Below are the songs that we sang together on August 10 and some other resources for your enjoyment.
BEHIND THE MUSIC
Over the past year we have been able let the words of William Cowper sink into our hearts. We have been singing a remake of his hymn Love Constraining to Obedience called How Long. The hymn focuses on the work of the Law in the life of humanity both before and after conversion. First, it establishes our inability to keep the Law of God. Second, the hymn shows that the Father sent Christ into humanity as Jesus in order to fulfill the Law in every way that we could not. Then it shows that when this truth is believed by man, it changes a "slave into a child" and "duty into choice."
William Cooper was a long time friend of John Newton. After being institutionalized for insanity from 1765-1767, Cooper found refuge and relief from his insanity in Christ. Cooper was well-known for his poetry on nature and his hymn writing. In 1779, John Newton published the Olney Hymnal which contained both Newton's and Cowper's hymns, including Love Constraining to Obedience.
The writers of the modern arrangement, How Long, are the band Wayfarer. Check them out below. We have really enjoyed the remake and think you will too.
Original Hymn Lyrics (Love Constraining to Obedience)
No strength of nature can suffice To serve the LORD aright;
And what she has, she misapplies, For want of clearer light.
How long beneath the law I lay In bondage and distress!
I toiled the precept to obey, But toiled without success.
Then to abstain from outward sin Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its pow’r within, I feel I hate it too.
Then all my servile works were done A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son, I freely choose his ways.
What shall I do was then the word, That I may worthier grow?
What shall I render to the LORD? Is my enquiry now.
To see the Law by CHRIST fulfilled, And hear his pard’ning voice;
Changes a slave into a child, And duty into choice.