Posted by: rcottrill | April 18, 2018

It Is No Secret

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: Carl Stuart Hamblen (b. Oct. 20, 1908; d. Mar. 8, 1989)
Music: Carl Stuart Hamblen

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

Note: Stuart Hamblen was a profane, hard-drinking cowboy actor. But in 1949, through the ministry of Billy Graham, he trusted Christ as his Saviour and his life was transformed. He later wrote a song called It Is No Secret–surprisingly, created at the suggestion of actor John Wayne, after hearing Hamblen’s testimony. A more detailed story of the writing of the song, as well as a video of Mr. Hamblen singing it, are found on the first Wordwise Hymns link.

Do you have any secrets? Some reasons for secrecy are fine–such as those about gifts to be given for birthdays or Christmas. There are also necessary secrets in war. On being asked by a soldier what his plans for an upcoming battle were, George Washington replied, “Can you keep a secret?” When the man responded that he could, Washington said, “So can I.”

But there are bad uses of secrecy. Marital unfaithfulness often involves lying to keep an intimate relationship hidden. Crime involves attempted concealment too.

On the other hand, sometimes great harm can be done by breaking a promise of secrecy. A talebearer reveals secrets” (Prov. 11:13). Italian scholar Fausto Cercignani said, “A secret remains a secret until you make someone promise never to reveal it.” The gossiper may tell of hidden things to gain a personal advantage, or for revenge, or out of pride, simply showing off how he was trusted with inside information. Benjamin Franklin was not confident of our ability to keep secrets. He wrote, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

Some form of the word “secret” (meaning hidden, concealed, covered) is used nearly a hundred times in Scripture. The Bible says of God, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deut. 29:29). We’ll never know everything about God, but He has revealed many things about Himself that bless us (Ps. 25:14).

The Lord is present everywhere, and we cannot hide from Him (Jer. 23:24). He knows the secrets of our hearts (Ps. 44:21), and they tell a lot about us. French novelist, André Malraux, said, “Man is not what he thinks he is; he is what he hides.” There’s some truth in that. And it’s wise to ask the Lord to reveal to us our secret sins, so we can confess and forsake them (Ps. 19:21). God will, in the end, judge the secret things in our lives (Ecc. 12:14; Mk. 4:22). Better to deal with them now.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9).

But there’s one particular thing the Lord does not want kept hidden–the Christian gospel that “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). We are called to put our faith in Him for eternal salvation (Jn. 3:16), “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). That’s good news to be shared far and wide.

¤ “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19).
¤ “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mk. 16:15).
¤ “You shall be witnesses to Me [Christ]…to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

And when a jailer in Philippi asked missionaries Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved,” they replied promptly, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts. 16:30-31).

What the Lord has done for needy sinners should never be kept secret. It’s the greatest possible news, as it concerns our eternal destiny. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12).

Stuart Hamblen’s song says, in part:

1) The chimes of time ring out the news,
Another day is through;
Someone slipped and fell–
Was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength,
Your courage to renew,
Do not be disheartened,
For I bring hope to you.

It is no secret what God can do;
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you;
With arms wide open He’ll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do.

Questions:
1) Why is it some do all they can to suppress (or keep secret) the message of the gospel?

2) What changes have come into your life since you became a Christian? (If you’re not yet a Christian, I encourage you to read the article God’s Plan of Salvation.)

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

Posted by: rcottrill | April 16, 2018

I Love Thee, Lord 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: author unknown (see note below regarding Florie Evans)
Music: Alfred Barney Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1916; d. Nov. 9, 2001)

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

Note: Annie Florence (“Florie”) Evans, whose heart-felt testimony is said to have marked the beginning of the Welsh Revival, is sometimes described in stories as a little girl. However, this does not seem to be accurate. She was born in 1886, so was in her teens at the beginning of the revival in 1904. She enlisted to go to India as a missionary in 1908, but was forced to return due to ill health. She died on December 13th, 1967.

As for Al Smith, he was an outstanding gospel song writer and publisher for decades. The present song is found in the hymnal he edited, Living Hymns. For a fuller biography of Smith see Mr. Singspiration.

Get a fellow talking about his favourite sports team and you’ll notice it. Words tumble over one another as he tells you about them, on and on. His boundless enthusiasm reveals an interest in everything that happens to them. Even how he dresses–perhaps in a shirt displaying the team logo–proclaims a close emotional tie.

