."

"With Thy presence, Lord our Head and Saviour,
Bless us all we humbly pray!"

The great Revival which began in 1727 continued for many years in ever increasing force and constantly widening influence. Eleven years later under the leadership of Peter Boehler the great Revival begin in England. Among Boehler's many spiritual children was a young clergyman of the Church of England by name of John Gambold, an Oxford graduate and a particular friend of the Wesleys. He joined the Moravian Church and became its first English Bishop. Some of his hymns and sacred songs have become well known. One of his best is the Passion hymn greatly beloved in the Church of his choice:

"Go forth in spirit, go
To Calvary's Holy Mount;
See there thy Friend between two thieves,
Suffering on thy account.

"Fall at His Cross's foot,
And say: 'My God and Lord,
Here let me dwell and view those wounds
Which life for me procured.'

"His Blood thy cause will plead.
Thy plaintive cry He'll hear,
Look with an eye of pity down,
And grant thee all thy prayer."

When the great English preacher, Rowland Hill, the friend and successor of Whitefield, had finished in his old age the last service of an arduous Sabbath day, he was observed walking up and down the church floor alone, repeating some verses. The aged preacher was quoting Bishop Gambold's hymn ending with the last two stanzas:

"And when I'm to die,
'Receive me,' I'll cry,
For Jesus hath loved me,
I cannot tell why.

"But this I do find,
We two are so joined,
He'll not live in glory,
And leave me behind."

Bishop Gambold's poem on the martyrdom of Ignatius, the friend of Polycarp, has become famous. Dr. Hanna, son-in-law and biographer of Dr. Thomas Chalmers, records that "no passage of English poetry was so frequently quoted by Dr. Chalmers in his latest years as the speech of Polycarp in this poem." Rev. Thomas Grinfield refers to this in his tribute to Bishop Gambold:

"Illustrious Chalmers, in his ample mind,
The memory of Moravian Gambold shrined,
Charmed with the deep tones of his tragic harp,
And oft rehearsed those words of Polyearp."

Another of Peter Boehler's English converts was James Hutton, the famous book-seller. He, too, has given us some precious hymns such as the following:

"Teach me yet more of Thy blest ways,
Thou slaughtered Lamb of God;
And fix and root me in the grace,
So dearly bought with blood.
O tell me often of each wound,
Of every grief and pain:
And let my heart with joy confess
From hence comes all my gain."

The best known English Moravian hymn-writer during the Great Revival is undoubtedly John Cennick, to whom reference was made in a previous chapter. His Bohemian ancestors, members of the Ancient Moravian Church, had found a refuge in England from cruel papal persecution. As soon as young Cennick heard of the renewal of the Church of his fathers, and became acquainted with its leaders, men like Zinzendorf, Spangenberg, Boehler and especially Gambold and Hutton, he at once felt himself at home and became the greatest preacher and evangelist the church has ever had. Count Zinzendorf called him "Paul Revived," and George Whitefield, his personal friend and fellow-worker, said of him:

"He was truly a great soul, one of those 'weak things,' which God hath chosen to confound the strong. Such a hardy worker with his hands and such a hearty preacher at the same time, I have scarce known. All call him a second Bunyan."

John Cennick has given us the story of his conversion in the well-known hymn:

"Jesus, My All to Heaven is gone!"

In the last two stanzas we find the sum and substance of his experience of salvation and joyful service:

"Lo, glad I come, and Thou, blest Lamb,
Shalt take me to Thee as I am;
My sinful self to Thee I give;
Nothing but love shall I receive.

"Then will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Saviour 1 have found;
I'll point to Thy redeeming Blood
And say, 'Behold the way to God!'"

His best known hymn, which is to be found in every church hymnal of English Protestantism is the one in which he sets forth his own poetic inspiration and purpose:

"Children of the Heavenly King,
As ye journey sweetly sing;
Sing your Saviour's worthy praise,
Glorious in His works and ways.

"We are travelling home to God
In the way the fathers trod;
They are happy now, and we
Soon their happiness shall see.

"Lift your eyes, ye sons of light,
Zion's city is in sight;
There our endless home shall be,
There our Lord we soon shall see."

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