Growing up in a Church of Christ, we had certain hymns that were regularly sung either as an invitation (altar call) selection or during a baptism. Some of these hymns included I Surrender All, O Happy Day, There’s A Fountain Free, to name a few. I have nothing against these hymns because I do believe the grace of God is a “fountain free,” that baptism is about “surrendering all” to God, and that our baptism ought to be a “happy day.” Yet none of these songs have what I would describe as a deep theology regarding baptism and specifically what God is doing in baptism.
To my knowledge, no person in the Churches of Christ or the larger Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement has ever written a hymn reflecting a good deep theology about baptism and what God is doing in baptism through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is probably due to the fact that our history has not always thought of baptism in terms of what God is doing but that is for another discussion.
In the last few years I have come across at least two songs that reflect a good deep theology on baptism that I want to share with you. Some of you have heard the contemporary worship song What the Lord Has Done in Me written by Rueben Morgan and published by Hillsong Music of Australlia in 1998. If you click on the YouTube video of this song (not a capella), you can watch and hear the song. Here are the words to this song:
Let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Let the blind say, “I can see”
It’s what the Lord has done in me
To the Lamb that was slain
Jesus died and rose again
To the river I will wade
There my sins are washed away
From the heavens’ mercy streams
Of the Savior’s love for me
I will rise from waters deep
Into the saving arms of God
I will sing salvation songs
Jesus Christ has set me free
Another song, much older and less known, is Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine by Adoriram Judson (words, 1832) and H. Percy Smith (music, 1874). If you click on the title you will find a link to Cyber Hymnal which will play you the piano melody of the hymn. This song is #427 in the Songs of Faith and Praise hymnal. Here are the words to this song:
Come, Holy Spirit, Dove divine,
On these baptismal waters shine,
And teach our hearts, in highest strain,
To praise the Lamb for sinners slain.
We love Your Name, we love Your laws,
And joyfully embrace Your cause;
We love Your cross, the shame, the pain,
O Lamb of God, for sinners slain.
We sing beneath the water’s face,
And thank You for Your saving grace;
We die to sin and seek a grave
With you, beneath the yielding wave.
And as we rise with You to live,
O let the Holy Spirit give
The sealing unction from above,
The joy of live, the fire of love.
I hope these songs are helpful and encouraging to you, yet I also hope they remind us of what God has done to us in our baptism through the crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you have never given thought to a high view of baptism, let me recommend Down In The River to Pray by John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor.