Posted by: rcottrill | August 18, 2017

I Want to See My Saviour First of All

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: John Willard Peterson (b. Nov. 1, 1921; d. Sept. 20, 2006)
Music: John Willard Peterson

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Peterson)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Peterson)
Hymnary.org

Note: John Peterson was the preeminent gospel song writer of the mid-twentieth century. His many songs, such as It Took a Miracle, Surely Goodness and Mercy, Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul, and It’s Not An Easy Road, and his many choir cantatas, have been used by evangelical churches all over the world.

Setting the right priorities in life seems to be a concern for many. That’s clear from the flood of books and web articles dealing with the subject. Priorities come into play in life’s big decisions, but also in our daily tasks. The man who’s embarrassed to find he’s painted himself into a corner failed to plan wisely which part of the floor to paint first.

There are some ways to establish priorities that are not advisable. One is to respond to everything that comes up the moment it comes up. But bouncing from one thing to another in this way can lead to a disordered and stressful existence. And it means we’re being victimized by what someone has called the tyranny of the urgent, and in the process we may be missing what is most important.

Another technique is to pick the easiest or most enjoyable task to do first and leave the more difficult or unpleasant until later. Admittedly there can be some benefit to this. It gets us moving. Writers use this technique when they suffer from writer’s block. An article is urgently needed, but they can’t think of what to write, or how to start. Experienced authors tell them to write anything–a letter to a friend, a grocery list, anything. Get the creative juices flowing. Then go back to the article.

But the danger of leaving difficult or less enjoyable tasks until later is that “later” may never come. Like tomorrow, it’s always being pushed off into the future. In the extreme, an opportunity may be lost forever, or the strength to do what we need to do may trickle away, having been expended on lesser things.

As to the spiritual priorities of the believer, Ecclesiastes reminds us that setting those should start early in life. This will begin as the task of parents (Prov. 22:6), training the child to:

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecc. 12:1).

The Lord Jesus said we are to:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the things of life that tend to worry us so much] shall be added to you….Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matt. 6:32-33).

And Paul expressed his priority this way:

“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14)–a way of saying that he wanted to finish well.

And let’s project our thoughts into the future. What will be our priority when we get to heaven? We often speak of the beauty of heaven, and the fact that we will have new resurrection bodies that won’t get sick or wear out. But what’s heaven’s priority? Surely it is being with the Lord, knowing Him, and honouring Him. When John received his revelations about the future, he was summoned to heaven, and he tells us what he saw first:

“Behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:1-2).

Fanny Crosby wrote a song in 1891 about her priority on reaching heaven. One stanza says,

Through the gates to the city
In a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages
I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Saviour first of all.

About half a century later John Peterson expressed that in his own way.

1) In heaven there are many things I’m longing so to see,
Its beauties surely will my soul enthrall;
But when I’m ushered to the realms of blest eternity,
I want to see my Saviour first of all!

I want to see my Saviour first of all,
Before on any others I would call;
And then for countless days
On His dear face I’ll gaze,
I want to see my Saviour first of all.

Both of these saints of God–who have meant so much to the church with their music ministry–are now experiencing that fellowship with the Lord they to which they looked forward so ardently.

Questions:
1) What are your priorities for today?

2) What are your priorities for your life as a whole?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Peterson)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Peterson)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 16, 2017

Jesus, the Name High Over All

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Gräfenberg, by Johann Crüger (b. Apr. 9, 1598; d. Feb. 23, 1662)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley born, converted)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Charles was the hymn writing brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. He wrote more than six thousand hymns, with quite a few still in use. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and many more, came from his pen. There were actually twenty-two stanzas of the present hymn originally. Most hymnals seem to use only six or eight.

It has been the traditional call of an officer of the court since the Middle Ages. “Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honourable Judge So-and-So are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now in session.” The twice repeated “Oyez” is not a form of “Oh ye.” It means, “Hear! Listen!” It’s a command for silence and the attention of those present.

Standing before the court may be a guilty individual whose crime has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. “Guilty as charged!” No clever lawyer has been able to wipe away the stain on his record. The evidence has shown clearly that he committed the crime, and now the judge will pronounce the sentence.

On the other hand, the one before the court may be there to appeal his innocence. There has been an accusation made, but the individual did not do what is claimed. Overwhelming evidence in his favour has been presented. In that case, the judge will support the rights of the accused and rule quite differently. “Not guilty!” The person is free to go his way with no charge against his record.

There is a real sense in which, when a pastor or missionary preaches a sermon, they are calling, “Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before God, the Judge of all, are admonished to draw near and give their attention.” Many times the Bible calls for silence before a holy God. For example:

“The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20).

