Old/New Song: Nothing But the Blood

11060897_680274342119124_1024414359171083920_oDo you know the song, “Nothing But the Blood”?

You might.  But this american hymn has humble beginnings.  Actually, we don’t know much about it at all!

We do know that it was written by Robert Lowry, a well-known hymn writer, in 1876.  Lowry, a Baptist minister and professor, really wanted to be known as a preacher.  He was not looking to be known as a hymn writer.  As he said himself, he would have rather preached a sermon to an appreciative audience than to write a hymn.  Ironically, more than 100 years after his death, what Lowry is best remembered for is his many songs including, “Nothing But the Blood”.

It comes from a few different scriptural ideas.  The basic one being that only blood will lead to true forgiveness with God.

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. -Hebrews 9:22

V1:  What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

V2:  This is all my hope and peace:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Notice the use of repetition in the song?  A common complaint about modern church music is that it is repetitive.  Here, however, we see the use of repetition to reinforce the central idea that there is NOTHING else that can save us.  We’ve been learning this as a community of faith.  Yes, Jesus healed people, but his purpose was to share the good news of reconciliation with God through his life, death and resurrection!  Next, the chorus comes from Isaiah and the very words of God through the prophet…

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool. -Isaiah 1:18

Ch:  Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow
No other fount I know: nothing but the blood of Jesus

And ironically, Lowry picks up on the fact that the only thing that will make our red sins white as snow is the shed blood of Jesus.  The song continues…

V3:  For my pardon this I see:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my cleansing this my plea:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

V4:  Glory, glory this I sing:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
All my praise for this I bring
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. -1 John 1:7

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