Posted by: rcottrill | June 10, 2019

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

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. 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: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Aberystwyth ( or Parry) Joseph Parry (b. May 21, 1841; d. Feb. 17, 1903)

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The tune Martyn, by Simeon Marsh (1798-1875) is used in some hymn books, but the Welsh tune Aberystwyth is superior, if your congregation can handle it.

If you enjoy really fine singing, check out here the clip of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in 1935’s Naughty Marietta, singing the song discussed below. There seems to be a problem synchronizing picture and sound but, make no mistake, that is them singing, and they are terrific–especially MacDonald. This kind of mastery of the art of singing seems harder to find today.

Composer Victor Herbert (1859-1924) is considered one of the pioneers in American musical theatre. In 1910, his most popular operetta, Naughty Marietta, debuted on Broadway. It later became an Oscar winning movie. In the story, the Countess Marietta and Captain Warrington sing a passionate duet called Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.

Life has many mysteries, many things that puzzle and perplex us. Big ones such as: Why am I here? What is life’s purpose? What moral standard should guide me through life? What is ahead after this life is through? And more immediate and practical issues, such as: Where will I live? Where go to church? What job opportunities should I pursue?

But what’s the great mystery of life, according to the song just mentioned? What is it all the world is seeking? The couple sings:

Ah! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you,
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all;
All the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joy and idle tears that fall!

And the object of this desperate and universal search, according to the song?

‘Tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking,
And ’tis love, and love alone, that can repay!
‘Tis the answer, ’tis the end and all of living,
For it is love alone that rules for aye!

There may indeed be something else you would identify as life’s greatest mystery, but that one certainly has merit. To be loved, and able to return that love, is a major factor in finding meaning, fulfilment and satisfaction in life. Yet individuals often try many other things that prove inadequate.

The Lord knows about love and how we need it. In the Bible some form of words such as love and beloved are found about six hundred times.

There we’re told of an eternal inter-Trinitarian love. God the Father loved the Son (Jn. 3:35), and spoke of Him from heaven three times as “My beloved Son” (Lk. 3:22; 9:35; 20:13). And the Son told of His love for the Father (Jn. 14:31). That love has always been, and always will be.

Then there is the Lord’s love for lost sinners, and His desire to provide a way of salvation for them. The familiar John 3:16 speaks of it. And “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)

It stands to reason the Lord will also have a special, family love for those who’ve become His children, through faith in Christ. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I Jn. 3:1). And “Christ…loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).

And what about our own love? When asked which was the greatest commandment in the Jewish Law, Christ said it was the command to love God (Matt. 22:37-38)–a love to be demonstrated by our obedience to Him (Jn. 14:21). And finally, there is our love for others, which the Lord Jesus said is a second significant commandment like the one to love God (Matt. 22:39).

There’s a hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) that some have ranked as perhaps the finest in the English language. I’d rank Isaac Watts’s When I Survey the Wondrous Cross right up there too. But, published in 1740, Jesus, Lover of My Soul deserves a very high place. It’s about the saving, protective, nurturing love of the Lord Jesus Christ, of which Paul wrote, “The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

CH-1) Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

CH-2) Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

CH-5) Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.

Questions:
1) What is it about the love of the Lord that’s the most difficult to understand or accept?

2) What other hymn(s) would you rank as being among the best we have?

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | June 6, 2019

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

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. 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: Henry Francis Lyte (b. June 1, 1793; d. Nov. 20, 1847)
Music: Hyfrydol, by Rowland Huw Prichard (b. Jan. 14, 1811; d. Jan. 25, 1887)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The original version of this hymn apparently had six stanzas. Most hymn books today use four. Usually it’s 1, 2, 4, and 6. But Living Hymns takes a different approach with 1, 2, 4, and 3. As to the tune, Hyfrydol works well, but the most commonly used melody seems to be Ellesdie. This has sometimes been attributed to Mozart, but no concrete evidence has yet been found. The arranger of the tune was Hubert Platt Main (1839-1925) of the gospel publishing house Biglow and Main.

Persecution, sometimes violent, other times subtle, occurs around the globe. To persecute someone may include any or all of the following: ridicule, persistent harassment, oppression, mistreatment, exclusion or exile, imprisonment, torture or even death. The reasons for such abuses are most commonly either political or religious.

