Posted by: rcottrill | February 21, 2019

Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun

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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: Thomas Ken (b. July ___, 1637; d. Mar. 19, 1711)
Music: Mainzer, by Joseph Mainzer (b. Oct. 21, 1801; d. Nov. 10, 1851)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: I decry, with a passion, churches that simply sing songs because that’s what we’re supposed to do in church. And the thought horrifies me, but I’ve seen it done, a song leader flipping through the hymn book a few minutes before service time, and, almost randomly, picking a few numbers–because “we like that one,” or “that has a catchy tune.” Shame on you, if you do that!

The Bible says we are to sing with understanding (Ps. 47:7; I Cor. 14:15). Hymns, gospel songs, and choruses should not just be sung, they should be used, having been selected with a sanctified and prayerful purpose. Usually, in a church service, that “purpose” should relate to the theme of the message preached from God’s Word.

“[Inwardly] let the word of Christ [including all of Scripture] dwell in you richly in all wisdom, [outwardly] teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [upwardly] singing with grace [thanksgiving] in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).

All three of those directions are involved in Thomas Ken’s fine hymn.

Did you ever meet someone in a really grumpy mood? They seem to be surrounded by a thick cloud of negativity. They feel bad, the weather’s crumby, the daily news is depressing, the coffee’s cold, the job is boring–or impossible, nobody understands them, on and on.

Sometimes we say of such a person that he must have got up on the wrong side of the bed. That expression comes down to us from ancient Rome. The Romans believed it was bad luck to get out of bed on the left side. That if you did that, you were going to have a very bad day. It was just a silly superstition. But there could be some things we do–or don’t do–in the morning that tend to set the tone for the day.

Here are some suggestions given by counselors to start things off right. To begin with, get enough sleep. Then, get up early. And before the negatives take hold, purposely think of something positive, and something you’re thankful for. Make your bed. Do a little stretching or light exercise. Brush your teeth, and take a shower. Eat a healthy breakfast. And plan your day, setting some basic goals.

No doubt such things would help to stave off a case of the grumps. But there’s something else that each child of God should make time for in the morning. Time in God’s Word and in prayer. It’s sometimes called morning Devotions, or a Quiet Time. God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him in prayer. That is how Christians can start the day right.

There are various schedules, devotional books, and other helps for this, but the most important thing, when we open God’s Word, is to take the time to meet with Him there, in fellowship and praise. Christ is revealed in some way, on every page of Scripture. Search for Him. This is an approach taught by the Lord Jesus Himself.

“Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Lk. 24:27).

“He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me’” (Lk. 24:44).

“You [Jewish leaders] search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (Jn. 5:39-40).

The whole Bible is about Him, and with the hymn writer Mary Ann Lathbury, in Break Thou the Bread of Life, we say, “Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord.” This takes time and careful thought. Then, is He showing us 1) a command to obey; 2) an example to follow (or a negative one to avoid)? 3) Is there a promise to claim, or 4) a blessing to praise Him for?

That can become a part of our prayers to follow. From the birth of the church in Acts, the early Christians bathed their days in prayer (Acts 2:42), and some form of the word prayer is used thirty times in the book. Perhaps this is what led someone to list different kinds of prayer into an acrostic: A.C.T.S.

¤ A is for adoration, the worship and praise of God.
¤ C is for confession, seeking God’s forgiveness for our faults and failings (I Jn. 1:9).
¤ T is for thanksgiving, gratitude for all that God has given us, and done for us.
¤ S is for supplication, requests for our own needs, and intercession for the needs of others.

In 1674, Thomas Ken published a beautiful prayer for the coming day. It begins:

CH-1) Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

The “sacrifices” of the Christian are, first of all, ourselves (Rom. 12:1), then ongoing praise to God, and loving deeds toward others (Heb. 13:15-16). And over the course of eleven stanzas, Bishop Ken presents both practical instruction and holy aspirations. For example:

CH-2) Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

CH-4) In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

CH-9) [Lord] direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

1) Take a few moments to read Thomas Ken’s entire hymn on the Cyber Hymnal link above. What are some areas mentioned that are especially relevant to your own life?

2) Do the songs used in your own church services reveal prayerful thought and meaningful purpose? (If not, why not?)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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