Manifest

Last Sunday at church we sang the hymn “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” (no. 135 in the Hymnal 1982). We’d actually sang this hymn earlier in the Epiphany season (on Epiphany Sunday, I think) but Sunday being Transfiguration Sunday, we sang a reprise of the 4th verse.

Throughout the hymn, almost like the steady beating of a drum, is the word “manifest.” It ties the hymn together while proclaiming the Good News that God has become one of us. God has made himself manifest to us in Christ- what do we do to make Christ manifest to others?

Songs of thankfulness and praise, Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise,
manifested by the star to the sages from afar;
branch of royal David’s stem in thy birth at Bethlehem;
anthems be to thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

The hymn continues by connecting Epiphany to Christ’s Baptism and the Wedding at Cana.

Manifest at Jordan’s stream, Prophet, Priest and King supreme;
and at Cana, wedding guest, in thy Godhead manifest;
manifest in power divine, changing water into wine;
anthems be to thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

The next verse, my personal favorite, recounts Christ’s earthly ministry – making whole the broken, turning sorrow into joy.

Manifest in making whole palsied limbs and fainting soul;
manifest in valiant fight, quelling all the devil’s might;
manifest in gracious will, ever bringing good from ill;
anthems be to thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

The fourth verse (in the Hymnal 1982 version) was written later. It’s about the Transfiguration but also ends by turning our minds towards the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

Manifest on mountain height, shining in resplendent light,
where disciples filled with awe thy transfigured glory saw.
When from thence thou leddest them steadfast to Jerusalem,
cross and Easter day attest God in man made manifest.

This hymn reminds me of N.J. Darby writing in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: “What we are called to is the manifestation of the life of Christ; your whole life is to be nothing but that. God is revealed, we have life, and the Holy Ghost is our power; we are set here as the epistles of Christ, for men to read. Whilst waiting for Christ to manifest Himself in glory, we have to manifest Him in grace.”

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