Posted by: rcottrill | February 21, 2018

Thou Whose Almighty Word

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 Marriott (b. Sept. 11, 1780; d. Mar. 31, 1825)
Music: Dort, by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; d. Aug. 11, 1872)

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

Note: John Marriott was an English clergyman who wrote several hymns. This one was originally entitled “A Missionary Hymn.” Another fine hymn tune that could be used with the hymn is Felice de Giardini’s Italian Hymn, to which we sing Come, Thou Almighty King, and Christ for the World! We Sing.

Trinitarian doctrine is amply represented in our hymns. From Reginald Heber’s Holy, Holy, Holy, with its “God in three persons, blessed Trinity,” to Elizabeth Charles’s Praise Ye the Triune God, and Fanny Crosby’s Be Thou Exalted, with each stanza addressing a different member of the Godhead, there are many such hymns.

First, let’s consider a riddle. What is it that disappears the moment we try to talk about it? One possible answer is: silence. As soon as we start speaking about it, we have destroyed it!

At another level, some things are very hard to explain–much deeper riddles. We like to think that given enough human brilliance, and enough appropriate words, human beings can define and explain just about anything. But, if we’re honest, we have to admit we haven’t got there yet, certainly not in every case.

Take those black holes in space, for example. They’re invisible, so we can’t see them But there’s apparently some evidence they exist. And we may have our theories about them, but they are just that. Educated guesses as to what these entities are, and how they work. Perhaps we’ll learn more in time, but there are still mysteries there.

When it comes to attempting to explain what is unexplainable, God is at the top of the list. We refer to Him as the Supreme Being, higher than anyone or anything else. However, He is more than supreme, He is transcendent. Not just at the top, but way beyond the top. God is unique in the universe. He’s beyond time and space, and everything He has created, and infinitely beyond our full comprehension.

This shouldn’t surprise us. Not being able to fully understand God is one evidence of His transcendence. If we could fully explain all there is about Him, then we ourselves would be the supreme beings in the universe, but we cannot, and are not. The Lord says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

And one of the inexplicable mysteries about God is His Trinitarian nature, that He is one God eternally existing in three coequal Persons. The lengthy Athanasian Creed is an attempt to give full force to both of those seemingly contradictory truths. Athanasius (circa AD 296-373) said, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence.”

Without question, the Bible teaches there is only one true God (Deut. 6:4; I Cor. 8:4). It’s also clear that God the Father is deity (Jn. 6:27; I Pet. 1:2), God the Son is deity (Jn. 1:1-3, 14; Tit. 2:13), and God the Holy Spirit is deity (Acts 5:3-4; I Cor. 3:16), but there are not three deities. They are distinct though coequal (Matt. 28:19), and can have unique ministries (Matt. 3:16-17; II Cor. 13:14). Yet there is only one true God.

All attempts to illustrate the tri-unity of the Godhead by some means ultimately fail. Patrick, in Ireland, reputedly used the shamrock for this, with it’s three leaves on one stem. Others have used the egg (yolk, white, and shell), or water (liquid, solid, or invisible vapour), but these all have their limitations. There is nothing in the natural world that exactly compares to Him, without some profound shortcomings. It is best to take the Scriptures as they stand, and not insist that we must be able to explain the unexplainable.

John Marriott gave us a fine hymn on the Trinity theme–addressing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here are three stanzas.

CH-1) Thou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the gospel’s day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!

CH-2) Thou, who didst come to bring
On Thy redeeming wing
Healing and sight,
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind,
O now, to all mankind,
Let there be light!

CH-3) Spirit of truth and love,
Life giving, holy Dove,
Speed forth Thy flight;
Move on the water’s face
Bearing the lamp of grace,
And, in earth’s darkest place,
Let there be light!

Questions:
1) Why is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity important?

2) Can you think of other hymns that deal with the Trinity?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | February 19, 2018

I Gave My Life for Thee

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: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Kenosis, by Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Miss Havergal says this was the first true hymn she ever wrote. She went on to pen many more that have been a rich blessing to the people of God (I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus; Like a River Glorious; Lord, Speak to Me; Take My Life, and Let It Be; Who Is on the Lord’s Side? to name just a few.)

There are many stories about our hymn writers, and the songs they wrote. They have been the subject of this blog for a number of years. The writing of the present song is described by the author herself. English hymn writer Frances Havergal received a ltter from America, asking whether she wrote the hymn. She wrote a reply.

