The altar and vision
As we went through the documents of the School’s history, we discovered a copy of a music manuscript.
CGST School Hymn
Lyrics by Philip Teng 滕近辉词
Composer Philip Teng Yeung Pak-Lun 杨伯伦曲
Called to follow Him, many students become disciples
Offering wholly to be chiseled, to be sanctified
To understand the holy words, to learn love, to bear the cross and preach
To exhort, to do His work, to be compassionate for His will
Be equipped, sharpen the tools, strive to scale the higher grounds of faith
Less of self, more of Him, learn and refine on the pilgrimage
Live after dying, strong when weak, how true and dynamic the Spirit’s law
Sword is drawn, arrow is bowed, sacrificing for the victory
Uphold the faith, stay true to the vision
The pulse of the time felt in the heart
Prophetic alertness, vigilant watching
Altar’s holy fire forever burning
蒙天召 跟随主 莘莘学子作门徒
献身心 修品性 除瑕洁疵得成圣
悟圣言 学爱心 背起十架传福音
励心志 尽天职 悲天悯人成神旨
勤装备 利工器 力攀信峰酬壮志
学捨己 效圣形 切磋琢磨奔灵程
死后生 弱而强 圣灵奇律何真栩
刀出鞘 箭上弦 成仁取义庆凯旋
Our school hymn (moderato, B-flat major, 4/4) illustrates each student that is being equipped at CGST. The 136 Chinese characters in three sections have already plainly depict the journey of one committed to serve the Lord.
The first verse says that as Christ ’s disciple, one must progressively go through life transformation and renewal: from being called to being sanctified, from witnessing the gospel to obeying God’s commands. Such is the indispensable foundation of the Western church’s traditional divinity training.
The second verse focuses on the four keys to this life-discipline: strive for the best and trust in faith are compatible; imitating Christ is in fact learning to surrender self; the Holy Spirit’s works overturn man’s life and death, strength and weakness; victory in spiritual warfare is attained through sacrifice.
The chorus demonstrates the post-training aspiration, and perhaps the School’s motto may be originated from this school hymn. In early 2014 we had a Thanksgiving Memorial Service in memory of CGST Honorary President Rev Philip Teng, and we made bookmarks with those 32 characters printed on them which were given out as memento.
Our school hymn were also inscribed by both the biblical truth and insights of doctrinal theology. ‘Being called’ starts with following Christ and is not limited to full-time ministry— this is also the reflection of the reformation movements, and remains an apt reminder for Chinese theological education.1 Neither do the Holy Spirit’s wonders point at miracles and signs but the ‘twofold grace of God’ in life’s justification and sanctification. The essence of the Reformed tradition lies not in ‘double predestination’, and the Chinese churches still need to comprehend the detailed teaching on ‘Christian life’ in the twenty-odd chapters of Book Three of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.2
However, to me, most remarkable is Rev Teng’s understanding of ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ in the Bible. ‘Prophetic alertness’ emphasizes that the core of this office is ‘vigilant watching.’ ‘Knowing the unknown’ is merely folk religion impulse.3 What we need to offer on the altar is the ‘living sacrifice’ of our lives. ‘To obey and to heed’ is the real ‘burnt offering’ acceptable to God.4
The school hymn was written before the advent of the School’s Tenth Anniversary, but was never sung in any of the CGST ceremonies before. We, therefore, do not formally have an official anthem. Today, recollecting the hopes and encouragement of Rev Philip Teng, the School’s first President (1974-89), we realize that such is also our prayers and aspiration for these forty years.
1. Mark Labberton, Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2014), Ch. 3 ‘The Primary Call’, pp.41-49.
2. Daniel Lee, Total Grace and Filial Gratitude [in Chinese] (Hong Kong: Christian Communications Ltd, 2016), Ch. 5 ‘Righteousness and Sanctification’, pp.79-92.
3. The LORD promised Moses to raise up in Israel a ‘Prophet’ so He would speak the LORD’s words to the people as commanded (Deut 18:18); in the preceding passage soothsaying and interpreting omens were abominations of the Canaanites that the LORD hated (Deuteronomy18:9-14).
4. Romans 12:1-2; 1 Samuel 15:22; Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17.