Yesterday, we talked about Psalm 51 and the expression of King David’s repentance. But there’s something else mentioned in Chapter 10 of Longing to Pray that I’d ask you to give some thought to: the passion of our faith. It was David’s passionate faith and love of the Lord that made him pursue repentance and restoration of his relationship with God.
Dr. Kalas asserts that in modern times, “we fail at repentance because our friendship with God has no or little passion. The Scriptures say that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength” (86).
“That’s the language of passion…”
Dr. Kalas mentioned a hymn as an example of the passion we should have for our Lord entitled, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. I’d never heard this hymn and the complete lyrics weren’t given, so I went in search of what this hymn had to say. Come to find out, the hymn also has an interesting back story:
“The words of this sung prayer are among the most passionate in the history of hymnody…. This masterpiece of Christian devotional poetry is the work of George Croly (1780-1860), an Anglican minister born in Dublin, Ireland, but whose ministry took place in London. It was there that Croly accepted the challenge to reopen in 1835 a church in one of the worst slum areas of the city, one that had been closed for over a century….
“Through personal charisma and dynamic preaching, he attracted large crowds to St. Stephen’s Church. Croly prepared a new hymnal in 1854 for his congregation and published it as Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship. [Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart] first appeared in that hymnal under the title “Holiness Desired.” It is the only hymn by Croly to have survived.” (Excerpted from UMC Discipleship Ministries – History of Hymns)
These words written by George Croly have survived over 150 years for a reason. Read them slowly, and let his desire for repentance and the passion of his faith wash over you… like baptismal waters.
Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart
Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart,
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
and make me love you as I ought to love.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
no angel visitant, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.
Did you not bid us love you, God and King,
love you with all our heart and strength and mind?
I see the cross, there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek you and O let me find!
Teach me to feel that you are always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
teach me the patience of unceasing prayer.
Teach me to love you as your angels love,
one holy passion filling all my frame:
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove;
my heart an altar, and your love the flame.