Posted by: rcottrill | June 28, 2017

We Lift Our Voice Rejoicing

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Words: Jack Williams Hayford (b. June 25, 1934)
Music: Jack Williams Hayford

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Jack Hayford)

Note: Hayford is an American author, and pastor of The Church on The Way, in Van Nuys, California, and he was the fourth President of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. A songwriter with over 600 hymns and choruses in his catalog, he is the author of the popular 1978 chorus Majesty.

There are all kinds of contests and competitions–some of them rather strange. How about competing to see who could roll up the biggest ball of twine? If you want to try, you’d better start now, and figure on taking years at it. Frank Stoeber rolled one until he died in 1974. Others have been adding to it since, and now it’s eleven feet (3.4 m) across. An even bigger ball was rolled by Francis Johnson, the biggest made by one man, at twelve feet (3.7 m) in diameter.

These monsters, each weighing tons, are mainly just curiosities for tourists to gawk at. But there are practical contests too. There are writing contests, knitting contests, sheep-shearing contests, and more, that require developing useful skills. And if you run a marathon or a triathlon, you not only compete for a prize but improve you health in the process.

There have been contests in hymn writing as well.

¤ Christian Guardian Magazine held a one in 1919 to see who could write the best Christmas poem. The entry by Canadian pastor Joseph Cook (1859-1933) won, and Gentle Mary Laid Her Child was later turned into a carol, using the tune of Good King Wenceslas.

¤ In 1980, Christianity Today Magazine held a hymn writing contest. The winner was O Father, You Are Sovereign, by Saskatchewan, Canada, hymn writer Margaret Clarkson (1915-2008).

¤ In 1961, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association conducted a similar competition, receiving over nine hundred entries. The one judged the winner was written by Jack Hayford, now a well-known Pentecostal pastor, and at that earlier time a youth leader. Hayford tells us a little about how the song came to be written.

He had just attended a conference in Colorado, and marveled at “the splendour of the autumn-spangled hills” around. As he traveled home to Los Angeles, he hummed Fanny Crosby’s hymn To God be the Glory, thinking of the beauty the Lord had created. Later, leaving the office one day, the words and melody of a new song of praise formed in his mind. “Arriving home,” he says, “I went immediately to my study, and within minutes the hymn was completed.”

1) We lift our voice rejoicing,
Because the Lord above
Hath sent His Son to save us,
And manifest His love.
Let every hill reecho
With this the song we raise,
To Him whose blood hath bought us
Be glory, pow’r and praise.

We praise Thee, O Father,
Unspeakable our joy,
In Christ our hearts find glory
Sin’s power can not destroy.

Some form of the word “rejoice” is found in our English Bibles 266 times. First, in Genesis, we read: “Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the Lord had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians” (Exod. 18:9). And the last use of the word, in Revelation, reads: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Christ’s union with His church] has come” (Rev. 19:2).

Understandably, the book of Psalms, the hymn book of Israel and the early church, stands highest, with sixty-six uses of the word expressing joy and gladness. A couple of examples: “I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 9:2). “But my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (Ps. 119:161-162).

Of special interest in Hayford’s hymn is the singular word “voice,” (rather than “voices”). This expresses the united worship of God’s people, as one voice. There’s a biblical example of this as well: “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous” (Ps. 118:15).

In New Testament terms, it happens when we sing the hymns of the faith in the services of the church. Such unified harmonious praise is pleasing to Almighty God. Therefore, “let us continually [over and over] offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).

1) What kind of things can aid the unified praise of a local church in a service of worship?

2) What kind of things can hinder the unified praise of that church?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (Jack Hayford)


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