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POSTMILLENNIALISM AND CHRISTIAN HYMNODY

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  February 22, 2012 — 2 Comments

Many contemporary Christians, especially among the dispensationalists, denounce postmillennialism as a late-blooming, liberal approach to Scripture. Generally postmillennialism is written off as a narrowly-held and insignificant influence in evangelicalism.

But oddly enough, even while writing off this hope-filled eschatology, they break out their hymnals and begin singing postmillennial hymns! 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.

Lead on, O King Eternal
Ernest Shurtleff (1862–1917)

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.

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.

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.

(Refrain)

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.

(Refrain)

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.

(Refrain)

Had I time and space, I could post Handel’s “Messiah”!

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 80 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to POSTMILLENNIALISM AND CHRISTIAN HYMNODY

  1. Great songs! I can even think of a few (actually several) more.
    Jesus Shall Reign
    All Hail the Power of Jesus Name
    Crown Him with Many Crowns
    Granted, most dispensational churches don’t sing the first though. Such a shame!

  2. Charles E. Miller, Jr., MAR February 28, 2014 at 6:30

    I would like to ask Dr. Gentry a question about Martin Trench’s book “Victorious Eschatology: Partial Preterism.” Have you read the book and what do you think of it? Martin Trench is a Christian Alliance minister who has turned from premillennialism as I have done. May God bless you.

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