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O What Their Joy and Glory Must Be

O what their joy and their glory must be,
Those endless Sabbaths the blessèd ones see;
Crown for the valiant, to weary ones, rest;
God shall be all, and in all ever blessed.

What are the Monarch, His court, and His throne?
What are the peace and the joy that they own?
O that the blessed ones, who in it have share,
All that they feel could as fully declare!

Truly, “Jerusalem” name we that shore,
City of peace that brings joy evermore;
Wish and fulfilment are not severed there,
Nor do things prayed for come short of the prayer.

There, where no troubles distraction can bring,
We the sweet anthems of Zion shall sing;
While for Thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise
Thy blessèd people eternally raise.

There dawns no Sabbath, no Sabbath is o’er,
Those Sabbath keepers have one evermore;
One and unending is that triumph song
Which to the angels and us shall belong.

Now, in the meanwhile, with hearts raised on high,
We for that country must yearn and must sigh;
Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,
Through our long exile on Babylon’s strand.

Low before Him with our praises we fall,
Of Whom, and in Whom, and through Whom are all;
Of Whom, the Father; and in Whom, the Son,
Through Whom, the Spirit, with Them ever One.

Peter Abelard, 12th Century translated from Latin John M. Neale 1854

What do we long for as we think of eternity with God?  Renaissance painting has much to answer for: fat baby cherubim, effete angels in dresses with wings and harps, a dispassionate God and a people without purpose.  Fortunately this is not the Biblical offer, not the Biblical eternity.

Abelard captures much more of the Biblical hope of eternity as he reflects on what it will be like to live there, in the fullness of all God’s promises met in the very reality of the experience of His people.  That is a hope worth anticipating, living for and living toward.

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.  They will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations.  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

Revelation 21:22-27


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