“Abba Father, We Approach Thee”


“…Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which identifies the God to whom we cry as “Abba, Father” is “Abba Father, We Approach Thee.  The text was written by James George Deck (1807-1884).   An Englishman who joined the Plymouth Brethren and settled in New Zealand, he first published the hymn in the 1841 appendix to his 1837 Hymns for the Poor of the Flock.  One of his best-known hymns is “Jesus, Thy Name I Love.”  Several tunes have been used for “Abba Father, We Approach Thee” including one (Beecher) by John Zundel most often associated with “Love Divine;” another (Erie) by Charles C. Converse most often associated with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus;” and still another (Deerhurst) by James Langran. 

     The tune (Calon Lan) most often used with Deck’s hymn was composed by John Hughes who is said to have been born at Gorseinon near Swansea, Wales, and is sometimes confused with the who man who composed the tune (Cwm Rhondda) that is most often associated with Harry Emerson Fosdick’s “God of Grace and God of Glory,” John Hughes who was born: Nov. 22, 1873, at Dowlais, Wales.  By age twelve, he was working as a “doorboy” in the coal mine at Llantwit Fardre in Glamorganshire.  Eventually he worked his way up to the position of clerk at the Great Western Colliery of Pontypridd, in Rhondda Valley. Belonged to the Salem Baptist Chapel, he was a deacon and a song director, and died on May 14, 1932, at Llantwit Fardre in Pontypridd.

     The hymn reminds us that we can call upon God as our “Abba Father,” why it is possible, and the blessings involved with it.

I. Stanza 1 says that we have been washed in Jesus’s blood

“‘Abba, Father!’ We approach Thee

In our Savior’s precious Name;

We, Thy children, here assembled,

Now Thy promised blessing claim;

From our sins His blood hath washed us,

’Tis through Him our souls draw nigh,

And Thy Spirit, too, hath taught us,

‘Abba, Father,’ thus to cry.”

 A. The term “Abba Father” expresses a very close and intimate relationship: Mk. 14:36

 B. There are times when we are to assemble in the Savior’s name: Heb. 10:25

 C. The reason that we can approach God at such times is because we have been washed from our sins in Jesus’s blood: Rev. 1:5

II. Stanza 2 says that we have been pardoned as prodigals

“Once as prodigals we wandered

In our folly far from Thee,

But Thy grace, o’er sin abounding,

Rescued us from misery;

Thou Thy prodigals hast pardoned,

Kissed us with a Father’s love,

Spread the festive board, and called us,

E’er to dwell with Thee above.”

 A. We once wandered far as prodigals because of sin: Rom. 3:23

 B. However God, because of His great mercy, offered us pardon: Mic. 7:18

 C. Therefore, like the prodigal son, we can be received back into our Father’s love: Luke 15:22-24

III. Stanza 3 says that we are clothed in garments of salvation

“Clothed in garments of salvation,

At Thy table is our place,

We rejoice, and Thou rejoicest,

In the riches of Thy grace;

‘It is meet,’ we hear Thee saying,

‘We should merry and be glad,

I have found My once lost children,

Now they live who once were dead.’”

 A. Because of what God has done for us in Christ, we can be clothed in garments of salvation, that is, robes made white in the blood of the Lamb: Rev. 7:14

 B. This is what it means to be justified by the riches of God’s grace: Tit. 3:4-7

 C. Thus, even though we were dead in trespasses and sins, we can be made alive in Christ: Eph. 2:1-6

IV. Stanza 4 says that we have the hope of joining those assembled round the throne of God

“’Abba, Father!’ all adore Thee,

All rejoice in Heav’n above,

While in us they learn the wonders

Of Thy wisdom, grace, and love;

Soon before Thy throne assembled,

All Thy children shall proclaim,

‘Glory, everlasting glory,

Be to God and to the Lamb!’”

 A. All in heaven rejoice before the throne of the Father: Rev. 4:10-11

 B. Someday, the children of God hope to join them and be in the very presence of God before His throne as well: Rev. 21:3, 22:3

 C. Then, we too shall proclaim everlasting glory to our God and to the Lamb: Rev. 5:13

     CONCL.:  Every single responsible human being at one time or another in his life is separated from God by sin.  However, God sent His Son to make atonement for our sins so that as we obey His will we can have our sins taken away and so that access back to God might be possible.  Therefore, whether we are coming to God in prayer or in worship, we should be thankful that the blood of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to say, “Abba Father, We Approach Thee.”


2 thoughts on ““Abba Father, We Approach Thee”

  1. Thanks for such a good hymn! I would only say that the conclusion was a little murky. Every responsible person is, in fact, separated from God from birth – “ALL have sinned”, the Scripture says. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary relieves us of our great sin-debt, as we accept His self-sacrifice for us. This once in a life act places us into God’s family forever, whereby we may rightly say, “Abba, Father”.

  2. Thank you for your kind comments. However, I don’t understand what was “murky” about the conclusion. I will have to say that NOWHERE do the scriptures say that we are “separated from God from birth.” It simply says that “all HAVE SINNED”–something we have done, not something we’re born with. What was meant by the statement “at one time or another” is that those who have accepted the sacrifice of Christ are no longer separated from God, even though they were “at one time.”


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