"LET THE BEAUTY OF JESUS BE SEEN"
"Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2.21)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to follow the example that Jesus left for us is "Let The Beauty of Jesus Be Seen" (#454 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #230 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text of stanza 1 was written by Albert W. T. Orsborn (1886-1967). No other information is available, except that it is dated around 1916. Orsborn is identified as an early Salvation Army leader; some sources refer to him as the "6th General." A Salvation Army collectable website lists an e-book entitled The Poet General–Albert W. T. Orsborn C. B. E., by Bernard Watson, and Kingsgate Publishing has a compact disc of Salvation Army hymns by Herbert Booth and Orsborn. The original text read as follows:
"Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All his wonderful passion and purity.
O thou Spirit Divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me."
The text of stanzas 2-4 was added by George L. Johnson in 1934. The tune (Bridlington) was composed by Tom M. Jones (1891-1978). It was published in 1927. The composer is identified as "Rev." Tom Jones in some books. Older books say, "Copyright property of Rev. Tom Jones," while newer ones say, "Copyright–the estate of Tom Jones."
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson, using only the original stanza 1 with an arrangement of the tune made by Edwin E. Young in 1930; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater, in a version of two stanzas with both words and music arranged by the editor. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard, with an arrangement made in 1971 by Ben Cumnock; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections both have an arrangement made in 1934 by Cleavant Derricks and copyrighted by the Stamps-Baxter Music and Ptg. Co.
The song exhorts us to live in such a way that the influence of Christ can be seen in us.
I. Stanza 1 suggests that we be characterized by passion and purity
"Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity;
May His Spirit divine All my being refine, Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me."
A. Christians must conduct themselves so that others will see Christ living in them: Gal. 2.20
B. Like Paul, we need to imitate Christ in all His wonderful passion and purity: 1 Cor. 11.1
C. The means by which we do this is to let His Spirit divine dwell in us and through the influence of His word help us to direct our lives so as to please the Lord: Eph. 5.18, Col. 3.16
II. Stanza 2 suggests that we be characterized by longsuffering
"When your burden is heavy and hard to bear, When your neighbors refuse all your load to share,
When you’re feeling so blue, Don’t know just what to do, Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you."
A. There are times when our burden, or the cross that we must carry, is heavy and hard to bear: Ps. 55.22, Matt. 16.24
B. While there is some of our load that we must bear ourselves, there may be times when others who could help us will refuse to obey Paul’s injunction to bear one another’s burdens: Rom. 15.1, Gal. 6.2-5
C. As a result, there will be those occasions when we feel blue or sad, but it will help us to let His beauty be seen in us by placing our hope securely in the Lord: Ps. 42.5
III. Stanza 3 suggests that we be characterized by kindness in return for evil
"When somebody has been so unkind to you, Some word spoken that pierces you through and through,
Think how He was beguiled, Spat upon and reviled; Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you."
A. There may be times when people are unkind to us: Matt. 18.15
B. There may also be times when people speak piercing words to us: Matt. 12.36-37
C. When those times come, it will help us to let His beauty be seen in us by remembering how He was beguiled. Some have objected to this stanza because one definition of "beguile" is "to mislead by guile, deceive," and they say that Jesus was not deceived. However, another definition is "to deprive by deceit, cheat," and Jesus was certainly cheated out of His rightful judgment by men who deceived others with their lies, yet he opened not His mouth to lash out in anger when He was spat upon and reviled: Isa. 53.7-8, Matt. 27.30-44
IV. Stanza 4 suggests that we be characterized by a sweet disposition
"From the dawn of the morning to close of day, In example, in deeds, and in all you say,
Lay your gifts at His feet, Ever strive to keep sweet, Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you."
A. We must let the beauty of Jesus be seen every day from morning until evening, because Christianity involved bearing our cross daily: Lk. 9.23
B. We let His beauty be seen in us by our example in both deed and word: 1 Tim. 4.12
C. It will help us to keep sweet if we lay our gifts at His feet, symbolizing our complete submission to Him and His will, as did Mary: Jn. 11.32
CONCL.: Someone, who was not fond of the "southern gospel style hymns" characteristic of the Stamps-Baxter Co., once told me that this was the only Stamps-Baxter song that he liked, and immediately added his opinion that it probably did not originate with them but was just borrowed and arranged. He was correct. I really do not know very much about the origin of the song or those who are responsible for it. But it has become a well loved and much used hymn to remind us that in our daily lives we should always strive to "Let The Beauty of Jesus Be Seen."