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Song of the Day: Sandra McCracken

We sing this song in my church often. The text is profoundly beautiful to me, and that Sandra was able to rescue it, along with many other hymns, from the flotsam heaved overboard in the American church’s mad voyage to Praise and Worship Land, is a great gift to the Kingdom. It must be said, many fine songs are still being written for use in corporate worship, classified as Praise and Worship songs because of their simplicity over the perceived archaism of Hymns.

But however emotional the repetitive praise choruses may be (and repetition, like liturgy, can be a good thing), we should take care to pay attention to the wisdom of our forbears, those who crafted songs without computers, usually unconstrained by the typical three or four guitar chords or three or four same rhyming words we always tend to use, influenced by poets like Shakespeare and Tennyson and not writers of three-minute pop songs. And that’s not to mention the theological depth of many (but not all) hymns.

I don’t need to remind you that words have power. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. It is words that God employed to create the galaxies, and it is in the words of Scripture that he tells us so. Words elevate us; they separate mankind from the beasts of the earth. It is words that make a covenant, and words that overflow from the heart.

So read these words by John Stocker written two hundred years ago, this expression of humble thanksgiving to God for his great mercy, and be glad that Sandra used her fine sense of melody to undergird this text and make its ancient message feel as new as the morning.

1. Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song, The joy of my heart. and the boast of my tongue; Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last, Hath won my affections, and bound my soul fast.

2. Without Thy sweet mercy I could not live here; Sin would reduce me to utter despair; But, through Thy free goodness, my spirits revive, And He that first made me still keeps me alive.

3. Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart, Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart; Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.

4. Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own, And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son; All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine. All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.


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