Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

ETERNAL FATHER



        This week we remembered the 76th anniversary of one of the worst days in United States history, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service.  That day 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded.  All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an antiaircraft training ship, one minelayer and 188 U.S. aircraft.  I was just learning to walk when that happened and probably most of my readers weren't even born yet, but we have heard about the horrors of that day.  Most of us have a more vivid memory of  the events of 9-11.  As I again read about that tragic day in 1941, I couldn't help but think of all the men and women who died and fought that day, as well as those who have risked and given their lives over many years to preserve our freedoms.  We should remember their sacrifices with hearts of thanksgiving.

          And with that in mind, as I prepared this week's blog I was led to choose "Eternal Father", alternately titled "The Navy Hymn".  I found this hymn interesting because it was written in an era when people were willing to recognize our dependence on Almighty God.  I am surprised that the Navy has not yet been challenged by some group of atheists for using a very religious song.  Today it wouldn't be considered politically correct.
         "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" is a hymn traditionally associated with seafarers, particularly in the maritime armed services. Written in 1860, its author William Whiting was inspired by the dangers of the sea as described in Psalm 107. Whiting learned the true and terrifying power of those waves. A powerful storm blew in, so violent that the crew lost control of the vessel. During these desperate hours, as the waves roared over the decks, Whiting’s faith in God helped him to stay calm. When the storm subsided, the ship, badly damaged, limped back to port.  The experience had a galvanizing effect on Whiting. As one hymn historian put it, “Whiting was changed by this experience. He respected the power of the ocean nearly as much as he respected the God who made it and controls it.”
          It was popularized by the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the late 19th century, and variations of it were soon adopted by many branches of the armed services in the United Kingdom and the United States. Accordingly, it is known by many names, variously referred to as the Hymn of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, the United States Navy Hymn (or just The Navy Hymn), and sometimes by the last line of its first verse, "For Those in Peril on the Sea". The hymn has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly invoked by ship's chaplains and sung during services on ocean crossings.
          Reverend Whiting's ode "Eternal Father" drew inspiration from both the Old and New Testaments. His verses referenced familiar texts such as Matthew 8:26 ("He was asleep... Then he rose and rebuked the seas, and there was a great calm") and Psalm 65, ("who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations"). Whiting also cited as an impetus to the work his survival during a ferocious Mediterranean storm.  Rev. John B. Dykes wrote the music in 1861.  Rev. Dykes is also known for the composition of such popular hymns as "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and "Lead, Kindly Light." Dykes based the tune for "Eternal Father" on an earlier tune he had written entitled "Melita" (the ancient name for the Mediterrean island of Malta). Malta is associated with the biblical shipwreck of the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:1).
         In 1879, Lieutenant Commander Charles Jackson Train (later a Rear Admiral), then director of the Midshipmen's Choir, instituted the practice of singing the first verse of "Eternal Father" at the conclusion of the U.S. Naval Academy's Sunday Services. Because of this practice, "Eternal Father" became an integral part of Navy tradition, and gained increasing popularity among U.S. Navy personnel.   
         There exist a myriad of alternate verses to the hymn.  Certain verses have been changed in modern hymnals for various reasons. The first verse refers to God the Father's forbidding the waters to flood the earth as described in Psalm 104. The second verse refers to Jesus' miracles of stilling a storm and walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The third verse references the Holy Spirit's role in the creation of the earth in the Book of Genesis, while the final verse is a reference to Psalm 107.    What an amazing testimony of the work of the Trinity.  Reflect this week with gratitude for those who've served to gain and protect your freedoms, including our freedom to worship. And thank God for His omnipotence, omniscience and love.  
The original words of the 1861 version are:

1.     Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

2.     O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

3.     Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

4.     O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren's shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Listen to a very inspiring rendition here.  LISTEN

Sunday, December 3, 2017

TH#12 - JESUS IS ALL THE WORLD TO ME


TIMELESS HYMN #7 - Another revised and repeated blog of one of the great hymns of the faith - TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS - originally shared on January 1, 2009


          What are the most important things in your life?  Maybe one really only thinks about this question when faced with death or the loss of loved ones.  Then you realize how unimportant material things really are, especially when you need to need clean up an estate after a death.  Things that once seemed important now are things to be discarded, distributed, taxed, or sometimes even fought over.  Then you realize even more that the important things in life are relationships, especially those with your loved ones.  You now miss the chance to be with them, to share your joys and your sorrows, and to seek their advice.  We all need someone to be our friend ... someone who cares about us ... someone who cheers us ... someone who is always there ... someone who accepts us for who we are ... someone we can trust.  But even our loved ones can fail and disappoint us.  There is really only one friend who is always faithful, and that is Jesus. He alone should be all the world to us, our life, our joy and our all.  He can be our strength from day to day and our friend in trials sore.  Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909) was born in Pennsylvania.  He showed an early interest in music and had written several songs before even finishing high school.  As a young man, Thompson sent a package of four songs to a publisher, asking payment of $100 for the package of four.  The publisher responded with a counteroffer of $25, which Thompson declined. When he couldn't get what he considered to be a fair price for his music, Thompson decided to go into business for himself.  He quickly became successful, even founding his own publication company. Hebecame known as the millionaire "Bard of Ohio."  Even though he became quite rich, Thompson continued to live a life of service.  He supported various civic and religious activities generously.  He was also aware of the fact that small town people had very little exposure to good music, so he loaded a piano on a horse-drawn wagon and went through small Ohio towns giving concerts of his music.  Thompson was a Christian, and while attending a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting, he decided to devote himself to writing and promoting Christian music.  While he wrote and published many hymns, in one of his most moving hymns, Thompson described what Jesus had meant in his life.  He wrote, "Jesus is all the world to me".  This song seems to express his own testimony in directing his talents to the service of the Lord. To see the purpose of our life in terms of acquisition and the accumulation of possessions is shortsighted. It fails to consider eternity and to prepare for it.  As the Lord Jesus said, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). Even the wealth of all the world is not worth the sacrifice of one's eternal soul.  As you consider the words of this song this week, honestly ask yourself if this is your true testimony.  Can you say, "I trust Him now, I'll trust Him when life's fleeting days shall end.  Beautiful life with such a Friend, beautiful life that has no end; Eternal life, eternal joy, He's my Friend."

1.     Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go, no other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad, He's my Friend.

2.     Jesus is all the world to me, my Friend in trials sore;
I go to Him for blessings, and He gives them over and o'er.
He sends the sunshine and the rain, He sends the harvest's golden grain;
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain, He's my Friend.

3.     Jesus is all the world to me, and true to Him I'll be;
O how could I this Friend deny, when He's so true to me?
Following Him I know I'm right, He watches o'er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night, He's my Friend.

4.     Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better Friend;
I trust Him now, I'll trust Him when life's fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend, beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy, He's my Friend.

Listen to it here. Here are some choices for you.

A trio    LISTEN1
A solo    LISTEN2
A quartet    LISTEN3

Sunday, November 26, 2017

THE SONG OF THE SOUL SET FREE


          As a teenager I always looked forward to attending camp meeting for several weeks each summer.  And one of the things I especially enjoyed were the evening services in the large tabernacle.  Besides the great preaching, I looked forward to the special music, especially the large choir which nightly sang some of the great hymns of the faith.  And one that I especially remember is this week''s hymn choice.  It was always a stirring rendition by the choir.  Dr. Oswald J. Smith (1889 - 1886) was a Canadian pastor, missionary statesman and hymn writer who wrote about 1,200 songs. In 1933, another gospel song writer, A. H. Ackley (1887 - 1960), sent him the manuscript of a tune, asking that Smith see if he could provide words for it. Smith placed the music on the piano in his Toronto home and went right to work.   Ackley had suggested the basic theme and Smith soon had three stanzas to fit the tune. Then, it occurred to him that the holy angels, not personally having experienced salvation through the Calvary work of Christ, couldn't sing such a song from their own experience. That gave him the fourth stanza. He quickly added a refrain. Oswald Smith was pleased with the result, and in later years considered it one of the best he'd written.   The song is a triumphant testimony to the sinner's deliverance through Christ. It was often used by the large choirs in Billy Graham's evangelistic meetings.  It is a joyful song that reminds us of Jesus and His love for us.  It shares how He took our burdened life and forgave us and set the joybells ringing within our heart.  And to Him our praise - the song of the soul set free - shall ever be.  "Joy and peace to me it's bringing ...  and my heart is ever singing, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The song of the soul set free! "  I hope that this is your testimony and that the song of the soul set free rings within you daily


1.      Fairest of ten thousand is Jesus Christ, my Savior, 
The Lily of the Valley, The Bright and Morning Star. 
He is all my glory, and in this heart of mine 
Forevermore I'm singing a song of love divine. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free, 
And its melody is ringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
Joy and peace to me it's bringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
And my heart is ever singing, 
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The song of the soul set free! 

2.      Once my heart was burdened, but now I am forgiven, 
And with a song of gladness, I'm on my way to heav'n. 
Christ is my Redeemer; my Song of Songs is He. 
My Savior, Lord, and Master--to Him my praise shall be.
'Tis the song of the soul set free, 
And its melody is ringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
Joy and peace to me it's bringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
And my heart is ever singing, 
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The song of the soul set free!  

3.      When He came to save me, He set the joybells ringing, 
And now I'm ever singing, For Christ has ransomed me. 
Once I lived in darkness; the light I could not see. 
But now I sing His praises, for He was set me free. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free, 
And its melody is ringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
Joy and peace to me it's bringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
And my heart is ever singing, 
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The song of the soul set free! 

4.      Angels cannot sing it--this song of joy and freedom, 
For mortals only know it, the ransomed and the free. 
Slaves were they in bondage and deepest misery; 
But now they sing triumphant their songs of liberty.
'Tis the song of the soul set free, 
And its melody is ringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
Joy and peace to me it's bringing. 
'Tis the song of the soul set free; 
And my heart is ever singing, 
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The song of the soul set free! 

Listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, November 19, 2017

THANKS TO GOD


          "It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High (Ps. 92:1).  "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 106:1).  This week, here in the United States, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  It is a special day when we are encouraged to pause and give thanks for the many blessings we have.  But everyday should be a day of thanksgiving for each believer.  "In everything give thanks" (I Thess. 5:18).  And that certainly is the theme of this week's hymn choice which is of Swedish heritage.  The words were penned by August Ludvig Storm (1862-1914).  He was converted to Christ in a Salvation Army meeting. He joined the Salvation Army Corps and became one of its leading officers. He wrote this hymn's text for the Army publication, Stridsropet (The War Cry), on December 5, 1891. The original Swedish version had four stanzas, with each verse beginning with the word 'tack' (thanks)". The gratitude expressed to God ranges from the "dark and dreary fall" to the "pleasant, balmy springtime," and "pain" as well as "pleasure."  Storm suffered a back ailment at the age of 37 that left him crippled for life. But he continued to administer his Salvation Army duties until his death. Despite this handicap, Storm shared numerous things that he was thankful for. A year before his death, he wrote another poem in which he thanked God for the years of calm as well as pain. This hymn was written in Swedish and was translated into English in 1931, by Carl Ernest Backstrom (1901-1984). In Storm's Swedish version, he lists some thirty-two things to be thankful for.  His hymn could serve as a good outline of things that we should thank the Lord for.  Let me challenge you to use this hymn during your season of thanksgiving this week.