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps. 46:10).

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord God” (Zeph. 1:7).

We are to give heed to His Word when it’s proclaimed. It may be a word of comfort and assurance for those have put their faith in Christ. Their sins are forgiven, and they stand guiltless before the Lord (Jn. 5:24). Or, it may be a sharp word of condemnation for those who have sins charged against them in the court of heaven (Rom. 3:23). In either case, “Oyez! Oyez!” Listen to what God says.

On August 6th, 1774, Charles Wesley was preaching at a church in Cornwall, England. Even though we consider him a hymn writer, he did more than that. On this particular occasion Charles was preaching, and he spoke boldly about the sins that had corrupted the community. He condemned the drunken revels of the people, urging them to repent and put their faith in Christ.

But these were rough times. Suddenly a man stood and began to curse and swear, and contradict the message from God’s Word. Wesley was quite used to people trying to disrupt the meetings. He sternly exclaimed, “Who is he that pleads for the devil?” And he proceeded to expose the blasphemer’s sins with such spiritual power that the man ran from the church.

Clearly there are times when the “soft answer [that] turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1) is needed. But other times, as John the Baptist (Lk. 3:7-8), the Lord Jesus (Jn. 8:44), and Peter (Acts 8:20-21) illustrate, the strong, direct approach is called for.

After the man had gone, Wesley offered a prayer for him. And it was this incident that inspired him to write the hymn Jesus, the Name High Over All.

CH-1) Jesus! the name high over all,
In hell or earth or sky;
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

CH-2) Jesus! the name to sinners dear,
The name to sinners giv’n;
It scatters all their guilty fear,
It turns their hell to heav’n.

CH-3) Jesus! the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan’s head;
Power to strengthless souls it speaks,
And life into the dead.

CH-6) Thee I shall constantly proclaim,
Though earth and hell oppose;
Bold to confess Thy glorious name
Before a world of foes.

Questions:
1) How did you handle someone who angrily differed with you about your faith?

2) What have you learned from this post, or others on the Wordwise Hymns site?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley born, converted)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 14, 2017

If That Isn’t Love

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Joyce Reba Luttrell (“Dottie”) Rambo (b. Mar. 2, 1934; d. May 11, 2018)
Music: Joyce Reba Luttrell (“Dottie”) Rambo

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Dottie Rambo)
The Cyber Hymnal (Dottie Rambo)
Hymnary.org

Note: Dottie Rambo wrote more than 2,500 gospel songs. We Shall Behold Him is another of hers. She died as a result of injuries sustained in a bus accident.

How many things that are called “a sure thing” really aren’t? That investment in stocks that were supposed to bring big dividends. That horse that was certain to win the Kentucky Derby. What was claimed to be definite so often disappoints us.

In 1957-58, the Ford Motor Company developed the Edsel automobile, and had high hopes for it. But it was rejected by the public as overpriced and unattractive. It has become a lasting symbol of failed expectations. In design and start-up costs alone, Ford lost two hundred and fifty million dollars.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said:

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

But that axiom is wrong on several counts. Taxes come and go, and the Bible teaches that both Enoch (Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (II Kgs. 2:11) were caught up into heaven without dying. And those believers who are alive when Christ returns, will be ushered into His presence without passing through death (I Thess. 4:16-17).

So, can nothing be said to be certain? Is there no sure thing? Yes, the Bible is always true and trustworthy. As Jesus said to His heavenly Father, “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). That means the many promises of God in it are reliable. We can depend on what He has said. And the love of God for His children–which the Bible talks about–is also a sure thing.

How was the love of God most clearly revealed?

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him….The Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world (I Jn.. 4:9, 14).

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).

“The Son of God…loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

In his book, Stories Behind Popular Songs and Hymns, Lindsay Terry tells the touching story behind two gospel songs about the love of God, songs written by gospel musician Dottie Rambo.

Dottie’s older brother Eddy was not a Christian. In fact, he’d led a very wicked life. A gambler and a thief, he’d spent time in prison. But now he was dying of cancer. His body had wasted away to a mere sixty-five pounds, and doctors said he had only a few weeks to live. When his sister tried to speak to him about salvation, he replied that he was too big a sinner for God to ever save him.

It was with her brother in mind that Rambo wrote the song He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need. When she sang it for Eddy, he wept, and asked her to write out the words for him. A few days later, Dottie Rambo was in a church to minister in music. There, after asking for prayer for her brother, she seemed to sense that something wonderful had happened to him.

