O Word of God incarnate
|O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky,
We praise Thee for the radiance
That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps,
Shines on from age to age.
|The Church from her dear Master
Received the gift divine,
And still that light she lifteth
O’er all the earth to shine:
It is the golden treasure
Where gems of truth are stored;
It is the heaven-drawn picture
Of Christ, the living Word.
|It floateth like a banner
Before God’s host unfurled;
It shineth like a beacon
Above the darkling world;
It is the chart and compass
That, o’er life’s surging sea,
’Mid mists and rocks and quicksands
Still guide, O Christ, to Thee.
|O make Thy Church, dear Savior,
A lampstand of pure gold,
To bear before the nations
Thy light, that all behold;
O teach Thy wandering pilgrims
By this their path to trace,
Till, clouds and darkness ended,
They see Thee face to face.
William W. How, was born in Shrewsbury, England, on December 13, 1823, is considered to be one of the outstanding English hymnodists of the nineteenth century. He composed sixty hymns, (twenty-five still in use) as well as served as an Anglican Bishop for the east section of London, the slum district of the city. He was known affectionately as the poor man’s bishop for helping with the impoverished social conditions in that area. Unlike other bishops who would ride in a private coach, he rode on public transportation thus earning the nickname “omnibus bishop. ” He did not live in a palace like his fellow clergymen but instead lived and worked with his people. He maintained a special interest in the hymns of the church. William and his friend Sir Arthur Sullivan, a famous composer and who developed a distinctive style of English opera, became editors of a popular Anglican hymnal of the day.
The tune for this hymn “Munich, ” is named after the German city. It was adapted from a melody found in an old German hymnal of 1693. It was later used by the nineteenth century German composer, Felix Mendelssohn, for a choral, “Cast Thy Burden on the Lord, ” from his oratorio Elijah, first heard in England on August 26, 1846.
“O Word of God Incarnate” appeared in the 1867 supplement to “Psalms and hymns, ” edited by T. B. Morrell and William How. In the first verse of this hymn, he clearly establishes the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. In verse two he follows the thought that the Church is the means by which the Bible is transmitted to mankind. Then in verse three he uses metaphors to compare the Scriptures to daily living--banner, lighthouse, chart and compass. Verse four concludes with a prayer that the Church may be the faithful administrator of guiding men to salvation.
Greensboro, NC, United States
Just simply beautiful in every way! The lyrics are so rich. The Lord spoke to me when I began to go over the music. The fourth verse is my favorite. Thank You, Lord God, for these divine words of Truth and Grace.
Beautiful prayer to pray for my churches.
Baton Rouge, LA
This is the song for week 15, volume three of the crystallization of Exodus. It touched me deeply. Seems to me so applicable for the refugee situation in Europe right now. What a Grace and Mercy we could know the church in these days. Yes Lord in these days make us Your golden lampstand to bear before the nations Thy light that all behold.
Detroit, MI, United States
William Walsham How served a rural congregation on the Welsh border for 28 years and then ministered in London's East End. He loved children and wrote hymns for them. One of them began like this: "It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God's own Son should come from heaven, and die to save a child like me."
William How also loved the Bible. On his symbolic pastoral staff, he engraved the words of St. Bernard: "Pasce verbo, Pasce vita," which means "Feed with the Word, feed with the Life." - Great Songs of Faith by Brown & Norton