“O FATHER, LET US SEE HIS DEATH”
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…that He…should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9)
INTRO.: A hymn that asks God to help us see Jesus who tasted death for everyone is “O Father, Let Us See His Death” (#567 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Craig A. Roberts (b. 1957). The tune was composed by R. J. Stevens (1927-2012). The song was copyrighted in 1994 and first published in Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition). Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the only other ones in which I believe the song has appeared are the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs both edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.
The song emphasizes the importance of remembering Christ’s death in His supper on His day.
I. Stanza 1 tells us when
O Father, bless this solemn day,
When we assemble, sing and pray,
To honor Christ, Thine only Son,
Who tasted death for everyone.
A. This “solemn day” is the first day of the week, when disciples came together to break bread: Acts 20:7
B. Thus, Christians are not to forsake the assembling of themselves: Heb. 10:24-25
C. When they do assemble on the first day of the week, they honor Christ by proclaiming His death till He come: 1 Cor. 11:26
II. Stanza 2 tells us how
In fervent prayers and sacred hymns,
We all cry out, “Remember Him,”
And cry within, “For me He died,
And for my sins was crucified.”
A. When the early church came together, their worship included prayers and singing: 1 Cor. 14:15
B. The purpose of the Lord’s supper is to “remember Him”: 1 Cor. 11:23-25
C. Thus, when we partake, we remember that Christ for our sins was crucified: 1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2
III. Stanza 3 tells us what to do
Then as we eat unleavened bread,
And drink the cup, we bow our heads,
And see the suffering death of Christ:
His blood! His body! Sacrificed!
A. We eat the unleavened bread, which symbolizes His body: Mk. 14:22 (cf. v. 12)
B. We drink the cup, or fruit of the vine, which symbolizes His blood: Mk. 14:23-25
C. This is designed to remind us of the suffering death of Christ : Rom. 5:8
IV. Stanza 4 tells us why
O Father, let us see His death,
And hear “forgive them” on His breath,
And feel His grief, disgrace, and pain;
O let us see His death again.
A. The death of Jesus is extremely important to Christians: 1 Cor. 15:1-4
B. Its essentiality to our own forgiveness is foreshadowed by His cry “forgive them” as He hung on the cross: Lk. 23:34
C. We “see” His death, having communion with His body and blood, in the bread and cup of the Lord’s supper: 1 Cor. 10:16
CONCL.: There is nothing inherently unscriptural in using minor tunes. Many of the old German chorales are set to minor melodies. However, there may be a good reason why the vast majority of psalm tunes, hymn tunes, and gospel song melodies that believers have used in worship over the last four hundred years or so have been primarily in major keys. My experience tells me that many congregations, especially smaller ones, unless they have trained musicians among them, tend to have a great deal of difficulty in trying to render songs in minor keys. In any event, when we prepare to partake of the Lord’s supper, it is essential that we ask God, “O Father, Let Us See His Death.”