Posted by: rcottrill | August 4, 2017

Father, I Know That All My Life

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: Brother James’ Air, by James Leith Macbeth Bain (b. Nov. 21, 1860; d. _____, 1925)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Anna Waring)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Anna Laetitia Waring was born into a Quaker family in Wales, but at the age of nineteen she joined the Anglican church. We know only a little about her. She apparently led a quiet, godly life, and was active in charitable work, especially with the Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society. Having mastered Hebrew as a young girl, she delighted in reading daily from Psalms in their original language. Miss Waring also wrote hymns. The most familiar today is In Heavenly Love Abiding, a meditation on Psalm 23.

There are some oddities with the metre of the present hymn, and with the text adjusted to it, as it appears in the Cyber Hymnal. The metre is ostensibly 8.6.8.6.8.6, but that is not what the text has there. For example, line 3 of stanza 6 reads, “I would have my spirit filled the more” (9 beats), when it should be 8–“I’d have my spirit filled the more.”

I found earlier versions of the hymn better fitted to that metre, and a tune that suits it. To Brother James’ Air, by Scotsman James Bain, I sang The Lord’s My Shepherd, in a male choir, many years ago. The text I’ve given of the present hymn fits that melody well. (You can listen to the tune here, and print a copy of the music.)

We live in a world that often promotes bigness as equaling “betterness” (to coin a word), and as something to be preferred. Littleness, by this measure, is inferior or insignificant.

It comes up in the food we eat. We can get the super large drink, or order a hamburger piled so high it defies any attempt to get it in our mouths. Bigness is touted in sports, too. Heavier football players, taller basketball players. And people crave bigger houses–often beyond their needs or their means. Then there’s bigness in the military: bigger ships, bigger guns, bigger rockets. And there’s bigger entertainment: bigger shows, bigger movies and bigger stars.

But bigness doesn’t necessarily insure quality or effectiveness. Nor is it always to be preferred. Do you prefer a big debt, or a small debt? A big, crippling, life-shortening disease, or a small bruise? And small things can do wonders. When my wife had cataract surgery, we saw one of the tiny lenses they insert in the eye. So small! But what a big difference those lenses have made!

In the Scriptures, the Lord warns many times about not having an inflated idea of ourselves.

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 26:12).

“I say…to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had a problem with this. They prided themselves in their religiosity, but it was often a hollow and hypocritical sham. While they made a big show of charitable giving, or praying in public (Matt. 6:2, 5), they were ready to “devour widows houses” without scruple (Matt. 23:14). Their religion was only skin deep; they had no personal heart relationship with God. The Lord compared them to “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27).

How much better to realize our own smallness before God. The Bible says, “He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14)–and dust is pretty helpless stuff. As Christ put it, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). But the great blessing of our smallness and weakness before God is that our lives reveal His power, to His greater glory (II Cor. 12:9). “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).

Anna Waring’s song expresses her humility, and a willingness to fill a small and unheralded place of service, in the will of God. Note the insightful fifth line in stanza 2, “A heart at leisure from itself”–which I take to mean not dwelling on Me, and my accomplishments.

1) Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

2) I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And wipe the weeping eyes;
A heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.”

3) I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

5) I ask Thee for the daily strength,
To none who ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

Questions:
1) What gifts do you have that the Lord has given? And how are you using them?

2) What does the author mean by saying, “I would be treated as a child”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Anna Waring)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | August 2, 2017

Come, Said Jesus’ Sacred Voice

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 Akin Barbauld (b. June 20, 1743; d. Mar. 9,1825)
Music: Forgiveness, by George Mursell Garrett (b. June 8, 1834; d. Apr. 9, 1897)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Anna Laetitia Akin was the daughter of a pastor in England. A child prodigy, at the age of two, she was able to read simple stories, and by three she was reading as well as most adults. Her understanding of the Scriptures also grew quickly.

An incident when she was five reveals her precociousness in the latter. Her father spoke to another man about the angels in heaven, saying that their joy and happiness was complete, and they therefore could not experience more, since they were perfectly happy already. But little Anna piped up, “Papa, I think you are mistaken,” reminding him of the text that says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:7, 10).

By the age of twenty, Anna Aikin had mastered French, Italian, Latin, and Greek, and she became a classics tutor, and a hymn writer. She married a pastor and teacher named Rochement Barbauld, but it was not a happy union. He developed a violent temper which turned into full insanity. When he attacked his wife with a knife, she had him committed to an asylum. He later escaped, and finally committed suicide.

