510. I Love Your Church, O Lord

1 I love your church, O Lord!
Her saints before you stand,
dear as the apple of your eye,
and graven on your hand.

2 Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.

3 I love your church, O God,
the people you have called,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.

Text Information
First Line: I love your church, O Lord
Title: I Love Your Church, O Lord
Author: Timothy Dwight (1800, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: SM
Scripture: ;
Topic: Love: Our Love to God; Reformation; Church and Mission (1 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Composer: Aaron Williams (1770)
Meter: SM
Key: F Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 17:8, Deut. 32:10, Isa. 49: 16
st. 2 = Ps. 137:5-6

Timothy Dwight (b. Northampton, MA, 1752; d. Philadelphia, PA, 1817) was a grandson of Jonathan Edwards who became a Congregationalist pastor, a Revolutionary War army chaplain, a tutor and professor at Yale College, and president of Yale from 1795 to 1817. As president he continued to teach and serve as chaplain and was instrumental in improving both the academic and the spiritual life of the college.

Because the British emphasis of Isaac Watts' psalms and hymns became politically incorrect in the United States following the American Revolution, the Congregational and Presbyterian churches of Connecticut asked Dwight to revise Watts' collection. The title of Dwight's volume explains its contents: The Psalms of David … by I. Watts. A New Edition in which the Psalms omitted by Dr. Watts are versified, local passages are altered, and a number of Psalms are versified anew in proper metres. By Timothy Dwight … To the Psalms is added a Selection of Hymns (1801). This edition, known as “Dwight’s Watts,” became a popular collection in the United States, although Dwight’s own versifications of psalms were often very free even by late eighteenth-century standards.

Inspired by Psalm 137:5-6, Dwight's text was published in eight stanzas; the first line was originally "I love your kingdom, Lord" (Dwight equated the kingdom of God with the church of God). ThePsalter Hymnal includes his stanzas 1-2 and 6.

Dwight's text is the oldest hymn text by an American author in common use today. In three compact stanzas "I Love Your Church" proclaims a profound love for the church of God, for its members (st. 1) who are saved by Christ (st. 3), and who express their communion in whole-life worship (st. 2).

Liturgical Use:
Regular worship services; special occasions in the life and worship of the church.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

For information on ST. THOMAS and Aaron Williams, see PHH 108.

ST. THOMAS is a joyful tune with a confident contour that fits well with this text. Sing in harmony throughout with firm accompaniment. Like many other short-meter tunes, ST. THOMAS must not be rushed.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
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