Posted by: rcottrill | March 4, 2016

Changed in the Twinkling of an Eye

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (William Kirkpatrick)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Fanny Crosby’s skill at versifying in a simple, clear, and warmly devotional way, never ceases to delight me. It’s in evidence here again. I’ve used the original title. But in later printings this was compressed to In the Twinkling of an Eye. William Kirkpatrick was a friend and sometime collaborator of Fanny’s. (She called him Kirkie.) He supplied tunes, also, for Fanny’s Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It; and He Hideth My Soul.

We have a number of words and phrases we use to indicate a very short length of time. A split second is part of a second, but it’s usually used in a more general sense to mean very quickly. A nanosecond is one billionth of a second. In the twinkling [or blink] of an eye is a phrase that’s over seven centuries old. As originally written in old English it was, “Yn twykelyng of an ye.” It too indicates something happening in an instant, in a moment of time.

Apart from sensitive scientific instruments and high speed cameras, there are things that happen so fast our eyes cannot see them taking place. The speedy flight of a bullet, the beating of a hummingbird’s wings, the way light instantly floods a room when we flip the switch, these are all like that.

Sudden events in the Bible are described in similar terms. Of the destiny of the wicked, Proverbs says: “His calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.” And “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1). Of the enemies of Israel it is said, “The multitude of your foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones like chaff that passes away; yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly” (Isa. 29:5).

In the New Testament, we read that when aged Simeon greeted Mary and Joseph, who brought the baby Jesus into the temple, Anna, a prophetess, was suddenly there. “Coming in that instant [at that very moment] she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:38).

But it’s in another passage concerning the prophesied second coming of Christ that we find the translators of the Authorized Version using the old expression mentioned earlier.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep [i.e. die], but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Cor. 15:51-52).

There, the Bible is saying that in an instant our mortal bodies will be transformed, and become incorruptible, never-dying resurrection bodies (vs. 53). Though we were not there to see it, I believe the Lord Jesus experienced that same instant transformation when He rose from the dead. The body that had died became a glorified resurrection body in a flash and, just as quickly, our bodies will become like His (Phil. 3:20-21). When Christ comes again, those who are alive at the time will not pass through death (cf. I Thess. 4:16-17).

In 1898, prolific gospel song writer Fanny Crosby wrote a song based on the Corinthians passage. It says:

CH-1) When the trump of the great archangel
Its mighty tones shall sound,
And, the end of the age proclaiming,
Shall pierce the depths profound;
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory
To take the saints on high,
What a shouting in the skies
From the multitudes that rise,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

Changed in the twinkling of an eye,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye,
The trumpet shall sound, the dead shall be raised,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

CH-2) When He comes in the clouds descending,
And they who loved Him here,
From their graves shall awake and praise Him
With joy and not with fear;
When the body and the soul are united,
And clothed no more to die,
What a shouting there will be
When each other’s face we see,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

CH-3) O the seed that was sown in weakness
Shall then be raised in pow’r
And the songs of the blood bought millions
Shall hail that blissful hour;
When we gather safely home in the morning,
And night’s dark shadows fly,
What a shouting on the shore
When we meet to part no more,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

Questions:
1) What challenges and limitations do you look forward to leaving behind, when we as believers receive our resurrection bodies?

2) Whom do you look forward to reuniting with, when we are gathered to the Lord in that day?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (William Kirkpatrick)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | March 2, 2016

When This Passing World Is Done

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Robert Murray McCheyne (b. May 21, 1813; d. Mar. 25, 1843)
Music: Mount Zion (or Sullivan), by Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b. May 13, 1842; d. Nov. 22, 1900)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Originally in nine six-line stanzas, it’s believed this hymn was written in 1837.

Legendary baseball pitcher, Satchel Paige, once said, “Don’t look back, somethin’ might be gainin’ on you!” And there can be problems with looking back. A runner who looks back may stumble, and lose valuable seconds in a close race.

And what about life in general? Obsessively looking back on our past lives can either load us with guilt, or it can foster an excess of pride. It can also keep us from enjoying today, or giving it the attention and energy it deserves. Carrying about the burden of past regrets can bind us with ponderous chains like those borne by Marley’s ghost.

An extensive survey revealed that the things people most often had regrets about were, in order: romantic relationships, family, education, career, financial decisions, and parenting. Some were sorry for things they’d done that they shouldn’t have. Others regretted not doing things they should have. And often they reflected on time, and other resources, that had been wasted.

