Posted by: rcottrill | July 18, 2018

Take Up Thy Cross

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 William Everest (b. May 27, 1814; d. Jan, 11, 1877)
Music: Germany, by William Gardiner (b. Mar. 15, 1770; d. Nov. 16, 1853)

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

Note: Charles Everest served as an Episcopal (Anglican) pastor in the state of Connecticut. He wrote a book of poems Visions of Death, and Other Poems, from which the present hymn was taken. Another hymn (by Thomas Shepherd) with a similar theme asks, Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?

Unconditional surrender is a term most commonly used in military combat. It calls for the total yielding of the enemy, with no guarantees apart from those assured by international law. President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of it in 1943, defining what the Allies would demand of the Axis powers to end the Second World War.

But earlier, when the words were spoken by a Union General in the American Civil War, they actually became his nickname. During the 1862 Battle of Fort Donelson, General Ulysses S. Grant received a request for lenient terms of capitulation from the opposing Confederate forces. Grant responded, “No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender.” President Lincoln quipped that Grant’s first two initials stood for Unconditional Surrender.

In Christian experience, this full surrender is described by Christ using a special term. Over the three years before He was crucified, the Lord spent time teaching and training His followers, preparing them for what was to come. To make it clearly understood what that involved, He used a description several times that would mean much more to people of that day than it does to us. He told them they must take up their cross.

Crucifixion was the common form of execution in the Roman world. The agonizing, prolonged, and very public means of killing condemned criminals, struck terror into the hearts of observers. This was intentional. Rome wanted deter any who had thoughts of committing a similar misdeed.

It was in that historical context Christ said:

“He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matt. 10:38).

This is the first reference to the cross in the New Testament, notable because it refers to our cross, not that of Christ. “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’” (Matt. 16:24).

That wasn’t presented as a way to earn eternal salvation, which is by faith in Christ alone (Jn. 3:16, 36; 14:6; Acts 16:30-31). Rather, it’s a subsequent calling of believers to a life and service for the Lord. It’s an image of discipleship, of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

It’s not simply a matter of denying ourselves something (such as a second piece of pie, or a new pair of shoes). That can be a form of asceticism. What is involved is much more radical–the dethronement of the Self. To deny Self is to consistently reject selfishness, self-centredness, self will, and self-interests, instead being fully committed to faithfulness and obedience to God, putting a consistent priority on what He wants for us.

The companion expression to denying the Self, taking up one’s cross, does not mean, as some have interpreted it, stoically bearing weary toil, aches and pains, and social slights. It’s symbolic of a complete identification with Christ, even if it were to mean death. A Christian is a “Christ one.” As Romans later puts it:

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

Prior to Calvary, sacrificial animals were slain on the altar as they were offered to the Lord. But now we are to be living sacrifices, submitting to the will of God, and living to please Him day by day. This is far from a Sunday-only religion, and it’s not for wimps or sissies. But it is what Christ calls us to.

In 1833, American pastor Charles William Everest wrote a hymn about that, first paraphrasing Matthew:

CH-1) “Take up thy cross,” the Saviour said,
“If thou wouldst My disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after Me.”

CH-2) Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

CH-3) Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
And saved thy soul from death and hell.

CH-5) Take up thy cross and follow Christ,
Nor think til death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

That is to constitute the Christian’s unconditional surrender to our loving Master.

Questions:
1) What does daily taking up the cross of Jesus mean to you, practically?

2) Is this a joyous way of life, or a resentful one? (Why?)

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 16, 2018

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

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: Edward Perronet (b. ___, 1726; d. Jan. 2, 1792)
Music: Coronation, by Oliver Holden (b. Sept. 18, 1765; d. Sept. 4, 1844)

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

Note: The son of an Anglican clergyman, Perronet became a coworker of John and Charles Wesley. The exact date of his birth is disputed. In another article I’ve suggested it could be August 2nd, 1721. As noted in the Cyber Hymnal, there are several tunes used with this superb hymn.

Hymnary.org presents many copies of the hymn, dating back to 1792. That version, in seven stanzas, calls upon the following to “crown” the Lord Jesus (exalt Him with their praise): angels, martyrs, Jews, Gentiles, men of all ages and ranks, all nations and tribes, and the “yonder sacred throng” (i.e. the saints in heaven).

The word “power” comes from an old word poer, meaning to be able. It refers to having the strength or ability to do or accomplish something. And various kinds of power are operative in our world, often in combination with one another.

1) Physical Might
There is physical or natural power. The destructive force of lightning, or of an explosion of dynamite are examples. So is the muscular strength and endurance of an athlete.

