Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rise Up

Whenever our congregation ordains new officers (i.e. elders and deacons), I love to sing the hymn, “Rise up, O Men of God"...well, except for the words. It’s a high energy hymn and one with a stirring tune (we sing it to Festal Song), but if you really study the words and where they place emphasis? Read the words of this classic hymn, and see if you can detect my concern:

Rise up, O Church of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O Church of God!
His kingdom tarries long;
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O sons of God!
The Church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task,
Rise up, and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod;
As foll'wers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O Church of God!

Who in this hymn is said to be doing the work of redemption in the world? Who is making the church great? Where is Christ’s divinity and sovereignty shown forth? Think, when we sing this at an officer ordination, what are we asking of our ordinands? Would you want this burden placed upon your shoulders?

The problem is that this hymn, penned by a Presbyterian minister named William Merrill in 1911, captures only one side of...

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