Second in a series featuring songs from my CD New Creation. For more information, read this link.
Behind the Song
R. A. Torrey was a 19th-century evangelist known for his commitment to the Word of God and the message of the Gospel. As a pastor, evangelist, teacher, author, and scholar, he has an enduring impact even today. Many of his books are regarded as classics (such as the splendidly simple How to Pray), and institutions he helped found such as Moody Bible Institute, BIOLA University, and the Church of the Open Door, remain strong and influential in today’s church.
Torrey’s only known hymn text, “Bless Thou Jehovah,” is a scriptural, theological, and devotional celebration of the character and attributes of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) and His workings in the story of our salvation. It expresses worship for every element of God’s saving work: the Father’s love and grace, the Son’s atoning death and Resurrection, the Spirit’s outpouring on the church, and Jesus’ return to be with us for eternity. As my brother said on reading it, “Torrey may have only written one hymn, but he only needed to write one!”
Torrey directs our worship to “Jehovah,” the standard 19th-century transliteration of the Hebrew YHWH. (A Y and a W become a J and V when they are sent from Hebrew to English by way of Latin and German. It’s a bit complicated. Scholars today tend to favor “Yahweh” as a more accurate reconstruction, but I decided it was better to preserve the rhythm of Torrey’s poem.) This is the sacred name of God revealed to Moses as an expression of God’s character, existence, and covenant faithfulness. It is used in the Scriptures–English translations generally identify it in small capitals, “LORD”–to emphasize God’s personal connection with His people. “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6, NIV).
Unfortunately, this many-layered hymn text with its rich overview of salvation history never became widely popular. This may be due to its original pairing to a tune by Charles Alexander with an irregular range and somewhat disjointed rhythm. My new tune was composed in one delighted morning and has become a favorite. Let me know how you are able to use it.
For more writings and sermons visit my other webpage, the R. A. Torrey Archive.
Bless Thou Jehovah
Text by R. A. Torrey (alt.)—Music by Eric M. Pazdziora
Oh, my soul bless thou Jehovah, God of love and grace art thou,
Thou alone art wise and holy; At thy feet I humbly bow.
Bless Jehovah, oh my soul,
Cry aloud, upon Him call;
At His feet we humbly fall,
And crown Jehovah Lord of all.
Thou, Thy Son hast freely given, All our sins to bear away,
On the Cross He made atonement, Then to glory led the way.
He for us received the Spirit, precious gift of love divine,
Shed Him forth upon Thy children; Now forever He is mine.
Jesus soon again returneth, Evermore with Him I’ll be,
Like Him through the endless ages, Saved for all eternity.
Text by Reuben Archer Torrey, Public Domain.
Music © 2003 Eric M. Pazdziora. All Rights Reserved.
Get the Song
Buy the MP3 on iTunes:
Buy the album on CDbaby:
Click here to get chord charts and lead sheets for the entire album.
If you would like this song in another arrangement, feel free to contact the composer. I’m always open to new commissions, projects, and ideas.
If you use this song in your worship or other performance and make a recording, I’d love to see a copy!
Music Copyright © 2010 Eric M. Pazdziora. All Rights Reserved.