Posted by: rcottrill | June 24, 2019

Jesus, the Very Thought of 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: Bernard of Clairvaux (b. _____, 1091; d. Aug. 21, 1153)
Music: St. Agnes, by John Bacchus Dykes (b. Mar. 10, 1823; d. Jan. 22, 1876)

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

Note: Bernard lived about eight centuries ago. He was a deeply spiritually minded man. Centuries after his time, Protestant reformer Martin Luther called him, “the best monk that ever lived, whom I admire beyond all the rest put together.” The Cyber Hymnal has fifteen stanzas for this hymn, including other lines from the longer poem from which the hymn was taken. Most hymnals use only four or five of these.

Sometimes there are sentiments expressed in romantic songs–wholesome ones–that seem to point to our relationship with the Lord, in a deeper and more spiritual sense. That’s not to say there’s no difference between sacred and secular, or between human and divine. But there are some parallels.

In 1934, English band leader Ray Stanley Noble wrote words and music for a tender ballad called The Very Thought of You. With recordings by well known singers such as Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, it soon became a popular standard. A look at the lyrics invites the comparison mentioned earlier. The song begins:

The very thought of you
And I forget to do
The little ordinary things
That everyone ought to do.

Being in a loving relationship affects our behaviour. At the human level, the intensity of emotion can induce a kind of absent-mindedness bordering on amnesia. Accidentally putting on socks that don’t match, or leaving the house and forgetting to close the door, could be symptoms of it.

That might sometimes happen occasionally in the Christian’s relationship with the Lord, but there’s another aspect of it to consider. Our love for the Lord Jesus ought to affect our behaviour. But it should prompt us to do those things, morally, “that everyone ought to do.”

“If you love Me, keep my commandments,” Christ said. “Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected [brought to maturity] in him” (I Jn. 2:5).

Then Noble’s song says:

You’ll never know
How slow the moments go
Till I’m near to you.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, says the old proverb. Being away from each other for a time can increase the desire to be together again. But, as with many maxims, there’s another one that says just the opposite: out of sight, out of mind.

In the spiritual realm, the knowledge that we have a personal relationship with the eternal God should excite a desire to fellowship with Him, through prayer and the study of His Word. But what if it doesn’t?

Sometimes the dulling of our desire results from a neglect of the activities mentioned, regular times in His Word, and in prayer. Also, a prolonged absence from the house of God, and fellowship with His people can do the same. But the most common cause is sin in our lives that has not been confessed and forsaken. It was when Adam and Eve sinned that they were moved to hide from God (Gen. 3:8).

Finally, the lover in the popular ballad says:

I see your face in every flower,
You eyes in stars above.

Everywhere he looks, he sees things that remind him of the one he loves. And there’s a spiritual correspondence there too. We see God’s hand at work in everything. Everywhere, there are tokens of His grace and power.

An 1876 hymn called Loved with Everlasting Love, by clergyman George Robinson, puts the spiritual parallel this way:

Heav’n above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen.

Believers are given a new perspective on life, we view things in a different way. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

Bernard produced a hymn that echoes Noble’s secular ballad in a profoundly spiritual way.

CH-1) Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

CH-2) Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!

CH-5) Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

Questions:
1) Do you know Christians for whom Christ is a real and beloved presence in their daily lives?

2) How does this show itself?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 20, 2019

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

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 Newton (b. July 24, 1725; d. Dec. 21, 1807)
Music: All Saints Old, from Darmstadt Gesangbuch, 1698

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

Note: The tune Regent Square, by Henry Smart (1813-1879) works with the present hymn too. This is the tune used for the carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory.

Some consider Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece, Citizen Kane, to be the greatest movie Hollywood ever produced. In it, among many gems of acting, staging and cinematography, there’s a famous scene depicting Charles Foster Kane having breakfast with his wife.

Using a montage of short clips, Welles shows the passage of time, and the increasing estrangement of the couple. In the first shot, Charlie kisses Emily good morning, and tells her he adores her. In the next there’s complaining, later comes criticism, then angry contradiction. And in the final scene, coldness. They sit at opposite ends of the table reading newspapers, and communication has ceased. It’s become a marriage in name only. (You can view the montage here.)

