For the Church: Singing These Great Things

from May 28, 2015 Category: Ligonier Resources

Occasionally the sheer grandeur and incomprehensibility of God’s wondrous ways leaves the believer in almost speechless awe. “These Great Things,” from Glory to the Holy One, expresses such a state. In pondering “How can it be,” the hymn momentarily hints at the opening textual and musical motifs of the beginning of Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymn, “And Can It Be.” Both hymns assert believing submission in the truth of God’s glorious Word and humble wonder at the “mystery sublime” of God’s great works.

These Great Things” contemplates Paul’s glorious indicative that, for the called, “all things by His grand design work good for us by love” (Romans 8:28). “No tragedy shall win, no curse for those He calls His friends.” Our good, accomplished through God’s perfect means, is to be called “His friends” and “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29) to the end that we would glorify and enjoy God in eternal communion (Westminster Shorter Catechism 1).

The hymn navigates the worshipper through the “golden chain” of Romans 8:28-30. “Called by our Lord in purposed ends.” John Murray describes this grand design as “an unbreakable chain of events proceeding from God’s eternal purpose in foreknowledge and predestination to the glorification of the people of God” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied). If any link depends on man, we are utterly lost. But, the chain is unbreakable because salvation is of the Lord. “Foreknown by Him with hearts made new, to His Son we conform….First He did choose, and called He then to surely justify….He soon will glorify.” God’s gracious action is at the heart of this glorious sequence. “Eternal election is the spring of grace and eternal glory is its consummation” (Geoffrey Wilson, Romans).

The refrain echoes Paul’s question, “What shall we say to these great things?” (Romans 8:31) and answers its own question: “If He is for us we can sing now and for all time.” God’s beloved chosen can have no greater comfort than to know that “God is for us” and has redeemed us to eternally declare His praises (1 Peter 2:9) for “these great things.”

Lyrics:

How can it be, this truth divine,
Declared by God above
That all things by His grand design
Work good for us by love

Called by our lord in purposed ends
No tragedy shall win
No curse for those He calls His friends
He saved us from our sins

Refrain

What shall we say to these great things?
Of mystery sublime
That if He is for us we can sing
Now and for all time

Foreknown by Him with
Hearts made new
To His Son we conform
No pow’r on earth can this undo
For those He’s made reborn

Refrain

First He did choose, and called He then
To surely justify
For those of the faith beyond our ken
He soon will glorify

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.

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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.