1.     Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

2.     Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

3.     Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav'nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, November 12, 2017

HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING HIS PRAISE



        Over the years in this blog I have tried to feature the old hymns which the Lord has used in our lives for many years.  But this week I have chosen to go a slightly different direction and feature a song by Chris Tomlin which is much newer and has an excellent challenge. I made this change at the last moment based on a few recent things which have happened in my life.  First, I have been reading through the Psalms once again and I have been challenged by all the verses that talk about praising and thanking the Lord for all the wonderful things He has done.  Our praise should be an "endless song".  His love to us is so amazing. And by His grace He keeps on blessing and blessing us. But secondly, last Sunday in this blog I shared the song "Singing I Go, Along Life's Road." and I was challenged by the words to keep singing and praising the Lord as we travel along life's road. "For Jesus has lifted my load!"  With that song still ringing in my mind, that Sunday morning I went to our early worship service and the very first song that we sang was "How Can I Keep From Singing His Praise."  Wow, what a double reminder that the Lord knew I needed.  And maybe you need that reminder, too. Unfortunately, that isn't always the way we live our daily lives. I knew then that I had to change the song that I had planned to share this week. But little did I know then of the new difficult challenges that would come our way this past week.  I have been especially challenged by the words, "I can sing in the troubled times. Sing when I win. I can sing when I lose my step and fall down again.  I can sing 'cause You pick me up. Sing 'cause You're there.  I can sing 'cause You hear me Lord when I call to You in prayer. I can sing with my last breath, sing for I know, that I'll sing with the angels and the saints around the throne."   Is that your testimony today?  If it is, how can you keep from singing His praise?  Now I know some folks have trouble carrying a tune.  Some may have voice problems and find it hard to sing.  Personally, I was involved in singing solos and singing in groups for decades, but about 15 years ago I suddenly developed voice problems.  I have seen numerous doctors and therapists who specialize in voice problems, but without much help.  And that has been frustrating.  But while I can't always sing well outwardly anymore, the Lord has allowed me to sing His praises quietly in my heart and mind.  And He continually puts a song in my mind.  What a joy it is to sing His praises even if nobody but Him can hear my songs.  Nothing should keep you from singing His praises.  Remember the words of this song, "I will lift my eyes In the darkest night, for I know my Savior lives.  And I will walk with You, knowing You'll see me through, and sing the songs You give."  "Singing I go along life's road, praising the Lord, praising the Lord ... for Jesus has lifted my load."


There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
And I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing.

Here are two choices to listen to this week.   LISTEN 1
Now here is a second choice which I really enjoy except that it doesn't include the part of the song that tells us when we can sing.  But it is really an upbeat presentation.   LISTEN2

Sunday, November 5, 2017

SINGING I GO


        "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).  Singing can be a great way to praise the Lord and uplift your spirits.  It can encourage you in the good times, it can cheer you in the darkest nights. God "gives songs in the night" (Job 35:10).  It can reaffirm your trust in the Lord and in His leading in your life.  I have been uplifted by the many comments left over the years by readers of this blog who have told how  hymns shared here have comforted, encouraged, and helped carry them through tough times. The Bible also shares examples of how music was part of the lives of Bible characters.  When King Saul was gripped by a dark mood, young David would come and play his harp for the depressed king. "Then Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him" (I Sam. 16:23).    When Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into a prison cell in Philippi, with their feet fastened in stocks (Acts 16:23-24), they found joy in serving the Lord. "At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (vs. 25).   It is estimated that since those years probably over a million Christian hymns have been written, many telling of God's faithfulness.  How wonderful it is to have a song in your heart that either flows out through your mouth or captivates your mind. The right songs can cheer us, lift our spirits, and brighten our day. Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920) was a school teacher in Philadelphia. But she developed a spinal malady which cut short her career and made her a shut-in for many years. During her convalescence she felt a need to be useful to her church and began writing poems for the primary department. She also wrote hundreds of fine gospel songs, many of which, like this week's hymn choice written in 1898, have a joyful tone.  There was an interesting use of this hymn a couple of decades later when it was adopted for a rather unusual use in the home of another great gospel musician. Billy Graham's longtime soloist, Bev Shea, shared that when growing up, on school days, when it was time for the six children to get out of bed, his mother would sound a chord on the piano. Then she would sing the refrain of this song and call out, cheerfully, "Get up, everybody. One hour till school!" Bev called the song "mother's alarm clock." It remained a favorite of his, and years later he hosted a radio program called Club Time, that used "Singing I Go" as its theme song. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  (Colossians 3:16).  "Singing I go along life's road, praising the Lord, praising the Lord. Singing I go along life's road, for Jesus has lifted my load."  May this be true in your life.



