Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hymn of the Week--Saved by Grace

Some readers have mentioned that I should provide links to the music for the hymns I discuss. Unfortunately, many of them appear to be found only in the cyberhymnal, which provides a tinny-sounding and quickly-played version of the tune. This is one. But it's the best I can do if you really don't know the tune at all.

I did discover that the inimitable Ken Medema has recorded it, but unfortunately there is no clip.

It's of course particularly appropriate that Ken Medema should have recorded it, and if you don't know why (being for whatever reason unacquainted with Protestant hymnody and music), it's because both he and Fanny Crosby are blind. Except, of course, Fanny isn't anymore, because she's in heaven.

Fanny Crosby wrote so many hymns I couldn't begin to list them, and nearly all of them allude to her blindness. In this one, it's the chorus: "And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story, saved by grace." Sometimes the allusion is more subtle, as in "Pass me not, O gentle Savior." There she is comparing herself to Bartimeus who was a blind begger and called to Jesus as He passed by.

But the song (go read the words at the link) raises the interesting question of assurance of salvation. One of my moves away from being a Baptist has been my conclusion that it is possible to fall from grace. This is sometimes identified as a "Catholic" view, but actually I believe it is also standard Lutheran theology and is certainly implied by much Anglican liturgy. Now, Fanny obviously is absolutely convinced that she is going to heaven, which I guess the Catholics would call "presumption."

For myself, I can't see it that way. I'm reminded of a very personal story: My dad had been sick a couple of years ago, and he was home from the hospital and still not doing too well. He told me on the phone about how he passed out one time. He said he thought to himself as everything went dark, "Well, I guess I'm goin' to heaven." "But then," he continued, "I just woke up on the floor with a gash on my head."

Now, it seems to me that there is a certain innocent purity in some people, such that their confidence of this sort is itself evidence. In both of these cases, my strong inclination is to say, "That's not someone whose eternal destiny I have to worry about. That's someone close to Jesus. That's someone who is ready."

Anyway, enjoy "Saved by Grace," and if you already know it, go around humming it this week.

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