The Unknown Hymn


Pastor Cornelius R. Stam



“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out…” (Matt.26:30).

Often have we wondered what might have been the words of that sacred hymn, but God has seen fit to keep this from us for the present.

We have in our Bibles many great poetic expressions: the Song of Moses, the beautiful Magnificat, all the Psalms and many other poems, but the hymn that our Lord and His eleven apostles sang that night before leaving the Upper Room was evidently a well-known song, in which they could all join. We can almost imagine our Lord saying, “Before we leave, let’s sing…”.

We will not know the words of that hallowed hymn until we reach heaven, but we do know this: Our Lord and His apostles did not leave the Upper Room weeping and mourning. Though His soul had been deeply troubled as He approached the dreadful hour of His suffering and death, He could say: “What shall I say? Father save Me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27). Though deeply saddened by Judas’ base betrayal, “having loved His own…He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1), and His words of comfort and cheer during these last hours are now crowned with the singing of a hymn–a hymn, a song of praise.

Though the words of that hymn are as yet unknown to us, the lesson of its singing should not be lost. If the Upper Room scene closed with the singing of a hymn, surely we may be given the grace to sing God’s praise in the midst of our lesser trials. And if our Lord, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb.12:2), surely our burdens may — and should — be lightened through the knowledge that by His grace, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17).