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Words: Albert Simpson Reitz (b. Jan. 20, 1879; d. Nov. 1, 1966)
Music: Albert Simpson Reitz
Note: Reitz was born in Kansas, the son of a Methodist pastor. For some years he traveled as a soloist with evangelist Henry Ostram (author of the gospel song Is It the Crowning Day?). Then, after attending Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Albert Reitz became a pastor himself, and the author of over one hundred hymns.
The years of our lives are dotted with milestones. Significant events that become markers along the way, ones bringing major changes, watersheds that turn the course of our lives in a new direction, for better or worse.
I can remember, V.E. Day, when I was a boy, the day marking the end of the war in Europe. My father came in the house bearing a newspaper with giant headlines. “It’s over!” he said. A turning point. More recently, many of us recall vividly the horror of the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Another turning point. On a more personal level, there’s perhaps the day of our wedding, or the birth of a child, but maybe also the day a parent or spouse died. Sad days and glad days. Milestones.
The greatest turning point in anyone’s life is the day of his or her conversion. Becoming a born again Christian, through personal faith in Christ is the most transforming change of all. Kenneth Taylor’s paraphrase of Second Corinthians 5:17 says: “When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun.”
The Bible uses various descriptions to impress this difference upon us. The one who was spiritually dead is now spiritually alive. “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 6:23). He has gone from being under condemnation, to being delivered from condemnation. “There is…no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1; cf. Jn. 5:24).
Through faith in Christ, the one who was in spiritual darkness now is flooded with light, “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9; cf. Eph. 5:8). And the one who was lost has been found. This latter contrast is brought out repeatedly in three parables Jesus told. In one, the prodigal son’s father says of him that he “was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found” (Lk. 15:32; cf. vs. 6, 9, 24).
This is a drastic and dramatic change indeed! And so it seemed to pastor and hymn writer Albert Simpson Reitz. Perhaps the most familiar of his songs is Teach Us to Pray. Reitz was serving a church in California, where he ministered for twenty-six years. During that time an inspiring Day of Prayer was held. He reports, “From early morning, we prayed, and God definitely made His presence real to us.” The following morning, reflecting on the blessings of that day, wrote this song, based on Luke 11:1.
The song we are looking at now may be lesser known, but it is a joyful testimony to the transforming power of the gospel and marks that great spiritual milestone in the life of the believer. Published in 1918, and taking its title from the first line of the refrain, it says:
CH-1) I was lost in sin when Jesus found me,
But He rescued me, all glory to His name!
And the cords of worldly pleasure bound me,
Till He saved me from sin and shame.
’Twas a glad day when Jesus found me,
When His strong arms were thrown around me;
When my sins He buried in the deepest sea,
And my soul He filled with joy and victory.
’Twas a glad day, O hallelujah!
’Twas a glad day He claimed His own.
I will shout a glad hosanna in glory
When I see Him upon His throne.
As you can see, this is one of a few of our sacred songs whose refrain (or chorus) is longer than the stanzas–in fact, in this case, it’s twice as long, celebrating as it does the removal of sin’s condemnation and the joy of becoming members of the family of God. Over that the angels of heaven rejoice (Lk. 15:10).
CH-2) O the bells of heaven now are ringing,
For I hear their tones within my ransomed soul;
And my heart is filled with joyful singing
Since the Saviour has made me whole.
The joy we experience in fellowship with other believers now is simply a tiny foretaste of what heaven will be like.
CH-3) O the joy when we shall meet in glory,
In the mansions of my Father’s home above;
And through endless ages tell the story
Of the Saviour’s redeeming love.
1) What is it that brings you special joy in your walk with the Lord?
2) What other joyful hymns do you know and love to sing?