“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”—Psalm 137:4
Methinks, my soul, this strange land is the very place to sing the Lord’s song in, though the carnal around understand it not. Shall I hang my harp upon the willow, when Jesus is my song, and when he himself hath given me so much cause to sing? Begin, my soul, thy song of redemption: learn it, and let it be sung upon earth; for sure enough thou wilt have it to sing in heaven. Art thou at a loss what to sing? Oh, no. Sing of the Father’s mercy in sending a Saviour. Sing of Jesus’s love, in not only coming, but dying for thee! Are the redeemed above now singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain?” Join in the chorus, and tell that dear Redeemer in the loudest notes, that he was slain, and hath redeemed thee to God by his blood. Strike up thy harp anew to the glories of redeeming grace, in that he not only died for thee, but hath quickened thee to a new and spiritual life. Add a note more to the Lord’s song, and tell the Redeemer in thy song of praise, that he hath not only died for thee, and quickened thee, but he hath loved thee, and washed thee from thy sins in his own blood. Go on in thy song, my soul, for it is the Lord’s song. Sing not only of redeeming love, but marvellous grace; for both-are connected. He that redeemed thee, hath all grace for thee. He hath adopted thee into his family; hath made thee an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. He hath undertaken for thee in all troubles, under all difficulties, to be with thee at all times and all places, until he brings thee home to behold his glory, that where he is, there thou mayest be for ever. And are not these causes enough to keep thy harp always strung—always in tune? And wilt thou not sing this song all the way through, and make it the subject of thy continual praise and love, in the house of thy pilgrimage? Moreover, the several properties of the song are, in themselves, matter for keeping it alive every day, and all the day. Think, my soul, how free was this love of God to thee. Surely if a man deserved hell, and found heaven, shall he not sing? If I expected displeasure, and received love—if I was brought low, and one like the Son of Man helped me, shall I not say, as one of old did—”He brought me out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay; he hath put a new song into my mouth, even thanksgiving to our God?” If I think of the greatness of the mercy, of the riches of the mercy, of the sweetness of the mercy, of the all-sufficiency of the mercy, of the sureness and firmness, and everlasting nature and efficacy of the mercy—can I refrain to sing? No, blessed, blessed Jesus! I will sing and not be afraid; “for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation.” I will sing now, I will sing for evermore. In this strange land, in this barren land, in this distant land from my Father’s house, I will sing, and Jesus shall be my song. He shall be the Alpha and the Omega of my hymn; and until I come to sing in the louder and sweeter notes of heaven, among the hallelujahs of the blessed, upon the new harp and new stringed chords of my renewed soul, will I sing of Jesus and his blood, Jesus and his righteousness, Jesus and his complete salvation. And when the last song upon my trembling lips, with Jesus’s name in full, shall be uttered; as the sound dies away, when death seals up the power of utterance; my departing soul shall catch the parting breath, and, as it enters the presence of the court above, the first notes of my everlasting song will go on with the same blessed note, “to him that hath loved me, and washed me from my sins in his own blood!”
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."