2) Exercising Authority
A major force in our world is the power of authority–to be able to give a command and something gets done. We see this exercised by the president of a corporation, in the operation of law and order, and in the government. Because of human nature, this form of power can often be abused. Isabella, in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, observes, “Man, proud man! dressed in a little brief authority, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep.”

3) Corporate Power
Another kind of result comes from what we might call corporate power, people acting together to do what one alone couldn’t accomplish. This can be seen when, for instance, pallbearers carry a casket, or when workers go on strike. It’s also evident when people exercise the power of the ballot box. An army or a police force combine the power of authority and corporate power to do what they do.

4) Making an Appeal
Then there is the power of an appeal. Advertisers use that, when they present their product or service and try to convince us to purchase it. The employee asking for a raise is also making an appeal. And speech making and preaching fall into this category.

5) A Living Example
Finally, there’s the power of a living example–either good or bad. No direct appeal is made, but character and lifestyle are on display, and the example itself has influence, sometimes even drowning out what is claimed or proclaimed. As poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.”

Now, for a moment, direct your thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God, when He was on earth, and now from heaven, displayed His divine power in many ways. In truth, a little reflection will show that each of the five kinds of power mentioned has been demonstrated by Christ, if we think of “corporate power” in terms of the triune Godhead working together, or Christ working through His church.

Below are some of the ways the Son of God has revealed His power. (I’ll simply mention the Bible references, in order to cover a bit more ground.)

Christ has the power to create and to sustain His creation (Jn. 1:1-3; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 1:3). He showed, on earth, the power to work miracles–a mastery over material creation, and authority over the spirit world as well (Lk. 4:36).

There was the power of personal authority in His teaching, the words He spoke (Matt. 7:29; Mk. 1:22; Lk. 4:32), and the wonderful power in the example He left with us of how to live a holy life, pleasing to God and show love to others (I Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:2; I Pet. 2:21).

He has the authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6), and to grant eternal salvation (Jn.. 17:2; I Cor. 1:18). And He has power over His own life and death (Jn. 10:18; Rom. 1:4), and power to raise others from the dead at the future Resurrection Day (Jn. 11:25).

God the Father has given Christ authority over the church (Eph. 1:22-23). He has the power to guide and equip His servants (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11-12), and power to help us deal with the trials of life (II Cor. 12:9; Phil. 3:10). Finally, Christ will show glorious power at His return (Matt. 24:30, 64), and forever (Jude 1:25; Rev. 5:12).

When Edward Perronet (1726-1792) penned the great hymn All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, he was using the word “name,” as the Bible often does, to represent the Lord’s person, and all His divine attributes. As later revised by John Rippon (1751-1836), the hymn reads as follows (slightly modified from what the Cyber Hymnal has).

CH-1) All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!

CH-8) Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!

CH-9) O that, with yonder sacred throng,
We at His feet may fall,
We’ll join in the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all!

Questions:
1) What type of Christ’s power is most helpful to you, and why?

2) Why do you think this hymn has been called “the National Anthem of Christendom”?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 11, 2018

I Am Not Worthy

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: Beatrice Bush Bixler (b. Nov. 7, 1916; d. Nov. 15, 2013)
Music: Beatrice Bush Bixler

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

Note: American gospel musician Beatrice (“Bea”) Bush was born in 1916. She married a pastor named Clair Bixler, and they had four children. Pastor Bixler served churches in Indiana, Illinois and New York. In addition to being a busy pastor’s wife, Mrs. Bixler wrote over a thousand hymns and gospel songs, including the popular chorus Life Is a Symphony, and she was in great demand as a soloist, accompanist, recording artist, and devotional speaker. She died in 2013, at the age of ninety-seven.

It’s a question we sometimes raise about individuals. Are they worthy of the praise that’s being heaped upon them by enthusiastic supporters? Or worthy of the high office or great responsibility they’ve been given? Or worthy of being entrusted with the great power they wield?

To some extent, worthiness has to do with desirability and esteem. But it’s often founded on such things as knowledge, strength, skill and experience, as well as reliability and moral rectitude. Whether we’re looking at a hockey coach, a teacher, a doctor, a used car salesman, a politician, a pastor, or someone in another role, worthiness can become a key issue. The Bible speaks of it many times.

Early on, overwhelmed by how the Lord had cared for him, Jacob prayed, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant” (Gen. 32:10).

Near the end of the Bible, the worthiness of God, the Creator of all things, is proclaimed: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

And of Christ (the “Lamb”) because He died to save us: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12; cf. Jn. 1:29).

