Now … and always
This wonderful song is a prayer, praise and declaration of thanks to God. The melody carries great words to rehearse in our minds and hearts! Please give it a listen, and come back for more.
With heart and hands and voices
This hymn hits the ground running:
What? WE ALL THANK
Who? OUR GOD
How? WITH HEART (sincere enthusiasm from the core of our being)
How? WITH HANDS (our service)
How? WITH VOICES (speaking and singing the wonderful works of God)
When I write it out like that, the ideas seem CLEAR but CLUMSY.
But how powerful and memorable these words become when they are sung!
So let’s sing.
From our mothers’ arms
The song’s first verse continues: “♫ Who from our mothers’ arms …♪♫”
How did Mom — actually, ALL mothers — get into this song about “we all” thanking and praising God?
Through inspired genius, I suspect.
We just sang “His world rejoices” …. I’ll pause here. A world does not rejoice. People do. Did the song writer make a mistake? Not at all!
Using “world” to mean “people” is a literary device called a figure of speech. Figures of speech are intentional shifts from literal language to colorful language. They are used to add emphasis.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom”
This is a figure of speech called a “metaphor“. It is not literally true — making me happy does NOT make you a gardener. But we still like the quote BECAUSE it expresses an idea colorfully and powerfully.
Act naturally — Deafening silence — Growing smaller
Jumbo shrimp — Only choice — Original copy
“We’re busy doing nothing.” ( – Bing Crosby)
These are examples of another figure of speech: “oxymoron” — where words are combined that seem to contradict each other. Aren’t they clever, colorful ways to communicate?
Some people may use the term “figure of speech” to mean sloppy talking. Students of language know these are anything BUT sloppy talking. Figures of speech are deliberate departures from LITERAL language for the purpose of expressing a truth more powerfully and colorfully.
Both metaphors and oxymorons tweak language to add emphasis and color but they each use a different pattern.
The metaphor pattern is to compare similar things.
The oxymoron pattern is to join things that don’t seem to belong together.
Can you think of any other figures of speech? Simile? Hyperbole? So far that’s FOUR figures of speech. Don’t stop yet! On the internet today I saw an article listing “the EIGHT figures of speech”. (Always trust what you read on the internet, right?!?)
Eight?!? Whoops, whoopsie!
I’ve heard people getting PhD’s in language arts might learn as many as 20 to 30 different figures of speech! That’s impressive. BUT — that only hints at how much we DON’T know that previous generations knew.
Shakespeare lived and wrote about 400 years ago. Scholars see about 100 different figures of speech in his writings. (And we think WE have become so smart!) A Bible scholar from the 1800’s, E.W. Bullinger, studied figures of speech. He found about 220 kinds of figures of speech used in literature and he cataloged 212 different kinds of figures of speech in the Bible!
The Bible is rich beyond our imagination. No surprise, considering its Author!
Figures of speech in the Bible
Figures of speech in the Bible — it is a HUGE field. I mentioned “212 figures of speech in the Bible” — that is NOT 212 instances — that is 212 different KINDS of figures. Some of these kinds of figures of speech have more than a dozen variations.
Often we can understand the writing even if we are not aware of a figure of speech being used. Not seeing the figure means we might miss the emphasis God intended, even though we get the idea. I’ll offer this example. Read Genesis chapter one and notice the repetition of the word “and”. We see many ands. That is the figure of speech “polysyndeton” (means “many ands”). When we see many ands, the figure of speech wants us to slow down and notice every item listed.
As neat as THAT is, here in Genesis, we see figures layered on top of each other. Not only is “and” repeated, but “and God said” is repeated. Different figures are combined, adding even MORE emphasis to this section.
It is a mistake to look at that odd writing and explain it away by thinking the old-timers did not have well-developed rules of grammar. In fact, it is just the opposite. WE have lost the rules of grammar THEY recognized. How did THEY learn these forms of language arts? They read the Bible.
If “many ands” is a figure of speech, do you think there could be a figure that leaves “ands” out? YES, there is — it is called “asyndeton” (means “no ands”). Example: Galatians 5:22,23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Nine items listed but no ands. This figure puts the emphasis on the conclusion, rather than on the list leading up to it. The emphasis is: “against such there is no law.” Not knowing the figure “asyndeton” we STILL get the general idea, but we might miss the emphasis God intended. Not life and death, but WE miss some of the greatness of God and His Word.
One thing is for sure: the more we learn about God and His wonderful works, the more we realize how big HE is, and the more we want to draw close to Him. I’m glad He loves us, aren’t you!!??!!
Back to Mom
But we’ve strayed from “mom”. We just sang “♫ His world rejoices ♫” then we sing “♫ Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way. ♫” Brilliant!
Our songwriter is pointing out how God has blessed us BY DESIGN. The design is for every person to be born of one mother. Not hatched in some icy stream. Not sprouted from a tree branch and dropped to the ground. No, each person enters this world by one specific person, Mom, who, by God’s design, is there to care for and raise, and love that child.
Mothers — by God’s design — how amazing! How wonderful! Thank you, Lord! Praise the Lord!
Yet another hymn with hope
I’ll close by inviting you to find the line in this song about the hope of Christ’s return and the blessings of the life to come. Do you see it? [Find lyrics printed below.] You’ll need to read and think. (Hint: the lyric uses the huge small word: “in“. Huge small … is THAT an oxymoron?)
What a great song with great lyrics about our GREAT BIG WONDERFUL GOD! Yes, let’s thank Him NOW and always. Singing this song will us help keep these thoughts fresh in our minds.
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Now Thank We All Our God
Words by: Martin Rinkart (1636)
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us,
To keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
Of this world in the next.
All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son and Spirit blest,
Who reign in highest heaven
The one eternal God,
Whom heaven and earth adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.
What do you think?
I could say more on this song, but I’d rather hear YOUR thoughts. Please share your comments in the “Leave a reply” spot below.
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