Hymn of the day

by Richard on September 27, 2009

Our earth we now lament to see
With floods of wickedness overflowed,
With violence, wrong, and cruelty,
one wide-extended field of blood,
where men like fiends each other tear,
In all the hellish rage of war.

As listed on Abaddon’s side,
They mangle their own flesh, and slay;
Tophet is moved, and opens wide
Its mouth for its enormous prey;
And myriads sink beneath the grave,
And plunge into the flaming wave.

O might the universal Friend
This havoc of His creatures see!
Bid our unnatural discord end;
Declare us reconciled in thee!
Write kindness on our inward parts,
And chase the murderer from our hearts!

Who now against each other rise,
the nations of the earth, constrain
to follow after peace, and prize
the blessings of thy righteous reign,
the joys of unity to prove,
the paradise of perfect love!

Charles Wesley

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


Olive Morgan 09.27.09 at 11:32 am

This is a new one for me, as i think for many people. ‘Abaddon’ and ‘Tophet’? Please can you explain?


Tony Buglass 09.27.09 at 11:57 am

Abaddon is often translated as ‘perdition,’ a place of destruction; it is paralleled with she’ol (the place of the dead); (Job.26:6; Prov.15:11) and qarab (the grave)(Ps.88:11), and personified as denizens of the underworld (Job.28:22).

Tophet is Hebrew for ‘altar’, and refers to a place in the Valley of Hinnom where sacrifices were offered and dead bodies buried or consumed (see Isa.30:33).


Richard 09.27.09 at 1:53 pm

Further to what Tony said, in Revelation 9, Abaddon is named as the ‘angel of the Abyss’, and king of the straight-from-a-horror-movie locusts that emerge to wreak havoc when the Abyss is opened. Have a look at Jeremiah 19 for more on Tophet (or Topheth), “the Valley of Slaughter”.

I don’t think this is a hymn you would actually choose for a congregation on a Sunday morning!


fat prophet 09.27.09 at 7:18 pm

Didn’t Mr Wesley use some fascinating words in his hymn writing?? And what a picture in the word Topeth! As you say perhaps not a hymn for our delicate Sunday morning congregations


Richard 09.27.09 at 8:09 pm

If I’d had the courage it would have gone with my address this evening, which was based around the siege of Samaria (2 Kings 6 - 7). Not for the squeamish! I wonder if Mr wesley’s congregations were so biblically literate that Abaddon and Tophet didn’t need explanation?


Tim Chesterton 09.28.09 at 12:15 am

Still, that hymn is as relevant today as when it was first written. All I could add was, ‘Amen’.


Richard 09.28.09 at 12:03 pm

I heartily agree, Tim. Would you use it in worship?


Tim Chesterton 09.28.09 at 2:13 pm

With a bit of explanation, yes. After all, the symbolism and the biblical allusions are really no more complicated than ‘And Can It Be’!


Richard 09.28.09 at 2:22 pm

You’re right. “In vain the first-born seraph tries…” isn’t exactly straight-forward.

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