I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene
And I wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.
How marvelous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be.
How marvelous, how wonderful
Is my Savior’s love for me.
For me it was in the garden He prayed,
“Not my will, but thine”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calv’ry,
And suffered and died alone.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy thro’ the ages,
To sing of His love for me.
I really could not find any background on the writing of this hymn, but I did find a few things about the author, Charles Gabriel. First of all, this old hymn was written by Charles H. Gabriel in 1905. Growing up on an Iowa farm, he taught himself to play the family’s reed organ. He began teaching singing in schools by the age of 16 and soon became known as a teacher and composer. He served as the music director of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in San Francisco in 1890-1892. He is known as the most prolific and popular gospel song composer during the height of the Billy Sunday – Homer Rodeheaver evangelistic crusades. He edited more than forty hymnals and helped publish more than eight thousand gospel songs during his lifetime. In 1912, Gabriel joined the Rodeheaver-Hall-Mack Company as its editor and maintained this position until his death in 1932. He often wrote using the pseudonym of Charlotte G. Homer. This hymn first appeared in 1905. ” Many of his other hymns have become familiar to us, such as “Only a Step,” “He Lifted Me,” “Send the Light,” “O That Will Be Glory,” “More Like the Master,” “I Will Not Forget Thee,” “God Is Calling the Prodigal,” and “The Gates Swing Outward Never.” He composed tunes for the songs “Harvest Time,” “Higher Ground,” “Only In Thee,” “An Evening Prayer,” “Jesus, Rose of Sharon,” and “The Way of the Cross Leads Home.” And he wrote the text for “All Things Are Ready” (or “Come to the Feast”). Nothing is known of the circumstances of the origin of “I Stand Amazed.”
Those of us who have been redeemed can join in singing of our amazement that Christ would love us enough to die for us. It is amazing that he would take our sins and our sorrows and make them his very own. The hymn concludes with a triumphant final verse that reminds us of the day when we shall sing His praises around His throne in heaven. How marvelous and wonderful that will be.
Most recently, this hymn has been popularised by Bob Fitts, Tomlin and the Gaither Homeconing especially the version in Tent Homecoming. I’ve just been blown away at the passionate expresison of praise and thanks that it articulates thru the deeply detailed lyrics!
The song mentions the many expressions of Christ’s love for us.
I. Stanza 1 says that He was “Jesus the Nazarene”
“I stand amazed in the presence Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.”
First it is amazing. In my mother tongue Tonga “chilagambya”. In my wife’s Luhya dialect “Khuchenya” I cannot just take it in and believe it that Christ the Nazareen was doing all this for me. Lord help me understand it. A “Nazarene” was an inhabitant of Nazareth, so this immediately implies His leaving heaven and coming to earth as a human being: Jn. 1.1, 14; Phil. 2.5-8. That Jesus was a Nazarene is identified as the subject of prophecy: Matt. 2.23; however, no specific prophecy of this nature is found in the Old Testament (note–it has nothing to do with being a Nazirite; cf. Judg. 13.5). Some suggest that the root of the name “Nazareth” is branch and that this has reference to the prophecies which call the Messiah “the branch”: Isa. 11.1, Jer. 23.5, Zech. 6.12. Others suggest that it may have reference to the fact that the Messiah was to be despised and rejected in that people would say, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”: Isa. 53.3, Jn. 1.46. In any event, this Nazarene certainly did love us: 1 Jn. 3.16. And it is amazing love because He loved us even while we were yet sinners, condemned and unclean: Rom. 5.8
II. Stanza 2 says that He agonized in the garden for us
“For me it was in the garden He prayed, ‘Not My will, but Thine;’
He had no tears for His own grief’s, But sweat-drops of blood for mine.”
It was for us in the garden of Gethsemane that He prayed, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” or “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done”: Matt. 26.39, Lk. 22.42. Some hymn books omit this stanza completely and some change it to, “He cried with tears in His sorrow.” Apparently Sheppard and Stevens felt that He did have tears for His own grief’s or sorrows based on Heb. 5.7. However, through the years that I sang the song in its original version, I always thought that this meant simply that His suffering, which included the agonizing in the garden, was not for any grief’s brought about by sin on His part but that all His tears and crying were the result of our sins, the just suffering for the unjust: 1 Pet. 3.18. The last line of this stanza might be changed to “But sweat-drops AS blood for mine” (sweat here is not a verb but adjective describing drops which are a second object of the verb had). While I am not sure that the change of the previous line by Shepard and Stevens was necessary, I do believe that this change is warranted based on what the scriptures actually say, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22.44; KJV–”And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood”). I understand the statement to mean that all of His suffering was for us, on account of our sin: 1 Pet. 4.1
III. Stanza 3 says that He had sorrows for us
“In pity angels beheld Him, And came from the world of light
To comfort Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night.”
The agony of Jesus in the garden was not the end, but in fact the beginning of His sorrows, so an angel appeared from heaven, strengthening Him not only during the agony of the garden but undoubtedly for the rest of His tribulations as well: Lk. 22.43. And certainly Jesus did experience many sorrows for us: Isa. 53.4-9. And these sorrows included that very same night the unjust trial that He underwent, with all the cruel mocking: Matt. 26.47-69
IV. Stanza 4 says that He died for our sins
“He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary, And suffered, and died alone.”
He took our sins and made them as though they were His very own: 2 Cor. 5.21, 1 Pet. 2.24. Thus, He bore the burden to Calvary, which is the Latin name of the place Golgotha, the Skull, the place where Jesus died for us: Lk. 23.33, Jn. 19.17-18, 1 Cor. 15.3. There He suffered and died alone. The statement that He died alone is undoubtedly occasioned by His cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” in Mt. 27.46 (Mk. 15.34). Theologians and even brethren have debated the precise meaning and application of this phrase for years, but the usual explanation is that because Jesus was bearing our sins, it was necessary for God to turn away from Him at that time and let Him die alone. That is how much God hates sin. He will punish it even if it is upon His own beloved son and He punished Christ for us. God bruised God that we might be saved.
V. Stanza 5 says that He makes possible the hope of glory
“When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy through the ages To sing of His love for me.”
“Glory” here refers to being in the very presence of God Himself: Psa. 73.24, Col. 1.27. When we stand in glory with the ransomed, then at last His face we shall see, for when He comes we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-2. And at that time, we can join with the redeemed of all ages to sing of His love for us eternally: Rev. 5.8-14
The chorus concludes by remarking how marvellous and wonderful Christ’s love for us is.
“How marvelous! how wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful Is my Savior’s love for me!”
The whole song is filled with joyful praise for the suffering and sacrifice that Jesus was willing to undergo so that we might have salvation and the hope of heaven. We often use this song to prepare our minds for partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and it is a good one for that purpose. But I can sing the song anytime, and should sing it often, to remind myself that in the presence of Him who loved me and gave Himself for me, “I Stand Amazed.”