HOW 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.
Words: anonymous (see note below)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)
Note: Apparently the tune was written by Ira Sankey, the soloist and song leader for evangelist Dwight Moody. Most hymn books list the words as anonymous. A few attribute at least the first stanza to a Dr. Leon Tucker, of whom we know nothing. Hymnary.org gives the author as Frank Garlock (1930-___) on the basis of one hymnal, and in another place says it’s B. B. McKinney (1886-1952), or maybe Tucker–illustrative of the uncertainty!
Our hearts pump life-sustaining blood through our bodies day and night. We couldn’t get along without them. But there are people who are described as “heartless “in another sense. At the very least that speaks of someone who is unsympathetic and probably too self-centred. In the extreme, it describes a person who is callous, harsh, and cruel.
Consider the opposite. What do we mean when we say a person has put his whole heart into some activity or project? It describes an individual who is passionate and enthusiastic about what he’s doing. And it suggests the deliberate taking on of a burden or responsibility, with a willingness to pay the price necessary to succeed.
A heartfelt investment in service for God was symbolized by the attire of the Levitical high priest in the Old Testament. He wore a breastplate inset with precious stones, each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. “So Aaron [the first high priest] shall bear the names of the sons of Israel…over his heart, when he goes into the holy place [to commune with God]” (Exod. 28:29). On his two shoulders he also had stones set in gold, each engraved with the names of six of the tribes (vs. 11-12).
This is a beautiful picture, pointing to both the heart and the labour of service for the Lord. The one who was to represent the people before the Lord bore them on his heart, in loving concern, and carried them on his shoulders to support them in their need. That is what we want from today from our pastors, and other servants of the Lord at work in the church of Christ. It should be evident in every Christian’s life and service too. We should put our heart and strength into it!
There are other examples in the Bible of a full-hearted involvement. One is Moses’ instruction about what his hearers should do with the messages he passed on from the Lord: “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart” (Deut. 11:18). That rings with a similar summons as the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:
“Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!…With my whole heart I have sought You!” (vs. 2, 10). “Your word have I hidden in my heart” (vs. 11).
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul speaks often of the heart in his epistles. “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23). And, in Christian service, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).
But it was his passion, as a converted Jew, to see his own people won to Christ that especially moved him.
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart, for…my brethren” (Rom. 9:1-3). “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1).
The enormity of his burden for them is reflected in his statement that, if it were possible, he was even willing to be cut off from Christ himself, if it would see them won to the Saviour (Rom. 9:3).
That heart concern for the salvation of others is reflected in a little song for which we do not know the author. The song says:
1) Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
And love that soul through me;
And may I faithfully do my part
To win that soul for Thee.
3) Lord, may I love, as You have loved
The souls of those I know;
And grant me power from heav’n above
Thy love for them to show.
1) Is there someone in your life, or someone you have heard of for whose salvation you are burdened?
2) What are you doing about this burden of heart?