Field Stone Cottage Blog

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday's Hymn: How Sweet and Awful is the Place

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?

"Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing thy redeeming grace.

Isaac Watts, 1707
Tune: St Columba, Old Irish hymn melody

Update: As AuntE pointed out in her comment, the word "awful" did not mean what it means to us when Isaac Watts used it in this hymn over 200 years ago. I know that some newer hymnals substitute the word "awesome" in its place. "Awesome" or "full of awe" is what the word "awful" meant in Isaac's time. But we sang the hymn in its original form this morning in church so that is how I posted it.


AuntE said...

This is one of those hymns that should come with a footnote I think. The way we use the word "awful" now is certainly not what was meant when Isaac penned the words 200+ years ago. How true the phrase is, though, when we understand it as "full of awe".

Thank you for this hymn, Dorothy. It certainly echoes the sermon I heard this a.m. which encouraged us to spread the gospel by 'word of mouth' - the way Jesus' fame spread through Galilee (Mark 1).

Willow said...

I was wondering if awful should be spelled aweful, or Isaac Watts meant 'terrible'.

Elle said...

I adore this hymn for its doctrine and truth. Glad you posted it.