The next day, she visited Eddy again, and he told her that the morning before he had finally found peace with God. She realized that he was truly saved, and told him more about the wonderful love of God for him. In her joy of that she later wrote a second song that says:

He left the splendour of heaven, knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha–there to lay down His life for me.

If that isn’t love, the ocean is dry,
There are no stars in the sky, and sparrows can’t fly!
If that isn’t love, then heaven’s a myth,
There’s no feeling like this, if that isn’t love.

Of course, we don’t really prove the love of God by feelings, however inspiring. Feelings come and go, and they’re not always an accurate reflection of reality. The old children’s hymn offers a better evidence.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

It’s the Word of God that assures us of His love. And the love of God is as certain as there’s water in the ocean and stars in the sky. But even when He destroys both of those one day, to make way for a new heaven and new earth (II Pet. 3:10, 13; Rev. 21:1), the love of God will remain constant. It’s, what Jeremiah described to Israel as “an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). A sure thing.

Questions:
1) What has been your own experience of the love of God?

2) What does the Bible mean when it says “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8, 16)?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Dottie Rambo)
The Cyber Hymnal (Dottie Rambo)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 11, 2017

I Do Not Ask, O Lord

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Adelaide Anne Procter (b. Oct. 30, 1825; d. Feb. 2, 1864)
Music: Orono, by Karl Pomeroy Harrington (b. June 13, 1861; d. Nov. 14, 1953)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Procter’s song The Lost Chord)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Though her work is little known today, Adelaide Procter was one of the most popular writers in England in her day. A friend of Charles Dickens, and the favourite poet of Queen Victoria, her works outsold those of any contemporary poet other than Tennyson.

Many well known authors of the day were family friends and visited in the Procter home. As for Adelaide, she was already creating her own poems before she could read or write. When a little girl, she carried around a small book, as a child would carry a doll, and when she thought of some lines of verse, her mother would write them down for her in the book.

Dickens published many of the things she wrote, and he commented about her:

“When she was quite a young child, she learnt with facility several of the [mathematical] problems of Euclid. As she grew older, she acquired the French, Italian, and German languages [as well as skill in] piano [and] drawing.”

Adelaide Procter never married, though she was engaged for a time. But in the area of charitable works her passion grew and never diminished. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, the homeless, and the unemployed. She visited the sick and taught the unschooled. An early feminist, she also addressed the particular needs of women.

To quote Charles Dickens again: “Swift to sympathize, and eager to relieve, she wrought at such designs with a flushed earnestness that disregarded season, weather, time of day or night, food [or] rest. One of her poems shows us her compassionate vision.

In that very street, at that same hour,
In the bitter air and drifting sleet,
Crouching in a doorway was a mother,
With her children shuddering at her feet.

Some of Procter’s poems have been set to music. One of these is The Lost Chord, a song recorded by many, including the great Enrico Caruso, who sang it at a benefit concert for the rescued victims of the Titanic’s sinking. It’s not a true hymn, but the song shows the unique power of music to inspire and uplift the soul.

Though Miss Procter was a Roman Catholic, her poetry and hymns deal with themes that are shared by Protestants too, and are found in many hymnals. One of these is I Do Not Ask, O Lord. It deals with the call to Christian service, and with a rejection of the easy road. That is reflected in the words of the Lord Jesus who said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me [be my disciple], let him deny himself [i.e. reject the demands of Self, in selfishness and self-will], and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

Living for Christ and serving Him is not how we earn eternal salvation. That’s a gift of God’s grace, received through faith in the Saviour who paid our debt of sin at Calvary (Eph. 2:8-9). The life of service comes afterward, as our response to God’s grace. “Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8).

And being a servant of Christ will require sacrifice. Against us there’s the opposition of a godless world, and of spirits of darkness. There’s also weariness and discouragement along the way. For some, being Christ’s follower even means the extremity of a martyr’s death. The Lord said of Paul, “He is a chosen vessel of mind….I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake” (Acts 9:15-16). And suffer he did (II Cor. 11:23-28).

It’s with an understanding of these things that Adelaide Procter states her own life’s priorities in her hymn.

CH-1) I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load.

CH-2) I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.

CH-5) I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand,
And follow Thee.

Through her ceaseless toil on behalf of others, work that took her into dark and vermin infested places, the author contracted tuberculosis. She was bedridden for over a year, and finally died at the age of thirty-eight. Facing eternity with a smile, her last words were, “It has come at last.”

Questions:
1) Who do you know personally, who has made great sacrifices to serve the Lord?

