Posted by: rcottrill | August 15, 2018

The Gate Ajar for Me

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

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

Words: Lydia Odell Baxter (b. Sept. 2, 1809; d. June 22, 1874)
Music: Silas Jones Vail (b. Oct. 6, 1818; d. May 20, 1883)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Lydia Baxter)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Though invalided and bedridden most of her adult life, Lydia Baxter was a glowing Christian. Her counsel was regularly sought by Christian leaders. Mrs. Baxter also gave us the beautiful hymn Precious Name (“Take the name of Jesus with you…”)

The word “ajar” refers to a door or a gate that’s slightly open. It comes from an expression six centuries old, on char, meaning on the turn, neither wide open nor completely closed. The term has produced a childhood riddle: When is a door not a door? Answer: When it is a jar.

Puns aside, the gate ajar provides a fitting picture of opportunity. The portal is not locked and barred. It invites our entry, it implies a welcome. This is touchingly illustrated by a story told by Britain’s Lord Shaftsbury (1801-1885). With its similarity to Jesus’ parable (Lk. 15:11-24), the following incident might be labeled The Prodigal Daughter.

Many years ago, a young woman left home and wandered from her parents’ love and spiritual values. But one day, she heard the gospel of God’s love for her, and was so changed by the message she resolved to return home. On reaching the house she discovered the door unfastened and ajar. She entered and climbed the stairs, and came upon her mother. She asked her, “How was it I found the door open?” The rejoicing woman answered, “My girl, that door has never been closed since you went away. I thought that some night my poor girl would return.”

There are many welcoming summonses from the Lord in the Scriptures, to enter mercy’s gate.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isa. 1:18).

And consider the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (Jn. 7:37).

This brings us to a song by hymn writer Lydia Baxter. Written about three years before her death, it expresses God’s welcoming mercy and forgiveness for all who will come to Him through faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Jn. 3:16). The refrain speaks joyously of the wonder of God’s grace.

CH-1) There is a gate that stands ajar,
And through its portals gleaming
A radiance from the cross afar,
The Saviour’s love revealing.

O depth of mercy! Can it be
That gate was left ajar for me?
For me! For me!
Was left ajar for me!

CH-2) That gate ajar stands free for all
Who seek through it salvation;
The rich and poor, the great and small,
Of every tribe and nation.

Evangelist Dwight Moody and his soloist and music director Ira Sankey were in Britain during 1873-74, and Baxter’s song was greatly used in their meetings. In one of these, held on New Year’s Eve, Maggie Lindsay, a young Scottish girl, heard it and prayed, “O heavenly Father, is it true that the gate is standing ajar for me? If it is so, I will go in.” And that evening she trusted Christ as her Saviour.

Her pastor was delighted to learn of her decision, and encouraged her to tell others at her school about it. She did so, and led several of them to faith in Christ. But less that a month after she came to Christ she was on board a train heading to her home when there was a terrible collision with another train. Several were killed, and Maggie was mortally injured. She was found with a blood-spattered song book in her hand, open to Lydia Baxter’s hymn. Carried to a nearby cottage, with her dying breath she sang the refrain, “For me! For me! / Was left ajar for me!”

Moved by the tragic event, Ira Sankey was inspired to write his first gospel song. In it he carried the symbol a step further, picturing the gate ajar as the entry into heaven.

1) Home at last, thy labour done,
Safe and blest, the vict’ry won;
Jordan passed, from pain set free,
Angels now have welcomed thee.

Depth of mercy, oh, how sweet,
Thus to rest at Jesus’ feet,
In yon world of light afar,
Safe within the gate ajar.

Questions:
1) What opportunity is the Lord putting before you at the present time?