Another example. I was with friends one time, when a woman’s phone rang. The moment she answered, a significant change took place. A smile lit up her face, and her voice instantly became more intimate and affectionate. Her husband was on the line, and we all could see there was a bond between them, a relationship that was unique and personal.

This also applies to what it means to be a Christian. It’s more than a label, more than a religion, more than membership in a particular church, more than performing certain rituals. Through faith in Christ, the individual has entered into a personal and life-changing relationship with the Lord. As the Bible puts it, “To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). And Paul’s testimony was, “To me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

But some have lost their way on that score. Their local church has become a kind of social club, where they meet once a week to chat about one another’s jobs, business interests, how the kids are doing, and so on. The spiritual part of things has become more of a dead formality.

That’s how it was in the latter part of the nineteenth century in many mainline churches. There was an atmosphere of dead formalism, and a rejection of the truths of Scripture and its divine inspiration. As it was in the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-19) the Lord was virtually shut out. But then God intervened in a special way.

In Wales, a pastor stood before a group of young people and asked, “What does Jesus Christ mean to you?” “He’s the hope of the world,” one responded. “But that’s not what I’m asking,” said the pastor. “What does he mean to you?” Finally a girl named Florie Evans spoke up. She’d only been a Christian for three weeks. But with deep fervour and sincerity she said, “I love the Lord Jesus with all of my heart.”

Those simple words stirred the hearts of those present, and God used Florie’s testimony to begin a great spiritual awakening called the Welsh Revival (1904-1905). More than one hundred thousand men and women put their faith in Christ–especially remarkable, as this was a tenth of the population of Wales at the time. And meanwhile an equal number of lukewarm church members were spiritually renewed.

So, was this simply emotionalism or extremism gone wild? Or was it a genuine work of God? It’s possible both were involved. But even if there were excesses, many experienced a genuine ministry of God’s Spirit. Churches were packed for years to come, and whole communities were transformed.

In many towns, there was no longer any crime to deal with. Judges were given white gloves as a symbol they had no cases to try. Police forces, with little to do, formed men’s quartets to minister in church meetings. Many taverns went bankrupt. And down in the coal mines, there was a slow-down. The animals being used to carry out the coal stopped working because the men were no longer lacing their commands with profanity, and the beasts took awhile to understand them.

In 1971 a song was published, by gospel song writer Al Smith. It describes that warm heart relationship with Christ, using the inspiring words of Florie Evans as a refrain.

1) Peace like a river is flooding my soul,
Since Christ, the Saviour, has made my life whole;
Sweet peace abiding my portion shall be–
Jesus, my Saviour, is precious to me.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart;
For dying on Calv’ry, for giving me vict’ry,
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, with all of my heart.

If we find ourselves merely going through the motions, with no spiritual vitality and warmth of God’s Spirit, may our prayer be, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps. 85:6).

Questions:
1) What will be the evidence in a person’s life that he/she thinks of Christianity merely as religious duties, as church traditions, or as accepting a church creed?

2) What will be the evidence in a person’s life that he/she realizes the Christian faith involves an ongoing personal and loving relationship with the Lord?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | April 11, 2018

Break Thou the Bread of Life

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

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

Words: Mary Artemisia Lathbury (b. Aug. 10, 1841; d. Oct. 20, 1913)
Music: William Fiske Sherwin (b. Mar. 14, 1826; d. Apr. 14, 1888)

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

Note: Miss Lathbury, the daughter of a pastor and sister to two more, was also a professional artist and a poet. One said of her, “She lived in the spiritual world, was in constant communion with heaven [and] had looked into the very face of the invisible God.” She also gave us the hymn Day Is Dying in the West. Mary Lathbury suffered from very poor eyesight, which makes the line in stanza four especially interesting and poignant: “touch my eyes, and make me see.”

Bread is the most widely consumed prepared food in the world, and has been for millennia. It’s portable, practical, and versatile. If made into a sandwich, it can contain meat, cheese, and vegetables, as well as various spreads and condiments.

Regarding the history of the sandwich, British statesman John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), is credited with the invention. He loved to play cards–particularly cribbage–and during games he wanted to have something to eat that didn’t require a fork, or get his hands messy. So he asked his valet to bring him some meat between two pieces of bread. Others thought this was a great idea, and began ordering “the same as Sandwich.”

