Baptismal Hymns

          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

 

Hosanna, hosanna

To the Lamb that was slain

Hosanna, hosanna

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.

11 responses to “Baptismal Hymns

  1. Most wedding songs don’t give a complete understanding of marriage nor do funeral songs give complete view of death, so I’m not totally troubled that baptismal songs don’t give complete of the matter. (There is a difference between inaccurate, incomplete and inappropriate.) I’ve got mental pictures and much emotion about O Happy Day and “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus–I also know that they tend to make salvation too punctiliar.

  2. Yeah, I would not discourage such traditional ‘invitational/baptismal’ songs (and I hope my post does not come off as doing that either) but I do want to encourage hymns /songs that are ripe with good deep theology, whether they are for baptism, communion, praise, etc… My preferance has always been to the contemporary songs but I also love some of the very older hymns that are laiden with profound reflection on the Christian faith, such as the one mentioned in the post or to give a few other examples… “O Sacred Head”, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and my favorite hymn of all time “Be Still, My Soul.”

    Rex

  3. What the Lord Has Done in Me is a wonderful song with wonderful thoughts. I agree with you. I haven’t heard the other sung, but it is also uplifting.

  4. I’ll have to learn What the lord has done in me. Beautiful song and message. The song come, holy spirit, dove divine is set to the same tune as o master let me walk with thee. We could try that any time as I’m sure everyone would know the tune.

  5. Dave,

    It is good to have you stopping by this spec of the blogosphere.

    I am not familiar with “Master Let Me Walk with Thee” but when I led “Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine” I remember someone remarking that the tune sounded familiar, so this must have been the other song they were thinking of.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  6. BTW,

    I do have an a capella arrangment for “What the Lord Has Done in Me.”

    Rex

  7. Just a tidbit note of something interesting I learned about baptism…

    The hymn “Come Holy Spirit, Dove Divine” (written by Adon­i­ram Jud­son, 1829) is full of both salvation and discipleship language. Interestingly, this hymn is one of only two hymns written by an American Baptist missionary who eventually came to embrace believer’s baptism and in addition to his mission work in Burma, translated the Bible into the Burmese language. The hymn gives us a great window to see the link between baptism and missional theology.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  8. Nice post. I stumbled across this while looking for some solid songs that explore the meaning and significance of baptism, as well as the work of God that is promised when we submit to baptism in the name of Jesus. It is highly ironic that with our heavy emphasis on baptism that Churches of Christ do not have a long (or short) list of such songs. Another older hymn you might want to consider is Baptized into Your Name Most Holy. It too can be found at youtube.com. I believe it is Lutheran in origin and has a reference to the move of the Spirit before baptism. Depending on your view of how the Spirit of God is involved in leading someone to faith, this thought might be rejected. But overall, the song is a prayer that seeks God’s grace and mercy as well as expressing confidence in what the Lord is doing as this baptism is received.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s