Iris’ Archives, April 2018

Thomas Cranmer

CRANMER, THOMAS (kran'mer) 1489- 1556 Father of the Book of Common Prayer and one of the early builders of the Church of England. A Cambridge (fellow) called by King Henry VIII to his government, he became in 1533 Archbishop of Canterbury, highest leader in his church, in the years it was be- coming reformed in the Protestant direction. Under the Roman Catholic Queen Mary in 1555, he was put to death, dying with special bravery. 


Are the first three letters (iota, eta, sigma) of the Greek spelling of Jesus. The upper form is the more ancient, though the lower is the more common now.


Seasoned resignation guided the voice of the vicar who chose to address his flock on the relationship of fact and faith. 'That you are sitting in front of me is a fact,' he told them. 'That I am speaking to you from the pulpit is fact. But it is only faith that makes me believe that any of you are listening.’

Love Divine, all loves excelling 

[Crusader Hymns, No. 170]

A Hymn Story by Cliff Barrows 

All of us have experienced the "lift" that comes with singing a great hymn together. Uniting our hearts and voices in Christian song gives us a sense of release over our fears and weaknesses.

This has been my experience over and over again. One of the instances which is still vivid to me happened in 1961, during the Manchester, England crusade. Just as the meetings were about to start, Billy Graham became quite seriously ill. Leighton Ford was called to be his substitute for the first week of crusade services.

Billy had been scheduled to speak to the ministers of London just before the crusade opened. You can imagine my feelings when he sent word that I should represent him and speak at that meeting. The British pastors are themselves thorough scholars and often brilliant preachers. And they were expecting to hear Billy Graham, not me!

At the beginning of that meeting in Westminster's Central Hall, the ministers joined in singing this great hymn of Charles Wesley. Most of these British clergymen were also well acquainted with hymn texts and hymn tunes, and they sang gloriously. Accompanied by the grand piano and the great pipe organ and using the Welsh tune "Blaenwern," these familiar words lifted our hearts in praise and prayer to God. I felt God's strength evident through the singing; He blessed our meeting together, despite my fears and their disappointment.

[Read or sing stanza 1.]

This is perhaps one of our most familiar hymns, and yet I fear that most Americans have only a vague notion of what it says. Reading only the title or the first line, we assume that it is a hymn extolling the love of God. But its message is far more specific than that. Who is the "Joy of heaven, to earth come down?" It is Jesus Christ who comes to make our hearts His humble dwelling. The third line of the first stanza makes it clear. Jesus is "pure, unbounded love" — the love of God made manifest—the love of God incarnate, in the flesh. The hymn, then, is really a prayer to Christ who is Love Divine.

[Read of sing stanza 2.] 

Iris Holt, 01/04/2018