In the Bible, the word “bread” is used over three hundred times. Sometimes it is a general term for food, but there are also many references to actual bread. The Egyptians ate bread with every meal, and the baker’s dream in Genesis 40:17 suggests they had “all kinds of baked goods.” A royal document from ancient Egypt describes thirty-eight kinds of cake, and fifty-seven kinds of bread made in Pharaoh’s kitchens.

Mainly wheat and barley were used in Bible times, though sometimes spelt or corn. Ground grain was mixed with water or olive oil. People did not always have fresh yeast (leaven), but a piece of fermented dough from a previous baking could be mixed in if the baker wanted loaves to rise. Loaves of bread have been discovered that are over five thousand years old. (A little stale now, no doubt!)

In the Mosaic Law, leaven was treated as a symbol for sin. Because it involves fermentation (corruption), and because of the way its influence spreads as evil does (cf. Gal. 5:9), the Israelites were commanded to use unleavened bread in almost all ceremonies (e.g. Lev. 6:14-17).

One of the greatest miracles of the Lord Jesus involved fish and bread–the latter being unleavened barley loaves, about the size of small pancakes (Jn. 6:1-13). The Lord also made a personal application of bread, symbolically, applying it to Himself:

“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (vs. 35).

An important ceremony of the church is likely what Acts refers to when it speaks of the early Christians participating in “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42). It’s called variously: the Lord’s Table (I Cor. 10:21); the Communion (fellowship) Service (I Cor. 10:16); the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:20); or the Eucharist, an English form of the Greek word eucharisteo, which means giving thanks (I Cor. 11:24).

So there’s literal bread, and symbolic bread both connected with Christ. He Himself is our source of spiritual food, needed to nurture our souls. And we remember His death with broken bread, which speaks of His bodily suffering on the cross, and wine which symbolizes His shed blood (I Cor. 11:23-26).

Sadly, some in the pagan culture of the early church were either ignorant of the meaning of this ceremony, or purposely spread false rumours. Roman senator Tacitus (AD 54-120) described “sordid and shameful rites,” claiming Christians were actually eating babies at the Lord’s Table!

How different, and how meaningful is the lovely hymn by Mary Lathbury.

CH-1) Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

CH-2) Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

CH-4) O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

Questions:
1) What other symbols for the Lord come to mind, in addition to the Bread?

2) What does the line “Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord” mean in terms of our personal Bible study?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | April 9, 2018

Following 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: Leonard W. Weaver (late 19th century)
Music: Mary E. Upham Currier (b. _____; d. Nov. 8, 1909)

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

Note: In 1904, Englishman Leonard Weaver and an American, Mary (Upham) Currier, combined their gifts to write a gospel song called Following Jesus. Some hymn books have the title as “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” but this would seem too easily confused with other hymns. Nevertheless, it will be seen that this is another of many hymns with allusions to Psalm 23.

Weaver, born in England in the late nineteenth century, provided the words. He became a pastor and evangelist, eventually moving to Grimsby, in southern Ontario (a few miles from where I was born, and lived many years). Mary Currier, composer of the tune, lived in Massachusetts. She was a friend and distant cousin of Fanny Crosby.

The Flat Earth Society was founded on the theories of English writer Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1884). Their idea is that the earth is not a sphere, but a flat disk, with the North Pole at the centre, and the South Pole forming a one hundred and fifty foot wall of ice all around the outside–apparently to keep us from falling off!

The notion defies logic. If this were so, we would all have daylight at the same time, and night at the same time–which we don’t. Further, the flat earthers must reject scientific discovery. Mr. Rowbotham lived in a time before space travel. We now have the ability to view the world from space, and see that it’s round, not flat.

Even so, there are still those who cling to the idea. Adherents are planning a conference in Edmonton, Alberta, not far from us, featuring speakers from “all over the Flat Earth,” and expecting hundreds of people to attend. Quipped someone on their Facebook page, “Will there be a meet and greet? I’d love to get my globe signed.”

Followers of this theory are either deceived by others, or self-deceived. But it’s amazing what some will believe–at times with tragic results. Consider the Peoples Temple, a cult led by Jim Jones (1931-1978). Following him led to death. In their colony in Guyana, South America, on an order from Jones, over nine hundred of them committed suicide (a third of these children), by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Jim Jones was later found dead of a gunshot wound, another apparent suicide. Following a leader requires a decision that may be life-changing, or even deadly.

In the Bible, all the way from Genesis (Gen. 24:5, 61) to Revelation (Rev. 14:13; 19:14), some form of the word “follow” is used nearly three hundred times. In the Gospels alone it’s found more than eighty times, sometimes as direct command from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:19-20).