After saying that, yes, she was the author of the hymn, Havergal goes on to speak frankly about her spiritual condition at the time. It sounds as though she was a Christian, but not as mature in the faith and as devoted to the Lord as she desired to be. She says:

“I did not half realize what I was writing about. I was following very far off, always doubting and fearing. I think I had come to Jesus with a trembling, hem-touching faith [a reference to the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s robe, Matt. 9:20-22], but it was coming in the press [the crowd] and behind, never seeing His face, or feeling sure that He loved me, though I was clear that I could not do without Him, and wanted to serve and follow Him.

I don’t know how I came to write it. I scribbled it in pencil on the back of a circular, in a few minutes, and then read it over and thought, ‘Well, this is not poetry, anyhow! I won’t go to the trouble to copy this!’ So I reached out my hand to put it into the fire! But a sudden impulse made me draw it back. I put it, crumpled and singed, into my pocket.”

A slightly different account of the rescue of this hymn from the fire is given in the first Wordwise Hymns link, though the end result was the same. One would think the author’s own words should bear more weight. But, in either case, see how the Lord confirmed to her the value of this simple song. She writes:

“Afterward I went out to see a dear old woman in an alms house [a home for the poor]. She began talking to me, as she always did, about her dear Saviour, and I thought I would see if she, a simple old woman, would care for these verses, which I felt sure nobody else would care to read.

I read them to her, and she was so delighted with them that, when I went back, I copied them out, and kept them. And now the Master has sent them out in all directions. I have seen tears while they have been sung at mission services, and I have heard of them being really a blessing to many.”

An instance of the impact of the hymn was reported some time later. At a Sunday School Convention, a strange accusation was voiced by some delegates that the organizers had somehow planned the program for their own advantage and gain. The charge caused a loud and angry debate that disrupted the proceedings. But in the chaos, a gospel singer rose and began to sing this hymn. It was as though the Lord had whispered “Peace, be still,” over their stormy and unspiritual hostility. Those present refocused on their reason for assembling, as a calm and Christlike spirit filled the auditorium to the end of the convention.

The hymn says (Christ speaking):

CH-1) I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be,
And raised up from the dead
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?

CH-3) I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony,
To rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?

CH-4) And I have brought to thee,
Down from My home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?

It should be noted first that this is not describing the plan of salvation. It’s not as though the Lord were saying, “If only you do enough for Me, I will grant you eternal life.” The saving work of God is a free gift of His grace, received through faith in Christ, and that alone (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9; cf. Acts 16:30-31). Rather, Frances Havergal is calling upon Christians to examine the depth of their dedication to the Lord.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). And the more we realize the depth of His love, love that sent Christ to Calvary to die for our sins, it will be our delight to respond in love to Him, yielding to His sovereign will all we are and have.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [because of all He has done for you], that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

Questions:
1) What is the best way to honour the Lord for all He has done (and is doing) for us?

2) Why have some professing Christians failed to advance and grow, in their devotion and service for Christ?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 14, 2018

In the Heart of Jesus

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: Alice Pugh (no information)
Music: Charles Henry Forrest (b. _____, 1846; d. _____, 1925)

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

Note: There are some of our hymns that are labeled “Anonymous,” or “Author Unknown.” This is almost the case here. Nothing is known of Alice Pugh (likely pronounced Pew)–even supposing that’s a real name, and not simply someone’s pen name. The composer, Charles Henry Forrest, was an Englishman, and he has several hymn tunes to his credit. The earliest publications of the song misprinted his name as Forrast.

We have many quaint sayings that come from long ago. For instance, when someone says or does exactly the right thing we may say he or she hit the nail on the head.

That’s an axiom that’s been in use for over five centuries. Around 1438, a woman named Margery Kempe wrote, in old English, “I xal [shall] so smytyn ye nayl on ye hed.” To miss the nail with the hammer not only fails to get the job done, it can do harm to whatever is mistakenly struck.

Think of that in terms of what we do and say. Wise and gracious words, and “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), can hit the nail on the head. So can kindly actions. But the opposite can bring discouragement and hurt feelings to others. By the grace of God, let’s be those who build others up with words and actions (Eph. 4:31-32).

That thought came to mind as I read the text of this lovely hymn, published in 1916. As noted above, nothing is known of the author other than her name, Alice Pugh. However, the simple words contain truths that should bless and encourage any child of God. Give a moment’s thought to the four stanzas and you will see.

CH-1) In the heart of Jesus, there is love for you,
Love most pure and tender, love most deep and true;
Why should you be lonely, why for friendship sigh,
When the heart of Jesus has a full supply?