1.     The trusting heart to Jesus clings,
Nor any ill forebodes,
But at the cross of Calv'ry, sings,
Praise God for lifted loads!
Singing I go along life's road,
Praising the Lord, praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life's road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.

2.     The passing days bring many cares,
"Fear not," I hear Him say,
And when my fears are turned to prayers,
The burdens slip away.
Singing I go along life's road,
Praising the Lord, praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life's road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.

3.     He tells me of my Father's love,
And never slumb'ring eye,
My everlasting King above
Will all my needs supply.
Singing I go along life's road,
Praising the Lord, praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life's road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.

4.     When to the throne of grace I flee,
I find the promise true,
The mighty arms upholding me
Will bear my burdens too.
Singing I go along life's road,
Praising the Lord, praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life's road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD (TH#11)


TIMELESS HYMNS - A special feature where I highlight some of the hymns that have been featured previously in this blog.  These entries are revised and expanded and shared again for your encouragement and challenge.  This hymn was first shared here on November 3, 2008.

          This Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of one of the major turning points in Protestantism.  In 1517 Martin Luther, with his growing belief that salvation is by faith alone, presented his concerns to Church officials in the form of ninety-five theses, a series of statements that presented a logical argument against the sale of indulgences. Tradition has it that these were nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Many will celebrate the 500th anniversary of this event on Tuesday for In doing this he started the Reformation. Luther broke with Rome in 1521, refusing to retract his writings before the Diet of Worms. Subsequently, he was recognized as the leader of the German Reformation.  In addition to skills as a writer, translator and preacher, Luther was an amateur musician. His thirty-seven hymns stand alongside his theological writings and his translation of the Bible into German as testaments of his creativity and intellectual ability.  No hymn is identified with the Protestant Reformation more than his "A Mighty Fortress." Luther (1483-1546) left a body of congregational songs that both defined the Lutheran confessional tradition and became truly ecumenical in influence.  This week's hymn has been called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation" for the effect it had in increasing the support for the Reformers' cause.  Based on Psalm 46, the hymn is a celebration of the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and of the sure hope we have in Him because of Christ. After its publication, it gained immense popularity throughout Reformed Europe.  Today the truths of the Bible are again under attack by politicians, organizations and the liberal media.  Many pastors and religious leaders twist and change the scriptures to defend and advance their anti-Biblical agendas.  Those who defend the truth of the Bible are attacked, criticized and marked as being intolerant.  "For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,on earth is not his equal." "And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure."  As believers we do face difficult times, but we know how it all will end.  Take heart my friend, with God we are on the victory side.  I am reminded of the scripture that spoke so clearly to Luther when he faced uncertain times and took a stand for the truth many centuries ago. "God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble." Psalm 46:1.  As this week the stand that Luther took 500 years ago is celebrated, take time to review the words of his great hymn and then be encouraged as you claim them and place your trust in God, our Mighty Fortress.

1.     A mighty fortress is our God, 
a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, 
armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

2.     Did we in our own strength confide, 
our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, t
he Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

3.     And though this world, with devils filled, 
hould threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth 
to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, 
his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

4.     That word above all earthly powers, 
no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him 
Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: 
God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Listen to it here.       LISTEN

