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, September 29, 2013

I AM THINE O LORD


On this blog we have often shared the story and hymns of Fanny Crosby, one of the most prolific writers of Gospel hymns in history.  Many of her numbers were collaborations between Crosby (1820-1915) and composer William Doane (1832-1915).  In 1874 Crosby was a visitor in Doane's home in Cincinnati.  That evening they talked about the nearness of God in their lives, as the sun was setting and darkness was approaching.  When Crosby went to her room her mind and heart were filled with the ideas that they had discussed.  Before the blind writer went to sleep, she quickly formed the words of this great hymn, "I Am Thine, O Lord."   The next morning she shared the words with Doan who wrote down the stanzas and composed the tune. It is said that Hebrews 10:22 was actually the source of Crosby's inspiration.   "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (KJV)   The hymn is written in the first person and is a testimony of her relationship with Christ.  The first stanza begins with a total surrender to Christ.  The second draws upon this surrender as an impetus of service.  The third shows this relationship developed through prayer and the final stanza shares that this close relationship will not be complete until reaching heaven.  Is this hymn your testimony?  It should be, and our daily prayer should also be to be drawn nearer to the One who died for us.  So many things draw our attention and time throughout the day and these things can pull us away from prayer and our relationship with Christ.  Maybe this week it would be a good thing to begin each morning, when we roll out of bed, with the singing and praying of Fanny Crosby's words.  That could change our day.

(1) I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

(2) Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow'r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

(3) Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

(4) There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

I am giving you two choices to listen to this week.  The first is a beautiful arrangement by a trio.  But there is some static in the video that might be distracting.     LISTEN 1
The second is a typical arrangement by a small congregation.   LISTEN 2

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ONCE FOR ALL or FREE FROM THE FALL


Back in the days when D.L Moody and Ira D. Sankey came to Scotland for an evangelistic campaign, the Presbyterians had long insisted that only the psalms should be sung in church and these without accompaniment. Once a woman had even stormed out of the service protesting that 'The devil was in his kist (chest) o' whistles," that is Sankey's little pedal organ. You can imagine the fear Sankey had when he got up to sing his gospel solos.  His concern was heightened one night when he observed that the great Scottish preacher and hymn-writer Horatius Bonar was in the audience. This is how Sankey recounted the story in his book. "My Life And The Story of the Gospel Hymns:"  "Of all men in Scotland he was the one concerning whose decision I was most solicitous. He was, indeed, my ideal hymn writer, the prince among hymnists of his day and generation. And yet he would not sing one of his beautiful hymns in his own congregation ... because he ministered to a church that believed in the use of the Psalms only.  With fear and trembling I announced as a solo the song, 'Free From The Law, Oh, Happy Condition.' ... Feeling that the singing might prove only an entertainment and not a spiritual blessing, I requested the whole congregation to join me in a word of prayer, asking God to bless the truth about to be sung. In the prayer my anxiety was relieved. Believing and rejoicing in the glorious truth contained in the song, I sang it through to the end. At the close of Mr. Moody's address, Dr. Bonar turned to me with a smile on his venerable face, and reaching out his hand he said: 'Well, Mr. Sankey, you sang the gospel tonight.'  And thus the way was opened for the mission of sacred song in Scotland."  This hymn, written by Philip Bliss, is a wonderful statement of faith and contains the basis of our Christian theology, from the fall of man to a final redemption in heaven.  The words were penned by Bliss under unusual circumstances. It is said that his wife, as a birthday present, gave him a bound copy of "Things New and Old", edited by "C. H. M." From an article in this book on the believer's deliverance by the death of Christ from the curse of the law, and his own death with Christ setting him free entirely from the law's dominion, he saw the blessed truth of the Christian position in relation with God; and to give expression to the joy of his heart at this deliverance, he sat down and wrote the hymn.  It is an old hymn that is seldom sung anymore.  But it is rich in theology and should remind us this week of what Jesus has provided for us through His death on Calvary.  Meditate on this truth this week and rejoice that you as a believer have been redeemed.  And there is nothing more than you can or must do to gain this standing.  Christ has done it all for us.


(1)   Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus has bled and there is remission,
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

(2)   There on the cross your burden upbearing,
Thorns on His brow your Savior is wearing;
Never again your sin need appall,
You have been pardoned once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

(3)   Now we are free, there's no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation.
"Come unto Me," O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

(4)    "Children of God," O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call;
Bless├Ęd salvation once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

It was very difficult finding a video for this old hymn.  But I did locate one and while it isn't too great musically, it does provide you with an opportunity to hear it being sung.    LISTEN

Sunday, September 15, 2013

OUR GOD OUR HELP IN AGES PAST


We are living in an age when more and more of our Christian beliefs are being challenged by a growing liberal society.  Law makers and especially judges continue to hack away at many Biblical principles which believers have always held to.   We often wonder what will happen next.  Many years ago Christianity also faced a dark and uncertain future in England when Queen Anne forced through Parliament the Schism Act designed to severely limit religious freedom.  And this situation probably contributed to Isaac Watts writing this week's hymn choice, "Our God Our Help In Ages Past."  I imagine that the words must have brought comfort and new courage to the Christians who were facing a fearful and uncertain future.  And hopefully it will do the same for us, generations later. It is a paraphrase of Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses, and originally consisted of nine stanzas.  In 1738 John Wesley in his hymnal, Psalms and Hymns, changed the first line to the text from "Our God" to "O God." The hymn was originally part of "The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament", published by Watts in 1719. In this book he paraphrased in Christian verse the entire psalter with the exception of twelve psalms which he felt were unsuited for Christian usage. This hymn ranks as one of the finest of Watts's more than 600 hymns.  Meditate upon the words of this great hymn this week.  He is our shelter in the stormy blast.  His arm is sufficient for all our needs and His defense is sure.  And while things are constantly changing around us, He was before the hills were formed and He will be the same for endless years.  And He is our help and hope and our guard until the day that He takes us to our eternal home.  What a tremendous truth and what a powerful reminder to all of us in the uncertain days that we face.  May you be gripped by the power of this truth this week.  Keep looking up!