Good question. Yes, we need human companionship too. The Lord knows that (Gen. 2:18). But in times when it’s in short supply, we have the assurance of the abiding love of the Lord. “God so loved the world” of human beings that He sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we might have life eternal (Jn. 3:16). And, “the Son of God…loved me [personally and individually] and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:10).

CH-2) In the mind of Jesus there is thought for you,
Warm as summer sunshine, sweet as morning dew;
Why should you be fearful, why take anxious thought,
Since the mind of Jesus cares for those He bought?

That’s plain logic. If the Lord sacrificed so much to save us, it must mean that He has a great and eternal purpose for us. As He said to Israel, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You” (Ps. 31:19).

Then, Alice Pugh speaks of opportunities for Christian service.

CH-3) In the field of Jesus there is work for you;
Such as even angels might rejoice to do;
Why stand idly sighing for some life-work grand,
While the field of Jesus seeks your reaping hand?

We are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). And that service will be unique to each of us, because God gifts each one with particular skills and opportunities. “As each one has received a gift, minister [serve with] it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Pet. 4:10).

Finally, the hymn anticipates the perfections and multiplied blessings of our heavenly home.

CH-4) In the home of Jesus there’s a place for you;
Glorious, bright, and joyous, calm and peaceful, too;
Why then, like a wanderer, roam with weary pace,
If the home of Jesus holds for you a place?

As the Lord Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And…I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3). And in that home, “There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Wise words all, that hit the nail on the head!

Questions:
1) Which of the four stanzas of Alice Pugh’s hymn is most encouraging to you at this time?

2) Who in your circle of acquaintances needs words of comfort and kindness today? (Will you share them?)

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

Posted by: rcottrill | February 12, 2018

Jesus Paid It 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: Elvina Mable Hall (b. June 4, 1822; d. July 18, 1889)
Music: John Thomas Grape (b. May 6, 1835; d. Nov. 2, 1915)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Mrs. Hall was a member of a Methodist church in Baltimore. Mr. Grape, the author of the tune, was the church organist. The unusual story of how the hymn was created is found in the first Wordwise Hymns link.

The other day I went to my favourite Tim Horton’s coffee shop, and placed my order at the counter. Suddenly, there was a hand on my shoulder, and another hand reaching around the other side, holding a twenty dollar bill. “I’ve got this,” a voice said, and I turned to see a friend–who actually lives about fifteen hundred miles away! “Daniel!” I exclaimed, when I found my voice. “You’re like an angel, suddenly appearing out of nowhere!”

There was no great mystery about it. Daniel and his wife were visiting family in the area, and they had phoned my wife to see if they could arrange to surprise me. They certainly did. But it’s the kindness of that gift of lunch that I want to focus on. Small in itself, but representing a level of thoughtfulness and care on their part that has encouraged us many times.

It’s a wonderful blessing to receive gifts from friends and family–especially when we know there’s sincere affection behind them. I remember my first teddy bear, from loving parents. (Have a photo of it under the tree for my first Christmas.) And other gifts followed over the years, including a tiny piano, which I’m told was my favourite toy for a long time.

And also on the music theme, at Christmas of 1963, my mother gave me a book of stories about our traditional hymns. That’s an example of the providence of God, because it aroused my interest in studying more on the subject of our sacred music, as I have for over fifty years or so since then.

The Lord Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and many have proved it so over and again. But the most wonderful gift that ever was given came from God Himself, earmarked for any and all who’ll receive it by faith. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Our salvation is “the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (II Cor. 9:15).

Bound up in the gift of salvation, purchased for us at Calvary, is the gift of Christ Himself (Gal. 2:20). Our many sins left us with an unpayable debt to God. No good works could cancel the debt, since being good is only what is expected of us (Lk. 17:10). But God, in grace, sent His Son to die for our sins (I Cor. 15:3).

And the fact that He paid the debt for all the sins of all humanity since the beginning of time is made clear many times.

¤ “The Lord has laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
¤ “Jesus…gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:5-6).
¤ “That He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9)
¤ “He Himself is the propitiation [the full satisfaction of God’s justice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (I Jn. 2:2).

Christ’s dying cry from the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30), is one word in the Greek language: “Tetelestai!” It was a word commonly written at the bottom of a bill when payment was made. It meant: Paid in Full.

That is the gospel, the good news of salvation in Christ. It’s what the Lord Jesus did with our debt. Now, it only remains for us to accept the payment, through personal faith in Him, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). He paid in full our debt of sin.

And in 1865, Elvina Hall wrote a fine hymn expressing that truth.

CH-1) I hear the Saviour say,
Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

CH-2) For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

CH-3) And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

CH-6) And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”*
My lips shall still repeat.