In fact, “Great multitudes followed Him” (Matt. 4:25), but not always for the right reasons. Some did so because they were amazed and entertained by His miracles. Others because they were hoping Jesus would become a revolutionary leader to free them from Roman tyranny. Christ recognized that not all had put their faith in Him (Jn. 6:64). And following Him was going to be costly.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

Perhaps at that challenge to self sacrifice, there came a day when, “many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (Jn. 6:66). Would the twelve do the same, He asked.

“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Jn. 6:68-69).

The Lord Jesus compared true discipleship to sheep following a shepherd. The animals were dependent on him for their food, and their protection. They needed to stay close to the shepherd. And Jesus said the shepherd “goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (Jn. 10:4). And He declared, “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own (vs. 14).

CH-1) I have a Shepherd, one I love so well;
How He has blessed me tongue can never tell;
On the cross He suffered, shed His blood, and died,
That I might ever in His love confide.

Following Jesus ever day by day,
Nothing can harm me when He leads the way;
Sunshine or shadow, whate’er befall,
Jesus my Shepherd is my All in All.

CH-2) Pastures abundant doth His hand provide,
Still waters flowing ever at my side;
Goodness and mercy follow on my track;
With such a Shepherd nothing can I lack.

CH-4) When the work is over and the journey done,
Then He will lead me safely to my home;
There I shall dwell in rapture pure and sweet,
And with the loved ones gather at His feet.

Questions:
1) What are the different aspects of the Lord’s shepherd care that particularly bless and encourage you?

2) What other hymns do you know that take up this theme?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | April 4, 2018

And Can It Be?

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: Sagina, by Thomas Campbell (b. July 27, 1777; d. June 15, 1844)

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

Note: Silas H. Paine, in his 1926 book Stories of the Great Hymns of the Church, says, “The conversion of Charles Wesley marks an epoch in the religious history of the world as remarkable as that which dates from the conversion of Saul of Tarsus [i.e. the Apostle Paul].”

I would not go nearly that far. Paul was not only a great theologian and missionary, but God revealed through him much of the New Testament Scriptures. However, in terms of their work in Britain, John and his brother Charles were used of God to transform eighteenth century society in a significant way. They also founded the Methodist denomination, that has since ministered worldwide. In no small way, their impact is due to the many fine hymns Charles has given us.

There are many wonderful things to be seen in the world of nature, from the jagged arrow of a lightning bolt, to the tiny twinkling light of a firefly, and from the mysterious grandeur of the northern lights, to the intricate marvel of a spider’s web.

When we lived in Ontario, years ago, my wife and I visited Niagara Falls many times. On a couple of occasions we took the opportunity to climb down under the falls–slickers and rubber boots provided for everyone by the park authority. There you can stand with your back to the rocky cliff and experience the thundering, earthshaking power of tons of water cascading a few feet in front of you. It’s an unforgettable reminder of the awesome power of God.

The Bible says God “does…wonders without number” (Job 9:10). And surpassing all natural wonders is His great salvation, rescuing us from eternal condemnation, through the Calvary work of Christ. It gave us a magnificent hymn by Charles Wesley. He trusted Christ as his Saviour on May 21st, 1728, and right after wrote two hymns of personal testimony.

One of these says, “Where shall my wondering soul begin?” The other song, more widely known, is And Can It Be? Yet, though he rejoiced in what God had done for him, Wesley began to worry whether writing about it involved sinful boasting on his part. He wrote in his journal:

“At nine I began a hymn on my conversion, but was persuaded to break off for fear of pride. Mr. Bray coming, encouraged me to proceed in spite of Satan. I prayed Christ to stand by me and finished the hymn….I clearly discerned that it was a device of the enemy to keep back glory from God. And it is not unusual with him [i.e. the devil] to preach humility, when [our] speaking will endanger his kingdom, or do honour to Christ.”

The hymn shows the author’s wonderment at what the Lord had done, expressed by several questions in the opening stanza.

CH-1) And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?

And why this is such a puzzle to the author comes out in other questions:

Died He for me, who caused His pain–
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Wesley had grasped a couple of essential facts.

1) First, that Christ died to take upon Himself the punishment for human sin, including that of the author. That’s the repeated testimony of the Scriptures. Isaiah prophesied of Him, seven centuries before His coming: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).

The New Testament takes up the theme. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “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 in the epistles we have, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree….For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, (I Pet. 2:24; 3:18).

