December 11, 2017

Holy Week 2015: “Amazing grace, it reached as far as me” (Daniel Jepsen)

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Note from Dan: The chorus after verse 4 is not original.  The poem can be sung to the tune of Londonderry Air. That tune has been used for a wide variety of songs, including Danny Boy, and the beautiful hymn, I Cannot Tell.

• • •

When time was young, and glory filled the garden,
The man and wife refused their perfect place.
Yet in Your wrath, your mercy spoke a promise,
And clothed their sins in garments of your grace.

And I like them, have tasted fruit forbidden
And raised my fist against my Lord above.
Oh strip away the rags of my rebellion,
And clothe me with Thy Holy robe of love.

And on the Rock, you placed Your very presence
When streams of life flowed from the stricken stone
You bore Yourself the price of their rebellion
Their thirst to slake, their sin-guilt to atone.

Thirsty I come, to You the living water
And find a spring, abundant, clear and free
You quench my thirst with rivers of salvation
You save my soul with fountains of mercy.

You gave a day, a day of your atonement
When the High Priest would slay the sacrifice.
And all the sins were taken from your presence
You dwelt with men, by blood the only price.

Guilty I come, and tremble in Your presence
Yet see my guilt placed on a substitute!
I stand and praise my God and my redeemer
He sits and hears the worship He is due.

Then one dark day, the symbols found fulfillment
As all our sin was placed upon Your head
The Rock was struck, and blood came forth to cleanse us
Instead of death, Your tree brought life instead!

I will forever lift my eyes to Calvary,
to see the cross where Jesus died for me.
How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul:
You looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.

For three dark days, the Seed in earth was buried
But breaking forth, that Seed gave birth to life
The firstfruit of that mighty, kingdom harvest
Which heals all hurts, and takes away all strife

I shall arise with Christ my risen Sovereign
And reign with Him through all eternity
What wondrous love, that makes our Judge our Father
Amazing grace, it reached as far as me
Amazing grace, it reached as far as me!

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    A beautiful poem, Daniel. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Damaris says:

    Wow! That is truly beautiful, Daniel. And skilled — I say after grading my creative writing class’s metrical stanzas. Thank you for this.

  3. Robert F says:

    in this place
    there is no before
    or after

    the sun rises
    on eyes
    that look for nothing

    & memories fall
    like shadows
    into a dark cistern

    unlike those who wait,
    we expect nothing,
    we hope for nothing

    the world is the same,
    but we’ve changed
    our places are gone
    we are without homes

    in this place
    there is no before
    or after

    • Robert F says:

      in this place
      there is no before
      or after

      the sun rises
      on eyes
      that look for nothing

      & memories fall
      like shadows
      into a dark cistern

      unlike those who wait,
      we expect nothing,
      we hope for nothing

      the world is the same,
      but we’ve changed
      our places are gone
      & we’ve lost our homes

      in this place
      there is no before or after
      & we are strangers
      to ourselves

  4. Wow. Permission to use? And where is non-original part from?

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Hi Miguel. You are very kind. Of course you (or anyone) may use it or revise whenever you like.

      The chorus is from a very short song by Dottie Rambo, “He Looked Beyond my Faults”.

      Since you are a worship leader, you might find the following interesting. I wrote each verse and its following chorus to sing week by week at church. It was a five week series, concluding on Easter. The first sermon was from Genesis 3, and emphasized the symbolism of God killing innocent animals and clothing Adam and Eve’s nakedness. The second was from Exodus 17, where God says he will place his presence on the Rock which will then be struck (even though the people are the ones who have sinned, not God) so that water can flow from the Rock and save their lives. And of course the third verse is from Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement, and the commentary on that in Hebrews which emphasized Jesus (unlike the earthly priests) sat down after his work, for it was now completed had no need to be repeated.

      I think people liked that the song (which grew each week) tracked so closely to the sermon, and found it helpful to have previous week’s theme repeated and tied into a scheme. But I also think some people had trouble not thinking of Danny Boy when they were singing…

  5. Daniel Jepsen says:

    If you are not familiar with the hymn, “I Cannot Tell” I would encourage you to listen to Eden’s Bridge version of it today:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAgKKWT-GGc

    I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship,
    Should set His love upon the sons of men,
    Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wand’rers,
    To bring them back, they know not how or when.
    But this I know, that He was born of Mary,
    When Bethl’hem’s manger was His only home,
    And that He lived at Nazareth and labored,
    And so the Savior, Savior of the world, is come.

    I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
    How He will claim His earthly heritage,
    How satisfy the needs and aspirations
    Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
    But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
    And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
    And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
    When He the Savior, Savior of the world, is known.

  6. This is beautiful. Verse 2 I did and raised a fist in rebellion. Instead I got to eat from the tree of life. Thank you Daniel. A young lady who has not been to church before asked what is Communion. Unfortunately the man leading did horrible at remembrance and tried to attach all kinds of other things like it is hocus pocus. I tried to tune him out. He also said in a bully sort of way because he had the platform we shouldn’t feel sad on GOOD Friday. What does feeling sad for Jesus have to do with His goodness. Instead we are to put on our happy face. I think I could go on but it would be way too judgemental towards a spoiled man raised in the Church from young and having no idea where some of the people listening are from. Let us say my first instinct is to walk through him like a hot knife through butter but where would the grace be there. I want to ask him but I’m trying to see what it has to do with me and why these things stuck out so and how it might better me. Maybe in my silence God will handle it for us both.

    I can show this poem to the young women. So messed up. My wife’s granddaughter who is here under supervision to see her own daughter. How many times have I prayed for this one. Jesus is certainly the only one that can. Reminds me of myself.

