Posted by: rcottrill | June 2, 2017

Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown

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: St. Petersburg, by Dmitri Stepanovich Bortniansky (b. Oct. 28, 1751; d. Oct. 10, 1825)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Wesley’s more than 6,000 hymns certainly qualify him to be thought of as one of our greatest hymn writers. However, in his day, he also preached the gospel with great effectiveness. This hymn’s history combines both of those gifts.

There’s an odd expression that’s been around for at least four centuries: He got taken down a peg or two. We know what it means, but where it originated remains a mystery. Research reveals half a dozen suggestions as to its source, including marks on a drinking mug, and the position of flags displayed on a ship. None of the theories seems conclusive.

When we speak of someone being “taken down a peg or two,” it means he has been humbled. The individual had too exalted an opinion of himself, but something was said, or done, that has caused him (or others) to realize he’s not as clever or strong as he thought he was. Historically, the expression was used in religious circles of church leaders who pompously supposed they deserved to be treated with extra reverence, but found out others didn’t share their opinion.

We are warned, in the Bible, “not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). Humility is seen as a necessary part of showing Christlike love to others: “Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up” (I Cor. 13:4). “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5:5).

Jacob was a man in Old Testament times who struggled with this issue. The name he was given means heel-gripper, suggesting that he would always be trying to trip others up and get the better of them, and he lived up (or down!) to his name. (As an aside, it’s a good thing to name our children something that will inspire them to aim higher.)

Jacob put great stock in his ability to make deals to his own advantage. To gain the upper hand and enrich himself, Jacob had conned his brother Esau, and his father Isaac, and his father-in-law Laban. He was what we’d call a wheeler-dealer, and he showed his craftiness often.

Then, he met the Lord in a most unusual way (Gen. 32:24-31).

He was alone in the wilderness, camped out in the dark of night, when…

“A Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He [his Attacker] saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint [and the muscle shrank, vs. 32] as He wrestled with him….And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”

There are definitely mysteries here, but many conservative scholars believe the midnight Wrestler was the pre-incarnate Son of God (vs. 30; cf. Hos. 12:2-5). And, true to form, Jacob tried to make a deal with Him: “I will not let You go unless You bless me” (vs. 26). But the Lord’s power showed that puny Jacob only remained in the fight because the Lord let him. His new name can be translated God fights, or God prevails. And Jacob’s continuing lameness (vs. 31)–perhaps a permanent disability–reminded him that his future renown as the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel was God’s doing, not his own.

On May 24, 1741, Charles Wesley preached on this unusual passage. He used it as a picture of the Christian’s need for prevailing prayer, to passionately and persistently seek the blessing of God, clinging to Him with the knowledge that it’s only by His enabling grace that we can do what He wants us to do, and be what He wants us to be.

A year later, Wesley wrote the present very long hymn (of fourteen stanzas) to convey his spiritual application of Jacob’s mysterious experience. In my view, we must be cautious in doing this. Jacob was a real, historical figure, and his experience was real–whether we can fully understand it or not. (His aching hip reminded him later that it was no dream!) And while it’s possible to use such events to illustrate spiritual truth, we must not imply by doing so that they are mere myths, to be interpreted as we like.

With that reminder, Wesley’s hymn says, in part:

CH-1) Come, O thou Traveler unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

And later there’s the admission of personal dependence on God:

CH-13) Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness I
On Thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from Thee to move:
Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.

Questions:
1) What are the meanings of some names given to relatives or friends of yours? Do they reflect a positive image, something the individual can aspire to?

2) What experience have you had lately that taught you a lesson in humility?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 31, 2017

Yet There Is Room

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: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Horatius Bonar, a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland, wrote more than six hundred hymns, and has been called “the prince of Scottish hymn writers.”

There seem to have been about eight different tunes used with this hymn over the years. The Cyber Hymnal has Uzziah Burnap’s tune, but Ira Sankey wrote one two decades before. Clearly it was composed for the use of Mr. Sankey during the Moody evangelistic meetings in Scotland (1873-1874).

Parents have sometimes tried bizarre threats in an attempt to frighten their children into good behaviour. “If you don’t behave, Santa won’t come to our house this year.” Or, “If you keep telling lies, your nose will grow like Pinocchio’s.”

Idle threats and scare tactics used with children are wrong-headed, and are even a form of verbal abuse. In the long run they do more harm than good. Such manipulative tricks aside, warnings rooted in facts, and shared with kindness and concern, deserve careful attention. When parents warn children of the danger of running out into the street without looking both ways, it’s for their protection.

In truth, a certain level of fear breeds caution, and can motivate appropriate action. When a doctor warns a patient that his smoking is going to cause serious damage to his lungs or heart, it may push him to deal with the addiction. When we hear that our air and water are being dangerously polluted, it should lead us to be more careful with our resources.

