I enjoy “old” songs. You know – Beatles music from 1964, Frank Sinatra from 1957, even Bob Wills from 1940! But, in the grand scheme of things these are not really old songs. What do I mean by an “old song”? This Sunday morning we will sing a hymn that is over 1600 years old.
Ambrose (339-397) was a Christian lawyer, living in Milan, Italy. At the age of 34 he was made Bishop by popular acclaim, due to his godly life and giftedness as a preacher. It was under the ministry of Ambrose that the great Augustine was converted!
When Ambrose was ministering the Arian controversy was raging. Arianism was the heresy du jour, maintaining that Jesus was NOT God, nor was he co-eternal with the Father. Not only did Arius preach and teach and legislate against this false doctrine, but he pulled out his big gun: He wrote Trinitarian hymns!
On Sunday morning we will close our worship service by singing one of these hymns: “O Splendor of God’s glory bright” (Trinity Hymnal #58). Penned by Ambrose in the 4th century, it is brimming with Trinitarian affirmations.
O Splendor of God’s glory bright, From light eternal bringing light, Thou light of light, light’s living Spring, True Day, all days illumining:
Come, very Sun of heaven’s love, In lasting radiance from above, And pour the Holy Spirit’s ray On all we think or do today.
And now to thee our prayers ascend, O Father, glorious without end; We plead with sovereign grace for pow’r To conquer in temptation’s hour.
Confirm our will to do the right, And keep our hearts from envy’s blight; Let faith her eager fires renew, And hate the false, and love the true.
O joyful be the passing day With thoughts as pure as morning’s ray, With faith like noontide shining bright, Our souls unshadowed by the night.
Dawn’s glory gilds the earth and skies, Let him, our perfect Morn, arise, The work in God the Father one, The Father imaged in the Son
We greatly prize the unity of the church: in her doctrine, worship and even her hymns. We draw great joy from singing the same songs our parents and grandparents sang. But, when we are singing great, rich hymns like “O Splendor of God’s glory bright” we are singing hymns that have been sung by 50 GENERATIONS of Christians!