Sunday, April 06, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "I Cannot Tell"

This week's hymn is by William Young Fullerton, and is set to the tune Londonderry, best known as being the tune of the popular song Danny Boy. Given that Fullerton was Irish, this choice is really not so surprising. Not much else is known about Fullerton, except that he was a Baptist preacher influenced and mentored by Charles Spurgeon.

I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wand’rers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary,
When Bethl’hem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and labored,
And so the Savior, Savior of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the Cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
When He the Savior, Savior of the world, is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Savior, Savior of the world, is King.
-William Young Fullerton

One of my favourite things about this hymn is the juxtaposition between the large questions that face us in life and the comfort of the limited knowledge that we have on earth. Each verse starts with I cannot tell, but it builds up to the But this I know. This is truly what our walk with Christ, in this Christian life should be like: when words fail us, when we can't find the answers to some of the questions about God that we face, we are comforted with what we do know. We know that Christ came to earth, that He heals the broken-hearted, that all flesh shall see His glory, and most of all, we know that as last, the Savior of the world is King.

Be blessed and shine although you cannot tell

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23