The freedom of speech protected by democracies says individuals have the right to express opinions without censorship or restraint–though there are limitations. The freedom is not absolute. Excluded are the incitement of violence, or a bogus threat to public danger (for example, by yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, or “I’ve got a bomb!” on an airplane).

Freedom of speech should include the right to speak publicly about to one’s beliefs, or have a spirited debate or discussion with someone who disagrees, as long as there is respect for the other individual on both sides. In theory, that is possible in North America.

But having said that, an anti-Christian bias is often observable in society, and especially in the media. The educator, the economist, the scientist, the sociologist, and the psychologist may be listened to with respect, while the follower of Christ is said to be biased and out of touch–as though those in the other fields mentioned have no biases of their own. Believe what you want, but keep it private seems to be the prevailing attitude.

The other way people of faith are frequently dealt with is to appeal to what’s sometimes called the new tolerance. This goes beyond the idea that all views are to be considered respectfully to proclaim all views to be are equally valid. But it won’t do to say, “My beliefs are true for me, and your beliefs are true for you. It’s all the same.” No, it isn’t. You may believe the contents of a bottle labeled “Poison” are safe to drink, but that does not make it so.

And the Bible simply will not allow that approach to the Christian faith. The Lord Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). And Peter preached, soon after Pentecost, “Nor is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). The gospel of grace is inclusive, in that it welcomes all to receive God’s gift of salvation. But it’s exclusive, in the sense that it offers no alternative way to be saved eternally.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God….He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:18, 36).

Sometimes it’s not so much for personal faith in Christ that an individual is persecuted. Rather, it is his insistence that there is no other way to be saved. Hostility rises when those who adhere to other religions or creeds are said to be wrong, and in eternal danger. And Christ told His followers: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:18, 20).

Those who claim Jesus preached a message of peace and love must be very selective in texts they use to prove it. He also said, ““Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matt. 10:34-35).

Identifying ourselves with Christ is going to be divisive, even dangerous. But he said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself [rejecting selfishness and self will], and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).

Scotland born pastor Henry Francis Lyte, who gave us the familiar hymn Abide with Me, also wrote Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, expressing his willingness to surrender all to follow Christ, as the above text challenges believers to do.

CH-1) Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shalt be.
Perish, every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known.
Yet how rich is my condition–
God and heav’n are still mine own!

CH-2) Let the world despise and leave me–
They have left my Saviour, too–
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue;
And while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me:
Show Thy face, and all is bright.

CH-6) Haste then on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission;
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Questions:
1) What does “deny himself” mean to you, practically, day be day?

2) What is involved in “take up his [or her] cross,” in practical terms?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | June 3, 2019

Not Dreaming

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. 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: Rodney Simon (“Gypsy”) Smith (b. Mar. 31, 1860; d. Aug. 4, 1947)
Music: Ensign Edwin Young (b. Jan. 3, 1895; d. July 22, 1980)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Gypsy Smith)
Hymnary.org

Note: It’s not often I recommend a secular song (or its performance) on this blog, but I will here, for several reasons. Below, I mention the touching secular ballad, Once Upon a Time. You can hear the recording of the song by 1960’s gifted pop star Bobby Darin, plus some valuable lessons we can draw from it in A Singing Lesson.

In 1962, the musical All American opened on Broadway. After negative reviews, it was soon gone–except for one song, with lyrics by Lee Adams. The wistfully beautiful Once Upon a Time, about a long ago love, has since been recorded by dozens of artists, including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. In the story, a young man sings, “Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew….How happy we were then.”

It’s a misty, romantic memory. “But somehow once upon a time never comes again.” So, was it real in the first place–or just a lovely dream? He sings, “We didn’t have a care….Everything was ours.” But we know that isn’t a realistic picture of the past. It’s looking at life through the proverbial rose coloured glasses. It’s almost certain the “good old days” weren’t always so good.

We can see an illustration of that in Scripture. Moses, as God’s appointed leader, led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and into the wilderness. They were heading for the land of Canaan, which the Lord had promised to them and their descendants. But life in the wilderness, traveling with families, and livestock, wasn’t easy. There were times when water was hard to find, and food too.

When this happened, they complained to Moses, saying, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exod. 16:3) “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Num. 11:5).

But was that a true picture of what was happening? We read earlier, “The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigour [harshness]. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage–in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field” (Exod. 1:13-14). And, to keep their numbers down, Pharaoh told the midwives to kill all the Hebrew baby boys, at birth (vs. 16). That’s the reality, and they cried out to God for help (Exod. 2:23).