John the Baptist was divinely appointed to be the herald of Christ’s coming. But he wanted it clearly understood where praise belonged. He said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” (Matt. 3:11).

The Lord is fully worthy of all the praise and honour we can give Him. Therefore, says the psalmist, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” (Ps. 18:3).

Each human being has dignity and worth given by our Creator (Ps. 8:4-5). And we are esteemed so highly by God that He sent His Son to save us. But we have debased our high standing in a spiritual sense, because of sin. We have also failed in many ways to carry out our responsibilities as lords of creation, under God (Ps. 8:6-8). We desperately need the redeeming work of Christ. Through faith in the Saviour, we’re forgiven, and spiritually reborn, and can rightfully be called children of God (Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 3:26).

In ourselves, we don’t merit such a glorious blessing. It’s ours by the grace of God. Then, as Christians, we are called to live out the new life the Spirit of God has generated within us. We are to “walk worthy of the calling with which [we] were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). And servants of God have found it a cause for “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

In 1949 Bea Bixler created the gospel song I Am Not Worthy that expresses our theme. It’s not usually considered a congregational hymn. It works best as a solo or trio number. Many lines allude to specific Scriptures (e.g. Jn. 1:14; Eph. 1:6; Rom. 8:17, 32).

1) I am not worthy the least of His favour,
But Jesus left heaven for me.
The Word became flesh and He died as my Saviour,
Forsaken on dark Calvary.

I am not worthy! This dull tongue repeats it;
I am not worthy! This heart gladly beats it.
Jesus left heaven to die in my place–
What mercy, what love, and what grace!

2) I am not worthy the least of His favour,
But “in the Beloved” I stand;
Now I’m an heir with my wonderful Saviour,
And all things are mine at His hand.”

Questions:
1) What is the difference between being unworthy and worthless?

2) Which are we? And how do you know?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 9, 2018

Teach Me to Pray

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: Albert Simpson Reitz (b. Jan. 20, 1879; d. Nov. 1, 1966)
Music: Albert Simpson Reitz

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

Note: Reitz served churches in Wisconsin and California. He also wrote over a hundred gospel songs, including ‘Twas a Glad Day When Jesus Found Me. Back in 1926, Pastor Reitz called for a Day of Prayer at his Los Angeles church (Rosehill Baptist Church). He reported:

“From early morning until late at night we prayed, and God definitely made His presence real to us. The next morning, still under the influence of the spirit of prayer and intercession, I wrote [the hymn] Teach Us to Pray.

Name dropping is the practice of mentioning a famous person in conversation, often in a seemingly casual and offhand way. “As Prime Minister Trudeau said to me the other day…” Or, when I had lunch with Wayne Gretzky last week…”

Sometimes it’s done to mask feelings of inferiority and inflate the speaker’s ego, by basking in the aura of greatness that seems to surround prominent people. Or it may be a strategy to make an impression on others, in order to gain acceptance in the social circle of those we deem to be above us. Or it may involve an appeal to power and wealth, a way to gain special favours or financial help for some project.

Speaking of myself, through more than seven decades of life, I’ve had occasion to meet a number of prominent people–a member of the Canadian parliament, a British comedienne, a well-known broadcaster, singers, authors, athletes, college presidents, and wonderful saints of God–though the latter didn’t think of themselves as anything special.

Most of these meetings were interesting, but they add no particular lustre to me. They were unsought encounters that circumstances brought my way. However there’s an incredible meeting I had that’s important to me beyond all the rest: I talked with God this morning. Again, that doesn’t make me special, since millions across the world did the same thing. But next to it all other meetings pale utterly.

“Know that the LORD [Jehovah], He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3).

Do we ever think of prayer as a rendezvous with our Creator, Almighty God, the Ruler of all? And do we appreciate that it’s only because of Christ’s Calvary work that this meeting is possible? We can have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us” (Heb. 10:19-20).

We discover that the Lord not only welcomes us (Heb. 4:14-16), but listens to us, responding in the wisest way, according to His will (I Jn. 5:14). Not only that, He desires our fellowship so intensely He has provided for us to spend eternity with Him (Jn. 14:2-3; 17:24). If this is not enough to drive us ardently to the place of prayer (and it should be!), we can also find personal value in it for our everyday lives.

In spiritual terms, all our endeavours ought to be bathed in prayer. If we feel too busy to pray, perhaps that’s the very time when it’s needed most. Handley Moule, the evangelical Bishop of Durham (1841-1920), wrote:

“A prayerful life is always a powerful life; a prayerless life is always a powerless life…but how slow we are to believe that.”

