Radio Series: Hymns of the Faith: Hymns of the Faith: May the Mind of Christ

by Bill Wymond, Derek Thomas, J. Ligon Duncan on September 6, 2013

Philippians 2:5

Hymns of the Faith

“May the Mind of Christ My Savior”


A Presentation
of First Presbyterian Church



Dr. Ligon Duncan, Dr. Derek Thomas, and Dr. Bill

Dr. Wymond: Good morning! This is “Hymns of the
Faith,” brought to you by Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church. The minister of
the First Presbyterian Church is Dr. Ligon Duncan. Stay tuned for “Hymns of the
Faith.”…..And now with “Hymns of the Faith” is Dr. Ligon Duncan.

Dr. Duncan: Thank you, Bill Wymond. This is Ligon
Duncan, with Derek Thomas, for “Hymns of the Faith,” and I’m delighted to be
with you again this morning, Derek and Bill, talking about these great songs
which are part of our heritage as Christians and that we have the joy to sing
Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day and at other times, but which in our own day and age
have perhaps become less well known than they once used to be.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, as we have been
recording “Hymns of the Faith” and broadcasting over the last half year, how
many people have expressed appreciation for the background and history, and some
of the description about the biography of both the authors and the composers,
because hymnody isn’t as well known amongst folks in the pew as it would have
been fifty years ago.

And yet there continues to be, despite all of the
emphasis on doing newer material, more contemporary material, there continues to
be an abiding interest in the history of English-speaking hymnody, and abiding
love certainly for a pretty strong canon of fifty or a hundred hymns that just
refuse to be expunged from our corporate memory. So I’m glad we’re spending time
looking at these hymns, and I hope those of you who are listening to us this
morning are edified.

The hymn that we’re going to look at today is
actually one of the hymn and tune combinations that I enjoy singing the most. I
find myself humming this tune to myself a lot and thinking about its words,
although again it’s a relatively new hymn. The hymn itself was not written until
the very beginning of the second quarter of the twentieth century. It’s less
than a hundred years old, and the tune was written at the same time. (I’m not
sure for this hymn, but certainly this has been the tune that I’ve sung ever
since I remember singing the hymn.) And especially as we’ve been going through
Philippians, we’ve used this hymn a lot because it captures the spirit of what
Paul says not only in Philippians 2:5, to “have this attitude in yourselves
which was also in Christ Jesus,” but also in what he says in Philippians 1, and
then reiterates later in the chapter. So it’s a great companion song to a series
through the book of Philippians.

Bill, we searched in vain to find detailed
information about the composer and the author of this hymn, but why don’t we
start off? Play the tune, because I’ll bet a lot of people are going to
recognize this tune when they hear it. [Dr. Wymond plays.]

It’s very simple, but very memorable. It sort of
sticks in the mind and you can’t get it out! It can just run on and on… “May the
mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day,” [you can feel the rhythm
of that] “By His love and pow’r controlling all I do and say.”

Bill, tell us a little bit about Cyril Barham-Gould, who
was the composer of this tune.

Dr. Wymond: Isn’t that an interesting name? Cyril,
I think, is a Slavic name, isn’t it? Is that fairly common?

Dr. Duncan: Certainly in Greek, yes.

Dr. Thomas: It’s very common, yes.

Dr. Wymond: And then he has a hyphenated last name,
Barham-Gould. Tell me about that! Why do we see so many Englishmen with
hyphenated names?

Dr. Thomas: Yes, we were talking about this
earlier, and I suspect the reason is that if a daughter of a noble family, a
Lord and Lady Such-and-Such, is getting married, they don’t want that name to
disappear in …what’s the Book of Peerage?

Dr. Duncan: Burke’s Peerage, yes.

Dr. Thomas: So if she were to marry someone,
particularly a commoner, then she would retain her name–which was decidedly
against protocol, so I think that’s where the hyphenating issue comes in.

Dr. Wymond: And so the lady’s name is put at the
end a lot of times, I think. I’m thinking of…

Dr. Thomas: The more strategically important in
terms of peerage, I would think.

Dr. Wymond: …Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and so on like
that in Germany.

Dr. Duncan: Yes, I had forgotten about that!
Sometimes they’ll call him Mendelssohn, but then you’ll see when the full name
and ascription is given, you’ll get the hyphenated “Bartholdy” at the end.

