faith


This carol was written by John Byrom for Christmas 1749. It was set to music by his friend John Wainwright a few days later. The tune and words are a joyful match. I have always loved this song since I found it referenced in Charles Williams’ (C.S. Lewis’s friend) Christian horror/fantasy novel, The Greater Trumps, in which he makes stunning and revelatory use of the line “Rise to adore the mystery of love.”

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Savior of the world was born;
Rise to adore the mystery of love,
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son.

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard th’angelic herald’s voice: “Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Savior’s birth
To you and all the nations on the earth:
This day hath God fulfilled his promised word,
This day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.”

He spake, and straightway the celestial choir
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;
The praises of redeeming love they sang,
And heav’n’s whole orb with alleluias rang;
God’s highest glory was their anthem still,
Peace on the earth, and unto men good will.

To Bethl’hem straight the happy shepherds ran,
To see the wonder God had wrought for man;
And found, with Joseph and the bless-ed maid,
Her Son, the Savior in a manger laid;
Amazed, the wondrous story they proclaim,
Th’earliest heralds of the Savior’s name.

Let us, like these good shepherds, then employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy;
Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our lass,
From his poor manger to his bitter cross;
Treading his steps, assisted by his grace,
Till man’s first heav’nly state again takes place.

Then may we hope, th’angelic thrones among,
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all his glory shall display;
Saved by his love, incessant we shall sing
Eternal praise to heav’n’s Almighty King.

(Incidentally, my favorite Charles Williams book is War in Heaven, a fantastic rendition of a modern battle over the Holy Grail.)

The poem I posted part of yesterday reminded me of one of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets. So I’ll put two of them here (spelling modernized because it takes me too long to spell badly).

Annunciation

Salvation to all that will is nigh.
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb: and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he’will wear
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou’hast light in dark, and shutst in little roome,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
Nativity

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb
Now leaves his wellbelov’d imprisonment.
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come;
But oh, for thee, for him, hath th’Inn no room?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent
Th’effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt go,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

(The cycle continues from that line into the presentation at the Temple.)

Recently I found in the school library a lovely CD of medieval Christmas songs, Now Make We Merthe. This is an English translation of a Latin hymn mentioned in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale. You can listen to parts of the songs at that link.

Gabriel fram heven-king
sent to the maiden swete,
broucht her this blisful tiding
and fair he gan her grete:
Hail be thu, ful of grace aricht!
For godes son, this heven-licht,
for mannes love
will man bicome
and take
fles of the, maiden bricht,
manken free for to make
of sin and devle’s micht. . .

Th’angel went awai mid than
Al ut of her sicht;
Her womb arise gan
Thurch tholigastes micht. [the Holy Ghost's might]
In her wes Christ bilok anon,
Suith god, suith man in fles and bon,
and of hir fles
iboren wes at time.
Wharthurch us kam guid won; [whereby good hope came to us]
he boucht us out of pine
and let him for us slon.

A Latin carol also from that CD, with English translation:

Verbum patris humanatur,
dum puella salutatur,
saluata fecundatur
viri nescia
[The Word of the Father is made man, while a maiden is greeted; the greeted one is fruitful without knowledge of man.]

Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!
[Behold, new joys!]

Novus modus geniturae,
sed excedens vim naturae,
dum unitur creaturae
creans omnia.
[A new manner of birth, but exceeding the power of nature, when the Creator of all things is made creature.]

Audi partem praeter morem,
virgo parit salvatorem,
creatura creatorem,
patrem filia. . . .
[Hear of a birth beyond precedent: a virgin hath given birth to the Savior, a creature the Creator, a daughter the Father. . . .]

Homo Deus nobis datur,
datus nobis demonstratur,
dum pax terris nuntiatur,
caelis gloria.
[God in Man is given us, the given one is shown to us, while peace is announced to the nations and glory to the heavens.]

A hymn by Charles Wesley, often sung in Advent, a reminder both of the reason for Christ’s first coming, and of his glorious second coming. The third verse is an amazing meditation on the meaning of the Incarnation: God irreversibly uniting himself with a human nature and a human body. Forever.

Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
Once for our salvation slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
///Alleluia!///
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Ev’ry eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold him,
Pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
///Deeply wailing///
Shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
Still his dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To his ransomed worshippers:
///With what rapture///
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory;
Claim the kingdom for thine own:
///Alleluia!///
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

(I decided to stay home from church today, so as not to get all the children sick.)

