“HALLELUJAH!  WHAT A SAVIOR!”

Wayne S. Walker

“He is…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53.3)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which identifies Christ as the fulfillment of
Isaiah’s prophecy concerning a man of sorrows and many of the
consequences of this fact is, “Hallelujah!  What A Savior!” (#161 in
“Hymns for Worship Revised”).  The text was written and the tune was
composed both by Philip Paul Bliss (1836-1878).  No information is
available concerning any background story for this song.  As a song
director for revival evangelist Daniel W. Whittle, Bliss provided music
for texts by others, such as “I Gave My Life for Thee” and “It Is Well
With My Soul,” and also produced both text and tune for several songs of
his own, such as “Almost Persuaded” and “Wonderful Words of Life.”  This
particular hymn was first published in the “International Lessons
Monthly” during 1875.  Its first hymnbook inclusion was in “Gospel Hymns
No. 2″ of 1876.

     Searching through hymnbooks published by people associated with and
in common use among churches of Christ, the earliest one in which I can
find this song is the 1956 “Sacred Selections for the Church” (#48)
edited by Ellis J. Crum.  It did appear in the 1963 “Christian Hymnal”
(#165) edited by J. Nelson Slater, which is no longer published.  In
addition to “Sacred Selections,” it is found in the 1971 “Songs of the
Church” (#449), the 1990 “Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed.” (#157), and
the 1994 “Songs of Faith and Praise” (#339) all edited by Alton H.
Howard; the 1978 “(Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns” (#365) edited by V. E.
Howard; and the 1992 “Praise the Lord” (#203) edited by John P. Wiegand.

     The song talks about several aspects of the suffering of Christ.

I. Stanza 1 says that the purpose of His suffering was to save sinners
 A. The word translated “sorrows” literally means pains; Jesus knew that
He would “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and
scribes”: Matt. 16.21
 B. Yet, He was the Son of God who came and was willing to do this: Matt.
16.16
 C. Why?  It was ruined sinners to reclaim: Lk. 19.10

II. Stanza 2 says that the nature of His suffering was that it was in our
place
 A. In His suffering, He bore shame and scoffing rude: Matt. 26.39-44,
Heb. 12.2
 B. Yet, He did this so that He could stand in our place–He died for
sinners: Rom. 5.8, 1 Cor. 15.3
 C. And therefore, He sealed our pardon with His blood: Eph. 1.7

III. Stanza 3 says that the reason for His suffering is that we are
guilty
 A. We are guilty because we have sinned: Rom. 3.23, 1 Jn. 1.8
 B. In contrast, He is the Spotless Lamb of God: Jn. 1.29, 1 Pet. 1.18-19
 C. And because He suffered for us, we can have full atonement or
reconciliation: Rom. 5.11

IV. Stanza 4 says that the end or goal of His suffering was to die for us
 A. He was lifted up to die: Jn. 3.14, 8.28, 12.32-34; Phil. 2.5-8
 B. Because His death did have a specific purpose, He cried, “It is
finished”: Jn. 19.30
 C. But now, He is in heaven, exalted high: Acts 1.9-11, Eph. 1.20-21,
Phil. 2.9-11

V. Stanza 5 says that the result of His suffering is that He is now King
 A. Jesus is sitting on His throne as King of kings: Acts 2.29-33, Rev.
19.16
 B. And someday, our King will return to bring His ransomed home: 1 Thes.
4.16-17
 C. Then we shall be able to sing this song around His throne forever and
ever: Rev. 5.8-14

CONCL.:  We often sing this song before partaking of the Lord’s supper,
and it is a good song to accomplish the purpose of focusing our minds on
the death of Christ.  But it should not be limited to that.  It is also
an excellent song of praise to Christ to be sung at other points in a
worship service, or at any time for that matter.  Because God loved us
enough to send His Son to die on the cross that we might be redeemed, we
should always want to say, “Hallelujah!  What A Savior!”

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