2) How will you respond to Him?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Lydia Baxter)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 13, 2018

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

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

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

Words: John Fawcett (b. Jan. 6, 1740; d. July 25, 1817)
Music: Dennis, by Hans Georg Nägeli (b. May 26, 1773; d. Dec. 26, 1836)

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

Note: John Fawcett was converted when a teen-ager, under the ministry of George Whitefield. He first attached himself to the Methodists, but later became a Baptist. He wrote several volumes of hymns and other poetry. Hymnary.org reports that the present hymn is found in more than 2,000 hymnals.

Unity or division–which will it be? Some politicians seem to go out of their way to create an us-versus-them polarity. While exciting their followers with grandiose promises they can’t possibly keep, they rain false accusations and cruel abuse on their rivals and any who would dare to support them.

This crippling phenomena can flow from the leadership down, spreading through society like a malignant plague. In its corrupting atmosphere meanness, name-calling and vulgarity flourish, while courtesy and civility whither and die. Decency and respect for others soon seem in short supply.

The hilarious Red Green Show graced Canadian television for fifteen years, until 2006. Steve Smith, an Order of Canada recipient, was the star and the creative genius behind the program. He had a famous catchphrase that eventually became the title of his autobiography:

“We’re all in this together.”

There’s simple wisdom in those words. Instead of driving people apart, we need to put more emphasis on things we have in common. Not that we can’t hold different opinions, and even argue them forcefully. But we should do so with grace, and a sense of respect for others that recognizes our common struggle, and those values we all share in common.

This applies as well to the church of Jesus Christ. Because we’re human, there can sometimes be strife and division in a congregation. The apostles recognized this can happen, but condemned it (I Cor. 3:3), and urged that it be resolved (Phil. 4:2).

Christians are to minister to one another in the local church, seeking “the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:11-13), and “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The Bible speaks of believers as part of the spiritual body of Christ, and urges us to act like it.

“There should be no schism [division] in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it….You are the body of Christ, and members individually” (I Cor. 12:25-27).

This sense of oneness among Christians is celebrated in a hymn by a pastor named John Fawcett. He served a small church in Yorkshire, England, and as his family grew, he struggled to make ends meet. Then came a call to be the pastor of a large and prestigious church, Carter’s Lane Baptist Church, in London. Their pastor had recently died, and Pastor Fawcett accepted the congregation’s invitation to fill the position.

The good man preached his farewell sermon, and loaded six or seven wagons with furniture, his books, and other things. But when packing was nearly complete he and his wife sat down on a crate and wept.

All around them, members of the congregation were in tears as well. They grieved at having to part from their beloved pastor. His wife finally cried, “Oh, John, John, I cannot bear this! I know not how to go!” “Nor I, either,” said her husband. “Nor will we go. Unload the wagons!” John Fawcett notified the Carter’s Lane church of his decision to remain where he was, and he stayed there, to the delight of his people.

It’s believed his hymn was written in response to that experience. Notice how it emphasizes the unity of believers in various experiences and feelings.

CH-1) Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

CH-2) Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

CH-3) We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

CH-4) When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Questions:
1) What are some of the things that seem to divide Christians unnecessarily?

2) What are some basic things that should unite Christians?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | August 8, 2018

Satisfied with 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: Baylus Benjamin McKinney (b. July 22, 1886; d. Sept. 7. 1952)
Music: Baylus Benjamin McKinney

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

Note: Over his adult years, Benjamin McKinney was a pastor, a music editor, a music teacher in a seminary, and a hymn writer. His life and ministry, and his song writing, centred on the Lord Jesus Christ. He died at the age of sixty-six, in a car accident.

To be “satisfied” is to have our desires, needs, or expectations met. But we all know that can be a relative or temporary experience. Satisfaction is almost always incomplete. And nothing in life seems to carry a guarantee that those desires, needs or expectations won’t intrude themselves once more, later on.

We can be satisfied with a fine meal. But we know in a few hours we’ll likely be hungry again. There’s another problem as well. Too much can be as bad as not enough. A lovely spring shower will provide needed and satisfying moisture for growing things. But an extended torrential downpour can cause flooding and erosion, and other problems.

