Hymn of the week: Christ, whose glory fills the skies

Subic sunsetTomorrow is the Sunday before Lent, and as always on this particular Sunday the lectionary turns to the story of the Transfiguration, this year from the Gospel of Matthew.

As with all these festivals that come round every year, it can be difficult finding something new to say. It’s complicated by the fact that tomorrow morning’s service at Archway is a ‘parade service’, with the kids from the uniformed organisations (Brownies, Guides, Boys Brigade) in church for the whole service. Fortunately, although on one level the story of the Transfiguration isn’t particularly easy to explain, there are a number of strong themes that can be developed from it, such as ‘glory’ and ‘light’.

When choosing hymns for the Transfiguration, I do sometimes use one of the handful of hymns that tell the story, but more often choose hymns and songs that relate to these broader themes, but which do pick out some of the nuances in the texts. As it’s all age worship, I’ve gone for a mixture of old and new offering a variety of styles, and stuck to songs that we know fairly well. I’ve also limited my choice to Mission Praise.

This then is my choice for morning worship:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies
Lord, the light of your life (Shine, Jesus, shine)
Be still, for the presence of the Lord
Wonderful, so wonderful
Fairest Lord Jesus

As all but the first of these are in copyright, my choice for ‘Hymn of the week’ is rather limited. However, ‘Christ whose glory’ is in any case a worthy contender. Originally published in one of the earliest Methodist collections Hymns and Sacred Poems (1740), for a time it was thought that the writer was the Calvinistic preacher Augustus Toplady (author of ‘Rock of ages’); it was later established that it is actually by Charles Wesley. Companion to Hymns and Psalms suggests that “from the brilliant assurance of the first line to the triumphant final image, it has a poetic sweep and imaginative command that are rare even for Charles Wesley.”

I’m not sure which tune we will sing it to – personally I prefer HEATHLANDS. Here are the words:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o’er the shades of night:
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day’s return,
till thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine!
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me, Radiancy Divine;
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

Charles Wesley

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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