Have we truly learned the humbling grandeur of prayer? Have we learned to live in a spirit of prayer, so that at any moment we can lift a note of praise or an urgent appeal heavenward? Have we learned the power of intercession, as we bring the needs of others to the throne of grace, and see God work in their lives?

If we sense a lack in our prayer life, perhaps a fitting prayer would be, with the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1).

1) Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
This is my heart-cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Living in Thee, Lord, and Thou in me,
Constant abiding, this is my plea;
Grant me Thy power, boundless and free,
Power with men and power with Thee.

2) Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
O give me power, power in prayer!

Questions:
1) What are three things for which you praise God today?

2) What are three things currently on your regular prayer list that you are asking God for?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 4, 2018

Drifting

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: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal (Eliza Hewitt)
Hymnary.org

Note: Eliza Hewitt lived in Philadelphia. She was the Sunday School Superintendent in her church, and a hymn writer with hundreds of songs to her credit, such as: More About Jesus, Stepping in the Light, Sunshine in My Soul, Will There Be Any Stars? and When We All Get to Heaven.

Words such as drift and drifting have been around for a long time. In Old English, drīfan meant being driven, as one would drive a herd of animals. Plainly drifting usually has to do with movement that is caused by outside forces.

In boating, drift is caused by wind and water currents (cf. Jas. 3:4). In flight, planes are driven off course by crosswinds. In walking, it can mean to wander aimlessly, either missing a goal or having none, possibly being carried along by forces other than one’s own power and decision making.

Drifting can be slow, imperceptible, and even seem relatively random at times. But if we’re not alert to the possibility, and fail to check our instruments  or charts, it can result in us getting seriously lost. Strangely, there are even smart phone apps that make a game of it. Random instructions directing you who knows where? One describes itself as, “a tool for getting lost in familiar places.”

Lost in familiar places! That’s a sobering thought. And when we’re thinking of moral and spiritual drift, it concerns our eternal destiny. Sadly, some around us, in familiar places, are lost and don’t know it. Some are lost and don’t really seem to care. And some have no idea where they’re going, anyway. They perhaps think when people die, that’s it. There’s nothing beyond, so they might as well enjoy themselves now.

The Lord Jesus told a story about a rich fool who thought like that. He said to himself, “You have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk. 12:19). “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” (vs. 20).

A whole book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, is devoted to a sermon, preached by wise King Solomon, to those who are spiritually adrift. He describes the perspective of those whose only thought is for life “under the sun” (a phrase he uses twenty-seven times, defining this mortal life, from the womb to the tomb). He warns those who drift along, focusing on earthly pleasure, or prosperity, or prestige, that it’s all “vanity” (a word found in the book twenty-nine times). Vanity describes something that is empty, fleeting, and in the end of no real value.

Solomon’s conclusion, at the end of the book, is that we must factor in our accountability to God in eternity up ahead, in order to live purposefully now, and with a meaningful sense of direction. What does God say about this? And what will it be worth, in His sight, in eternity up ahead? Those are critical questions.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all [the whole duty of man]. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecc. 12:13-14).

The one who sails is wise to keep checking his instruments and adjusting accordingly. For the one who flies, it’s the same. And God has given us the most wonderful instrument to help us chart our spiritual pilgrimage, and avoid dangerous drifting. It’s the Holy Bible. The Word of the living God is to be our spiritual chart and compass.

It clearly describes the peril which we each face. “All have sinned and…the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23a). But then we’re given the solution: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23b). “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1).

In a song called simply Drifting, Eliza Hewitt sounds a warning note.

1) Drifting carelessly with the tide,
Drifting over the waters wide,
With no Captain your course to guide,
Drifting over life’s sea.

Drifting, drifting, no port in sight!
Drifting far from the gospel light;
Lest you go down in the stormy night;
Drifting over life’s sea.

4) Drift no longer! Let Jesus save.
Let Him guide you across the wave,
Lest you sink in a sinner’s grave,
Drifting over life’s sea.

Questions:
1) If a person is spiritually drifting, what kind of forces are driving him or her off the right course?

2) Do you know someone who is “drifting” with whom you can share God’s answer?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal (Eliza Hewitt)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 2, 2018

I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone

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 E. Durham (b. _____, 1893; d. _____, 1972); Thomas H Ramsey (b. _____, 1905; d. _____1997)
Music: Durham and Ramsey (see note below)

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

Note: This song was published in 1934, and recorded by Johnny Cash and other gospel artists. Durham was a postman who also wrote gospel songs. He published his first one in 1912. He later became friends with Virgil Stamps, a great promoter of southern gospel music, and Durham dedicated this one to Mr. Stamps. There seems to be some uncertainty as to the involvement of Thomas Ramsey. Did they write words and music cooperatively? It’s unclear.