Wise King Solomon observed:

“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing….He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance with increase….All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied” (Ecc. 1:8; 5:10; 6:7).

The Lord challenges us to consider, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?…Incline your ear and come to Me” (Isa. 55:2, 3).

The Psalms, in particular, speak of soul satisfaction–understandably so, as the book is focused on the inner life. There, we learn the Lord offers, to those who come to Him, an enduring satisfaction that can’t be found elsewhere. “Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple” Ps. 107:9).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light” (Ps. 36:7-9).

And we discover the kind of satisfaction God offers extends not only through the days of this mortal life, but on to eternity. “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24). “As for me,” says David, “I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness (Ps. 17:15).“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6).

The Lord challenges us to consider, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?…Incline your ear and come to Me” (Isa. 55:2, 3).

But what about the other side of the coin? Shouldn’t we also consider whether God is satisfied with us?

¤ Have we responded to the gospel call, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)?

¤ And the call to live a Christlike life: “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph. 5:2)?

¤ And what about the call to “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2)? “[Christ] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

In McKinney’s song, Satisfied with Jesus, he rejoices in the blessings won for us on the cross of Calvary. But this causes him to reflect on his own life and service for Christ. What would the Lord say when he reached heaven? Would it be, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21)? Or something less pleasing? “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10).

1) I am satisfied with Jesus,
He has done so much for me;
He has suffered to redeem me,
He has died on Calvary.

I am satisfied, I am satisfied,
I am satisfied with Jesus;
But the question comes to me,
As I think of Calvary,
Is my Master satisfied with me?

2) He is with me in my trials,
Best of friends of all is He;
I can always count on Jesus,
Can He always count on me?

4) When my work on earth is ended,
And I cross the mystic sea,
Oh, that I could hear Him saying,
“I am satisfied with thee.”

Questions:
1) What measure are we to use to decide whether we are pleasing God?

2) In what particular area do you struggle to please the Lord?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | August 6, 2018

Jesus Loves Me

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

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

Words: Anna Bartlett Warner (b. Aug. 31, 1827; d. Jan. 22, 1915)
Music: William Batchelder Bradbury (b. Oct. 6, 1816; d. Jan. 7, 1868)

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

Note: Susan and Anna Warner lived near the military academy at West Point, and they led regular Bible studies for the cadets. The sisters were so highly respected that, when they died, they were buried with full military honours. According to Hymnary.org, Anna Warner’s hymn has been published in 530 hymn books over the last century and a half.

Love. It’s likely a word we use often, in one way or another. I love ice cream, I love football. I love my wife. I love God. But are all of those the same thing? They’re likely different in intensity and importance. But aren’t they also distinct in their very nature?

Some form of the word love is used hundreds of times in the Bible. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that many of our traditional hymns and gospel songs talk about it–or surprising that we’ve dealt with such songs many times in these articles.

But the one we’ll look at today may well be the most familiar children’s hymn in the English language. It was first sung by a man who never existed–to a child who never existed either! This remarkable circumstance came about as follows.

In 1860, author Susan Warner began work on a new novel. In it, a Sunday School teacher she called John Linden goes to visit one of his students named Johnnie Fax. The boy is critically ill, and dying–an all too common reality in those days. But Mr. Linden holds Johnnie gently in his arms and tries to comfort him, reminding him of the love of the Saviour. At that point, Susan wanted the teacher to sing a song they’d learned in Sunday School. But what could he sing?

She turned to her sister Anna for help. In response to Susan’s request, Anna Bartlett Warner penned the now well-known hymn, Jesus Loves Me. The text is simple, but its message is powerful.

“Jesus loves me.” That’s a wonderful truth. But the critical question is: How do I know that? How can I be certain? Is it just a myth or a legend? A wish or a maybe? No! I can be sure it’s true because the trustworthy Word of the living God says so.

“All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Pet. 1:24-25).

