Monday, August 25, 2008

How do you mean this?

One of my favourite hymns of all time is "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing". You know this hymn right? "O for a Thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise". Now we sing a new song at church with the same phrase in the chorus. Either way, it gets me every time. But I have recently learned that I don't think it means what others think it means.

Months ago when we sang it, our pastor commented that we would love to have a thousand tongues singing God's praise and there are at least two ways to get there: evangelism and having babies (that's a fairly loose paraphrase but I have the meaning right). Then recently our worship leader said a similar thing, wishing that we had thousands upon thousands of people filling our building singing God's praises (loosely paraphrased again).

I had NEVER thought of it that way.

Oh, I know. You are desperately wanting to know how I did think of it. I told my husband assuming that at least he had the same idea in mind, but alas, he was seeing it as I mentioned above.

Instead of seeing it as desiring for 1000 people all with one tongue each, I ALWAYS thought it meant "O how I wish I had 1000 tongues. Maybe then I'd have the ability to sing your praise as forcefully and completely and all encompassingly as I want". Do you see what I mean? How else do I explain this?

It's like wishing you had a bottomless bank account so you could buy your loved one a cottage in the Muskokas...every year.

Or wishing you could kiss your husband hard enough

Or hug your baby tight enough

to convey just how much you love them.

As another great hymn says "Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine demands my life, my soul, my all".

It is never enough. I sing my heart out. I worship in spirit and truth as much as I'm able and yet it doesn't get it out. In my chest at all times is a weight, a burden to express my love of God waiting to be expressed. If I could just get it out. If I could just sing louder, higher, stronger, prettier,....oh if I only had 1000 tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise...maybe then I would feel like I had expressed my love for Him.

And the problem then becomes that as I feel like I have failed in completely expressing myself, I feel that I am actually lacking in love, or breaking fellowship with the Father, or growing complacent. Like unrequited love. He loves me so greatly and if I cannot return and convey a similar affection I worry He will take it as a sign that I do not desire to be His. Of course that is much more Shakespearean thinking than Scriptural, but the weight is the same.

"Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints' and angels' song."

I suppose it can't really be done. But oh how I intend to keep on trying.


Andrea said...

Yes, I know exactly what you mean! I have always thought of that song as if *I* had a thousand tongues too, so you're not the only one. :-) The other perspective you mentioned is new to me, although I definitely appreciate it.

As always, thanks for sharing!


MrPages said...

"Could we with ink the ocean fill..." is my absolute favorite hymn verse ever.

Jessica said...

I have never thought of that song that way.. but I really wish I had.. and now I will!
This post was fantastic Barb! Really very inspiring!

MrsPages said...

Wow! A thousand *people*! I always thought it was my own thousand tongues too - sorta of a Revelation type image.

And you quoted three of my favorite hymns. We really must meet each other someday and have that cup of tea!

Kellie said...

Great thoughts on that song. Love the thoughts you posted!

onfire in PNG said...

can't never get through that one without totally catching in my throat.

miss singing with you, poro