T he famed motto of the U.S. Postal Service says:

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

The saying is not new. It paraphrases what was said by Herodotus of messengers some twenty-five centuries ago. Even so, it remains true. And, in spite of occasional complaints, most of us greatly appreciate the dependable delivery of the mail.

The job isn’t without its challenges. One of the most notorious perils in door-to-door delivery is from family pets. According to American statistics, though they try to protect themselves by carrying everything from dog biscuits to pepper spray, about three thousand mail carriers are bitten by dogs during the course of a year.

But far more importantly there’s a danger these public servants have to deal with that’s common to us all. It has to do with our eternal destiny. The Bible says, “What man can live and not see death?” (Ps. 89:48). And death is the great dividing line. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

We are to prepare now for the end of life because, after death, our eternal destiny is sealed. In eternity God will declare, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still, he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. 22:11).

Two possible destinies are described in the Word of God. Some will be resurrected “to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). There is “the resurrection of life, and…the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn. 5:29).

It’s faith in God’s provision for our salvation that makes the difference. The words of John 3:16 make it clear: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish [come to eternal ruin] but have everlasting life.”

Christ declared, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die [physically], he shall live [eternally]” (Jn. 11:25).

“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” (Jn. 3:18).

One particular postman who believed that was Charles Durham. Durham delivered mail in rural Texas, in the early years of the twentieth century. And he took paper and pencil each day on his route, in case a sudden inspiration came to him for a new hymn. He eventually wrote over a hundred of them in that way, later publishing song books, and going on to organize gospel quartets.

Durham’s song uses the Jordan River as a symbol of death. It’s not a perfect analogy, since Canaan (the Promised Land) is not a perfect image of heaven. It was full of enemies, and there were battles for the Israelites to fight there. Nevertheless, the Jordan River figures prominently in biblical history, and has become a symbol of death, and dying to what is past.

The postman’s song was his testimony of faith in Christ, and the assurance that the Lord would carry him safely through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).

1) When I come to the river at ending of day,
When the last winds of sorrow have blown;
There’ll be Somebody waiting to show me the way,
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

I won’t have to cross Jordan alone,
Jesus died all my sins to atone;
When the darkness I see, He’ll be waiting for me,
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

3) Though the billows of sorrow and trouble may sweep,
Christ the Saviour still cares for his own;
Till the end of my journey, my soul he will keep,
And I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

Questions:
1) What are some ways in which Israel in Egypt and then in Canaan picture the condition of the sinner and the saved individual?

2) With this in mind, what does crossing the Jordan picture (cf. Gal. 2:20)?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 27, 2018

Christ is Coming

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: Winfield Macomber (b. Sept. 16, 1865; d. Oct. 19, 1896)
Music: Winfield Macomber

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

Note: Winfield Macomber wanted to be a missionary to the Congo, but ill health forced him to return home to America. He only lived to the age of thirty-one. But in the States he wrote a dictionary and grammar of the Congolese language, and he produced a couple of lovely hymns, the present one, and another called Held in His Mighty Arms.

Imagine it’s Christmas Eve. The children are finally asleep, and it’s time for “Santa” to put some surprises under the tree. But there is one special gift that you would like to have ready for your son to play with in the morning. There is, however, an ominous message on the box: “Some assembly required.”

You think to yourself, “How hard can it be? It looks simple enough. Likely just connect Part A with Part B, using the screws provided.”

But the intricate diagram looks daunting. More parts appear from the box, and they all have to be fitted together in the right order with the right fasteners or it won’t work. You finally managed it, but it took far more time than you thought it would.

We have a saying, “The devil is in the detail,” meaning something that looks simple often isn’t. As you get more information, it becomes more of a challenge than was first supposed. No one knows where that saying originated. It can be traced back into the nineteenth century. But it seems to have begun quite differently. In French, it was, “Le bon Dieu est dans le détail”–the good God is in the detail.”

That could certainly be said about the Bible. It is God’s trustworthy Word. And it reveals a tremendous amount about the person of God, the plan of God, and His provision for our needs. Scholars have written commentaries on the Bible, and theological treatises, stretching to many hundreds of volumes. They’ve examined the minutiae of the Scriptures from every conceivable angle, only to disagree on some of the details. What are we to do with that?

