Christian Hymns (3)

O Thou in Whose PresenceO Thou in Whose Presence My Soul Takes Delight

… by Joseph Swain (1791).

Additional background on the hymn can be found here and a beautiful rendition here (by Fernando Ortega).

This hymn comes from the Baptists.  There is a Reformed section of the Baptist church.  I don’t know if this hymn came from that theological perspective, but the beauty of thought regarding our Savior nevertheless has made it one of my favorites.

O Thou, in Whose presence my soul takes delight
On Whom in affliction I call
My comfort by day and my song in the night
My hope, my salvation, my all

These are the words of a sinful creature who knows full well that it is only by Jesus Christ that he has been saved.  The response is to delight in Christ and to call upon Him in humble trust when under the weight of affliction.  There is nothing of true lasting value outside of Christ, though through His grace all that is of worldly value arises.

Where dost thou, dear Shepherd, resort with thy sheep?
“To feed them in pastures of love”
Say, why in the valley of death should I weep
Or alone in this wilderness roam?

Note that the sorrows of this world are not ignored, but rather placed within context of Christ’s love and care. Yes, this present world is a fallen wilderness within a valley of death.  But, in Christ, we are yet led to pastures of love within which we are fed by God’s Word and protected by His mercies.

O why should I wander an alien from Thee
Or cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see
And smile at the tears I have shed

Yes, there are indeed evildoers aplenty who’s life purpose is to obtain the worldly power by which they can rain down affliction on anyone they choose.  These people rejoice in the suffering that they cause.  And, in the depths of stupidity that only evil can attain imagine that they are humanitarians seeking a better future.  In the meantime they appear to prosper and thereby tempt others to fall into the same evil trap.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice
And myriads wait for His word
He speaks and eternity, filled with His voice,
Reechoes the praise of the Lord

The ultimate answer to the power of human wickedness is Christ’s infinite power of love.  This verse conveys both the magnitude and beauty of Christ’s power better than any other of which I’m aware.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my all
And in Thee I will ever rejoice

The penitent sinner calls out to his Savior, trusting that He will hear and respond.  We rejoice in Christ now as only a shadow of what will be experienced in eternity.


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