We have an expression for that: going through the motions. It means doing a thing without enthusiasm or personal commitment. Maybe even faking it, putting on an act as if something is real, when it’s not.

That can happen in a marriage. It can also happen in a local church. A church can have magnificent decor, robed choristers, perhaps a great pipe organ–or even an orchestra. It can have stirring rituals, candles, incense, and large numbers in attendance. But if those present aren’t doing business with the living Christ, if it’s all surface and no soul, all words and no holy wonder, then it’s an abomination to God.

That was true of a church described in the Bible–a church in the city of Laodicea, situated in what is modern day Turkey. The glorified Christ describes several things wrong with them.

1) One was their insensitive and prideful self-satisfaction. They were totally blind to their spiritual poverty. “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

2) Then there was their lukewarmness concerning service for God–about which He has searing criticism. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (vs. 15-16).

3) And finally, the Lord pictures Himself on the outside, looking in. They may have had fine music about Him, they may have read Scriptures about Him, they may have had rituals meant to represent Him, but He was not a living presence among them. Christ says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine [fellowship] with him, and he with Me” (vs. 20).

Expressing a stark contrast to this is a little known hymn by English clergyman John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, and many others. Published in 1774, his song Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder is a call for a depth of heartfelt passion that should regularly characterize our assemblies. We need divinely inspired love, songs from the heart, and awed wonderment at the greatness of our God.

The last lines of the hymn (in stanza 6) are sobering. They call attention to the weakness of our praise, even at our best. Congregations for which the singing of our great hymns has become a kind of meaningless ritual need to give Pastor Newton’s words careful thought.

Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

CH-1) Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Saviour’s name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

CH-2) Let us love the Lord who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

CH-3) Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

CH-4) Let us wonder, grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth….loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5).

Questions:
1) What does it mean to “wonder,” (or have wonder) as John Newton uses the term?

2) How would you assess the hymn singing of your own church?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 17, 2019

Jesus, These Eyes Have Never Seen

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: Ray Palmer (b. Nov. 12, 1808; d. Mar. 29, 1887)
Music: Sawley, by James Walch (b. June 21, 1837; d. Aug. 30, 1901)

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

Note: Ray Palmer, the son of a Rhode Island judge, was an American pastor who served churches in Maine and New York State. He also wrote a great deal of poetry, including the familiar hymn, My Faith Looks Up to Thee. And in the present lesser known song he speaks movingly of our spiritual fellowship with the Lord now, and of the day when we shall see Him face to face. The Cyber Hymnal will give you the little incident that led to the writing of Pastor Palmer’s lovely hymn.

T here are individuals whose words or works are so influential they significantly affect their own time, and even cast a long shadow after they’re gone. We speak of the long reigns of both Queen Elizabeth the First and Queen Victoria that way. The Elizabethan Age, and the Victorian Era have affected many beyond the bounds of their own lives.

And it’s not only monarchs who’ve had a radical effect beyond their span of years. Thomas Edison died in 1931, but the impact of his many inventions continues to be felt. Sound recording, motion pictures, the electric light bulb, and more, have had a part in changing our world. And the theories of Albert Einstein, though he died over sixty years ago, are still built upon in the area of theoretical physics.

In Christianity, the theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin, and the Protestant Reformation in which they had a crucial part, can still be seen in the tenants and policies of many churches today. And, following in the line of prominent American evangelists Dwight Moody, and Billy Sunday, came Billy Graham. His large evangelistic campaigns continued for nearly sixty years, making him one of the most influential Christian leaders of the twentieth century.

In an infinitely surpassing way, the incarnate Son of God became the most significant and history making Man who ever lived. Though He was a physical presence on earth for only about thirty-five years, and though His public ministry involved but the last three years of that, what He did, and what He said, continues to transform lives and whole societies two millennia later. To explore His dominant place, Herbert Lockyer wrote his fine two volume history called The Man Who Changed the World.

It must have been a wonderful thing to be there when Jesus taught the multitudes and performed His miracles. Things that happened were so memorable His disciples, Matthew, Peter, and John, spoke about them and wrote about them years afterward. But His ascension back into heaven (Lk. 24:50-51) ended, for a time, any physical engagement with the Lord Jesus. His departure was, in that sense, the end of an era.

