The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free

Countless songs have been written about the love of God for his people. Many songs, however, particularly modern worship songs, lack specificity. When I sing a song to God about his love for the church corporately or me individually, I want to be specific in my praise toward God. Rather than simply singing, “O how he loves me” (which is true!), I want to rejoice in him for the truth that “in love, he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:4b-5).

One of the greatest songs written on the theme of the love of God (in English, at least), in my opinion, is “The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free” by William Gadsby. The words express the why and how of God’s love. You can read the lyrics below. It’s no secret that I love hymns, but hymns are not all we should sing. I pray that a generation of Christian musicians and poets would write new songs that reflect the same breadth and depth of gospel joy and insight as do the great hymns of old.

The Love of Christ is Rich and Free

The love of Christ is rich and free;
Fixed on His own eternally;
Nor earth, nor hell, can it remove;
Long as He lives, His own He’ll love.

His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety;
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.

Chorus: Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law,
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless day.

Love has redeemed His sheep with blood;
And love will bring them safe to God;
Love calls them all from death to life;
And love will finish all their strife.

He loves through every changing scene,
Nor aught from Him can Zion wean;
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.
(Repeat chorus)

At death, beyond the grave, He’ll love;
In endless bliss, His own shall prove
The blazing glory of that love
Which never could from them remove.


The Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol is a 12th century Irish hymn and is one of the oldest surviving European Christmas carols. It tells the simple Nativity story in Bethlehem.

(If you cannot watch it in this window, please click on the “Watch on YouTube” link that will appear.)

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

HT: Justin Taylor


Welcome to Advent

Advent is the historical church name for the Christmas season. It comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming.” Thus, Advent is the season of preparation, expectation, and celebration of Jesus’ incarnation (literally his “taking on flesh”) at Christmas. The Advent Season also points us forward to the Second Advent when Jesus will return at the end of the age to usher in his kingdom in the new heaven and new earth.

Each year I write a number of Advent posts to help myself (and you!) worship Jesus as God in the flesh, the one who came to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). This year, I wanted to start with a beautiful hymn that is based on the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1-2 that Jesus will be from the root of Jesse, King David’s father.

The hymn is “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” written in 15th century Germany and was translated to English by Theodore Baker in 1894.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!


Father, Long Before Creation

This is one of my favorite hymns. It was originally a Chinese hymn, and it was translated by Francis P. Jones.  It was most recently re-recorded by Matthew Smith on the Beams of Heaven: Indelible Grace IV project.

*               *               *

Translated by Francis P. Jones
Music and Chorus by Andrew Osenga

Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

Though the world may change its fashion,
Yet our God is e’er the same;
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain.
God’s own children,
God’s own children
Must forever praise His name.

God’s compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us,
God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Loving Father now before Thee
We will ever praise Thy love,
And our songs will sound unceasing
‘Til we reach our home above,
Giving glory,
giving glory
To our God and to the

Giving glory,
giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb.


How Helpless

By Anne Steele (modified by Matthew Smith)

How helpless guilty nature lies,
Unconscious of its load
The heart, unchanged, can never rise
To happiness and God.
Can nothing less than power divine,
The stubborn will subdue?
‘Tis Thine, eternal Spirit, Thine,
To form the heart anew.

‘Tis Thine, the passions to recall,
And upwards bid them rise;
And make the scales of error fall,
From reason’s darkened eyes.
To chase the shades of death away
And bid the sinner live
Heaven’s beam, a vital ray
‘Tis Thine alone to give

Oh change these wretched hearts of ours,
And give them life divine;
Then shall our passions and our powers,
Almighty Lord, be Thine.
Oh change these wretched hearts of ours,
And give them life divine;
Then shall our passions and our powers,
Almighty Lord, be Thine.
Almighty Lord, be Thine
Almighty Lord, be Thine

How helpless guilty nature lies,
Unconscious of its load