Sometimes a hymn can explain difficult but beautiful doctrines of grace easier than any commentary or devotional book. Take Isaac Watts‘ stirring hymn “How Sweet and Awful is the Place,” written in 1707 and reminiscent of the parable in Luke 14 of the wedding banquet. It is a beautiful picture of God’s sovereign election. This is fast becoming one of my favourite hymns, and moves me to tears nearly every time I sing it. I am jealous (not in a covetous way) of hymn writers like Watts who can so succinctly yet beautifully capture such glorious truths in rhyme and music.
How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?”
“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.
Pity the nations, O, our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.
We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.