In the Word of God there are many warnings.

¤ Isaiah is told, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1).

¤ And this admonition is given through Ezekiel: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning…his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezek. 3:18).

¤ The Bible tells us the prophet Jonah “cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ So the people of Nineveh believed God” (Jon. 3:4-5). And the Lord saw their sincere repentance and stayed His hand of judgment (vs. 10).

¤ Paul comments on his ministry in the city of Ephesus, “Remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears,” tears of deep concern for them (Acts 20:31).

Sometimes evangelists who warn sinners about judgment to come are labeled “Hell-fire Preachers,” and it’s argued, “You can’t scare people into heaven.” But that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes an overt fear of judgment is the reason people turn to Christ for salvation. Even though He had great compassion for those in spiritual need, the Lord Jesus also issued stern warnings of eternal judgment (e.g. Matt. 25:41).

Alarms can be sounded in song, as well. When evangelist Dwight Moody was conducting meetings in Scotland, his soloist Ira Sankey asked Scottish hymn writer Horatius Bonar to create a song of gospel invitation for him. Bonar did so, and it was used effectively.

On one occasion, a Christian woman asked a friend to accompany her to one of Moody’s meetings. The young woman, worldly, and careless about spiritual things, at first refused. But when the other persisted, she finally agreed to go. But she was unimpressed with Moody’s preaching, saying there was “nothing in it.” Then, after the evangelist finished, Mr. Sankey sang the selection written for him by Pastor Bonar.

The song, inspired by a parable of the Lord’s (Lk. 14:16, 22), speaks of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9). The only quibble I have with the hymn is that Bonar suggests those who are saved now will be “guests” at the supper. The church is Christ’s bride (II Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25, 30-32), it is the Old Testament saints who will be the guests.

CH-1) “Yet there is room:” the Lamb’s bright hall of song,
With its fair glory, beckons thee along;
Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

CH-3) The bridal hall is filling for the feast;
Pass in, pass in, and be the Bridegroom’s guest;
Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

CH-5) Yet there is room: still open stands the gate,
The gate of love; it is not yet too late:
Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

CH-6) O enter in; that banquet is for thee;
That cup of everlasting joy is free;
Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

Through the welcoming words of invitation hymn the sin-hardened heart of the woman remained untouched. But the final stanza struck her like a lightning bolt, awakening fear at the Judgment Day up ahead.

CH-9) Ere night that gate may close, and seal thy doom;
Then the last low, long cry, “No room, no room!”
No room, no room! O woeful cry, “No room!”

In response to those solemn words, she opened her heart to the Saviour and was converted.

Questions:
1) What causes the hardness of people’s hearts against the gospel?

2) What is your favourite hymn of invitation to trust Christ as Saviour?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 29, 2017

Where Shall My Wondering Soul Begin

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: St Petersburg, attributed to Dmitri Stepanovich Bortniansky (b. Oct. 28, 1751; d. Oct. 10. 1825)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Charles Wesley wrote a number of hymns that related to his conversion experience. And Can It Be? was written shortly after, and O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing to commemorate the first anniversary of his “spiritual birth.”

The present hymn is not in the elevated category of these great hymns, but it is of interest, since it was written immediately after he trusted Christ for salvation. It also addressed sinners with very explicit and direct language. One stanza no longer used says:

CH-5) Outcasts of men, to you I call,
Harlots, and publicans, and thieves!
He spreads His arms to embrace you all;
Sinners alone His grace receives;
No need of Him the righteous have;
He came the lost to seek and save.

Did you ever buy a new car or truck? Not a used one, the newest and latest, a gleaming wonder right off the showroom floor. One that even smelled new, inside. Top of the line, everything automatic and computer controlled. And what power there was under the hood!

But a new vehicle doesn’t stay new. With use, it soon gets dirty, inside and out, and eventually the body begins to rust. Or perhaps some careless driver crumples a fender for us in a busy parking lot. Then, the engine develops problems and needs expensive repairs. Will it be worth getting them done? Or is it time to think about replacing the old rust bucket with something new?

As many of us have discovered, this works similarly with a computer. The family gathers around as we power up the new machine, just out of the box, and we gasp, as one new feature after another is paraded before us. An information and entertainment highway, right to our door. Help with everything from recipes to school homework, to where to go on vacation–and shopping galore, at our fingertips.

But not many days after, some nasty virus infects the beast, and it requires servicing. Then, we find that those “secure” credit card records have been hacked, and some unknown rascal in Montreal has bought himself a new microwave oven at our expense. Not only that, but a flood of commercials inform us that we no longer have the most up-to-date version. There’s an even newer one that will do twice as much, twice as fast.