2) The second fact realized by Charles Wesley was that, in a very real sense, it was he who drove the nails into the Saviour’s hands and feet. It was he (along with others) who were responsible. Isaiah hints at the paradox when he says, “He was wounded [by us sinners] for our transgressions, He was bruised [by us] for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5, added phrases mine). God turned our rejection of Christ into the means of saving us! Amazing! “Surely the wrath of men shall praise You” (Ps. 76:10).

One commentator calls this hymn “an extraordinary and daring tour-de-force, both poetically and theologically.” The life-changing power of Wesley’s wondering faith is seen in the final stanzas. (Note: There is a fifth stanza–which you can see on the Cyber Hymnal link–not commonly used today.)

CH-4) Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray–
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

CH-6) No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Questions:
1) Is it true that sometimes personal testimonies about what God has done for us can become self-glorifying?

2) How can this be avoided?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | April 2, 2018

Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs

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: Gräfenberg, by Johann Crüger (b. Apr. 9, 1598; d. Feb. 23, 1662)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Isaac Watts has been justly called the Father of English Hymnody. In a day when the church he attended sang only the Psalms, he argued that they were missing a great deal of important New Testament truth. When the church agreed to try some new songs, he proceeded to write them, around six hundred of them, before he was done. Some we still sing, centuries later.

There are things we choose to do for fun, and others we do because they’re necessary. We may listen to music because we enjoy it. But when it comes to eating our food, we need to do that to live. Whether it’s enjoyable or not is another matter.

There are certainly exceptions, but to some extent we have a responsibility for our attitudes–enjoyment, or otherwise. We can respond to the challenges of life with misery or mirth, grumbling or gratitude. Many times when something is painful or difficult, we may be able to look beyond it and find pleasure in the end result. Surgery provides an example. Not pleasant in itself, but with the potential of benefits up ahead.

The early Christians looked at persecution in a positive way. When they were arrested and beaten for preaching the gospel (Acts 5:40), “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His [Jesus’] name” (vs. 41). And when the Apostle Paul was put in prison, he saw a opportunity to tell his guards about Christ, and realized his courage in prison  spurred other believers to new boldness in their witness (Phil. 1:12-14).

The Lord Jesus Himself provides a profound example. He was arrested, and falsely charged, beaten, and finally crucified–a horrific form of punishment. But the Bible says, He “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising [scorning] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He had joy in paying our debt of sin, and “in bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).

The Bible speaks of cheerfulness, and it’s an interesting word. Centuries ago, it came from a word for the human face. Then it grew to mean the emotions and inner attitudes that often show themselves in our faces. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance” (Prov. 15:13).

We commonly think of a cheerful person as one who is happy or joyful. But there’s another element to it. The word can also carry the sense of ungrudging, enthusiastic, and prompt. For instance, when the Bible says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7), it means we support the Lord’s work with our gifts, not only joyfully, but promptly, and without grudging.

This is surely to be our attitude when we sing songs of praise to God. It’s a cheerful task we ought to do joyfully, and promptly, without grudging.

David wrote, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Ps. 28:7).

And Puritan Thomas Watson (1620-1686) said, “Cheerfulness…puts the heart in tune to praise God, and so honours religion by proclaiming to the world that we serve a good Master.”

Pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts would certainly agree. His song, Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs, published in 1707, captures something of the atmosphere of joyful praise that surrounds the throne of God, as described in Revelation.

“You [Christ] were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation….Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:9, 12).

Watts’ hymn says:

CH-1) Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne.
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their joys are one.

CH-2) “Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry,
“To be exalted thus!”
“Worthy the Lamb,” our hearts reply,
“For He was slain for us!”

CH-3) Jesus is worthy to receive
Honour and power divine;
And blessings more than we can give,
Be, Lord, forever Thine.

CH-5) The whole creation join in one,
To bless the sacred name
Of Him who sits upon the throne,
And to adore the Lamb.

Questions:
1) Can you list three wonderfully “cheerful” (joyful) hymns?

2) Can a believer be cheerful, yet sensitive to, and in tune with, those going through trials? (How can these be expressed together?)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | March 28, 2018

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

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 Williams (b. Feb. 11, 1717; d. Jan. 11:1791)
Music: Cwm Rhondda, by John Hughes (b. Nov. 22, 1873; d. May 14, 1932)

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

Note: Some hymnals change the first line (and amend the title) to “Guide me O Thou great Redeemer.”

