Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Death of deaths and Hell's destruction"

Written in the 18th century but usually sung to a 20th century tune, Cwm Rhon­dda, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" is perhaps the most famous hymn to come out of Wales. "I am weak, but Thou art mighty" is an essential confession if we are truly to depend on Him for guidance and deliverance and, ultimately, joyful eternity "on Canaan's side."
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer,
Sin, and Satan and the grave,
Sin, and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and Hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.
From Frank Colquhoun's A Hymn Companion:
William Williams, the author, is the foremost figure in the story of Welsh hymnody. Converted as a young man through the preaching of the revivalist Howel Harris, he took holy orders in 1740; but three years later he left the Established Church and spent the rest of his life as an itinerant evangelist. By all accounts he was a great preacher; but he was an even greater poet and has deservedly been called the poet laureate of the Welsh revival.

"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah" was published in Welsh in 1745. The English translation by Peter Williams (no relation) appeared in 1771. The imagery of the whole hymn is drawn from the story of the Exodus and the Israelites' journey through the wilderness to the promised land. Thus the `Bread of heaven' (v. i) refers to the manna (Exod. 16:4-18; John 6:30-36); `the crystal fountain' to the water from the smitten rock (Exod. 17:4-6). For `the fiery, cloudy pillar' see Exodus 13:21; and for `the verge of Jordan' see Joshua 3:14-17. Probably few people who sing the hymn realise that in the words `Death of death and hell's Destruction' Christ is being addressed. He himself is the destroyer of death, the vanquisher of hell (2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 1:17-18).
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:39 AM

    I only recently discovered this hymn and that was when I was watching a show of Britain's most favorite hymns in 2020. It became one of my favorites too.


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