The Bible tells us God (the Father) loved the world so much that He “gave” His Son to save us (Jn. 3:16). The word “gave” is significant. It means He delivered Him up, He surrendered Him–to be abused and slain by sinful men. And the Son “gave” (surrendered) Himself to this, in submission to His Father’s will, in love for us. Love involves an unselfish, sacrificial giving of oneself to another.

“The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).”

“Our Lord Jesus Christ…gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Gal. 1:3-5).

“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).

And His love for us prompts our love in return, for which He is to be our Pattern. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). “Walk [live your daily life] in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us (Eph. 5:2).

CH-1) Jesus loves me–this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong–
they are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

CH-2) Jesus loves me–He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Clearly, this was written as a children’s hymn (“little ones”). But it has been a blessing to many adults too, over the years. Jesus loves us, each one, with an enduring love. God’s Word proclaims it to be true, and we answer with love in return.

Questions:
1) What are some characteristics of the love of Christ we can see in His years of earthly ministry?

2) How can you show the love of Christ to someone today?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | August 1, 2018

My Sins Are Gone

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: N. B. Vandall (b. Dec. 28, 1896; d. Aug. 24, 1970)
Music: N. B. Vandall

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Jack Vandall)
The Cyber Hymnal (Jack Vandall)
Hymnary.org

Note: Vandall served with the Marines in the First World War, and put his faith in Christ in 1920, at a Christian camp in Ohio. He and his wife Margaret had four sons. He went on to serve the Lord as an evangelist and gospel singer, writing quite a number of gospel songs himself, including the lovely After, written after a serious accident involving one of their sons. And there’s My Home Sweet Home, as well as his 1934 testimony song, My Sins Are Gone.

To change your name can be a complicated business, but it doesn’t usually cost a lot of money. In Canada, you can do it for $137. In the United States, the fee is anywhere from $150 to $500.

The question is, why would someone go to the trouble of doing that? Sometimes, it’s a matter of breaking a disturbing association with the past. Other times, it’s to pick a name that’s easier to pronounce, or something not so odd. (I once met a woman whose given name was Summer Worm. That must have brought her a lot of grief!)

A third reason for a name change is that the old name may not suit the individual’s new life. This has happened many times with movie stars. We think of actor John Wayne as a swaggering macho hero. But his original first name, Marion, might not fit that image. Neither did romantic actor Cary Grant seem to suit his given name Archie Leech. Nor does the name Leonard Slye seem as appealing as Roy Rogers.

There’s a gospel song writer who had a name problem too. It doesn’t seem that N. B. Vandall ever legally changed his name, but he called himself Jack Vandall to get away from what his parents christened him, Napoleon Bonaparte Vandall. The reason for their choice is not known. Napoleon had been dead for seventy-five years when Jack was born, and he has far from a sterling reputation in history.

Through faith in Christ, Jack Vandall had a kind of name change with eternal consequences: the Sinner (Rom. 3:23) became a Saint (I Cor. 1:2), the child of wrath (Eph. 2:3) became a child of God (Jn. 1:12). And one of the most amazing and thrilling things to the song writer was that his sins were gone. Gone! The Bible uses a variety of images to press home this point.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12).

“You [God] have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isa. 38:17).

The Lord says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25).

“You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).

There’s a Roman practice connected with the crucifixion of Christ which is very revealing. Pilate didn’t intend it to illustrate a spiritual truth, but it does. When a condemned person was executed, a signboard was nailed above his head stating the nature of his crimes. This was to serve as a warning to others not to commit the same offense.

However Paul makes a spiritual application of this. When we trust in Christ as Saviour, it’s as though our sins, having been charged against Him, were paid for on the cross. He [God] has taken it [the accusation against us] out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). Our sins were judged at the cross. They no longer come between the Christian and the Lord. Our debt of sin has been paid in full.

1) You ask why I am happy so I’ll just tell you why,
Because my sins are gone;
And when I meet the scoffers who ask me where they are,
I say, my sins are gone.

