Editor’s Reflections -- By: William David Spencer
PP 23:4 (Autumn 2009) p. 2
One of the earliest hymns we have in our treasury of praise, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” celebrates the moment when “the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, / First revealed His sacred face.”1
Some eighteen hundred years after this classic was written, one of my own treasured personal memories is hearing my mother singing Helen Lemmel’s lyrics, as she did her chores around the house, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus./Look full in his wonderful face./And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/In the light of his glory and grace.”2
In contemporary Christian music, excellent musicians from the days of the Resurrection Band in “(I Can’t Stop) Loving You”3 to FFH in “One of These Days,”4 the Miracle Teens of Uganda in “Presence”5 to Jamaica’s Carlene Davis in “My Turn”6 (and countless others around our world) still express the longing to see our Savior face to face, while each Sunday many of us continue to invite the Lord into our worship services with praise songs like “Lord, We Welcome You” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart”7 that assure Jesus we want to see his face ourselves.
When Aurelius C. Prudentius wrote his paean in the early 300s and Helen Lemmel echoed that desire in the late 1800s/early 1900s, Glenn Kaiser in 1981, Jeromy Deibler and Paul Baloche, respectively, in 1997, Martin Wampamba in 2001, and Che Cowan in 2004 (with similar lyrics continuing to be penned in 2009), each composer was expressing a longing Christians have felt over the centuries since our Lord Jesus Christ was physically taken up from us. In the millennia-long history between the ascension and the second coming, we have gone into the world, preached the gospel, baptized converts, and have been trying to do the things Jesus commanded us to do. But all the while, the longing to sit at Jesus’ feet and gaze into the loving face of the “Suffering Servant” lingers in every Christian heart.
Jesus’ disciples, of course, knew exactly what he looked like, and so did many in the early church. Bishop Eusebius, who lived in the same century as Prudentius, even tells us he visited the site of the home of the woman healed from hemorrhaging, whose experience was chronicled in Mark 5:25-34, to view the statue she commissioned to commemorate her life-changing e...
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