That’s not to say, however, that we’re deprived, today, of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ. At the time of His ascension, He promised His followers, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). He also promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). And, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (Jn. 14:18).

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9).

The reality of that fellowship is realized, both individually and corporately, when people of faith meet Him in His Word and in prayer. Through the Scriptures, He speaks to us, and in prayer we commune with Him.

Here is Ray Palmer’s hymn in full.

CH-1) Jesus, these eyes have never seen,
That radiant form of Thine;
The veil of sense hangs dark between
Thy blessèd face and mine.

CH-2) I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,
Yet art Thou oft with me;
And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot,
As where I meet with Thee.

CH-3) Like some bright dream that comes unsought,
When slumbers o’er me roll,
Thine image ever fills my thought,
And charms my ravished soul.

CH-4) Yet though I have not seen, and still
Must rest in faith alone,
I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,
Unseen, but not unknown.

CH-5) When death these mortal eyes shall seal,
And still this throbbing heart,
The rending veil shall Thee reveal,
All glorious as Thou art.

Questions:
1) What truth presented in this hymn is a special blessing to you?

2) How has the Lord demonstrated the reality of His presence with you, in recent days?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 13, 2019

Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

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: Isaac Watts (b. July 17, 1674; d. Nov. 25, 1748)
Music: Duke Street, attributed to John Hatton (b. Sept. ___, 1710; d. Dec. ___, 1793)

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

Note: Watts has made a significant contribution, even to modern hymn books, three centuries after his time. Hymns such as: O God, Our Help in Ages Past; I Sing the Mighty Power of God; Joy to the World; Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed? Join All the Glorious Names; Come, We That Love the Lord; Am I a Soldier of the Cross?, and the superb When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, are his.

The original eight stanzas of the present hymn are not all used today. It’s most common to take the first, and a combination of stanzas two and three, plus Watts’s stanzas four and five. Below they are given as modern editors have printed them.

Songs can become dated, sometime just because things change with the passage of time. Except perhaps in historical enactments or period musicals, not many couples will ride on “a bicycle built for two,” or in “a surrey with the fringe on top,” though there are songs about each.

In a special sense, that can be said of songs in the Bible too–that they’re time related. They have a historical context that needs to be recognized. A case in point. The book of Psalms was the hymn book of ancient Israel. And a number of verses in Psalm 22 are graphically fulfilled with Christ’s death on the cross, a thousand years later. There is certainly value in studying the psalm as it is, in its historical context. But we also need to turn to the New Testament to see how it was fulfilled at Calvary.

But what if a church sang only the Old Testament Psalms. Pastor, theologian, and hymn writer, Isaac Watts grew up in a church that believed only the Psalms should be sung in the services, no newer hymns. But he argued that by so doing they were missing a great deal of New Testament truth. With the church’s permission, he began writing some hymns for the congregation, eventually producing about six hundred of them.

So far, so good. But when a hymn writer takes an Old Testament text and gives it a New Testament meaning, that involves more than merely explaining the initial passage of Scripture and drawing life principles from it. It requires expressing an opinion about how the New Testament relates to the passage. Does it really say what you’re trying to make it say?

Watt’s hymn Jesus Shall Reign is a case in point. He used the latter part of Psalm 72, and turned it into a hymn about Jesus. The psalm is a prayer of David for his son, Solomon, when He ascended to the throne. Watts felt this could also be a picture of the spread of the gospel today. Perhaps it can, in part. (For a wonderful example of this missionary application, see the first Wordwise Hymns link above.)

But it seems better to look beyond both David’s time, and even Watts’s more recent application, and see there a prophetic picture of Christ’s second coming and reign.

“He shall have dominion…to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8) was not literally true of Solomon. Nor was “all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him” (vs. 11). But at a future day when Christ returns He is called “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16), and we read, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15). As the prophet Daniel describes it,

“Behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!…To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).

Here is Watts’s hymn, picturing the earthly kingdom and reign of Christ.

(Stanza 1) Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

(Parts of stanza 2 and 3 combined)
From north to south the princes meet
To pay their homage at His feet;
While western empires own their Lord,
And savage tribes attend His Word.

(Stanza 4) To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And endless praises crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

(Stanza 5) People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song,
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

Questions:
1) In what sense is the Lord Jesus reigning now?