No wonder we grow cynical about the advertising hype, because it’s an old and too familiar story: when it’s new, it’s amazing, but will it last? Most things in this world won’t. In truth, many are actually designed to wear out or be outmoded as quickly as possible, to send us looking for a replacement and keep companies collecting the profits.

But there is one thing guaranteed to last forever. The Bible talks about it many times. It’s the eternal salvation offered through faith in Christ (Jn. 3:16). Theologians have added up all the wonderful blessings that are ours, from the moment we trust in the Saviour. Depending on how they are divided up and categorized, there are three or four dozen of them. Far too many to enumerate here. But we will go on enjoying them in the heavenly kingdom, for all eternity.

“In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace….that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:7; 2:7). “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). “He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

The overwhelming nature of his salvation is something that stirred the heart of the great hymn writer Charles Wesley. He came to faith in Christ through the counsel of a Mr. Bray, whom Wesley describes for us as, “A poor ignorant mechanic, who knows nothing but Christ but, by knowing Him, knows and discerns all things.” Days later, he writes in his journal, “I waked under the protection of Christ, and gave myself up, soul and body, to Him.”

It was at that time he wrote the following hymn. (Note: an “antepast” is a foretaste or appetizer.)

CH-1) Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great Deliverer’s praise?

CH-2) O how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which Thou to me hast showed?
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God,
Should know, should feel my sins forgiven,
Blessed with this antepast of heaven!

On the following day, Charles’s brother John had a genuine conversion experience. Charles Wesley reported in his journal:

“Towards ten, my brother was brought in triumph by a troop of our friends, and declared, ‘I believe.’ We sang the hymn [discussed here] with great joy, and parted with prayer.”

Questions:
1) Can you recall the day when you put your faith in Christ as Saviour? (If you haven’t done so, would you consider doing so now? The article God’s Plan of Salvation may be of help.)

2) How did you first make known to others that you had been saved?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 26, 2017

Though Troubles Assail Us

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: John Newton (b. July 24, 1725; d. Dec. 21, 1807)
Music: St. Denio, by John Roberts (b. Dec. 22, 1822; d. May 6, 1877).

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The slaver and blasphemer who was wonderfully saved, later becoming a pastor and a hymn writer, John Newton’s story is better known than that of most hymn writers, partly because of the great blessing of his best known song, Amazing Grace. But he wrote many others. The Cyber Hymnal currently lists 288 of them.

For some years now the American government has been struggling to find a health care program that meets the needs of its citizens. The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) has helped many, but others have found it far too costly. Suggested changes or improvements have become a proverbial political football.

It’s been interesting to listen to the debate and hear American politicians comment on Canada’s health program. Some wistfully dream of adopting something like the Canadian system in the States. Others are harshly critical and dismissive of what we’re doing. At times, neither faction seems to be particularly well informed.

Tommy Douglas began a provincial hospital insurance program in Saskatchewan seventy years ago. Over the decades to follow, that’s been extended and expanded until now Canadians enjoy almost universal and comprehensive national health care, dubbed Medicare. No, it’s not perfect, and sometimes wait-times for treatment are a problem. But it’s great to have the coverage when it’s needed.

In an infinitely richer and more profound way, it’s wonderful to experience the loving care of God. In the material realm, many times the Bible speaks of how the Lord provides for His creatures in the wild (e.g. Ps. 104:10-11; Matt. 6:26). He also provided an abundance of food in Eden for our first parents (Gen. 2:16), and food to sustain the Israelites forty years in the wilderness (Deut. 2:7).

Jesus spoke of how God sends the sunshine and rain, as they’re needed. And one day Christ gave a supernatural example of His ample provision, feeding thousands of people with “five loaves and two fish” (Matt. 14:15-21). Later, there came a time when He provided for our eternal salvation, through His death on the cross (I Cor. 15:3)–once more, a richly abundant provision, just what’s needed (Eph. 1:7).

There was a foreshadowing of Calvary two millennia before, in the life of Abraham. After God promised that his descendants would become a great nation, the Lord told him to offer up his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice–Isaac, the one through whom the great nation was to come (Gen. 17:19). It was the supreme test of the depth of Abraham’s faith (Gen. 22:1-2), and he trusted that God knew what He was doing–even believing that, if necessary, the Lord would afterward raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-17).

But when Abraham raised the knife to slay his beloved son, God stayed his hand (Gen. 22:11-12). It was then that Abraham saw “a ram caught in a thicket by its horns,” and he “offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (vs. 13). That ram provides an early illustration of the principle of substitutionary death, pointing forward to the death of Christ, “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), sacrificed in place of guilty sinners.