Have you ever watched an ant hill. Those little creatures are constantly coming and going. A steady procession leaves the nest to forage for food, and the ants return, sometimes carrying loads that seem far too great for their size.

On a much larger scale there is continual coming and going all over the world. Whether it’s cars and trucks on busy highways and along city streets, or the streams of people in malls and stores, there is much coming and going. We are each busy with the tasks before us day by day.

Though they did not possess motorized vehicles, it was much the same in Bible times. And God’s Word promised His people Israel, “The Lord shall preserve [guard] your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore” (Ps. 121:8). In the New Testament, after Christ’s disciples had a busy time of ministry, we read, “He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mk. 6:31).

There is a spiritual coming and going as well, and it relates to each one of us. We come to the Lord seeking His grace and mercy, and go out to live for Him and serve Him. To come to the Lord in faith, seeking His help and blessing, will find us abundantly rewarded. Using the symbolism of water to picture the life-giving work of the Spirit of God, Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (Jn. 7:37-39; cf. 4:14).

But many, in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry, followed Him for awhile and then deserted Him. When that happened, “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” (Jn. 6:67-68). To depart from the Lord is to leave the place of blessing and take the path of unbelief and disobedience. In terms of a search for eternal salvation, turning our back on Christ can only be eternal condemnation (Matt. 7:23; 25:41).

But we as believers need to come to Him too. The invitation is still open to respond to the Lord’s summons, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Anna Barbauld wrote a hymn inspired by that verse, during her years after the terrible distress and danger caused by her husband’s insanity.

Her hymn, which she entitled The Gracious Call, shows that she found comfort in the Lord.

CH-1) “Come,” said Jesus’ sacred voice,
“Come, and make My paths your choice;
I will guide you to your home,
Weary pilgrim, hither come.

CH-2) “Thou who, houseless, sole, forlorn,
Long hast borne the proud world’s scorn,
Long hast roamed the barren waste,
Weary pilgrim, hither haste.

CH-3) “Ye who, tossed on beds of pain,
Seek for ease, but seek in vain;
Ye whose swollen, sleepless eyes
Watch to see the morning rise.

CH-4) Ye, by fiercer anguish torn,
In remorse for guilt who mourn.
Here repose your heavy care:
Who the stings of guilt can bear?

CH-5) Hither come, for here is found
Balm that flows for every wound,
Peace that ever shall endure,
Rest eternal, sacred, sure.”

Questions:
1) In what personal circumstance have you found rest for your soul in the Lord?

2) Is there someone you know to whom you could bring words of comfort and assurance during a difficult time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 31, 2017

Jesus Leads

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 Ralston Clements (b. Nov. 28, 1868; d. Jan. 1, 1946)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The Clements family emigrated to America from Ireland in 1870. In his late teens, John Clements put his faith in Christ, through the ministry of evangelist D. L. Moody. He later served for seventeen years as president of what is now David College, in Johnson City, New York. Over the course of many years, Clements also wrote thousands of hymns, including a song about heaven called No Night There. The present one is lesser known, but it witnesses emphatically to the Lord’s leading in the believer’s life.

The methods used in caring for a flock of sheep have changed considerably since ancient times, but there are still places in the world where the work is carried on much the same as in centuries past.

Our word “shepherd” is a contraction of the Old English sceaphierde, meaning sheep herder. It is the shepherd’s responsibility to lead the sheep to good pasturage and fresh water, to tend to any sickness or injury, and seek after ones that wander off and get lost. He must also be on the lookout for thieves and predators, and protect the flock from harm.

In the Bible, words such as shepherd, sheep, and flock are found over four hundred and fifty times. There we learn that King David was a shepherd in his younger years (I Sam. 16:11), and several of his psalms use that experience, as does his Psalm 23, one of the best known passages in all of God’s Word.

To get a better understanding of the rich spiritual meaning of that psalm, you can purchase A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Canadian shepherd Philip Keller (1920-1997). Though it was written in 1970, the book remains in print, and it’s a wonderful resource. Keller wrote other fine books as well, including Lessons from a Sheep Dog, about how his kindness and patience reclaimed to usefulness an abused dog. Both books are recommended.

Shepherding is spoken of in a couple of ways in the Scriptures.

