Hymns - O Lord, When We the Path Retrace
May, 2023
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

This key passage on congregational singing describes a true New Testament church, which is the only kind of church that can sing after the fashion that God has commanded. It is a church in which all of the members are born again and indwelt by the Spirit and in whom the Word of Christ dwells richly in all wisdom. This is not a biblically shallow church. It is not a church in which only a few of the members are serious Bible students. It is not a church that knows the Scripture only intellectually. It is a church that knows the Scripture in all practical wisdom, a church in which the Word of God is transforming the lives of God’s people so that they are lights in a dark world. It is a congregation that exercises the “one another” ministry of teaching and admonishing that is further described in Ephesians 4:11-16. We urge churches to sing the Psalms as God commands and to continually expand their repertoire of songs and hymns to include an ever-increasing number of those of challenging theological depth.

“O Lord When we the Path Retrace” was written by James D. Deck (18-2-1884), a Plymouth Brethren elder in England and New Zealand. His hymns were first published in Hymns for the Poor of the Flock in 1838, and they appeared in many other hymn books in the 19th century. “His compositions are marked by directness of aim, simplicity of language, and great earnestness. The rhythm is good, and an expressive tenderness pervades many of them” (hymnary.org). Deck’s hymns extol Christ, His incarnation, sinless character, cross-work, resurrection, and ascension. Christ’s atonement is preeminent. Many of Deck’s hymns deal with Christ’s Second Coming. These include “A Little While, Our Lord Shall Come,” “How Long, O Lord Our Savior,” and “Savior, Haste, Our Souls Are Waiting.”

“O Lord, When We the Path Retrace”

1 O Lord, when we the path retrace

Which Thou on earth hast trod;
To men Thy wondrous love and grace,
Thy faithfulness to God:

Thy love, by man so sorely tried,
Proves stronger than the grave;
The very spear that pierced Thy side
Drew forth the blood to save.

Faithful amid unfaithfulness,
'Mid darkness only light,
Thou didst Thy Father's name confess,
And in His will delight;

Unmoved by Satan's subtle wiles,
Or suffering, shame, and loss:
Thy path, uncheered by earthly smiles
Led only to the cross.

We wonder at Thy lowly mind, And fain would like Thee be, And all our rest and pleasure find In learning, Lord, of Thee.

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