JESUS, THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

From "Lead, Kindly Light"

JESUS, THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

Count Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf (1700-1760)

 

Count Zinzendorf is well known to us as the founder of the town of Herrnhut, home of the Moravians. But did you know that he was also a prolific hymn writer? "Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness" is one of more than 2,000 hymns that he wrote.

Born in Dresden, Germany, to a noble, wealthy, and highly cultured family, Zinzendorf was educated at Halle and Wittenberg. Upon completion of legal studies at Wittenberg, Zinzendorf took a post as Councillor to the Elector of Saxony. While serving in this position, he purchased a large estate and offered it for use as a home for religious refugees. The largest refugee group to settle on his estate was the Moravians, believers who traced their roots back to fifteenth-century followers of John Hus. The Moravians' history was one of frequent persecution and ridicule because of their religious zeal and enthusiasm. Between 1722 and 1729, about 300 Moravians emigrated to Zinzendorf's estate, establishing a religious community called Herrnhut. Zinzendorf himself became a Moravian minister and bishop.

In 1735, the Herrnhut congregation published its own hymnal, Das Gesang-Buch der Gemeine in Herrnhut. Of the 999 hymns in the collection, 208 were by Zinzendorf.

It is to the praise of God that throughout his life Count Zinzendorf continued to focus not on what he was doing for Christ, but on the sole and complete sufficiency of what Christ had done for him. "Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness" is an out- standing expression of that focus. The original German text had 33 verses! The Count's friend John Wesley translated the hymn into English, omitting nine of these. Many modern hymnals have reduced the number of stanzas of this hymn to only four, but here are five:

 

"Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

 

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

 

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,

Which, at the mercy seat of God,

Forever doth for sinners plead,

For me, e'en for my soul, was shed.

 

Lord, I believe were sinners more

Than sands upon the ocean shore,

Thou hast for all a ransom paid,

For all a full atonement made.

 

When from the dust of death I rise

 To claim my mansion in the skies,

 Ev'n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me."

 

ISA 64:6 states that "¼all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags¼"  How gracious, then, of God the Father to provide us instead with Jesus' righteousness as "our glorious dress." See also 2 COR 5:21. The hymn's second stanza seems inspired by ROM 8:33-34 and the fourth stanza finds scriptural support in 1 TIM 2:5-6