First, there are literal shepherds, like David, and the ones to whom the angels announced the birth of Christ (Lk. 2:8-14). Their work was prominent in Israel because of the many sacrifices commanded by the Jewish Law. There was, for example, the annual offering of the Passover lamb (Exod. 12:3, 5-6), which was a symbol pointing forward to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins (Jn. 1:29; I Cor. 5:7).

2) But shepherding itself was also used in a symbolic way of those who shepherd us spiritually. The people of God are called His sheep and flock:

“Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3; cf. Isa. 53:6).

The Lord is our spiritual Shepherd, the One who guides and guards and nurtures us. This picture is not only given to us in Psalm 23:1, but in other texts (Isa. 40:10-11; Lk. 15:3-7; Jn. 10:1-18; Heb. 13:20-21; Rev. 7:15-17). And church leaders are considered shepherds of their congregations, serving under Christ (Acts 20:28; I Pe. 5:2-4). The word “pastor” itself (Eph. 4:11), poimen in Greek, means shepherd.

It is hardly a surprise, given the biblical emphasis, that dozens of our hymns take up this theme. In our hymnals are found not only metrical versions of Psalm 23, but many other songs as well that make use of the theme, or are related Bible texts. For example:

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
The Ninety and Nine
He Leadeth Me
In Heavenly Love Abiding
Surely Goodness and Mercy
Shepherd of Tender Youth

The last of these, written around AD 200, is the earliest Christian hymn still in use. Another hymn focusing on the Lord’s shepherd care is Jesus Leads. It was written in 1893 by John Clements.

CH-1) Like a shepherd, tender, true,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads,
Daily finds us pastures new,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
If thick mists are o’er the way,
Or the flock ’mid danger feeds,
He will watch them lest they stray,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads.

CH-2) All along life’s rugged road
Jesus leads, Jesus leads,
Till we reach yon blest abode,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads;
All the way, before He’s trod,
And He now the flock precedes,
Safe into the fold of God,
Jesus leads, Jesus leads.

Questions:
1) How do the various functions of shepherds described earlier relate to what the Lord does for us?

2) What truths found in Psalm 23 have been a special blessing to you?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 28, 2017

We Give Thee Thanks, O God

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: Robert Marshall Offord (b. Sept. 17, 1846; d. Jan. 30, 1924)
Music: Federal Street, by Henry Kemble Oliver (b. Nov. 24, 1800; d. Aug. 12, 1885)

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

Note: Robert Offord was born in England, but later emigrated to the United States. There, for a time, he became editor of the New York Observer newspaper, a paper now owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law. Offord also became a pastor and wrote many hymns. Among them is this song of thanksgiving. The tune, Federal Street, is used also with the hymn Ashamed of Jesus.

Of hymns in general Pastor Offord said:

“I have a great fondness for hymns. Who will say that we shall not sing new versions of Rock of Ages and many other grand old earth melodies in heaven?”

We must not, I think, be too quick to dismiss Offord’s idea here, as though the great hymns of the faith will not be worth singing again when we get to Glory. The Apostle John saw saints in heaven singing “the Song of Moses” (Rev. 15:3–perhaps Exodus 15:1-18, about Israel’s triumph at the Red Sea). It could be that, in remembrance of God’s redeeming work, we’ll sing again together Amazing Grace, and other wonderful songs.

It was American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who spoke of “self-made men,” in a speech first given in 1859. But is there such a thing?

Douglass said these are “men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited, or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any of the favouring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results.” Douglass also discredited luck. For him, men are self-made by working hard and making something of themselves, virtually to no one else’s credit.

Frederick Douglass was a great man. He’s been called the most influential African-American of the nineteenth century. That being acknowledged, this idea is nonsense. There are no self-made men or women. As poet John Donne wrote, about two centuries before Douglass’s time, “No man is an island entire of itself”–even to the point that, Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Someone was responsible for our birth and nurture, for our growth of knowledge, and the formation of our view of life. We each had teachers and role models of one kind or another. Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli,” raised in the jungle by wolves, is fictional, but even there the young man’s incredible skills in hunting and tracking are credited to the wolves among which he lived.

In all likelihood we have many people to thank for what we have become and what we have achieved. Even negative influences are capable of bringing about a positive result, or of being turned to a good purpose. And that spirit of thankfulness is in itself an admission that others have had a part in the story of our lives.

