Matt Merker’s “He Will Hold Me Fast” has quickly become a beloved hymn of Christ’s church. It’s so encouraging, so soothing, so hope-building. And because of Matt’s exceptional writing, it’s so Christ-filled.
The first two stanzas of the song were written by Ada Habershon, a friend of Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, Ira Sankey, and R. A. Torrey, and a hymn writer in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Matt wrote a gorgeous tune for Habershon’s text and added a third verse. He tells the backstory of the song here.
He packs so much theology into such a small space
I love the song, and Killian Hill Baptist Church sings it like a spiritual security blanket. We can’t get enough of it. But what I especially enjoy is how Matt took a beautiful text about the Christian experience and undergirded it with stout doctrine about Christ. Matt’s final stanza is one of my favorite stanzas in modern hymnody. He packs so much theology into such a small space, and he does it so naturally and artfully. Take a look:
- “For my life He bled and died” teaches the vicarious atonement.
- “Justice has been satisfied” teaches the doctrine of propitiation.
- “Raised with Him to endless life” teaches of Christ’s resurrection, our union with Him, and (therefore) our resurrection and immortality.
- “Till our faith is turned to sight” turns our view to the certainty of Christ’s return, the triumph of our glorification, and eternity with our Lord.
THAT is doctrinal hymnody. And again, it’s done with such artistry that it doesn’t feel like we’re singing a dry doctrinal statement. The song is both theological and warm, and best of all, it is rooted in the person and work of Christ.