Some years ago, there was a long-haired rock musician who was confronted with the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knelt in prayer, repenting of his sins, and trusting in the Saviour. But when he got to his feet, he was plagued by nagging doubt. “Am I really saved, or was that all just a pipedream? How stupid! What a fool I made of myself!”

When he got home, there was his grandmother’s old Bible sitting on the table. And the one who’d led him to the Lord had said, “Get a Bible and read the gospel of John.” He thought again, “Maybe it’s all nonsense, but what have I got to lose?” So, he picked up the well-worn book, found the Gospel of John, and started to read.

He told me, with a smile, the moment I started to read, I knew. “It’s real, it’s all real.” And he said, “I’ve never doubted that to this very day. Though he didn’t know it at the time, being untaught, this is something the Bible talks about: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16).

The same confidence gripped Rodney Smith. Born in a gypsy tent in Epping Forest, near London, “Gypsy Smith” became an evangelist, and made more than forty preaching tours of America and Australia. “I’m God’s messenger from the gypsy tent,” he said. He also wrote many gospel songs, including his theme song, Wonderful Jesus, and 1927’s Not Dreaming.

Note: The third line of the first stanza, in the original, reads, “Jesus my Lover, my Saviour, my Master.” Because of the modern connotation of the word “lover,” it is best to substitute other words, if you use the song.

1) The world says I’m dreaming, but I know ‘tis Jesus
Who saves me from bondage and sin’s guilty stain;
He is belovèd, my Saviour, my Master,
‘Tis He who has freed me from guilt and its pain.

Let me dream on, if I am dreaming;
Let me dream on, my sins are gone;
Night turns to dawn, love’s light is beaming,
So if I’m dreaming, let me dream on.

2) My home in glory is fairer than morning,
And Jesus my Saviour will welcome me there;
No, I’m not dreaming! I’m awake, it is dawning,
His smile and His love I’ll eternally share.

3) Oh, let me fight on for Jesus my Saviour,
And tell of the love He so wondrously gave;
Preaching or singing, living or dying,
In life or in death He is mighty to save.

Questions:
1) If doubts come into your mind about spiritual things, what do you do about it?

2) Why do those of the unsaved world ridicule Christ, and our faith in Him?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 30, 2019

Jesus, I Come

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. 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: William True Sleeper (b. Feb. 9, 1819; d. Sept. 24, 1904)
Music: George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: William Sleeper was an American pastor. George Stebbins was a gospel musician who composed the melodies for many who wrote the words. Stebbins is significant because he lived for nearly a century, right through the period when many familiar evangelists and gospel song writers lived, and he knew them all.

We come upon many comparisons and contrasts in life. Dark and light, rich and poor, old and young, short and tall, and so on. And have you noticed how often one side of the contrast is used to define the other?

A room may be dark without a light, and brightly lit when a lamp is turned on. That’s a contrast. But when we step outside into a sunny day, the room, though lighted, may seem dingy by comparison. If we’re to understand the true measure of big or small, slow or fast, strong or weak, or other qualities, we must ask, “Compared to what?”

In the moral and spiritual realm this often creates a problem. If an individual considers himself a good person, it’s important to know, “Compared to whom?” He could well be less moral and spiritual than some, but better than the morally degenerate among us. If he focuses on one side of the scale, it can foster discouragement (“I’ll never be as good as she is.). Looking in the other direction may lead to spiritual pride (“I’m certainly better than they are.”)

The Lord told of a man who did that. “The Pharisee stood [in the temple] and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” (Lk. 18:11-12). But his assessment was faulty. The tax collector nearby was ashamed of his sinful condition. He pleaded for heaven’s mercy, and was forgiven and “justified” (pronounced righteous) by God (vs. 13-14).

And God has resolved this measurement pitfall for us. His approved standard of comparison is “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13)–what translator Charles Williams calls “a mature manhood…a perfect measure of Christ’s moral stature.” Over and again that is the standard.

“Let this mind [attitude] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3). “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph. 5:2). “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). And the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, “ Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).

It takes only a little study of the Word of God to realize this sets an impossibly high standard. Everything good about the holy Son of God shines a brilliant spotlight on our own imperfection and utter failure. Only through the saving grace of God can we be transformed.