“Fear not, for I am with thee; I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back;
           Bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.
Even every one that is called by name:
           For I have created him for my glory;
                I have formed him;
           Yea, I have made him.
Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled:
           Who among them can declare this, and show us former things?
           Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified -
                    Or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen:
           That ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he:
           Before me there was no god formed,
                     Neither shall there be after me.
I, even I, am the Lord;
           And beside me there is no savior.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you:
           Therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.
Yea, before the day was, I am he;
           And there is none that can deliver out of my hand;
           I will work, and who shall let [hinder] it?”                                 Isaiah 43: 5-13

From Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 1, chapter 7, second half of the chapter (emphasis added):

Yet they who strive to build up firm fatih in Scripture through disputation are doing things backwards. . . . [E]ven if anyone clears God’s Sacred Word from man’s evil speaking, he will not at once imprint upon their hearts that certainty which piety requires. Since for unbelieving men religion seems to stand by opinion alone, they, in order not to believe anything foolishly or lightly, both wish and demand rational proof that Moses and the prophets spoke divinely.

But I reply: the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded. Isaiah very aptly expresses this connection in these words: “My Spirit which is in you, and the words that I have put in your mouth, and the mouths of your offspring, shall never fail.” [Is. 59:21]

. . .  Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit.

Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit to it as to a thing far beyond any guesswork! This we do, not as persons accustomed to seize upon some unknown thing, which, under closer scrutiny, displeases them, but fully conscious that we hold the unassailable truth!  

. . . By this power we are drawn and inflamed, knowingly and willingly, to obey him, yet also more vitally and more effectively than by mere human willing or knowing.

God, therefore, very rightly proclaims through Isaiah that the prophets together with the whole people are witness to him; for they, instructed by prophecies, unhesitatingly held that God has spoken without deceit or ambiguity. Such, then, is a conviction that requires no reasons; such, a knowledge with which the best reason agrees – in which the mind truly reposes more securely and constantly than in any reasons; such, finally, a feeling that can be born only of heavenly revelation.

This is too good not to copy down immediately and share: from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (here at Amazon, and here online (different translation)), Book 1, The Knowledge of God, ch. 5, “The Knowledge of God the Creator.” A few paragraphs back Calvin has remarked on how God reveals himself in nature, so that he is made known even to the ignorant and foolish, and also in greater detail to those who study his works through astronomy, medicine, etc. I especially liked this passage in light of a recent headline, “Scientists cast new doubt on the existence of the soul,” referring to some foolish (in the Psalmist’s sense) neuroscientists.

“. . . I take to task those given to fanciful subtleties who willingly drag forth in oblique fashion that frigid statement of Aristotle both to destroy the immortality of the soul and to deprive God of his right. For, since the soul has organic faculties, they by this pretext bind the soul to the body so that it may not subsist without it, and by praising nature they suppress God’s name as far as they can.

Yet the powers of the soul are far from being confined to functions that serve the body. Of what concern is it to the body that you measure the heavens, gather the number of the stars, determine the magnitude of each, know what space lies between them, with what swiftness or slowness they complete their courses, how many degrees this way or that they decline? I confess, indeed, that astronomy has some use; but I am only showing that in this deepest investigation of heavenly things there is no organic symmetry, but here is an activity of the soul distinct from the body. I have put forth one example, from which it will be easy for my readers to derive the rest.

Manifold indeed is the nimbleness of the soul with which it surveys heaven and earth, joins past to future, retains in memory something heard long before, nay, pictures to itself whatever it pleases. Manifold also is the skill with which it devises things incredible, and which is the mother of so many marvelous devices. These are unfailing signs of divinity in man [ie, of divine origin of man].

Why is it that the soul not only vaguely roves about but conceives many useful things, ponders concerning many, even divines the future – all while man sleeps? What ought we to say here except that the signs of immortality which have been implanted in man cannot be effaced? Now what reason would there be to believe that man is divine and not to recognise his Creator?

Shall we, indeed, distinguish between right and wrong by that judgment which has been imparted to us, yet will there be no judge in heaven? Will there remain for us even in sleep some remnant of intelligence, yet will no God keep watch in governing the world? Shall we think ourselves the inventors of so many arts and useful things that God may be defrauded of his praise even though experience sufficiently teaches that what we have has been unequally distributed among us from another source?”

Truly it is written, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together. . .
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2)

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Elliot’s Keep A Quiet Heart, and thinking, “How much she trusts God, and how calm she always is. I wish I had more opportunities to practice this.” And then, “Boy, I really shouldn’t wish for things like that. . .” That is one prayer God always answers immediately and unmistakably.

