A Landmark Hymn in CIM/OMF
There are two hymns that are invariably sung at official OMF functions including our Thailand field conference: Jehovah Jireh is His Name and How good is the God We Adore.
The latter was written by an English preacher named Joseph Hart (1712-1768):
How good is the God we adore!
Our faithful, unchangeable friend:
his love is as great as his pow’r
and knows neither knows measure nor end.
For Christ is the first and the last;
his Spirit will guide us safe home;
we’ll praise him for all that is past
and trust him for all that’s to come.
Unlike most hymns which have four stanzas or more with a chorus in between, Hart employs just two stanzas but packs no less than six attributes of God into the first stanza. In the second stanza, he centers in on Christ and His eternal nature, the guiding presence of the Spirit and ends with praise for God’s past benevolence and affirmation of trust for the future. The reference to the past reminds CIM/OMF of its reliance on Ebenezer (Memorial Stone of Help in 1 Kings 4) and trust for the future (Jehovah Jireh in Genesis 22).
As a younger man, Joseph was an unlikely candidate to write such a hymn due to his stance as a professed libertine who wrote, The Unreasonableness of Religion, in an effort to convince John Wesley to simply believe in God and not worry about doing good works. Wesley may not have impressed the young Hart, but an older Hart sat under the powerful preaching of George Whitefield and was soundly converted. Hart went on to write over thirty hymns, including the well known “Come, Holy Spirit, Come” and “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” but his most famous hymn remains the one that OMF adopted, a hymn that was even sung at Westminster Chapel at the funeral service of Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones. Joseph Hart died at only 56 years old and at his funeral, tens of thousands of admirers gathered and could read on his tombstone what he had instructed to be engraved: “Joseph Hart was by the free and sovereign grace and Spirit of God raised up from the depths of sin, and delivered from the bonds of mere profession and self-righteousness, and led to rest entirely for salvation in the finished atonement and perfect obedience of Christ.”