They’re underneath the blood, on the cross of Calvary,
As far removed as darkness is from dawn;
In the sea of God’s forgetfulness, that’s good enough for me,
Praise God, my sins are gone.

3) When Satan comes to tempt me and tries to make me doubt,
I say, My sins are gone;
You got me into trouble, but Jesus got me out,
I’m glad my sins are gone.

Questions:
1) What does it mean to you, today, that your sins are “gone”?

2) What Scriptures have been especially helpful to you when the devil “tries to make [you] doubt”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Jack Vandall)
The Cyber Hymnal (Jack Vandall)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 30, 2018

Hide Thou Me

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

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

Words: Fanny Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: Robert Lowry (b. Mar. 12, 1826; d. Nov. 25, 1899)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Fanny Crosby, though she was blind from childhood, was a poet and hymn writer, as well as being a composer. She was also a fine singer, an organist, a harpist, and a devotional speaker of note. She produced something between eight and nine thousand hymns. The exact total may never be know, because she published many using a bewildered array of pen names. Further, it’s still possible to discover forgotten gems in this vast output, songs that haven’t been seen for many years.

In these articles about the traditional hymns and gospel songs of the church, we’ve looked at over eleven hundred selections. Though we’ve focused mainly on the content of the songs, we’ve looked at some interesting side issues. Which is the longest hymn–or the shortest? Which is the oldest? Which hymn writer produced the most songs?

Another question that could be asked–one that is more subjective–is which is the greatest hymn in the English language? The answer may depend on the theological position of the one who evaluates it, or a person’s individual need. A great hymn will display biblical accuracy and devotional depth. It will also be singable–which means it can be affected somewhat by the tune that is customarily used with it.

All of this aside, there are three hymns that have topped many lists of the greatest in the English language. They are:

¤ When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, by Isaac Watts
¤ Jesus, Lover of My Soul, by Charles Wesley
¤ Rock of Ages, by Augustus Toplady.

There is general agreement among scholars of hymnology that these three belong at or near the top of any list of superlative hymns.

One of these is of particular interest here, in part because of its strong influence on our hymnody. Rock of Ages takes up a theme that is common in the Bible. Passage after passage describes the Lord as our Rock, either in the sense of providing a firm spiritual foundation, or as a place to hide from the storms of life and of future judgment.

“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deut. 32:4).

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust….The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!” (I Sam. 22:2 47).

“In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Ps. 62:7).

There is even a verse which, depending on the translation, contains the phrase, “Rock of Ages.” In the English Standard Version, Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock [or a rock of ages].”

In the wilderness, when the Israelites were without water, the Lord said to Moses, “‘Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel” (Exod. 17:6). This is seen as a prophetic picture of Christ being stricken on the cross to provide for us the water of eternal life. “That Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4).

Such Scriptures have led hymn writers to make use of the rock imagery again and again. Hymns such as A Shelter in the Time of Storm; Hiding in Thee; The Solid Rock; and He Hideth My Soul are examples of this. So is a simple little prayer hymn by Fanny Crosby called Hide Thou Me. In this song we may be seeing the influence of Toplady’s hymn, written a century before.

CH-1) In Thy cleft, O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me!
When the fitful tempest rages, hide Thou me!
Where no mortal arm can sever
From my heart Thy love forever,
Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages, safe in Thee!

CH-2) From the snare of sinful pleasure, hide Thou me!
Thou, my soul’s eternal treasure, hide Thou me!
When the world its power is wielding,
And my heart is almost yielding,
Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages, safe in Thee!

CH-3) In the lonely night of sorrow, hide Thou me!
Till in glory dawns the morrow, hide Thou me!
When we’re nearing Jordan’s billow,
Let Thy bosom be my pillow;
Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages, safe in Thee!

Questions:
1) What particular trial or temptation has the Lord protected you from lately?

