Posted by: rcottrill | May 3, 2017

Courage, Brother, Do Not Stumble

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Words: Norman Macleod (b. June 3, 1812; d. June 16, 1872)
Music: Courage, by Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b. May 13, 1842; d. Nov. 22, 1900)

Wordwise Hymns (Arthur Sullivan)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Dr. Norman Macleod was a Scottish clergyman who served for a time as Queen Victoria’s chaplain. He was also an author and editor. In 1857 he published this hymn that urges upon us, in very strong terms, the message of Psalm 118:8-9. Though his first line in the original was, “Courage, brother, do not stumble,” I’ve taken the liberty broaden the application by changing that second word to “Christian.”

Johnny Carson was famous for his thirty-year stint as the host of American television’s Tonight Show. But in 1957, before that job began, he was emcee of a game show called Who Do You Trust? On the program, couples competed for small cash prizes. When the man was asked a question, he had to decide whether to trust himself to answer it, or trust the woman to do so.

It’s actually a question we ask many times–mentally, if not out loud. Whom do I trust to cut my hair? Or to make plumbing repairs in our home? Or to do work on our car? Whom do I trust to babysit our children? Or sell me insurance? Or teach me how to skydive? Even from these few examples it’s easy to see that a wrong answer, a mistake in judgment, might prove to be expensive, or even dangerous.

When you go to vote, whom do you trust to govern your community, or your country? Whom do you trust to be your employer–or employee? Whom do you trust with major medical decisions? Yourself? Or your doctor? And, most important of all, whom do you trust when it comes to your spiritual welfare and your eternal destiny? And there is a practical application of that I’ll note here.

When a family has to move to a new town, they need to rent or purchase some place to live. And what are the questions they commonly ask? Is this house near enough to my (or our) place of work? Is it conveniently near stores and schools? And what about restaurants, and recreational facilities for us and the kids? All of those are good things to know?

But there’s one question we rarely hear considered–one that deserves to be at the top of the list. The question is: Is the house near to a good church, where we can go as a family to worship and praise the Lord, be faithfully taught the Word of God, and get involved in serving Him? A church where we and our children can form friendships that will enrich our spiritual lives? A church where we can be a blessing to others? That such questions are either asked, or not, says a great deal about our life’s priorities. Whom do we trust?

Concerning the Bible, the verse and chapter divisions were not in the original manuscripts. They were added later so we could find our place more easily to read and study. These have become somewhat standardized over the years, but there are still some variations, depending on translations, and the way chapters are divided. There are over thirty-one thousand verses in the Scriptures and, by one calculation, Psalm 118:8-9 is at the very centre. Those are verses specifically about whom we trust.

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Ps. 118:8-9).

Whether or not that’s at the exact centre of the Bible, it’s pretty close. And it’s surely central to the Bible’s message. Some form of words such as faith, believe, and trust, are found there over eight hundred times. So, whom do you trust?

In order to function in society, we have to place a certain amount of faith in one another. But always with the understanding that we are each fallible human beings and, even with the best of intentions we can let one another down. There’s only One who can be trusted, always, without qualification.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).

CH-1) Courage, Christian, do not stumble,
Though thy path be dark as night;
There’s a star to guide the humble:
Trust in God and do the right.
Let the road be rough and dreary,
And its end far out of sight,
Foot it bravely; strong or weary,

Trust in God, trust in God,
Trust in God and do the right.

CH-2) Perish policy and cunning,
Perish all that fears the light!
Whether losing, whether winning,
Trust in God and do the right,
Trust no party, sect or faction;
Trust no leaders in the fight;
But in every word or action,

CH-3) Some will hate thee, some will love thee,
Some will flatter, some will slight;
Cease from man, and look above thee:
Trust in God and do the right.
Simple rule, and safest guiding,
Inward peace and inward might,
Star upon our path abiding,

1) In what situation recently did it take courage for you to “do the right”?

2) How did the Lord help you in this situation?

Wordwise Hymns (Arthur Sullivan)
The Cyber Hymnal


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