“Prince of Peace! Control My Will”

"Unto us a Son is given…the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…" (Isa. 9:6-7)

     INTRO.: A hymn that extols Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace is "Prince of Peace! Control My Will" (#138 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written by Mary Ann Serrett Barber, who was born in England in 1801, the daughter of Thomas Barber. During her life, she had many poems published in the Church of England Magazine, and she also authored several books. This hymn was first printed as a poem, probably anonymously, in the March 3, 1838, edition of the Church of England Magazine, entitled "He Is Our Peace." At one time, it was erroneously attributed to another hymnwriter who lived about the same time, Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer Dana Schindler (1810-1883). The poem originally consisted of four eight-line stanzas. In the present four-stanza version of the hymn most commonly found today, there are a number of excisions, transpositions, and other alterations.

     Exactly who made such changes is unknown. Miss Barber died at Brighton, England, on March 9, 1864 (some sources say 1884, though this is unlikely), and her autobiography, Bread Winning: or, The Ledger and the Lute, an Autobiography, was published posthumously in 1865. The tune (Hatfield) used in most of our books was composed by W. T. Porter. No information is available on this composer. The date sometimes given for its composition is 1874. It first appeared with Barber’s text in 1882 in The Christian Hymnal, Revised: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes for Congregational and Social Worship, published by the American Christian Missionary Society through Bosworth, Chase, and Hall in Cincinnati, OH.  This was the last revision of the hymnal series started by Alexander Campbell in 1828.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, this song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. In the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson, this same tune is used with a different hymn, "Oft in Sorrow, Oft in Woe" (originally "Much in Danger, Oft in Woe") written around 1803 by Henry Kirke-White and arranged by Frances S. Fuller-Maitland Colquhoun. In Christian Hymns No. 3 Barber’s words are set to another tune (Posen) composed in 1691 by George C. Strattner and arranged in 1705 by Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen, which in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater was found with still another hymn, "Father, Lead Me Day by Day," written by John Page Hopps. Today, "Prince of Peace! Control My Will" 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; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     This hymn emphasizes the peace that we can have through Jesus Christ.

I. Stanza 1 is a request for peace of spirit
"Prince of Peace! Control my will, Bid this struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubtings cease–Hush my spirit into peace."
 A. Christ brings us peace by controlling our will in the sense that we must determine to do His will just as He came to do the will of the Father: Jn. 6:38
 B. When we thus submit ourselves to Him and make our requests known to God in prayer, we can have the peace of God in our hearts and minds: Phil. 4:6-7
 C. In this way, Christ will bid our fears to cease, just as He did for His apostles when they were afraid: Matt. 14:27

II. Stanza 2 explains the means by which this peace was made possible.
"Thou hast bought me with Thy blood, Opened wide the gate of God;
Peace I ask, but peace must be, Lord, in being one with Thee."
 A. Christ bought us with His blood: Acts 20:28
 B. In so doing, He made peace by the blood that He shed in His death on the cross: Eph. 2:13-17
 C. This peace is the result of being one or being united with Him and His death: Rom. 6:3-5

III. Stanza 3 sets the conditions for this peace.
"May Thy will, not mine be done; May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart; Now Thy perfect peace impart."
 A. In order for us to be at peace with God and with ourselves, we must completely submit our wills to God as did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: Lk. 22:41-43
 B. When we thus act, the Lord will chase the doubtings from our hearts: 1 Tim. 2:8, Jas. 1.3-4
 C. The result of this submission of our wills to God and the removal of doubts will be peace: Jn. 14:27

IV. Stanza 4 expresses the consequences of this peace.
"Savior, at Thy feet I fall; Thou my Life, my God, my All;
Let Thy happy servant be One for ever more with Thee."
 A. The idea of submitting to the will of Christ is symbolized as falling at His feet: Rev. 1:17
 B. The reason we should do this is that He is the way, the truth, and the life: Jn. 14:6
 C. When we establish true peace with God, we can be one with Him as well as with all of His people: Eph. 4:1-6

     CONCL.: Some of the omitted portions of Miss Barber’s poem not used in the hymn are:
"Thou who stilled the raging deep Placidly to childlike sleep,
Raise my heart to things above; Modulate my soul to love.
King of Salem! strong to save, No ecstatic joy I crave;
Let Thy Spirit’s soothing calm Glide into my soul like balm."
We live in a world filled with warfare, all of which is the result of sin in some way or another. If people would just apply the principles revealed by God in His word to their lives, we would have a greater likelihood of peace on earth. However, even if that kind of peace is not obtained, Jesus came to offer peace to the troubled, sinful souls of mankind. Therefore, we need to bow ourselves in complete submission to Him and say, "Prince of Peace! Control My Will."


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