Abraham named the place (in Hebrew) Jehovah-Jireh, meaning “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” Many centuries later, hymn writer John Newton (1725-1807) wrote a beautiful hymn around that revealing title. One stanza draws the parallel to Abraham’s faith in leaving Chaldea, at God’s command, to go to a land he had never seen (Heb. 11:8):

CH-4) His call we obey, like Abrah’m of old:
We know not the way, but faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers, we have a sure Guide,
And trust in all dangers, ‘The Lord will provide.’

Indeed, the Lord will provide, as we trust in Him, provide just what’s needed, and when it’s needed. Other stanzas of the hymn say:

CH-1) Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail us and foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The promise assures us, ‘The Lord will provide.’

CH-7) No strength of our own and no goodness we claim;
Yet, since we have known of the Saviour’s great name,
In this our strong Tower for safety we hide:
The Lord is our power, ‘The Lord will provide.’

Late in life, when Newton’s memory began to fail, he told a friend, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” Just what’s needed!

Questions:
1) Can you think of some way the Lord provided, in a special way, for you or someone you know, during the past month?

2) Other than eternal salvation, what are two or three of the greatest provisions the Lord has given believers?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Newton)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 24, 2017

There’s a Friend of Little Children

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: Albert Midlane (b. Jan. 23, 1825; d. Feb. 27, 1909)
Music: In Memorium, by John Stainer (b. June 6, 1840; d. Mar. 31, 1901)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Albert Midlane)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Albert Midlane has the distinction of being the only hymn writer who lived on the Isle of Wight, in the English Channel. He was a Christian businessman who also wrote many hymns, quite a few for children. Famed Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon thought highly of Midlane’s hymns, and made regular use of them. One of them is Revive Thy Work, O Lord, found in many hymnals. The present hymn was written on February 27, 1859.

As of 2010, Canada had a population of around 34 million, with 16.5% of these being children under the age of fourteen. In the West that percentage is higher. Almost a fifth of the population of Saskatchewan is in that lower age range, which means there are about two hundred thousand children in the province.

And please bear with me sharing a few more statistics. I’ve done the best I can to get an accurate picture. If the numbers aren’t right on, they’re close.

An average of one in seven children in Canada has been bullied repeatedly or severely, and about one in ten experiences some form of sexual abuse. The media aren’t always friendly to children either. Stories aimed at children often portray solving problems with violence or deceit, and advertisers entice them to eat food that’s unhealthy. Sadly, we can trace the steady assault on our children back further. In 2010 there were 64,000 abortions in Canada, a violence against the unborn that continues to taint our society.

What can be done about all this? Children need friends, true and dependable friends. What does that mean? What will the friends of children do for them? Here are six things.

1) They will be those who seek to understand them and their needs.
2) They will have compassion and concern for them.
3) They will have their best interests at heart.
4) They will readily serve them as trustworthy confidants, advocates, and advisers.
5) They will actively support and protect them.
6) They will point them to the Saviour

Children need such friends everywhere–in the home, in the school and in the community. Yes, they have some now, but they need more. Individuals who’ll share the love of Christ with them, and take a stand for righteousness and against any who would do the children harm. The Bible urges us:

“Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die” (Prov. 31:8).

The “speechless” are those who cannot speak for themselves, or who are somehow disenfranchised and don’t have an adequate spokesmen in places of influence. This includes infants and children, the disabled, the poor, those enslaved by destructive habits, and so on. (It includes unborn infants too.) Will you be a friend to them?

There’s One who is a Friend of children, that is the Lord Jesus. His disciples tried to turn the young away, thinking perhaps that their Master had more important things to do.

“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. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mk. 10:14-16).

The Lord also issued a sobering warning about the treatment of children.

“Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:5-6).

The One who was on earth labeled “a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Lk. 7:34) loved and cared for children, and He does so still.

CH-1) There’s a Friend for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
A Friend who never changes,
Whose love will never die;
Our earthly friends may fail us,
And change with changing years,
This Friend is always worthy
Of that dear name He bears.

CH-3) There’s a home for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
Where Jesus reigns in glory,
A home of peace and joy
No home on earth is like it,
Nor can with it compare;
For everyone is happy
Nor could be happier there.

Questions:
1) What are you doing to help protect the children you know, or those in your community?

2) How could you encourage others to join you in doing this?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Albert Midlane)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 22, 2017

The Sower Went Forth Sowing

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 St. Hill Bourne (b. Aug. 24, 1846; d. Mar. 22, 1929)
Music: St. Beatrice, by John Frederick Bridge (b. Dec. 5, 1844; d. Mar. 18, 1924)

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

Note: William Bourne was a pastor and author who wrote a few hymns. This one, picturing the Lord as the master Sower, was written for his church’s Harvest Festival (our Thanksgiving) in 1874.