William Sleeper served as the pastor of a church in Massachusetts for thirty years. He also wrote several hymns. One of them, called Jesus, I Come, lists about fifteen reasons why a sinner needs the Saviour. Fifteen dramatic contrasts between the condition of the sinner and what the gospel of grace offers, through faith in Christ.

CH-1) Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-2) Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-3) Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-4) Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Questions:
1) What contrasts, in your own life, do you see between saved and unsaved?

2) Pastor Sleeper uses words such as: bondage, shameful failure, despair, depths of ruin. How would you answer a good living unsaved person who says he has none of those problems?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 27, 2019

Jerusalem, My Happy 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. 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:
Joseph Bromehead (b. _____, 1747; d. Jan. 30, 1826), and see note below
Music: Barre, by Edward Clark (19th century)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The hymn Jerusalem, My Happy Home is often credited to English clergyman Joseph Bromehead. However, what he wrote is adapted from an earlier source, identified only with the initials F.B.P. This may refer to Francis Baker Porter, a Roman Catholic priest imprisoned in the Tower of London during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. One view is that he created this song as an expression of his longing for the liberty of heaven.

The original had twenty-six stanzas. This was pared down to nineteen in a 1601 publication. Later hymn writers, James Montgomery (1771-1854) and Joseph Bromehead further amended the song. Its long and tangled history accounts for the varying versions found in our hymnals.

As the twentieth century dawned, author L. Frank Baum published a children’s book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was followed by fourteen sequels, with a girl named Dorothy Gale being the central character in most of them. Even many who haven’t read the books have seen the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.

In the story, a tornado sweeps Dorothy away from a Kansas farm, carrying her to a magical kingdom called Oz. There she has many amazing adventures, but through them all she longs to go home again. Says she, wistfully, “There’s no place like home.” No, there isn’t. Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote, “Home is where the heart is.” And an unknown author opined, “Deep within each of us is a longing for home.”

Christians often express a similar sentiment concerning our future home in heaven. For one thing, it’s where our heart is, because it’s where our Saviour is. We see that reflected in the Scriptures too. Paul speaks of “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” and he says, “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, 23).

The Lord Jesus comforted His followers with this promise:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions [or dwelling places]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

More about our heavenly home is recorded in the book of Revelation, where two descriptive images are used. Heaven is called Paradise (Rev. 2:7), a Persian word referring to a beautiful park or garden. With its crystal flowing river, and the fruited tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2), it may remind us of Eden.

The other image is that of a city. John calls it, “the holy city, New Jerusalem: (Rev. 21:2). The writer of Hebrews speaks of it as, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). In addition to the dwellings the Lord Jesus spoke about, Revelation describes its beautiful walls (Rev. 21:12), and a thoroughfare paved with gold (Rev. 21:21). These things we’re told. But, without doubt, there’s much yet to be discovered. It’s a world beyond our own experience.

There are many hymns about heaven. However, the things the authors tell us must be checked with the Word of God. Sometimes they rely more on imagination than on biblical facts. For example, the original hymn we’ll examine now says in one stanza, “There David stands with harp in hand, as master of the choir.” It’s possible, maybe. But nowhere does the Bible say David will lead the heavenly choir.

While we may challenge some of the details, we can appreciate the sentiment of this hymn, expressing the beauty and delights of our heavenly home, There’s no place like it!

CH-1) Jerusalem, my happy home!
Name ever dear to me;
When shall my labours have an end,
In joy, and peace, and thee?

CH-2) When shall these eyes thy heaven built walls
And pearly gates behold?
Thy bulwarks, with salvation strong,
And streets of shining gold?

CH-3) There happier bowers than Eden’s bloom,
Nor sin nor sorrow know:
Blest seats, through rude and stormy scenes,
I onward press to you.

CH-4) Why should I shrink at pain and woe?
Or feel at death dismay?
I’ve Canaan’s goodly land in view,
And realms of endless day.

CH-5) Apostles, martyrs, prophets there
Around my Saviour stand;
And soon my friends in Christ below
Will join the glorious band.

CH-7) O Christ do Thou my soul prepare
For that bright home of love;
That I may see Thee and adore,
With all Thy saints above.

Questions:
1) Beyond the wonder of being with our Saviour, which of the delights mentioned in the hymn are most appealing to you?

