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680

O God, We Kneel Before Your Throne

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The Catechism says that those who know Christ’s forgiveness are “to thank God for such deliverance” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2). As a result, “With our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, and that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, Question and Answer 86).

680

O God, We Kneel Before Your Throne

Words of Praise

Optional acclamation (Eph. 1:17-23)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory,
may give you a spirit of wisdom
and revelation as you come to know him,
so that, with the eyes of your
heart enlightened,
you may know what is the hope
to which he has called you,
what are the riches of his glorious
inheritance among the saints,
and what is the immeasurable greatness
of his power for us who believe,
according to the working of his great power.
God put this power to work in Christ
when he raised him from the dead
and seated him at his right hand
in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority
and power and dominion,
and above every name that is named,
not only in this age
but also in the age to come.
And he has put all things under his feet
and has made him the head
over all things for the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of him who fills all in all.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Assurance

You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received a spirit of adoption.
When you cry, “Abba! Father!”
it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, we are forgiven.
Thanks be to the triune God.
—based on Romans 8:15-17, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Praise for God’s Powerful Love
O God, because of your love, the power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us. You are able to do not only what we ask, but also what we imagine; not only what we ask or imagine, but far more than we ask or imagine. You are able to do abundantly far more than we ask or imagine. How wide, how long, how high, how deep is your love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
680

O God, We Kneel Before Your Throne

Tune Information

Name
KNOLLCREST FARM
Key
D Major
Meter
8.8.8.8 refrain 8.5

Recordings

680

O God, We Kneel Before Your Throne

Hymn Story/Background

Ruth Van Baak and Roy Hopp collaborated on the creation of this hymn which was the winning entry in a hymn text contest to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Calvin College and Seminary. Hopp subsequently expanded the hymn into an anthem that was published by the by GIA in the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Music Series.
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Ruth van Baak Griffioen studied music at Calvin College, recorder at the University of Michigan, and musicology at Stanford University. She spent two years in Utrecht on a Fulbright Fellowship, researching the music of the 17th-century Dutch carillonneur and recorder virtuoso Jacob van Eyck; the resulting book was published by the Dutch Musicological Society in 1991 and is now in its third printing. She has taught early music history and performance at Calvin, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania, and, on and off since 1994, at the College of William & Mary. Her latest published projects have been a Listener's Guide to Bach's St. Matthew Passion (March 2003) and Storms, Ice, and Whales, a translation of a first person account of a 1923-1924 Antarctic whaling adventure, written and illustrated by her ancestor, the Dutch landscape artist Willem van der Does (September 2003). Dr. Griffioen performs professionally as a recorder player in the mid-Atlantic area, giving several dozen performances per year.  Last season included concerts with Virginia Opera (Handel's Agrippina) and in Rio de Janiero (featuring modern Brazilian music for the recorder); for the 2009 season she will be performing at The National Gallery in Washington DC and at Duke University.  Most often, Ruth performs with The Wren Masters, a W&M faculty baroque quartet with Tom Marshall, Susan Via, and Sarah Glosson.

Composer Information

Roy Hopp (b. 1951) graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and from Michigan State University with a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting. He did further studies in church music and composition with Richard Hillert at Concordia University in River Forest, IL. He has served as a Director of Music in churches in Denver and in West Michigan, and for many years was the Director of Music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI and Adjunct Professor of Choral Music at Calvin Theological Seminary, from which he retired in 2015 in order to concentrate on composition. But that same year he did accept a position as music director at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.
 
His choral compositions have appeared in the catalogues of Augsburg Fortress, earthsongs, GIA Publications, Inc., Kjos, MorningStar, and Selah and his hymn tunes have been published in hymnals and collections in the United States, Canada, England, Wales and Scotland.
— Emily Brink

Song Notes

The following is a portion of the sermon on Ephesians 3 that was preached the first time this anthem was sung: the 125th anniversary celebration of Calvin College and Calvin Theologial Seminary. The anthem is actually also a musical sermon on Ephesians 3. 
 
