Posted by: rcottrill | October 8, 2015

Blessings in the Titles

One day recently I did something on a whim that proved to be a great blessing: I read some of the titles of our hymns in the General Index of a hymn book. That’s it. Just the titles, and thought a bit about what they said to me.

A Charge to Keep I Have–yes, a responsibility before You, God.
A Child of the King–praise the Lord, yes!
A Heart Like Thine–may it be so of me, Lord.

You’ll notice, if you try this, that most times the General Index includes both the title of the hymn, often in CAPITAL LETTERS, and also the first line of the hymn. You can choose which you use, or you could include both.

It does help to know the hymns, because the later text will amplify what is found in the title or first line.

Abide with Me–Lord, “I need Your presence every passing hour.”
Alas, and Did My Saviour–“for such a worm as I” Amazing!

However, it’s not essential to know the hymn from memory to get a blessing. You could, of course, look it up, if you wanted to think more about the subject. But even sticking to the Index you’ll see how the Lord can speak to you through it.

A Passion for Souls–Father, help me to have a heart concern for others.
A Shelter in the Time of Storm–thank You that You are for me, Lord.

Newspaper reporters, covering a story, use what Rudyard Kipling called the Six Honest Serving Men. They are: how, why, where, when, what, and who. When you read a title, pause on it and ask one or more of those questions.

At Even When the Sun Was Set–where in the Bible does it talk about this? (Mk. 1:32-34)
Be Still, My Soul–how can I manage that? “The Lord is on thy side.”
Blessed Assurance–why? “Jesus is mine!”
Because He Lives–what blessings are mine because of this?

If you like, you can scan through the Index, picking out titles here and there. But it might be worthwhile to work your way through from beginning to end. Put a pencil mark in the margin (if it’s your own book), next to the last title you meditated on, and pick it up there, next time.

The book I’m using to illustrate this ends with such titles as:

Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim–Lord, help me to do that, today.
Yield Not to Temptation–So easy to do, Lord, when I’m not walking close to You.

I know folks love to chat with their friends, when they get to church. But my hope is that some will take a few minutes in quiet prayer for the service, and meditation. That is actually when I found what a blessing reading the Index of the hymn book can be. I encourage you to give it a try.

And one more suggestion. Maybe the pastor (or maybe you) could do this from the pulpit some Sunday morning–for just two or three minutes–to show the people how it works, and encourage them to try it on their own. If many got doing it, you could have a testimony time about what was found!


  1. Brother, I really do appreciate this suggestion. At a time when even the “conservative” and ‘traditional’ music programs seem to be a little too contemporary, this is something to really get the congregation thinking about what hymns and songs should really accomplish. It is not entertainment nor a time filler but something to begin directing our thoughts toward the preaching of the Word of God. Do you have any information on Robert Harkness and his Music of The Cross?

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Actually, I was quite surprised at how simple this is, and how much it blessed me. You don’t have to be a singer, or a musician, or a theologian. Just read and think about a few of those titles and it can be a blessing to you.

      As to Harness, no, I’m not familiar with his Music of the Cross. Was that a book? I notice two or three of his books are available on Amazon, here, but nothing with that title. Let me know if you find it.


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