How Great a Debtor!

We have so much to sing about, yet we sing so little.

Helping Yourself to Grace (5)

Oh, sing to the L
ORD a new song!
Sing to the L
ORD, all the earth.
Sing to the L
ORD, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96.1, 2

Come, Thou Fount
Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; 
streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. 
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. 
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love. 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I'm come; 
and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. 
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; 
he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. 

Never ceasing grace
There is never a moment in our lives when we don’t need mercy and grace from God. So it’s a very good thing that He Who is the Fount of every blessing streams His mercy and grace toward us continually, sustaining and enriching all aspects of our existence, every moment of our lives.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God (Jms. 1.17). By His will we have been created, and by His will we exist. He loves all His creatures, including those who deny, reject, and despise Him. It is in the nature of God to bless whatever He has made, and we are the moment-by-moment beneficiaries of never-ceasing streams of mercy and grace.

How should we respond to such torrential goodness? The psalmist tells us: “sing to the LORD”. While all religions, and many secular organizations and groups (think: college fight songs), use music to express their views, hopes, and traditions, Christianity is above all others an epicenter of singing. No one sings like Christians. No one has as many songs to sing as Christians. No one learns as many songs by heart as Christians. For believers in Jesus Christ, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of praise to God is evidence that the Spirit of God is lively within them (Eph. 5.18-21). God has given the gift of song to His people, and He commands us to sing as a primary response to His unceasing streams of blessing and grace.

Never ceasing praise?
But we are not nearly as consistent in this as we could be. Most Christians only sing praises to the Lord when they are together with other Christians in a service of worship. During the rest of the week – when we’re driving or working out – we might sing along with a CD or an mp3 download of a Christian song. But to sing spontaneously, robustly, joyously, and consistently throughout the day, well, that’s just not what we do.

It is what they do in heaven, however; and perhaps our prayer that God’s Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven could be answered in part by our singing more throughout the day.

Further, singing more frequently and joyously to the Lord would demonstrate the hope that is within us to the world around. And would such bold and glad singing prompt others to ask a reason for that hope (1 Pet. 3.15)?

We don’t need to have a great voice to sing praises to the Lord; a joyful noise will do (Ps. 81.1).We can ask the Lord to give us grace to sing more, and to teach us new songs – some melodious sonnet –resonant with those that are sung continuously in heaven; and singing aloud can lift us into the presence of God, Who inhabits the praises of His people.

The more we are mindful of the continuous grace of God, streaming unto us at every moment, and the more we fix our minds on the mount of glory where Jesus reigns at the Father’s right hand, the more we will open our mouths in songs of praise, joining our voice with those flaming tongues above to give God the praise and thanks He is due.

Where would we be without grace?

In singing to the Lord we raise our Ebenezer – our “Stone of Help” – and celebrate God’s goodness to us for anyone who hears. Where would we be without His grace to lift us up above the fray of life? His help has been with us every step of the way, and His help will bring us safely home to Him.

We are debtors in every way to the wonderful, marvelous, amazing, matchless grace of our God. Surely it’s not too much that we should acknowledge that debt by singing our praise to God throughout the day. Singing can help us keep on track with the Lord, and prevent us from wandering away from His Presence. And these wonderful old hymns that we have been considering are as good a place as any to begin tuning your heart and voice as a witness to God, by singing of the grace that created, keeps, sustains, saves, and transforms us day by day, every day of the year.

Offer your heart to the Lord in song throughout the day. He’ll seal your heart to Him as you sing His praises and celebrate His grace. We can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to the Lord, but we can remind ourselves of it throughout the day, and show our gratitude for it by tuning our hearts to sing His grace more consistently.

For reflection
1. In what sense are we debtors to the grace of God? How has He been a “Stone of Help” in your life?

2. What would people think – in your home, at work or school, or while you’re out shopping – if they heard you quietly singing songs of praise to God? Why don’t we do this more?

3. How can singing praise to God help keep us in the path He has marked out for us?

Next Steps – Transformation: Choose three times today to draw back and meditate on the stanzas of this song. Sing those stanzas throughout the day. Reflect on this at the end of the day. Have your meditation and singing had any effect on your awareness of the Presence of God?

More songs of praise await you in The Ailbe Psalter, in which we have arranged all the psalms for singing according to familiar hymn tunes. You can order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.