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.
Note: The hymn’s author was the son of famed obstetrician Charles Delucena Meigs. Dr. Meigs was an early advocate for surgeons washing their hands, believing that disease could be transmitted by a physician’s hands. The son took an active interest in the Sunday School. He was part owner of a publishing firm, but sold his interest in the business so he could give more time to Christian work.
There are many long words in the English language–words of five syllables and more. In the film, Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews sings a fun song using a word with thirty-four letters: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It is an actual word, referring to something extremely beautiful and good. But the longest English word of all is apparently this one:
That’s a forty-five letter monster identifying a lung disease that can be contracted from inhaling fine volcanic dust. What a big word! Fortunately for doctors, and for all of us, it is medically the same as silicosis!
But let’s look at it a bit differently. There are sometimes very short words that have a significance far beyond their size. They are big words in another sense.
Missionary to India, Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) wrote a book with the short title If. It provides a penetrating and convicting look at Christian discipleship, and our tendency to personal pride and lack of love for others. For example she writes, “If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love, for a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” (That reminded me of a recent display of bad temper in the Canadian House of Commons!)
“If” is a big word. An even bigger one is “I.” And Miss Carmichael is actually speaking of how I, me and my can get in the way of our service for God. A self-centred life will be hindered in loving others, and also in honouring the Lord consistently. The person who is self-willed, self-seeking, and self-serving likely has spiritual “I trouble.”
The Bible gives us an example of that with a rich man the Lord spoke of in a parable (Lk. 12:16-21). In three verses he uses personal pronouns a dozen times, including four “I will’s.” But God called him a fool, saying all his grandiose plans would come to a crashing halt with his death–that very night. With no thought of using his wealth to bless others, his attitude was nothing like the love of Christ Amy Carmichael wrote about. The Saviour “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us” (Tit. 2:14).
Isaiah 14, verses 12-15 describe the self-serving sinful ambition that turned a powerful angel named Lucifer (literally, the Shining One) into a wicked spirit we call Satan.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (Isa. 14:12-14).
Lucifer was a cherub appointed to attend the throne of God (Ezek. 28:14-15), but he began to covet the throne for himself. We see in him the “I trouble” the rich man had. “I will be like the Most High,” he thought–the same sin with which he tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1-6). “You will be like God,” he said. In effect, “You don’t need to obey God. Be your own god.”
Many years ago, there was a Salvation Army Convention. The founder, William Booth, was still living, but he was too frail and infirm to attend. Instead, he sent a telegram, to be read to those who had assembled. When an officer came down the aisle calling, “I have a message from General Booth!” a hush fell over the large crowd to listen. The message was a single word–another small word that’s big in its import. The word was “Others.” And that speaks to the good work of the Salvationists over many decades since, a loving concern they’ve shown for others.
In 1902, Charles Meigs published a hymn called simply Others. His hymn says:
CH-1) Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for–Others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.
CH-4) And when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in heav’n’s begun,
May I forget the crown I’ve won,
While thinking still of–Others.
1) What will our behaviour toward others be like if we each “esteem others better than [ourselves]” (Phil. 2:3; cf. Rom. 12:10)?
2) What instances of selfishness and self-centredness have you observed in your own life over the past week? And how will you correct this?