2) What does Paul mean when he says, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21)?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Procter’s song The Lost Chord)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 9, 2017

Happiness Is the Lord

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Ira Forest Stanphill (b. Feb. 14, 1914; d. Dec. 30, 1993)
Music: Ira Forest Stanphill

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Ira Stanphill)
The Cyber Hymnal (Ira Stanphill)
Hymnary.org

Note: A gifted musician, Stanphill was already playing piano, organ, ukulele, and accordion by age ten. By the time he reached seventeen, he was composing and singing, participating in revival crusades, prayer meetings, and tent campaigns. As a singing evangelist, he preached all over America and in over forty other countries. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1981.

What is happiness? Or what does it mean to be in a happy mood? The dictionary suggests a happy person is delighted, pleased, and glad about something. The word has been widely applied and frequently used, or misused.

The term “Happy Hour” came into common parlance in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It refers to the time, roughly 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. when bars and taverns offer drinks at reduced prices, or with free snacks. The name seems to imply that alcohol is a significant ingredient in the prescription for human happiness. But that’s more than questionable. Surely a temporary drug-induced euphoria is not true happiness–especially when its aftermath is a headache–or worse!

The American Declaration of Independence states that “the pursuit of happiness” is a God-given right. For the eighteenth century authors of the declaration, happiness meant personal well being and prosperity. But is that a right? Or perhaps are these things more of a privilege earned by hard work?

Cicero, a Roman lawyer, said happiness is “tranquility of mind.” But the Greek philosopher Aristotle went much further. He said, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Taken in its most obvious sense that’s very self-centred. It implies that everything and everyone around me is there to make me happy, and it misses the grander and eternal purpose expressed in the Bible.

As an important aside, I know sometimes modern Bible versions substitute the word “happy” for the King James Version’s “blessed,” (e.g. in Psalm 1:1), but the latter is far richer than a fleeting happy mood. And knowing Christ as Saviour is not necessarily a guarantee of unwavering happiness. Way back when I was a kid we used to sing in Sunday School:

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright
Happy all the time.

But that is simply not true. Even the Lord Jesus, “a Man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), while on earth, wept and was grieved (Lk. 19:41; Jn. 11:35). And I prefer to use the words joy and rejoicing rather than happy and happiness. Happiness seems to have more of an association with happenings in our lives. Joy goes deeper. We can find joy, even in trying circumstances that do not engender happiness (cf. Heb. 12:2).

As the Westminster Shorter Catechism (created in 1646-47) puts it: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” This calls attention first to the reason God created us: for His own rightful glory.

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). “Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20). “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).

Our enjoyment of God is the other side of the coin. As the children of God seek to bring honour and glory to Him, they enjoy His fellowship.

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps. 85:6). “I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 9:2).

“Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (I Jn. 1:3-4). “You [Lord] have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence” (Ps. 21:6).

The glorifying of God and the enjoyment of God are not merely to be the occupations of time, but of eternity too. In the heavenly city, “A voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!’” (Rev. 19:5). “You [Lord] will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

One day in 1974 pastor and hymn writer Ira Stanphill was driving home from his church office in Fort Worth, Texas. The car radio was on, and a bar was advertising their Happy Hour, and promoting their alcoholic beverages. Then a cigarette commercial told of how their product would bring happiness to smokers.

That’s standard for commercials, isn’t it? Whether it’s toothpaste or deodorant, a smart phone or a car, it’s touted as the last great answer to the problems of the human race. If you want true happiness in life, you’d better buy the right yogurt or the right glue.

Pastor Stanphill found the repeated use of the word happiness jarring. He thought, “Happiness does not come with these things, but with knowing Christ.” As he drove along, he created a chorus in his mind, and sang it. When he got home, he went straight to the piano and wrote it out.

That song has since been sung around the world. And notice how Pastor Stanphill seems to recognize that mere happiness, by itself, was not enough. He adds, “Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start.” The joy we have in Christ shines through the clouds that sometimes overshadow our path. Happiness (or better, “real joy”) is found in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is our joy!

The song says, in part:

Happiness is to know the Saviour,
Living a life within His favour,
Having a change in my behaviour,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start;
I’ve found the secret–it’s Jesus in my heart.

Questions:
1) Why are Christians able to have joy, even in trying times?

2) What does the Bible mean when it says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10)?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Ira Stanphill)
The Cyber Hymnal (Ira Stanphill)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 7, 2017

Father, Let Me Dedicate

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Lawrence Tuttiett (b. Oct. 31, 1825; d. June 21, 1897)
Music: George Alexander Macfarren (b. Mar. 2, 1813; d. Oct. 31, 1887)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: An English clergyman, Lawrence Tuttiett also wrote many hymns, though few of them are used today. He was married, and the couple had one daughter that I know of. Eminent hymn historian John Julian said of him:

“Mr. Tuttiett’s hymns are characterized by smoothness of rhythm, direction of aim, simplicity of language, and deep earnestness.”

