O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day, happy day, when
Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when
Jesus washed my sins away.
O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.
‘Tis done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.
Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.
High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.
Dum vivimus vivamus: “while we live let us live” was the motto for Philip Doddridge the author of the hymn Oh Happy Day. He was the youngest of the twenty children his mother and father had had. Born on June 26, 1702 in London, England Philip Doddridge lived until 1751. His mother was called Monica Doddridge and she had been through the pain of labour no less than 20 times. 18 of her children had died in infancy. Phillip was delivered as though stillborn, and so the midwife set him aside to attend to his mother. And then the baby cried out. Grief turned to happiness in the Doddridge home that day . At that moment Monica determined that young Philip’s life had been saved for a purpose. She spent the next few years doing her best to teach her frail son the Scriptures.
Philip later became a pastor, and a man of great scholarship. Doddridge was also a friend of Isaac Watts, and described himself as one of several lamps “kindled at Watts’s torch.” Philips died on October 26, 1751 at the age of 49, leaving a devoted wife and four children. His widow lived on till 1790, and the last daughter died in 1811.
In his life, Doddridge grew in grace and in deeper piety and in a more fervent prayer life every year, and late in life he wrote: “Last Lord’s Day was our Sacrament Sunday . . . my joy at that ordinance was so great that I could not well contain it. I had much ado to forbear telling all about me what a divine flame I felt in my soul”.
His last sermon was preached from the text, “Whether we live we live unto the Lord, and whether we die we die unto the Lord” (Romans 14. 8). He caught a cold towards the end of 1751 and developed lung trouble which others have called – tuberculosis. It persisted for a while and his friends longed and prayed for his recovery but it was not to be.
Philip Doddridge had entered pastoral ministry at the age of 19, and at the urging of Isaac Watts, he also opened a theological school for training young pastors. Philip developed friendships with several great preachers and evangelist of that day. The most noted friend he had was writer, Dr. Isaac Watts. Isaac also became a great author and hymn writer himself. In 1736, both universities at Aberdeen gave Doddridge the Doctor of Divinity degree. After receiving these degrees, he was called upon for conferences, revivals and conventions and received loads of mail. It interfered with his pastoring and academic teaching at the academy. During the years he taught there, he trained about 150 young men to serve Christ. In addition he wrote about 370 hymns. Several of these are still in use. It was Pastor Doddridge’s practice, after he had finished his sermon preparation, to write a hymn to suit the theme. Among the songs he has given us:
He tried to pastor his church, teach at the academy and handle all the other request; but in 1751 Philip’s health began to fail. He decided to get away from the stress and pressure and sailed to Lisbon on September 30th, for some much needed rest. His health continued to fail, and he died on October 26, less than a month after he arrived in Lisbon. He wrote this great hymn “ O Happy Day,” and left a living testimony.
The music composer is unknown. The chorus was written by Edward F. Rimbault. Edward was born in 1816 in England; Edward was an organist and author.
Philip Doddridge’s hymn, O Happy Day, was written to accompany one of his sermons, and first appeared in 1755. (The refrain was added later.) His original title was “Rejoicing in our Covenant Engagements to God,” referring to the covenant the Israelites made with the Lord in II Chron. 15:12, 15. Dodderidge obviously applied this to the bond that is formed between the believer and Christ, at conversion.
Couple of comments about the hymn.
Oh happy day that fixed my choice: The author is reflecting back upon the most important day in every Christian’s life – the day that our sins were washed away. Remembering back upon that day should bring us happiness because we are reminded of what we were without God, and we now know the blessings we have because we are part of His family.
Well may this glowing heart rejoice, And tell its raptures all abroad. His cry is thatas his soul glows with delight, he should go everywhere around the world to speak of the goodness of the Lord. He who has been saved much will not keep silent but will shout it out aloud.
Now rest my long divided heart on this blissful centre rest. Because my heart is so often divided, I need the Lord to unite it somehow so that I might worship him with nothing held back. That is the situation many of us face right now. Our hearts are fragmented because we are pulled in so many directions at once. The world around us is no help. How hard it is to focus on the treasures of life! How easy to mistake the trinkets for treasures!
‘Tis done! the great transaction’s done: I am my Lord’s, and he is mine: He drew me, and I follow’d on, Charm’d to confess the voice divine. All the sheep of Christ who have been redeemed by his power, become his by their own willing and cheerful surrender of themselves to him. We would not belong to another even if we wanted to; nor would we wish to belong to ourselves if we could; nor, I trust, do we want any part of ourselves to be our own property. Judge for yourself whether this is true of you or not. In that day when I surrendered my soul to my Saviour, I gave him my body, my soul, my spirit; I gave him all I had, and all I shall have for time and for eternity. I gave him all my talents, my powers, my faculties, my eyes, my ears, my limbs, my emotions, my judgment, my whole manhood, and all that could come of it, whatever fresh capacity or new capability I may be endowed with. Were I at this good hour to change the note of gladness for one of sadness, it should be to wail out my penitent confession of the times and circumstances in which I have failed to observe the strict and unwavering allegiance I owe to my Lord. So far from regretting, I would fain renew my vows and make them over again.
High heaven that heard that solemn vow, That vow renewed shall daily hear. Yes I have opened my mouth unto the Lord and I cannot go back even if it means sacrificing the best thing that I love as the case with Jephtha when The Spirit of the Lord came upon him to equip him for the task of delivering Israel from the Ammonites. (Judges 11:35).
If there are difficulties on the road, we must not turn back, but go through them With the Lord. If the Lord requires us to go through a brick wall, He will make a hole in it. He will ensure a soft landing. He will make us equal to the occasion. If there is something you must do, do it at once. Do not argue or hesitate. If you have opened your mouth unto the Lord, you must not go back, and that is the end of the matter. Is it too costly? Think of how costly your salvation was to the Lord.
And this is how it sounds in Chinese