There is One to whom we should be grateful above all others, and that is God. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts. 17:28), and “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17; cf. Matt. 5:45). Ingratitude to Him is thus a serious sin. Included in the horrendous moral collapse described in Romans 1:18-32, we find, “They did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (vs. 21). And in describing the “perilous times” coming in the last days unthankfulness is highlighted (II Tim. 3:2).

This actually began in Eden, though the word is not used. Adam and Eve became dissatisfied with the great abundance God had provided (Gen. 2:16). They believed the serpent’s (Satan’s) lie that the Lord was holding out on them, and that if they ate of the fruit of the one tree forbidden to them (vs. 17), they would become “like God” (Gen. 3:4-5). In effect they would no longer need God, but would become a self-made man and woman.

As the Word of God exhorted Old Testament Israel to be thankful (Ps. 100:4), so the same exhortation is given to Christians (Col. 3:15). “In everything [in all circumstances] give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18). There’s an element of faith in this. That even in trying and difficult situations we are able to lift up praise to God, because we believe He’s still in control, and will bring out of our trials His own good and perfect will.

1) We give Thee thanks, O God, this day,
For mercies never failing:
Thy love hath brought us on our way
For all our wants availing.

4) The seasons come, the seasons go,
But each shall find us singing;
For each shall greet us, well we know,
New favours from Thee bringing.

5) Through endless years Thou art the same,
Thy mercy changes never;
Then blessed be Thy mighty name
Forever and forever.

Questions:
1) Why are we able to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God, not only in seasons of joy and blessing, but when trials and difficulties come upon us?

2) What are three blessings you are enjoying today for which you can thank the Lord?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 26, 2017

These Things Shall Be

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 Addington Symonds (b. Oct. 5, 1840; d. Apr. 19, 1893)
Music: Truro, by Thomas Williams (data unknown), from Psalmodia Evangelica, 1789.

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

Note: John Symonds was a scholar who wrote with recognized authority a History of the Italian Renaissance. He also wrote a couple of hymns. The present one was taken from a longer poem, written in 1880. The tune Truro is also used with Go, Labour On; Spend, and Be Spent. Hymn historian Ellen Jane Lorenz says the tune was probably written by English composer Charles Burney (1726-1814).

Sometimes a parent makes a promise to a child with the fulfilment left to a vague and indefinite future. “I’m going to take you fishing,” or, “We’ll all go to the zoo.” It sounds exciting. “But when?” will be the likely response. And that may be a repeated refrain until the event actually takes place.

Years ago, a man in the photographic business told my father, in my hearing, that he could get a top-of-the-line camera for me at a very low price. I’m afraid I nagged about that for a long time, until the camera was finally in my hands. It’s fine to say what could happen, but we want to know when.

The same uncertainty can be seen in politics. Grandiose promises are made during an election campaign. But when in office the politician often fails to deliver. It happens so many times you’d think we’d learn not to believe the hyperbole, but many of us do. Poverty will be ended, terrorism will be wiped out, millions of jobs will be created. But when? He said he would do it, or she did. But when will it be done? Perhaps never.

There is a kind of utopian theme to this rhetoric, fostering appealing daydreams of a world at peace, with plenty for all, when everyone is healthy, wealthy, and happy. Perhaps many believe it, against all logic, because that’s what they wish for and long for.

Evolutionists say that everything began from nothing, and look at what we have risen to today. Is it not reasonable, they’ll say, to expect we’ll keep on evolving higher and higher? No, it isn’t. In truth, evolutionary theory is discredited at every turn. Many formerly ardent evolutionists are now admitting that the complexity of nature points to an intelligent Designer.

And God gives quite a different verdict about the world He created. It is not evolving to something better, but devolving–morally degenerating–into something worse.

“In the last days perilous [terrible, stressful] times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:1-4)

Yet there is a better day beyond all this. But when? The Bible in many passages relates this to the second coming of Christ, the time when He comes to reign as the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6-7).

“He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isa. 11:3-4).

This leads us to a look at a beautiful hymn by Symonds. In it he describes many wonderful things about the coming kingdom of God, but says nothing about when he believes this will be fulfilled.

He may have believed, as some do, that the Christian gospel will effect the transformation before Christ returns. But, as noted above, the Lord tells us the last days will see a spiritual decline, when “evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:13). It is only with the glorious coming of the Son of God that the enemies of God will be put down, and righteousness will triumph (I Tim. 6:13-15; Rev. 17:14; 19:11-16).