Around 12:40 I was sitting in the cafeteria, chatting with one of the chaplain nuns (not that I approve of women chaplains, or nuns who don’t wear habits, but she was nice), on the policy that the chaplains show up at the trauma bay and in the ICU frequently, and it would be good to be friends with them. My beeper went off. When I called him, the attending said, “So, Alice, are you going to come give that talk at 12:30 today?” I looked at the clock (still 12:40), and shook my head to make sure my ears were working. “Um, talk? I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.” I didn’t have this attending pegged as a joker, but if he did joke, this just might be the kind of joke he would go in for. “I told you last week that you’re supposed to give a talk today.”

Images float through my mind. The problem is, in the loud cafeteria, with my heart in my throat, holding the phone and trying to hang on to the conversation, I can’t straighten out whether the picture of me sitting in his office and being instructed about a speech comes just from my nightmare on this exact topic last night, or from an actual event two weeks ago which subconsciously triggered that nightmare. “I don’t remember that at all, sir. I guess I just completely forgot.” “So you don’t have a talk ready?” “Um, no, I completely forgot. What was it supposed to be about?” Thinking, I could go print something off UpToDate, and have a talk in half an hour. . . “You were supposed to pick a topic.” Thanks a lot, doctor – no lifeline there, huh? “Well, I will definitely have a talk ready by Monday.” “Ok, I’ll talk to you about the topic this afternoon. Don’t work on it till you talk to me.” And he hung up.

He’ll talk to me this afternoon? It is afternoon. Why is he hanging up on me? I am going to be in so much trouble. I ran out of the cafeteria, up to the quiet students’ lounge in a corner of the top floor. All the way up I was trying to think, Did he actually tell me? Am I so insanely incompetent that I can’t remember something as major as a presentation assignment from the attending? I must be losing my mind. There’s no hope for me to be a competent surgery resident, if I can’t even remember a point-blank assignment. I thought I was the kind of person to research this and have it ready a week and a half ahead of time. I must be so totally out of my mind. . . And if he didn’t tell me, there’s no way I can think of to tell an attending that his memory, not mine, is playing games, and it’s his fault, not mine, that I didn’t have the talk ready.

In the lounge, there’s another student, so I have to calm down and chit-chat. We discuss residency plans, while I’m thinking, this is no way for a surgery resident to behave. After a while, I semi-calm down, figuring, he can’t flunk me from medical school for this, and it’s actually pretty easy to prepare a speech by Monday. An hour later, he paged me again. “You know what, Alice, I was thinking, I must have been talking to the resident about her presentation today, and thought that I had talked to you, too. So, have you thought of a topic?” “Um, surgical wound infections?” I could hear his eyebrows go up. “That’s a pretty broad topic. How about, the use of hyperbaric oxygen intraoperatively to prevent post-op infections?” “Intra-operatively?” I didn’t know you could manage that inside an OR, and I saw on ER that it gives everyone panic attacks, not sure you could do that to the scrub tech and circulator. “Yes, intra-operatively. There’s a good article on it.” Ookay, so this obviously won’t be covered on UpToDate, but, it is nice of him to have a topic picked, and a surgical one at that.

Then he sent me to see a consult, which was wildly complicated. Half the important information (like the result of the in-house EGD two days ago) doesn’t show up on our new computer system (after I begged yet another nurse to let me in); nor does the positive blood culture which was the whole reason for us being consulted. The patient is very hard of hearing, and tangential. After spending a long time with him, it turned out that I had failed to elicit the really important pieces of history. (I thought it was only on tests that patients traveled to New Mexico and then presented with a mysterious chronic illness – coccidoidomycosis, which this guy probably does not have, but he was in NM.) As we left the consult, he mentioned the oxygen again, and the resident pointed out that he really meant, supplemental intra-operative oxygen. Which is much easier than hyperbaric. I found three articles easily.

I bet God thinks that’s funny. I ‘spect I’ll think so too in a couple more days.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.”

So far in At Dawn We Slept the Japanese have made their plans, and the fleet has just sailed for Pearl Harbor, around November 27; the Americans continue to be so-close-to-right, but clueless. Chapter 50: “To Be Considered A War Warning” covers the dispatches that were sent from the authorities in Washington to Kimmel and Short (the Navy and Army commanders, respectively) at Pearl Harbor.

