Posted by: rcottrill | May 19, 2017

Servants of God, His Praise Proclaim

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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: James Montgomery (b. Nov. 4, 1771; d. Apr. 30, 1854)
Music: Truro from Psalmodia Evangelica, by Thomas Williams, 1789 (information on Williams not known)

Wordwise Hymns (James Montgomery)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: James Montgomery left school when he was seventeen, working for awhile in a bake shop. Was he wrong to forego further education? I don’t know. Perhaps he was an exception to the stay-in-school rule. He was already gifted in using the English language. During breaks in serving customers at the bakery, he spent his time writing poetry. Later, he took a job at a newspaper in Sheffield, England. Eventually he became both the owner and the editor of the paper. He wrote editorials opposing slavery, and commenting on other current issues. He also wrote more than four hundred hymns, many of which are still in use.

As in, the present hymn sometimes begins with the line, “Servants of God in joyful lays.”

Parents and educators urge, “Stay in school!” In the vast majority of cases it’s wise advice. A survey was done of those who’d dropped out. Seventy-four percent of them said they would remain in school if they had the decision to make over again. The most obvious benefit is economic. More job options tend to be available to those who at least finish secondary school. There are exceptions, but most high school graduates average $8,000 more per year in income than drop-outs.

Yet there are dissenting voices. Musician David Brown has a hip-hop rant called Don’t Stay in School, in which he lists what he considers the many useless things he was “forced” to study, and all the things he needed to learn that weren’t included in his formal education. He makes a valid point–to some extent. It’s a good idea for practical life-skills to be included in a curricula.

But Brown left high school two decades ago. Maybe it’s different now. Of the things he says he needed to learn about–current events, budgeting, health and disease, most are now being taught in the schools I know. The things he labels as useless are another matter– for example, science, algebra, and Shakespeare. There are reasons for including these subjects he may not have considered.

Speaking as a former college professor, I can recall many young people I taught still having no settled idea of a career choice. For this reason, a hasty opinion that some knowledge will never be needed may be misguided. Further, few would say they love to study. “Much study is wearisome to the flesh” (Ecc. 12:12). But part of getting an education is learning how to learn, developing discipline and good study habits for other applications later on. And studying Shakespeare, and classic literature, as well as great music, and art, can enrich our souls and teach us much about life.

The Bible describes a number who profited from a good education.

¤ Moses “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), and he led the nation of Israel well for forty years.

¤ Solomon appears to have been a great student of the natural world (I Kgs. 4:32-34), and he used this knowledge to illustrate wise principles (e.g. Prov. 6:6-11).

¤ Of four young Hebrew slaves in Babylon it’s said, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom (Dan. 1:17). One of them–Daniel–was put in charge of all the wise men of Babylon for decades afterward.

¤ Paul was able to speak effectively to the wise men of Athens, because he’d studied the works of their poets (Acts 17:27-28).

It’s also clear from these and other biblical examples that God can give the ability to gain knowledge, and instill the godly wisdom needed to live well and serve Him. He does this by His Spirit, as we study and apply His Word in faith (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Here is some of Montgomery’s very first hymn, a metrical version of Psalm 113, written in his teens, there in the bake shop, between serving customers. (A “lay” is a song.)

CH-1) Servants of God, in joyful lays,
Sing ye the Lord Jehovah’s praise;
His glorious name let all adore,
From age to age, forevermore.

CH-2) Blest be that name, supremely blest,
From the sun’s rising to its rest;
Above the heav’ns His pow’r is known,
Through all the earth His goodness shown.

CH-5) O then, aloud, in joyful lays,
Sing to the Lord Jehovah’s praise;
His saving name let all adore,
From age to age, forevermore.

1) What do you see as the practical value of a good education?

2) What are some things for which you praise the Lord today?

Wordwise Hymns (James Montgomery)
The Cyber Hymnal


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