One who had a past which he later regretted deeply was the Apostle Paul. In his early days he was a zealous Pharisee, who saw the early church as an evil that needed to be stamped out. He says, “I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:13). “I persecuted this [Christian] Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4).

In considering the past, Paul reveled in the grace and mercy of God, but he determined not to dwell on these things to the detriment of today. He tells us:

“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

Having said these things, an occasional reflection on past days is not necessarily a bad thing. For the one who is trying to lose weight, it may be encouraging to try on that old pair of pants and see how much less of us there is to fill them! Marking our progress can spur us on to keep going. It is also valuable to review the blessings of God, and remember, with gratitude, others who have helped us on our way.

What believers will recall of this present life, when we get to heaven, is somewhat uncertain. There are various clues in Scripture to suggest that we will be able to review the past to some extent. One who pondered that was Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne. A man known for his godly character and deep spirituality, McCheyne died at the age of thirty, though not of any known disease. It’s believed he simply burned himself out in service for the Saviour.

An example will show how he ministered. Returning to Dundee on a Thursday evening, after a long weary journey, he headed for the church, as it was the night of the mid-week meeting. There he preached to a large congregation. Afterward, walking homeward, he stopped and prayed with many along the way. Reaching home, completely exhausted he murmured, “To Thy name, O Lord, be all the glory.”

In a hymn, which he called, “I Am Debtor,” Pastor McCheyne shows the depth of his spiritual insight. The hymn says:

CH-1) When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know–
Not till then–how much I owe.

CH-3) When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know–
Not till then–how much I owe.

CH-6) Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Saviour’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Questions:
1) What are some negatives and positives you recall, as you review your past life?

2) How does the Lord view your past, if you are a Christian?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 29, 2016

Thee Will I Love

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

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

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Because I created the Almanac in 2010, which was not a Leap Year, there was no February 29th there. I put the material for that date at the bottom of the article for February 28th.

Down through the centuries there have been many who seemed to have a special influence on the course of history, whether for good or ill.

Take a broad look across history, and see how many men and women altered the way we see the world, or act in it, in significant ways. Names such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Adolf Hitler, or Marie Curie, Helen Keller, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, all had a lasting influence.

In the Bible, Moses, David, Peter and Paul, along with Eve, Esther, and Mary, come to mind, and there are many others. In Christian history, there is Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, John Wesley, Dwight Moody, C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and many more. Affecting sacred music are people such as Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Felix Mendelssohn.

As for our hymnody, the saints of God have always been singing. The Israelites sang God’s praises, when they were delivered from the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exod. 15:1), and the saints in heaven will still be singing that song, along with others (Rev. 15:3). In between, we are assured:

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 92:1).

We’re aided in this by those who have written our hymns and gospel songs, John Newton, James Montgomery, Philip Bliss, and more. And three names stand out in the Golden Age of Hymnody (roughly 1700 to 1900), not only for the number of songs they produced (about 16,000), but for the many of their creations still found in our hymn books. They are:

¤ Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
¤ Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
¤ Fanny Crosby (1820-1915).

Let’s give our attention to the first of these, Isaac Watts, for a moment. A true genius, Watts learned Latin and Greek before the age of ten. He was also writing a great deal of poetry during this time. At the age of fourteen, he trusted Christ as his Saviour, and turned his attention to how he might serve the Lord.

Young Isaac grew up in a church that didn’t believe in singing hymns. They only sang poorly versified versions of the Bible’s Psalms. But as a teen, Isaac became quite dissatisfied with this. He spoke about it to his father, who was a deacon in the church. He argued that the Psalms, wonderful as they were, did not cover New Testament truth, particularly about Christ and His cross. Finally, the man agreed that he should try his hand at writing hymns.

Turning his attention to Christ, “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), his first hymn began by pointing the way forward to what he hoped to do with the gift God had given him:

Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst His Father’s throne:
Prepare new honours for His name,
And songs before unknown.

The congregation was so delighted with the new song, they asked Isaac to write a new one for each Sunday. This he did for the next four years, eventually writing over six hundred, and earning for himself the title of the Father of English Hymnody.

Isaac Watts gave us many hymns, including O God, Our Help in Ages Past, and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. But here is one of his lesser known creations, showing he certainly didn’t abandon the Psalms. This one, published in 1719, is a paraphrase of Psalm 18:1-6 and 15-18.

