As all around us every day it seems like there is more bad news about our economy, more bad news about the state of our social affairs, I think it is fitting for the first battle to pick songs about confidence during tough times. According to www.praisecharts.com, Top 100 CCLI Songs, Desert Song comes in as number 5 on the list of Songs with the Greatest Gain. As many take comfort in this song which points to the hope that God is with us through the tough times, the deserts of life, Desert Song is rising fast up the charts. It is for these reasons that Desert Song is our first contender in our Battle of the Songs series.
The challenger I have picked is to face this rising star is How Firm a Foundation by Rev. John Rippon. How Firm a Foundation is from the 18th century. In years past, it has been sung at presidents and statesmen’s funerals because of its popularity and poignancy at the time. According to Brown’s historical account, this song seemingly at the height of its popularity in 1898, was reportedly sung by the entire Corps of the United Sates Army as they were encamped in Havana, Cuba.
The Lyrics, Side by Side
On the left are the lyrics to Desert Song (by Hillsong, 2008) as found on www.lyricsmode.com. On the right are the lyrics to How Firm A Foundation (John Rippon, 1787) as found on www.nethymnal.org.
|Desert Song by Hillsong||How Firm A Foundation by Rev. John Rippon|
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who providesVerse 2:
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flamesChorus:
And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
Both How Firm a Foundation and Desert Song point to God as our comfort and confidence in tough times. The greatest difference however is the point of view from which each song is written. Desert Song speaks from our point of view as those going through the trial; the majority of How Firm a Foundation is God speaking to those going through the trial. “This is my prayer” from Hillsong gives a man-to-God directionality. On the other hand, “What more can He say, than to you He has said” from How Firm a Foundation connotes a God-to-man direction. How Firm a Foundation contains allusions, as well as direct quotes, from passages in Isaiah. For example, Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” is echoed in verse 3.
Yes, Desert Song tells us “In every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.” But, How Firm a Foundation is more compelling, more explicit about what our reason for rejoicing is. “Even down to old age… [God’s ] sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love” is what is going to keep us rejoicing and praising. Compare “still God” with “sovereign, eternal, and unchangeable.”
I think this battle is over. My verdict: TKO! How Firm a Foundation wins it, hands down! What do you think? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.