2) How will His reign be different in the coming kingdom, at His return?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 10, 2019

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

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: Aberystwyth ( or Parry) Joseph Parry (b. May 21, 1841; d. Feb. 17, 1903)

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The tune Martyn, by Simeon Marsh (1798-1875) is used in some hymn books, but the Welsh tune Aberystwyth is superior, if your congregation can handle it.

If you enjoy really fine singing, check out here the clip of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in 1935’s Naughty Marietta, singing the song discussed below. There seems to be a problem synchronizing picture and sound but, make no mistake, that is them singing, and they are terrific–especially MacDonald. This kind of mastery of the art of singing seems harder to find today.

Composer Victor Herbert (1859-1924) is considered one of the pioneers in American musical theatre. In 1910, his most popular operetta, Naughty Marietta, debuted on Broadway. It later became an Oscar winning movie. In the story, the Countess Marietta and Captain Warrington sing a passionate duet called Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.

Life has many mysteries, many things that puzzle and perplex us. Big ones such as: Why am I here? What is life’s purpose? What moral standard should guide me through life? What is ahead after this life is through? And more immediate and practical issues, such as: Where will I live? Where go to church? What job opportunities should I pursue?

But what’s the great mystery of life, according to the song just mentioned? What is it all the world is seeking? The couple sings:

Ah! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you,
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all;
All the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joy and idle tears that fall!

And the object of this desperate and universal search, according to the song?

‘Tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking,
And ’tis love, and love alone, that can repay!
‘Tis the answer, ’tis the end and all of living,
For it is love alone that rules for aye!

There may indeed be something else you would identify as life’s greatest mystery, but that one certainly has merit. To be loved, and able to return that love, is a major factor in finding meaning, fulfilment and satisfaction in life. Yet individuals often try many other things that prove inadequate.

The Lord knows about love and how we need it. In the Bible some form of words such as love and beloved are found about six hundred times.

There we’re told of an eternal inter-Trinitarian love. God the Father loved the Son (Jn. 3:35), and spoke of Him from heaven three times as “My beloved Son” (Lk. 3:22; 9:35; 20:13). And the Son told of His love for the Father (Jn. 14:31). That love has always been, and always will be.

Then there is the Lord’s love for lost sinners, and His desire to provide a way of salvation for them. The familiar John 3:16 speaks of it. And “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)

It stands to reason the Lord will also have a special, family love for those who’ve become His children, through faith in Christ. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I Jn. 3:1). And “Christ…loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).

And what about our own love? When asked which was the greatest commandment in the Jewish Law, Christ said it was the command to love God (Matt. 22:37-38)–a love to be demonstrated by our obedience to Him (Jn. 14:21). And finally, there is our love for others, which the Lord Jesus said is a second significant commandment like the one to love God (Matt. 22:39).

There’s a hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) that some have ranked as perhaps the finest in the English language. I’d rank Isaac Watts’s When I Survey the Wondrous Cross right up there too. But, published in 1740, Jesus, Lover of My Soul deserves a very high place. It’s about the saving, protective, nurturing love of the Lord Jesus Christ, of which Paul wrote, “The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

CH-1) Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

CH-2) Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

CH-5) Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.

Questions:
1) What is it about the love of the Lord that’s the most difficult to understand or accept?

2) What other hymn(s) would you rank as being among the best we have?

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | June 6, 2019

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

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: Henry Francis Lyte (b. June 1, 1793; d. Nov. 20, 1847)
Music: Hyfrydol, by Rowland Huw Prichard (b. Jan. 14, 1811; d. Jan. 25, 1887)

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

Note: The original version of this hymn apparently had six stanzas. Most hymn books today use four. Usually it’s 1, 2, 4, and 6. But Living Hymns takes a different approach with 1, 2, 4, and 3. As to the tune, Hyfrydol works well, but the most commonly used melody seems to be Ellesdie. This has sometimes been attributed to Mozart, but no concrete evidence has yet been found. The arranger of the tune was Hubert Platt Main (1839-1925) of the gospel publishing house Biglow and Main.

Persecution, sometimes violent, other times subtle, occurs around the globe. To persecute someone may include any or all of the following: ridicule, persistent harassment, oppression, mistreatment, exclusion or exile, imprisonment, torture or even death. The reasons for such abuses are most commonly either political or religious.