I want to be careful not to make a thorough-going evangelical of Symonds. He does not seem to have been. His daughter said his faith was “large and broad.” But once understand the time frame, and Symonds hymn makes sense, at least to some degree. (Stanza 1 sounds a bit like the spiritual blessings promised in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33-34).

1) These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

3) Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

4) New arts shall bloom of loftier mold,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song,
When all the earth is paradise.

Questions:
1) If you were designing a perfect society, what are three major changes you’d make from the way things are today?

2) How will the world be different with Christ reigning over all?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 24, 2017

Somebody Did a Golden Deed

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 Ralston Clements (b. Nov. 28, 1868; d. Jan. 1, 1946)
Music: Winfield Scott Weeden (b. Mar. 29, 1847; d. July 31, 1908)

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (John Clements)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The Clements family came to America from Ireland in 1870, and young John was saved at eighteen, through the ministry of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Though working in the wholesale grocery business for awhile, he later went on to serve as a Bible college president. Mr. Clements, a friend of Fanny Crosby’s, also wrote thousands of gospel songs. Though most are forgotten today, Jesus Leads, and No Night There are still sung.

In the early days of human history, Cain rose up and killed his brother in jealous anger. Later he was confronted by the Lord who asked, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain lied and said he didn’t know, retorting, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:8-9). That’s a good question. Are we responsible to care for others around us?

The answer is, “Yes.” Brothers, and sisters, and other family members, certainly. Also friends and neighbours. But we see from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37) that the term “neighbour” should be defined broadly. It is anyone in the whole human family that I have a means and occasion for helping. We cannot help everyone, of course, but we can seize opportunities to do what we can.

The saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” has been interpreted several ways. It seems most likely to mean that a friend [when you are] in need is a friend indeed [a true friend]. The axiom is very old. In the third century BC, poet Quintus Ennius framed it with a Latin proverb that translates: “A sure friend is known when [you are] in difficulty.” We need friends like that–and so does everyone.

For the Christian, love is to be a reflection and extension of Christ’s love for us.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the full satisfaction of His justice] for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I Jn. 4:10-11).

And that love and kindness should freely cross lines of prejudice and political correctness.

During the First World War British nurse Edith Cavell saved hundreds of lives of both Allied and German soldiers, without discrimination, saying “Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hate in my heart….I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.” Sadly, she was captured and shot by a German firing squad, awakening worldwide outrage. But she is remembered still as a shining embodiment of Christian love.

Another example is Golden Deed International, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children. “We provide children with the tools they need to help them grow and develop.” And there are many charitable organizations that provide us with opportunities to help others in a practical way, doing “golden deeds” for people we likely will never meet in person.

A golden deed is a noble and unselfish act of love and kindness. There are at least a couple of gospel songs that make use of the term. One is A Beautiful Life (“Each day I’ll do a golden deed…”), written by William Matthew Golding (1874-1934) who, amazingly, wrote most of his songs while serving an eight-year sentence in a state penitentiary.

Another is today’s song, created by John Clements, a lesser known selection of his, published in 1901. Though not used much now, it was extremely popular at the turn of the twentieth century. The second line seems to mean, “Proving himself a friend [to me] in [my] need.”

CH-1) Somebody did a golden deed,
Proving himself a friend in need;
Somebody sang a cheerful song,
Bright’ning the sky the whole day long.

Was that somebody you?
Was that somebody you?

CH-2) Somebody thought ’tis sweet to live,
Willingly said, “I’m glad to give;”
Somebody fought a valiant fight,
Bravely he lived to shield the right.

CH-3) Somebody made a loving gift,
Cheerfully tried a load to lift;
Somebody told the love of Christ,
Told how His will was sacrificed.

Questions:
1) What is the higher purpose of doing good deeds (Matt. 5:16)?

2) What “golden deeds” have you been able to do this past week? (And with what result?)

Links:
Words for the Pilgrim Way (John Clements)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Posted by: rcottrill | July 21, 2017

People Need the Lord

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: Greg Nelson (b. Sept. 10, 1948); and Phill McHugh (b. _____, 1951)
Music: Greg Nelson and Phill McHugh

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

Note: Nelson and McHugh are contemporary hymn writers who’ve produced songs both separately and as a team. Greg Nelson is also a music producer who has produced recordings for both Christian and theatrical artists.