Dr. Wymond: That’s the mother’s name, I think. Well,
this tune actually was composed for this set of words, so at some point or the
other this composer met this lady and took these words on as a challenge. The
tune name is ST. LEONARDS, and that comes,
we’re told, from a fifth century French bishop, Leonard of Limousin, who was the
patron saint for expectant mothers and prisoners of war. And I was wondering,
since this was written not too long after the First World War, if perhaps he was
still thinking about that. There was such an impact on the psyche in the 1920’s
with the British, with the prisoners of war and the loss of so many men. Anyway,
he was educated at Riddley Hall in Cambridge, and he was ordained as a priest in
the Church of England. So he was a minister the whole time, and music evidently
was just an avocation for him. It’s interesting to me to see some of the
churches that he served. One of them was St. Paul’s in Onslow Square in London,
and these churches have an association with evangelical work in Britain, as far
as I know.

Dr. Duncan: Yes, let me mention that, because you
brought this to our attention off-air, Bill. At least two of these churches that
he was associated with, Holy Trinity Brompton and All-Souls Langham Place, are
today associated with significant evangelical ministries. All-Souls Langham
Place, many people in our listening audience will know, is the place where John
Stott — John R. W. Stott, one of the major evangelical figures of our time — was
the rector there for many, many years. He’s been followed by a succession of
very faithful men, such as Richard Buse. Billy Graham has asked Richard Buse to
preach his funeral when he dies, so this gives you some sort of an idea of the
magnitude of the ministry of All-Souls Langham Place. The Langham Trust, which
is a ministry to educate evangelical ministers in the Third World, especially in
Africa, is named after All-Souls at Langham Place.

So apparently even in the early
twentieth century, these congregations were associated with the so-called “low
church” or evangelical Anglicans, which is actually in contrast to the composer
of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, which we recently studied together. That
composer was from the “high church” wing of the Anglican Church, and Bill
pointed out to us that given the author of this hymn had been involved in the
Keswick Movement in some way, had been perhaps in attendance at the various
Keswick Conventions, and given that this composer is from some of these
evangelical Anglican congregations in London, chances are that they came to know
one another because of those common evangelical commitments. So it really is
fascinating. I wish I could have more information out there to track that down,
but it is apparent when you look at where they’ve been…. Derek, you might want
to tell folks a little bit about All-Souls and the work of John Stott and
Richard Bewes, and some of these other folks in our own time.

Dr. Thomas: A quick word first about Holy Trinity
Church Brompton, where he was. Michael Green (I think I’m right…well-known
evangelical figure, especially in the issue of evangelism and evangelism in the
early church…has written extensively) was there. Recently the church has been
associated with the Charismatic wing (and perhaps then some) of the last fifteen
or twenty years or so. All-Souls…I’ve been in All-Souls several times. I first
attended there when I thought John Stott was going to preach. I was converted
through reading John Stott’s book, Basic Christianity, in 1971. Somewhere
around ’73 or ’74, on a visit to London — actually a visit to the Promenade
Concerts in Kensington in London — I went to All-Souls on Sunday hoping to hear
John Stott, but I actually heard Buse preach, who was then just a lowly curate
figure at the time! [Laughter] And I was terribly disappointed, and not
least because — those of you who have been in All-Souls, and I know that some of
our listeners do go to London and go to All-Souls — it has these pillars in the
middle of the building holding up the gallery above. But the pillars are in
extraordinarily awkward places, and depending on where you sit, you can’t see
the side pulpit of the Anglican church. And I remember I was craning round the
pillar trying to see who this preacher was! [Laughter]

Dr. Wymond: Do you know Michael Baughen? He was also
at All-Souls. I think he later became a bishop…

Dr. Thomas: Yes, and has written some hymn tunes. Or
chorus tunes, at least.

Dr. Duncan: And then, Derek, Kate Wilkinson, who’s
the author of the text? We don’t know much about her, but we know where she was

Dr. Thomas: Sounds like the girl next door, doesn’t
she? [Laughter] She was born in Cheshire.

Dr. Duncan: Where is Cheshire, for folks that
don’t know Cheshire, other than the Cheshire cat?

Dr. Thomas: Well, north of England, sort of north
of Liverpool, somewhere around there. But decidedly north. Beautiful part of the
country. And she ends up (obviously, because she dies) in Kensington. Kensington
is where Hyde Park would be, where Harrods — everybody knows that Harrods is in
London! For me it would be where the Elder Hall is in London.

Dr. Duncan: Many people will remember scenes in
Kensington Palace almost buried in flowers after the death of Princess Diana, if
you remember those pictures in your mind.

Dr. Wymond: And she was involved with the Keswick
Movement, which fascinates me.

Dr. Thomas: Yes! She was the daughter of a
mechanical engineer by the name of William Beckett Johnson, and she married
Frederick Barclay Wilkinson, a cashier…

Dr. Duncan: Now, is that not a classic British
late nineteenth century name, Frederick Barclay Wilkinson? That’s just, you
know…. But then tell us about the Keswick Movement, Derek.

