For me, the highlights of our District Evening with the Bishop a few days ago were sharing in the Lord's Supper and the singing of the opening hymn, "The Church's One Foundation". This great hymn, #545 in our hymnal, has one of the finest texts in the history of hymnody. Written by 19th century Anglican clergyman Samuel Stone, the hymn is rich in doctrine and proclamation. It's meat...vital, sustaining spiritual protein, as opposed to sugars or carbs, which have a place but ultimately don't sustain as well. Partnered to a majestic tune by Charles Wesley's grandson, this hymn is one of the Church's all-time "greatest hits".
I sometimes use the great hymns in my devotional life, and a hymn as doctrinally powerful as "The Church's One Foundation" could be used for weeks of prayer and meditation.
One of my great fears regarding the "contemporary worship" movement is that great hymns like this one are lost or forgotten. The reason this concerns me so is that I've heard few if any "contemporary worship" songs or "praise songs" that can compare to "The Church's One Foundation", either musically or in terms of the theological depth and the didactic possibilities of the text. We are what we sing. What do you think of this hymn?
The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.
Elect from every nation, yet one o'er all the earth;
her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
till, with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.