The modern American evangelical church is largely committed to dispensationalism and their expectation of the “I’ll Fly Away” rapture. They read best-selling novels about the Great Tribulation, attend endless conferences on the Rapture, and expect sermons on Matthew 24 every time there is an earthquake.
Oddly enough, though, their hymnbooks have many old hymns of the faith that declare the postmillennial hope. The great hymnody of the church provides evidence of postmillennialism’s influence on the Christian faith. And what better means for promoting this bright eschatology than by singing such joyful hymns?
I will cite three important hymns that reflect an optimistic eschatological outlook. I invite readers to send in their own favorite postmillennial hymns. I will return them as soon as I have finished with them.
Undoubtedly, the best-known postmillennial hymn is: “Joy to the World.” This is sung every year as Christmas approaches. Dispensationalists sing it with joy even though they do not listen to it with understanding. Consider it powerful postmillennial declration:
Joy to the World Isaac Watts (1719)
1. Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
2. Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
3. No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.
4. He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Lead on, O King Eternal Ernest Shurtleff (1862–1917)
1. Lead on, O King eternal, the day of march has come; henceforth in fields of conquest thy tents shall be our home. Through days of preparation thy grace has made us strong; and now, O King eternal, we lift our battle song.
2. Lead on, O King eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace. For not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.
3. Lead on, O King eternal, we follow, not with fears, for gladness breaks like morning where’er thy face appears. Thy cross is lifted o’er us, we journey in its light; the crown awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might.
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations Ernest Nichol (1862–1928)
1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right, a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.
Refrain: For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright; and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord, a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword, and shatter the spear and sword.
3. We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above hath sent us his Son to save us, and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love.
4. We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow hath trod, that all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God, might come to the truth of God.
“Studies in Eschatology” (4 CDs) Four lectures by Ken Gentry
This four lecture series was given in Vancouver, Washington. It provides both a critique of dispensationalism, as well as positive studies of postmillennialism in the Psalms and Revelation. This provides helpful comparative insights into eschatological pessimism and optimism.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com