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Why Should We Care About Pornography If It Wasn’t an Issue during Biblical Times?

Songs to Sing: For All the Saints

Posted July 1, 2020
Worship

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
and win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

But, lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

My throat tightened and my eyes rebelliously filled with tears as I made my way down the aisle in that chilly stone chapel. The majestic pipe organ’s triumphant rendition of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ famous tune, “Sine Nomine,” filled the air. My grandfather had passed away less than two years ago. He would have been 76. He should have been here, I thought, He would have loved Sean. He would have been so happy to see this. Grief swept through me, and I took a deep breath and strained against my heavy wedding dress as I continued slowly in processional fashion.

It used to be common to walk past the cemetery on the way into church. Every Lord’s Day was a reminder that we are but dust, and to dust we shall return. I imagine it was helpful to view yourself in light of eternity several times a week; to be reminded that now we worship with the saints on earth, but soon we shall be worshipping with all the great host of heaven. Conversely, our culture has done its best to sanitize death. In our modern era where people die in hospitals and nursing homes, tucked away nicely from public view, we can almost achieve a mental barrier, removing ourselves as much as possible from the reality of death. Almost, that is, until it descends upon our own families with its dark and final actuality. The world simply doesn’t know how to handle the concept of dying, but Christians should. Paul gives us great hope:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6–8)

This hymn captures Paul’s description of his soon-to-be homegoing, his declaration of faithfulness, and his great assertion that there is, indeed, a crown of righteousness laid up for him in heaven, and that not only will it be awarded to him by the Lord himself, but also to all those who die in the faith. “For all the saints who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.”William Walsham How uses the familiar biblical description of soldiers fighting the good fight. His verses are full of bright imagery and concepts that children will easily understand. It should be of no surprise, then, that How wrote a great many hymns for children during his lifetime. Born in England in 1823, he was known as both “the children’s bishop” as well as the “poor man’s bishop” due to his labors particularly among the destitute in London’s slums. One can understand why the subject of death, the great rest that it is, and the reward that it brings to the saints, would have been of a particular urgency to How and his parishioners, and most certainly on the forefront of his mind as he penned these words of hope, courage, and faith.

He encourages Christians to fight nobly as the saints of old, to “win the victor’s crown of gold,” in a paraphrase of Paul. The final three verses of this great hymn give me chills. “But, lo! There breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of glory passes on his way.” They are beautiful. They are determined. They are joyful and expectant and glorious and triumphant.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55, KJV) Cling to these promises, dear readers. Teach them to your children, bind them around your hearts. Sing them with joy and thanksgiving!

As much as my grandfather would have enjoyed being present at my wedding, he was delighting in his eternal rest with his Savior. This fact didn’t stop my tears, in fact, they flowed all the more, but they were not tinged with bitter sadness. I smiled. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5) I had chosen “For All the Saints” as my processional as a sweet reminder that there would be another wedding supper awaiting us soon. We will be reunited, we will see Jesus, and we will join with the all “the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia, Alleluia!”

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Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris has been happily married to her husband, Sean, for 12 years and is a mother to four crazy, hilarious, and adorable children. She graduated from Grove City College with a degree in music. She and her family live in Oak Ridge, TN where her husband is a pastor in the PCA. In between homeschooling duties, toddlers, and babies, Sarah enjoys writing, cooking, podcasting, napping, and making fun of her ridiculously pathetic dog.