A HYMN OF GLORY LET US SING
Bible History is the substance of our congregations’ educational programs for children. Sunday school and vacation Bible school lessons cover history that God Himself has caused to be recorded so that every new generation can know Him. From accounts such as the Creation, the Flood, and the Passover, children learn the nature and character of the one true and living God. Especially from the history in the four Gospels they learn God’s grace and love in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
It is God pleasing that children should be introduced to Bible history from an early age. We see this in the Old Testament where God instructed Joshua to set up a monument of twelve stones as a perpetual reminder of how He had parted the Jordan for the Children of Israel and brought them safely into Canaan. Its stated purpose was that children would see it, ask what it meant, and give the adults opportunities to tell what God had done for them (Joshua 4:4-7).
The importance of familiarizing children with Bible history is taught in the first part of Psalm 78, in which God’s people promise to tell “to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” (v.4) It is this section of Scripture that is the basis for our hymn.
“Let children hear the mighty deeds / Which God performed of old / Which in our younger years we saw, / And which our fathers told.” If children are not to be ignorant about God, they need to hear from the Bible about His wonderful works.
“Make unto them His glories known / His works of pow’r and grace; / And we’ll convey His wonders down / Thro’ ev’ry rising race.” Bible history shows children the glory of God: the glory of His power in the creation of all things in six days, and in miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea; the glory of His grace in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles recorded in the book of Acts.
“Our lips shall tell them to our sons / And they again to theirs / That generations yet unborn / May teach them to their heirs.” By communicating Bible history to the next generation, we continue the long line of faith that stretches back to Adam and forward to future generations until Christ comes again.
“Oh, teach them with all diligence / The truths of God’s own Word, / To place in Him their confidence, / To fear and trust their Lord.” Lessons in Bible history teach children to fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
“To learn that in our God alone / Their hope securely stands, / That they may ne’er forget His works, / But walk in His commands.” By teaching Bible history, we give our children a solid foundation on which to stand in this sinful world in which there is nothing else certain or enduring.
When Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote this hymn, Lutheran congregations had already been singing hymns for over 150 years. But Reformed congregations were singing only versions of the Psalms that The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal calls “wretched paraphrases.” When Watts complained about this he was told, “Give us something better, young man.” He rose to the challenge and used his extraordinary gifts to write hundreds of Christian hymns, thirty-one of which are in The Lutheran Hymnal. They include such favorites as “Joy to the World” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
Watts didn’t abandon the Psalms, but put them into a form that was not only easier and more enjoyable to sing but also interpreted them in the light of the New Testament. “Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds” is from the collection Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719).
John Klatt is a retired pastor. He lives in Watertown, South Dakota.