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Finding the Attributes of God in Hymns Ancient and Modern 372

The attributes of God comes with inspiration, revelation and experience. I discussed some of them revealed in this hymn 372. You'll love it.

Finding the attributes of God in Hymn 372

Finding the attributes of God in Hymn 372


So many times, people wonder what the attributes of God are or what they can use to relate to God’s attribute which we will capture in this article. The author of hymn 372 Walter .C. Smith was a Scottish man born in 1824, and attended theological school at Edinburgh, as well as was ordained as a minister. His background had influenced the nature of his lifestyle and the careful wordings of his several hymnal publications especially Hymn 372 where he tried to use human understanding to describe an infinite God. He tactically approached the questions of what are the attributes of God in this hymn using a rather classical and elegant way of writing that depicted him as a man who is well-lettered and had experienced God. This article will reveal how the author captures the attributes of God in this devotional hymn.

Stanza 1: The Expository Concept

The author approached stanza 1 in such a manner as to explaining certain concepts about God, and at the same time imparting information about the supreme nature of God without including his opinion. He ascribed fascinating attributes such as immortality, invisibility, and only wise being that dwell in light beyond the reach of human beings. Similarly, this thought pattern in lines 1 to 2, is believed by scholars to be similarly expressed in 1 Timothy 6:16, where Paul wrote to Timothy that such attributes should be the good confession of a man of God about God.

In Line 3 to 4, this Supreme Being was incomparable as we find the author describing Him and praising God’s name as most blessed, most glorious (Psalm 19:1 and Luke 2:14), and the Ancient of Days who has all the mightiness and ever victorious in any endeavor. It is important to reflect on statements like "I feel blessed to have my family" and "I feel blessed to have my kind of Job" to understand "most blessed." It means God is most-honored, most-favored, most-providential and most-enviable. Little wonder the scripture says that He does not share his glory with another as found in Isaiah 42:8, and that He is a man of war in Exodus 15:3.

Watch West Minster Abbey Commonwealth Day service sing the hymn

Stanza 2: The Descriptive Concept

So many a times’ people will ask, "If God were a man, what would he be like?" The author tries to answer this question in stanza 2 using this descriptive style of writing. He used the attributes of a man to paint the picture of God as a person to the audience. This God as he describes never takes a rest, never in haste, and quietly moves like a light. Furthermore, His not in want of anything, neither is he a waster, but rules in might. These attributes can be found in Psalm 121: 4 and Psalm 50:12. Little wonder in John 6: 12-13, Jesus commanded his disciples to "gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost."

According to the writer in Line 3 to 4 of stanza 2, this same God when likened to humans is a man of Justice. His justice system is high like the mountains which mean that it’s incomparable, yet having its foundations are laid with goodness and love. I particularly found this interesting because Psalm 89:14 says that righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne. Meaning that God has the highest standard of the justice system in existence, and can never be unjust, He is also incorruptible, unbribable and impartial.

God is an incorruptible, unbribable and everlasting impartial Judge

God is an incorruptible, unbribable and everlasting impartial Judge

Stanza 3: The Persuasive Concept

In Stanza 3, Walter .C. Smith adopted the persuasive style of writing by trying to convince his audience about his own opinion. He attributed God to be the giver of life to both the great and the small, but still remains the true life of all. Notice that there was no mention of humans, animals or plants as the sole beneficiary of these life forms, but that this life goes "to all life thou givest" according to line 1 of stanza 3. This is concurrently agreeing with the scriptures in John 1:3 that "all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made."

In Line 2 to 3 of stanza 3, he tactically described these life forms to possess that ability to blossom and flourish as leaves found on trees. This personification entails that God’s intention for creation is beyond growth and development, innovation and invention as we find today. This is because when a leaf is cut–off from a branch or plant is uprooted it will eventually wither and perish. Hence the focus of man should be remaining attached to God whose life form never changes, and that was why the bible says in Malachi 3:6 that "for I am the Lord, I change not."

Stanza 4: The Narrative Concept

In the final stanza, the hymnist adopted the narrative style of writing. He tried to impart further Information about the attributes of God by referring to Him as the God of all glory, and the God of all light. Subsequently, His glory and light is so dazzling that even the angels veil their faces when they're adoring Him which agrees with 1 Timothy 6:16 and Psalm 104:2 that God dwells in unapproachable light.

Walter .C. Smith Changed the narrative again in lines 2 to 3 of stanza 4 by persuading men to render praises to God. Likewise, Oh that God should "help us to see the splendor of light that hideth Him." This phrase acknowledges that finite understanding of man is unable to describe the infinite God, but that God should help us to understand according to the knowledge of Himself that He has given to us. Therefore, I particularly agree with the writer because the bible says in Hebrews 1:1 that God appears to us in different places and different manners. Hence, the personal experience of the hymnist must have influenced his wordings about the attributes of God.

God is the only Supreme Being that rules in eternity

God is the only Supreme Being that rules in eternity

Hymn 372

God gives life to both great and small, but remains the true life form

— Hymn 372


God has given a revelation of himself in his scriptures, but sometimes we find these attributes brought together in one piece to make more sense, and hymn 372 is one of them. Moreover, the more we know about His attributes, the more we speak of Him with confidence. Hence, this revelation of God’s attribute in hymn 372 as discussed here will make a clearer devotional exercise and that the wordings of the hymn will provide clearer meditation valued by all.

Note: All bible verses were taken from King James Bible and the Hymn is the Book of Common Prayer used by the Church of England.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Amarachi Nkwoada

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Amarachi Nkwoada (author) from Imo State, Nigerian on January 09, 2021:

This inspirational article made my day