The freedom of speech protected by democracies says individuals have the right to express opinions without censorship or restraint–though there are limitations. The freedom is not absolute. Excluded are the incitement of violence, or a bogus threat to public danger (for example, by yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, or “I’ve got a bomb!” on an airplane).

Freedom of speech should include the right to speak publicly about to one’s beliefs, or have a spirited debate or discussion with someone who disagrees, as long as there is respect for the other individual on both sides. In theory, that is possible in North America.

But having said that, an anti-Christian bias is often observable in society, and especially in the media. The educator, the economist, the scientist, the sociologist, and the psychologist may be listened to with respect, while the follower of Christ is said to be biased and out of touch–as though those in the other fields mentioned have no biases of their own. Believe what you want, but keep it private seems to be the prevailing attitude.

The other way people of faith are frequently dealt with is to appeal to what’s sometimes called the new tolerance. This goes beyond the idea that all views are to be considered respectfully to proclaim all views to be are equally valid. But it won’t do to say, “My beliefs are true for me, and your beliefs are true for you. It’s all the same.” No, it isn’t. You may believe the contents of a bottle labeled “Poison” are safe to drink, but that does not make it so.

And the Bible simply will not allow that approach to the Christian faith. The Lord Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). And Peter preached, soon after Pentecost, “Nor is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). The gospel of grace is inclusive, in that it welcomes all to receive God’s gift of salvation. But it’s exclusive, in the sense that it offers no alternative way to be saved eternally.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God….He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:18, 36).

Sometimes it’s not so much for personal faith in Christ that an individual is persecuted. Rather, it is his insistence that there is no other way to be saved. Hostility rises when those who adhere to other religions or creeds are said to be wrong, and in eternal danger. And Christ told His followers: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:18, 20).

Those who claim Jesus preached a message of peace and love must be very selective in texts they use to prove it. He also said, ““Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matt. 10:34-35).

Identifying ourselves with Christ is going to be divisive, even dangerous. But he said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself [rejecting selfishness and self will], and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).

Scotland born pastor Henry Francis Lyte, who gave us the familiar hymn Abide with Me, also wrote Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, expressing his willingness to surrender all to follow Christ, as the above text challenges believers to do.

CH-1) Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shalt be.
Perish, every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known.
Yet how rich is my condition–
God and heav’n are still mine own!

CH-2) Let the world despise and leave me–
They have left my Saviour, too–
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue;
And while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me:
Show Thy face, and all is bright.

CH-6) Haste then on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission;
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Questions:
1) What does “deny himself” mean to you, practically, day be day?

2) What is involved in “take up his [or her] cross,” in practical terms?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 3, 2019

Not Dreaming

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: Rodney Simon (“Gypsy”) Smith (b. Mar. 31, 1860; d. Aug. 4, 1947)
Music: Ensign Edwin Young (b. Jan. 3, 1895; d. July 22, 1980)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Gypsy Smith)
Hymnary.org

Note: It’s not often I recommend a secular song (or its performance) on this blog, but I will here, for several reasons. Below, I mention the touching secular ballad, Once Upon a Time. You can hear the recording of the song by 1960’s gifted pop star Bobby Darin, plus some valuable lessons we can draw from it in A Singing Lesson.

In 1962, the musical All American opened on Broadway. After negative reviews, it was soon gone–except for one song, with lyrics by Lee Adams. The wistfully beautiful Once Upon a Time, about a long ago love, has since been recorded by dozens of artists, including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. In the story, a young man sings, “Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew….How happy we were then.”

It’s a misty, romantic memory. “But somehow once upon a time never comes again.” So, was it real in the first place–or just a lovely dream? He sings, “We didn’t have a care….Everything was ours.” But we know that isn’t a realistic picture of the past. It’s looking at life through the proverbial rose coloured glasses. It’s almost certain the “good old days” weren’t always so good.

We can see an illustration of that in Scripture. Moses, as God’s appointed leader, led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and into the wilderness. They were heading for the land of Canaan, which the Lord had promised to them and their descendants. But life in the wilderness, traveling with families, and livestock, wasn’t easy. There were times when water was hard to find, and food too.