Truth is a word we use to describe things that conform to reality, things that are factual, accurate and honest. Its opposite is error, falsehood or deceit.

Truth can often be verified, or error revealed, by a study of the evidence. But there is a kind of truth that is assumed to be self-evident. A statement that seems so obviously true we hardly need to bother checking it is called a truism. Here are a few examples of truisms.

Life is difficult.
Everything happens for a reason.
All bachelors are unmarried.
Patience is a virtue.
“All that glisters [i.e. glitters] is not gold” (from Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice).

But there is an assumed truism in America’s Declaration of Independence that can be challenged. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” it begins, “that all men are created equal.” This is obviously true, said the founding fathers: all men are created equal. Yet they did not accept it as true in a practical sense. What of the growing number of slaves back then? Thomas Jefferson himself was a slave owner, and the general view was that the Africans were an inferior race, beneath their white masters.

The Bible is in a truth category all its own, since it is, in its entirety, the inspired and trustworthy Word of God (II Tim. 3:16). “The testimony of the Lord is sure” (Ps. 19:7). “Every word of God is pure [tested and found true]” (Ps. 30:5). “The word of God…lives and abides forever” (I Pet. 1:23). “Your word is truth,” said Jesus to His heavenly Father (Jn. 17:17).

When He was examined by Pontius Pilate, the Lord said, “Everyone who is of the truth [a true believer] hears [and heeds] My voice” (Jn. 18:37). To which the governor replied, likely with a scornful, sarcastic tone, “What is truth?” (vs. 38). Yet the One who is the very embodiment of truth stood before Him. “I am…the truth,” He told His disciples (Jn. 14:6). “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17).

To return to that statement from the Declaration of Independence, yes, all human beings are equal in the sight of God. We all descended from Adam, a unique creation of God, and all are loved by God. Sadly, we’re equal in a darker sense too. We all share the corruption caused by Adam’s sin (Rom. 3:23). We all face an eternal death sentence as a result, but God has provided a remedy for all who’ll receive it (Rom. 6:23).

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6; cf. Jn. 3:16).

Certainly for Bible-believing Christians, it has reached the level of a truism that people–all people everywhere–need the Lord. With the psalmist we can only cry, “I am poor and needy; make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer” (Ps. 70:5; cf. Acts 4:12).

Which brings us to the present song. Greg Nelson and Phill McHugh were trying create a new song one day in 1983. But, short on ideas, they decided to take a break for lunch.

Later, seated in a restaurant, they were approached by a waitress. As she smiled at them, they realized she was making an effort to look cheerful, but really wasn’t. There was a kind of emptiness in her eyes and she seemed sad and lonely. “She needs the Lord,” the men said to each other.

And as they looked around the restaurant, they saw other anxious, careworn, faces devoid of hope. The thought came to them both, “People need the Lord,” and we need to write about that. That afternoon, they produced an eloquent gospel song on the theme that begins:

Ev’ry day they pass me by, I can see it in their eye;
Empty people filled with care, headed who knows where.
On they go through private pain, living fear to fear.
Laughter hides the silent cries only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord.

Questions:
1) What evidence do you see around you that “people need the Lord”?

2) What are you doing–or what could you do–to help them find Him?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 19, 2017

Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care

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: Richard Baxter (b. Nov. 12, 1615; d. Dec. 8, 1691)
Music: Evan, by William Henry Havergal (b. Jan. 18, 1793; d. Apr. 19, 1870)

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

Note: In Baxter’s Poetical Fragments, this hymn is entitled “The Covenant and Confidence of Faith.” He noted, “This covenant, my dear wife, in her former sickness, subscribed with a cheerful will.” The hymn was sung to her in her last illness.

Either…or… The two words frame a choice. It may be a choice of little consequence, such as which pair of socks to wear that day, or which flavour of ice cream to have. But there are decisions that are clearly more important. Which college to attend, which job to take, which person to marry.

And there are those on our planet who face, almost every day, the effects of a choice more critical still, laying their lives on the line for the work or cause they’ve committed to. In military conflicts, in law enforcement, in fire fighting, life threatening situations are faced many times. The dedication of the men and women involved is heroic, and it needs our appreciation and support.

Something that’s less in the daily news, but just as significant, in some countries today Christians face persecution for their faith in Christ. This can take the form of shunning by family and friends, the loss of a job or refusal of community services, and beyond that, imprisonment, torture, and even death. It has been so since the beginning. Many believers, in the early church, were persecuted and killed because they were followers of Christ.

