Posted by: rcottrill | July 4, 2018


Graphic Bob New Glasses 2015HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
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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: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)

Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal (Eliza Hewitt)

Note: Eliza Hewitt lived in Philadelphia. She was the Sunday School Superintendent in her church, and a hymn writer with hundreds of songs to her credit, such as: More About Jesus, Stepping in the Light, Sunshine in My Soul, Will There Be Any Stars? and When We All Get to Heaven.

Words such as drift and drifting have been around for a long time. In Old English, drīfan meant being driven, as one would drive a herd of animals. Plainly drifting usually has to do with movement that is caused by outside forces.

In boating, drift is caused by wind and water currents (cf. Jas. 3:4). In flight, planes are driven off course by crosswinds. In walking, it can mean to wander aimlessly, either missing a goal or having none, possibly being carried along by forces other than one’s own power and decision making.

Drifting can be slow, imperceptible, and even seem relatively random at times. But if we’re not alert to the possibility, and fail to check our instruments  or charts, it can result in us getting seriously lost. Strangely, there are even smart phone apps that make a game of it. Random instructions directing you who knows where? One describes itself as, “a tool for getting lost in familiar places.”

Lost in familiar places! That’s a sobering thought. And when we’re thinking of moral and spiritual drift, it concerns our eternal destiny. Sadly, some around us, in familiar places, are lost and don’t know it. Some are lost and don’t really seem to care. And some have no idea where they’re going, anyway. They perhaps think when people die, that’s it. There’s nothing beyond, so they might as well enjoy themselves now.

The Lord Jesus told a story about a rich fool who thought like that. He said to himself, “You have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk. 12:19). “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” (vs. 20).

A whole book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, is devoted to a sermon, preached by wise King Solomon, to those who are spiritually adrift. He describes the perspective of those whose only thought is for life “under the sun” (a phrase he uses twenty-seven times, defining this mortal life, from the womb to the tomb). He warns those who drift along, focusing on earthly pleasure, or prosperity, or prestige, that it’s all “vanity” (a word found in the book twenty-nine times). Vanity describes something that is empty, fleeting, and in the end of no real value.

Solomon’s conclusion, at the end of the book, is that we must factor in our accountability to God in eternity up ahead, in order to live purposefully now, and with a meaningful sense of direction. What does God say about this? And what will it be worth, in His sight, in eternity up ahead? Those are critical questions.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all [the whole duty of man]. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecc. 12:13-14).

The one who sails is wise to keep checking his instruments and adjusting accordingly. For the one who flies, it’s the same. And God has given us the most wonderful instrument to help us chart our spiritual pilgrimage, and avoid dangerous drifting. It’s the Holy Bible. The Word of the living God is to be our spiritual chart and compass.

It clearly describes the peril which we each face. “All have sinned and…the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23a). But then we’re given the solution: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23b). “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1).

In a song called simply Drifting, Eliza Hewitt sounds a warning note.

1) Drifting carelessly with the tide,
Drifting over the waters wide,
With no Captain your course to guide,
Drifting over life’s sea.

Drifting, drifting, no port in sight!
Drifting far from the gospel light;
Lest you go down in the stormy night;
Drifting over life’s sea.

4) Drift no longer! Let Jesus save.
Let Him guide you across the wave,
Lest you sink in a sinner’s grave,
Drifting over life’s sea.

1) If a person is spiritually drifting, what kind of forces are driving him or her off the right course?

2) Do you know someone who is “drifting” with whom you can share God’s answer?

Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal (Eliza Hewitt)


  1. Dear Mr. Cottrill, some time ago I intended to write and ask you about a song, O Mighty God How Wonderful Thou Art. Evidently I failed to push the send button or some operator error. Since then I did a little digging and found it was written by a D. Esther. I found the author and only a mention of it in The With the author’s name I found just a little more on a blog called Hymns With a Message that I discovered in my search. But again the blog author gave the song some context but not too much more. I learned the song from a record that the Grand Rapids School of The Bible and Music made. My sister went there in the Late 60’s, early 70’s. The song is just beautiful and they “performed” it beautifully on the record. And then more recently I heard it played on Rejoice Radio out of Pensacola, sung by a Kevin Wissink. Are you familiar with it and I was wondering if you knew any more about its history?

    • I did get your message, and wrote a reply. Perhaps it didn’t reach you. (We’ve been having phone and computer problems lately.) I did a search, both in many old song books, and on the Net, and couldn’t find any more. God bless.


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