These lyrics are a re-wording of a hymn by Isaac Watts. Regrettably, it is under copyright by the Jubilate Group, administered by Hope Publishing Company, and they do not grant permission to print their revised text online. The text can be found in the liner notes of the hard copy of The Glad Sound. Its original source was found in hymn #490 of The Worshiping Church.
Words: Isaac Watts, 1709; rev. by The Jubilate Group
©1982 The Jubilate Group (Admin. Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188) (ASCAP)
Music: Zac Hicks, 2004
©2009 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)
Video Tutorial: How to Play “What Offering Shall We Give?”
“What Offering Shall We Give” is track six in our old hymns new music project. It was a hymn I discovered a few years ago, right on the heels of having read Leviticus. Who would have thought that a worship song would be inspired by that book? This hymn by Isaac Watts is littered with themes of the sacrificial cult of ancient Israelite worship, yet viewed through the lens of Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice (in that regard, the hymn is just as much a reflection on the book of Hebrews). The line that stood out to me is one that could easily pass us by unless we’ve been careful readers of the Old Testament:
In faith I lay my hand
Upon His head divine
While as a penitent I stand
And there confess my sin
For many instances of sacrifice in the Old Testament, the repentant sinner would lay his or her hand on the animal to be sacrificed as a symbol of placing ones sins on the innocent animal. The technical term for this is “imputation”—regarding something/someone else as having the attributes of oneself (in this case, one’s guilt). Watts grabs this image and transfers it to the Christian’s relationship to Jesus. It stirs powerful emotions in me as I imagine laying my hand upon the sacred head of Christ, imputing my sinfulness on Him as He walks as a Lamb to the slaughter. What offering can I give that would be a worthy response to so great a salvation?