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, July 31, 2016

IF YOU WILL LET GOD BE YOUR GUIDE


          Recently I was reading a devotional, "If You Will Let God Guide" by David Jeremiah.  In the devotional he talked about Georg Neumark who in 1641 wrote the words and music to a hymn by the same title.  I had never heard of Neumark nor his hymn, but as I did some searching I found an interesting story and a wonderful hymn.  As it turns out, Neumark had worked hard and lived frugally to raise enough money to attend college.  At the age of 20 he set off for the University of Konigsberg.  Unfortunately, he was robbed along the way and lost everything except his prayer book, the cloak he was wearing, and a few coins.  He wondered around, thinly dressed, cold and hungry. Though he was forced to put off his plans of studying at the University, he never gave up his trust in God to provide for his every need. After months of searching for work and shelter during a harsh winter, a pastor helped Neumark land a job as the tutor for the family of a judge. The day he got the job, he wrote "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee", rejoicing that the Lord had been faithful to keep the promises contained in His Word, just as Neumark knew He would! Within a few years, he'd saved enough and was able to resume his studies. His hymn originally contained seven stanzas but today only three are usually printed and sung.  He also wrote the tune for the song and it is said that his tune has been used for about 400 different hymns.  This hymn, written in German, was first published in 1657 and it was first translated into English by Catherine Winkworth in 1855.  The words of this hymn, though written centuries ago, should provide for us a good reminder of the need to let God guide us in today's life.  We should put our daily trust on the Rock that cannot move.  We should be willing to cheerfully take whatever the Father's pleasure and all discerning love sends our way.  We can trust His rich promises of grace which will be fulfilled in us.  Powerful words from a man who learned in tough times to allow God to guide him.  And that is a lesson that each of us, as followers of Christ, need to learn.  He will meet our needs, strengthen our hearts and bear us through the evil days. "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track." Proverbs 3:5-6  The Message.

1.     If you will only let God guide you,
And hope in Him through all your ways,
Whatever comes, He'll stand beside you,
To bear you through the evil days;
Who trusts in God's unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that cannot move.

2.     Only be still, and wait His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever the Father's pleasure
And all discerning love have sent;
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him Who chose us for His own.

3.     Sing, pray, and swerve not from His ways,
But do your part in conscience true;
Trust His rich promises of grace,
So shall they be fulfilled in you;
God hears the call of those in need,
The souls that trust in Him indeed.

Here are the other four verses not normally printed or sung today.

What can these anxious cares avail thee, These never-ceasing moans and sighs? What can it help, if thou bewail thee O'er each dark moment as it flies? Our cross and trials do but press The heavier for our bitterness.

He knows the time for joy, and truly Will send it when He sees it meet, When He has purged and tried thee thoroughly And finds thee free from all deceit, He comes to thee all unaware And makes thee own His loving care.

Nor think amid the heat of trial That God hath cast thee off unheard, That he whose hopes meet no denial Must surely be of God preferred; Time passes and much change doth bring And sets a bound to everything.

All are alike before the Highest, 'Tis easy to our God, we know, To raise thee up though low thou liest, To make the rich man poor and low; True wonders still by Him are wrought Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, July 24, 2016

ALMOST PERSUADED


          The Bible shares stories that describe both the good and bad of mankind.  There are stories of heroes and scoundrels, victories and defeats, godly living and sinful living, hope and despair, good choices and bad choices.  But I think one of the saddest stories is the story of what happened to King Agrippa, as found in the book of Acts. Paul was called before the king to give an account of his innocence. But Paul was more concerned about the king's eternal destination than that of his own acquittal. As Paul explained his actions and what had taken place in the temple twelve days earlier, he went into his Damascus road experience, describing in detail his encounter with the Lord Jesus. At the end of Paul's dissertation, King Agrippa made the following statement addressing Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian," Acts 26:28.  Almost two centuries later, in 1871, a Reverend Brundage expounded upon this sad story  and then ended his Sunday morning sermon with the words "He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost". Philip Paui Bliss (1838-1876), a composer of many hymns,was among those listening to Reverend Brundage's sermon. The pastor's powerful closing words left such an impression upon Bliss that he set about composing a song with the same sentiment.  Almost Persuaded was published that same year in The Charm: A Collection of Sunday School Music, and quickly found its way into the majority of English Christian hymnals. The compelling words have since been sung at many an alter call. Sadly, through the ages, many have made the same sad decision as King Agrippa.  They have heard the Gospel and either rejected it or postponed accepting God's free gift of salvation.  Many have said I will do it some convenient day and that day never comes.  And as Bliss wrote, "doom comes at last, almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail, sad, sad that bitter wail, almost but lost!"  I pray that you have already accepted God's free gift of salvation.  Don't be like King Agrippa.  Today is the day of salvation. Make that decision now, don't delay.   "How shall we escape if we neglect (ignore) such a great salvation" (Heb. 2:3). The sad truth is, dear reader, we won't escape!


