"AMIDST US OUR BELOVED STANDS"
"Jesus came and stood among them and said…’Put your finger here; see My hands’" (Jn. 20:26-27)
INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us that when we eat the Lord’s supper Jesus is spiritually in our midst in a way similar to how He was physically in the midst of the disciples when He appeared to the following His resurrection is "Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands." The text was written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who was born on June 19, 1834, at Kelvedon in Essex, England, where his father was a Congregationalist minister. After receiving some education at Colchester and at Maidstone, he became an usher in a school at Newmarket. Declining to study for the ministry as an Independent (i.e., Congregationalist), he became a member of the Baptist congregation at Cambridge whose minister was Robert Hall. Hymnwriter Robert Robinson had formerly been a minister there. Spurgeon’s work with this church resulted in his making a tour as a village preacher and tract distributor. Known as the "Boy Preacher," he was soon invited to settle at Waterbeach and at the age of seventeen became a local minister. As he almost immediately became famous, the meetinghouse at Waterbeach began to be crowded,
However, in 1853 Spurgeon was urged to move to work with the church on New Park St. in Southward, London, where Thomas Gill and John Rippon had formerly been ministers. Within two years of his arrival in London, the place of worship had to be enlarged. After it was outgrown, Exeter Hall was used for four months, but it too did not hold the people, so Surry Music Hall was engaged. Then in 1861, the great "Metropolitan Tabernacle" was built. One of the best known English preachers of the nineteenth century, Spurgeon published hundreds of sermons, established a Preacher’s College, edited the Sword and Trowel, and compiled a three-volume commentary on the Psalms entitled The Treasury of David. In 1866, he prepared hymnbook for his congregation, Our Own Hymnbook: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social, and Private Worship, which contained 24 of his own songs, including "Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands." Spurgeon’s last occasion to speak at the Tabernacle was on Sunday morning, June 7, 1891. Shortly after that he became gravely ill but recovered sufficiently to make a trip on Oct. 26 to Mentone, France, a winter resort city located along the Mediterranean Sea, where he had often withdrawn for vacations.
However, on Jan. 20, Spurgeon became ill again and died at Mentone on Jan. 31, 1892. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands" has not appeared nor is it found in any to my knowledge. The only book in which I have seen it is Living Hymns published in 1972 by Encore Publications Inc., with a new tune composed by the editor Alfred B. Smith. Cyberhymnal suggests the tune (Hamburg) by Lowell Mason that is usually associated with "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." However, with some slight alterations, the hymn will fit a tune that has appeared in several of our books composed by L. K. Harding and arranged in 1925 by Elmer Leon Jorgenson. This tune appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by Jorgenson, and the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson, all with George Matheson’s hymn "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go;" and in the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 also edited by Sanderson with Sanderson’s arrangement of Isaac Watts’s hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past."
The song exhorts us to understand the true meaning of the Lord’s supper in the elements.
I. Stanza 1 talks about the Savior’s pierced hands and wounded feet and side
"Amidst us our Beloved stands, And bids us view His pierced hands;
Points to the wounded feet and side, Blest emblems of the Crucified–
Yes of the Crucified."
A. Wherever two or three are gathered together, Jesus promises to stand in their midst: Matt. 18:20
B. Although we cannot literally view His pierced hands and side, as did the apostles following His resurrection, we can see them in our mind’s eye based upon what the Scriptures teach: Lk. 24:39
C. Furthermore, the emblems of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine remind us of His death: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
II. Stanza 2 talks about the Lord’s supper as being the communion of Christ’s body and blood
"What food luxurious loads the board When, at His table, sits the Lord!
The wine how rich, the bread how sweet, When Jesus deigns the guests to meet!
He deigns the guests to meet!"
A. Since people usually sit (or in New Testament times lay) at a table to eat, the Lord’s supper is symbolized as the Lord’s table: 1 Cor. 10:21
B. The Lord spiritually sits at the table with His people to drink (and eat) the Lord’s supper: Matt. 26:29
C. The symbols of the Lord’s supper are the bread and the wine (the word can refer to fresh grape juice) or cup: Matt. 26:26-28, 1 Cor. 10:16
III. Stanza 3 talks about the danger of seeing the signs but not Him
"If now, with eyes defiled and dim, We see the signs, but see not Him,
O may His love the scales displace, And bid us see Him face to face!
We see Him face to face."
A. It is always possible for one to have eyes defiled and dim, even unto blindness, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins: 2 Pet. 1:9
B. Such a person may see the signs as he takes the Lord’s supper but not really see Him in the sense of discerning the Lord’s death: 1 Cor. 11:27-29
C. Therefore, he or she needs to have these figurative scales displaced so that they can truly proclaim the Lord’s death just as Saul of Tarsus needed the scales to fall from his eyes: Acts 9:18
IV. Stanza 4 talks about the need to remember our past experiences with the Lord
"Our former transports we recount, When with Him in the holy mount;
These cause our souls to thirst anew, His marred but lovely face to view–
His lovely face to view."
A. The writer of Hebrews encouraged his readers who were in danger of turning back to recall the former days when they were illuminated: Heb. 10:32
B. While we were not with the apostles on the mount of transfiguration, we can read of their account and understand its meaning: 2 Pet. 1:16-17
C. In this way, our souls can thirst anew His lovely face to "view" in that even though we have not seen Him, we can still love Him for what He has done for us: 1 Pet. 1:8-9
V. Stanza 5 talks about lifting the veil so that we can truly see Christ
"Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts, Thy present smile a heaven imparts!
O, lift the veil, if veil there be; Let every saint Thy beauties see–
Let us Thy beauties see."
A. Jesus is the Bridegroom: Jn. 3:28-29
B. He wants to dwell in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:17
C. Therefore, we must let Him lift the veil so that we may with unveiled face behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord: 2 Cor. 3:12-18
CONCL.: Since it appears that the tune which I have suggested was intended, or at least arranged, for "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go," which has four lines of eight syllables and one line of six syllables, whereas Spurgeon’s hymn has only four lines of eight syllables, I had to add a "tag" line of six syllables at the end which repeats the thought of the last line of each stanza. The observance of the Lord’s supper on the first day of each week is certainly a special occasion for the Christian. As I have said before, it is my opinion that we could use some additions to our repertoire of sings to prepare our minds for partaking of the communion service. It is certainly good to remember that as we eat the bread and drink the cup, "Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands."