Upon the news of a statewide “stay in place” order, our family started singing hymns in family worship that specifically focused on the church. Of course, we didn’t stop singing hymns about Christ. After all, Jesus is our God and Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Prophet, Priest, King, Shepherd, Brother, and Friend; and, He is the Bridegroom of the Church–which He purchased with His own blood. However, since we couldn’t help our children fully appreciate the importance of being gathered together with the local church every Lord’s Day, we began to sing hymns about the church.
There are so many theologically rich hymns about both the Church universal and the local church that we can be teaching our children. You may be familiar with S.J. Stone’s “The Church’s One Foundation,” John Newton’s “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” and William Walsham How’s “For All the Saints.” However, there are also lesser known hymns such as Bryan-Jeffery Leech’s “We Are God’s People” and Thomas Benson Pollock’s “Jesus, with Thy Church Abide.” Though each of these are uniquely suited to reflect the biblical teaching about the glory of Christ among His people, my wife and I specifically chose to sing Timothy Dwight’s “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” until we are able to gather again with God’s people in worship.
Timothy Dwight was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards. He was the President of Yale College (now Yale University) from 1795–1817. A theologian and philosopher, Dwight combated the encroachment of rationalism and deism of the French Enlightenment by scholarly defense of the authenticity of the New Testament. Though he had massive intellectual gifts, like his grandfather before him, Dwight penned this most simple and beautiful hymn that captures the heart a believer has for the church on earth and in heaven:
“I love thy kingdom, Lord,
the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God:
her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall,
for her my prayers ascend;
to her my cares and toils be giv’n,
till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heav’nly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou Friend divine,
Our Savior and our King,
thy hand from ev’ry snare and foe
shall great deliv’rance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be giv’n
the brightest glories earth can yield,
and brighter bliss of heav’n.”
Here’s a short recording of Micah, Eli, and Judah singing it with me during one of our times of family worship. I hope that you’ll be encouraged to make hymns about the church part of your worship in the home as well!