For some, stepping from December 31 into January 1 is not particularly significant. Just another day gone by, just a bit more water under the bridge. After all, it’s only a traditional division, not a real one. Other cultures and calendars start their new year in a different place. The Chinese New Year varies, falling each year some time between January 21 and February 21.

In Canada and the United States it seems that New Year’s Eve has become a time of overindulging and partying–for many, the bigger and wilder the better. Then, those giddy party-goers waken, late the next day, with a nauseating headache–and with the revelries of the night before regretted, or only vaguely remembered.

Not that I speak from experience.

Our family parties over the years, both on the eve of the new year and on the day itself, were enjoyable–and alcohol free–gatherings of friends and family that I can recall with fondness and joy, even many decades later. And in between a New Year’s Eve party, and the celebrations of the next day, came a Watchnight Service at the church.

Bidding farewell to the old year, and welcoming the new, in the house of God with other like-minded Christians–what a special blessing that was. To look back on God’s provisions in days and months past, and His sustaining grace in difficult times. Then to look ahead with renewed faith, leaning on the Lord for whatever the future may bring. All present seemed to be greatly encouraged by that.

And there are some wonderful New Year’s hymns that put these things into memorable lines of verse. Even if they are not in your present hymnal, you could print them up and distribute them, as they’re in the public domain.

Another Year Is Dawning (Frances Havergal)
Standing at the Portal (Frances Havergal)
How Sweet the Hour (Fanny Crosby)

The latter song is sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, and it reminds us that “Through faith in Jesus’ precious blood, we all shall meet in heav’n.”

The Bible uses the words year or years hundreds of times. There we learn that the rolling seasons are marked by the movement of the stars (Gen. 1:14). We see that the eternal God, who exists outside of time, counts time differently from what we do (Ps. 90:4; II Pet. 3:8). “You [God] are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Ps. 102:27). In comparison, mortal life for us is brief. As Job put it, “When a few years are finished, I shall go the way of no return” (Job 16:22).

In spite of life’s brevity and many trials, the psalmist says, “You crown the year with Your goodness” (Ps. 65:11). And we are encouraged to begin in our earliest years to remember from whom our blessings come. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them'” (Ecc. 12:1). In a commitment to that we declare, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Ps. 69:30), and look forward to His sustaining grace in the days ahead.

Lawrence Tuttiett certainly believed in that. Here is his hymn for the new year, a commitment to starting well.

CH-1) Father, let me dedicate, all this year to Thee,
In whatever worldly state Thou wilt have me be:
Not from sorrow, pain or care, freedom dare I claim;
This alone shall be my prayer, / glorify Thy name.

CH-2) Can a child presume to choose where or how to live?
Can a Father’s love refuse all the best to give?
More Thou givest every day than the best can claim
Nor withholdest aught that may glorify Thy name.

CH-4) If Thou callest to the cross, and its shadow come,
Turning all my gain to loss, shrouding heart and home;
Let me think how Thy dear Son to His glory came,
And in deepest woe pray on, “Glorify Thy name.”

Questions:
1) What experiences have you had over the past year that show the love and faithfulness of God?

2) What are you trusting the Lord to do in your life over the coming year?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 4, 2017

Father, I Know That All My Life

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Anna Laetitia Waring (b. Apr. 19, 1823; d. May 10, 1910)
Music: Brother James’ Air, by James Leith Macbeth Bain (b. Nov. 21, 1860; d. _____, 1925)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Anna Waring)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Anna Laetitia Waring was born into a Quaker family in Wales, but at the age of nineteen she joined the Anglican church. We know only a little about her. She apparently led a quiet, godly life, and was active in charitable work, especially with the Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society. Having mastered Hebrew as a young girl, she delighted in reading daily from Psalms in their original language. Miss Waring also wrote hymns. The most familiar today is In Heavenly Love Abiding, a meditation on Psalm 23.

There are some oddities with the metre of the present hymn, and with the text adjusted to it, as it appears in the Cyber Hymnal. The metre is ostensibly 8.6.8.6.8.6, but that is not what the text has there. For example, line 3 of stanza 6 reads, “I would have my spirit filled the more” (9 beats), when it should be 8–“I’d have my spirit filled the more.”