1.     Almost persuaded now to believe;
Almost persuaded Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I'll call.

2.     Almost persuaded, come, come today;
Almost persuaded, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!

3.      Almost persuaded, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded, doom comes at last!
Almost cannot avail;
Almost is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail
Almost, but lost! 

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, July 17, 2016

CLOSE TO THEE


          If you've ever been in love than you know what it is like to want to be close to the one who you love.  You take every opportunity to be with them and if you are away you want to call them and hear their voice.  And so it should be if we love the Lord.  We should want to be in His presence.  We should want to talk to Him.  He should be the center of our life and thoughts.  And this is the thought that is shared in this week's hymn choice penned by that great blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915).  Now I have found two accounts concerning the events that led her to pen these words.  In her book Memories of Eighty Years, Fanny says,  "Toward the close of a day in the year 1874 I was sitting in my room thinking of the nearness of God through Christ as the constant companion of my pilgrim journey, when my heart burst out with the words."  The author herself originally called the song "Christ, the Portion of His People."   The other story was shared by Ira Sankey in his volume My Life and the Story of the Gospel Songs.  He recalls that  "Silas J. Vail (1818-1884), having composed this tune, brought it to Fanny Crosby, and requested her to write the words for it. As he was playing it for her on the piano, she said, 'That refrain says "Close to Thee, close to Thee."' Mr. Vail said that was true, and it was agreed that it should be a hymn entitled Close to Thee."  Now I'm not sure which story is correct or if there is some truth in both of them, but it doesn't really matter.  The fact is that Fanny's words have been the prayer for believers for years.  She says that Christ is her everlasting portion.  Many times, the Lord  is described as the "portion" of His people. David says, "O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance" (Psalm 16:5). The psalmist cries, "My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26).   Such an intimate relationship stirs a desire to obey and please God: "You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words" (Psalm 119:57). The sense of weakness, and of dependance on God, is also expressed by still another psalm: "I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living" (Psalm 142:5).  I find it amazing to realize that the eternal and Almighty God should be described as our inheritance and possession. But it is also true that the Lord describes those who belong to Him as His inheritance and possession. In Deuteronomy, Moses states, "The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance" (Deuteronomy 32:9). In the second stanza of this hymn Fanny makes it clear that walking with Christ is not always easy and may require one to "toil and suffer."  When walking with Jesus, one will not partake in "worldly pleasure" or achieve "fame."  The final stanza extends our pilgrim journey "through the vale of shadows" and "o'er life's fitful sea", images of passing from earthly life through the "gate of life eternal."  Is this your prayer today?   Do you want to walk close to the Savior even though this pilgrim journey may be tough?  Just remember, when walking close to Him that He is omnipotent and omniscient. Nothing surprises Him.  He knows our pathway and nothing that happens is too difficult for Him to handle.  And He is our everlasting portion.  What more could we want?   All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk close to Thee. 


1.     Thou my everlasting portion,
More than friend or life to me,
All along my pilgrim journey,
Savior, let me walk with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee;
All along my pilgrim journey,
Savior, let me walk with Thee.

2.    Not for ease or worldly pleasure,
Nor for fame my prayer shall be;
Gladly will I toil and suffer,
Only let me walk with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee;
Gladly will I toil and suffer,
Only let me walk with Thee.

3.      Lead me through the vale of shadows,
Bear me o'er life's fitful sea;
Then the gate of life eternal
May I enter, Lord, with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Then the gate of life eternal
May I enter, Lord, with Thee.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, July 10, 2016