It’s a proverbial saying that goes back over six centuries: “Great oaks from little acorns grow.” A variation of it is found in a work by Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400): “An ook cometh of a litel spyr [a little sapling].” It’s a way of saying that great things can come from small beginnings. That is certainly true of seeds.

Seeds are a marvel of the Creator’s handiwork. Each is a tiny embryo, genetically ready to produce a particular result. When we plant carrot seeds, we don’t expect a tomato plant to spring up. And carrots don’t look or taste anything like tomatoes. Built into the vast variety of seeds is the information to create hundreds of thousands of unique grasses, herbs, flowers, vines, shrubs and trees.

These living wonders differ greatly in size. The largest seed is that of a particular palm tree native to the Seychelles Archipelago. It’s about twelve inches (30 cm) long, and weigh up to forty pounds (18 kg). The tiniest seed in the world, small as dust, comes from a kind of orchid, and is too small to be seen clearly with the naked eye.

When the Lord Jesus calls mustard seeds “the least of all the seeds,” some have taken issue with Him, because, small though they are, they’re larger than the ones just mentioned. However, the Lord was speaking of the seeds “which a man took and sowed in his field” (Matt. 13:31-32), and mustard seeds were indeed the smallest sown by a first century farmer.

Recorded in three of the Gospels is a parable told by Christ about a sower sowing seed. The seed is meant to picture the Word of God (Matt. 13:19; cf. Lk. 8:11), and the Sower is the Lord Himself–though today He enlists believers to do this on His behalf (cf. I Cor. 3:6). What we’re meant to ponder in particular is the four kinds of soil on which the seed falls (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23).

Picture a farmer walking across a section of his field. Hanging from his neck is a bag of seed. As he walks along, he dips both hands into the seed bag and casts (literally broadcasts) seed on both sides of him. Given the presence of a breeze, and the nature of this method, not all of the seed will fall where he intends it to, but much certainly will.

¤ Some seed will land on the wayside, the trodden down, hardened path next to the field, where it’s quickly picked up by birds (Matt. 13:4), picturing a person who hears the Bible preached or taught, but doesn’t understand it, and the devil comes and snatches away the truth (vs. 19).

¤ Then there are some seeds landing on stony places without much earth (vs. 5-6). (Ancient farmers piled stones taken from the ground in the middle of the field.) This portrays those who enjoy hearing the Scriptures, but the truth doesn’t take root to do the person lasting good (vs. 20-21).

¤ Some seed will fall among the weeds (“thorns”) that spring up and choke the sprouting plants (vs. 7), portraying the Word of God being choked in a person’s life by “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (vs.22).

¤ But finally there is the “good ground” (vs. 8), picturing those who receive the Word with understanding and it produces fruit in their lives, the fruit of godly character and faithful service for God (vs. 23).

In the first stanza below, Bourne pictures the seeds planted that brought the crops and the harvest they were celebrating. In the second, he turns to the symbolic use of the seed, as in Jesus’ parable. I do take issue with the idea in line 5 that the seed is scattered “in His church,” as I believe the application is much broader than that, and includes (at least with reference to the gospel) the whole unbelieving world.

CH-1) The sower went forth sowing,
The seed in secret slept
Through weeks of faith and patience,
Till out the green blade crept;
And warmed by golden sunshine,
And fed by silver rain,
At last the fields were whitened
To harvest once again.
O praise the heavenly Sower,
Who gave the fruitful seed,
And watched and watered duly,
And ripened for our need.

CH-2) Behold! the heavenly Sower
Goes forth with better seed,
The Word of sure salvation,
With feet and hands that bleed;
Here in His church ’tis scattered,
Our spirits are the soil;
Then let an ample fruitage
Repay His pain and toil.
Oh, beauteous is the harvest,
Wherein all goodness thrives,
And this the true thanksgiving,
The first fruits of our lives.

Questions:
1) What kind of soil were you, the last time you heard God’s Word preached or taught?

2) What things can Christians do, by God’s grace, to prepare soil (the hearts and minds of others) to be more ready to receive God’s Word?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 19, 2017

Servants of God, His Praise Proclaim

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: James Montgomery (b. Nov. 4, 1771; d. Apr. 30, 1854)
Music: Truro from Psalmodia Evangelica, by Thomas Williams, 1789 (information on Williams not known)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James Montgomery)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: James Montgomery left school when he was seventeen, working for awhile in a bake shop. Was he wrong to forego further education? I don’t know. Perhaps he was an exception to the stay-in-school rule. He was already gifted in using the English language. During breaks in serving customers at the bakery, he spent his time writing poetry. Later, he took a job at a newspaper in Sheffield, England. Eventually he became both the owner and the editor of the paper. He wrote editorials opposing slavery, and commenting on other current issues. He also wrote more than four hundred hymns, many of which are still in use.

