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Words: Grant Colfax Tullar (b. Aug. 5, 1869; d. May 20, 1950)
Music: Donald Paul Hustad (b. Oct. 2, 1918; d. June 22, 2013)
Note: Mr. Tullar was named after a president and vice president of the United States–Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax. But the boy had a difficult start. His mother died when he was only two, and his father, who had been severely wounded in the Civil War, was unable to care for him.
Little Grant was passed from pillar to post, and had no settled home until his adult years. He worked, as a child, in a woolen mill, receiving no education, and no religious instruction. But things took a dramatic turn when he was nineteen. At a camp meeting in Connecticut he put his faith in Christ as Saviour. After receiving theological training, he became a pastor, and then a musical evangelist, writing dozens of fine gospel songs.
This song is newer than most I write about, being written during the Second World War. It seems appropriate to relate it to an incident that occurred during that time.
It was September 27th, 1940, in the early days of the Second World War. Just three weeks before, the Nazi Luftwaffe had begun their massive bombing raids on the city of London. Night after night, hundreds of planes crossed the English Channel and poured out their deadly cargo. In one night alone there were a thousand fires burning, all over the city of London.
They called it the Blitz. And the heat of those fires literally sucked the oxygen out of the air. One fire fighter was heard to shout, “The whole world’s on fire!” Night after night, people scrambled for basements and underground shelters, as sirens wailed. Day after day, they tended the wounded, doused the fires, cleared the rubble, and carried on.
After three weeks of that merciless trial by fire, Queen Elizabeth (our present Queen’s mother) made her way to Glasgow to care for one of those public functions familiar to the royal family. She was to launch a new ocean liner, christening it as her namesake, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Her husband, King George VI, was scheduled to take part as well, but the war crisis had kept him in London.
It was just one of her accustomed duties. But on that day, her Majesty faced a nation shaken by the desolations of war. Their beloved island home was under assault. Tens of thousands of people lined the banks as that giant ship glided down the slip-ways into the River Clyde. Then their eyes turned to the tiny figure of the Queen, standing on the dock. All at once her amplified voice rang out over that large crowd: “I have a message from the King!” she said. And the queen proceeded to convey his words of encouragement and challenge, calling upon them to trust in divine Providence.
I’ve thought of that incident personally, as it relates to my nearly fifty years of Christian ministry, and the preaching of thousands of sermons. In an infinitely higher sense, in proclaiming the Word of God, “I have a message from the King.” Several times the Bible refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
One day, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth….Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him” (Ps. 72:8, 11). In that coming day, “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11).
It is likely with such thoughts in mind that Grant Tullar wrote one of his hymns. In it he describes his conversion as responding to a message from the King, and also relates it to his call to Christian ministry.
1) I’ve heard the King! The King of heaven!
Nor can I e’er forget the music of His voice.
I’ve heard the King! His call I’ve answered.
I’ve made the King of heav’n my everlasting choice.
He came to me, and with Him came a blessing.
He spoke to me, and glory filled my soul;
His voice I heard, so charming and so wondrous.
I’ve heard the King, and hearing am made whole.
2) I’ve heard the King! and now I’m telling
To all the world the gospel of undying love,
That others too may catch the music
His voice can bring, and find their way to heav’n above.
1) What has the King of kings said to you today, through His Word?
2) What gifts and service has the King given to you that you are using for His glory?