Sunday, January 9, 2011

As Pants The Heart

Worship style wars are nothing new. Here is an old hymn of the church that caused a major crisis in some of the churchmen of jolly old England. In the late seventeenth century there was a tradition that had been held for many years which prohibited congregational singing except for translated psalms. This hymn proved to be controversial because of the heated hunter's chase in line 2. It was drew too much on the imagination which was could cause a person to have an emotional experience of a great thirst. (They'd have apoplexy today) God forbid we allow our emotions to mix with rational thinking.

However, the writers simply drew on the scriptural tradition of Ps. 42 and Isaiah 44:3 which talks about how God will pour water on him who is thirsty. (spiritually dry) Jesus spoke of seeking as one who looks for a gift when he said in John 4
"Open your heart for the gift I am bringing,
While you are seeking me, I will be found."

Read the words of this hymn and meditate upon the words. Go slowly and let them sink into you. What is a hart? It's a small deer. I say that because I know many who are not familiar with old English will not immediately pick that up. If you are young, pause from your point and click habits and sit on these words for a while. You will find them rich in theology.

The authors of the old hymns wrote many verses of which only a few ended up in our hymnals. (Check out our popular doxology. You'll be amazed at how many verses were and have been written for it) At the end, listen to the hymn played on a familiar tune. You'll pick up the hymn right away.

As Pants The Hart
by Nathum Tate (1652-1715) & Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)

1. As pants the hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for thee,
And thy refreshing grace.

2. For thee, my God, the living God,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
O when shall I behold thy face,
Thou Majesty divine!

3. Tears are my constant food, while
thus insulting foes upbraid:
"Deluded wretch! Where's now thy God?
And where his promis'd aid?"

4. I sigh when'er my musing thoughts
those happy days present,
When I with troops of pious friends
thy temple did frequent:

5. When I advanc'd with songs of praise
my solemn vows to pay,
And led the joyful sacred throng,
that kept the festal day.

6. Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
Trust God, and he'll employ
His aid for thee, and change these sighs
to thankful hymns of joy.

7. My soul's cast down, O God, but thinks
on thee and Sion still:
From Jordan's bank, from Hermon's heights,
and Missar's humbler hill.

8. One trouble calls another on,
and bursting o'er my head,
Fall spouting down, till round my soul
a roaring sea is spread.

9. But when thy presence, Lord of life,
has once dispell'd this storm,
To thee I'll midnight anthems sing,
and all my vows perform.

10. God of my strength, how long shall I,
Like one forgotten, mourn?
Forlorn, forsaken, and exposed
To my oppressor's scorn.

11. My heart is pierd'd, as with a sword,
whilst thus my foes upbraid,
"Vain boaster, where is now thy God?
and where his promis'd aid?"

12. Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
Hope still, and thou shalt sing
The praise of him who is thy God,
Thy health's eternal spring.

13. To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom we adore,
Be glory, as it was, is now,
And shall be evermore. Amen.

14. ***orig 1st verse****

15. Like as the hart
doth breathe and bray,
The well-springs to obtain,
So doth my soul desire alway
With Thee, Lord, to remain.

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