Friday, August 15, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday - The Very Thought!

There are new hymns. There are old hymns. And then there are old hymns!

I recently was reminded of one such hymn. The message found in its words is beautiful in itself. However, considering the time period in which it was written, it becomes even more precious.

This hymn text comes from the height of the Middle Ages, a period of history often scornfully called "The Dark Ages." The spiritual and moral darkness of the church had reached a new blackness. The institution founded by Christ some one thousand years prior was mainly degenerate and corrupt. The moral standards of many of its prominent leaders were characterized by disgrace and shame.

In such a time, the life of Bernard of Clairvaux shines brightly. "Knowing God," he said, "is a matter of the heart." It was a truth that dominated his life. At a very early age he was drawn to spiritual things, largely influenced by the piety of his mother. At the age of twenty-two he entered a monastery at Citeaux, and three years later he founded a monastery at Clairvaux and served as its spiritual leader until he died in 1153.

Bernard never lost sight of what he prized most -- the love of Jesus. God's love was Bernard's lifeblood, pulsing through everything he said and did. His knowledge of God was deeply personal, a mystical love affair that not only gave meaning to his life on eart but formed his vision of heaven. As Bernard said, "[God] is Himself the reward of those who love Him, the eternal reward of those who love Him for eternity."

1. Amazing Grace: 365 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel, 2002
2. The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories about 600 Hymns and Praise Songs by William J. Petersen & Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale, 2006

I'm sure Bernard of Clairvaux never imagined that his hymn would be known and loved almost 1000 years after his death, much less transmitted across an internet that he had no concept of! Read the beautiful timeless truths below as you listen to the song:


Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the mem'ry find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue or pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now
And thru eternity.

WORDS: Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
Translated by Edward Caswall (1814-1878)
MUSIC: John B. Dykes (1823-1876)

Be sure to visit Amy's for more songs for your Saturday!


View blog reactions


Peggy said... precious the words, song, artist and composer's heart for Jesus! Very soft and tender!
Absolutely gorgeous lullaby style for a peaceful night sleep for me!

Inded it will be a JOY to behold His glory. Again thank you for capsulizing the history and impact the hymns even old...old hymns...can be! Blessings

Cristine said...

Beautiful OLD hymn... Thanks for the history. Such a neat touch.



Kathryn said...


What can compare to those beautiful and timeless hymns?

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." (Psalm 40:3)

I found your site through Shane at Heart Reflections; you're featured on her site today!

Blessings and Love in Christ,

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

This is a beautiful rendition of a timeless song. It's always amazing to me how timely and true words about the gospel are whether they were written 700 years ago or last week.

It's just proof that the word of God is alive and powerful. Thanks for sharing this today! Just think, we'll be waking up a week from now just feet from each other!

Love ya!

JadeMerie said...

Such a beautiful old hymn. Thank you so much and Happy TSMS Saturday!

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

I love it when you feature the "old hymns". They are "classics" and standards of our faith for a reason! Have a great weekend.

Cathy said...

That is a very beautiful version of the hymn. I loved the artist's soft voice.

boutcrazy said...

That was beautiful, I love the history behind songs. No matter what time we live in, people are seeking God.

Amy Wyatt said...

I love hearing all the stories behind these songs! Thanks for being faithful to participate each week!

beckyjomama said...

So, so beautiful!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Beautiful and so timely for me!

Thanks for sharing.

A Stone Gatherer said...

I think I remember singing that song! I'm trying to remember the tune! Isn't it amazing how words given to someone by God are timeless!

Lisa Ann said...

I have never heard this one. It's beautiful.

A Stone Gatherer said...

Ah HA! I did know it! Thanks for sharing this precious hymn!