William Williams was a remarkable man. Early on, he studied medicine, intending to become a doctor. But one Sunday morning, as he was returning home from college, he noticed how a group of believers gathered in a church cemetery as if they were waiting for someone. Soon an evangelist named Howell Harris joined them. He leaped up on a flat tombstone and started to preach.

While the services in the church nearby were formal and cold, there was none of that with Harris. Like John the Baptist, with fiery oratory he called upon the people to repent of their sins and be saved. The message struck home. Williams’ biographer says, “His convictions of sin were deep and alarming, but his subsequent joy proportionately high.” William Williams put his faith in Christ that day, and instead of becoming a physician, set a new course as an evangelist.

He traveled the length and breadth of Wales, over two thousand miles a year, on foot and on horseback, preaching the gospel, and he did that for nearly fifty years. It was Howell Harris who challenged him to write hymns, and he did that too, authoring more than eight hundred of them and becoming known as the Isaac Watts of Wales.

Someone has said a hymn is like a singing angel that goes walking through the earth, scattering devils before it. That could describe William Williams, with his preaching and his songs.

The Guiding Light holds the record of being the longest running soap opera ever. It began on the radio in 1937, and came to television twenty years later, where it ran for fifty-seven years.

In the story, widowed pastor John Ruthledge served at a non-denominational church in a fictional mid-western town. The “guiding light” referred to a lamp in his study which always remained lit, as a symbol of the church’s welcome to anyone in need.

To “guide” is to lead or direct movement in some way. There is also a hint of protection in the word. Guides are employed to direct others in a safe path. Explorers and hunters, as well as vacationers traveling through a wilderness area often employ a guide.

During the forty years that the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God revealed His presence among them with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exod. 13:21-22). The movement of that pillar (in other words, of the Lord Himself), directed them through all the years of their journeying (Exod. 40:38).

In 1745, William Williams wrote a great hymn that uses Israel’s wilderness journey as a picture of the Christian’s spiritual pilgrimage through this life. (And, incidentally, if you want to hear this hymn sung with the vigour I believe it merits, check out the YouTube link in the first Wordwise Hymns link.) The hymn begins:

CH-1) Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

In New Testament terms, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Guide. He came, “To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79). He said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). The light of the gospel is the message of forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, through faith in Christ (Jn. 3:16).

The last stanza of this wonderful hymn is often omitted from our hymnals. It provides a fitting close to a life well lived.

CH-5) Musing on my habitation,
Musing on my heav’nly home,
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see;
Lord, I long to be with Thee!
Lord, I long to be with Thee!

Questions:
1) Several hymns make use of the Israelites journey through the wilderness as a picture of the Christian life (Fanny Crosby’s All the Way My Saviour Leads Me is another). What are some instructive parallels in this comparison?

2) Other that God’s Word, what are some things the Lord uses to guide us?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | March 26, 2018

Psalm 8

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: Ewald Joseph Bash (b. Nov. 4, 1924; d. July 17, 1994)
Music: a traditional American melody, a cowboy lament called The Streets of Laredo

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

Note: Ewald Bash was a Lutheran pastor and song writer. He framed the words of Psalm 8 into a hymn in 1964. Bash served churches in Ohio and Minnesota, taught in a Lutheran college, and also founded KMOJ, the first Black radio station in Minnesota. After being a campus pastor at Ohio State University (1956-60), he was appointed Associate Youth Director of the American Lutheran Church.

With the revival of folk music in the 1960’s and 70’s, Bash provided Christian songs to fit that style. His version of Psalm 8 uses the music of a traditional western ballad. The Streets of Laredo was first published in 1910. An old-time cowboy, Frank Maynard (1853-1926), claimed he wrote the lyrics beginning:

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a poor cowboy, all wrapped in white linen
All wrapped in white linen and cold as the clay.

A great painting can sell for millions of dollars if it’s by an acclaimed artist. The signature of Vermeer, van Gogh, or Picasso establishes its worth. But buyer beware. Unwary art lovers have been duped by clever forgers, only to learn later their treasure is worth far less than they paid.

In one bizarre incident, two forgeries of the same painting went on sale at two different art galleries on the same day! And in 2011, a famous gallery in New York City shut down, after over a century in business. The reason? It was discovered that they had put up for sale forty paintings they claimed were recently discovered works by various masters, all of which turned out to be fakes.

Experts in identifying counterfeits microscopically examine the canvas, or the brush strokes used by the artist. Or analyze the paint used, because it sometimes proves to be a variety not available when the work of art was supposedly created.

