I learnt in “Faces Around the Cross”, a Lent devotional book I read this year, that this hymn was written in 1863 by Charitie Lees Bancroft and originally called “Advocate”. It’s been rediscovered and renamed, and is now known as “Before the Throne of God Above”. I like the way it encourages Christians to look up and remember we’ve been forgiven.
I must confess I had forgotten this one too, until recently. It talks about Hebrews 2:9, which says that for a short time, Jesus was made lower than the angels. Think of that – Jesus who’s now at God’s right hand with angels and powers in submission to Him, coming into the human race for us.
Made lower than the angels for a time
To suffer death, for only You alone
Are my one High Priest, my only Sacrifice,
And my Advocate before the throne.
I admire Keith Green. A Christian singer-songwriter, he died in a plane crash at twenty-eight. Should you decide to read “No Compromise” (written by his wife), even if you don’t like his music, I think you’ll probably come away with a respect for his devotion to God. I heard about Keith for the first time at Overcomers, where I learnt this song.
My Latin is limited, but I think I do know that “Agnus Dei” means Lamb of God. There’s no Latin in the song, so I don’t know why it’s called that. I chose a version by Third Day because it’s nice to be able to include something by them.
This next song is one of those which overlaps. We sang it not only at Overcomers, but in church as well. The Overcomers changed one of the lines though, thanks to my friends who led the group. A friend of theirs introduced them to the song, and being a typical Scotsman, he thought ‘Darling of heaven’ sounded soppy, so it became ‘The high King of heaven, crucified’. That’s what I tend to sing now, because it makes me think with affection of my time at Overcomers, but I do like ‘Darling’. It brings home to me how much Jesus meant to God, and what a wrench it must have been when He left heaven to sacrifice His life for us. This version says ‘Treasure of heaven’, which I like as well.
What about you? Which do you prefer? Or maybe you’d change it to something completely different!
As a child, my parents were fairly regular churchgoers. We went to our local Anglican church for their service of holy communion on a Sunday morning, and peppered throughout would be a few sung responses by the congregation. The organ would play and we’d sing things like:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might;
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory,
Hosanna in the highest – a very cheerful little tune. Then I went to Overcomers and heard it sung like this. Wow! It seemed to me to capture the awe; suddenly we were singing ‘Hosanna’ like we really meant it.
Now this song was probably the hardest to track down a decent version of! A lot were far too slow. This was the best I could find, but I’ve no idea who it’s sung by, so if anybody knows, please tell me.
We sang this in two parts, and the girls’ was the most challenging. So many words we had to fit in without breathing, but it was great fun. If we sang in front of the whole church, one of my friends who led the group would usually encourage us to smile. Singing this song, it wasn’t an effort.
This is one of my favourites we used to sing. A friend found it for me as we were preparing for one of her radio-shows. It makes me think of being right with God, and I particularly like the lines:
Holiness is Your fire in me,
Purging my heart like a flood.
In about a month from now, it’ll be Pentecost – the church’s birthday. Seven weeks after the Jews offered the first fruits of their harvest to God, they had another feast called the Feast of Weeks, and people came to Jerusalem from everywhere for the occasion. Meanwhile, Jesus had risen from the dead and gone up to heaven to be with His Father, telling His followers to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high. In an upper room, they gathered for prayer, united in their pursuit of God. That’s when the Holy Spirit came and filled them with the power Jesus had talked about: Power to speak boldly for Him, and so He began the process of building His church.
This song describes that event, which we call Pentecost.