God has spoken

Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is “God has spoken” by George Wallace Briggs (the middle name is perhaps important to distinguish him from George Nairn Briggs, sometime Dean of Wakefield).  It dates from 1953 although the words have been “updated” in the book, and is quite traditional in its musical style.   This hymn is ‘didactic’ (a way of teaching what the Church believes) rather than a hymn of praise from the singer to God.

The three verses explain the different ways in which God communicates with people. The verb “speak” is used but in a wider context that just oral/aural communication, as few of us have the experience of hearing God speak aloud.  Firstly, “God has spoken” in the ‘unchanging word’ given through prophets – those who did receive a direct revelation from God and either wrote it down themselves or passed on a message in their own speech that was eventually written down by others.  Secondly is his direct revelation in Jesus – “Christ the everlasting Son”, who himself in human form spoke directly to his disciples, and at least some of what he said is recorded in the Gospels.  And thirdly “God is speaking by his Spirit, speaking to our hearts again, in the age long word expounding God’s own message, now aa then”.  The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in people’s lives, and communicates with us, whether by an inspired thought, by prompting to pray for a particular person or situation, by a new understanding of part of the Bible, or by reminding us of what we have heard or read previously.

1 thought on “God has spoken”

  1. I was pleased to see the Evangelical doctrine of the Spirit’s work in this hymn: God speaks to us by his Holy Spirit, but the work of the Spirit is not to take us off in a completely new direction by purported revelations unrelated to previous truths, but to take the things of Jesus and to apply them to our hearts (in accordance with John 16:13b-14). The Spirit “expounds God’s own message” in the present-day context as in the past (verse 3). It is on this basis that we “evangelicals” reject the later doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, which holds that the Spirit reveals new ‘truths’ not taught in scripture (such as the two doctrines about Mary and the one about Papal Infallibility).

    To me this isn’t a new hymn: it is in the “Anglican Hymn Book” (Church Society 1965 – no.301) and in “Hymns for Today’s Church.

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