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One of the most famous hymns in Nigeria, only God knows what went on in the mind and life of William Hunter when he penned the lyrics of this great song. Whatever the case, praise the Lord, Jesus heals. The wordings of this song are powerful and still carries the healing power of Jesus.
Son of John Hunter, he was born in Ireland, May 26, 1811. He moved to America in 1817, and entered Madison College in 1830. In 1855 he was appointed Professor of Hebrew in Alleghany College: and subsequently Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Ohio.
We know little else of his life, but his words in “The Great Physician”, one of 125 hymns he wrote, tell us he must have known his spiritual condition needed something. The hymn’s first words tell us he had been depressed but lifted by the Divine Healer. Two of the other seven verses (two and six), if indeed they are autobiographical, reveal he’d been healed from his soul’s disease – sin.
He doesn’t stop there, however, but in the remaining verses he invites others so restored to join in the devotion and ultimate reward this rescue prompts. He sounds balanced — someone who most likely had seen difficulties as a child, but came to know a better life, articulating as an adult God’s hand in his life. We don’t know, but it must be true that significant people – perhaps his parents or other relatives – had been believers too, modeling lives of faith overcoming struggle.
Hunter found his cure was sweet, so much so that he has us sing it over and over again. But, make no mistake, Hunter says with his poetry. You and I must admit we’re sick, in order to savor this unique type of therapy.
Maybe it was easier for folks in the 19th Century, when spiritual revival was in vogue. ‘Sin’, ‘forgiven’, and ‘Jesus’ weren’t just punch lines then, Hunter’s hymn reminds us. It’s easy to think old hymns are square, and not really relevant some 160 years later. But, I’m no more immune to disease today than William Hunter was. Providentially, I’m not immune to Him either. How about you?
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN NOW IS HERE
(Onisegun nla wa nihin)
1. The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus.Refrain:
Sweetest note in seraph song,
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung,
Jesus, blessed Jesus.
2. Your many sins are all forgiv’n,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus;
Go on your way in peace to heav’n,
And wear a crown with Jesus.
3. All glory to the dying Lamb!
I now believe in Jesus;
I love the blessed Savior’s name,
I love the name of Jesus.
4. His name dispels my guilt and fear,
No other name but Jesus;
Oh, how my soul delights to hear
The charming name of Jesus.
5. And when to that bright world above,
We rise to see our Jesus,
We’ll sing around the throne of love
His name, the name of Jesus