(#478, 1940 Hymnal); a Hymn Devotion for 23 June 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:5
This beautiful old hymn was written one evening shortly after sundown on the Isle of Wight in 1798 by Thomas Binney in 1798. The tune to which it is assigned in the Hymnal is Eternal Light by Kenneth E. Runkle in 1941. It is full of descriptive adjectives illustrating that Eternal Light without which no life would be possible.
God is Light and without Him all would be smothering darkness. He is the great self-Generator of Light. Such immense light requires a like and infinite energy to produce which result in the “Consuming fire’ which God alone is.
ETERNAL LIGHT, ETERNAL LIGHT
Eternal Light! Eternal Light!
What soul can bear Your searching sight?
What heart, so open, pure, and true,
Can live and calmly gaze on You?
The glowing spirits round Your throne
All serve where sin is never known.
Their eyes can bear the burning bliss
Beyond a darkened world like this.
But how can I, a native here,
Before Your blazing eyes appear?
Can I, a creature of the night,
Endure Your uncreated light?
Praise God, You come to us in Christ!
In Him our darkness all is light!
O Fire of all-consuming grace,
In Christ we stand here face to face!
Eternal Light! Eternal Light! What soul can bear Your searching sight? What heart, so open, pure, and true, Can live and calmly gaze on You? Simply expressed, no mortal creature can look upon the face of God and live. We must be transformed into that precise image of God as first conceived in the Garden, and be made spiritual children of God as well as those of flesh and blood. God’s Light is a searching Light which scans the Waters of the Deep in constant search for those to whom His mercy is made profoundly available. The Light not only illumines the outward countenance, but the inner spirit of man as well. Nothing is hidden from the searching eyes of the Lord. Those who are oblivious to the Light of the Lord will remain in uncharted darkness for an eternity future.
The glowing spirits round Your throne All serve where sin is never known. Their eyes can bear the burning bliss Beyond a darkened world like this. All sin is darkness, but that darkness cannot abide the True Light of God. Neither will the Light abide darkness. God will countenance no sin, nor sinner, in His Heaven. The Light will unfailingly expose that uncleanliness of heart and soul. The Church Triumphant are those who die in the Lord and have gone to their reward with Him on High. All fleshly sins have been washed clean as they serve before the Throne without shame or hurt. Now their eyes can comprehend what those same eyes could not when abiding in the flesh below. The world they departed was half darkness and half light in its rotation, but now, all is Light.
But how can I, a native here, Before Your blazing eyes appear? Can I, a creature of the night,
Endure Your uncreated light? The Light of God is uncreated because God is Light. He has existed from eternity past to eternity future without beginning or end. The eyes of God are as penetrating fountains of light. No mortal can ascend before God with a single sin to his record. But “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and “there are none righteous – no, not one.” So which of us is able to appear guiltless before the searching eyes of God on that Last Day? It is by having the imputed righteousness of Christ who purchased us out of the bondage of sin. We are saved by that unmerited grace of the Lord.
Praise God, You come to us in Christ! In Him our darkness all is light! O Fire of all-consuming grace, In Christ we stand here face to face! “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:4-9 Yes, the grace of the Lord to us-ward is all-consuming and irresistible. He is the Light of the World and He permits us the title as well so long as we are lunar reflectors of that great Light of the Sun of Righteousness. The day will come when each of us will stand, just as did the woman taken in adultery and the woman at Jacob’s Well, face-to-face with the Lord. At that moment, we face Him alone. In what manner shall we stand there? Shall it be as the Redeemed of the Lord, or as the condemned of the world?