If we begin with a confidence in the verbal inspiration of the Word of God, and use a consistent approach to the language in its historical context, there will be general agreement among orthodox believers on the broad strokes of what the Bible teaches. But there will be differences of opinion regarding some of the particulars. Surely those finer points are not irrelevant or useless, since all of Scripture is God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16). The Lord says what He says for a reason.

In response to this problem, we certainly need to adhere to the fundamentals of the faith, those matters spelled out in the great creeds of Christendom, such as the Apostles’ Creed. Then, we should continue studying, in order to learn more, but assert our confidence in the details graciously, remembering there are things on which good people differ.

A case in point is the second coming of Christ. The Bible gives us a host of particulars about this event that we can study with profit. And I’m not saying we should ignore the details, or shrug and say they don’t matter. It’s good to have a studied conviction on such things. However, it can also be useful to pull back and see the broader picture. The thrilling anticipation of believers is He is coming again. Whatever else we believe about it, that is a clearly stated Bible truth. Jesus said so Himself.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; 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)

“This same Jesus…will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven [at His ascension]” (Acts 1:11).

We look forward to “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).

The Bible commends those who: “Turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (I Thess. 1:9-10).

The present hymn voices an expectation and longing for Christ’s return. Though it isn’t strong on the details, the poetry and passion of the author’s lines should stir the hearts of “all who have loved His appearing” (II Tim. 4:8).

CH-1) In the glow of early morning,
In the solemn hush of night;
Down from heaven’s open portals,
Steals a messenger of light,
Whispering sweetly to my spirit,
While the hosts of heaven sing:
This the wondrous thrilling story:
Christ is coming–Christ my King.
This the wondrous thrilling story:
Christ is coming–Christ my King.

CH-2) Long we’ve waited, blest Redeemer,
Waited for the first bright ray
Of the morn when sin and sorrow
At Thy presence flee away;
But our vigil’s nearly over;
Hope of heav’n, oh, priceless boon!
In the east the glow appearing,
Christ is coming–coming soon.
In the east the glow appearing,
Christ is coming–coming soon.

Questions:
1) Why is it important that Christ comes again?

2) What other hymns about the second coming do you know and love?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 25, 2018

His Yoke Is Easy

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: Ralph Erskine Hudson (b. July 12, 1843; d. June 14, 1901)
Music: Ralph Erskine Hudson

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Ralph Hudson)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Hudson wrote both words and music on occasion. His gospel songs tend to be simple and singable. But when he takes a solemn hymn such as Isaac Watts’s Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed?, calls it At the Cross, and sets it to a bouncy tune with a peppy chorus, I believe he’s missed the reverent awe of the original. The words do not suit his tune (see).

Psalm 23 is likely the best known and most quoted passage in the Bible, other than perhaps the Lord’s Prayer. Many know it by heart, and have been blessed by it many times. And dozens of hymn writers have been inspired to put its text or its truths into verse.

It would seem difficult, therefore, to say anything particularly fresh and original about the six verses. It’s been studied by Jews, and by Christians, for thousands of years. But reading or reciting it again is rather like visiting an old friend. It’s very familiarity and reliability is part of what makes it comforting and reassuring.

The psalm is about a journey of faith, through dangers and difficulties, wisely guided, richly nourished, and strongly protected, by our Shepherd (vs. 1-2). He’s the One revealed in the New Testament as “the good Shepherd” (Jn. 10:11), the chief Shepherd (I Pet. 5:4), and “that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20), the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we’re weakened or bruised along our earthly pilgrimage, He “restores” us (Ps. 23:3), refreshing or healing as needed. The Hebrew word for “soul” there is nephesh. It can refer to life, strength, the self, or the inner being–the latter is likely meant here. The Shepherd is able to reassure us in the face of “evil” (vs. 4), a term that can speak of wickedness, or simply of adversities that distress or threaten us harm.

We don’t pass through dark valleys (vs. 4) because, somehow, our Shepherd has made a wrong turn. Such times are also part of His loving plan. He has things to teach us along the way, and He was lead us through, in His good time. For the Christian, that transient valley of shade lies between two lofty hills, Mount Calvary (the prophetic theme of Psalm 22), and the heavenly Mount Zion (Psalm 24; cf. Heb. 12:22-24). But in company with our all-sufficient, risen and glorified Saviour, we need have no fear of the journey from the cross to the crown.