Dr. Thomas: Yes, it’s just in my notes here that
she apparently was involved in the Keswick Convention Movement. Now, the Keswick
Convention began, I imagine, in the late nineteenth century. It was a movement
known and associated with what we call the “higher life” view of the Holy
Spirit, a long, long time before the charismatic phenomenon of the late ‘50’s
and early ‘60’s and onwards. This is a view with some roots back in Wesley’s
view of entire sanctification, a view that through some post-conversion
experience of the Holy Spirit you would move on to another level of holiness and

Dr. Duncan: And you can see behind that a desire for
a greater realization of the New Testament expression of what the Christian life
is supposed to be like. So there’s a renewal movement of some sort there. Was it
primarily Anglican? Or was it always a mix of Anglican and Free churches, Derek?
I just don’t know my Keswick history well enough to….

Dr. Thomas: Well, I think it was a mixture. But
evangelical Anglicans were certainly dominant in the Keswick Convention.

Dr. Duncan: I know they always were. Wasn’t the
history that always on the first night the message would have to do with sin;
they would focus on sin in the first message? And then at some point in the week
there would be an emphasis on walking in the Spirit, or walking by the Spirit;
there would be an emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in leading us into a
deeper life, or into a higher life, or to a greater consecration. There are
different words that were used with it.

Dr. Thomas: And I think in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s
the terminology of the baptism, “receiving the baptism of the Spirit” became
predominant. The Keswick Convention is alive and well, and still functions

Dr. Wymond: It’s an annual event?

Dr. Thomas: An annual event, yes. It’s in the Lake
District, which many will know on the west coast. And today has moved away from
that higher life element…

Dr. Duncan: Yes, great speakers the last fifteen
or twenty years…

Dr. Thomas: Sinclair Ferguson spoke at the Keswick
Convention in the last two or three years…

Dr. Duncan: John Stott’s last public address was
at… It was interesting, when you mentioned “baptism of the Holy Spirit” it
reminded me — I think I’m right in saying that John Stott’s book, Baptism
and Fullness
, in which he addressed the issue of the baptism of the Holy
Spirit in the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts, originated from
talks that he was asked to give at Keswick in the ‘50’s or ‘60’s, and of
course it was very controversial for him to address those issues. But in Stott’s
typical style, he very graciously but firmly articulated a different view
perhaps than would have been….

Dr. Thomas: And many I’m sure will have seen, if
not read, Packer’s book on the Holy Spirit, and at least a chapter of that book
is focusing entirely on the Keswick Convention view, the high life view…

Dr. Duncan: …which he himself had been profoundly
affected by as a young man.

Dr. Thomas: And he was very critical of it,
because if you haven’t received that hard-to-explain experience, then it just
leaves you in frustration and despair; and his famous line is that John Owen
saved him from insanity…the Puritan, John Owen, in his treatment of the
mortification of sin.

Dr. Duncan: By the way, if you want to hear that
story, you have it in the book that you really need to read anyway, J.C. Ryle’s
book, Holiness. Certainly in the Evangelical Press edition and perhaps in
some of the other editions out there, it begins with an introduction by J.I.
Packer where he tells that story.

But all of that being said, I think that many of the
emphases of the Keswick Movement were designed to respond to the formalism and
the sort of superficial, nominal spirituality that would have pervaded sort of
polite English society, whether it was in the major Free churches or the
Anglican churches, so there were many commendable features to it.

Dr. Thomas: And this hymn is wonderfully
reflective, in one sense…of that best side, the good side of the Keswick
Movement, namely a passionate concern for holiness. And I think an old fashioned
word one can hardly hear now is consecrationMay the Mind of Christ My Savior, live in me from day to day,
by His love and power controlling all I do and say,” there’s something almost
alien about it. But it cannot but be argued that this is a New Testament
emphasis to seek after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

Dr. Wymond: Now, Derek, I have to catch a phrase
that you said there. You were talking about “worldliness in worship.” What do
you have in mind?

Dr. Thomas: Flippancy. The approach to worship in
a sense of “what can I get out of it?” A “What’s in it for me?” kind of
mentality. It’s like a drive-through: you want a latte, cappuccino with
sprinkles or whatever. You know, what are we going to get this morning? And
these kinds of services…I think if you went to the Keswick Convention you’d just
be overwhelmed by this emphasis on being Christ-like. And I think that many
Christians today would see that as legalism, or at least old fashioned, because
we want to be in the world. I mean, our big concern very often (and it’s a right
emphasis in some ways), we want to be apologists in Athens rather than pietists
in Jerusalem! [Laughter]

Dr. Wymond: But you know, we were most recently
talking about the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, which so much reflects the
worship of Revelation, and I’ve always thought that really should be the
controlling model for our worship, that we would have a….

