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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.
Words: Arthur Abner Luther (b. July 26, 1891; d. Jan. 30, 1960)
Music: Arthur Abner Luther
Note: Arthur Luther was a pastor in the northeastern United States, as well as being a musician. He wrote a number of gospel songs.
Advertisers are paid a great deal of money to come up with catchy slogans that are short and sharp, and become so identified with a product that, when we hear one, we almost immediately think of the other.
Here are a few slogans. See if you can identify the products they advertise. (Perhaps, if you don’t live in North America, this will be more difficult. 1) Snap! Crackle! Pop! 2) Let your fingers do the walking. 3) The quicker picker upper. 4) Finger-lickin’ good. 5) It keeps going, and going, and going… 6) It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Each advertising slogan must not only be memorable, but it has to say something important about the product, or at least tease our imagination with some fantasy that can be linked to it. Driving a Toyota car may not make us exclaim, “Oh, what a feeling!” but the company wants us to imagine it will.
Now, here are the products represented by the slogans given earlier: 1) Kellog’s Rice Krispies; 2) the Yellow Pages phone directory; 3) Bounty Paper Towels; 4) Kentucky Fried Chicken; 5) Energizer Batteries; 6) Timex Watches.
Some advertising goes to impossible extremes in assuring potential customers that it can absolutely be relied upon not to let them down. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s slogan was, “The light that never fails.” In 2011 it became, “Guarantees for the IF in life.”
But both of these seem close to a kind of God-like pronouncement that implies omniscience and omnipotence. Can any company, being run by fallible mortals, in days of economic uncertainty, and in a world where change often seems to be the only consistency, say there is no possibility they will ever fail a customer? No. “Almost never” might be closer to it, but that would hardly make an attractive motto!
Only Almighty God can speak in absolutes. “I am the Lord, I do not change,” He says (Mal. 3:6). And Christians can be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).
Does that mean we’ll never suffer pain or disappointment? Or that we’ll always get what we pray for? No. Because God’s ways are infinitely above our own, and He may be doing things we don’t understand at the moment. Here’s an illustration.
In the 1920’s, Arthur Luther was serving as the pianist for an evangelist holding meetings in a remote mountain community in Kentucky. There were no telephones , only a telegraph, and it was only accessible by a train that came up the mountain once a week. But after a couple of days a telegram arrived for Mr. Luther saying his boy taken seriously ill and had been rushed to the hospital. Home was six hundred miles away, and it would be four or five days before another train came. The musician felt so helpless.
Back at the place where he was billeted, he began to pray. Then, almost without thinking, he sat down at a piano and found himself improvising a new melody, as the words flashed into his mind, “Jesus never fails.” Then more words came–words that would eventually become part of a song:
2) Though the sky be dark and drear,
Fierce and strong the gale,
Just remember He is near
And He will not fail.
Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails;
Heav’n and earth may pass away,
But Jesus never fails.
His trust in God was strengthened. And shortly after, another telegraph message arrived to say that the crisis had passed, and his son was expected to make a full recovery. But that was only the beginning of the blessings that would come from the song written at that time crisis.
Twenty years later Art Luther wrote an article telling story after story that had been sent to him from around the world of times when believers in desperate need were encouraged by the words to keep trusting in the Lord, especially during the days of the Second World War.
It was instrumental in bringing a man to Christ who had determined to commit suicide. He later became a preacher of the gospel. Soldiers on the battlefront during the war sang it, missionaries floating in shark-infested waters did too, after their ship was torpedoed and sunk. Others sang it in Nazi concentration camps.
A church in London painted the motto on the front of their church: JESUS NEVER FAILS. Then, during the Blitz, a bomb destroyed all of the building–all but the wall on which the words were found.
Jesus never fails!
1) What difficult time has the Lord brought you through that has helped you to minister to others in a similar situation?
2) What hymns have been a particular comfort to you in difficult times?