Posted by: rcottrill | March 4, 2010

Today in 1901 – Daniel Whittle Died

Daniel Webster Whittle lost an arm in a battle during the American Civil War, and also spent some time in a prisoner of war camp. In the war he rose to the rank of major, and was popularly addressed until his death years later as Major Whittle.

The call to action in a national conflict certainly has its analogy to the spiritual conflict in which we find ourselves (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). It may be fitting, given this theme, that today’s date is the only one that is also a command. On the anniversary of Major Whittle’s death, the Lord calls upon Christians everywhere to “March forth!” and join in the battle as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:3). For the most unusual story of Mr. Whittle’s conversion, see Today in 1840.

Daniel Whittle was used of God as an evangelist, and as the author of many gospel songs that remain in use. These include:

Beloved, Now Are We the Sons of God
Christ Liveth in Me
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Moment by Moment
The Banner of the Cross
The Crowning Day
There Shall Be Showers of Blssing
Why Not Now?

The Banner of the Cross seems to reflect Whittle’s military experience, and surely it reminded the old soldier of that.

There’s a royal banner given for display
To the soldiers of the King;
As an ensign fair we lift it up today,
While as ransomed ones we sing.

Marching on, marching on,
For Christ count everything but loss!
And to crown Him King, we’ll toil and sing,
’Neath the banner of the cross!

Christ Liveth in Me relates to the words of the Apostle Paul in Gal. 2:20, “”I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Graphic Moment by Moment organThe inspiration for Moment by Moment came from a conversation Major Whittle had with Henry Varley, a clergyman visiting from England during the time of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Varley commented, “I don’t particularly care for the song I Need Thee Every Hour, because I need the Lord every moment!” Ira Sankey turned to Whittle and said, “There’s an idea for a new song.” Shortly afterward, Daniel Whittle wrote the words for it. His daughter, May (who married Dwight Moody’s son) supplied the tune. It was composed on the little reed organ pictured here. (The organ is now on display at Moody Bible Institute, where I took this photograph.)

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

(For some creative ways to encourage the singing of traditional hymns and gospel songs in your church, see 30 Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing.)

(2) Today in 1942 – Gloria Gaither Born
Gloria, with her husband Bill, have contributed many popular gospel songs, especially during the 1960’s and 1970. Their songs include:

Because He Lives
Gentle Shepherd
He Touched me
Let’s Just Praise the Lord
The Family of God
The Longer I Serve Him
There’s Something About That Name

As a young woman, Gloria was expecting her third child. Her husband was suffering from a chronic illness, and their church was going through a painful time that touched them personally. The expectant mom sat one evening in a darkened room, fretting over the chaotic and uncertain world into which she was about to introduce a new life.

Then it was as if the Lord spoke to her about the resurrection of Christ, and about the power of the Saviour to carry her through whatever might come. A refreshing serenity suffused her soul. Out of her experience she wrote the hymn Because He Lives. The second stanza is her personal testimony. It resounds with faith’s certainty.

How sweet to hold a new-born baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Here is Gloria herself telling how the song came to be written, and the Gaither trio singing some of it nearly 40 years ago.


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