Nothing Beats the Old School

After all these years, and after all the new developments in worship music come and go, there’s still something to be said for a good old hymn. Nothing reaches down into your soul and puts your life in perspective quite like a hymn does. This one, entitled “O Thou Who Camest From Above,” was written by Charles Wesley way back in 1762. He wrote over six thousand hymns in his lifetime, many of which Christians still sing today. It is fitting, then, that the epitaph etched on his memorial in Westminster Abbey reads, “God buries his workmen, but carries on his work.”

I brought this hymn to worship team practice a couple months ago and we tried to play it, but we just couldn’t seem to get it. I think we had the wrong music or the wrong melody or something, and no one else besides me was familiar with it. It wasn’t even in the old musty green hymnals. I was disappointed that we couldn’t figure it out, because the words, especially the third verse, have sort of become a personal creed for me. So, with Easter Sunday approaching and the school year winding down, I figured it would be appropriate to post the lyrics here for you to read.

O Thou who camest from above

the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.
There let it for Thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.
Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work and speak and think for Thee;
still let me guard the holy fire
and still stir up Thy gift in me.
Still let me prove Thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death Thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.

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