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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.
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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: Carrie Elizabeth Ellis Breck (b. Jan. 22, 1855; d. Mar. 27, 1934)
Music: Kampala, by Grant Colfax Tullar (b. Aug. 5, 1869; d. May 20, 1950)
Note: Carrie Breck was a busy wife and mother, with six daughters. She wrote hundreds of hymns but, having no sense of pitch, she passed the words on to others to provide the tunes. Grant Tullar was a pastor, evangelist, and gospel song writer. He also founded a music publishing company.
The family laughs about it now, but it was an embarrassing disaster back then. We buy a healthier brand of peanut butter, containing no added sugar. But, as purchased, the oil is separated from the peanuts, and has to be mixed in before use–a one-time job that takes a few minutes. “Maybe there’s a quicker way,” thought the man of the house. He clicked one blade into the mixer, pushed it down into the jar, plugged in the cord, and turned the appliance on.
Instantly, several bad things happened. The jar was wrenched out of his hand, and began spinning violently. That wound the cord around the jar and, mercifully, pulled the plug out of the wall. But in its brief giddy spin, the jar flung peanut butter and oil all over the stove, the fridge, the toaster and the wall, and the foolish operator! Two hours of clean-up followed. A lesson learned.
Who has never used a butter knife for a screw driver, or a shoe for a hammer? They don’t usually do the job as well as the thing designed for it. But not all substitutes are misfits. Some are quite clever. Whole books have been written describing how to use familiar household products, toothpaste, mayonnaise, and more, in creative and useful ways.
Did you know a common shoe organizer can make an attractive hanging garden? Or that the Frisbie Pie Company sold thousands of pies on sturdy metal plates. Then, one day, some Yale University students discovered the plates could be thrown and caught, and a new toy was born. And what about bubble wrap? Did you know it was originally designed to be textured wallpaper? But someone realized it made wonderful packing material, which is now its main use.
In the Bible there are examples of objects being used in unusual and effective ways. In Judges chapter 7, we learn how the Lord worked through Gideon and a band of three hundred courageous men carrying pitchers, torches, and trumpets, to defeat an army of 135,000 Midianites (cf. Jud. 8:10). Later we see Samson slaying a thousand Philistines, by wielding the jawbone of a donkey (Jud. 15:15).
There is one example in the Scriptures infinitely more wonderful than any other. God used a Roman gibbet to deliver untold millions of people from eternal judgment. The Romans employed the dreadful cruelty of crucifixion intentionally. It made a public execution a terrifying object lesson warning others not to disobey Roman law.
Yet the crucified Christ was innocent of any wrong. Reading the Gospels we see that many declared it to be so, including Judas, who betrayed Him (Matt. 27:3-4), and Roman procurator Pilate, who ordered His execution (Jn. 19:4). In fact, the Bible states repeatedly that the holy Son of God was utterly sinless (Heb. 4:15; 7:26; I Pet. 2:22). Instead, according to the Father’s plan, He died as our Substitute, under the wrath of God, to pay our debt of sin (Jn. 3:16; II Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:7; I Jn. 3:5).
This brings us to a hymn about the cross by gospel song writer Carrie Breck, and evangelist and composer Grant Tullar. Twice that we know of, tunes written by Tullar were put to another use by words provided by Breck. In 1898, Grant Tullar wrote a tune and provided words for it beginning:
All for me the Saviour suffered,
All for me He bled and died.
But some verses arrived by mail the next day from Mrs. Breck that fit the tune exactly. Tullar set aside his words, putting his tune to another use, and gave us:
Face to face with Christ my Saviour,
Face to face–what will it be:
About a year later, Tullar wrote a tune for a secular ballad called By the Murmuring Brook. But Carrie Breck provided a text that led him to put the melody to another–and far better–use. The resulting hymn echoes the truth of Colossians 2:13-14:
“Having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
CH-1) There was One who was willing to die in my stead,
That a soul so unworthy might live;
And the path to the cross He was willing to tread,
All the sins of my life to forgive.
They are nailed to the cross,
They are nailed to the cross,
O how much He was willing to bear!
With what anguish and loss Jesus went to the cross!
But He carried my sins with Him there.
1) What gifts has God given you that you have learned to put to a better use and higher purpose, since you trusted Christ as Saviour?
2) How would you explain the gospel simply, to someone who asks you about it?