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Sunday, January 06, 2019

A Thousand Tongues

Peter Böhler (1712-1775) was a German-English Moravian bishop and missionary. Talking to Charles Wesley, he said, "If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ with them all." Wesley liked the line, and put it in his hymn written to commemorate the first year of his new birth that begins,
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!
I get it, but, to me, a thousand tongues isn't enough.

One of my little pet peeves about modern worship music is what is jokingly referred to as 7-11 songs -- repeat the same 7 words 11 times. That's silly, of course. They repeat stuff much more than that. There seems to be some value in repeating simple phrases over and over again in worship. Feels good? I don't know.

A favorite hymn is Frederick M. Lehman's The Love of God. The third verse, he says, was found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
John wrote, "There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25). If what Jesus said and did in His ministry would exceed out ability to express, how much more "the glories of my God and King"?

So we worship. We worship in church on Sunday. We worship with others. We worship in song, in giving, in the preaching of the Word. We worship by presenting our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice (Rom 12:1). We declare the glories of God in word and deed (Matt 5:16). Let's not stop at 7 or 11 words; let's make it a lifelong, daily effort.

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