2) Why do you think it is that fewer hymns about heaven are being written today than in the 1800’s and before?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 23, 2019

Remember Me, O Mighty One

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. 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: (author unknown)
Music: Joanna Kinkel (b. July 8, 1810; d. Nov. 15, 1858); adapted by George Frederick Root (b. Aug. 30, 1820; d. Aug. 6, 1895)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none, as of this date)
Hymnary.org

Note: Joanna Kinkel was a German composer. We don’t know the author of the words, but they were published in an 1880 hymn book, so likely come from the nineteenth century. I can recall a men’s choir I was in, back in the 1960’s, singing this prayer quite effectively. On the Wordwise Hymns link you get a bonus: a link to a quartet singing this hymn.

The word remember is a common one. There are things we want to secure in our memories and give attention to at a later time. Perhaps it’s a phone call we want to make, or something to add to the weekly shopping list. And, as we get older, recalling some things, like dates and phone numbers, seems to get more difficult. Remembering names can get harder too. We may see a face in our mind’s eye, but the name eludes us for a time.

Another dimension may be added when it’s a person we remember. He or she may be absent from us for a time, or possibly has passed away. To remember them involves more than just calling a name or face to mind. There’s an emotional and intentional element too. On Remembrance Day, November 11th, we show respect for those who died in service for our country, expressing our approval of their sacrifice with speeches, songs and ceremonies.

“Remember me” is a phrase used quite a few times in the Bible. The intentional aspect of it can be seen in the words of Joseph, who’d been falsely accused and locked in an Egyptian prison. When Pharaoh’s butler, a fellow-prisoner, was released, Joseph said to him, “Remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house” (Gen. 40:14). Attention with intention.

When the Lord Jesus says the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is to be celebrated “in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:23-26), it’s not simply a matter of going through a familiar ritual. We are being directed to meditate sincerely on His sacrifice on the cross, and to live, day by day, in such a way that we show our personal application of it.

Frequently in Scripture the phrase is used in prayer. Nehemiah prayed, “Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people [i.e. the Jews who’d returned to Judea after captivity in Babylon]” (Neh. 5:19). And later he prays, “Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!” (Neh. 13:22).

The psalmist prays, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour You have toward Your people; oh, visit me with Your salvation” (Ps. 106:4). And the prophet Jeremiah prays, “O Lord, You know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke” (Jer. 15:15).

It can be seen from these few examples that the call for God to “remember” is often a cry for help in time of need. We see the same thing with the words of the dying thief, hanging on a cross next to Christ. “He said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’” (Lk. 23:42). A plea which the Lord promised to fulfil. “Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (vs. 43).

In Psalm 25, David voices an urgent plea for protection, guidance, and God’s forgiveness:

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old….According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Ps. 27:6, 7).

We don’t know what events brought David to pray that way, but it may have been this distressed petition which inspired a passionate prayer hymn. The author of the words may remain unknown to us, but they are poignant.

Note: Stanza 2 seems to be referring to the incident when Peter asked if he could come to Jesus, walking on the sea. But he became afraid and began to sink (Matt. 14:22-33). The author uses it as a picture of a fear of sinking in a time of great distress.

1) When storms around are sweeping,
When lone my watch I’m keeping,
‘Mid fires of evil falling,
‘Mid tempters’ voices calling,

Remember me, O Mighty One!
Remember me, O Mighty One!

2) When walking on life’s ocean,
Control its raging motion;
When from its dangers shrinking,
When in it’s dread deep sinking,

3) When weight of sin oppresses,
When dark despair distresses,
All through the life that’s mortal,
And when I pass death’s portal,

Questions:
1) Have you face days of extreme difficulty and maybe “dark despair” as the hymn describes?

2) Did the Lord provide in some special way, when you prayed?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none, as of this date)
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 20, 2019

In Heavenly Love Abiding

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. 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: Anna Laetitia Waring (b. Apr. 19, 1823; d. May 10, 1910)
Music: Seasons, by Felix Mendelssohn (b. Feb. 3, 1809; d. Nov. 4, 1847)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: You’ll notice in the Cyber Hymnal that at least nine different tunes have been used with this hymn. I’m most familiar with Mendelssohn’s tune Seasons. (In using this tune, the last line of each stanza is repeated.)

