Hymn History ~ Not What My Hands Have Done

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He hath saved us.” ~Titus 3:5~DSC01248Written: Horatius Bonar
Composed: George William Martin
Tune: Leominster

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh hath born can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free.

Thy grace alone, O God, to me can pardon speak;
Thy pow’r alone, O Son of God, can this sore bondage break.
No other work save Thine, no other blood will do;
No strength save that which is divine can bear me safely through.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Saviour mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Horatius Bonar — The Writer…

Horatius Bonar has been called “The Prince of Scottish Hymn Writers” by many. He was born December 19, 1808, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was educated at the Edinburgh High school, and at the University of Edinburgh. His first poem appeared in print in November, 1827, in the “College Observer”, when he was nineteen years old.

November 30, 1837, Horatius Bonar became an ordained minister at twenty-nine years of age. He was the pastor of the North Parish Church in Kelso, Scotland. He published a book containing three hundred hymns written by w=various authors in 1845.

Horatius Bonar died in 1889, at the age of eighty-one years, after writing more than six hundred hymns. Reverend E. H. Lundie, a close friend, said at his death: “His hymns were written in very varied circumstances, sometimes timed by the tinkling brook that bobbled near him; sometimes attuned to the tramp of the ocean, whose crested waves broke on the beach by which he wandered; sometimes set to the rude music of the railway train that hurried him to the scene of duty; sometimes measured by the silent rhythm of the midnight stars which shone above him.” Horatius Bonar is also known for writing the hymn “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”.

George William Martin — The Composer…

Not much is known about George Martin. He was born in London, England, in 1852. As a boy he sang in the choir at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In 1849, at twenty-four years old, he became an organist at a church in Battersea. He taught music at a Normal College for Army Schoolmasters in Chelsea, and became well known for his skill in training children’s choirs. He composed the tune “Leominster” in 1862, and named it for a town in Herefordshire, England. He died in London, England, in 1881.


This would have to be one of my favourite hymns, so full of poignant reminders that nothing — absolutely nothing — that we do will ever make our sins seem less sinful, will never get us into Heaven. It is wonderful to be reminded as I am singing it that only by relying fully on God’s grace can my sins ever be forgiven. Only by trusting in my Saviour’s blood will I ever get into Heaven. It reminds me of how much I owe to Christ. How thankful I should be. How full of praise. How I should serve Him with my full heart, and show others His love that He has so graciously showed to me.

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