“AWAKE, AND SING THE SONG”

Wayne S. Walker

“And they sing the song of Moses…and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvelous are Thy works…” (Rev. 15.3).

     INTRO.:  A hymn which attempts to express the sense of the song of
Moses and the Lamb for us is “Awake, And Sing The Song” (#6 in “Hymns for
Worship Revised”).  The text was written by William Hammond (1719-1783).
A native of Sussex, England, who was first a member of the Calvinistic
Methodist Church and later joined the Moravian Brethren, he penned these
words around 1843 and published them in his “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual
Songs” of 1745.  The original poem contained fourteen stanzas.  Some of
them were arranged in their present form for the 1753 “Collection of
Hymns for Social Worship” by editor George Whitefield (1714-1770).
Others were edited for the 1760 “Collection of Psalms and Hymns” by
editor Martin Madan (1726-1790).  The arrangement in our books is
probably a composite drawn from these two sources.

     The tune, known as St. Thomas, is usually attributed to Aaron
Williams (1731-1776).  It is the second quarter of a sixteen line
quadruple short meter tune called “Holborn” which appeared in his
“Universal Psalmist” of 1770.  Because Williams never actaully claimed
authorship, many believe that it is not his original melody but rather an
adaptation of a work by another composer, perhaps George Frederick Handel
(11685-1759).  However,  this is not certain.  This same tune has been
used with many other hymns.  Some older books that I have checked use a
tune called Webster which is of unknown origin but makes for a very
lively and joyous rendition of the text.

     The song has appeared in many books published among churches of
Christ, going at least as far back to the 1923 “Choice Gospel Hymns” (#5)
edited by Thomas B. Moseley and published by the Gospel Advocate.  Its
popularity is likely due in part to its being included in the 1937 “Great
Songs of the Church No. 2″ (#344) edited by E. L. Jorgenson.  In addition
to “Hymns for Worship,” it is found today in the 1971 “Songs of the
Church” (#33) and the 1990 “Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed.” (#96), both
edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 “Great Songs Revised” (#153) edited
by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 “Praise for the Lord” (#57) edited by
John P. Wiegand.  The song suggests several reasons why we should sing
the song of Moses and the Lamb.

     There are six stanzas in common use today.  Here is their proper
order.

I. According to stanza 1, it is a song of praise
“Awake, and sing the song Of Moses and the Lamb;
Wake, every heart and every tongue, To praise the Savior’s name.”
 A. While we may not know exactly what “the song of Moses and the Lamb”
is, many scholars suggest that it might refer to the song of redemption
for all mankind, both those under the Old Testament (of Moses) and under
the New Testament (the Lamb): Ex. 15.1ff, Jn. 1.29
 B. As we sing this song, we should wake both heart and tongue, because
singing consists of both the words of our mouths and the meditations of
our hearts: Ps. 19.14
 C. And the purpose for which we thus express the fruit of our lips is to
praise our God: Heb. 13.15

II. According to stanza 2, it is a song of love
“Sing of His dying love, Sing of His rising (risen) power;
Sing how He intercedes above For those whose sins He bore.”
 A. Surely we should sing of the great love that the Lamb showed for us
by dying for our sins: Rom. 5.8
 B. We should sing of the power as shown in His resurrection from the
dead: 2 Tim. 2.8
 C. And we should sing how He interdeces above for those whose sins He
bore: Heb. 7.25 (this is what I understand all those song which are
addressed to Jesus to be doing–calling upon Him who is our intercessor)

III. According to stanza 3, it is a song of grace
“Sing, till we feel our hearts Ascending with our tongues;
Sing, that (till) the love of sin departs, And grace inspires our
tongues.”
 A. Again, we must make sure that our hearts are in the worship that we
offer God with our tongues: Mt. 15.7-9
 B. We sing that the love of sin departs by asking the Lord not to lead
us into temptation: Matt. 6.13
 C. But most of all we should sing that grace would inspire our tongues,
because the grace of God by which we are saved from sin should inspire
the singing of praise to him: Eph. 2.8-9

IV. According to stanza 4, it is a song of joy
“Sing on your heavenly way, Ye ransomed sinners sing;
Sing on, rejoicing every day, In Christ, the glorious King.”
 A. As Christians, we are on the way that leads to everlasting life in
heaven: Matt. 7.14, Col. 1.5
 B. Therefore, we should express the joy of our hearts to God in singing
psalms: Phil. 4.4, Jas. 4.13
 C. And this singing is done in Christ, who is our glorious King: Gal.
3.27, Rev. 19.16

V. According to stanza 5, it is a song of hope for a home in heaven
“Soon shall you hear Him say, ‘Ye blessed children, come!’
Soon will He call you hence away, And take His pilgrims home.”
 A. Our desire is someday to hear Him say, “Come, ye blessed”: Matt.
25.34
 B. But before this will happen, we shall be called hence away from this
world when the Lord returns: 1 Cor. 15.51-54, 1 Thes. 4.15-17
 C. And at that time He will take His pilgrims to the home where their
citizenship is: Phil. 3.20-21

VI. According to stanza 5, it is a song of eternal rapture
“Soon shall our raptured tongue His endless praise proclaim,
And sweeter voices tune the song Of Moses and the Lamb.”
 A. The word “rapture” is not in the Bible; however it can be use, not to
refer to some period of time in which the saints shall linger in the air
after being raised before returning to the earth when Jesus comes, which
is not taught in the scriptures; but to the bliss that the righteous will
experience in heaven: Rev. 22.1-5
 B. This rapture will involve endless praise because God has promised us
eternal life in the world to come: Mk. 10.30, 1 Jn. 2.25
 C. And then our tongues shall join the sweeter voices to sing the
eternal praises of God and of the Lamb: Rev. 5.9-13

     CONCL.: There is much about this particular hymn that we do not know
because the details are shrouded in history.  And, as stated before,
there is much about the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb that we do
not know because not all the details are revealed in scripture.  But
there is one thing that we can know, and that is that the singing of
praise to God here helps to prepare us for the singing of praises to God
in eternity.  May we always remember this as we “Awake, And Sing The
Song.”

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