I remember it clearly. My wife and I were dating at the time and we went to a wedding during the summer of 2010 at our church in South Carolina. The wedding of Chad and Courtney Phelps.
It was a beautiful ceremony. The flowers were fragrant, the weather perfect. One of the most memorable weddings I have been to. The thing I remember the most however was the music.
When brides walk down the aisle, one can think of so many songs or pieces that could be appropriate or even simply suffice. Not for this wedding, no. Chad and Courtney selected a song that perfectly modeled the image of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church, they chose Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness.
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds in these array’d
With joy shall I lift up my head.
As the choir sang the beautiful words, I couldn’t help but feel how perfect that moment in time was. It was the song that they marked the beginning of their new life together and His Blood and Righteousness was still lifted up at their funeral, that day in August.
And now, here in 2014, just over a year after their home going I am still struck with how beautiful that memory of their wedding is.
I did a little digging and uncovered the full text of Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness. Hymnals don’t do this hymn justice (because they can’t), there are well over 20 stanzas, (Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1740, The Believer’s Triumph, 177-181) most of which are not sung commonly. This is the 12th and what I believe Chad and Courtney are singing now:
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 liv’d, hath died for me.”
The entire hymn can be read on the link above but here are the last 3 and some of my new found favorites. Stanzas 22-24:
Ah give me now, all-gracious Lord,
With power to speak thy quick’ning word,
That all, who to thy wounds will flee
May find eternal life in thee.
Thou God of power, thou God of love,
Let the whole world thy mercy prove:
Now let thy word o’er all prevail:
Now take the spoils of death, and hell.
O let the dead now hear thy voice,
Now bid thy banish’d ones rejoice,
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesu[s], thy blood and righteousness!
This piano arrangement is in honor of their memory. It will be featured in a collection published by Majesty Music later this fall.