I found earlier versions of the hymn better fitted to that metre, and a tune that suits it. To Brother James’ Air, by Scotsman James Bain, I sang The Lord’s My Shepherd, in a male choir, many years ago. The text I’ve given of the present hymn fits that melody well. (You can listen to the tune here, and print a copy of the music.)

We live in a world that often promotes bigness as equaling “betterness” (to coin a word), and as something to be preferred. Littleness, by this measure, is inferior or insignificant.

It comes up in the food we eat. We can get the super large drink, or order a hamburger piled so high it defies any attempt to get it in our mouths. Bigness is touted in sports, too. Heavier football players, taller basketball players. And people crave bigger houses–often beyond their needs or their means. Then there’s bigness in the military: bigger ships, bigger guns, bigger rockets. And there’s bigger entertainment: bigger shows, bigger movies and bigger stars.

But bigness doesn’t necessarily insure quality or effectiveness. Nor is it always to be preferred. Do you prefer a big debt, or a small debt? A big, crippling, life-shortening disease, or a small bruise? And small things can do wonders. When my wife had cataract surgery, we saw one of the tiny lenses they insert in the eye. So small! But what a big difference those lenses have made!

In the Scriptures, the Lord warns many times about not having an inflated idea of ourselves.

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 26:12).

“I say…to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had a problem with this. They prided themselves in their religiosity, but it was often a hollow and hypocritical sham. While they made a big show of charitable giving, or praying in public (Matt. 6:2, 5), they were ready to “devour widows houses” without scruple (Matt. 23:14). Their religion was only skin deep; they had no personal heart relationship with God. The Lord compared them to “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27).

How much better to realize our own smallness before God. The Bible says, “He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14)–and dust is pretty helpless stuff. As Christ put it, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). But the great blessing of our smallness and weakness before God is that our lives reveal His power, to His greater glory (II Cor. 12:9). “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).

Anna Waring’s song expresses her humility, and a willingness to fill a small and unheralded place of service, in the will of God. Note the insightful fifth line in stanza 2, “A heart at leisure from itself”–which I take to mean not dwelling on Me, and my accomplishments.

1) Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

2) I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And wipe the weeping eyes;
A heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.”

3) I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

5) I ask Thee for the daily strength,
To none who ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

Questions:
1) What gifts do you have that the Lord has given? And how are you using them?

2) What does the author mean by saying, “I would be treated as a child”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Anna Waring)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 2, 2017

Come, Said Jesus’ Sacred Voice

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Anna Laetitia Akin Barbauld (b. June 20, 1743; d. Mar. 9,1825)
Music: Forgiveness, by George Mursell Garrett (b. June 8, 1834; d. Apr. 9, 1897)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Anna Laetitia Akin was the daughter of a pastor in England. A child prodigy, at the age of two, she was able to read simple stories, and by three she was reading as well as most adults. Her understanding of the Scriptures also grew quickly.

An incident when she was five reveals her precociousness in the latter. Her father spoke to another man about the angels in heaven, saying that their joy and happiness was complete, and they therefore could not experience more, since they were perfectly happy already. But little Anna piped up, “Papa, I think you are mistaken,” reminding him of the text that says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:7, 10).

By the age of twenty, Anna Aikin had mastered French, Italian, Latin, and Greek, and she became a classics tutor, and a hymn writer. She married a pastor and teacher named Rochement Barbauld, but it was not a happy union. He developed a violent temper which turned into full insanity. When he attacked his wife with a knife, she had him committed to an asylum. He later escaped, and finally committed suicide.

Have you ever watched an ant hill. Those little creatures are constantly coming and going. A steady procession leaves the nest to forage for food, and the ants return, sometimes carrying loads that seem far too great for their size.

On a much larger scale there is continual coming and going all over the world. Whether it’s cars and trucks on busy highways and along city streets, or the streams of people in malls and stores, there is much coming and going. We are each busy with the tasks before us day by day.

Though they did not possess motorized vehicles, it was much the same in Bible times. And God’s Word promised His people Israel, “The Lord shall preserve [guard] your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore” (Ps. 121:8). In the New Testament, after Christ’s disciples had a busy time of ministry, we read, “He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mk. 6:31).

There is a spiritual coming and going as well, and it relates to each one of us. We come to the Lord seeking His grace and mercy, and go out to live for Him and serve Him. To come to the Lord in faith, seeking His help and blessing, will find us abundantly rewarded. Using the symbolism of water to picture the life-giving work of the Spirit of God, Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (Jn. 7:37-39; cf. 4:14).

