Tuesday Hymns: “Before the Throne of God Above”

(As you read this feel free to snicker at me. This hymn was actually written in 1863, and has been sung for years to the same tune as “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” I will leave the rest of this blog post as it was written to show my ignorance of this old, great hymn that has been put to a new tune.)

Last week on Facebook I unintentionally started a firestorm concerning what is appropriate music for corporate worship. As it so often does when the discussion turns to music, it turned into a pitched battle between “new” and “old” because I began with this quote from Keith Getty: “I think the modern worship music movement has been driving the church down a dangerous and sinister path. I think it’s because of the move away from theology and the fact the music itself isn’t congregational. It doesn’t bring people together anymore and the art form itself has been degraded completely.” Getty’s concern was that so much (not all) of the modern “worship music” was shallow theologically and often so “pop” oriented that it is difficult to sing corporately, and because of that, congregational singing in the 21st century is being hampered.

In the midst of all the kerfuffle, I mentioned that there is “modern music” that is theologically sound and also relatively easy to sing as a congregation and one of those is our Tuesday Hymn of the Week, Before the Throne of God Above by Charles Bancroft. This hymn speaks of the high priestly work of Christ on our behalf: He is our High Priest, He satisfied the justice of God on our behalf, He was our Passover Lamb, His righteousness has been imputed to us, we are hidden in Christ with God, and He ever lives to make intercession for us.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God