Saturday, October 5, 2013

A MacDonaldite Hymn

I had a phone call this week from Louisiana. The woman had heard someone sing "In the Regions Higher, Higher," one of our beloved MacDonaldite hymns. She wondered if she could get a copy. So that was my project today: jotting down and arranging a tune I have only heard orally. Many of the tunes in the P.E.I. Free Church have been passed down in this way. Some are familiar hymn tunes, but they acquire a character of their own after a few generations. There is often even some small variation from congregation to congregation in singing the same tune. I am not sure of the origin of this tune...I only know I haven't heard it anywhere else. If someone out there in the wide wide world knows where it originates or has heard it in any other context, please let me know in the comments! (Just click the "play" button to listen.)

The hymn was written by the Rev. Donald MacDonald. MacDonald was a circuit riding Presbyterian minister on P.E.I. during the 1800's. He was greatly used by God in two revivals, one in the 1830s, and another in the 1860s. These hymns were never sung during his church services (and still are not in the P.E.I. Free Church today), as these churches hold to exclusive psalmody. Instead, selections (many of these hymns are very long!) are often sung informally while people are gathering to worship. You can read more about Donald MacDonald's hymn writing in a paper by Dr. Jack Whytock here, though Dr. Whytock does not mention this particular hymn.

1. In the regions higher, higher,
Than the eye of man can see,
Dwells the Lord of life and glory
On His throne eternally;
He alone can fill the station
Next the Father on His throne,
Rule the nations at His pleasure,
On that glorious heavenly throne.

2. From of old before creation,
In the regions far away,
In the blazing rays of glory,
In the effulgent light of day;
He enjoyed His Father's presence,
In His love benignly free;
Rejoiced joyfully before Him,
In His order One of Three.

3. In the council of the Eternal,
Lo, the Son, our Lord was there;
Justice called for righteous vengeance;
Sin deserved it everywhere,
See Him now with admiration,
Standing forth our Friend to be;
To avert the threatened vengeance,
By His death upon the tree.

4. Wondrous plan for our salvation!
Framed and fixed by sure decree;
God to assume the human nature,
Soul and body man to be.
Love infinite, thus engaged Him,
Willied His justice to appease,
That His honour and His glory,
Through His Son, His saints might see.

5. Who the purpose of Jehovah
Can behold and silent be,
When the covenant most gracious,
Is the plan of persons three?
See the will of God our Maker,
Through His Son to us revealed,
That our pardon by's oblation,
Should be mercifully sealed.

6. Glory to the blessed Saviour,
Who engaged our souls to free,
Who agreed to terms of covenant
Should fulfillment painful be:
Before you view Him in the manger,
Lo! the song of angels hear,
Praising God in joyful chorus,
And withal our hearts to cheer.

7. Lo! the God of all creation,
Lo! the Word made flesh appears,
In the likeness of our nature,
To expel our guilty fears;
Lo! Emmanuel our Saviour,
In the flesh most humbly low;
God in Christ to reconcile us
To Himself, and grace bestow.

8. Justice loud our death demanded;
Low we lay in guilt and sin.
Woeful spectacle to angels,
Slaves to Satan in his gin;
Now behold the loving favour,
Of the Lord to sinful men;
He came to free us from our bondage,
And to raise us up again.

9 Hallelujah sing in chorus!
He is worthy of our song;
Of our humble adoration,
And the praises of our tongue;
Hosts of angels sang before us,
Which the trembling shepherds heard;
Saints in thousands loud shall praise Him,
When they'll hear the sweet award.

10. If the sight of Him in childhood,
Caused the hosts to sing with glee,
Loud the saints shall join in chorus,
When triumphant Christ they'll see;
When arrayed in all His glory,
By His Father on His throne;
When they'll see the conquering Lion,
They shall worship God the Son.

11. When His side shall be exposed,
And His hands and feet we'll see,
Surely shouts in thankful chorus
Shall the songs in glory be;
All these marks of death so painful,
Borne by Christ for sinful men,
Must excite to admiration,
Of a love beyond our ken.

12. When the kingdom to the Father,
Christ resigns respectfully;
All the mystery then disclosed
Love shall shew eternally;
Love infinite to the creature,
Then displayed in full shall be;
Then the effects of Christ's oblation,
Lo! the adoring hosts shall see.

13. Then the saints and angels joining,
In a holy joyful glee,
Shall the Lord in rays of glory,
On His throne forever see;
Then they'll know what He obtained,
By His death upon the tree;
See His shining face in favour,
Where no pains or death can be.

14. God is love, as is declared
In His word, as all shall see:
When His Son, His Co-Eternal,
As in council both agree,
Was resigned to death most painful,
Groans and cries and agony;
That His purpose, ever gracious,
In His love displayed should be.

15. Now the tokens of His favour,
And His love to sinful man,
Are above our estimation,
Are above what we can scan;
God is high above creation;
Grace is seen in wisdom's plan;
Man's the object of His favour,
Grace in love through ages ran.

16. Now again, to reassure us,
And confirm us in His love,
He bestows the Spirit freely,
In the likeness of a dove;
Now His blessings freely flowing,
Showering from His throne above;
Prove His changeless loving kindness,
Which shall never more remove.

17. Hosts above in holy regions;
Men on earth who taste His love,
Tune your harps for solemn praises,
Tune your harps your thanks to prove;
Grateful hearts with love o'erflowing,
Prove your love in grateful songs:
Thrill the air in quick vibrations,
With the praises of your tongues.

18. Worthy truly ever is Jesus;
Worthy truly ever of love,
For He suffered and died to free us,
From the law and merited curse;
Behold Him now and ever adore Him,
Highly seated in heaven above,
At God's right hand, our Brother believe it,
Pleading our cause His merits to prove.

19. Sound the voice in praise of Jesus;
Sound the voice in praise of love,
When absorbed in spiritual vision,
When allured to heaven above;
Saints and angels ever adore Him,
Saints and angels ever above;
Sing the song that ever is pleasing,
Sing the song of heavenly love.