Behind The Hymn: Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted feat. Holly McWilliams

[soundcloud url="" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /] My family and I have been following, for a few years now, pastor and theologian Voddie Baucham. His teachings on family and marriage have really shaped much of my thinking on those two areas particularly. It was very interesting that when we moved from Dallas we landed in Spring, because that is where Voddie's church is, Grace Family Baptist. We decided to visit a few times while looking for a solid church. His teaching was great and we loved the emphasis on the family but in the end it was a little drive, even being in Spring, and we felt like Woodlands Point was a better fit for our family. If you have visited Grace Family you know that they love them some hymns. And not as in let’s sing three stanzas, but as in let’s sing all six stanzas of every hymn. To be honest the very first time I experienced these hymns at their church I was frustrated, because I did not know 85% of what I was singing. Hymns are so poetic and the language can be older so it takes a while to get used to it. What it does though, is force you to think hard about what you are singing and to actually know the songs. But my initial reaction was 'this is frustrating.' Wouldn't it be easier to play four chords and repeat a catchy melody eighteen times?

It's funny to me, because now I see how a year ago, I was so prideful and arrogant, in this area of my life. God tends to move me through seasons like this. So when I started to make the turn into really loving hymns, I went to Grace Family Baptist website, and they have a whole section devoted to the songs they sing at their church. Voddie wrote a paragraph there, where he talks about the rich history of hymns, and he mentioned that one of the hymns he loved the most was Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted. Smitten? What does that even mean, right? I was interested. So I looked it up and the words were so rich. It was written in 1804 by Thomas Kelly and it’s was all about Jesus and his death on the cross. I was floored. I sat down and started working through making those stanzas into verses. As I was thinking through the flow of what I was arranging it seemed clear there was no climax. My arrangement needed a place for my heart to explode in praise. The language of the title of this hymn comes from Isaiah 53 and its prophesies about Jesus on the cross. So I wanted to pull other language from that chapter into a new chorus. That's how the chorus developed.

"Hallelujah, by his stripes we are healed, Hallelujah, God's righteousness revealed, Hallelujah, He was crushed to bring us peace, Hallelujah, sin's final offering,"

Holly McWilliamsI decided to ask our friend from the Village Church, Holly McWilliams, to be featured on this hymn and I think she has done a great job! She even collaborated on the melody of the chorus and we love it. Holly has been a faithful member of the Village Church and sang on their most recent live album, Look and See, as well as just releasing her first single, Joy Will Come, on iTunes. Go and check it out. She is very talented.

Our hope is that this hymn brings the meaning of the cross to light, and when I get sorrowful about waiting on Guatemala to change its adoption laws, it is encouraging for me to go back to the cross. Because of the cross we know that God is for us. We know that if he did that, then…

'how will he not graciously give us all things?'

like Romans 8 says. Let us savor and soak up the message of this hymn. It is the heart of the gospel itself.