For the Church: Singing Highland Hymn

from May 12, 2015 Category: Ligonier Resources

Highland Hymn” is, to date, Dr. Sproul’s only hymn written after the music was composed. In listening to Jeff Lippencott’s work, Dr. Sproul’s imagination was carried away to the Scottish Highlands and the beatific vision from a Scottish perspective. Dr. Sproul explains, “The core theme of this hymn is going to be the beatific vision. When we go back to the Scottish Reformation, they looked ahead to the final glorification that every Christian experiences when we will see Him as He is, which will change us forever.”

Rich in scriptural allusion, “Highland Hymn” includes both negative and positive categories to portray the beatific vision. “The end of pain and earthly ills” comprise all sufferings (Romans 8:18), including hunger, thirst, tears (Revelation 7:16-17), death, sorrow, crying, pain (Revelation 21:4), and corruption (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). “When we see Him face to face on that day” (1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:3-4; 1 John 3:2) addresses the heart of the beatific vision. Dr. Sproul comments, “This is going to be the moment of unspeakable bliss for every believer.” The believer’s eternal delight is in God Himself. “Heaven is not heaven without Christ” (Jonathan Edwards); “The Lamb is all the glory of Emmanuel’s land” (Samuel Rutherford).

Highland Hymn” also depicts the believer’s present state. Though our knowledge of God and enjoyment in Him is limited (1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 John 3:2), we already enjoy a degree of sweet delight in communing with God, “the sense of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of glory” (Westminster Larger Catechism 83; Romans 5:1-5). “The beatific glory view that now our souls still long to see” (1 Peter 1:8-9). What unspeakable joy awaits all believers who, with hope of glory, long for that day when “lutes will sing, pipers play, when we see Him face to face.”

Lyrics

Above the mists of Highland hills
E’en far above the clear blue skies
The end of pain and earthly ills
When we shall see His eyes

Refrain

Lutes will sing
Pipers play
When we see Him face to face
On that day

His face now hidden from our sight
Concealed from ev’ry hidden gaze
In hearts made pure from sinful flight
Is the bliss that will amaze

Refrain

We know not yet what we will be
In heaven’s final blessed state
But know we now that we shall see
Our Lord at heaven’s gate

The beatific glory view
That now our souls still long to see
Will make us all at once anew
And like Him forever be

Refrain

Experience Glory to the Holy One Today

Note: If you buy the CD from Ligonier.org, we will add the digital edition to your learning library for free.

See also:

Randall Van Meggelen is chief musician at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and provides direction for the church’s various music ministries. He is a graduate of Covenant College and Concordia University.