Value relates both to quality and to origin. Though it’s not the only factor, worth is largely determined by where (or who) a thing came from. The same can be said for people. God is the Creator of us all (Ps. 95:6), and it’s His evaluation that counts most–though not all are willing to accept that.

Human pride and prejudice often divide people between us that them. They have a different skin colour than I do, or they come from a different country, or they are not as rich as I am, or as educated. Whatever measure we may use, it often becomes a basis for looking down on certain others as inferior. But that is not God’s perspective.

One day, in a discussion of whether the Jews should pay taxes to Rome, the Lord Jesus asked to see a coin. Showing it to them He asked, “Whose image and inscription is this?” When they rightly replied it was Caesar’s, the Lord responded, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:19-21). Question: Whose image is on you and me?

Unique among God’s creatures He made us to bear His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Whatever else this includes, it means we are able to have a meaningful relationship, and even intimate fellowship with out Creator. Human divisions must give way to a recognition of that fundamental. Whatever makes us different from one another, all in the human family share that special purpose. “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

The eighth Psalm gives us some idea of the exalted place human beings have in the sight of God. There we read:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit [care for] him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honour. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands” (Ps. 8:3-6).

Ewald Bash’s version of the psalm begins:

1) O Lord, our Lord, how majestic Thy name is,
How great is Thy name in all the earth,
Who hast set Thy glory above the high heavens
And stilleth Thy foes through a child in its birth.

2) When I think on Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
The moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained,
What is man in Thy mem’ry, a man that Thou mindest,
The son of man that Thou carest for him?

Questions:
1) Can you suggest what it is that makes man so precious in God’s sight that he “crowns him with glory and honour”?

2) What harm does believing the theory of evolution do to the high value of human beings?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | March 21, 2018

God Will Take Care of You

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: Civilla Durfee Holden Martin (b. Aug. 21, 1866; d. Mar. 9, 1948)
Music: Walter Stillman Martin (b. Mar. 8, 1862; d. Dec. 16, 1935)

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

Note: American, Walter Martin, was Civilla’s Bible teacher husband. The story of the writing of this hymn can be seen on either of the Wordwise Hymns links, or on the Cyber Hymnal link. Some idea of the popularity of the song is suggested in Hymnary.org’s note that it is found in 340 hymn books.

Being a caregiver is a noble endeavour. Though the term itself has only been around for about forty years, the duties involved are as old as human history. There are trained professionals who do the work. But most families, at one time or another, will face the responsibility of caring for an aging parent or spouse, or a disabled relative in the home.

If it’s for a short time, perhaps as the individual recovers from surgery, that is one thing. But if the understanding is that it will likely continue indefinitely, possibly for a number of years, that’s quite another. In an institution, care can be shared by many, and assignments filled in shifts, allowing breaks for each worker. But in the home it may fall mainly to one individual to do it all.

It’s never easy. When the one being looked after is a parent of the caregiver, there can be a kind of roll reversal, with the child supervising mom or dad. This isn’t always well received. Others in the home, whether spouse or children, may begin to feel neglected. And there can be an economic drain which will put a burden on the family.

Responsibilities often tend to increase over time, requiring more energy and the acquisition of new skills–until the one cared for needs attention twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Even the most loving and concerned person can’t cope with that for long. The care giver can reach the point of burnout.

Experts identify several symptoms which can possibly indicate this condition.

¤ Free-floating anxiety and nervousness
¤ An irritable overreaction to minor nuisances
¤ Consistently feeling tired and run down, yet having difficulty sleeping
¤ The development of new or worsening health problems

In the face of these things, consideration may have to be given to institutional care or other options.

In the Bible, a great deal is said about care giving, especially as it applies to God’s care. Early in his life, David distinguished himself by slaying the giant Philistine, Goliath (I Sam. 17:1-54). But the lavish praise and attention he received stirred up insane jealously in King Saul, and he tried to murder the young man on several occasions.

After one of these times, we see David hiding in a cave, calling upon the Lord for refuge and help. We can hear the painful anguish in his words as he cries, “No one cares for my soul!” (Ps. 142:4). But God did care, and not only preserved him from the hateful king, but eventually placed him upon the throne of Israel.

In the New Testament, there are two different occasions when individuals fretted that maybe the Lord Jesus didn’t care about what was happening to them. One concerns the safety of His own, the other is a matter of service.

