Monday, March 20, 2006

“Grace, All-conquering and charming”


Jesse Mercer could be described as the leading Baptist in Georgia in the first half of the 19th century. He served as pastor, editor of the state paper, and denominational statesman championing the formation of schools and a mission board. Anthony Chute has written a fine overview of Mercer’s work in A Piety Above the Common Standard. You can see my review of Chute’s book here.

My point here, however, is to highlight his work in poetry, writing and compiling hymns. Mercer produced a popular compilation of American and British hymns entitled The Cluster of Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns, and Sacred Poems. The following hymn is #5 in the cluster, and I have recorded (from when I borrowed a copy of the Cluster) that Mercer was the author of this hymn.

“Grace, All-conquering and charming”

Legion was my name by nature,
Satan rag’d within my breast;
Never misery was greater,
Never sinner more posses’d.
Mischievous to all around me,
To myself the greatest foe;
Thus I was, when Jesus found me,
Filled with madness, sin, and woe.

Yet in this forlorn condition,
When he came to set me free,
I reply’d to my Physician,
“What have I to do with thee?”
But he would not be prevented,
Rescued me against my will;
Had he staid till I’d consented,
I had been a captive still.

6 comments:

slmayes said...

Thanks for this review. I hope to be able to read this book one day. Unless I am mistaken, I went to Beeson Divinity School with the author. We knew him as Tony. If this is the same guy, I remember him as an exemplary servant of Christ with a humble spirit. Do you have any info about his background?

slmayes said...

On a personal note, I noted that you were at Union University in the early 90's as a student. Do you know a student named Russ Quinn who was also a student there at about the same time? He also attended Beeson Divinity School with me.

Ray Van Neste said...

Right on both points! This is Tony. WE met when he came up to Trinity to do his PhD. And yes, Russ was one of my roommates. Small world!

slmayes said...

It is a small world. Would you happen to know where Russ is now? The last time I heard from him he was at FBC Gardendale just north of Birmingham, AL.

Ray Van Neste said...

He is doing a PhD at Southern and serving at Highview in Louisville.

slmayes said...

Thanks. I hope to be able to make contact with him.