In 1957, the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army came over from England on a North American tour. I had the privilege of hearing them live, when they came to Ontario. They’re consistently ranked as one of the world’s great concert bands. You can hear them play Mendelssohn’s tune here, on a historic vinyl LP, made in connection with the tour.

The word abide is associated with the word abode, referring to a dwelling or home–a place that should awaken warmly positive thoughts. However, many in our world have far from an ideal home life. When some think of home, strife, deceit, violence and fear come to mind. Home is not somewhere they love to go, but, sadly, a prison they long to escape.

Home should be a place where each family member is accepted and valued as an individual. A place of peace and harmony, where all receive support and comfort. A place of mutual affection, where the truth is spoken in love. A place of nurture and learning, of happiness and joy. A place where others beyond the immediate family are welcomed, but also a place of security and protection from those who would harm us.

In particular, a Christian home is one that recognizes the presence of God, and where hearts are tuned to trust in Him, and obey His Word. Charles Spurgeon said, “When home is ruled according to God’s Word, angels might be asked to stay with us, and they would not find themselves out of their element.” Using the words with which this article began, who would not delight to abide in such an abode?

When we turn to the Scriptures, we find the Lord Jesus using the word abide a little differently, to speak of a spiritual reality. In teaching He gave in the upper room, before He went to the cross, Christ uses the word nine times in six verses (Jn. 15:4-10). Years later, John would have more to say about this kind of abiding in his first epistle.

The Lord said believers are to “abide in My love [in fellowship with Me]” (Jn. 15:9). And since it is spoken of as something we’re to do, it lays a responsibility on us. To understand what’s involved, it’s helpful to consider what’s sometimes called the Christian’s position and condition.

Our position has to do with our legal standing before God. I am a citizen of Canada; that’s my legal position. For the Christian, God views us as being in Christ, having His perfect righteousness credited to our heavenly account (II Cor. 5:21). That’s our position, and as such we are unfailingly surrounded by the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).

Our condition (our daily conduct) should be in harmony with that, but it isn’t always. Just as I can break Canada’s laws and disgrace my position as a citizen, so our condition as Christians is sometimes not what it should be. That’s why God provides for our forgiveness and cleansing when we confess and forsake our sin (I Jn. 1:9). It’s in this sense that we need to consciously abide in the love of Christ.

In daily experience we’re to settle down and be at home in His love, maintaining fellowship with Him. We do this by living consistently, day by day, in obedience to the Word of God. The Lord says plainly, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jn. 15:10). “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I Jn. 2:6).

In 1850 Welsh-born hymn writer Anna Waring produced a hymn inspired by the 23rd Psalm. In it she expresses the joy of abiding in the love of the Lord, nurtured, protected, and at home in His loving care.

CH-1) In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear.
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?

CH-2) Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back.
My shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim.
He knows the way He’s taking, and I will walk with Him.

CH-3) Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen.
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free.
My Saviour has my treasure, and He will walk with me.

Questions:
1) What are some of the blessings of abiding in the love of Christ?

2) What causes us to forsake that place of fellowship? (And what is the remedy?)
Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 16, 2019

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

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. 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: Ada Ruth Habershon (b. Jan. 8, 1861; d, Feb. 1, 1918)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Ada Habershon was an English author, Bible teacher and hymn writer, Miss Habershon was brought up in a Christian home by believing, praying parents, and her whole life was devoted to God’s service. In 1884 she was invited by evangelist Dwight Moody to deliver lectures on the Old Testament in America, which she did. The lectures were later published in book form.

There’s a very early recording of a version of Havershon’s song by the Carter Family, famed pioneers of folk music in America. However, if you listen to the recording here, you’ll see a marked difference in the lyrics. The Carter version focuses on a funeral and the grieving family; Havershon’s original was about faith, and a hope to see the family circle complete in heaven. No such hope is found in the Carter’s song. Only a question, “Can the circle be unbroken?”

Since 1932, a monthly magazine called Family Circle has been published, focusing on the needs and interests of the home and family. So just what is a “family circle”? It’s a term, in use since at least the early nineteenth century, identifying the most closely related members of a family, the immediate family as a group,.

This would seem to include the father and mother, their parents, and their children, and possibly grandchildren, but exclude uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. (The term extended family fits better there.) As to children, western couples seem to be having fewer today. The average is one or two. But this writer met an older woman recently who is one of seventeen children. That would make a big circle indeed!

