God’s omniscience. How do we speak about it without using hifalutin words like “omniscience”? How do we sing about it? And does this esoteric theological category have any bearing on our life and faith?
Hunter Lynch addresses these questions in his new text, “God of Knowledge, All-Consuming.” What I love about this is that Hunter begins with God’s omniscience as wisdom, mystery, and discernment, rather than painting God as a celestial Santa. (“He knows when you are sleeping.”) He quickly moves to how God’s endless knowledge matters to us humans–”you know my need.” In verse 3, he takes a turn from God knowing to God making himself known. In the final verse, we will no longer see “through a glass darkly,” but all beauty, truth, and mystery will be revealed.
I drafted three tunes for this text. Each had its merits, but after a weekend of living with them, both Hunter and I gravitated toward this one. It is both dignified and down-to-earth with a melody that wears well with repeated singing. For those who care about such things, I’ll make a few musical observations: The meter is very fluid. I finally decided on 3/4, but the pulse actually changes throughout. For example, I could have easily notated the first six beats in three measures of 2/4. Something I like about the melody is that the B at the end of the first and fifth measure–the leading tone–leaves you waiting for resolution until the high C at the pickup to measure 9. Musical geekery, I know, but these are the details that make a melody tick.
1. God of knowledge, all-consuming,
source of wisdom’s flowing stream,
shadowed depths from you hide nothing,
every dormant secret seen.
By your hand, which holds all mystery,
bid me stand when answers flee;
for in soaring breakers swelling,
even there you know my need.
2. Were the fathoms of your nature
fully seen by mortal eye,
tongue would falter, mind would waver
to describe such radiant light.
Here on earth we see mere shadows
of the beauty soon fulfilled,
but what stands beyond our vision
will in glory be revealed.
3. Unseen God, you gave us vision
when in darkness we despaired.
As we fell for lesser wisdom,
mercy came our sin to bear.
What a gracious, kind unveiling!
Leaving glory, crown, and throne,
God of knowledge, all-consuming,
made himself to sinners known.
4. When my final breath is taken
and the part is seen in whole,
fleeting doubts shall be forsaken
as my eager eyes behold
God enthroned and Christ arisen,
advocating for his own.
Lord from whom no soul is hidden,
hide me safely in your Son.