Dr. Thomas: This is a post-sermon hymn.
This is an aspiration
. You wouldn’t sing this as the first hymn.
It’s not God-ward, it’s inward. It’s asking for me to change. And
I think it’s a perfect hymn after a sermon on holiness, conform me now to the

Dr. Duncan: Well, and for sure, it is
consecrational. You picked the perfect word. And it is again — and we’ve seen
this repeatedly — it is self-exhortation: “May the mind of Christ my Savior…”
and then you might be expecting, “live in your heart” or “be in your heart.”
But, no, it’s “May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to
day,” and so it’s a prayer. It is a petition. It is an expressed desire, but it
is a desire for one’s own self to be captured or taken captive by the mind of
Christ. And again, the language of Philippians 2:5, “Have this attitude in
yourselves…have this mind in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus” comes
immediately to mind.

And then the first stanza closes with the words, “By
His love and power controlling all I do and say.” And so throughout the song
there is an expression that there would be Holy Spirit renovation of what we are
from the inside out, and there is that appropriate introspection and appropriate
self-focus, wanting the self to be transformed by the renewing of the mind,
according to the word of God. And it successively works through: “May the mind
of Christ…may the Word of God…May the peace of God…May the love of Jesus…May His
beauty rest upon me.” So various aspects of the reality of the person of Christ,
the Word of God, the shalom, the blessing of peace from the heavenly
Father, the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, the beauty of Christ — all of these
things are meditated upon, and then a prayer is lifted up that they would be
transformative of our persons, that we would be made to be conformed to these

Dr. Thomas: You know, I’ve always been challenged
by that final stanza because “May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to
win”…and, “May they forget the channel, seeing only Him.” You know, we want…as I
say, it is a perfect hymn to end the service, because you leave the service now,
and you’re meant to take Christ with you into the world as a witness for Christ;
and you want, you want to read the latest book on apologetics, how to win the
lost, how to engage in evangelism, what questions you’re supposed to ask, how to
contrive a context in which to witness to my lost neighbor…and this one says,
“May His beauty rest upon me.” That the best way to evangelize is to be
Christ-like, and that there is a beauty of Christ. It challenges me all the time
when I sing these lines. You know, we may take Christ with us, but do we take
the beauty of Christ? Do we make Christ something beautiful?

Dr. Duncan: Bill, why do I like this tune? Tell
us about the tune!

Dr. Wymond: Actually, I think the tune is so well
matched to the peacefulness of this text, it’s just a very soothing tune.
Nothing difficult about it, but as with any good hymn tune, it’s unique. It
sounds like no other tune, and it’s so identified with this particular set of
words. I also am impressed by how outward-turning all of the wishes of the
author are. She wants the peace of God to rule in her so that she can be calm to
comfort people. Almost every phrase turns outward in that nice kind of way.

Well, let me quickly just play this tune once again,
so we can see the peacefulness of it and how it seems to complement the text. [Plays.]
It’s sort of like Gregorian chant, actually, too…

Dr. Duncan: Yes, I was thinking that too. All that
rolling down, and then up in the first line.

Dr. Thomas: You know how things always get into
your head when you hear music, but I’ve always thought this hymn…I don’t want to
say “sends you to sleep,” but it descends at the end. It just sort of resigns.

Dr. Wymond: That’s right.

Dr. Thomas: And I sort of wonder, because of the
emphasis in the Keswick Convention about resignation, that passivity, which can
be a wrong emphasis of course, but I wonder if that resignation element is there
in the tune as sort of — sigh

Dr. Wymond: That’s the effect. Well, let’s listen
to this tune now, and Victor Smith is going to sing it for us.

Dr. Duncan: Thank you, Bill.

“May the mind of Christ my
Savior live in me from day to day,

By His love and pow’r
controlling all I do and say.

“May the Word of God dwell
richly in my heart from hour to hour,

So that all may see I triumph
only through His pow’r.

“May the peace of God my Father
rule my life in everything;

That I may be calm to comfort
sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me as
the waters fill the sea;

Him exalting, self abasing, this
is victory.

May His beauty rest upon me as I
seek the lost to win,

And may they forget the channel,
seeing only Him.”

transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the web page. No
attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery
style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript
conforming to an established style template.
Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the
reader should presume any error to be with the transcriber/editor rather than
with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permissions
information, please visit the

FPC Website, Copyright, Reproduction & Permission

Print This Post