Many have pointed out that families are the essential building blocks of society. Pope John XXIII said the family “must be considered the first and essential cell of human society.” Eighteenth century portrait painter William Aikman said, “Civilization varies with the family, and the family with civilization.” American author and educator William Thayer said simply, “As are families, so is society.”

God knew that, since He invented families. Our first parents were brought together by the Lord Himself (Gen. 2:24), and told to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Not on their own, of course, but through their descendants and newly created family units. However, simply adding to the population is not the end of parental responsibility. We’re to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go” (Prov. 22:6). In a loving home there’s nurturing, protection, and much more.

Today, the Christian home is to be God’s workshop where faith in Him is nurtured, and godly character built. Fathers are told to “bring [children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This, in turn, can have a profound influence on society as a whole, helping to turn many Godward. “Blessed is the nation,” [and] “happy are the people whose God is the Lord (Ps. 33:12; 144:15). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

But to return to the family circle, it should be the fervent prayer of parents that their children learn to love the Lord Jesus, and put their faith in Him. John writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III Jn. 1:4)–likely referring to his spiritual children, in that case, those won to the Lord through his ministry. And Paul rejoiced that his friend and co-worker Timothy had the godly influence of his mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5), through whom “from childhood you have known the holy Scriptures” (II Tim. 3:15).

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if your family circle and mine were united in faith, and thus remained unbroken in heaven? In other words, that they’d all be a part of God’s forever family, some of whom are now in heaven, others on the earth (Eph. 3:15)–a family bound together by their common love for the Saviour (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 3:26).

Ada Habershon thought so. In 1907 she gave us a thoughtful gospel song about the family circle, encouraging each family member to consider their eternal destiny.

CH-1) There are loved ones in the Glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

CH-2) In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love,
Pointed to the dying Saviour,
Now they dwell with Him above.

CH-3) You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice,
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice?

CH-5) One by one their seats were emptied,
One by one they went away;
Here the circle has been broken–
Will it be complete one day?

Questions:
1) What are some of the blessings of belonging to a Christian family?

2) Are there family members of yours you’re still praying will come to Christ?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 13, 2019

I Love to Tell the Story

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. 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: Arabella Katherine (Catherine) Hankey (b. Jan. 12, 1834; d. May 9, 1911)
Music: William Gustavus Fischer (b. Oct. 14, 1835; d. Aug. 13, 1912)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: In her early thirties, Katherine Hankey (1834-1911) developed a serious illness. In the weary days of her convalescence, to occupy her time, she wrote a long poem on the life of Christ. Our gospel song, I Love to Tell the Story, is taken from a section of it. The song Tell Me the Old, Old Story is taken from another section. If you’d like to see the entire poem, it can be found on the Cyber Hymnal link.

Story telling is an ancient tradition. It can involve either factual accounts or fictional tales. Long before television and radio, even before the invention of the printing press, stories were told. They could be shared for religious purposes, or to teach a moral lesson. Other times they were meant to inform about the news of the day, or simply to entertain those gathered to hear them.

Sometimes returning warriors, or seamen, told of wild adventures on the ocean, or in far off lands. And every culture seems to have its own myths and folklore, handed down from one generation to another. In Europe, in the Middle ages, traveling troubadours or minstrels visited the town marketplaces. There they sang songs and told stories, sharing news of what was happening in other places.

The story-teller can adapt his story to the audience before him, or create a new story to meet the need. The centuries-old Christmas carol, The First Noel, seems to be based on a troubadour song telling the story of Jesus’ birth. In the refrain, with its repeated, “Noel, Noel, Noel” we can hear his attention getting shout, “Birthday, birthday, birthday!” calling people to stop and listen to what he has to tell about a special birth.

In the Gospels, we see the Lord Jesus telling stories (parables) in various situations. About three dozen of them have been preserved for us by the four authors. The stories often had a twist, or some notable detail that made them memorable. The two best known are likely those of The Good Samaritan, and The Prodigal Son. Both, in a sense, could be called love stories, illustrating loving actions in the community and in a family.

Christ told the Good Samaritan parable (Lk. 10:30-37) in answer to a lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbour?” (vs. 29). The Jews were ready to admit they should be kind to their Jewish neighbours, but many balked at showing concern for Gentiles or the hated Samaritans. But the Lord demonstrates that neighbourly care should cross cultural lines. It was a Samaritan, not a Jewish priest or Levite, who helped a man who’d been attacked by robbers.