But many, in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry, followed Him for awhile and then deserted Him. When that happened, “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” (Jn. 6:67-68). To depart from the Lord is to leave the place of blessing and take the path of unbelief and disobedience. In terms of a search for eternal salvation, turning our back on Christ can only be eternal condemnation (Matt. 7:23; 25:41).

But we as believers need to come to Him too. The invitation is still open to respond to the Lord’s summons, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Anna Barbauld wrote a hymn inspired by that verse, during her years after the terrible distress and danger caused by her husband’s insanity.

Her hymn, which she entitled The Gracious Call, shows that she found comfort in the Lord.

CH-1) “Come,” said Jesus’ sacred voice,
“Come, and make My paths your choice;
I will guide you to your home,
Weary pilgrim, hither come.

CH-2) “Thou who, houseless, sole, forlorn,
Long hast borne the proud world’s scorn,
Long hast roamed the barren waste,
Weary pilgrim, hither haste.

CH-3) “Ye who, tossed on beds of pain,
Seek for ease, but seek in vain;
Ye whose swollen, sleepless eyes
Watch to see the morning rise.

CH-4) Ye, by fiercer anguish torn,
In remorse for guilt who mourn.
Here repose your heavy care:
Who the stings of guilt can bear?

CH-5) Hither come, for here is found
Balm that flows for every wound,
Peace that ever shall endure,
Rest eternal, sacred, sure.”

Questions:
1) In what personal circumstance have you found rest for your soul in the Lord?

2) Is there someone you know to whom you could bring words of comfort and assurance during a difficult time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 31, 2017

Jesus Leads

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: John Ralston Clements (b. Nov. 28, 1868; d. Jan. 1, 1946)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The Clements family emigrated to America from Ireland in 1870. In his late teens, John Clements put his faith in Christ, through the ministry of evangelist D. L. Moody. He later served for seventeen years as president of what is now David College, in Johnson City, New York. Over the course of many years, Clements also wrote thousands of hymns, including a song about heaven called No Night There. The present one is lesser known, but it witnesses emphatically to the Lord’s leading in the believer’s life.

The methods used in caring for a flock of sheep have changed considerably since ancient times, but there are still places in the world where the work is carried on much the same as in centuries past.

Our word “shepherd” is a contraction of the Old English sceaphierde, meaning sheep herder. It is the shepherd’s responsibility to lead the sheep to good pasturage and fresh water, to tend to any sickness or injury, and seek after ones that wander off and get lost. He must also be on the lookout for thieves and predators, and protect the flock from harm.

In the Bible, words such as shepherd, sheep, and flock are found over four hundred and fifty times. There we learn that King David was a shepherd in his younger years (I Sam. 16:11), and several of his psalms use that experience, as does his Psalm 23, one of the best known passages in all of God’s Word.

To get a better understanding of the rich spiritual meaning of that psalm, you can purchase A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Canadian shepherd Philip Keller (1920-1997). Though it was written in 1970, the book remains in print, and it’s a wonderful resource. Keller wrote other fine books as well, including Lessons from a Sheep Dog, about how his kindness and patience reclaimed to usefulness an abused dog. Both books are recommended.

Shepherding is spoken of in a couple of ways in the Scriptures.

First, there are literal shepherds, like David, and the ones to whom the angels announced the birth of Christ (Lk. 2:8-14). Their work was prominent in Israel because of the many sacrifices commanded by the Jewish Law. There was, for example, the annual offering of the Passover lamb (Exod. 12:3, 5-6), which was a symbol pointing forward to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins (Jn. 1:29; I Cor. 5:7).

2) But shepherding itself was also used in a symbolic way of those who shepherd us spiritually. The people of God are called His sheep and flock:

“Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3; cf. Isa. 53:6).

The Lord is our spiritual Shepherd, the One who guides and guards and nurtures us. This picture is not only given to us in Psalm 23:1, but in other texts (Isa. 40:10-11; Lk. 15:3-7; Jn. 10:1-18; Heb. 13:20-21; Rev. 7:15-17). And church leaders are considered shepherds of their congregations, serving under Christ (Acts 20:28; I Pe. 5:2-4). The word “pastor” itself (Eph. 4:11), poimen in Greek, means shepherd.

It is hardly a surprise, given the biblical emphasis, that dozens of our hymns take up this theme. In our hymnals are found not only metrical versions of Psalm 23, but many other songs as well that make use of the theme, or are related Bible texts. For example:

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
The Ninety and Nine
He Leadeth Me
In Heavenly Love Abiding
Surely Goodness and Mercy
Shepherd of Tender Youth

The last of these, written around AD 200, is the earliest Christian hymn still in use. Another hymn focusing on the Lord’s shepherd care is Jesus Leads. It was written in 1893 by John Clements.