Polycarp (circa AD 69-155), is an example. Said to be a disciple of the Apostle John, he became the bishop of the church at Smyrna. But he was burned at the stake for refusing to burn incense in worship of the emperor–who claimed to be a god. Before his death, Polycarp boldly bore witness to his faith in the following way.

“Eighty and six years I have served Him [the Lord], and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked.”

The Apostle Paul understood the opposition Christians face. From a Roman prison cell he wrote:

“[I know] according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:20-21).

“Whether by life or by death”–either…or, I’m devoted to Christ. Centuries later, it was the same for English clergyman Richard Baxter. A deeply spiritual man, he was also a prolific author and a devoted pastor. He preached and wrote without compromise, speaking out with holy boldness against wrongs.

On one occasion he was brought to trial on the false charge of “libeling the church.” When the corrupt Chief Justice taunted him with, “Richard, I see the rogue in thy face,” Baxter retorted, “I had not known before that my face was a mirror!”

As a result of this trial Baxter spent eighteen months in prison. Afterward, though warned not to preach, he continued as before. But he “preached as never sure to preach again.” And he has given us a beautiful hymn, based on the words of Paul quoted above.

CH-1) Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

CH-2) If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?

CH-3) Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door.

Of the prospect of heaven Baxter’s hymn says:

CH-5) Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Saviour’s praise.

CH-6) My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.

Questions:
1) Why are Christians ready and willing to die when faced with the threat of death?

2) How should the possibility of opposition or persecution affect our daily lives?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 17, 2017

If You Cannot on the Ocean

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: Ellen Maria Huntington Gates (b. Aug. 12, 1835; d. Oct. 22, 1920)
Music: Beecher, by John Zundel (b. Dec. 10, 1815; d. July ___, 1882)

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

Note: Ellen Gates was the author of several popular pieces in the American Mission and Sunday School hymn books. Of these several have passed from those books into Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos.

The saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it” was coined by Tom Fitzgerald, an employee of Walt Disney, for a ride at the Epcot Center theme park. Similar maxims have been around for a long time, exhilarating expressions of vision and aspiration. But a moment’s thought will show it’s ridiculous. You can dream you’ll be able to fly like Superman, but don’t put on tights and a cape and try it! Not every dream can become a reality.

God is infinite, we’re not. Not even close. We are finite creatures, limited–confined and restricted–by certain boundaries. Time and space both limit us. We have only a little time allotted to us on this earth, and we are confined to one geographical spot at a time. We can’t be everywhere at once. Our mental and physical powers are finite too. And human laws and conventions tend to restrict us further.

However, having recognized the boundaries we live within, we must not abandon either dreaming or doing. Sometimes limitations become an excuse for abdicating responsibility. Because some cannot do all that’s required, they do nothing. Because the job looks extremely difficult, they resign themselves to sitting, soaking and souring. That will not do.

Great things have been accomplished by men and women who dared both to dream and to do. And small contributions count too, they contribute to the whole (cf. Lk. 21:1-4). Clergyman and author Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) said it well.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

An incident in the Gospels is pertinent (Mk. 14:3-9). An unnamed woman anointed Jesus’ feet with costly oil. Some complained that was a waste, that the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. But the Lord called what she did “a good work,” adding, “She has done what she could” (Mk. 14:8). “I can do something,” said Hale, and she did that.

Christian leader John Wesley (1703-1791) put it even more forcefully:

“Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.”

One afternoon in the winter of 1860, Ellen Huntington Gates (1835-1920) gazed through the window of her home, watching the falling snow. She had written a number of poems and hymns. And she thought of an idea for another, along the lines of what’s being discussed here. Taking a slate, she jotted down the words as they came to her, entitling the result Your Mission.

She said later, “The poem was only a simple little thing, but somehow I had a presentiment that it had wings, and would fly into sorrowful hearts, uplifting and strengthening them.” Though not a true hymn, it does present a biblical principle: that even those who cannot accomplish the big things can contribute something of value to a good cause. Each stanza describes some large task we perhaps cannot do as individuals, and what we might be able to do to contribute.

CH-1) If you cannot, on the ocean,
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them,
As they launch their boats away.

