I won’t say that I dislike most modern worship songs. But I will say that, more often than not, hymn-writers of the past were possessed of a linguistic flair that is rarely if ever matched by the contemporary lyricist. To be sure, there are songs in hymnbooks which make me blush at the surface-level, saccharine theology — but that’s far more commonplace in modern songwriting, at least in my experience. Nonetheless, I stumbled across a single stanza from 18th century churchman Jehoida Brewer’s “The Hiding Place” in a book I was reading and feverishly set about looking for the rest of the words. Thankfully, I found them and can share them with you now. These lines are incredibly rich and full of gospel. I pray you are blessed in reading and even singing them to yourself.
Hail, sovereign love, that first began
The scheme to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,
That gave my soul a hiding-place.
Against the God who rules the sky
I fought with hand uplifted high;
Despis’d the mention of his grace,
Too proud to seek a hiding-place.
But thus the eternal counsel ran:
“Almighty love, arrest that man!”
I felt the arrows of distress,
And found I had no hiding-place!
Indignant justice stood in view;
To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew;
But Justice cried, with frowning face,
“This mountain is no hiding-place!”
Ere long a heavenly voice I heard,
And Mercy’s angel-form appear’d;
She led me on with placid pace,
To Jesus as my Hiding-place.
Should storms of seven-fold vengeance roll,
And shake this earth from pole to pole,
No flaming bolt could daunt my face,
For Jesus is my Hiding-place.
On him almighty vengeance fell,
That must have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus became their Hiding-place.
A few more rolling suns at most,
Shall land me on fair Canaan’s coast,
Where I shall sing the song of grace,
And see my glorious Hiding-place.1
And to that I only add a hearty “Amen!”
Clifton Hymns: A Service of Song for United Worship (London: Oulston & Wright, 1870), 492–93.