Lord, for the Years

The subject of this post is the hymn “Lord for the years your love has kept and guided” by Timothy Dudley-Smith. I’m a day behind here, as I had picked this hymn for yesterday (12 April), being our wedding anniversary and it was the hymn we chose for the congregation to sing at the end of our wedding ceremony in 2003 to accompany us as we walked back down the aisle together at the start of our marriage.

We especially love the last lines, “Past put behind us, for the future take us, Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone”. This is the Christian understanding of marriage, that a couple starts a new life, putting behind us any previous relationships or failings and seeking to live together as one household, but always under the direction of Jesus Christ.

The other words of the hymn have a wider focus than just the life of one couple. Verse 1 refers, perhaps, to anyone who seeks to know God, thanking him for his timeless qualities of love, inspiration, cheer (a rarely used word in religious circles but an important one), salvation, pardon and provision. Verse 2 praises God for his ‘Word of life’ that “sets our souls ablaze, teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us”. This refers primarily to the Bible, but the Bible is best understood not as the source of wisdom in itself but rather as a pointer to the living Christ who is its source and the true Wisdom of God.

Verses 3 and 4 remind us of the real problems of the world: the dangers for some people of pleasure and wealth, as well as those who are hungry and helpless. But all are indeed “lost without him” and so for all the world we “pray that Christ may reign”. Which brings us back to verse 5 where I started, as we ask God to help us put ourselves on the cross and Christ on the throne.

1 thought on “Lord, for the Years”

  1. Little to add about this hymn: I have always felt it is one of Timothy Dudley-Smith’s best, and the tune by Michael Baughen serves it very well and makes it very distinctive. I especially like the way that it moves from topics for prayer “Lord, FOR the …” to acknowledgement that God is able to help because he is Lord of that particular department of life “Lord OF the …”. I also especially like the evangelical world-view in verse 2, which declares that the word of God is living and active, with the power to stir us and engender new thoughts and actions in our lives – no dry-dust historically-interesting-but-a-book-of-its-time view of the bible here. The only line that hasn’t really stood the test of time is the one about “commonwealth” in verse 3.

    The hymn is a favourite of a lot more people than Stephen, and many others have chosen it for their weddings too.

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