CH-2) If you are too weak to journey
Up the mountain steep and high,
You can stand within the valley,
While the multitudes go by;
You can chant in happy measure,
As they slowly pass along;
Though they may forget the singer,
They will not forget the song.

CH-3) If you have not gold and silver
Ever ready to command;
If you cannot toward the needy
Reach an ever open hand;
You can visit the afflicted,
O’er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple,
Sitting at the Saviour’s feet.

As to those “wings” Mrs. Gates mentioned, in February of 1865 there was a meeting of the Christian Commission, organized to care for wounded and sick soldiers of the Civil War. During the proceedings, gospel musician Philip Phillips sang Ellen Gates’s song. President Lincoln who was  present was so touched by it he asked that it be sung again. For his part, Phillips was so blessed by the response he decided to leave other business endeavours and focus full time on a music ministry for the Lord. His example later inspired soloist Ira Sankey to do the same, and Sankey went on to aid Dwight Moody in his evangelistic work on both sides of the Atlantic.

Questions:
1) What small things have you done lately that could help a larger cause?

2) What could you do this week that the Lord might use for His glory?

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

Posted by: rcottrill | July 14, 2017

I Have Found a Hiding Place

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 Frederick Weigle (b. Nov. 20, 1871; d. Dec, 3, 1966)
Music: Gladys Blanchard Muller (no data found)

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

Note: Charles Weigle was an American evangelist and hymn writer who wrote more than a thousand songs. He wrote Living for Jesus (“Living for Jesus, O what peace!”) and No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus (for which, years ago, there were more radio requests to hear this song than any other). Teaming with Gladys Muller, Weigle also wrote a fine gospel song entitled I Sing of Thee. Today’s song was also popular a generation or so ago.

Many know the story of Anne Frank (1929-1945), a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family, in Amsterdam, during the Nazi occupation. They were eventually discovered, arrested by the Gestapo, and sent to a concentration camp. Anne’s father Otto was the only member of the family who survived the war. Anne died, likely of typhus, in Bergen-Belsen, at the age of fifteen.

The two years before that were spent in some rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. There is a certain irony in that. A bookcase provided the entry to their hiding place, and it was a book, later translated into sixty languages, that made Anne Frank world famous. Aspiring to be a journalist in years to come, she began keeping a diary of their time in concealment.

It is those insightful pages that were published posthumously as The Secret Annex (now titled The Diary of Anne Frank). In it she wrote, “I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift [the diary, a birthday gift].”

There are many unlikely heroes of the war who protected the Jews or helped them escape. Oscar Schindler was a Nazi business man who, in spite of his political connections, risked his life to save twelve hundred of Jewish people.

The Christian family of Corrie ten Boom loved the Jewish people, hid many of them in a secret room, and helped them escape. Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually sent to the Ravensbruck camp. Corrie survived the horrors of the war but Betsie did not. Before she died she said to her sister, “There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still.” There is great truth there. The ultimate hiding place for God’s children is God Himself.

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’” (Ps. 91:2).

Sometimes, in answer to prayer, God delivers us from our troubles and trials. Other times, He gives us the grace to go through them and endure them (II Cor. 12:7-10).

Charles Weigle was sitting on his front porch in Sebring, Florida, one day in 1942. He started thinking about all the different names and titles for Christ found in the Bible. He’s called the Saviour, the Lamb of God, the Lord, our great High Priest, and dozens more meaningful things. Charles Weigle began with a refrain that says:

Jesus, Rock of Ages, let me hide in Thee;
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweet Thou art to me;
Lily of the Valley, Bright and Morning Star,
Fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

Later, a friend urged him to add some stanzas and make it a full song. He took the names mentioned in the refrain and expanded on them in the rest of the piece, beginning with the Rock, a Bible title used many times.

¤ He is “the Rock of my salvation” (II Sam. 22:47)

¤ “My rock of refuge….my rock and my fortress” (Ps. 31:2-3)

¤ “A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat” (Isa. 25:4)

¤ “The Lord is everlasting strength”–which could be rendered, “the Lord is [my] Rock of Ages” (Isa. 26:4).

The song begins:

1) I have found a hiding place when sore distressed,
Jesus, Rock of Ages strong and true;
In a weary land I in His shadow rest,
He is my strength in all that I do.

Questions:
1) What are the characteristics of a large rock, or rocky cliff, that make it a helpful picture of Christ?

2) What name or title of Christ has special meaning for you?

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

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