Friday, July 14, 2017

"O Christ, be thou our lasting joy, our ever great reward."

Hymn: “O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire” – 8th Century Latin Hymn
      [Translated by John Chandler – 1806-1876]

I am often drawn to very old hymn texts like this one from the 8th Century. Fortunately, these have been translated from the Latin for us to sing in our own tongue… for most of my readers, that would be English!

This entire hymn is a sung prayer, and the line I have pulled from it is one that seems to pop off the page whenever I’m in a service where this hymn is sung – or even just reading through hymnals. Yes, I hate to admit it, but I truly enjoy doing that!

In asking God to be the joy that lasts, continues, lives on, we are imploring the continuation of the state of joy which is ours as followers of him. The Bible never mentions the word ‘fun,’ but it uses the word joy throughout… almost from cover to cover. Indeed, there are heights of joy at which we find ourselves: at church camp, on prayer retreats, at intense times of worship… at the birth of a child, the marriage of that grown-up child, the birth of a grandchild. There are too many joys attached to our lives to begin to make even a short list. But joy CAN be our perpetual state of being.

O Jesus, please be that joy that keeps on bubbling up within us. Do not allow us to fall into hopeless despair.

The last phrase of this hymnline – “our ever great reward” – seems to indicate that this joy that I have that the world didn’t give to me is destined to be my eternal great reward. In fact, if the joy of the Lord that is my everyday strength were my ONLY reward, it would be a good one to have experienced and to have relished in this life. My belief system includes an afterlife awaiting, and I am certain that life will be the culmination of this life’s lasting joy, our ever great reward.

O Jesus, if joy were my only reward for being your follower, that would be plenty. Let us more fully enjoy the joy.

From the Westminster Catechism, the first question: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

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Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)