CH-1) Thee will I love, O Lord, my strength,
My rock, my tower, my high defense;
Thy mighty arm shall be my trust,
For I have found salvation thence.

CH-4) In my distress I called my God,
When I could scarce believe Him mine:
He bowed His ear to my complaint,
Then did His grace appear divine.”

CH-5) With speed He flew to my relief,
As on a cherub’s wing He rode;
Awful and bright as lightning shone
The face of my deliverer, God.

CH-7) Great were my fears, my foes were great,
Much was their strength, and more their rage;
But Christ, my Lord, is conqueror still,
In all the wars that devils wage.

Questions:
1) Why is it that the Psalms, they were written before the cross, remain an important and beloved part of God’s Word?

2) What are your favourite Psalms?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 26, 2016

The Saviour Is Waiting

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Ralph Richard Carmichael (b. May 28, 1927)
Music: Ralph Richard Carmichael

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Ralph Carmichael)
Hymnary.org

Note: Though he wrote much music for the church, Carmichael was more widely known in the field of secular music, arranging music for Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and many more. In my view, it is difficult to span those two worlds without compromise somewhere, and I personally don’t think it’s to Ralph Carmichael’s credit that he’s also considered the father of religious rock music. In the area of gospel music, he has given us Where He Leads Me I Must Follow, There Is a Quiet Place, and other songs.

We have a long word for it: procrastination. Crastinus is the Latin word for tomorrow, so pro crastinus means: for tomorrow. Don’t bother with it today, tomorrow is soon enough. But of course, as the saying goes, tomorrow never comes. Once we pass midnight, it becomes today, and “tomorrow” is pushed on yet another day.

Why is it we put off some things till a later time? Having a doctor check out that pain, or finding out what’s causing that odd sound in the car motor–we have lots of ways we rationalize doing nothing. We tell ourselves: maybe it’s not that serious; there’s likely no real danger; I can handle it on my own; I have more important things to do; I’m afraid of what it will cost me; maybe it will go away by itself.

Years ago, at the beginning of a holiday week-end, there was a long line at the gas station, as people filled up their cars for a trip. An attendant spotted the local minister’s car, back in the line, and went to him. “Sorry about the delay,” he said. “It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for the trip they’ve planned.” The pastor smiled and said, “I know what you mean. I have the same problem in my business.”

That speaks to spiritual procrastination, a failure to deal with things as the Lord is prompting us to do. Revelation pictures Christ standing at the door seeking entrance.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine [fellowship] with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

While, in the context, that appeal is made to a worldly church, the imagery could also represent in invitation to individuals to trust in the Saviour and open their lives to Him.

“To as many as did receive and welcome Him [Christ], He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name” (Jn. 1:12, Amplified Bible).

Welcoming Christ into our lives, by faith in Him, presupposes we realize our great and urgent spiritual need, and see Him as the only answer–which He is. As the Lord Jesus Himself put it, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6).

Many of the excuses sinners make for rejecting the Saviour are the same ones we use for procrastinating about other things. Maybe there’s no real danger to my soul. Or, I think I can get to heaven on my own. Or, I’m afraid of all I’d have to give up if I became a Christian. But none of the feared sacrifices weighs a feather in contrast to an endless eternity.

The Roman governor, Felix, wanted to wait for “a more convenient time” to listen to Paul’s gospel message (Acts 24:25). But neither biblical nor secular history reveals that he ever found an occasion more convenient to him. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2)

In 1958, musician and songwriter Ralph Carmichael wrote a song called The Saviour Is Waiting. Its theme is similar to Mary Slade’s Who at My Door Is Standing? Carmichael’s song says:

1) The Saviour is waiting to enter your heart–
Why don’t you let Him come in?
There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart–
What is your answer to Him?

Time after time He has waited before,
And now He is waiting again
To see if you’re willing to open the door–
O how He wants to come in.

Questions:
1) What excuses have you heard from individual’s who want to put off a decision for Christ?

2) Who is there you are praying for and witnessing to, to persuade him or her to come to Christ?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Ralph Carmichael)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 24, 2016

Praise Him All the Time

Posted by: rcottrill | February 22, 2016

In a Little While We’re Going Home

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The message we will carry away from this rather repetitive little song, written in 1899, is that Christ is coming soon to take us to our heavenly home. A good thing to keep in mind!

