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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: John Prentice (“Jack”) Scholfield (b. July 17, 1882; d. June 2, 1972)
Music: John Prentice Scholfield
Note: Prentice was a school teacher, and later a real estate salesman. As a musician, he was also involved in evangelistic work for a time, and wrote a number of gospel songs. The present song was published the year after it was written in 1934.
Children seem to be fascinated with puddles. After a heavy rain, we see them detouring out of their way to slosh through the inviting waters. But if the wader has underestimated the depth of the pool–or doesn’t care about that–the water may wash over his boots and give him a soaker. (Much to Mom’s dismay, when he gets home!)
Water that’s too deep–that’s a relative thing, of course. The person who can’t swim will want to avoid water that is over his head. And divers, unaided by equipment, face serious dangers beyond 30 metres (98 feet). Wearing special apparatus, divers can descend to 700 metres (nearly half a mile) And apparently submarines can now submerge to a depth of 4500 metres (2.8 miles), but even that doesn’t plumb the ultimate depths.
The Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean, is the deepest part of any of earth’s seas. At 10,911 metres (6.78 miles) the weight of water would crush any standard submarine. But a Swiss designed bathyscaphe named Trieste was built to withstand the incredible pressure. In 1960 it carried a crew of two men down to the deepest of the deeps and brought them safely up again.
This can be related to our spiritual lives, and in particular to the dangerous depths of sin into which some descend.
King Manasseh provides an example. He was the worst of the kings of Judah, and a case could be made for him being the wickedest man who ever lived. He not only led the people into the gross immorality of the Canaanite peoples who dwelt in the land before it was conquered by Israel, but led them on to even more abominations (II Kgs. 21:1-9, 16).
That is surely the depths of sin. But what happened to Manasseh. God visited judgment upon him, and he sincerely repented of his sins. In response, the Lord forgave him and restored him to the throne, where he engaged in a series of godly reforms (II Chron. 33:11-16).
Something similar happened to Paul (earlier called Saul). He persecuted the Christians of his day, hauling them into prison, and even supporting and consenting to their execution (Acts 7:59–8:1; 9:1-2). But the Lord confronted him, and he was converted, and became a Christian missionary. Greatly blessed by God, he proclaimed salvation through Jesus Christ, the One whom he’d earlier despised (Acts 9:3-6; Eph. 1:1-2; Phil. 1:21).
And what about pastor and hymn writer John Newton? He described himself this way: “Once an infidel [an unbeliever] and libertine [one who is morally or sexually unrestrained], a servant of slaves in Africa [serving on a slave ship bringing slaves to America], was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.”
All of these could say, “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord” (Ps. 130:1). And here is another example. In 1911, evangelist Mordecai Ham was holding meetings in Gonzoles, Texas. (Ham was the evangelist who was used, in 1934, to lead Billy Graham to faith in Christ.) One evening in Gonzoles he preached on “Christ Our Refuge,” explaining how the cities of refuge appointed in the Old Testament are a picture of Christ (cf. Num. 35:6, 11-14).
Among those who were in his audience that day was a wicked reprobate who had murdered four men, and despaired that there was any hope for him. But, praise the Lord, he listened, and believed God’s promise. Before Ham was even finished preaching, he leaped to his feet, crying, “Saved! Saved! Saved!”
Mr. Ham’s musical assistant, John Scholfield, was greatly impressed by what had happened, and it inspired him to write the following hymn the next afternoon. It was sung at the meeting that night.
CH-1) I’ve found a Friend, who is all to me,
His love is ever true;
I love to tell how He lifted me
And what His grace can do for you.
Saved by His power divine,
Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I’m saved, saved, saved!
CH-2) He saves me from every sin and harm,
Secures my soul each day;
I’m leaning strong on His mighty arm;
I know He’ll guide me all the way.
1) Do you know someone who was wonderfully delivered from the depths of sin when he or she trusted Christ as Saviour?
2) What hymn do you know that you believe explains the gospel best of all?