For the Church: Singing Clothed in Righteousness

from May 21, 2015 Category: Ligonier Resources

Clothed in Righteousness,” from Glory to the Holy One, voices praise to God for the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to all who trust in Him. John Calvin described this essential doctrine as “the wondrous exchange” in which Christ, having “taken upon Himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed….clothed us with His righteousness” (Institutes of the Christian Religion). Christ indeed hides believers’ “filthy rags of sin” and dresses us in His “perfect garb both outside and within.”

This double imputation is preceded by the imputation of Adam’s guilt upon his descendants. Stanza 1 sets the scene in the first person plural, identifying all mankind, the “fallen race,” with Adam. “Fled we naked from Thy sight” (Genesis 3:7-8). In Adam we are born corrupt, dead, and condemned (Romans 5:12). Our conduct mirrored our first parents who, guilty and ashamed, hopelessly attempted to cover the nakedness of their souls, hide from God, and cast the blame on others. Their misery intensifies in stanza 2. “Banished there from Thy pure light were Adam and his mate” (Genesis 3:22-24). In Adam, we “lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 19).

Clothed in Righteousness” progresses from the shameful nakedness of the first Adam to the atoning cover secured by the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). “Scarlet souls are now like snow by Thy atoning grace” (Isaiah 1:18). Christ gave Himself a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), satisfied God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10), removed our sin and guilt (Psalm 103:2-4), and reconciled us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). “Your merit, Lord, is all we have.”

Clothed in Righteousness” gives the redeemed thoughtful expression to Isaiah’s prophetic utterance, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

Lyrics

Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy holy Name

Refrain

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within

Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate

Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race

Refrain

No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone

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.