Children sometimes remind us of how distressingly long “a little while” can be. When the family’s in the car, and heading for the zoo, or to camp, or maybe to Grandma’s house, the question will come from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” Or, “When will we be there?”

Even though we understand the impatience of childhood–having been children ourselves, long ago–it can still be frustrating. We know that some things can’t be hurried. Even taking the shortest route to our destination may involve some twists and turns, some hills and valleys, some stops and starts. Perhaps even a bathroom break, or lunch on the way.

Nor do we automatically become perfectly patient with the passing years. Adults can be impatient too. (Sometimes we simply hide it better!) Impatience, says the dictionary, is: an eager and restless desire for change, or the reaching of a goal; an intolerance of anything that hinders progress or causes a delay. The Bible refers to having patience about three dozen times, but the concept is found many more times with God’s call to “wait,” and “rest,” and the exhortation to develop longsuffering.

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him, says David (Ps. 37:7). We are to be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). It’s the challenges and obstacles of life that the Lord can use to nurture patience, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jas. 1:3). The Word of God reminds us that the development of patience (“longsuffering”) is part of the “fruit” of the the Spirit of God’s work in the heart of the believer (Gal. 5:22-23).

Patience has a particular application to Christian service. Because of our own weakness and waywardness, and that of the people to whom we minister, progress is sometimes slow and painful. There are discouragements along the way. But we are to continue “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering [endurance] with joy” (Col. 1:10-11).

When He was on earth, the Lord Jesus promised He would return and gather the faithful to Himself and take us to our heavenly home (Jn. 14:2-3). There is a word associated with the second coming several times. Three times, in the last chapter of the Bible, Christ declares that He is coming “quickly” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). Yet it is nearly two thousand years since He spoke those words to John.

Certainly, from God’s standpoint, Christ’s soon return means something different from what it does to us. He does not count time as we do. “Do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). Taking that literally–though not likely the intention–Christ’s first coming took place only a couple of days ago.

From our perspective, the word “quickly” in Revelation means we can expect the Lord’s return at any time. The early Christians looked for Christ’s coming in their own lifetime, and so should we. His return is imminent. It could happen today. Meanwhile, we ought to keep busy for the Lord. “Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas. 5:9). Let’s be working for the Master and living lives pleasing to Him.

Eliza Hewitt wrote a sprightly song about the soon return of Christ, and about our responsibility in the meantime. It says:

CH-1) Let us sing a song that will cheer us by the way,
In a little while we’re going home;
For the night will end in the everlasting day,
In a little while we’re going home.

In a little while, in a little while,
We shall cross the billow’s foam;
We shall meet at last,
When the stormy winds are past,
In a little while we’re going home.

CH-2) We will do the work that our hands may find to do,
In a little while we’re going home;
And the grace of God will our daily strength renew,
In a little while we’re going home.

CH-4) There’s a rest beyond, there’s relief from every care,
In a little while we’re going home;
And no tears shall fall in that city bright and fair,
In a little while we’re going home.

Questions:
1) In what areas of your life do you tend to deal most often with impatience?

2) What is the Lord doing to help you to gain more patience?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 19, 2016

Ho, Everyone That Is Thirsty in Spirit

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Lucy Jane Rider Meyer (b. Sept. 9, 1849; d. Mar. 16, 1922)
Music: Lucy Jane Rider Meyer

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Lucy Rider, later Mrs. Meyer, was a busy pastor’s wife, and an educator. She was also an author and publisher, with several hymns to her credit, including the passionate He Was Not Willing That Any Should Perish. She wrote a hymn about that text (II Pet. 3:9) in 1884. The present song is based on an Old Testament text.

No cost to you, no payment required. It’s free! That’s the pitch. But we’ve learned to be cynical. We look for a catch. Scam artists use the word “free” as a come-on, and further down the line you may find you must part with a lot of money.

“Win a free iPhone,” the advertising may proclaim. Be careful. Obligations you are asked to agree to may be costly. “Buy one of our hamburgs, and get a second one free!” If you’ve got a friend along who wants a burger too, that’s likely a good deal, but it’s not exactly free. It’s two hamburgs offered at half price.

One time my aunt was doing grocery shopping, and the store had set up one of those tables where they give out free samples of a product, hoping it will encourage customers to buy some. As my aunt moved down an aisle, a man’s voice range out loudly. He had stopped to try a sample, and he cried, “Come and try this, Mrs. Dorey! It’s like salvation, it’s free!”