The prayer in Ephesians 3 shows us the huge U-shaped flow of traffic between God and the people of God. God pours out grace and glory among people who put it to work and then give the harvest right back to God. So the prayer begins: "I bow my knees before the Father," the first of the Holy Trinity, the one from whom the whole family in heaven and on earth has gotten its identity as children of God. This is the family of angels and humans, of saints and martyrs, of people living and dead - the whole family of God. When we pray we are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses. Our prayers are always family prayers. 
 
Paul starts with God the Father, and asks for God's Spirit to unleash his power, and for God's Son to plant his love. Power, love, Christ, Spirit - these gifts and persons must come down so that some of their glory may go back up to God in the great family exchange of giving and taking and giving back. Give, O God, from the riches of your glory, says Paul, so that we may have Christ in us, and strength in us. Give us the strength, O God, so that we may become warriors against the spirits of darkness, and agents of all the good works that You have created us to do - all the works of justice, the works of forgiveness, the works of conspicuous kindness that send glory right back to You who gave it.
 
Chapter 6 tells us that we need this strengthening because our battle isn't against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this present darkness. The Holy Spirit isn't the only spirit around, as Robert Roberts says. There are also the spirits of pride and cruelty. There are spirits of deceit and confusion. There's the spirit of hypocrisy that Jesus hated so much. There are spirits of sexism and racism and hatred of homosexual persons - evil spirits that can haunt great Christian institutions and corrupt them.
 
The Holy Spirit is at war with evil spirits, and so we need God's gift to discern the spirits, to disentangle the spirits. We need to know who's who and what's what in the great competition of world spirits.
 
To succeed we'll need the riches of God's glory. We'll need some of the glory to enlighten us, and then to strengthen us to do God's work in the world. And so Paul bows his knees before the heavenly Father and prays that God will send strength and love, that beleivers will be able to comprehend the great things of God - what is the breadth and length and height and depth. Paul prays that beleivers will know the love of Christ, the ultimate source of every self-giving impulse that has ever blessed the church and the world. The love of Christ. Paul isn't talking about giving a hug or sharing a feeling. These little loves won't take anybody to the cross. To go to a cross for somebody, your love would have to be fierce. Paul is talking about the love of Jesus Christ! To go to a cross you have to be terrifying in the strength of your passion for sinners. "God so loved the world that he sent his only Son" - that's not just a Bible verse. That's a cry from the depths. That's almost a battle cry.
 
Paul prays to God the Father to send the power and the Spirit and the love of Christ, so that by the power at work within them believers may join hands and join forces to battle for good in the world. Then all the glory of the battle, all the glory of good works of justice and compassion, and all the glory of billions of saints and martyrs fastened by faith to Jesus Christ - all this glory with names and faces and histories in it - may go back to God. The glory of God is like the Son of God, coming down to do the great works of redemption. There is terrible struggling and fighting and dying, but then there is the astonishing power of resurrection and ascension that sends the incarnate Christ, wounds and all, back to the one who sent him.
 
Ephesians, chapter 1, tells us that this same power - the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead - is the power at work within us, within deeply flawed people like us! God is able to do not only what we ask, but also what we imagine. God is able to do more than we ask or imagine. God is able to do far more than we ask or imagine. In fact God is able to do abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine. Paul piles up the superlatives in this great burst of enthusaism for what God is able to do according to the riches of his glory. What God does is to put the power, the dunamis, the dynamite of the resurrection into the lives of ordinary people.
 
The great prayer of Ephesians 3 reaches for the heights and the depths with such grandeur that it comes as a shock to recall that the man who prays these words isn't a pope or a governor. Paul's a prisoner. He's a soul on ice. He's been converted by God, and jailed by Rome, and from his tiny world he pours out a magnificent chorus of prayer for the Ephesian church. How heroic for a suffering prisoner to pour himself out for believers on the outside, praying to God for great things to happen to Christians who are safe.
 
Great things according to the riches of his glory. Great things "by the power at work within us." Great things that send the glory back to God who gave it.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
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