As in Hymnary.org, the present hymn sometimes begins with the line, “Servants of God in joyful lays.”

Parents and educators urge, “Stay in school!” In the vast majority of cases it’s wise advice. A survey was done of those who’d dropped out. Seventy-four percent of them said they would remain in school if they had the decision to make over again. The most obvious benefit is economic. More job options tend to be available to those who at least finish secondary school. There are exceptions, but most high school graduates average $8,000 more per year in income than drop-outs.

Yet there are dissenting voices. Musician David Brown has a hip-hop rant called Don’t Stay in School, in which he lists what he considers the many useless things he was “forced” to study, and all the things he needed to learn that weren’t included in his formal education. He makes a valid point–to some extent. It’s a good idea for practical life-skills to be included in a curricula.

But Brown left high school two decades ago. Maybe it’s different now. Of the things he says he needed to learn about–current events, budgeting, health and disease, most are now being taught in the schools I know. The things he labels as useless are another matter– for example, science, algebra, and Shakespeare. There are reasons for including these subjects he may not have considered.

Speaking as a former college professor, I can recall many young people I taught still having no settled idea of a career choice. For this reason, a hasty opinion that some knowledge will never be needed may be misguided. Further, few would say they love to study. “Much study is wearisome to the flesh” (Ecc. 12:12). But part of getting an education is learning how to learn, developing discipline and good study habits for other applications later on. And studying Shakespeare, and classic literature, as well as great music, and art, can enrich our souls and teach us much about life.

The Bible describes a number who profited from a good education.

¤ Moses “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), and he led the nation of Israel well for forty years.

¤ Solomon appears to have been a great student of the natural world (I Kgs. 4:32-34), and he used this knowledge to illustrate wise principles (e.g. Prov. 6:6-11).

¤ Of four young Hebrew slaves in Babylon it’s said, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom (Dan. 1:17). One of them–Daniel–was put in charge of all the wise men of Babylon for decades afterward.

¤ Paul was able to speak effectively to the wise men of Athens, because he’d studied the works of their poets (Acts 17:27-28).

It’s also clear from these and other biblical examples that God can give the ability to gain knowledge, and instill the godly wisdom needed to live well and serve Him. He does this by His Spirit, as we study and apply His Word in faith (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Here is some of Montgomery’s very first hymn, a metrical version of Psalm 113, written in his teens, there in the bake shop, between serving customers. (A “lay” is a song.)

CH-1) Servants of God, in joyful lays,
Sing ye the Lord Jehovah’s praise;
His glorious name let all adore,
From age to age, forevermore.

CH-2) Blest be that name, supremely blest,
From the sun’s rising to its rest;
Above the heav’ns His pow’r is known,
Through all the earth His goodness shown.

CH-5) O then, aloud, in joyful lays,
Sing to the Lord Jehovah’s praise;
His saving name let all adore,
From age to age, forevermore.

Questions:
1) What do you see as the practical value of a good education?

2) What are some things for which you praise the Lord today?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James Montgomery)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 17, 2017

O Love Divine That Stooped to Share

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: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (b. Aug. 29, 1809; d. Oct. 7, 1894)
Music: Quebec (also called Hesperus), by Henry Baker (b. June 6, 1835; d. Feb. 1, 1910)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The son of a pastor, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) was the father of the esteemed American Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. And the senior man, a medical doctor, was not unfamiliar with hospitals. He also taught anatomy and physiology at Harvard Medical School, where he eventually became dean.

Dr. Holmes wrote another hymn that touches on the presence of God, a theme similar to the present one. It begins:

Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!

The hospital can be a lonely place, especially at night. During the day, there are more people around, and there can be visitors to break the monotony. But at night the passing hours seem much longer, and the pains more painful.

When we have an opportunity, we need to express our appreciation for nurses and other staff members, especially for those who work a night shift. On one occasion, a church I was pastor planned a service where we honoured our health care professionals. Perhaps you could do the same at your church.

There is such healing power in a smile and an encouraging word. Years ago, during a time when I had two surgeries days apart, and spent nearly a month in the hospital, there were two or three nurses in particular who showed real kindness and concern for me. Holly, with her tiny flashlight, made the rounds at night, checking on each patient. When she learned I was having trouble breathing, needed to sit up, and found the bed uncomfortable, she went to a waiting room down the hall, and pushed a reclining chair from there into my room, where it remained through my stay. (What a relief it was!)