The call came from an evangelist known to many of us. Cameron Orr was an irrepressible ambassador for the Lord. For years he witnessed boldly to sailors traveling on ships that passed through the Welland Canal, in Ontario. He spoke out in situations where many of us would not have the courage to do it.

But was he right? Is God’s salvation truly free? Yes, in a way. But not exactly. Of course, someone had to pay the price. Romans 6:23 spells it out. “The wages [the just payment] of sin is death.” That’s why the Lord Jesus came to this earth. To take upon Himself the punishment for our sins. The “gospel” (the good news) is that “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:1, 3). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Pet. 3:18).

Now that the payment has been made by the Saviour, salvation is given freely to us. The Bible calls it God’s gift, received through personal faith in what Christ accomplished on Calvary. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We cannot pay for salvation with good works or anything else, or it wouldn’t be a gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that [salvation is] not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

There’s a passage in Isaiah in which the prophet uses the imagery of the marketplace to explain what the Lord has done for us, by His grace.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:1-2).

It’s a picture of God’s abundance, available by His grace. So many who are spiritually needy struggle to get things that can never eternally satisfy. They pay a big price for that, while the Lord offers His best to us, freely. Jesus had the same message for the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (Jn. 4:10).

God’s abundant riches, available without charge, for the asking. Through faith, we enjoy “the riches of His grace now,” and look forward to eternity, when the Lord will shower upon us “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; 2:7).

CH-1) Ho! every one that is thirsty in spirit,
Ho! every one that is weary and sad;
Come to the fountain, there’s fullness in Jesus,
All that you’re longing for: come and be glad!

“I will pour water on him that is thirsty,
I will pour floods upon the dry ground;
Open your hearts for the gifts I am bringing;
While ye are seeking Me, I will be found.”

CH-2) Child of the world, are you tired of your bondage?
Weary of earth joys, so false, so untrue?
Thirsting for God and His fullness of blessing?
List to the promise, a message for you!

CH-3) Child of the kingdom, be filled with the Spirit!
Nothing but “fullness” thy longing can meet;
’Tis the endument for life and for service;
Thine is the promise, so certain, so sweet.

Questions:
1) Why do human beings struggle with the concept of grace, wanting instead to do something to earn God’s salvation?

2) What feelings to you have as you consider salvation is yours freely, by God’s grace?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 17, 2016

He’ll Understand and Say, “Well Done”

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words:
Lucie Eddie Campbell (b. Apr. 30, 1885; d. Jan. 3, 1963)
Music: Lucie Eddie Campbell

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

Note: Three years before her death, Lucie Campbell married Rev. C. R. Williams, and began using a hyphenated last name, Campbell-Williams. The song He’ll Understand and Say “Well Done, in its original form, was created in 1933. An adapted version was later included in a number of hymn books, and it was recorded by several Country artists, including Johnny Cash and Hank Snow.

Did you ever wonder what it takes to become famous?

Some are famous for great deeds; others are notorious for their wickedness. But there are those who become celebrities for almost no discernible reason. They push themselves forward, often behaving outrageously, and they’re in the news for awhile. In a sense, they’re famous for briefly becoming famous.

But even the best of our deeds will get another assessment one day (Rom. 14:10). Earthly fame is one thing, but what will it count for in eternity? The Bible says believers “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” This is not the place where the wicked are condemned, but where the saints are rewarded. The Greek word for judgment seat, bema, refers to a judge’s stand, such as they have in the Olympic Games, a place where winners are declared and awards handed out.

“That each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good [worthy of eternal reward] or bad [worthless, in eternal terms]” (II Cor. 5:10).

One time a missionary couple was returning home by ship, after a lifetime of toil on the mission field. On board was a famous politician, who was received on shore by cheering crowds, and a brass band. The watching husband turned to his wife, and remarked sadly that there was no welcome for them like that. To which his wise wife replied, “But honey, we’re not home yet!” For the believer, the final accounting of our earthly accomplishments has yet to be given, in the presence of our Saviour.

Lucie Eddie Campbell wrote a song about that. She was an African American, who grew up in Mississippi, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of those who courageously refused to surrender her seat on a streetcar, in a section supposed to be reserved for whites. She also battled with government officials to get equal pay for black teachers with their white counterparts.

