Posted by: rcottrill | March 25, 2019

Fill Thou My Life

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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: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: Ellacombe, from Gesangbuch der Herzogl. Wirtembergischen Katholischen Hofkapelle, 1784, adapted and harmonized by William Henry Monk (b. Mar. 16, 1823; d. Mar. 1, 1889)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar born, died) (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Bonar, as well as being a fine preacher, is called by historians the most eminent of the Scottish hymn writers. Hymnals have continued to use many of his songs (e.g. I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say, and Go, Labour On, Spend and Be Spent).

Home life is filled with many asks and answers. He asked, “Have you got time to help me paint the den?” She asked, “Have you got time to take the kids to the hockey game?” These domestic tasks, and others like them, come up in every home. And the answers relate more to our priorities than to the actual time available. Because we each have exactly the same amount of time.

We each have 24 hours in a day, which is 1,440 minutes, and amounts to 86,400 seconds. And that translates into 31, 536,000 seconds per year–a few more in a leap year. No one gets fewer than that, and no one more, whatever your gender, or economic status, or education, or vocation. It’s the same for everyone.

It’s how we fill that allotted time that’s different from one person to another. A certain amount–likely a quarter to a third of a 24-hour period–is spent sleeping. Then there are meals, and matters of personal hygiene each day. For many, 50 or 60 hours are spent each week at employment of some kind. Then there’s church, recreation, shopping, doctors visits, and more.

Some talk about “killing time,” by which they mean doing nothing, or doing something of little or no importance for awhile. But in reality, you can’t kill time. Those seconds continue to click by, however they’re spent. There’s another expression we use as well: “making up for lost time.” We do that either by hurrying, or by taking time usually spent for other things to use for a particular activity or project.

But, again, we’re not really changing the inexorable passing of time. As Persian poet Omar Khayyam wrote nine centuries ago (translated into English): “The Moving Finger writes and, having writ, / Moves on; nor all your piety nor wit / Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, / Nor all your tears blot out a word of it.” He was speaking particularly of fate, or destiny, but it works as a description of the passage of time as well.

Yet, with all the demands and duties life brings upon us, there’s an activity the Bible says we’re to do all the time: that is to praise God. The psalmist says, “My praise shall be continually of You….And [I] will praise You yet more and more” (Ps. 71:6, 14). This seems impossible, but it’s not. Like the background music in a movie, it continues on through the action. In life, it has to do with our mind-set and attitude, our habitual thought patterns and emotional responses to life. “Praise the Lord,” whatever the circumstance, should be a natural response.

The Israelites were commanded by the Lord to offer a “continual burnt offering” on the bronze altar of sacrifice (Exod. 29:38-42). Morning by morning, and evening by evening the smoke of a sacrifice was to ascend to the Lord, without interruption. It symbolized the praise and worship of God that was to be the “background music” of their lives, even when it wasn’t being explicitly programed.

There’s no longer an altar of sacrifice for believers, but the ongoing praise of God is still called for. “Therefore by Him [Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). Scottish pastor and hymn writer Horatius Bonar expressed this theme in a beautiful song.

CH-1) Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part!

CH-2) Praise in the common words I speak,
Life’s common looks and tones,
In fellowship in hearth and board
With my belovèd ones;
Not in the temple crowd alone
Where holy voices chime,
But in the silent paths of earth,
The quiet rooms of time.

CH-3) So shall each fear, each fret, each care
Be turned into a song,
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free;
But all my life, in every step
Be fellowship with Thee.

Questions:
1) What things have happened in the last day or so that caused you to praise the Lord?

2) What does a life filled with God’s praise look like from the outside?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar born, died) (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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