Majestic Sweetness

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Description

This is a song about the exceeding beauty of Jesus. Though we cannot see Jesus, we know Him to be beautiful both by our knowledge of His character and works in Scripture, and by our experiential knowledge of Him. As we say today, He is a “beautiful person.” Why is He beautiful? Stennett reminds us in this hymn text that Jesus’ beauty was most clearly demonstrated to us at the cross. By referring to His brow Stennett juxtaposes both the images of a majestic coronation and the picture of the crown of thorns being placed upon Jesus’ head in jest. While on the cross Jesus’ lips overflowed with grace as He prayed for the very ones who crucified Him. Jesus demonstrated grace and love far beyond anything we can know or experience “among the sons of men.” And Philippians 2 shows us that Jesus’ humiliation and suffering serve to further glorify His great beauty: “although [Jesus] existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” As the last verse encourages us, let us not only enjoy “regarding the wonders of His grace” but tell others of His beauty that they might love Him and join our songs of praise.


Additional Song Information


The lyrics were adapted by David Ward. Verses 1-3a are based on Samuel Stennett’s original hymn “To Christ the Lord Let Every Tongue” while verse 3b is from Anne Steele’s “To Our Redeemer’s Glorious Name.” Caffy Whitney adapted the melody from a song by Connie Dover titled “I Am Going to the West.” Connie has graciously given us permission to use her beautiful melody. The harmonization is by David Ward.

Lyrics

             (Show Original Wordings)
Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon the Savior's brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned,
His lips with grace o'erflow.
Behold the beauties of His face
And on His glories dwell;
Regard the wonders of His grace
And all His triumphs tell.

He saw me plunged in deep distress
And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief.
To Him I owe my life and breath
And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death
And saves me from the grave.

No mortal can with Him compare
Among the sons of men;
So fairer He than all the fair
Who fill the heav'nly train.
Oh may this sweet and joyful theme
Fill ev'ry heart and tongue
Till strangers love His precious name
And join our sacred song.

Words by Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) & Anne Steele (1716-1778), edited by David L. Ward.
Music by Connie Dover, Caffy Whitney, and David Ward.
© 2009 ThousandTongues.org, admin by Thousand Tongues

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Comments

David,
This song is beautiful, especially the last verse which really moved me. Two comments:
(1) Is "sweetness" the best metaphor for the Savior's brow? According to Harry Stout, sweetness was a favorite metaphor of the 18th century; but now, it suggests "sweetie" to me. Would any of the psalms verify this usage (as Stennett seems to be keying off of Psalm 45)? It would be hard to beat the alliteration/assonance of Stennett's line.
(2) Being musically ignorant, please pardon me, but why did you end so abruptly on the end of line six?
Again, the song is beautiful, and the matching of Steele's verse with Stennett's is quite powerful. Thank you for sharing this song with us.
Bob Snyder (friend of Peter Kapinos)
» Bob Snyder on September 26th, 2009

Bob,

Thanks for the comments about the song. 1) Sweetness seems to have a very broad meaning. Dictionary.com gives it 17! Numbers 8 and 9 seem to be how I think sweetness is being communicated in the context of the rest of this hymn: amiable; kind or gracious, as a person, action, etc.; dear; beloved; precious. 2) I dictated the pitches Caffy sang for me a capella but not the rhythm, thus I may not have captured exactly how she sang it and may have added a little bit of my songwriting style to the end (though Caffy was happy with my rhythm). What inspired my rhythmic choices at the end of the verse is probably the rhythm of the melody earlier.
» David Ward on September 27th, 2009

[...] of His face And on His glories dwell; Regard the wonders of His grace And all His triumphs tell. vollständiger Text…   AudioPlayer.embed("pod_audio_1", {soundFile: [...]
» Majestic Sweetness | apologet on November 30th, 2009

It's been playing itself over and over in my head since last Saturday. And what a blessing that's been! The beautiful melody and the piercing lyrics work wonderfully together.
» Kristine on December 15th, 2009

David,

I really like this one. The music communicates a wonderful sweetness.

Blessings, brother!
Craig
» Craig Johnson on April 10th, 2010

I LOVE THIS SONG...so well done!
» Kevin on May 9th, 2010

This is a beautiful worship song!
» Corey M. Auger on May 14th, 2010

[...] setting with live guitar, vocal, drums, and upright bass with added dobro, mandolin, and fiddle 13. Majestic Sweetness - A classic jazz ballad arrangement inspired by Bill Evans’ work on the Miles Davis [...]
When this tune was combined with the wonderful text I constantly heard a definite folk sound using fiddle, mandolin, etc. We are working this up in our worship team with this sound. I hope that others might lend this sound and feel to the song. Thanks! David for sharing this with the church. I am so happy and blessed that this can bring glory to our Majestic Sweet Savior.
» Caffy Whitney on September 5th, 2010

[...] setting with live guitar, vocal, drums, and upright bass with added dobro, mandolin, and fiddle 13. Majestic Sweetness - A classic jazz ballad arrangement inspired by Bill Evans’ work on the Miles Davis [...]
» Merciful to Me | Reformed Praise on September 10th, 2010

[...] with live guitar, vocal, drums, and upright bass with added dobro, mandolin, and fiddle 13. Majestic Sweetness – A classic jazz ballad arrangement inspired by Bill Evans’ work on the Miles Davis “Kind [...]
Love this hymn
» Justin Gottlieb on October 19th, 2010

David,
I love the tune, and nearly everything you do with the lyrics. One hesitation - much as I love Annie Steele's words here (and in general), I'm dying to restore Stennett's ORIGINAL first stanza, which points us back to the foundation of his lyrics in Psalm 45 (and, though less contemplative in tone, sounds the same theme):
"To Christ the Lord, let every tongue
Its noblest tribute bring
When he's the subject of the song,
Who can refuse to sing!"
» Bruce Johnson on September 29th, 2013

Bruce,

I agree that the original first verse is a fine verse, but it's a little bit awkward when arranged strophically, which is probably why I didn't use it. It would make a good refrain though - you should write another tune for this hymn!
» David Ward on October 4th, 2013