Posted by: rcottrill | November 29, 2017

Where High the Heavenly Temple Stands

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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: Michael Bruce (b. Mar. 27, 1746; d. July 5, 1767)
Music: Brookfield, by Thomas Bishop Southgate (b. June 8, 1814; d. Nov. 3, 1868)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Some old hymn books (and Hymnary.org) try to compromise, and credit the hymn to both Bruce and Logan, but careful research has removed any reasonable doubt that Logan stole the credit for himself of something that was not his property. The story is below.

It happens once in awhile. One person builds an addition on his house. Nicely done, quite attractive. But his neighbour says there’s been a mistake. That his property line cuts right through the middle of the addition. And a subsequent survey shows that to be the case.

So it wasn’t the builder’s property, and he had no right to use it. It’s to be hoped, when this happens, the neighbours can reach a satisfying resolution of the problem, but sometimes, sadly, they don’t. There can be hurt feelings on both sides, friends become enemies, and reputations are soiled by a unseemly squabble.

This struggle over property rights has shown up in another arena: popular music. It may relate to similar phrases in the lyrics of two songs, or be something in the tunes, or in the arrangements of the tunes, even sometimes in background sound effects. Many legal battles have been waged over the unlawful copying of a song. But it’s far from simple. There can be a blurred line between inspired by, and stolen from!

So what about our hymn writers? Would they stoop to stealing someone else’s songs? Aren’t they Christians? As to the latter question, no, not always. But that is only part of the story. Even genuine Christians can sometimes stray, and do foolish, and even illegal things. As for a Scotsman named John Logan (1748-1788), whether or not he was a born again Christian, that’s for the Lord to decide. But here’s the unsavory story of what he did.

It involved another Scotsman, Michael Bruce, who was a fine poet, and also wrote a number of hymns. Bruce began training for the ministry, but he died at twenty-seven, before his training was completed. The two men named, Bruce and Logan, knew each other. And Logan went to his friend’s bereaved parents with a proposal.

John Logan asked for the handwritten manuscript of Michael Bruce’s writings, saying he wanted to publish them for the benefit of the family. They readily agreed. And three years later, a book of poems was published under Bruce’s name but, for some unexplained reason, the hymns he’d written were omitted.

Meanwhile, Logan himself had become a clergyman. And the Bruce family wrote to him and requested a return of the manuscript copy of their son’s work, but their letters went unanswered. Then, Mr. Bruce himself went and asked for the material, but was told the servants must have accidentally used the pages in the kitchen to singe fowl!

However, eleven years afterward, Logan published a second book that included some of his own writings, plus the missing hymns of Michael Bruce–which he claimed as his own creations. That he was a man of questionable character is evident. And John Logan eventually got himself in other trouble. A play he wrote was banned because it was ruled to promote rebellion, and he was forced to resign his pastorate.

Not a nice story. But below is part of a hymn by Michael Bruce, based on Hebrews 4:14-16, which says:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The Lord knows and understands the struggles we have. He went through them too. And He invites us to come boldly (with cheerful confidence) to the throne of God, seeking the grace and mercy available there to help us.

CH-1) Where high the heavenly temple stands,
The house of God not made with hands,
A great High Priest our nature wears,
The Guardian of mankind appears.

CH-3) Though now ascended up on high,
He bends on earth a brother’s eye;
Partaker of the human name,
He knows the frailty of our frame.

CH-5) In every pang that rends the heart,
The Man of Sorrows had a part,
He sympathizes with our grief,
And to the sufferer sends relief.

CH-6) With boldness, therefore, at the throne,
Let us make all our sorrows known;
And ask the aid of heavenly power
To help us in the evil hour.

Questions:
1) What particular distress in your life are you glad Christ understands and has sympathy and compassion for you?

2) Is there a trial someone near you is going through that you can bring today to the throne of grace?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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