“Christ by Heavenly Hosts Adored”


 “…There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which points out that all civil powers are ordained of God and should be subject to God is “Christ by Heavenly Hosts Adored.”  The text was written by Henry Harbaugh, who was born on Oct. 28, 1817, at Waynesboro, PA.  A farmer’s son, he worked as a carpenter, teacher, and writer while a young man. In 1840, he enrolled at Marshall College in Mercersburg, PA.  After almost three years there, he went to Mercersburg Theological Seminary, and in 1844 became minister of the German Reformed Church in Lewisburg, VA, of the synod at Winchester, VA.  Around 1851, he moved to the First Reformed Church in Lancaster, PA, and in 1860 to Lebanon, PA.   This hymn is dated 1860.  It is actually an altered cento from a larger poem and may have first appeared in the German Reformed Guardian

     Around 1863, Harbaugh became a professor of didactic and practical theology at Mercersburg Seminary. His works include Hymns and Chants for Sunday Schools in 1861 and Harbaugh’s Harfe in 1870.  In addition to “Christ by Heavenly Hosts Adored,” two other hymns by him are still seen today are “Jesus, I Live to Thee” and his translation of “The Lord of Life Is Risen,” originally written by Johann P. Lange in 1832.  Harbaugh died on Dec. 18, 1867, at his home in Mercersburg, PA.  The tune (Salzburg Hintze) usually used with Harbaugh’s hymn was composed by Jakob Hintze, who was born on Sept. 4, 1622, at Bernau, Germany. In 1666, he was court musician to the Elector of Brandenburg.  He edited Praxis Pietatis Melica after the death of its original compiler Johann Crüger, adding an appendix of new melodies, which included this one dated 1678.  Hintze died on May 5, 1702, at Berlin, Germany.  The harmonization was made by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

     The song encourages us to ask God to bless our land.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that Jesus Christ is King of kings

“Christ, by heavenly hosts adored,

Gracious, mighty, sovereign Lord,

God of nations, King of kings,

Head of all created things,

By the Church with joy confessed,

God o’er all, forever blessed.

Pleading at Thy throne we stand,

Save Thy people, bless our land.”

 A. Christ is by heavenly hosts adored: Rev. 5:11-12

 B. Even on earth He is King of kings: Rev. 19:16

 C. Therefore, we can come boldly before His throne to ask help in time of need: Heb. 4:14-16

II. Stanza 2 asks the Lord to provide for the needs of our land

“On our fields of grass and grain

Send, O Lord, the kindly rain;

O’er our wide and goodly land

Crown the labors of each hand.

Let Thy kind protection be

O’er our commerce on the sea.

Open, Lord, Thy bounteous hand;

Bless Thy people, bless our land.”

 A. It is the Lord God who gives us rain and fruitful seasons: Acts 14:17

 B. Therefore, He is the one to whom we should look to crown our land with goodness: Ps. 65:11

 C. If we will obey Him, we can trust Him to bless us in our land as He did Israel: Deut. 28:8

III. Stanza 3 reminds us that righteousness is needed for God’s richest blessings

“Let our rulers ever be

Men that love and honor Thee;

Let the powers by Thee ordained

Be in righteousness maintained.

In the people’s hearts increase

Love of piety and peace.

Thus united, may we stand

One wide, free, and happy land.”

 A. We should pray that our rulers will honor God so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and reverence: 1 Tim. 2:1-2

 B. Both people and rulers alike must remember that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people: Prov. 14:34

 C. Only by being united in a love of piety and peace can we stand: Matt. 12:25

     CONCL.:  As Harbaugh was an American, one might think of this as a “patriotic hymn,” and indeed we would do well to use it at patriotic celebrations.  However, the sentiment is one that is not unique to the United States but could well be sung by people in any land.   We can hope and pray that people of all nations might look for guidance and directions to “Christ, by Heavenly Hosts Adored.”


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