Norwegian: Gud, jeg ophøyer ditt navn
Text: Rick Founds (1954-) . Tune: Rick Founds (1954-)
R/ Lord, I lift Your name on high, Lord, I love to sing Your praises; I'm so glad You came in my life, I'm so glad You came to save us
1. You came from heaven to earth To show the way, From the earth to the cross My debt to pay, From the cross to the grave From the grave to the sky Lord, I lift Your name on high.
This has been among the most popular Christian worship songs in the world almost since it was written. Rick Founds, the author/composer, is among the leaders in the contemporary worship movement. He says he wrote it in 1989 during his devotions one morning. From the first it has struck me as one of the more successful texts from that early movement. It is not complicated. It tells the story of Jesus’ life briefly but with the necessary elements. The author said as he was writing it, he thought of the cycle of Jesus’ life on earth—like the rain coming down, nourishing the earth, and then rising up again, returning to heaven.
While there is no mention of rain in the text, we can see Founds includes the crucial events in the life of Jesus, the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, from heaven to earth and back again. The notion of grace as rain is not unknown in hymnody, either. Hans Adolph Brorson, the Danish hymn writer, translated a German hymn by Johann Casper Stegmann (1588-1632), “Come, Rain from on High/Komm Himmlischer Regen!” into Danish, "Kom, regn af det Høye." It has remained in hymnals through time because it speaks of a condition we all know: being spiritually parched.
Stegmann uses the image of rain from the heavens, both the rain we need for earth to produce fruit, and the spiritual rain we need to nourish our faith. Both are necessary. He understands that the Living Water is fundamental to souls grown arid and dry. “He wishes the poor and the drought stricken land/Refreshed and made fertile with heavenly waters from Paradise’ streams.”
We have all experienced droughts in nature. The Dust Bowl years left vivid images in our minds of people having to leave their dusty farms where the wind was sweeping away the earth, leaving the people starving. Dust seeping through the crevices of the windows and houses, covering everything so cleaning was not possible. If one tried to wash it away, all one had was mud.
In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the great Christian allegory, the Pilgrim, Christian, sees a dusty house, our hearts. A figure comes in and tries to clean up, but all that does is raise a storm of dust that almost chokes Christian. Then the Interpreter calls for a damsel to bring water and sprinkle it in the room. That cleanses it and settles things down. The Interpreter tells Christian that the duster was the Law, who can never clean the room. Only when the sweet water of the Gospel comes, can the heart be cleansed, making it fit, he says, “for the King of Glory to inhabit.”
We all thirst for this clean water and this cleansing, like the thirsty ground yearns for rain. In the natural world when the land thirsts for water it must depend on the gracious will of the creator to send rain. Spiritually, however, we can go to the spring of water at any time. Blessings are like rain, as we sing over and over again in the wonderful children's song, "The Wiseman built his house upon the Rock and the rains came down..The blessings will come down as the prayers go up." We do not have to wait to be refreshed by the Living Water that Jesus has to give us. It is free and flowing in his Holy Word, a spring that never goes dry. It is running free and clear right now, Go and drink it with thanksgiving. "Lord, I lift your Name on high!"
This song is on the list of top contemporary worship songs. It has millions of views in many versions on Youtube. Part of its charm is its tight rhyme and very simple, but complete, telling of the story of Jesus. The phrase "Lord, I lift your name on High" sounds like a Psalm and could be in one or another version. Many of the early writers of contemporary worship songs were advised to use Scripture, if not in complete paraphrases like the old Calvinist requirement, at least in significant lines or phrases. This meets that requirement well. As the song is short, it can be repeated and easily memorized, like the Taizé songs. It makes it possible for the worshiper to lift his or her hands in worship and move without having to hold a hymnal, or even look at a screen, something this style of worship sometimes encourages. Maranatha! Music has been the place for publishing this kind of music. It has been very successful at it. It became a signature song for the Promise Keeper rallies. Now the song is included in main line hymnals.
With the lyrics
Church of Southland