I’ve been really enjoying an new album I downloaded last week – The Hymn Sing: Live in Nashville by Indelible Grace. The album, recorded at a live concert, has made such an impression on me for a couple of reasons – firstly, they work their way through a list of jaw-droppingly beautiful hymns with lyrics that put a lot of our modern song-writing efforts to shame, and I love the truth of the words and how they speak of the richness there is to be found in knowing Jesus. And secondly I love the understanding and knowledge they seem to have about what worship is and how our hearts work, that makes them choose to sing songs like this. To show you what I mean, here’s a rough transcript of one of the introductions to the hymn Thou Lovely Source, which I think is shared by Kevin Twit.
One of the things we love about these hymns is that they display Jesus as more beautiful and more believable, and one of our favourite hymns for getting at that idea is this hymn by Anne Steele. “Thou lovely source of true delight, unveil thy beauties to my sight”. That’s always what worship is about – about having our eyes opened to see Jesus who truly is more beautiful, and we long that he’d be more believable and more beautiful than the other things that vie for our heart’s affection. So we pray, and we cry out to the lovely source of our true delight, that He’d unveil his beauties to our sight.
I couldn’t find a clip of this hymn to share, sadly, so instead here’s another of my favourites from the album – Come Ye Sinners, written by Joseph Hart.
I’ve felt more joy and love for Jesus in being able to sing the words of hymns like this honestly, admitting my fainting hope and knowing my own weakness and not even trying to summon up emotion or expression that isn’t there, than I have felt in many corporate worship settings where the songs speak of joy and gladness. Why is that? Am I just a really negative person? I don’t think so… I think these hymns wonderfully and helpfully point me, as Anne Steele knew, and Kevin Twit has pointed out, to the true source of my delight, who is outside of me. As I see Jesus in more clarity and with more of his beauties and grace displayed and proclaimed to me by others singing with me, and as I’m reminded of the Father who sent him into the world out of love, though I know myself to be cold-hearted or joyless, the Spirit works in me to soften and melt away the coldness, and pours the love of God into my heart. That’s what I need! That’s why I love singing together with my church family – it’s an expression of what true gospel community is like – pointing one another, because we’re so quick to forget, or willfully misunderstand, to our lovely source of true delight, that we may love him more.