In the lengthy parable of The Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32), a young son demands the inheritance he would have received when his father died. After his father gave it to him, he went to a far country and wasted it all in “prodigal” living (the word means wild and reckless extravagance).

When he was starving, he decided to return home. His father’s servants were well fed. Maybe dad would hire him on as a servant. The wonderful reception he receives speaks not only of the need of forgiving love for others who’ve stumbled, but illustrates the love of God the Father for repentant sinners. “While he was still some distance off, his father saw him and his heart went out to him, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (vs. 20).

As Christians, we have a great story to tell, the greatest of all–a completely true one. It’s the story of the Saviour’s love, a love that sent Him from heaven’s glory to suffer and die, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins. That’s a story we should love to share.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). “The Son of God… loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).

CH-1) I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

CH-2) I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

CH-3) I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Questions:
1) Why is it that Christians “seem hungering and thirsting to hear” the gospel story again and again?

2) No doubt we’ll be singing and hearing great music in heaven. Apparently, this will include some earthly songs (e.g. “the song of Moses” Rev. 15:3; cf. Exod. 15:1-2). What hymns and gospel songs you know do you think might be sung in heaven?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 9, 2019

My Redeemer

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. 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: Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Evangelical hymn books contain many songs by this gifted, yet humble, servant of God: Hallelujah, What a Saviour! Whosoever Will; Once for All; The Light of the World Is Jesus; Wonderful Words of Life; Almost Persuaded; More Holiness Give Me; Dare to Be a Daniel; Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, Hold the Fort; Jesus Loves Even Me, and others.

The present song also works well with the tune Hyfrydol, to which we sing Our Great Saviour, and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.

Various studies of the subject of singing suggest multiple benefits to it, even setting aside, for the moment, the subject of the songs. The following findings are among those reported.

People who sing are more likely to be happy, as singing elevates the levels of neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and well being. Many singers report that singing helps them relax, and control stress. Singing can also give you physical benefits like better breath control and word enunciation. Further, with group singing, there’s the uplifting pleasure of uniting in a common experience and fellowshiping with others.

Singing in a group for just one hour has been found to boost levels of immune proteins in cancer patients, and has a positive overall effect on their health. Singing also has numerous benefits for stroke victims, having to do with relearning the ability to speak and communicate their thoughts. Some who have a severe stuttering condition can communicate smoothly if they sing their words. And Alzheimer patients, at a stage no longer able to converse with others, often can join in singing songs learned long ago.

So far, we’ve talked about some physical and mental benefits of singing. But it can have a practical purpose too. Children can learn their A-B-C’s with a song. And there are love songs that convey affection for another person, and patriotic songs expressing love and loyalty to one’s country.

Then there are wartime songs to inspire the troops, like the Battle Hymn of the Republic, in the America Civil War, and George M. Cohan’s Over There, popular during the First World War. In America, songs of protest abounded during the 1960’s, with its civil rights concerns, and opposition to the Vietnam War. Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, and The Times They Are a Changin’, and Pete Seeger’s If I Had a Hammer, and We Shall Overcome are examples.

When we turn to the Bible, we find words such as singing and songs over 250 times. More than a hundred of these are in Psalms, understandable since it was the hymn book of Israel, and of the early church.

Frequently, the purpose of these songs is the praise and worship of God. The first reference to singing did that. It occurred when the Lord delivered Israel from slavery, giving them a miraculous pathway through the Red Sea.

“Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” (Exod. 15:1-2).

The final reference to singing is found in Revelation, book-ending the frist, when the saints…

“Sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb [Christ], saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!’” (Rev. 15:3).

In the New Testament, Christians are urged to use singing for praise and prayer to God, and teaching and testimony to one another.

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

In times of suffering, they sang (Acts 15:25), and in happy times too (Jas. 5:13). Such singing engages both the spirit and the mind (I Cor. 14:15).

In 1876, the song My Redeemer, was published. It may have been the last one written by Philip Bliss, before he and his wife were killed in a tragic train wreck. It provides a lasting testimony to the man’s love for the Lord Jesus, and his service for Him.

CH-1) I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

CH-4) I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

Questions:
1) What other activities of earth, besides singing, do you believe we’ll take part in when we reach heaven?

2) What hymns about the Lord Jesus Christ do you especially love?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

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