I wrote a poem called Night on the Ward, attempting to capture something of the solitary feelings patients experience in the night hours, and of the blessing of compassionate nurses on duty.

Footfalls echoing
Down long, dim corridors
To a counterpoint of pain;
Stirring sleepers,
Pastel shadows on a wall,
Reach out for help and comfort
With a distant bell;
White forms moving
From sound to source,
Bring routine remedies
Tinctured with fresh mercy.

Whether the lonely night hours are spent in a hospital, or at home, there is One who is always within reach to give reassurance and settle our hearts with His peace. The psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present [a fully available] help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth [faithfully]” (Ps. 145:18).

David writes of the Lord, “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off….Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Ps. 139:2, 12). And another has said, “God my Maker…gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10; cf Acts 16:23-25).

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus had a special word of reassurance for His followers. Though He was about to return to heaven again, He was able also to continue with them as a spiritual presence. He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). And the book of Hebrews contains this promise to believers: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never [not under any circumstances] leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper’” (Heb. 13:5). He’s near at all times.

Meditating on the words of Scripture, “You are near, O Lord” (Ps. 119:151), Holmes wrote a hymn he called “Hymn of Trust.” He spoke of how he had passed by a sick room one day, and heard some comments he turned into his hymn.

CH-1) O Love divine, that stooped to share
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear!
On Thee we cast each earthborn care;
We smile at pain while Thou art near.

CH-2) Though long the weary way we tread,
And sorrow crown each lingering year,
No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Our hearts still whispering, ‘Thou art near!’

CH-4) On Thee we fling our burdening woe,
O Love divine, forever dear!
Content to suffer while we know,
Living and dying, Thou art near!

Questions:
1) Have you ever experienced the nighttime loneliness of a time of illness?

2) What did you do to bring relief–or how were you helped by another person suffering similarly?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | May 15, 2017

Little Drops of Water

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: Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney (b. Apr. 6, 1823; d. Nov. 1, 1908)
Music: Gott ein Vater, by Friedrich Silcher (b. June 27, 1789; d. Aug. 26, 1860)

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

Note: Julia Abigail Fletcher was a primary school teacher in Boston. She also had written poetry since her youth, and had her verses published from the age of fourteen. Several of her poems have been turned into hymns. Julia married Thomas Carney, a Universalist clergyman, and his beliefs do merit a brief comment, as many would hold they are a departure from Christian orthodoxy.

Universalists contend that, in the end, since God is a God of love, every human soul will be reconciled to Him and reach heaven, whatever his or her beliefs may be. However, there are many Scriptures which contradict this view. The Lord Jesus spoke of a narrow way that leads to life, found by a relative few, and a broad way followed by many that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:12-14). In the Gospels He taught far more about hell and the danger of eternal judgment than about heaven.

Many texts, including the familiar John 3:16, speak of the need for personal faith in God’s provision of a Saviour, if we are to be saved (cf. Jn. 3:18, 36; Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:26; I Jn. 5:11-12). When Paul was asked by the Philippian jailer how he could receive salvation, the apostle replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:30-31). He did not say, “Believe whatever you like!”

There are many examples in our lives of how a little of something, added or taken away, can make a big difference–especially when that “little” addition or subtraction is repeated over and over, many times.

The difference can be positive or negative. Think of what we eat. If we overindulge at a single meal, the long-term effects will likely be minimal. But if we keep it up, meal after meal, day after day, we can put on a lot of weight. On the other hand, when we determine to diet and lose weight, it can’t be done in a day or a week, but only little by little.

A raindrop is tiny, and can’t do much on its own. But a shower of rain that lasts several hours can help us a lot. This article is being written in the early spring of the year. All around, as farmers look forward to planting, they’re hoping for plenty of rain to give the crops a good start. The rain not only waters plant life, promoting growth, it humidifies and cleans the air, replenishes lakes and streams, and raises the water table.

When we go somewhere on foot, each step only makes a small contribution to the whole journey. But many steps, taken one by one, will eventually get us there. Conversely, if we make a wrong turn, each step could be taking us further and further from our destination. Or think about the financial support given to a good cause. What we put in the offering plate at church, or what we send as a donation to the Cancer Society or some other organization, may only be a little. But if many do a little, it will help a lot.

In 1952, Joseph Roach and George Mysels published a song that says, “If everyone lit just one little candle, / What a bright world this would be.” Whether we see those candles as picturing deeds of love and kindness, words of hope and encouragement, or some other positive contribution, the addition of the little each one can do adds up to a powerful force for good.

The beliefs of Mrs. Carney’s Universalist husband aside, her children’s hymn does not venture specifically into that teaching, and there is a good lesson in her song: that little deeds can have a great influence, not only on the individual’s life, but on the lives of others around. Regarding individuals in the church, the spiritual body of Christ, the Bible says:

“One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills….God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (I Cor. 12:11, 18).