When the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, and a great storm arose, they awakened Jesus, who had fallen asleep, saying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38). And of course He does care–beyond all else, for our eternal safety. That’s why He came to this earth (Mk. 10:45).

And when Jesus visited in the home of Mary and Martha, Mary sat listening to His words, while Martha bustled about preparing a meal. Finally the latter became irritated that her sister wasn’t helping, and she complained, ““Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” (Lk. 10:40). Again, He did care, but there was the matter of priorities to be considered (vs. 41-42).

Both our safety and our service are under the Lord’s watchful eye. He cares. So, “cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Ps. 55:22). Cast “all your care [anxiety] upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7; cf. Ps. 27:10).

In 1904, Canadian hymn writer Civilla Martin produced her lovely gospel song on that theme.

CH-1) Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

CH-2) Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

Questions:
1) Why is it Christians so often lose sight of (or doubt) God’s loving care?

2) Sometimes, we can be the instrument of God’s care in the life of another. Is there someone you could help that we this week?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | March 19, 2018

How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

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: from the Scottish Psalter of 1650
Music: McKee, by Harry Thacker Burleigh (b. Dec. 2, 1866; d. Sept. 12, 1949)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org (history of hymn tune McKee)

Note: The text of this hymn is from Scripture, but let’s focus on the music for a few moments. One of the tunes used for this hymn is McKee (which is also used with the hymn In Christ There Is No East or West). The melody was taken from an African American slave song, and the arranger was Henry (“Harry”) Burleigh.

Harry Burleigh was an African American classical composer, and a fine baritone singer. His grandfather, Hamilton Waters, had been a slave. Waters, who also had a wonderful voice, worked in Erie, Pennsylvania as a lamplighter of the gas street lights. As his grandson assisted him, walking from street to street, he would teach the boy all the Spirituals by which the slaves had expressed their faith in God.

Later, Harry attended the National Conservatory of Music, in York City. The director, in those days was Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. The two men became friends, and Dvořák asked Burleigh to teach him the old songs. He said, “In the negro melodies of America I discovered all that is needed for a great and noble school of music,” and he wove the musical style into some of his compositions.

Eventually, Harry Burleigh became a noted composer in his own right. He served on the faculty of the Conservatory, and became a founding member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), where he sat on its board of directors. The American Episcopal Church even has a feast day in his honour (Sept. 11).

Part of his enduring legacy is the Spirituals he rescued from obscurity, and the many African American singers he promoted (such as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson) and some of whom coached over the years. Though hardly known today, he had a tremendous influence on the music of his people in the early part of the twentieth century. Nobody Knows, by Craig Busek, is a book about his life (subtitled: “the forgotten story of one of the most influential figures in American music”).

Sparrows are likely the commonest of our wild birds. They’re a familiar sight over the greater part of the world. North and South America, Europe and Asia, Africa and Australia, all have them. They’re small creatures, and most species wear a rather plain dun coat, and lack the colourful plumage of some that visit our neighbourhood bird feeders.

Sparrows have become a symbol of what is small, and weak, and relatively insignificant. In Bible times, they were sold as the food of the very poor. This makes the words of the Lord Jesus especially meaningful: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will [i.e. without His knowledge and consent]” (Matt. 10:29).

Small, weak, and relatively unworthy of notice, but always under the gaze of a loving heavenly Father. After the words quoted, the Lord moves His argument from the lesser to the greater. If God cares about each tiny sparrow, think of this: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (vs. 30-31).

The Old Testament psalmist also draws comfort from these little birds.

“How lovely is Your tabernacle [Your dwelling place], O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young–even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God” (Ps. 84:1-4).

In the most sacred place in all of Israel, where the altar of sacrifice was, and the altar of incense, the birds found a place to nest. It’s a sign of the kindness of God that they were there, and it should be a great encouragement to each of us in our spiritual journey.

The Scottish Psalter of 1650 renders the verses of Psalm 84:1-4 beautifully as a hymn.

CH-1) How lovely is Thy dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts to me!
The tabernacles of Thy grace
How pleasant, Lord, they be!

CH-2) My thirsty soul longs ardently,
Yes, faints Thy courts to see;
My very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God, for Thee.

CH-3) Behold the sparrow findeth out
A house wherein to rest;
The swallow also, for herself,
Provided, hath a nest.

Questions:
1) What lessons can you draw from God’s care of little sparrows?

2) Is there someone you know who is weak and vulnerable, whom you could encourage?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org (history of hymn tune McKee)

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