Our church does a modern setting of this old hymn text. I’ve sung it many times without really noticing the words. This week at rehearsal I finally paid attention and have been thinking about them since.
We have not known Thee as we ought, nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power.
The things of earth have filled our thought, and trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light Thy truth to see, and make us wise in knowing Thee.
We have not feared Thee as we ought, nor bowed beneath Thine awesome eye,
Nor guarded deed and word and thought, remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know Thee near, and grant the grace of holy fear.
We have not loved Thee as we ought, nor cared that we are loved by Thee.
Thy presence we have coldly sought, and feebly longed Thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart to feel and know the love Thou art.
We have not served Thee as we ought, alas, the duties left undone,
The work with little fervor wrought, the battles lost or scarcely won.
Lord, give the zeal and give the might for Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.
When shall we know Thee as we ought, and fear and love and serve aright?
When shall we, out of trial brought, be perfect in the land of light?
Lord, maybe we day by day prepare to see Thy face and serve Thee there.
–Thomas B. Pollock (1889)
The third verse especially speaks to me. I certainly have been guilty of seeking after God coldly and feebly. Lord, give a pure and loving heart to feel and know the love Thou art.