* The last two lines of the final verse seem to have been changed around 1927. The original version was as follows (though an early change was made of “trophies” to read “honours”:

I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Questions:
1) Is this a hymn you use in your church? (If not, encourage the pastor or service leader to use it. If it isn’t in your current hymn book, it’s in the public domain and could be reproduced in the church bulletin.)

2) What are your favourite hymns on the theme of God’s salvation?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 7, 2018

I Know a Fount

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: Oliver Cooke (b. _____, 1873; d. _____, 1945), stanza one; stanzas two to four are from Cora Brockhuizen (no data available)
Music: Oliver Cooke

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

Note: As you can see, almost nothing is known of the creators of this lovely little song. (If you have more information, please pass it along.) The full song, by Cooke and Brockhuizen, is found in Living Hymns. Most times, only the first stanza is printed, to be used as a chorus.

There’s a great scene in the classic 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street. When Macy’s Department Store doesn’t have a particular toy a child wants for Christmas, the store Santa Claus tells the mother to go to a rival store, assuring her that they have what he wants.

At first, Macy’s management is shocked at such disloyalty, and ready to get rid of their Santa. But when people begin to express their admiration for Macy’s kindness, what Mr. Claus did becomes store policy. They assume the mantle of “the helpful store, the friendly store.”

Do you know where to go to get what you need? Reliable car repairs? Or computer repairs? Or where they serve the best steak? Or where you can to purchase your favourite candy cane ice cream? Often this sort of information isn’t advertised on television or in a newspaper. Even if it is, we’ve learned to treat such promotions with a healthy bit of skepticism. Where we do turn often is to friends who’ve made their own discovery and readily share their personal experience.

Travel information is passed along in a similar way. The glossy ads are all well and good, but it’s much more reassuring to talk with a friend or family member who’s actually been there. They may tell us, “Avoid such-and-such a place; it’s just a tourist trap. But it’s well worth your time to go to this other place. The whole family will find something to enjoy there.” Knowing where to go, whether it’s for practical help, or for entertainment and recreation, may mean we’re more likely to get the most for our efforts, and for time spent.

And there’s certainly a spiritual parallel, and Christians have been passing on the news of their experience with it for centuries. In ancient times, the great city of Rome became the hub, with well built roadways radiating from it like the spokes of a wheel. It was well said, “All roads lead to Rome.” In a similar way, regarding man’s spiritual journey, everything from Genesis to Revelation seems, by some byway or other, to bring us to Calvary.

When Adam and Eve fell to Satan’s temptation in Eden, they received the just punishment for their sins. But God promised that one day a descendant of the woman would crush the serpent’s (Satan’s) head (Gen. 3:15). A prophet proclaimed the coming One (the Lord Jesus Christ) would take sin’s punishment in our place (Isa. 53:6). All of the animal sacrifices of Old Testament times pointed forward to that, prompting Paul to write, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7).

Not surprisingly, He was introduced to the multitudes at His coming as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Jesus said of Himself, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28) and, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). On the cross, as He paid the price for our sins, the Saviour cried, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30).

And while the Old Testament points forward to that cruel Roman gibbet, and the Gospels describe the crucifixion itself, all that comes afterward points back to it. “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3), and it’s through faith in Him we are saved eternally (Acts 16:31; I Jn. 5:11-12). No wonder the title repeatedly given to Christ in heaven is “the Lamb” (e.g. Rev. 12:11).

Do you know where to find eternal life? Knowing where to go for that essential is critically important to us, both for time and eternity. The answer is it’s found in Christ alone (Jn. 3:16; 14:6). That is the theme of a gospel song written by Oliver Cooke and Cora Brockhuizen.

1) I know a fount where sins are washed away,
I know a place where night is turned to day;
Burdens are lifted, blind eyes made to see;
There’s a wonder working pow’r,
In the blood of Calvary.

2) I have a Saviour, He’s a faithful Friend,
One who is with me, will be to the end,
He, now in glory, intercedes for me,
‘Twas His precious cleansing blood
That once flowed on Calvary.

4) I have a hope, my Lord will surely come,
All His redeemed ones shall be gathered home.
With Him in glory evermore to be,
Then we’ll praise Him for the blood
That was shed on Calvary.

Questions:
1) How would you tell someone to become a Christian? (What Bible verses would you use?)