2) What Bible verses were a special help during this time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 25, 2018

Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By

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: Emma Frances Riggs Campbell (b. ___, 1830; d. Feb. 25, 1919)
Music: Las Palmas, by Theodore Edson Perkins (b. July 21, 1831; d. ___, 1912)

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

Note: Emma Campbell was a school teacher in New Jersey, long ago. She wrote a book of poems, commenting on many events in her world (including the assassination of President Lincoln), and including the gospel song Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By. We may perhaps dismiss her stern warning as too melodramatic. But her message is biblical. The door of opportunity to trust in Christ and be saved will not be open forever.

It’s the cry of the snake oil huckster, “Step right up! Hurry, hurry, hurry! Once in a lifetime offer! Uncle John’s famous ointment for half price! Cures just about anything that ails you! You won’t want to miss it.”

Once in a lifetime–in other words, it’s an extremely rare and fleeting opportunity. The phrase has been traced as far back as 1851, the era when the medicine shows traveled the hinterland, entertaining people with acrobats, musclemen, magicians, dancers, ventriloquists, trained animals, sharp shooters–anything to draw a crowd. Then they’d fleece the gullible by offering potions for sale promising miracle cures–Chambers’s Herb-O-Lac, or Hamlin’s Wizard Oil, or Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment (which actually contained no snake ingredients).

Once in a lifetime. As to our mortal lives on this earth, we are physically born only once, and we only die once (Heb. 9:27). Further thought will indicate that there may be events in our lives that, if we only knew, provide opportunities that’ll never come our way again. Poet James Russell Lowell wrote:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side.

Emma Campbell attended revival meetings in Newark and was especially blessed. One of the speakers preached on Christ’s healing of blind Bartimaeus. He described how the multitude swept by on the road, surrounding the Lord, and when Bartimaeus asked what was happening, “They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by” (Lk. 18:37).

Learning that, the blind beggar cried out for mercy, and the Lord healed him (vs. 40-43). The speaker in Newark took the phrase–“Jesus of Nazareth passeth by” (KJV), and applied it to the spiritual crisis we face when the Spirit of God convicts us of sin, and points us to Christ. Is it a once in a lifetime opportunity? We have no way of knowing–which should move us to respond readily to God’s call. (And He is no snake oil salesman! His Word is true.)

When Emma Campbell heard the sermon, she not only responded herself, making a new and deeper spiritual commitment. She also wrote the words of a hymn, based on the experience of blind Bartimaeus. In future years it was greatly used of God, when sung by Ira Sankey, in Dwight Moody’s evangelistic meetings.

CH-1) What means this eager, anxious throng,
Pressing our busy streets along?
These wondrous gatherings day by day,
What means this strange commotion, pray?
Voices in accents hushed reply,
“Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.”

CH-7) Ye sin-sick souls, who feel your need,
He comes to you, a Friend indeed;
Rise from your weary, wakeful couch,
Haste to secure His healing touch;
No longer sadly wait and sigh,
“Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.”

None of us knows whether we’ll have another opportunity to reach out to the Lord in faith. That’s why the Bible urges, “Now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2, NIV). Campbell’s hymn concludes, sternly:

CH-10) But if you still this call refuse,
And dare such wondrous love abuse,
Soon will He sadly from you turn,
Your bitter prayer for mercy spurn,
“Too late! too late!” will be the cry–
“Jesus of Nazareth has passed by.”

The Lord Jesus spoke in similar terms of coming judgment on the Jews, and of a lost opportunity.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:37-38).

Once in a lifetime–perhaps. Since none of us knows whether the gospel call is the last one we will ever hear, it is important to respond to God promptly, committing ourselves to believe and obey His Word.

Questions:
1) Have you responded to God’s call to trust in Christ for salvation? (If not, why not today. See the article God’s Plan of Salvation.)

2) Why do we not seem to hear messages with such strong warnings today, as in former years?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 23, 2018

Jesus Loves Even Me

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

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

Words: Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)
Music: Philip Paul Bliss

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

Note: There’s a simplicity of vocabulary and directness of emotion to Bliss’s songs, as well as a sincerity of devotion. Consider his Hallelujah, What a Saviour! and the compendium of spiritual qualities in More Holiness Give Me. And My Redeemer (“I will sing of my Redeemer…”) is an example of passionate praise.

