Hymns of Faith and Hope: God Is Working His Purpose Out

Hymns of Faith and Hope: God Is Working His Purpose Out December 31, 2020

Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts
    that peoples labor only for fire,
    and nations weary themselves for nought?
    For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
    as the waters cover the sea.

– Habakkuk 2:13-14 (RSV)

The time is drawing nearer and nearer, y’all.

Here’s a hymn for today, in fact, more for this day than any previous one. This hymn doesn’t get much airtime these days, what with the hims and the mankinds and the hints of a 19th-century perspective on global evangelism. But it’s a solid text through which to reflect on Christ’s coming Kingdom, and the calling for which we were created. You can sing it to BENSON, as was originally done, but I think PURPOSE, with its haunting minor tune, matches the gravitas of the text. Here’s St. John’s Church in Detroit.

God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

From utmost east to utmost west,
wherever foot hath trod,
by the mouth of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God;
give ear to me, ye continents,
ye isles, give ear to me,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world:
fight we the fight with sorrow and sin
to set their captives free,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blessed the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.
– Arthur Campbell Ainger, 1894


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