The War Department sent one message, which included these phrases: “. . . Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. . . you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary, but these measures should be carried out so as not . . . to alarm civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. . .” Short, who as the commanding Army officer on the island was responsible for protecting the Navy base, seems to have had a fixed delusion on the subject of sabotage. It was the only action that he could envision the Japanese taking against his forces. So, when he received this message, he activated Alert No. 1, which “was ‘a defense against sabotage, espionage, and subversive activites without any threat from outside.’ ” His method of protecting against sabotage was to gather the already limited number of planes under his command into one area, and store their ammunition in a separate location – to be easier to protect from fifth columnists among the local Japanese. Gordon Prange (with quotations from the subsequent investigations) writes,

“He believed that thirty to thirty-five minutes’ warning would give him ‘plenty of time to disperse the planes.’ But it would not ‘have been time to get them in the air,’ and that, after all, was their main reason for being on Oahu. Thus, the morning of December 7 found American aircraft huddled together with no ammunition available, a perfect target for Nagumo’s bombers and fighters.”

Short also assumed that the “reconnaissance” mentioned in the dispatch was entirely the responsibility of the Navy, and thus never even mentioned the subject to Kimmel. Had he inquired, he would have discovered that Kimmel neglected to properly inform and supervise his subordinate, Bloch, who was responsible for defensive measures on the Navy’s part. Bloch deployed the few reconnaissance ships and planes that were available completely to the southwest, between Pearl Harbor and Midway – thus totally neglecting the northwestern approach, which was how the Japanese were planning to come in.

The Navy Department sent Kimmel a second dispatch, which said in part, “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan . . . have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. . . Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in [the basic war plan].” The Congressional investigations revealed that while the admirals in Washington considered the phrase “this is a war warning” to express “the strong conviction on the part of the Department that war was surely coming,” Kimmel understood it as meaning “no more than saying that Japan was going to attack someplace,” with no specific threat to the US bases. Admiral Turner, chief of the War Plans division, had used “deployment” to mean “a spreading out of forces. . . into the best positions from which to execute the operating plans against the enemy.” He had in mind Tasks G and H from the basic war plan, which called for protection of sea communications and territories of the Allies, which whatever patrols and other actions were needed to accomplish that. For some reason, he did not designate Tasks G and H specifically. When Kimmel read the dispatch, however, he concluded that “appropriate defensive deployment” meant ” ‘something similar to the disposition’ he had made on October 16. But most of those measures, such as full security of the ships at sea, were still in effect. While he considered stepping up the condition of readiness for the vessels in Pearl Harbor, he decided against it.”

The whole chapter is full of such examples of careful wording chosen in Washington, which was then understood in a very opposite way in Pearl Harbor. In another instance, Short, as directed, “reported to Washington” on his actions in response to the War Department dispatch. He stated specifically that he had instituted “precautions against sabotage,” and said nothing else. Stimson, the secretary of war, later testified, “I had no idea that being ‘alerted to prevent sabotage’ was in any way an express or implied denial of being alert against an attack by Japan’s armed forced.”

Prange concludes the chapter by saying,

“Short’s measures were to help the Japanese achieve one of their important objectives – nailing the Hawaiian Air Force to the ground and preventing it from effectively interfering with the attack or retaliating against the task force. These measures were in contradiction of the Martin-Bellinger and Farthing reports and all major war games held in the Hawaiian area since 1933. With the best of intentions all along the line, the ‘war warning’ messages of November 27 left Hawaii less ready to meet a Japanese attack than it had been before the dispatches arrived.” (italics added)

In another passage, Prange attributed to “a malevolent cosmic demon” the manner in which the Japanese fears for things which might prevent them from succeeding were exactly matched by American decisions which removed those precise obstacles. He was right to conclude that the events leading up to Pearl Harbor were beyond coincidence. He just attributed the planning incorrectly.

It is also written,
“Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is [laid] for him?
Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing [in it] at all?
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?”                                               Amos 3:5-6

I’m not offering to explain God’s reason for setting up Pearl Harbor; but I know it didn’t happen by accident. By the same token, I am absolutely certain that our current situation in Iraq is not an accident. I would guess that a history written fifty years from now from original interviews (as At Dawn We Slept is) would show a similar series of misunderstandings and pitfalls leading to the mess we seem to be in now. (In other words, Bush didn’t lie; humans can make mistakes with good intentions.) I think I know maybe a few of God’s reasons for this, already. Our nation deserves judgment for all our evil and immoral actions, and I’m sure Saddam Hussein’s Iraq deserved judgment too. Kill two birds with one stone. So, that means God has North Korea and Iran firmly in his plans, too. They’re not doing anything that’s he’s not aware of, that he’s not in control of. (God, please, could your plan not include another atomic bomb exploding?)

“This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. . .
Till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. . .

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment;
And those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”                                                                  Daniel 4:24-25, 37

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss [submit to] the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”                                          Psalm 2:10-12

Done, done, done, done, done!!!