When this happened, they complained to Moses, saying, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exod. 16:3) “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Num. 11:5).

But was that a true picture of what was happening? We read earlier, “The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigour [harshness]. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage–in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field” (Exod. 1:13-14). And, to keep their numbers down, Pharaoh told the midwives to kill all the Hebrew baby boys, at birth (vs. 16). That’s the reality, and they cried out to God for help (Exod. 2:23).

Some years ago, there was a long-haired rock musician who was confronted with the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knelt in prayer, repenting of his sins, and trusting in the Saviour. But when he got to his feet, he was plagued by nagging doubt. “Am I really saved, or was that all just a pipedream? How stupid! What a fool I made of myself!”

When he got home, there was his grandmother’s old Bible sitting on the table. And the one who’d led him to the Lord had said, “Get a Bible and read the gospel of John.” He thought again, “Maybe it’s all nonsense, but what have I got to lose?” So, he picked up the well-worn book, found the Gospel of John, and started to read.

He told me, with a smile, the moment I started to read, I knew. “It’s real, it’s all real.” And he said, “I’ve never doubted that to this very day. Though he didn’t know it at the time, being untaught, this is something the Bible talks about: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16).

The same confidence gripped Rodney Smith. Born in a gypsy tent in Epping Forest, near London, “Gypsy Smith” became an evangelist, and made more than forty preaching tours of America and Australia. “I’m God’s messenger from the gypsy tent,” he said. He also wrote many gospel songs, including his theme song, Wonderful Jesus, and 1927’s Not Dreaming.

Note: The third line of the first stanza, in the original, reads, “Jesus my Lover, my Saviour, my Master.” Because of the modern connotation of the word “lover,” it is best to substitute other words, if you use the song.

1) The world says I’m dreaming, but I know ‘tis Jesus
Who saves me from bondage and sin’s guilty stain;
He is belovèd, my Saviour, my Master,
‘Tis He who has freed me from guilt and its pain.

Let me dream on, if I am dreaming;
Let me dream on, my sins are gone;
Night turns to dawn, love’s light is beaming,
So if I’m dreaming, let me dream on.

2) My home in glory is fairer than morning,
And Jesus my Saviour will welcome me there;
No, I’m not dreaming! I’m awake, it is dawning,
His smile and His love I’ll eternally share.

3) Oh, let me fight on for Jesus my Saviour,
And tell of the love He so wondrously gave;
Preaching or singing, living or dying,
In life or in death He is mighty to save.

Questions:
1) If doubts come into your mind about spiritual things, what do you do about it?

2) Why do those of the unsaved world ridicule Christ, and our faith in Him?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 30, 2019

Jesus, I Come

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: William True Sleeper (b. Feb. 9, 1819; d. Sept. 24, 1904)
Music: George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)

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

Note: William Sleeper was an American pastor. George Stebbins was a gospel musician who composed the melodies for many who wrote the words. Stebbins is significant because he lived for nearly a century, right through the period when many familiar evangelists and gospel song writers lived, and he knew them all.

We come upon many comparisons and contrasts in life. Dark and light, rich and poor, old and young, short and tall, and so on. And have you noticed how often one side of the contrast is used to define the other?

A room may be dark without a light, and brightly lit when a lamp is turned on. That’s a contrast. But when we step outside into a sunny day, the room, though lighted, may seem dingy by comparison. If we’re to understand the true measure of big or small, slow or fast, strong or weak, or other qualities, we must ask, “Compared to what?”

In the moral and spiritual realm this often creates a problem. If an individual considers himself a good person, it’s important to know, “Compared to whom?” He could well be less moral and spiritual than some, but better than the morally degenerate among us. If he focuses on one side of the scale, it can foster discouragement (“I’ll never be as good as she is.). Looking in the other direction may lead to spiritual pride (“I’m certainly better than they are.”)

The Lord told of a man who did that. “The Pharisee stood [in the temple] and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” (Lk. 18:11-12). But his assessment was faulty. The tax collector nearby was ashamed of his sinful condition. He pleaded for heaven’s mercy, and was forgiven and “justified” (pronounced righteous) by God (vs. 13-14).

And God has resolved this measurement pitfall for us. His approved standard of comparison is “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13)–what translator Charles Williams calls “a mature manhood…a perfect measure of Christ’s moral stature.” Over and again that is the standard.