The rod and staff were two of the essential tools of shepherds, along with healing oil (vs. 5). The rod was a club used to beat off attacking predators. The staff was the familiar shepherd’s crook, used to direct and guide, and to rescue straying sheep. Sometimes a lamb could fall into a deep crevasse and be unable to get out. With the curved hook on his staff, the shepherd could lift the animal to safety.

Psalm 23 assures us, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (vs. 5). Compare that with Psalm 78:17-19, which quotes the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness saying, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” Unbelief says, “Can God…?” while faith declares, “God can!”

Finally, through the goodness and mercy of the Lord, the believer will reach “the house of the Lord” (vs. 6). This does not refer to Israel’s worship centre, the tabernacle or later the temple. David (the author of the psalm) was not a Levite. He could not “dwell” there. He’s speaking, rather, of our heavenly home. The Old Testament saints knew less about our eternal destiny than we do now, but they certainly looked forward to an eternity with God.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

“God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah [Think of that!]” (Ps. 49:15).

“You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24).

In 1885, Ralph Hudson wrote a song based on Psalm 23. The three simple stanzas follow the teaching of the psalm, but the refrain adds a new thought. Mr. Hudson quotes the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” It’s an effective paring with an old friend.

CH-1) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me down to lie
In pastures green He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

His yoke is easy; His burden is light.
I’ve found it so; I’ve found it so
He leadeth me by day and by night
Where living waters flow.

CH-2) My soul crieth out: “Restore me again,
And give me the strength to take
The narrow path of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.”

CH-3) Yea, tho’ I should walk the valley of death,
Yet why should I fear from ill?
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

Questions:
1) In order for “the Lord is my Shepherd” to be a true statement of us personally, what must be true of our spiritual condition?

2) Why, in your opinion, is Psalm 23 so widely beloved and quoted?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Ralph Hudson)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | June 20, 2018

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

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

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

Words: Isaac Watts (b. July 17, 1674; d. Nov. 25, 1748)
Music: Ellacombe, by William Henry Monk (b. Mar. 16, 1823; d. Mar. 1, 1889)

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

Note: In 1718, Watts published a book called Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of Children. One of those songs is still in use, and it’s startling to realize the level of understanding Dr. Watts expected in the young. In the book’s Preface he writes:

“[These songs] will be a constant furniture of the minds of children, that they may have something to think upon when alone, and sing over to themselves. This may sometimes give their thoughts a divine turn, and raise a young meditation. Thus they will not be forced to seek relief for an emptiness of mind, out of the loose and dangerous sonnets [could we substitute “contemporary secular entertainment?”] of the age.”

Justly or not, modern education has its share of critics. We are equipping schools with amazing technology unavailable to earlier generations, yet parents and grandparents sometimes wonder if there’s a matching advance in the quality of education. Some schools are rising to the challenge and doing well. Others not. Several observations believe are pertinent.

1) Getting an education involves more that simply absorbing facts. The nurture of curiosity and creativity may suffer in strongly fact-centred education systems. But it’s not wise to swing the pendulum violently in the opposite direction and minimize factual knowledge and basic skills (English and Mathematics). Teaching at the college level two decades ago I was sometimes frustrated by the inability of students to express themselves in clear organized English in assigned papers.

2) Likewise it’s a problem if the focus is simply to equip students to pass standard tests. (I’ve seen that happen at the college level too.) To attract new students, get funding, and so on, a school may feel the need to contrive that a certain percentage of learners show a laudable level of competency. But at what cost to scholastic integrity? And when that becomes the goal, pupils can become mere statistics.

3) Finally, schools do not operate in isolation from other spheres of influence. What’s happening in the home? What values are being inculcated there? And what role does the church play in establishing the student’s values? Public education sometimes tries to proclaim all views to be equally valid. But Christians cannot accept that, because God’s Word does not. Many are opting to send their children to private Christian schools as a result.

Concerning childhood education, the Word of God says it’s a parental responsibility to teach children the Scriptures. The church can certainly have a part in that, but it begins at home.

“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6-7; cf. Ps. 78:1-8).

To the extent they accurately reflect what the Bible has to say, the great hymns of the church are a useful tool in this. Whether in the family circle, or the house of God, we are admonished:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).

Pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts certainly thought so. A song that remains in use from Watts’s book begins:

CH-1) I sing the mighty power of God,
That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command,
And all the stars obey.

The original hymn consisted of eight four-line stanzas. By combining the stanzas two-by-two, they become eight lines each, and fit the above tune. However, there are a couple of things to note here. In the earliest copy I could find, from 1802, the second half of the third eight-line stanza is quite different from what is in most books today. And the final eight-line stanza is rarely if ever used. (See below.)

