– Hymn Devotion for 8 August 2023 Anno Domini,
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. . . .23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalms 139:1-2, 23-24; all scripture quoted is from the KJV)
The life story of the author of these lyrics is quite interesting. Rev James Edwin Orr, MA ThD EdD PhD United Kingdom/USA, was born at Belfast, Northern Ireland, son of a jeweler with both British and American citizenship (so his children did as well), he studied at the College of Technology, Belfast, Ireland. After spending some years as a baker, he began evangelizing in Britain and in Europe. He evangelized in Australia (1939), China, Canada, South America, and the U.S. In 1939 he enrolled at Northwest University, and in 1940 was ordained into the Baptist Christian ministry at Newark, NJ. He received a MA from Northwest University in 1941 and a ThD from Northern Baptist Seminary in 1943. During WWII he served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific region. The tune to this hymn is MAORI, a farewell tune sung to hymn upon leaving an Easter Revival service by four Maori girls. The tune is a haunting reminder of the beauty of the seas. This reminds me of the farewell sung to our team as we departed the Solomon Islands as we were rowed out to our ship.
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SEARCH ME, O GOD
1 Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.
2 I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill thy Word, and make me pure within.
Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify thy name.
3 Lord, take my life and make it wholly thine;
Fill my poor heart with thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender; Lord, in me abide.
1 Search me, O God, and know my heart today; Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray. See if there be some wicked way in me; Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free. Article XVII of our Doctrinal Statement confirms the biblical fact that there is no salvation without the sovereign act of God in drawing us to the Throne of Grace. Since the imagination of man’s heart is continually evil, there is no such thing as a free will apart from the grace of God. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) It is only when man’s will is made to align with that of the Lord that he is made free indeed in Christ and in his will. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) That is the only freedom that is pure and free of condemnation. The Lord knows our hearts. He has known and called us from eternity past: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) That is the perfect freedom of the mind and spirit. The eyes of God have access to every deep recess of the heart to detect sin, and He is able to cleanse us to the uttermost.
2 I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin; Fulfill thy Word, and make me pure within. Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame; Grant my desire to magnify thy name.” None is able to do righteousness except by God’s power. We were dead in trespasses and sin ere we were drawn by the Holy spirit to Christ – sometimes kicking and screaming. But God is able to cleanse us with hyssop (internally) first, and then wash us so that we are whiter than snow (that is, no sin accounted to our record). The fire of devotion, love, and Holy motive, fills the heart of the former dead-man-walking when he comes to Christ at His beckon. The old self-will is dead and buried, and the free will granted by the ordinance of God is the ruling Light.
3 Lord, take my life and make it wholly thine; Fill my poor heart with thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride; I now surrender; Lord, in me abide. Here, we see once more the biblical truth put forth that salvation is not an act of self, but of God, despite man’s prideful claims that it was the goodness of his heart that drew him to the Lord. It is God who takes our lives, our sinful self-wills, our passions and pride, and makes us into new creatures in Christ. The old man who was dead in trespasses and sin, and unable to save himself, is made alive by the quickening of the Holy Spirit and not by any merit of himself. (See Ephesians 2)