2) What are some of the wonderful blessings of knowing Christ as our personal Saviour?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | February 5, 2018

My God, How Wonderful Thou Art

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: Frederick William Faber (b. June 28, 1814; d. Sept. 26, 1863)
Music: Azmon, by Carl Gotthelf Gläser (b. May 4, 1781; d. Aug. 16, 1829); arranged by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; Aug. 11, 1872)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Frederick Faber) (for another article on this hymn see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: As the Wordwise Hymns link explains, Faber was an Anglican who became a Catholic. He wrote eleven hymns for Catholics to sing, modeling them after the hymns of Newton and Wesley, whose songs he greatly admired. Since there are some areas of agreement between Catholic and Protestant beliefs, several of his hymns are used by both groups.

This hymn originally had nine stanzas. It was first published in Jesus and Mary, or Catholic Hymns for Singing and Reading (1849). The song’s original title was “The Eternal Father.”

It’s important to be able to distinguish differences, to understand them, and treat them accordingly. This discernment of things that are separate and distinct from one another can sometimes be the means of avoiding danger.

To discern the difference between cold water and hot water could save us from getting burned. To distinguish between bare pavement and an icy road could help us avoid an accident. In the spiritual realm, for the welfare of the people of Israel, God told the Old Testament priests to teach the people “the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean (Ezek. 44:23).

Some differences are relative. For example, there isn’t a hard line between being poor and being wealthy. What some would consider poverty, others might see as abundance. But other differences are so obvious that one virtually excludes the other. Black and white, dead and alive, both are clearly opposites. And a woman is either pregnant or she’s not. There’s no such thing as being partly pregnant.

In a familiar passage in Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us “to everything there is a season,” in this life (Ecc. 3:1). He proceeds, in verses 2-8, to distinguish fourteen pairs–planting and harvesting, killing and healing, tearing and sewing up, loving and hating, and so on. Some of twosomes are completely distinct. But others could be happening at the same time, even though they are different.

There is one instance when the differences are so absolute there’s a great and uncrossable divide between the two. That’s the differences between God and man. Relating to the infinite and eternal God in any meaningful way is as far beyond us puny mortals as it would be for an ant to relate to a human being.

Lord’s uniqueness includes some things described by terms beginning with the Latin prefix omini, meaning all.

¤ God is omnipresent, all (or everywhere) present (Jer. 23:24), while we are located in only one place at a time.

¤ God is omniscient, all knowing and understanding all things (Ps. 147:5), while we are ignorant and foolish about so many things.

¤ God is omnipotent, all powerful (Rev. 19:6), and we’re weak and severely limited in what we can do.

Beyond these there’s a moral wall of separation between us that we cannot cross. God is utterly holy and righteous (Ps. 92:15), whereas we all are corrupted by sin (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 3:23).

How can a man and an ant communicate and relate? They could if the man were to have the power to become an ant. How then can God and human beings communicate and relate to one another? They can, and have done, through Christ, God the Son who became Man.

With His incarnation in the womb of a young virgin, Christ took on our humanity. Now, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). And through faith in Him, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (II Cor. 5:21), and He invites us to come to Him for grace and mercy, in our need (Heb. 4:16; cf. Matt. 11:28).

In 1849, Frederick Faber created a beautiful hymn that expresses the contrast between the greatness of God and the unworthiness of poor fallen human beings. Yet Faber dared to believe that the Lord would receive us, by His grace.

CH-1) My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!

CH-2) How dread are Thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
Incessantly adored!

CH-3) How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!

CH-5) Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord,
Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart.

CH-6) Oh then this worse than worthless heart
In pity deign to take,
And make it love Thee, for Thyself
And for Thy glory’s sake.

Questions:
1) What are some things about God that are “wonderful”? (A good question to ask if you find your prayer times too often focused on requests.)

2) Why did the Lord stoop to save us?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Frederick Faber) (for another article on this hymn see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | January 31, 2018

Honey in the Rock

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: Frederick Arthur Graves (b. July 23, 1856; d. Jan. 2, 1927)
Music: Frederick Arthur Graves

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The Cyber Hymnal lists over forty songs by this author, and he provided the music for at least one song written by another.

In 1943, Betty Smith published her acclaimed novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, much of it based her own life and experiences. It tells the story of the Nolans, an Irish-American family, living in the city in the early twentieth century. Two years after its publication, the book became an Oscar-winning film.

In the story, living in a run-down apartment building in a poorer section of Brooklyn, the Nolan family deals with the many hardships of limited means and uncertain circumstances. But just outside their window, struggling up out of the cold concrete, amid the litter and decay, grew a small tree. It became a symbol of hope, especially for young Francie, the central character.