“Let this mind [attitude] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3). “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph. 5:2). “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). And the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, “ Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).

It takes only a little study of the Word of God to realize this sets an impossibly high standard. Everything good about the holy Son of God shines a brilliant spotlight on our own imperfection and utter failure. Only through the saving grace of God can we be transformed.

William Sleeper served as the pastor of a church in Massachusetts for thirty years. He also wrote several hymns. One of them, called Jesus, I Come, lists about fifteen reasons why a sinner needs the Saviour. Fifteen dramatic contrasts between the condition of the sinner and what the gospel of grace offers, through faith in Christ.

CH-1) Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-2) Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-3) Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-4) Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Questions:
1) What contrasts, in your own life, do you see between saved and unsaved?

2) Pastor Sleeper uses words such as: bondage, shameful failure, despair, depths of ruin. How would you answer a good living unsaved person who says he has none of those problems?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 27, 2019

Jerusalem, My Happy Home

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:
Joseph Bromehead (b. _____, 1747; d. Jan. 30, 1826), and see note below
Music: Barre, by Edward Clark (19th century)

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

Note: The hymn Jerusalem, My Happy Home is often credited to English clergyman Joseph Bromehead. However, what he wrote is adapted from an earlier source, identified only with the initials F.B.P. This may refer to Francis Baker Porter, a Roman Catholic priest imprisoned in the Tower of London during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. One view is that he created this song as an expression of his longing for the liberty of heaven.

The original had twenty-six stanzas. This was pared down to nineteen in a 1601 publication. Later hymn writers, James Montgomery (1771-1854) and Joseph Bromehead further amended the song. Its long and tangled history accounts for the varying versions found in our hymnals.

As the twentieth century dawned, author L. Frank Baum published a children’s book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was followed by fourteen sequels, with a girl named Dorothy Gale being the central character in most of them. Even many who haven’t read the books have seen the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.

In the story, a tornado sweeps Dorothy away from a Kansas farm, carrying her to a magical kingdom called Oz. There she has many amazing adventures, but through them all she longs to go home again. Says she, wistfully, “There’s no place like home.” No, there isn’t. Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote, “Home is where the heart is.” And an unknown author opined, “Deep within each of us is a longing for home.”

Christians often express a similar sentiment concerning our future home in heaven. For one thing, it’s where our heart is, because it’s where our Saviour is. We see that reflected in the Scriptures too. Paul speaks of “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” and he says, “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, 23).

The Lord Jesus comforted His followers with this promise:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions [or dwelling places]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

More about our heavenly home is recorded in the book of Revelation, where two descriptive images are used. Heaven is called Paradise (Rev. 2:7), a Persian word referring to a beautiful park or garden. With its crystal flowing river, and the fruited tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2), it may remind us of Eden.

The other image is that of a city. John calls it, “the holy city, New Jerusalem: (Rev. 21:2). The writer of Hebrews speaks of it as, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). In addition to the dwellings the Lord Jesus spoke about, Revelation describes its beautiful walls (Rev. 21:12), and a thoroughfare paved with gold (Rev. 21:21). These things we’re told. But, without doubt, there’s much yet to be discovered. It’s a world beyond our own experience.

There are many hymns about heaven. However, the things the authors tell us must be checked with the Word of God. Sometimes they rely more on imagination than on biblical facts. For example, the original hymn we’ll examine now says in one stanza, “There David stands with harp in hand, as master of the choir.” It’s possible, maybe. But nowhere does the Bible say David will lead the heavenly choir.

While we may challenge some of the details, we can appreciate the sentiment of this hymn, expressing the beauty and delights of our heavenly home, There’s no place like it!

CH-1) Jerusalem, my happy home!
Name ever dear to me;
When shall my labours have an end,
In joy, and peace, and thee?

CH-2) When shall these eyes thy heaven built walls
And pearly gates behold?
Thy bulwarks, with salvation strong,
And streets of shining gold?

CH-3) There happier bowers than Eden’s bloom,
Nor sin nor sorrow know:
Blest seats, through rude and stormy scenes,
I onward press to you.

CH-4) Why should I shrink at pain and woe?
Or feel at death dismay?
I’ve Canaan’s goodly land in view,
And realms of endless day.

