Father’s Heart, Son’s Cross, Mother’s Pain.
Today is Father’s Day and our hearts are turned to the Fathers and Husbands and Men in our lives and world. It is a great honor and joy to acknowledge God’s blessing in those of my family of a wife and 8 daughters and sons, along with the extended family in-laws with our 7 grandkids. Another good year of grace and mercy despite the world’s troubles. Thanks to all for words and thoughts of kindness and goodness; and my return to all is the same in kind in Him.
I at first wished to share two Songs and Hymns of Aquinas with that of the ‘Stabat Mater Dolorosa’, but I felt redirected to share instead some Father’s Hymns and Song of the Son connected to and related to the Mother’s Praise of the Incarnation. These Songs and Hymns were discovered in my earlier years as a Christian, and greatly helped me. I’ll first make some notices about these songs and hymns.
There are three ‘Abba Father’ Hymns.
Hymn I: By James G. Deck, published in Hymns for the Poor of the Flock 1841, 1846 edition; edited by J.G. Deck.
‘He was raised in the faith of the Church of England. As a young man he chose the army as a career. He trained at Paris, France under one of Napoleon’s generals.’ In 1835 ‘he became associated with other believers in the early days of the brethren movement’; was very active in the movement for some 40 years; very close to Wigram and Darby; was a major influence in New Zealand for the Christians and the Brethren; he labored to unite and to reconcile the two extreme parties in the movement. He is known and loved worldwide in the Christian Church for his Hymns, Songs, and Poems.
His only published non-hymnbook we have is: ‘Joy in Departing: A Memoir of the Conversion and Last Days of Augustus James Clarke (Son of Lieut. Col. A. Clarke,…) Who Fell Asleep in Jesus, May 2nd, 1845, in the Fourteenth Year of His Age” With this verse: “To depart, and to be with Christ, is far better.” The boy came under tutelage to the Decks at 10 years of age with his sister, whose parents were very close friends and of the same Brethren circles; a fragile child yet very tender to Christian feelings and affections; he was studious, and good in Latin; wanted to be a preacher of Christ’s Gospel; struggled with his evil nature but found faith and peace in Christ at 11 with fervent zeal; he became very fond of the Decks, calling Mr. Deck ‘Papa’; while cutting the cord tied around a mattress, the knife slipped and went deeply into his left eye; he struggled with the loss of his eye while he partially recovered, resigning in his new and simple faith to accept this accident as God’s will, and would gladly bear it for the Lord, and to live in joy in Christ with one eye; the infection and inflammation continued more or less till it caused his death at 14; during that year of immense suffering, daily getting weaker, his faith and hope and love outshined all sorrows and disappointments; he resorted to his Bible and Hymnbook in his frequent quiet times of isolation, often in a darkened room; all who visited were moved by his patient endurance and pure resignation to God’s will as he saw that his days were numbered; though very weak to even care for himself he was overjoyed to receive a promised Polyglott Bible from his father, and he read it as the days drew near, and kept it near his bed at all times; his letters to his parents, written by others, were very touching and firmly declared in Christ as his Hope, Lord, Savior, and All in God’s perfect flawless will; he read and considered many hymns as he awaited death, sharing many hours of fellowship with Deck and others; soon they all knew his favorite verses and hymns; Deck journaled that year in great detail, capturing the young boy’s spiritual progress, especially in his favorite hymns; once, on Mrs. Deck spending time with him and reading the latter part of Romans 8, he said that he felt that he had the “spirit of adoption” to cry “Abba, Father”. Shortly after this time Mr. Deck shared with him two hymns on meditations of the Prodigal Son, 1st, Invitation Accepted, was “Just as I am—without one plea…..O Lamb of God, I come!”, which is now sung in all the churches; and the 2nd was the Prodigal’s Welcome, Accepted in the Beloved”: “O Lamb of God, in Thee!” (by M.J.D.); both these songs echoed Deck’s 1841 hymn “Abba, Father”, and in turn would produce in many others new versions of this theme. The boy near death defied his condition, and with his own feeble hands wrote his last letter to his parents comforting them of the days when he will be above with God, waiting for them in due season, that all our lives and cares are in His good hands for life or death. So the boy died resting in Jesus in hopes of a resurrection; many attended his funeral; Darby was asked to share some words, which he did at great length, in admiration of the boys faith, life, and his deep affections for Christ in his sufferings, and as an example to all.
This note as to the various Abba Father Hymns is all that I need to add: [The BHB attributes hymn #2 to James Deck, identical in meter and with similar phraseology to hymn #1, so much so that the first verse of hymn #2 is often sung as the last verse of hymn #1. Other sources give the author as Dr. Robert Stephen Hawker(1753-1827), famous preacher and grandfather of famed Cornish poet also Robert Stephen Hawker (1803-1875). Mr. Paisley simply left this hymn out of his Companion. A very similar hymn is included as #104 in “Hymns for the Little Flock”, with the senior Robert Hawker as the author. This is a correction from prior versions of HLF which gave the poet grandson as the author. The early brethren freely altered hymns to correct doctrinal errors as they saw them – the version included in BHB is substantially changed from the Hawker hymn as given in HLF, including an added 4th verse. For now it is our opinion to follow the BHB citation and assume that James Deck at the very least substantially modified the original hymn, and so will remain listed as the author.]