THE LORD'S MY SHEPHERD


          We are living in a society that is increasingly becoming ignorant of the scriptures.  But if you were to take a poll, I would guess that the two passages that might still be known by many would be John 3:16 and Psalm 23. "The Lord's my Shepherd" comes from Psalm 23, often called the Shepherd Psalm, probably the most beloved of all the Psalms.  This passage is often used at funerals and people probably love it because it speaks of green pastures and still waters and restored souls.  But more than that, it speaks of an all-knowing, all-powerful Shepherd who devotes full attention to our care and feeding.  It assures us of God's loving presence in our lives, both now and forevermore.  Over the years a large number of different lyrics and musical arrangements of these words have appeared.  The most familiar and well known musical version of this Psalm is that which is found in the "Scottish Psalter of 1650" set to the tune Crimond. In 1562, a collection of metrical psalms was published under the title, "One and Fiftie Psalmes of David in Englishe Metre".  Some of these had been translated by Thomas Sternhold, who died prior to their publication.  In the 1640s, Francis Rouse (or Rous) (1579 - 1659), an English Puritan, translated all 150 Psalms into metrical English.  As a result he is often listed as the author of this hymn.  "The Lord's My Shepherd" as a song has its roots in the Reformation, when Luther and Calvin, especially Calvin,emphasized singing psalms.  Calvin advised:   "We shall not find better songs nor more fitting for the purpose than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit spake ....  And moreover, when we sing them, we are certain that God puts in our mouths these, as if He Himself were singing in us to exalt His glory."  Though it was well-loved in Scotland, "The Lord's My Shepherd" did not enjoy popularity outside the Church of Scotland for nearly 300 years. It finally appeared in the Methodist Hymnal of 1876 and later the Congregational Hymnal of 1916. But it wasn't included in an Anglican hymnbook until 1965. The hymn version of Psalm 23 remains faithful to David's psalm. Its popularity in England grew in part because of its use during the 1947 marriage ceremony between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Since that time, it's become a well-known hymn, often requested for weddings and funerals.  This Psalm is a beautiful psalm with application to all aspects of our life.  Let me close this blog by sharing a line by line outline that someone recently shared with me.  The Lord is my shepherd = RELATIONSHIP.;   shall not be in want = SUPPLY;  He makes me lie down in green pastures = REST;  He leads me beside quiet waters = REFRESHMENT;  He restores my soul = HEALING;  He guides me in paths of righteousness = GUIDANCE;  For His name's sake = PURPOSE; Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = TESTING;  I will fear no evil = PROTECTION;  For you are with me = FAITHFULNESS; Your rod and your staff they comfort me = DISCIPLINE;  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies = HOPE;  You anoint my head with oil = CONSECRATION;  My cup overflows = ABUNDANCE;  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life = BLESSING;  And I will dwell in the house of the LORD = SECURITY;  Forever = ETERNITY.  As you meditate this week on this psalm and on this hymn, remember that God provides all that His flock needs.


1      The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

2      My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.

3      Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill;
for thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

4       My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

5      Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
and in God's house for evermore
my dwelling-place shall be.

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN
if you enjoy music by male groups, you might enjoy this as well.  LISTEN2

Sunday, July 3, 2016

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL



        I have decided to go a different direction with my blog this week and in honor of Independence Day in the United States I will share a patriotic song instead of the usual hymn.  For my many regular readers who are not in the United States, here this holiday is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress,. declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America.  Also known as the Fourth of July, it is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies.  And in honor of this day I have chosen the beautiful patriotic song, "American the Beautiful". The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward.  In 1893, at the age of 33, Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. Several of the sights on her trip inspired her, and they found their way into her poem, including the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the "White City" with its promise of the future contained within its alabaster buildings; the wheat fields of America's heartland Kansas, through which her train was riding on July 16; and the majestic view of the Great Plains from high atop Zebulon's Pikes Peak.   On the pinnacle of that mountain, the words of the poem started to come to her, and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room at the original Antlers Hotel. The poem was initially published two years later in The Congregationalist to commemorate the Fourth of July. It quickly caught the public's fancy. Several existing pieces of music were adapted to the poem. A hymn tune composed by Samuel A. Ward was generally considered the best music as early as 1910 and is still the popular tune today. Just as Bates had been inspired to write her poem, Ward, too, was inspired to compose his tune. The tune came to him while he was on a ferryboat trip from Coney Island back to his home in New York City, after a leisurely summer day in 1882. He immediately wrote it down. He was so anxious to capture the tune in his head that he asked fellow passenger friend Harry Martin for his shirt cuff to write the tune on. He composed the tune for the old hymn "O Mother Dear, Jerusalem", retitling the work "Materna". Ward's music combined with Bates's poem were first published together in 1910 and titled "America the Beautiful".  At various times there have been efforts to give "America the Beautiful" legal status either as a national hymn or as a national anthem equal to, or in place of, "The Star-Spangled Banner".   Now there is no need for me to discuss the words of this song, for they are self-explanatory.  However, I do appreciate the prayer in the second verse, "God mend thine every flaw" because God's mending may be needed now more than ever.  As a country we have sinned and strayed from obeying God's precepts.  As a nation we have forgotten that God did shed His grace on us in the past.  May we return to Godly principles and recognize His grace on us.

1.     O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

2.     O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

3.     O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

4.     O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Listen to it being sung by a group of children.   CHILDREN
Listen to a band and orchestra here.   LISTEN