There are no unnecessary members of the body of Christ. We each have gifts and opportunities to serve Him. And as we each do what we can, even if it seems a small thing, it benefits all in the body.

CH-1) Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

CH-2) And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

CH-4) So our little errors
Lead the soul away,
From the paths of virtue
Into sin to stray.

CH-5) Little seeds of mercy
Sown by youthful hands,
Grow to bless the nations
Far in heathen lands.

Questions:
1) What are some “little things” others have done that you believe have had important results?

2) What are the qualities God is looking for that determine the value of an act in His sight?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | May 12, 2017

Jesus, Tender Shepherd

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: Mary Lundie Duncan (b. Apr. 26, 1814; d. Jan. 5, 1840)
Music: Evening Prayer (or Stainer), by John Stainer (b. June 6, 1840; d. Mar. 31, 1901)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Stainer)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Mary Lundie was the daughter of a Scottish pastor, and the sister-in-law of pastor and distinguished hymn writer Horatius Bonar. She married William Duncan, yet another pastor in Scotland. Mary wrote a number of hymns to teach her own little family the things of God. Though she died at the age of twenty-six, she’s left us this wonderful prayer hymn for children.

Respectfully yours, were the words she used to end her prayer. A little unusual, but hearing children pray can be amusing sometimes. Listening in can also be both a humbling and inspiring experience. Children are so sincere about it, so direct and honest, so trusting. It sometimes puts us to shame. No wonder the Lord Jesus cites the example of “little children” when it comes to the humble faith in God we each should have (Matt. 18:1-4).

How sad when children are not taught, early on, to go to God in prayer, how sad when they are not told of a loving Saviour who wants them to know Him, and wants to give them life eternal. Lucy Maud Montgomery portrays this lack in the life of Anne Shirley, her beloved orphan, in her novel Anne of Green Gables. (It’s a scene that is also found in Kevin Sullivan’s great 1985 miniseries of the same name.)

“You’re old enough to pray for yourself, Anne,” says Marilla at bedtime, to Anne, newly arrived from the orphanage. “Just thank God for your blessings, and ask Him humbly for the things you want.”

“Well, I’ll do my best,” promises Anne.

She proceeds to list several good things she’d experienced that day, and concludes, “That’s all the blessings I can think of just now to thank Thee for. As for the things I want, they’re so numerous that it would take a great deal of time to name them all, so I will only mention the two most important. Please let me stay at Green Gables; and please let me be good-looking when I grow up. I remain, Yours respectfully, Anne Shirley.”

That conclusion perhaps makes us smile. It sounds like something someone might put at the end of a written order to a catalogue store. But it’s a start. Sincere, and to the point. A greater maturity and spiritual depth can come later, with more teaching on the subject. The important thing is to get started.

A couple of points before we consider the content of a child’s prayers as it’s illustrated in our hymn.

First, the Lord Jesus, during the days of His earthly ministry, welcomed little children. He was disturbed when the disciples tried to turn them away. Instead, “He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mk. 10:16). Now, in heaven, He welcomes them still, in the place of prayer.

Second, each child, growing up, needs good spiritual examples to follow, and clear Bible teaching in the home. The local church has a part in this too, but it can never replace the home. Timothy had that, as a child. Though his father was perhaps not a Christian–or not yet a Christian–his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois certainly were godly women of faith (II Tim. 1:5). They were the reason Paul could say of Timothy, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures” (II Tim. 3:15).

To return to the subject of prayer in particular, we consider the present hymn. I believe the words could be memorized by quite a young child, giving him or her a basic understanding of many things to include in a prayer. (It might also be taught in Sunday School, or Children’s Church for the same purpose.)

Line after line adds important truth, and can lead to further discussion and teaching by a loving parent. The reference to death in stanza three is especially poignant. In Mary Duncan’s day, the rate of infant mortality was high, and children had to face the possibility early on. Here’s her exquisite hymn in its entirety.

CH-1) Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me;
Bless Thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be Thou near me;
Watch my sleep till morning light.

CH-2) All this day Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care;
Thou hast clothed me, warmed and fed me,
Listen to my evening prayer.

CH-3) Let my sins be all forgiven;
Bless the friends I love so well;
Take me, when I die, to heaven,
Happy there with Thee to dwell.

Questions:
1) Make a list of what is included in this prayer. Is there anything you would add, in teaching it? (If you have poetic skills, maybe you could write another stanza to include these things.)

2) Have you recently had the opportunity (and privilege) to listen to a child praying? How did the experience affect you?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Stainer)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

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