Devotional Hymns from a Dead Time

I have been learning about the various movements in the English Church in the 18th century. Sadly, most of them were just sad. There was the Broad Church which, as the name suggests, became as shallow and wide as possible to allow all beliefs in. (Maybe you could call it the seeker sensitive position in the days of rationalism). There was the High Church, which was an effort to return to worship and theology all that was lost in the reformation. Basically an attempt to be as Roman Catholic without actually rejoining (including worship/veneration of saints and Mary!) Both of these movements are fairly disappointing. Yet there was also the Low Church, or the evangelical movement.
In the evangelical movement, there were many great names, like Wilberforce, Newton, Ryle (a bit later), Simeon, and one of my favorite hymn writers, Isaac Watts.

As always it is encouraging to think of faithful men amidst a generation of doctrinal laziness, and regrettable returns to works righteousness. So, here is a hymn I have been enjoying recently that came out of that time despite the Church’s weaknesses:

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all Thy quick’ning powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.

Look how we grovel here below,
Fond of these trifling toys;
Our souls can neither fly nor go
To reach eternal joys.

In vain we tune our formal songs,
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.

Dear Lord! and shall we ever live
At this poor dying rate?
Our love so faint, so cold to Thee,
And Thine to us so great!

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all Thy quick’ning powers;
Come, shed abroad the Savior’s love
And that shall kindle ours.

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One thought on “Devotional Hymns from a Dead Time

  1. Tom Robbins says:

    it is amazing that a song written centuries ago can still resonate with the truth of our modern existence.
    You have long been a Isaac Watts “fan”; it must be good to get the historical context that he sprung from.

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