(1)   Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

(2)   Under the shadow of Thy throne
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

(3)   Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

(4)   A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

(5)   Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

(6)   Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

Listen and enjoy this powerful message being sung here.   LISTEN

Sunday, September 8, 2013

FOR YOU I AM PRAYING


I personally think the two biggest exaggerations that are often used by Christians are, "If I can do anything for you, just let me know" and "I'll be praying for you".  In the first case, if we really want to help out, we would find out what the person needs and just do it.  In making that statement we generally expect, and maybe even want, what usually happens - nothing. In the second situation, we probably mean well but soon forget the promise we have made. It is an easy way to sound pious in difficult times.  It seems to me that it is rare today to have a person who will regularly take you and your needs to the throne of grace. Few of us are really burdened in prayer for the lost around us.  Few of us take the time to be genuine prayer warriors for the lost as well as for those around us who have needs, and that is so sad.  It is rare to have a faithful, genuine prayer partner and, if you have one, then you are very blest.  I've had a few in my lifetime.  Most of them have been relatives.  But most of mine are now home in glory and I miss them.  One of those was my grandfather, Pastor N. H. Wolf.  I knew he was praying for me and my needs every day.  We were involved in a family ministry for about 25 years and most Sundays we would be on the road very early in the morning traveling to a church to present a program.  Only once in all of those years did we get lost trying to find a church.  Days later it dawned upon me that the previous week Grandpa Wolf had been taken  home to heaven and that on this Sunday morning, for the first time, he was not praying for me.  I was struck by how much his faithful prayers had touched my life over the years.  Prayer is powerful!  Being an intercessor for another is a special privilege that should be ours.  And that is the focus of this week's hymn. Now the hymn mainly focuses on praying for the lost, but I believe it can also be applied to remembering those around us who are struggling. I had forgotten about the hymn until it came to my mind just a few days ago.  It has been so long since I have heard it and its powerful message.  The words were written by Samuel O. Cluff (1837-1910) and the music was added by Ira Sankey in 1874.  I don't know anything about the events behind its writing, but I must assume that it came from the heart of a man who had experienced the power of prayer and the privilege of being a faithful intercessor for others. He must have had a real burden for the lost around him. My challenge to you this week is to meditate upon the words and then become a true prayer warrior for others. People need the Lord!  And for those you know with various needs,  please don't say "I am praying for you" unless you really mean it.  We need to be more honest with what we promise to others, more broken about the needs of our lost friends, and more faithful in spending time on our knees bringing the needs of others before the Lord.


(1)    I have a Savior, He's pleading in glory,
A dear, loving Savior though earth friends be few;
And now He is watching in tenderness o'er me;
And oh, that my Savior were your Savior, too.
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(2)    I have a Father; to me He has given
A hope for eternity, blessed and true;
And soon He will call me to meet Him in Heaven,
But, oh, that He'd let me bring you with me, too!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(3)    I have a robe; 'tis resplendent in whiteness,
Awaiting in glory my wondering view;
Oh, when I receive it all shining in brightness,
Dear friend, could I see you receiving one, too!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(4)    When Jesus has found you, tell others the story,
That my loving Savior is your Savior, too;
Then pray that your Savior may bring them to glory,
And prayer will be answered — 'twas answered for you!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(5)   Speak of that Savior, that Father in Heaven,
That harp, crown, and robe which are waiting for you—
That peace you possess, and that rest to be given,
Still praying that Jesus may save them with you.
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

It has been very hard to find a video of this hymn being sung.  But here is the only one that I could find.    LISTEN

Sunday, September 1, 2013

THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD


Growing up I never really understood what this well-known traditional spiritual was really all about.  I could understand the words of the verses but was always confused by the term "balm in Gilead".  Actually a balm is something that heals, soothes, or comforts.  And according to Wikipedia, "The "balm in Gilead" is a reference from the Old Testament, but the lyrics refer to the New Testament concept of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Balm of Gilead is interpreted as a spiritual medicine that is able to heal Israel (and sinners in general). In the Old Testament, the balm of Gilead is taken most directly from Jeremiah chapter 8 v. 22: "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wounds of my [God's] people?"  Jeremiah's question really is, "How can a people who traded in balm be so sick?" Of course its even worse than that - this is the physical illustration of a spiritual point. The real question behind the illustration is, "How can the people of God, with the Law in their midst, be so sinful?!"  Today the problem's the same - people are steeped in sin though the cure is so near. We as believers have the balm to share, but what do we do with it?  The origin of the tune is lost to history. We don't even know if this is the original tune that accompanied these words. This hymn appeared in the 1889 Methodist Hymnal with a different tune, but the tune in our present hymnal, as with most other publications, is the traditional tune.  Maybe you can relate to the words and thought of the two verses.  Maybe you are discouraged in your ministry for Christ and at times you think your work is in vain. Many of us have experienced that. If that is the case, may the Holy Spirit revive your soul and encourage you today.  Or maybe you think that you can't be used by the Lord.  You don't have the talents or gifts like some do to minister to crowds. But God has given you important gifts to be used for His glory.  You can share the love of Jesus, His balm, with others.  The balm can still heal the sin sick soul.  Be encouraged with that knowledge this week.

(1)   There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work's in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

(2)   If you cannot sing like angels,
If you can't preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Listen to it being sung so beautifully by a high school choir.  It is long but you will be blessed to listen to the entire video presentation.   LISTEN