To understand the poem, you need to know that the key phrase, Jehovah Tsidkenu, is Hebrew for "The Lord Our Righteousness". It refers to how, through Jesus, God credits His people with righteousness, a righteousness they did not earn or deserve.
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,If you'd like to try singing this poem, it can be sung to the tune Gordon, which is most famously sung to "My Jesus I Love Thee".
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah´s wild measure and John´s simple page;
But e´en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne´er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!
Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This "watchword" shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life´s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.