She was a remarkable woman in many ways. Not only a high school teacher herself for a time, but she went on to get a Masters degree, and was elected vice president of the American Teachers Association. From 1941 to 1946 she served as president of the Tennessee Teachers Association.

But it’s in the area of music that she is especially remembered in Christian circles. Lucie Campbell wrote nearly a hundred hymns. And she created musical pageants to inspire youth to give their lives in the service of Christ. It was also Lucie Campbell who helped to introduce legendary American singer Marian Anderson to the world, serving as her accompanist at the National Baptist Convention.

The present song is based on one of Jesus’ parables. In Matthew 25:21, a master says to his servant:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

It’s a picture of the time believers will be rewarded when Christ returns, as He promised (Rev. 22:12). Perhaps we feel we have failed in our service, in some respect. But have we been faithful to our calling, doing our best, by the grace of God? That is most important. “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2).

Lucie Campbell certainly achieved a measure of earthly fame in her day. But, without doubt, there were disappointments, and things she wished to achieve that she did not, notably, in the area of civil rights. She died before the enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, to receive the “Well done” of her Saviour was her greatest desire.

I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the third line of the refrain, “Bearing the staff and the cross of redemption.” Possibly the imagery refers to Christ’s dual role as our Shepherd and our Saviour.

1) If when you give the best of your service,
Telling the world that the Saviour is come;
Be not dismayed when men don’t believe you,
He understands; He’ll say, “Well done.”

Oh when I come to the end of my journey,
Weary of life and the battle is won;
Bearing the staff and the cross of redemption,
He’ll understand and say, “Well done.”

4) But if you try and fail in your trying,
Hands sore and scarred from the work you’ve begun;
Take up your cross, run quickly to meet Him,
He’ll understand; He’ll say, “Well done.”

Questions:
1) Can you think of an area in your own life in which you’ve done your best for the Lord, but feel that the task was not completed successfully?

2) Can you say you have been faithful in this, and done your best, by the grace of God?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | February 15, 2016

God Make My Life a Little Light

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Matilda Barbara Betham Edwards (b. Mar. 4, 1836; d. Jan. 4, 1919)
Music: Capel, a traditional melody

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Matilda Edwards was an English novelist and poet who also wrote several hymns. This lovely little hymn has been sung to a number of different tunes over the years. It is in what’s called Common Metre (8.6.8.6), so there are many tunes to choose from. Beatitudo, to which we often sing O for a Closer Walk with God, is a fine one. And if you are puzzled by how to use the hymn’s metre to change a tune, check out the article About That Metrical Index.

Over the centuries, and in different cultures, views of children have varied greatly. Some have seen them as a nuisance to be tolerated, or a resource to be exploited. Others have seen them as a precious gift from God, a treasure to be protected, with their gifts to be encouraged and nurtured.

Many have made thoughtful comments about childhood that are worth pondering. Social reformer Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” U.S. President John F. Kennedy said, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” Boxing champion Muhammad Ali said, “Children make you want to start life over.” Most of us, following through on Ali’s comment, might want to add, “without the painful times, and the mistakes I’ve made.” But that’s not how life works.

The Bible has a great deal to say about children, starting with the realization that they are a stewardship from the Lord, and He needs to be involved in their upbringing.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labour in vain who build it….Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Ps. 127:1-3).

The Lord Jesus valued children, setting the example for us in that.

“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God….And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mk. 10:13-16).

There are also a number of children in Bible times who became prominent individuals, either in their youth, or in later years. The Hebrew slave girl, whose master had leprosy, trusted in the power of God, telling him to go to the prophet Elisha. He went, and was healed (I Kg. 5:1-14). Paul’s nephew overhead a plot to kill him, and reported it to the Romans, saving his uncle’s life (Acts 23:12-24). Joseph, David, Samuel, and Daniel are examples of those who showed their faith early on, and lived to do great exploits for God.

We know only a little about the childhood of Jesus, but we learn that “ the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Lk. 2:14). Concerning young Timothy we are told of the influence of his godly mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5), and “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15).

It is appropriate that our hymn writers have written songs for children, both to instruct them, and help them give expression to their faith. Many of these songs can be sung in church by whole families, because they have a message for all of us. A few examples:

God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall
I’ll Be a Sunbeam
I Think When I Read That Sweet Story of Old
Jesus Bids Us Shine
Jesus Loves Me
When Mothers of Salem

You’ll notice how often these songs speak of being a light for the Lord Jesus, in a dark world. It’s common imagery in the Scriptures. Light is used as a symbol of purity and truth, as well as of sharing the gospel, and the love of Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Following the theme of shining for Jesus Mrs. Edwards wrote a hymn in 1873.

