Week 2: Addressing God


Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior

Text: Fanny Crosby (1820–1915), 1868

Tune: William Howard Doane (1832–1915), 1870

  1. What does it mean for our savior to be a “gentle savior”? Why does Crosby choose this phrase rather than one like “mighty savior” that implies strength? How does this fit into the overall message of the text?

    • Gentleness actually requires strength - it’s the combination of strength and restraint
      • Phrases like “gentle giant” give the impression of a powerful person who is careful how they use their strength
      • Conversely, “gentle insect” doesn’t make much sense - since they’re too small to be anything other than gentle
      • In fact, we see references to Jesus’ power in his “throne”
    • Our savior is gentle because He cares about the meek and lowly
      • In this hymn, Christ is the one doing all the action: listening, hearing, comforting
      • We are dependent on God’s work in our life, not the other way around
      • This view is Calvinistic in some ways: God calls us, rather than us choosing Him
  2. The cries for help and mercy in the hymn bring to mind gospel stories of people asking Jesus for help. Specifically, which story comes to your mind first? What lines from the text could you imagine them saying?

    • The phrase “help my unbelief” is a quote from Mark 9:24
      • The speaker is the father of a demon-possessed child; in response to Jesus’ statement that “all things are possible to him who believes”, the father says, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
    • In Matthew 15:21-28 a mother with a demon-possessed daughter also comes to Jesus
      • Jesus says, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs”, but the woman says “even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” and Jesus praises her
    • Another possibility is the centurion in Matthew 8:8 who says “I am not worthy for you to come under my roof”, after asking for his son to be healed

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Text: Thomas O. Chisholm (1866–1960), 1923

Tune: William Runyan (1870–1957), 1923

  1. Looking at the theme of each verse, we first see God’s faithfulness revealed in His word, then revealed in creation, and finally in our own lives. Does one of those themes speak to you personally? How have you seen God’s faithfulness at work in that area?
    • Scriptural inspiration comes from Lamentations 3:22-23
    • Verse one is a paraphrase of James 1:17, “shadow of turning” is from the King James Version
      • The word “shadow” means “even the slightest appearance”, as in “beyond a shadow of a doubt”
      • The word “turning” comes from the Greek word “trope” (from which we get “entropy”)
      • As a phrase, this is saying God is without even the slightest appearance of change
    • Verse two speaks to the theological concept of “general revelation”, the idea that God makes Himself known through the physical universe
      • See Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”
    • Verse three ties God’s past faithfulness (in the first two verses) to the present time and to the future
      • Covers quite a few blessings of God: pardon, peace, comfort, guidance, strength, and hope!

All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night

Text: Thomas Ken (1637–1711), 1709

Tune: Thomas Tallis (c.1505–1585), 1561

  1. The tradition of prayer at set times of day dates back to Jewish practice and has a long history in the Catholic tradition (where it’s known as “divine office” or “hours”). However, with the exception of occasional vespers services, the practice has largely fallen out of favor in mainline churches. Do you see benefit to following structured prayers based on time of day? Is this something more Christians should adopt today?

    • The “method” in Methodism is a similar idea, using structure and systematic study to drive spiritual growth
    • Why has it fallen out of favor?
      • Many people associate structure with “legalism”
      • Busy lives, hard to schedule - but where are our priorities?
  2. Looking at the hymn as a prayer, do you see any structure in the way that prayer is constructed? Do you follow any particular pattern when praying yourself?

    • The text both starts with and ends with praise
      • In the first verse, the praise is an outflow of thankfulness
        • As originally written, the first line reads “Glory to Thee, my God, this night”
      • The final verse is a simple doxology (from Greek, literally “speech of glory”)
        • Due to its ubiquitous use in Protestant churches, commonly called just “The Doxology”
        • This was also the final verse in Ken’s companion “morning” hymn, “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun”
    • In between, we find requests for shelter, forgiveness, guidance, and comfort (supplication)
    • Notably missing? Intercession (prayer for others), but this is hard to do in a hymn form…