Posted by: rcottrill | April 26, 2017

Today the Saviour Calls

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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: Samuel Francis Smith (b. Oct. 21, 1808; d. Nov. 16, 1895)
Music: Nain, by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; d. Aug. 11, 1872)

Wordwise Hymns (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: More famously, Francis Smith gave the American people the stirring patriotic song, My Country ‘Tis of Thee. The present simple song was written some years before he wrote…

My country ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty.

Many early hymn books have no author for the words, though Mason’s contribution of the tune is recognized frequently. One book credits the song to Sallie Smith, and quite a few suggest that the words have been altered by Thomas Hastings (1784-1872). This must have been done early on, as has a hymnal from three years after the song was written that has the same words as later editions.

It can be embarrassing. Perhaps without thinking, we say things that are wrong, foolish, confusing, inappropriate, or even dangerous. A few folks seem to make a habit of it. As it’s sometimes put, “Every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it!” There’s even a Foot in Mouth Award, given annually to the celebrity who says the dumbest thing.

Take heart, if you’re guilty of this kind of verbal blunder; all of us have likely done it occasionally. Most instances can be dealt with by an apology, and an explanation of what was intended, or what should have been said. Some gaffs are harmless enough, but are simply confusing. Consider the British politician who said, “I could not fail to disagree with you less” (the 2004 winner of the Foot in Mouth Award).

And a couple more examples.

After attending a wedding, one guest was asked how it went. “It was very nice,” he replied, “but the food at the reception was absolutely terrible!” Then, he realized the new bride was sitting a few feet away.

Funerals are emotional events when we’re not sure of the right thing to say to comfort the bereaved. One woman confessed to attending a memorial service, where the grieving son of the deceased thanked her for coming. She cheerfully responded, “Any time!”

E-mails create their own problems. They’re so easy to compose, so quick to send. We can type cranky or harshly critical words in the heat of the moment, clicking on Send with what we feel is justified indignation. But once they’re sent we have to live with the result. Incautious words can destroy a friendship of many years. Even worse, maybe we accidentally clicked on the wrong address, and are offensive to the wrong person entirely!

A sobering instance of saying the wrong thing–and not saying the right thing–comes from the early career of nineteenth century evangelist Dwight L. Moody. He was conducting meetings in the city of Chicago, and decided to devote a series of messages to the life of Christ, messages to be delivered on six succeeding Sunday evenings.

On Sunday, October 8, 1871, he spoke on the trial of the Lord Jesus before governor Pilate. He focused his passionate appeal on Pilate’s question to the assembled multitude: “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matt. 27:22). Moody presented this as a question each one present needed to consider, saying, “I wish you would take this text home with you, and turn it over in your minds during the week.” He told them that the following Sunday he would talk about Calvary and the cross, and call for a decision about Christ.

After this, Ira Sankey, Moody’s music director and soloist, sang a simple hymn of invitation, the one by Francis Smith.

CH-1) Today the Saviour calls:
Ye wanderers, come;
O ye benighted souls,
Why longer roam?

CH-2) Today the Saviour calls:
O listen now!
Within these sacred walls
To Jesus bow.

CH-3) Today the Saviour calls:
For refuge fly;
The storm of justice falls
And death is nigh.

CH-4) The Spirit calls today:
Yield to His power;
O grieve Him not away;
’Tis mercy’s hour.

Notice the urgency of those words. Again and again it calls for a decision for Christ “today,” not a week hence. The Bible declares, “Behold, now is the accepted [favourable] time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). And Moody regretted for the rest of his life telling his hearers to ponder the claims of Christ for a week.

Sankey’s solo was the last song ever sung in that hall. The ending of it was drowned out by the clang of fire bells and of rushing fire engines in the street. The Great Chicago Fire burned for three days, destroyed much of the city, took hundreds of lives, and left about 100,000 homeless. Moody grieved that perhaps some who heard him had delayed a decision, and died without Christ.

“I have always felt that on that night I made one of the greatest mistakes of my life. How often I have wished that I could call back what I said to the congregation at the close of the meeting.” (D. L. Moody)

1) Have you even said something you wish you hadn’t said?

2) What was the result?

Wordwise Hymns (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)
The Cyber Hymnal


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