CH-1) God make my life a little light
Within the world to glow;
A little flame that burneth bright,
Wherever I may go.

CH-2) God make my life a little flower
That giveth joy to all,
Content to bloom in native bower,
Although the place be small.

CH-3) God make my life a little song
That comforteth the sad
That helpeth others to be strong,
And makes the singer glad.

Questions:
1) Can you think of other word pictures that could be used to teach children how they can live for the Lord?

2) What are your favourite children’s hymns?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | February 12, 2016

Saviour, My Heart Is Thine

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.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: original author unknown; adapted by George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)
Music: George Coles Stebbins

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (George Stebbins)
Hymnary.org

Note: Mr. Stebbins was in a unique place in hymn history. His ninety-nine years spanned two centuries. He knew many of the old hymn writers personally, and brought his knowledge of them well into the twentieth century. In his 1924 book, Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories, he writes vividly of important nineteenth century figures such as Philip Bliss, William Bradbury, Fanny Crosby, James McGranahan, Daniel Whittle, and Ira Sankey, with much about evangelist Dwight L. Moody, too. He knew them all.

We likely all know what it’s like to arrive at an event, and go to seating that has been reserved for us. Or perhaps, if we live in an apartment, to have a parking space reserved for us. Reserved. In that sense, it means something has been set apart for a particular purpose, or for the use of a particular person.

The Bible has a group of words meaning the same thing. Hundreds of times, in our English Bibles, we’ll read words such as: dedicated, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified, holy, sacred, All have a similar or related meaning: separated or set apart for a particular person or purpose. Usually, the sense is that a person or thing has been set apart for God, or a godly use.

For example, in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was commanded to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy [reserved for God]” (Exod. 20:8). And Moses was commanded, “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them [reserve them for Me], that they may minister to Me as priests” (Exod. 30:30).

The word is applied to the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity, all through the Bible. He is called the “Holy Spirit,” and God is spoken of as a “holy God” (Josh. 24:19). The meaning in this case is that God is a set-apart Being, supreme and incomparable. He is, in His righteous character, set apart from even the slightest taint of evil (I Jn. 1:5; Rev. 4:8). The Bible itself is called holy–“the Holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:2; II Tim. 2:15). There, the sense is that that it is a unique book, set apart from all others, and that it is separated from falsehood and error (Jn. 17:17).

In the New Testament, this group of related words is applied to individuals in several important ways. We read in Hebrews that the Lord Jesus Christ “consecrated [set apart]” for human beings a “new and living way to God, by His shed blood (Heb. 10:19-22). Through faith in Him, we are forgiven and brought into fellowship with God (I Pet. 3:18), and Christ is the only way to gain this access (Jn. 3:16; 14:6).

When a person comes to Christ, he should seek to live a holy life, separated from what is sinful (II Cor. 6:17).

“As He who called you is holy [set apart from evil], you also be holy [set apart from evil] in all your conduct” (I Pet. 1:15). “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [because of all He has done for you], that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy [set apart], acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

The Amplified Bible calls it, “your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service, and spiritual worship.” To serve the Lord is an act of worship, and it is a reasonable return for all of God’s many blessings. So we are urged to set ourselves apart for this, to be dedicated and wholly committed to it. It effect, to put ourselves, our time, talents, and treasures, at God’s disposal, made available to Him, reserved for the Master’s use.

There is a beautiful hymn about this. We do not know the original author, but George Coles Stebbins revised the words, and wrote a tune to match. His song takes its title from the opening line. An earnest prayer of Christian dedication, it says:

1) Saviour, my heart is Thine,
Keep it for me;
May every thought of mine
Glorify Thee.
Glorify Thee, glorify Thee;
May every thought of mine
Glorify Thee.

3) Saviour, my life is Thine,
Keep it for me;
May every hour of mine
Be lived for Thee.
Be lived for Thee, be lived for Thee;
May every hour of mine
Be lived for Thee.

Questions:
1) What are the practical results if we say, in sincerity, “Saviour, my life is Thine”?

2) What other hymns of dedication do you know and love?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (George Stebbins)
Hymnary.org

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