One time or another, it’s something we’ve all experienced. An unexpected blessing in the midst of times of trial, one that encourages us to keep going even in difficult times. It might be the light of a nearby shelter, seen by one traveling through a stormy night, Or perhaps a song, born in a time of terrible conflict, as were both the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, both written during the American Civil War.

Beauty out of ugliness, joy out of sorrow, success out of failure, all may be blessings of God to encourage us on the way. This relates to the nation of Israel, on the borders of Canaan, and about to go in and conquer the land God had given them. In chapter 32 of Deuteronomy, we have a God-inspired song of Moses (vs. 1-43), meant to prepare them for this. It contains both promises of the Lord’s help and blessing, and warnings about the danger of rebelling against Him.

Moses calls God their Rock (vs. 4), the One who’s strong and utterly reliable. Though the way ahead would be challenging and difficult, the Lord would provide what was needed. As a symbol of this, Moses pictures some bees that apparently made a nest in a cold, rocky cliff, saying Israel would be able to “draw honey from the rock” (vs. 13).

It’s not unusual for bees, in the wild, to establish hives in unusual places. There’s another striking example in Judges. Samson killed a lion, and when he came by the spot later:

“He turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion” (Jud. 14:8).

But Moses spoke of honey in a rock for a particular purpose. Much as Betty Smith’s tree did, the image assured Israel that, even in the midst of battle and other challenges, there would be tokens of hope. In the place of difficulty, they would find unexpected blessing, if they continued to trust in the Lord.

But the Israelites weren’t always faithful to Him. Psalm 81 picks up this aspect of the story. God says:

“Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!…With honey from the rock I would have satisfied you” (vs. 13, 16).

Oh that they would! But time and again they didn’t. And, sadly, they suffered the consequences. The book of Judges recounts their repeated backsliding, and Samson’s own moral failures were a reflection of the nation’s spiritual drift.

The present song, Honey in the Rock, written more than a century ago, makes use of honey in a more positive sense, as Moses did, but the author gives it a New Testament application. Graves’s song identifies the Lord Jesus as the Rock, and salvation as the sweet blessing that flows from His willingness to be broken on the cross for us.

CH-1) O my brother, do you know the Saviour,
Who is wondrous kind and true?
He’s the Rock of your salvation!
There’s honey in the Rock for you.

Oh, there’s honey in the Rock, my brother,
There’s honey in the Rock for you;
Leave your sins for the blood to cover,
There’s honey in the Rock for you.

CH-2) Have you “tasted that the Lord is gracious,”
Do you walk in the way that’s new?
Have you drunk from the living Fountain?
There’s honey in the Rock for you.

Questions:
1) Can you think of an example in your own life, when the Lord provided sweetness (a spiritual blessing) in the midst of a cold, dark time?

2) Could you minister encouragement to someone this week, and be the Lord’s “honey in the rock” to them in their time of difficulty?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | January 29, 2018

Lord, Speak to Me

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: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Canonbury, adapted from music by Robert Alexander Schumann (b. June 8, 1810; d. June 29, 1856)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Miss Havergal was the daughter of an English pastor. Though her life was short, her output was great, deeply devotional writings drawn from a rich study of God’s Word. What was studiously put into her mind and heart, and enlightened by the Spirit of God, came out in the flow of ink from her pen. Aiding her in her study was Miss Havergal’s knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible writers.

American hymn writer Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote a poetic tribute to Frances Havergal in which she describes her has having a “seeing heart.”

Her heart can see, her heart can see!
Well may she sing so joyously!
For the King Himself, in His tender grace,
Hath shown her the brightness of His face.

If you fill a pitcher with water, that’s what you expect will be poured from it later. Not milk, or juice. There’s a definite connection between what goes in and what comes out.

The same principle applies to the human mind. Feed in lies, feed it error, and that’s what will come out, And we can’t expect to have wholesome thoughts if we fill our heads with what is corrupt and debasing. On the other hand, if we focus our attention on what is good, and true, and right, it will affect our thinking in a positive way, and ultimately influence our decisions and our actions.

In a Bible passage about gaining inner peace (Phil. 4:4-9), eight qualities are listed (vs. 8) describing things that are worthy of our attention. The eight are:

¤ What is true (factual, accurate)
¤ Noble (honourable)
¤ Just (righteous, acceptable to God)
¤ Pure (chaste, morally clean)
¤ Lovely (pleasing)
¤ Of good report (good reputation, appealing)
¤ Having virtue (excellence)
¤ Praiseworthy (commendable)

And we are exhorted to “meditate on these things.” Not just give them a passing glance, but dwell on them, and make them the subject of careful reflection.