5) There’s not a plant or flow’r below,
But makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise and tempests blow,
By order from Thy throne.
6) Creatures (as numerous as they be)
Are subject to Thy care;
There’s not a place where we can flee,
But God is present there.

7) In heav’n He shines with beams of love!
With wrath in hell beneath!
‘Tis on His earth I stand or move
And ‘tis His air I breathe.
8) His hand is my perpetual guard,
He keeps me with His eye;
Why should I then forget the Lord,
Who is forever nigh?

Scanning the entire hymn we see nearly a dozen major truths presented about God, especially in nature (cf. Rom. 1:18-22). (Numbers indicate the stanzas.) His: Creative power (1); Wisdom (2); Sovereign authority (2, 5, 7); Goodness (3); Wonders (4); Glory (5); Omnipresence (6, 8); Love (7); Wrath (8); Protection (8).

These are important truths that we can begin to teach the young, a foundation for faith and moral training to build on.

Questions:
1) If you were asked to make a list of Bible truths young children (around ages six to eight) should learn, what would you include?

2) How is your church doing in teaching the young these things?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | June 18, 2018

He’s the 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: James Bruce Mackay (b. _____, 1861; d. _____, 1940)
Music: James Bruce Mackay

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

Note: Though he wrote quite a number of songs, almost nothing is known of Mr. Mackay other than that he served the Lord as a pastor. His name sounds Scottish, but he still could have been born in America.

In 1927, actress Clara Bow appeared in a silent movie, a romantic comedy called It. The film made her a star, and ever after she was known as the “It Girl.” The phrase was used as a compliment. You’re really it! And there are other expressions that mean something similar. You’re just the greatest! The one and only! and so on.

Such superlatives are often used in sports. Whether it’s Michael Jordan in basketball, or Waye Gretzky (“the Great One”) in hockey, they became tops in their field. And there have been athletes so remarkable that they not only dominated their sport, but are recognized way beyond it. Baseball’s Jackie Robinson, and boxing’s Muhammad Ali are like that.

Of course, phrases like those mentioned can also point to a negative, or the kind of notoriety to be avoided. Six decades after the Clara Bow movie, It became the title for a creepy horror film based on a novel by Stephen King, and “one and only” could well describe the evil ring central to the plot of Lord of the Rings

“One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.”

Human assessments may, in some cases, be merely promotional inventions, an advertiser’s hyperbole. Or, they may possibly be mistaken, and miss significant things. One actor who gained fame on a long-running situation comedy, and became known as “America’s Dad,” was recently convicted of being a serial rapist. Worldly fame can at times be a veneer, hiding a lot of ugliness beneath the surface.

While such false build-ups can be true of weak and sinful human beings, they are never remotely true of God. Words such as unique, supreme, and peerless can’t begin to describe Him. Fifty-seven times the Bible calls Him the Almighty God (e.g. Job 11:7-8). He’s utterly, transcendently above everything, the one and only Lord of all.

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome” (Deut. 10:17). “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all” (I Chron. 29:11). “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). “Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps. 90:2). With Job we must say:

“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 26:14).

How amazing, then, that God the Son deigned to come to this earth as Man (Jn. 1:14), willing to die to save us from our sins (Jn. 3:16; I Cor. 15:3). Through faith in Him, we not only have eternal salvation, but the resources to deal with life day by day (Heb. 4:14-16). “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3).

In 1899, James Mackay penned the words of a simple gospel song called He’s the One, meaning Christ is the only One who can meet our deepest need.

Note: I’ve chosen to switch the order of the stanzas as they’re found in the Cyber Hymnal. It made sense to me to deal with the sin issue first, and then consider the Lord’s provision to deal with life’s trials. The answer to the questions raised is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the author tells us in the refrain. Mackay’s song says, in part:

CH-3) Is there anyone can help us
Who can give a sinner peace,
When his heart is burdened down with pain and woe?
Who can speak the word of pardon
That affords a sweet release,
And whose blood can wash and make as white as snow?

Yes, there’s One, only One,
The blessèd, blessèd Jesus,
He’s the One;
When afflictions press the soul,
When waves of trouble roll,
And you need a friend to help you,
He’s the One.

CH-2) Is there anyone can help us
When the load is hard to bear,
And we faint and fall beneath it in alarm?
Who in tenderness will lift us,
And the heavy burden share,
And support us with an everlasting arm?

Questions:
1) Can you list some of the blessings and spiritual resources that we have, through Christ, that can help us in the Christian life?

2) Why is no one else able to supply these things as the Lord Jesus does?

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

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