Saturday, 28 March 2015

"The God of Abraham praise" Author: Thomas Olivers, 1725-1799

THOMAS OLIVERS, when a boy orphaned and friendless, fell into the company of bad companions and won the reputation of being "the worst boy in that country in thirty years." As a man, he learned the trade of a shoemaker, but continued in his wicked ways, until at last the preaching of Whitefield got hold upon his soul, stirring him with a message from the text, "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" 

Olivers became converted, and immediately set about helping the Wesley's in the work of plucking other brands from the fire. He assisted in setting up type for the Wesleyan publications, he became an efficient preacher and, as is evidenced by this wonderful hymn, a hymn-writer of a high order. 

One night in London, he was attracted to a service in a Jewish synagogue, where he heard a great singer, Leoni, sing an ancient Hebrew melody in the solemn, plaintive mode and he became impressed with a desire to write a hymn to that tune. The result was our hymn, "The God of Abraham praise," which is in a sense a paraphrase of the ancient Hebrew Yigdal, or doxology, though Olivers gave to it a distinctly Christian flavor. 

The story is told of a young Jewess who had been baptized into the Christian faith, and in consequence was abandoned by her family. She fled to the home of the minister, poured out her heart to him, and as if to show that, after all, her joy in her new-found Saviour was greater than all her loss of home and family, she sang, "The God of Abraham praise."  

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