Posted by: rcottrill | April 2, 2018

Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs

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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: Isaac Watts (b. July 17, 1674; d. Nov. 25, 1748)
Music: Gräfenberg, by Johann Crüger (b. Apr. 9, 1598; d. Feb. 23, 1662)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Isaac Watts has been justly called the Father of English Hymnody. In a day when the church he attended sang only the Psalms, he argued that they were missing a great deal of important New Testament truth. When the church agreed to try some new songs, he proceeded to write them, around six hundred of them, before he was done. Some we still sing, centuries later.

There are things we choose to do for fun, and others we do because they’re necessary. We may listen to music because we enjoy it. But when it comes to eating our food, we need to do that to live. Whether it’s enjoyable or not is another matter.

There are certainly exceptions, but to some extent we have a responsibility for our attitudes–enjoyment, or otherwise. We can respond to the challenges of life with misery or mirth, grumbling or gratitude. Many times when something is painful or difficult, we may be able to look beyond it and find pleasure in the end result. Surgery provides an example. Not pleasant in itself, but with the potential of benefits up ahead.

The early Christians looked at persecution in a positive way. When they were arrested and beaten for preaching the gospel (Acts 5:40), “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His [Jesus’] name” (vs. 41). And when the Apostle Paul was put in prison, he saw a opportunity to tell his guards about Christ, and realized his courage in prison  spurred other believers to new boldness in their witness (Phil. 1:12-14).

The Lord Jesus Himself provides a profound example. He was arrested, and falsely charged, beaten, and finally crucified–a horrific form of punishment. But the Bible says, He “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising [scorning] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He had joy in paying our debt of sin, and “in bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).

The Bible speaks of cheerfulness, and it’s an interesting word. Centuries ago, it came from a word for the human face. Then it grew to mean the emotions and inner attitudes that often show themselves in our faces. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance” (Prov. 15:13).

We commonly think of a cheerful person as one who is happy or joyful. But there’s another element to it. The word can also carry the sense of ungrudging, enthusiastic, and prompt. For instance, when the Bible says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7), it means we support the Lord’s work with our gifts, not only joyfully, but promptly, and without grudging.

This is surely to be our attitude when we sing songs of praise to God. It’s a cheerful task we ought to do joyfully, and promptly, without grudging.

David wrote, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Ps. 28:7).

And Puritan Thomas Watson (1620-1686) said, “Cheerfulness…puts the heart in tune to praise God, and so honours religion by proclaiming to the world that we serve a good Master.”

Pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts would certainly agree. His song, Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs, published in 1707, captures something of the atmosphere of joyful praise that surrounds the throne of God, as described in Revelation.

“You [Christ] were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation….Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:9, 12).

Watts’ hymn says:

CH-1) Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne.
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their joys are one.

CH-2) “Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry,
“To be exalted thus!”
“Worthy the Lamb,” our hearts reply,
“For He was slain for us!”

CH-3) Jesus is worthy to receive
Honour and power divine;
And blessings more than we can give,
Be, Lord, forever Thine.

CH-5) The whole creation join in one,
To bless the sacred name
Of Him who sits upon the throne,
And to adore the Lamb.

Questions:
1) Can you list three wonderfully “cheerful” (joyful) hymns?

2) Can a believer be cheerful, yet sensitive to, and in tune with, those going through trials? (How can these be expressed together?)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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