Notice that the first issue of concern becomes: Is it true? No other matter is of greater significance to those who teach God’s Word, and it applies to Christian witness as well. John the Baptist was commissioned by God to introduce Christ at His coming, and people said this of him afterward:

“John performed no sign [miracle], but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true” (Jn. 10:41).

Is it true? In August of 1844, Samuel Snow preached that Christ was going to return on October 22nd of that year. But the day came and went, and nothing happened. To followers of Snow’s teaching it became “the great disappointment.” One of them wrote, “”Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.”

Snow was wrong. Yet we know from Scripture that the Lord Jesus will return. He said so Himself (Jn. 14:3). And we look forward to “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13). Where Snow went wrong was in forcing his own opinions upon the truth, and proclaiming them with the certainty of divine revelation. The Bible does not set a date for Christ’s return. Not even the angels know it (Matt. 24:36).

Unfortunately there are prophetic teachers around today too, who do much the same thing. And, when their speculations turn out to be in error, it causes many to discredit the Bible, assuming that what was presented was from God’s Word. Paul’s instruction to young Timothy is worthwhile for each of us:

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15, NIV).

If we are to share God’s wonderful truth with others, we need to be careful and diligent in our quest to acquire and understand it for ourselves. Truth in will mean truth out. Hymn writer Frances Havergal wrote about that in a fine hymn.

CH-1) Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou has sought, so let me seek
Thine erring children lost and lone.

CH-2) O lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Thy hungering ones with manna sweet.

CH-4) O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.

Questions:
1) What have you learned from God’s Word in the past week that has had a definite effect on your thinking and conduct?

2) Do you have a way to record things the Lord teaches you, so you can review them later, and build on them. If not, see my article Best Bible Study Tool. It could change your devotional life.

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | January 24, 2018

He Ransomed Me

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: Julia Harriet Johnston (b. Jan. 21, 1849; d. Mar. 6, 1919)
Music: J. W. Henderson (no data available)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Julia Johnston was a pastor’s daughter, and superintendent of a department of the Sunday School of her church for four decades. She was also the author of over five hundred hymns, including Grace Greater Than Our Sin. The present hymn is sometimes known by its first line, There’s a Sweet and Blessed Story.

Kidnapping is a serious crime, and one that may bring grief and suffering to many more than just the abducted individual. Often, after a person is taken, a ransom is demanded for his or her release. This is a form of extortion, attempting to obtain something by a threat of harm.

Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador who, with a relatively small force, conquered the Inca empire. He took their leader Atahualpa captive, and called for a huge ransom amounting to a room full of gold. It was sent to him, and is considered the largest ransom ever paid, likely over two billion dollars in today’s currency. He’s condemned today for not honouring the deal, but killing Atahualpa anyway!

One of the most infamous crimes of the twentieth century was the 1932 kidnapping of the baby son of famed aviator Charles Lindberg. Even after Lindberg and his wife Anne paid the required ransom, the infant was not returned. Two months later, his body was found near the Lindberg home. The kidnapper was finally caught and executed.

In 1973, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped by a gang with Mafia connections. The teen-ager was the grandson of wealthy industrialist and oil tycoon John Paul Getty (1892-1976). A ransom of seventeen million dollars was demanded, but the young man was returned after a payment of just over two million. However, the victim had been cruelly abused, and he suffered all his life from the terrifying experience.

Not all such crimes have as bad an ending as these, but many do. They are acts of greed and violence that usually have no one’s benefit in mind but the perpetrator’s, who hopes to obtain a large sum of ransom money, without being caught.

How dramatically different is the Bible’s use of the word ransom, (The Lord says of Israel, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave,” Hos. 13:14). And in the New Testament, “ransom” translates the Greek word lutron, describing a loosing from what binds. Our loving Saviour said of Himself:

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45).

This statement, also recorded by Matthew, came after a self-centred request from James and John, who wanted places of privilege in Christ’s coming kingdom (vs. 37). But the Lord explained that true greatness involves servanthood (vs. 43-44), and He presented Himself as the Example of this.

As to the ransom spoken of, some of the ancients proposed the theory that it was paid to Satan. That he had, in effect, had kidnapped the human race, and the Father gave His Son to pay the ransom. But this is unbiblical foolishness. The devil will reap no payment for his malice but eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Rather, God, in Christ, paid the ransom to Himself. “The [just] wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), but Christ’s holy life, and His death on the cross, was offered to God the Father, to fully satisfy the just demands of His righteous law (II Cor. 5:21). Christ became our Substitute. Though perfectly holy, and undeserving of any punishment, Jesus took our place under the wrath of God, paying our debt so that we might go free.

