497. How Vast the Benefits Divine

1 How vast the benefits divine
which we in Christ possess!
We are redeemed from sin and shame,
and called to holiness.
'Tis not for works that we have done
these all to him we owe;
but he of his electing love
salvation does bestow.

2 To you, O Christ, alone is due
all glory and renown;
no merit of our own we claim,
nor rob you of your crown.
You were our only surety
in God's redemption plan;
in you his grace was given us
before the world began.

3 Within the arms of sovereign love
we ever shall remain;
nor shall the rage of earth or hell
make God's sure counsel vain.
Each one of all the chosen race
shall surely heaven attain;
here they will share abounding grace,
and there with Jesus reign.

Text Information
First Line: How vast the benefits divine
Title: How Vast the Benefits Divine
Author: Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) (1774, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: CMD
Scripture: Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1
Topic: Election; Redemption; Assurance (3 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Composer: Gottfried W. Fink (1842)
Meter: CMD
Key: B♭ Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 2 = Eph. 1:4

Written by ardent Calvinist Augustus M. Toplady (b. Farnham, Surrey, England, 1740; d. Kensington, London, England, 1778), this text was published in the Gospel Magazine (Dec. 1774). Dewey
Westra (PHH 98) revised Toplady's text in 1931 for the first edition of the Psalter Hymnal (1934).

This teaching text presents in song the essential points of the doctrine of redemption (like 496 but more comprehensively): only in Christ are we saved, for we have no merit of our own. Our redemption was ordained "before the world began" (see election texts referred to in 496), and our salvation ultimately leads to ruling with Christ in his kingdom.

Toplady is primarily known for writing "Rock of Ages" and for being an outspoken Calvinist opponent of John Wesley (PHH 267). After his father's death, Toplady moved with his mother to Ireland, where he studied at Trinity College, Dublin. He experienced a conversion while listening to the Wesleyan Methodist lay preacher James Morris. Ordained in the Church of England in 1762, Toplady served several congregations, including Broadhembury in Devonshire (1770-1775) and the Chapel of the French Calvinists in Leicester Fields, London, from 1775 on. Although converted under the preaching of a Methodist, Toplady became a bitter opponent in sermons and print of John Wesley and his Arminian teaching. Often using scurrilous language, such as "Wesley is guilty of Satanic shamelessness," he pressed his Calvinistic interpretation of the Bible, to which Wesley responded with equal disdain. Toplady wrote 130 hymn texts and produce Poems on Sacred Subjects (1769) and Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship (1776).

Liturgical Use:
With preaching on redemption, probably after the sermon; Lent.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Gottfried W. Fink (b. Sulza, Thuringia, Germany, 1783; d. Leipzig, Germany, 1846) composed BETHLEHEM in 1842 as a setting for Matthias Claudius's text "War einst ein Riese Goliath." The tune was published with that text in Fink's Musikalischer Hausschatz der Deutschen (1843).

After studying theology at the University of Leipzig, Fink was ordained in 1809 and became an assistant pastor in that city. His main career, however, was in music. A composer for the piano, violin, and voice, Fink served as director of music and taught at the University of Leipzig. But he was especially prominent as a music scholar and critic. Editor of the influential periodical Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Fink also wrote and edited a number of works on music theory and history. Arthur S. Sullivan (PHH 46) arranged the tune and published it as a setting for "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night" (thus the tune's title) in his Church Hymns with Tunes (1874).

BETHLEHEM is a rounded bar form (AABA) with a distinctive third line. Sing the teaching stanzas (1 and 3) in unison and the middle stanza, addressed to Christ, in harmony. This tune requires a certain majesty of tempo.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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