CH-5) Apostles, martyrs, prophets there
Around my Saviour stand;
And soon my friends in Christ below
Will join the glorious band.

CH-7) O Christ do Thou my soul prepare
For that bright home of love;
That I may see Thee and adore,
With all Thy saints above.

Questions:
1) Beyond the wonder of being with our Saviour, which of the delights mentioned in the hymn are most appealing to you?

2) Why do you think it is that fewer hymns about heaven are being written today than in the 1800’s and before?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 23, 2019

Remember Me, O Mighty One

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: (author unknown)
Music: Joanna Kinkel (b. July 8, 1810; d. Nov. 15, 1858); adapted by George Frederick Root (b. Aug. 30, 1820; d. Aug. 6, 1895)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none, as of this date)
Hymnary.org

Note: Joanna Kinkel was a German composer. We don’t know the author of the words, but they were published in an 1880 hymn book, so likely come from the nineteenth century. I can recall a men’s choir I was in, back in the 1960’s, singing this prayer quite effectively. On the Wordwise Hymns link you get a bonus: a link to a quartet singing this hymn.

The word remember is a common one. There are things we want to secure in our memories and give attention to at a later time. Perhaps it’s a phone call we want to make, or something to add to the weekly shopping list. And, as we get older, recalling some things, like dates and phone numbers, seems to get more difficult. Remembering names can get harder too. We may see a face in our mind’s eye, but the name eludes us for a time.

Another dimension may be added when it’s a person we remember. He or she may be absent from us for a time, or possibly has passed away. To remember them involves more than just calling a name or face to mind. There’s an emotional and intentional element too. On Remembrance Day, November 11th, we show respect for those who died in service for our country, expressing our approval of their sacrifice with speeches, songs and ceremonies.

“Remember me” is a phrase used quite a few times in the Bible. The intentional aspect of it can be seen in the words of Joseph, who’d been falsely accused and locked in an Egyptian prison. When Pharaoh’s butler, a fellow-prisoner, was released, Joseph said to him, “Remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house” (Gen. 40:14). Attention with intention.

When the Lord Jesus says the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is to be celebrated “in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:23-26), it’s not simply a matter of going through a familiar ritual. We are being directed to meditate sincerely on His sacrifice on the cross, and to live, day by day, in such a way that we show our personal application of it.

Frequently in Scripture the phrase is used in prayer. Nehemiah prayed, “Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people [i.e. the Jews who’d returned to Judea after captivity in Babylon]” (Neh. 5:19). And later he prays, “Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!” (Neh. 13:22).

The psalmist prays, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour You have toward Your people; oh, visit me with Your salvation” (Ps. 106:4). And the prophet Jeremiah prays, “O Lord, You know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke” (Jer. 15:15).

It can be seen from these few examples that the call for God to “remember” is often a cry for help in time of need. We see the same thing with the words of the dying thief, hanging on a cross next to Christ. “He said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’” (Lk. 23:42). A plea which the Lord promised to fulfil. “Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (vs. 43).

In Psalm 25, David voices an urgent plea for protection, guidance, and God’s forgiveness:

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old….According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Ps. 27:6, 7).

We don’t know what events brought David to pray that way, but it may have been this distressed petition which inspired a passionate prayer hymn. The author of the words may remain unknown to us, but they are poignant.

Note: Stanza 2 seems to be referring to the incident when Peter asked if he could come to Jesus, walking on the sea. But he became afraid and began to sink (Matt. 14:22-33). The author uses it as a picture of a fear of sinking in a time of great distress.

1) When storms around are sweeping,
When lone my watch I’m keeping,
‘Mid fires of evil falling,
‘Mid tempters’ voices calling,

Remember me, O Mighty One!
Remember me, O Mighty One!

2) When walking on life’s ocean,
Control its raging motion;
When from its dangers shrinking,
When in it’s dread deep sinking,

3) When weight of sin oppresses,
When dark despair distresses,
All through the life that’s mortal,
And when I pass death’s portal,

Questions:
1) Have you face days of extreme difficulty and maybe “dark despair” as the hymn describes?

2) Did the Lord provide in some special way, when you prayed?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none, as of this date)
Hymnary.org

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