Now What My Hands Have Done

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Horatius Bonar was a Scottish pastor and hymn-writer from the 19th century who was known for his zealous Christ-centered preaching and gospel-rich hymns, many of which are still sung today including Not What My Hands Have Done. It is such a beautiful hymn that it cries out for new and singable tunes to assist the church in feeling its deep veins of gospel truth. This hymn starts by denying what can never save our souls - our own efforts, zeal, earnestness, proper prayers, or contrition. Then the work of Christ alone is presented as that which can ease our weight of sin, namely Jesus' blood. The work of Christ is applied to us by grace thorugh faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) so he moves on to remind us that grace speaks to us of the pardon offered in the gospel, and invites us to rest - even though we still struggle with unbelief - in the cross. Finally, the hymn leads us to a glorious culmination of praise as we remember that the goal of the gospel is to gain a living relationship with Jesus, not merely gain forgiveness. Our joy is to "call Him mine" and that "He calls me His." May the church continue to sing this treasured hymn!


Verse 1:
Not what my hands, my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel, not what I do
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers, and sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load.

Verse 2:
Thy work alone, thy work, O Christ,
Can ease this weight of sin
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,
Can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, thy love O God,
Not mine, O Lord, to thee
Can rid me of this dark unrest,
And set my spirit free!

Verse 3:
Thy grace alone, thy grace O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy pow'r alone, O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
No other work, no work but Thine,
No other blood will do,
No strength but that, Which is divine,
Can bear me safely through.

Verse 4:
I bless the Christ, the Christ of God;
I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart,
I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each gloomy doubt,
I bury in His tomb
My unbelief, and all my fear,
Each lingering shade of gloom.

Verse 5:
I praise the God, the God of grace,
I trust His truth and might
He calls me His, I call Him mine,
My God, my joy, my light.
’Tis He Who saves, who rescues me,
And freely pardon gives
I love because He first loved me,
I live because He lives!

Words by By Horatius Bonar (1808-89) Music by David L. Ward
© 2019 Hymnicity


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