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY



        "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.  For centuries these familiar verses have been an inspiration and challenge to many.  They may also have been the inspiration for the writing of this week's hymn choice.  Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889) entered the ministry as the pastor of the North Parish in the rural town of Kelso in Scotland.  He spent 20 years there pastoring, writing, and engaging in evangelism. In Bonar's day the Scottish church had no substantial library of hymns since they sang metrical Psalms almost exclusively. Bonar had begun to write hymns before his ordination when he was serving as superintendent of a Sunday school. He found that the youth had little love for either the words or the tunes they were singing, so he set out to write a few hymns with simpler lyrics and already familiar tunes. These hymns were well received. Perhaps his love of children came from the fact that he and his wife lost five of their own in rapid succession, yet he had hundreds in his Sunday Schools.  In later life, his widowed daughter and her five children had to move in with him. Bonar rejoiced for to him it was as if God had given him five children to replace those he had lost. In any case, while many of his hymns were originally written for children, they were so full of sound teaching that adults loved to sing them as well.  The four stanzas of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"  present several of our Lord's pointed, personal invitations to mankind and the promises attached to them. In the second pair of lines in each stanza, the individual's acceptance of the invitation, and the spiritual results promised, are described.  Stanza One:    "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)   Stanza Two:    "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. " (John 4:14) Stanza Three:  "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."  (John 8:12)   Stanza Four:   "In my Father's house are many mansions . . .  I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2).     Meditate this week upon the words of Dr. Bonar's hymn and consider how you've responded to each of the invitations of Jesus which are shared in the words.

1.     I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place,
And He has made me glad.

2.     I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.

3.     I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I'll walk,
Till trav'ling days are done.

4.     I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"My Father's house above
Has many mansions; I've a place
Prepared for you in love."
I trust in Jesus - in that house,
According to His word,
Redeemed by grace, my soul shall live
Forever with the Lord.

The words of this hymn have been sung to m,any different tunes.  Here are several for you to listen to.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE CHURCH'S ONE FOUNDATION



        This week's hymn choice was written by the Rev. Samuel John Stone (1839-1900), a twenty-seven-year-old pastor, during a time of great doctrinal controversy in the Church of England.  A book had been written challenging the accuracy of the first five books of the Bible and Samuel Stone joined those who defended the trustworthiness of the Word of God.  Stone was well aware of the effectiveness of singing when he wrote and published "Lyra Fidelium" in 1866. As a curate in the small town of Windsor, England, he was aware of his parishioners' habit of using the Apostles' Creed in their private prayers. But he was concerned that many of them did not grasp the meaning of what they said. The prose felt too academic, disconnected from the average worshipper, and lacking of a devotional spirit.  It was in this context that he wrote "Lyra Fidelium" which consisted of twelve hymns, one for each article of the Apostles' Creed. With each hymn he included a short "summary of truths confessed" in that article, along with a list of the scripture passages supporting it. "The Church's One Foundation" was the hymn he wrote for article 9 of the Creed, which affirms belief in "the holy catholic church" and "the communion of saints." "The Church's One Foundation" is the best known of the twelve hymns in this collection. The now unused third and fourth verses focus particularly on this attempt to discredit the Bible, and thus harm the body of Christ.


The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

The word foundation is used a couple of times in the Epistles, in a theological sense. First, we are told, "no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 3:11). But then Paul writes that "the household of God [has been] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Eph. 2:20).  This is not a contradiction. It's simply an example of imagery being used in two different ways. The latter is a reference to the holy Scriptures, the Word of God, communicated to us by apostles and prophets inspired by the Holy Spirit (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:20-21). It is through the written Word of God that we learn of the saving work of the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the two are inextricably linked.  The original seven verses of Stone's hymn have been changed in most of today's hymnbooks.  As noted above, the original third and fourth verses have been dropped and verses six and seven have been combined to form a new final verse.  It is typically set to the tune "Aurelia" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.  Meditate on this magnificent hymn this week and remember that the words of the Lord Jesus will not fail to be fulfilled: "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [i.e. the power of death and the grave] shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).  Below are the four verses usually sung today.

1.     The Church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

2 Elect from every nation, 
yet one o'er all the earth;
her charter of salvation: one Lord, 
one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses, 
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, 
with every grace endued.

'3.     Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

4.     Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
 O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.

You can listen to it here.   LISTEN