And just a word of encouragement not to sing the latter song too fast. Here’s an interesting example of a reverent pace for it. (Contrary to the heading, it does not involve the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but is part of an orthodox Christian forum led by apologist Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle.)

Our English word “song” has been around for over a thousand years.

A song is poetry set to music, a metrical composition framed and supported by a melody so it can be sung.

And we sing songs about all kinds of things. Some subjects are worthy of the singing, and some not. There are songs of pure love, but also songs of carnal lust. There are sentimental or nostalgic songs, patriotic songs and national anthems, melodic battle cries, and songs to protest war, such as Blowin’ in the Wind. There are songs to march to, dance to, or exercise to. There are fun songs, like Mary Had a Little Lamb, and commercial jingles used in advertising.

Then there are the hymns of the church: songs of praise and prayer directed to God, and gospel songs of Christian teaching and testimony we share with one another. Words such as “song” and “sing” are used in the Bible more than two hundred and fifty times, and some words translated “praise” may also imply singing as well (e.g. Acts 3:8; Rev. 19:5).

In addition to the music of the saints of God, the Bible speaks of the angels singing (Job 38:4, 7), and God Himself doing so (Zeph. 3:17). Songs of praise will continue on into eternity (cf. Rev. 15:3-4). It’s even possible that music will be a heavenly language. Whether or not we have good singing voices, there is, in each believer, an impulse to sing, born of the Spirit. As Isaac Watts noted, in a hymn, in contrast, “Let those refuse to sing, who never knew our God.” If you know Him, you’ll want to exalt Him with your songs.

Sacred songs can be complex and explore deep theological doctrines. However some are simple enough for children to sing and understand. But even with the simplicity of vocabulary in the latter, significant truths can be presented. An example of this is a hymn called Jesus Loves Even Me, written in 1870 by Philip Bliss. Consider the words.

CH-1) I am so glad that our Father in heav’n
Tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n;
Wonderful things in the Bible I see,
This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.

Phrases such as “I am so glad…wonderful things…this is the dearest” alert us to the fact that is is a song about spiritual values, and it points to something highly esteemed. Along the way we are assured that God above is our heavenly Father (cf. Matt. 6:9), and that the Bible is “the Book He has given us” (cf. II Tim. 3:16). The subject of supreme value found there is that the Lord Jesus “loves me.” As the Bible puts it, “The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

This is emphasized by Bliss’s refrain.

I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.

Notice that, in pondering his subject, he sees others far more deserving than himself. Mr. Bliss seems to see himself in the lowest rank, far beneath the apostles and martyrs, great preachers, heroic missionaries, and brilliant theologians. It’s as though the Lord Jesus stooped down from heaven to love “even me.” And this was not phony posturing. His friend, evangelist Dwight Moody, said, “He was the most humble man I ever knew.”

The next stanza may allude to the return of the prodigal son to his home and his father’s love (Lk. 15:11-24).

CH-2) Though I forget Him, and wander away,
Still He doth love me wherever I stray;
Back to His dear loving arms would I flee,
When I remember that Jesus loves me.

There’s a recognition of both human weakness and divine constancy in these words–the assurance that it’s possible to make a new start. The motivation to do so will be a recollection of the warmth of the Saviour’s love.

The final stanza adds the thought that the love of Christ–“who loved us and washed us from our sins” (Rev. 1:5)–will still be our theme in eternity.

CH-3) Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
When in His beauty I see the great King,
This shall my song in eternity be,
“Oh, what a wonder, that Jesus loves me.”

Questions:
1) How is the word “gave” (Jn. 3:16; Gal. 2:20) connected to the Lord’s love for us?

2) What will our response be when we realize and accept His love for us?

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

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

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