The payment was sufficient for all (I Tim. 2:6; I Jn. 2:2), but it is only received through personal faith in Christ and His sufficient sacrifice (Jn. 3:16).

Julia Johnston published a song about the ransom paid by Christ in 1916. It says:

CH-1) There’s a sweet and blessèd story
Of the Christ who came from glory
Just to rescue me from sin and misery.
He in lovingkindness sought me,
And from and sin shame has brought me.
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

Hallelujah, what a Saviour,
Who can take a poor lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set him free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting, ‘Glory, glory, glory!’
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.

CH-3) By and by with joy increasing,
And with gratitude unceasing,
Lifted up with Christ forevermore to be,
I will join the hosts there singing,
In the anthem ever ringing,
To the King of Love, who ransomed me.

Questions:
1) What are some of the differences between kidnapper’s ransoms and the ransom paid by Christ?

2) What have we done to deserve this loving sacrifice?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | January 22, 2018

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

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: Thomas Andrew Dorsey (b. July 1, 1899; d. Jan. 23, 1993)
Music: Maitland, by George Nelson Allen (b. Sept. 7, 1812; d. Dec. 9, 1877), adapted for the present song by Thomas Andrew Dorsey

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Dorsey, known early on as a blues pianist called Georgia Tom, went on to be called the father of black gospel music. He also founded the first black gospel music publishing company. Mr. Dorsey was not only a church musician for decades, but wrote many gospel songs. A few of these, including the present hymn, his most popular, as well as There’ll Be Peace in the Valley, have made their way into some of our hymn books and popular gospel songbooks.

The debased and depraved character Gollum, in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, speaks of the magic ring as “the precious”–or “my precious,” a thing he desires above all else. But we learn the very thing he so esteems and desires is what has utterly corrupted him and poisoned his life.

The word “precious” identifies something of great price, something specially valued and held in high honour. Some gems are called precious stones. The most common of these are the diamond, the ruby, the sapphire, and the emerald. They are also listed among the twelve birth stones, each being identified with a particular month of the year.

In the case of gems, sometimes the high value has to do in part with demand. The more a stone is seen as desirable, the more it will cost. However, preciousness can also have to do with rarity. Painite (named after discoverer Arthur Pain) ranks high in this regard. For decades following the find in the 1950’s, there were only two known specimens on earth. A little more has since been unearthed, but there are still fewer than twenty-five of the gems known to exist.

In the Bible, the word precious is used often of jewels (e.g. II Sam. 12:30) and of costly ointment (e.g. Isa. 39:2). We would expect that to be the case. But many times the word is applied to spiritual things and to the Lord Himself. Both are to be specially valued and held in high honour by believers.

David declares, “How precious is Your lovingkindness [Your unfailing love], O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Ps. 36:7). And Peter writes, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… [including] exceedingly great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:3-4).

When we go through times of trial, they can prove and strengthen the sincerity of our faith in God, that “the genuineness of [our] faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7). And we ourselves are precious to God. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15).

Judging by its frequency in the New Testament (and particularly in First Peter), it seems what is most valued by Christians is intimately associated with the coming of Christ. To begin with, the Son is precious to God the Father. He was “chosen by God [to be our Saviour] and precious (I Pet. 2:4).

That should affect our own attitude toward Him. “To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). We are saved through faith in what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary, redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:19).

A quick check shows that there are many hymns and gospel songs which use our word. John Fawcett wrote, “How precious is the Book divine” (i.e. the Bible). And especially common is the exaltation of Christ. For example: “Precious to my heart is Jesus” (by Henry Jackson); “Jesus is the precious Friend” (by Eliza Hewitt); “So precious is Jesus my Saviour and King” (by Charles Gabriel); “O Saviour, precious Saviour” (by Frances Havergal).

More recent than these is the 1932 prayer hymn by Thomas Dorsey. When his wife died in childbirth (and the baby died too) Mr. Dorsey reached out in his grief to the One who meant more to him than any other. During this painful time of sorrow, he called upon God to strengthen and guide him. And his song appeals to the Lord for His comforting presence, “even through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether or not we use the actual word, may the Lord always be precious to us, all through life’s journey, whatever we’re called upon to pass through on the way. As closing words of the hymn, O Sacred Head, Now Wounded put it:

O make me Thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee.

“To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). And may it ever be so.

CH-1) Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

CH-3) When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

Questions:
1) What significant personal struggle are you facing right now?

2) Is there someone you know and can encourage and help, who’s going through a trial at this time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

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