Ahem. I finished in six hours, not counting breaks for lunch. Halfway through I got so flustered I thought the computer was skipping things on me, and dragged the proctors back to look; it turned the computer had only done what I had told it to do, gone back to the beginning of the section in order to review. Apart from making me look very idiotic, there were no bad effects from this. It was – interesting – to watch all the other test-taking people coming in and finishing long before me. As far as I could tell, there was no one else taking Step 2, but various nursing licensing and other state certification tests.

Thank you God – the test was not extremely hard. There were a handful of questions where I had no idea what they were talking about, but many more where I knew the answer for sure without even looking at the choices. As I had expected, it was mostly internal medicine type questions, with some ob/gyn, surgery, peds, and psych thrown in. The questions I got seemed to focus on respiratory ailments – fortunately not too many of the “if the patient presents with the following three serious medical conditions and five drugs, what do you expect their ABG to look like” – because I hate those. All the usual chestnuts were there; I won’t name them, in case any officials stumble across here, but you medical students all know those classic questions – you see two words in the first sentence, and you know what it’s about, even though you’ve probably neither seen nor heard of it all year on the wards.

I’m pretty certain I didn’t fail, and I don’t care right now how good or bad my score is. This is the last test that I’m going to care about the score on. After this – Step 3, in-service exams, licensing exams, recertification – I’ll just need to pass. It’ll be a pretty sorry sight if I’m trying to compete with the eleven other interns, or however many there are.

O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
And vie with Gabriel while he sings in notes almost divine,
                          In notes almost divine.

I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
My ransom from the dreadful guilt of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
In which all-perfect, heav’nly dress my soul shall ever shine,
                         My soul shall ever shine.

I’d sing the characters he bears,
And all the forms of love he wears, exalted on his throne:
In loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
I would to everlasting days make all his glories known,
                        Make all his glories known.

Well, the delightfull day will come
When my dear Lord will bring me home, and I shall see his face;
Then with my Savior, Brother, Friend 
A blest eternity I’ll spend, triumphant in his grace,
                       Triumphant in his grace.

Words by Samuel Medley, 1789 (isn’t that a perfect name for a hymnwriter?), tune by Mozart, arranged by Lowell Mason. Gorgeous.

Isaiah is one of my favorite books of the Bible. There are prophecies about Jesus, as well as about his kingdom. I love prophecies that I know haven’t been fulfilled yet, because that has to be the best way to pray: to look at what God promised, and claim it. The second half of Isaiah is especially good. The first half just makes me think about the wickedness of this country, and the incredible judgment that has to be impending over us, and I can’t think of any really good reason (like ten righteous men in the city, or a new Josiah) why it shouldn’t happen.

Chapter 42
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. . . He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Lord, so many of your promises extend to “the uttermost parts of the earth,” and the isles – but Lord, come and look back here, right in the middle, where the medieval Christians thought the center of the world was: Jerusalem, the holy city of the Great King, and the holy land where you lived – it’s taken over and terrorized by evil men. And all the countries around it are in darkness, deceived by the false prophet (who was indeed antichrist: “Who is a liar, but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” I John 2) Lord, your gospel has been preached on the other side of the world, and in the Pacific isles – but here at the center, Jews and Muslims alike live in blindness.

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
What darkness, my Lord, these people live in, that for 1400 years they have been deliberately in ignorance of your love. Oh that you would open their eyes, that you would cause them to see, that you would give them understanding, that they could repent of their sins and be saved! Truly they are in prison, and they will never escape on their own, because no one can come to the Father unless he calls them. Lord, be pleased to call – not only thousands, but millions of Muslims, now, in this generation; call them, draw them to yourself, bring them out of darkness and prison.

I am the Lord: that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
So, O God, be angry at this false religion, which openly steals your glory, claiming to worship one true god, and giving your holy name to the moon god, and blaspheming against your triune nature. Dear God, there is no other religion which is so contrary to your glory; the others indeed all worship idols, which are idle and useless, and obviously helpless. But Islam denies your very nature, while pretending to worship one god; it denies the incarnation of your son, and his death and resurrection – thus dishonoring him, Father, whom you promised to glorify before the whole world, because he obeyed you perfectly. Please, Lord, defeat this wicked heresy; grant that even their teachers, the imams and mullahs, would be converted, and come to teach the truth, and glorify the One whom they now dishonor.

Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands. . . .
I will bring the bling by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Remember us, Lord; remember your promises of old, let this be the day of salvation for thousands of Muslims who are now in darkness, trying to earn their way into heaven by keeping Ramadan. Let this be the last Ramadan ever for thousands of Muslims.

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