Hymn text by John Fellows, Unknown-1783. View the full text of this hymn.

This hymn leads out with a description of a Second Coming-type Christ, leading His people into Zion. It’s a jubilant prospect, and the second verse leads us into one of the first steps we take to join Him in the kingdom:

As an emblem of thy passion

And thy vict’ry o’er the grave

We, who know thy great salvation

Are baptized beneath the wave. 

The scripture reference for this hymn comes from Romans 6, where Paul explains the symbolism of baptism and how it ties us to Christ.

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life” (verse 4).

Verse 5 and 6 introduce a great analogy of giving up our sins into the earth, much like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies in Alma 24 who buried their swords rather than sin against God after their conversion. We bury our sins in the hope that our sacrifice will yield up better fruit.

“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that our body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:5-6).

Sometimes giving up a sin is hard. I don’t know who first introduced the concept of a “pet sin,” but it’s my favorite gospel analogy. I think of it every time I read or hear a scriptural plea for change. We could give up our own base desires and selfishness and have God make something beautiful of our lives. Instead we cling to our favorite vices and cuddle them and stroke them and feed them the best parts of ourselves until we are hollowed out with desire, dissatisfaction and the cold fear of how the world perceives us.

This is where our hymn comes in again, leading us back to the important stuff:

Fearless of the world’s despising

We the ancient path pursue

Buried with the Lord and rising

To a life divinely new.

Just in time for a new year, we can bury our old selves and pet sins and rise up again, new and ready to take steps for positive change.

How are you doing that this year?

 

 

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