  7. Robert F says:

    I admire the careful use of musical structure in your poem, Daniel. I love that it can be sung as a hymn. Good hymns are the purest poetry.

  8. Christiane says:

    “For three dark days, the Seed in earth was buried
    But breaking forth, that Seed gave birth to life
    The firstfruit of that mighty, kingdom harvest
    Which heals all hurts, and takes away all strife”

    This part reminds me of a reflection I read this morning that spoke about the miracle of ‘seed’:

    ” A seed, resting by itself, can exist for a long time. In fact, they have found seeds in the tombs of the Pharaohs and seeds in fossil remains. But unless they fall into the soil and crack open, nothing further comes of them. Their life is inside, yes, but it’s a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. It has to crack open and be destroyed. But even after a very long time, a seed can grow into a flourishing plant. The oldest seed that has grown into a viable plant was a 2000-year-old date palm seed from excavations at Herod the Great’s palace on Masada in Israel. It was germinated in 2005.”
    (from Father Barron’s ‘Word On Fire’ reflection for Holy Saturday)

    I suppose a lot of what we take for granted IS in fact ‘miracle’
    . . . we just don’t understand this, because we aren’t able to see clearly yet

  9. Tree planting, the job, is strenuous, hard physical labor which few can handle for long. I planted over a million trees while I was still able to do it. One of the ways to get thru the day was to joke and pull pranks. One of those pranks was to slip rocks into someone’s tree bag. Before starting a run, you loaded up your tree bag with as many tree seedlings as it would hold, 500 more or less, then strapped this heavy, off-center weight around your waist, and you were off to the races.

    The nice part about it was that every tree you planted lightened your load by that much, and eventually you would plant the last one, before taking a break and bagging up again. The point to putting rocks in someone’s tree bag was to have them carry the rocks unbeknownst for as long as possible before discovering them, ideally after the last tree and even back at the landing where you dumped the dirt and debris out of your bag. A really sharp person might notice the extra weight when they picked up their bag and spoil the fun, so sometimes you slid them in after it was strapped on. It took skill to find the right sized rock or rocks that wouldn’t be noticed but would still add as much as possible to an already heavy burden.

    Over the Lenten season and especially during Holy Week, a lot of people have been trying to slip rocks into my tree bag. Some of it here, some elsewhere online, but often enough in church and even in the liturgy. In my first ever attendance at a Good Friday liturgical service yesterday, I experienced what is called Solemn Reproaches, a long list of accusations against me, ostensibly coming from God, basically calling me a no good Christ killer, like Martin Luther castigating the Jews or an Old Testament prophet doing the same.

    I understand that there are people who are in need of this mindset as they set out on their next run. I understand that there are people who feel the need to put big rocks in their own tree bag. I have no desire to interfere, I just want to plant my own trees as best I can. I’m taking it as from a higher authority that when Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing,” he meant what he said and it was in effect, then and now. I’m taking it as from a higher authority that when Jesus said, “It is done!” that he meant it and it was in effect, then and now. To those slipping rocks into my tree bag, I know it is not mean spirited. And I say “Nice try!”

    • Robert F says:

      I understand, and respect, what you are saying, Charles. But for me, the Solemn Reproaches are a way of remembering how I still crucify Christ by hurting my human brothers and sister, and a call to stop doing so because my brothers and sisters are Christ incognito. I need that reminder, because old habits die hard; I depend on the Church to remind me of my complicity in things that should not be, and to call me continually to that which is better, to Christ. I consider this a way of helping me take rocks out of my bag, so that I can travel lighter, as befits a follower of Jesus.

  10. Thanks for posting your beautiful hymn. It is helpful to have a hymn such as this to remind me how God, from the beginning, has continued to reach out to sinful people in mercy and grace, and I am grateful for so great a salvation.

    Another great hymn set to this tune is “What Grace is Mine” by Kristyn Getty.

    What grace is mine that He who dwells in endless light
    Called through the night to find my distant soul
    And from his scars poured mercy that would plead for me
    That I might live and in his name be known

    So I will go wherever He is calling me
    I lose my life to find my life in Him
    I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
    I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him

    What grace is mine to know His breath alive in me
    Beneath His wings my wakened soul may soar
    All fear can flee for death’s dark night is overcome
    My Saviour lives and reigns forevermore

    So I will go wherever He is calling me
    I lose my life to find my life in Him
    I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
    I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riki1Q4JUvU

  11. The church has little to say about today, the time between the death of Jesus and the discovery of the empty tomb on Sunday morning. There are hints in the Bible, but nothing definite, and most people seem to think that Jesus lay dead in the tomb for three days, tho if you count it was a shorter time. We tend to equate people with their body, but we don’t even really know when the “resurrection” took place except it was prior to Sunday morning when the women arrived to tend his body. This interim time must have been devastating for the disciples.

    If it had been me, I would have welcomed a three day break after three and a half years of non-stop heavy stress and hard work. Jesus may have rolled up his sleeves and gone right back to work. It seems fairly certain that he went to the place of the dead during this time as stated in the Nicene Creed, a place described a bit in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Did he rescue Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses along with their wives and children and all those waiting in “the bosom of Abraham”? Did he cross that canyon and offer rescue to the rich man and to Judas and all who might have gone their own way on this side? Was there a legal proceeding that had to take place before he could do any of this with full authority, or was that full authority granted as his last breath left his body?

    These are things I think about on this day while others sing hymns, and other days as well. Speculation, yes, unprofitable, maybe. I hope some day to be able to ask about these things in person, maybe even go along and observe them happening. I don’t know anywhere else where someone might offer a link to pertinent information from the eastern wing of the church, those who seem to be a lot more in touch in this area. But they are probably busy now or resting. I’m glad we parked the Rambler today.