I. Abba, Father! We approach Thee, by James G. Deck, published in Hymns for the Poor of the Flock 1841, 1846 edition; edited by J.G. Deck.
Abba, Father! we approach Thee
In our Saviour’s precious name;
We, Thy children, here assembling,
Access to Thy presence claim;
From our sin His blood hath washed us:
‘Tis through Him our souls draw near,
And Thy Spirit, too, hath taught us,
Abba, Father! name so dear.
Once as prodigals we wandered
In our folly, far from Thee;
But Thy grace, o’er sin abounding,
Rescued us from misery:
Thou Thy prodigals hast pardoned,
Loved us with a Father’s love;
Welcomed us with joy o’erflowing,
E’en to dwell with Thee above.
Clothed in garments of salvation,
At Thy table is our place;
We rejoice, and Thou rejoicest,
In the riches of Thy grace:
It is meet, we hear Thee saying,
We should merry be and glad;
I have found My once lost children,
Now they live who once were dead.
Abba, Father! all adore Thee,
All rejoice in heaven above;
While in us they learn the wonders
Of Thy wisdom, power and love;
Soon, before Thy throne assembled,
All Thy children shall proclaim,
Glory, everlasting glory,
Be to God and to the Lamb.
II.(Attributed to Hawker (R; RS, Rbert, Robert Stephen); not verified)
“Abba Father,” thus we greet Thee,
Magnify Thy holy Name;
Lifting holy hands we bless Thee,
Brought before Thee without blame,
We have learnt Thee here in sorrow,
Strangers in an alien land,
But we touch th’eternal morrow,
Abba, as in Christ we stand.
He has told us all the secrets
Hidden in that Name of grace;
Told us of the love that purposed
We should have with Christ our place.
Thus we bless Thee, “Abba Father,”
In the freedom He has won,
Taken into all the favour
Now made known in Christ, the Son.
“Abba Father,” thus we know Thee
In that scene of brightest day;
‘Tis as sons foreknown we bless Thee;
None but sons can “Abba” say.
This high honour we inherit,
Fruit of counsel now declared,
By the Holy Spirit’s witness
Consciously in sonship shared
III. (Robert Stephen Hawker 1803-1875. ?) (Pub. 1843 in First Truths or Lessons and Hymns, a New Edition, without credit.) (Incorrectly, Robert S. Hawkes in a Chinese Hymnal)
Abba, Father! we adore Thee,
Humbly now our homage pay;
’Tis Thy children’s bliss to know Thee,
None but children “Abba” say.
This high honor we inherit,
Thy free gift through Jesus’ blood;
God the Spirit, with our spirit,
Witnesseth we’re sons of God.
Thine own purpose gave us being,
When in Christ, in that vast plan,
Thou in Christ didst choose Thy people
E’en before the world began.
Oh, what love Thou, Father, bore us!
Oh, how precious in Thy sight!
When to Thine own Son Thou gav’st us,
To Thy Son, Thy soul’s delight.
Though our nature’s fall in Adam
Shut us wholly out from God,
Thine eternal counsel brought us
Nearer still, through Jesus’ blood;
For in Him we found redemption,
Grace and glory in Thy Son;
O the height and depth of mercy!
Christ and His redeemed are one.
Hence, through all the changing seasons,
Trouble, sickness, sorrow, woe,
Nothing changeth Thine affections,
Love divine shall bring us through;
Soon shall all Thy blood-bought children
Round the throne their anthems raise,
And, in songs of rich salvation,
Shout to Thine eternal praise.
IV. Stabat Mater Dolorosa: (“Considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of Our Lord’s mother, Mary (Lk2:35).” This 13th-century hymn is variously attributed to Gregory I, Bernard of Clairvaux, Pope Innocent III, St. Bonaventura, Jacopone da Todi, Pope John XXII, and Pope Gregory XI, and others; translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall (1814-1878). It was the liturgical sequence for the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin (Sept. 15 and the Friday before Palm Sunday). It is no longer used on the Friday before Palm Sunday and is optional on September 15, but it continues to be sung at the Stations of the Cross during Lenten services.” Translated by Edward Caswall, an Anglican turned Catholic.
((I have altered the original with the words in parenthesis from what was said of the Mother to speak of the Father.))
Part I: Mary’s Pain at the Son’s Cross & Suffering for Man.
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass’d.
Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm’d in miseries so deep
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruis’d, derided, curs’d, defil’d,
She beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.
Part II: The Father’s Heart in the Son’s Death for Man.
O Thou (Father)! Fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with Thine accord.
Make me feel as Thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ (Thy Word).
Holy (Father)! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.
Let me share with Thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with Thee,
Mourning Him who mourn’d for me,
All the days that I may live.
By the cross with Thee to stay,
There (to) Thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of Thee to give.
(Father) of all (fathers) best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share Thy grief Divine.
Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of Thine.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon’d
In His very blood away.
Be to me, O (Father), nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.
Part III: Paradise with God.
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy (Father)my Defense,
Be Thy cross my victory.
While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.