CH-1) Like a shepherd, tender, true,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads,
Daily finds us pastures new,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
If thick mists are o’er the way,
Or the flock ’mid danger feeds,
He will watch them lest they stray,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads.

CH-2) All along life’s rugged road
Jesus leads, Jesus leads,
Till we reach yon blest abode,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
All the way, before He’s trod,
And He now the flock precedes,
Safe into the fold of God,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads.

Questions:
1) How do the various functions of shepherds described earlier relate to what the Lord does for us?

2) What truths found in Psalm 23 have been a special blessing to you?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 28, 2017

We Give Thee Thanks, O God

Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Robert Marshall Offord (b. Sept. 17, 1846; d. Jan. 30, 1924)
Music: Federal Street, by Henry Kemble Oliver (b. Nov. 24, 1800; d. Aug. 12, 1885)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Robert Offord)
Hymnary.org

Note: Robert Offord was born in England, but later emigrated to the United States. There, for a time, he became editor of the New York Observer newspaper, a paper now owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law. Offord also became a pastor and wrote many hymns. Among them is this song of thanksgiving. The tune, Federal Street, is used also with the hymn Ashamed of Jesus.

Of hymns in general Pastor Offord said:

“I have a great fondness for hymns. Who will say that we shall not sing new versions of Rock of Ages and many other grand old earth melodies in heaven?”

We must not, I think, be too quick to dismiss Offord’s idea here, as though the great hymns of the faith will not be worth singing again when we get to Glory. The Apostle John saw saints in heaven singing “the Song of Moses” (Rev. 15:3–perhaps Exodus 15:1-18, about Israel’s triumph at the Red Sea). It could be that, in remembrance of God’s redeeming work, we’ll sing again together Amazing Grace, and other wonderful songs.

It was American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who spoke of “self-made men,” in a speech first given in 1859. But is there such a thing?

Douglass said these are “men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited, or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any of the favouring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results.” Douglass also discredited luck. For him, men are self-made by working hard and making something of themselves, virtually to no one else’s credit.

Frederick Douglass was a great man. He’s been called the most influential African-American of the nineteenth century. That being acknowledged, this idea is nonsense. There are no self-made men or women. As poet John Donne wrote, about two centuries before Douglass’s time, “No man is an island entire of itself”–even to the point that, Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Someone was responsible for our birth and nurture, for our growth of knowledge, and the formation of our view of life. We each had teachers and role models of one kind or another. Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli,” raised in the jungle by wolves, is fictional, but even there the young man’s incredible skills in hunting and tracking are credited to the wolves among which he lived.

In all likelihood we have many people to thank for what we have become and what we have achieved. Even negative influences are capable of bringing about a positive result, or of being turned to a good purpose. And that spirit of thankfulness is in itself an admission that others have had a part in the story of our lives.

There is One to whom we should be grateful above all others, and that is God. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts. 17:28), and “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17; cf. Matt. 5:45). Ingratitude to Him is thus a serious sin. Included in the horrendous moral collapse described in Romans 1:18-32, we find, “They did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (vs. 21). And in describing the “perilous times” coming in the last days unthankfulness is highlighted (II Tim. 3:2).

This actually began in Eden, though the word is not used. Adam and Eve became dissatisfied with the great abundance God had provided (Gen. 2:16). They believed the serpent’s (Satan’s) lie that the Lord was holding out on them, and that if they ate of the fruit of the one tree forbidden to them (vs. 17), they would become “like God” (Gen. 3:4-5). In effect they would no longer need God, but would become a self-made man and woman.

As the Word of God exhorted Old Testament Israel to be thankful (Ps. 100:4), so the same exhortation is given to Christians (Col. 3:15). “In everything [in all circumstances] give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18). There’s an element of faith in this. That even in trying and difficult situations we are able to lift up praise to God, because we believe He’s still in control, and will bring out of our trials His own good and perfect will.

1) We give Thee thanks, O God, this day,
For mercies never failing:
Thy love hath brought us on our way
For all our wants availing.

4) The seasons come, the seasons go,
But each shall find us singing;
For each shall greet us, well we know,
New favours from Thee bringing.

5) Through endless years Thou art the same,
Thy mercy changes never;
Then blessed be Thy mighty name
Forever and forever.

Questions:
1) Why are we able to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God, not only in seasons of joy and blessing, but when trials and difficulties come upon us?

2) What are three blessings you are enjoying today for which you can thank the Lord?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Robert Offord)
Hymnary.org

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