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 25, 2016

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?


          Whenever I read the Christmas story from the book of Luke to my family , I usually ponder what it might have been like to have been in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Day. I imagine that most of the visitors and residents didn't even know that a baby was born.  They missed it all.  There were probably others, like the inn keeper, who knew of the birth of a baby but had no idea of who the baby really was.  Perhaps some might have asked "What Child is this?", but I doubt that they really found the answer.  They, too, missed the meaning of this birth, one of the most significant events in the history of the world.  But for the shepherds who were summoned by the angels, they knew for the angels had proclaimed that to them.  And for believers through the centuries it is now a rhetorical question for we, too, know the answer.  He is Christ the King!  The question expresses awe and wonder about something we know to be true, but find almost too good to be true.  The lyrics of this carol are taken from a poem written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), in 1865, called "The Manger Throne".  At the time of composing the carol, Dix worked as an insurance company manager and had been struck by a severe illness. While recovering, he underwent a spiritual renewal and his heart was filled with the poetry of worship. That led him to write several hymns, including lyrics to this carol that was subsequently set to the tune of "Greensleeves", a traditional English folk song. Although it was written in England, the carol is probably more popular in the United States than in its country of origin today.   Dix wrote over 40 hymns, including many songs for Christmas and Easter. Another of his carols that has endured is "As With Gladness, Men Of Old", set to a melody by Konrad Kocher. The hymns he wrote include "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus" and "To You Oh Lord Our Hearts We Raise."  The context of his carol centers around the adoration of the shepherds, who visited Jesus during his nativity. The questions posed in the lyrics reflect what the shepherds were possibly pondering to themselves when they encountered Him. The rest of the carol provides a response to their questions.  The second verse contains another question that is answered, while the final verse is a universal appeal to everyone urging them "to accept Christ"  May we never tire of the Christmas story that shares how the Son of God willingly left all the riches and glory of heaven and came to this earth to be born in a lowly stable.  He did that so He could eventually give His life for us on the Cross so we could become part of his family.  Hopefully that truth still stirs and thrills your soul today.  Pause often during this busy Christmas season to thank Him for what He has done.  And remember that the response to the question "What child is this?" is "This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing."  An amazing truth!  Most hymnbooks list the following three verses as those written by Dix.

1   What child is this
Who lay to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary

2    Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary

3 * So bring him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to own him
The King of Kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone him
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary

Incidentally, some sources on the internet also include various combinations of the following verses.  I could not find where they come from.  If you happen to know, please reply below with a comment.

O raise, raise a song on high
His mother sings a lullaby
Joy, oh joy for Christ is born
The Babe, the son of Mary

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here,
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

O raise, raise a song on high
His mother sings a lullaby
Joy, oh joy for Christ is born
The Babe, the son of Mary

Thank you for faithfully visiting this blog during the past months.  May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a Christ centered New Year.

Listen to this week's choice here.   LISTEN
I've also included a nice violin rendition for your enjoyment.  VIOLIN

Sunday, December 18, 2016

JESUS I AM RESTING, RESTING



        This beautiful hymn has always been one of my favorites, not only because of the tune and harmonies, but because of the powerful, meaningful words of testimony.  The words were penned in 1876 by Jean S. Pigott (1845-1882) and the music, Tranquility, was provided by James Mountain (1844-1933).  Little is known about Pigott except that she was born in Ireland and was one of eight children.  She is known to have written only two hymns, this one and Lord Jesus, Thou Didst Keep Thy Child.  While her second hymn is not well known, here are a few words from that one.

Lord Jesus, Thou dost keep Thy child
Through sunshine or through tempests wild;
Jesus, I trust in Thee:
Thine is such wondrous pow'r to save;
Thine is the mighty love that gave
Its all on Calvary.
One of the interesting things about this week's hymn choice is the impact that it had on the life of the famous missionary to China, Hudson Taylor.  It is said that it was his favorite hymn.  Whenever work permitted, Mr. Taylor was in the habit of turning to a little harmonium for refreshment, playing and singing many a favorite hymn, but always coming back to?  "Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart."  An evangelist, George Nichol, was with Taylor on one occasion when he received news of serious rioting in two of the older stations of the Mission. Thinking that Taylor might wish to be alone, the younger man was about to withdraw when, to his surprise, Taylor began to whistle. It was the soft refrain of the same well-loved hymn, "Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art . . . "  Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not help asking, "How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger!"  "Would you have me anxious and troubled?" was the quiet reply. "That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord."   Day and night this was his secret, "just to roll the burden on the Lord." Frequently those who were awake in the little house at Chinkiang might hear at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of Mr. Taylor's favorite hymn. He had learned that for him only one life was possible, that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances.  An interesting part of this story is that Pigott's own brother, Thomas, was also a missionary to China.  On July 9, 1901 he was executed at the age of fifty-three, along with seventy-six other Christian missionaries, in the Boxer Rebellion at the Sheo Yang Mission uprising. It is said that his sister's beautiful hymn was a special comfort to Hudson Taylor during that difficult time.  Some form of the word "rest" is found over 500 times in our English Bibles. Bible teacher J. P. Vold wrote, "[To rest] is to stop one's own work because of satisfaction with God's work …. It is that joyous acceptance of what God has done which causes us to stop trying to achieve by our own works [i.e. trying to earn acceptance with God by our own efforts]."   As you consider the words of Pigott's hymn, notice three qualities which are shared - trusting fully in the Lord, experiencing peace and tranquility in Him, enjoying contentment and satisfaction with Him.  The final words of verse four are a great daily prayer for each of us. "Keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with Thy grace."   May that be your desire as you rest in the provision of the Savior this week.

1.     Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

2.     O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belov├Ęd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

3.     Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

4.     Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth's dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father?s glory,
Sunshine of my Father?s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, December 11, 2016

YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN



        The term "born again" is a key term that true believers not only understand but have experienced.  However, it is probably foreign and strange to those in today's culture who have no Bible background or experience in evangelical circles.  That was true of a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, who met with Jesus at night.  He was puzzled when Jesus said,  "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).  Thinking of a physical birth, Nicodemus rightly said it was impossible (vs. 4). But of course, Jesus was referring to spiritual birth, being born into the family of God by a work of the Holy Spirit, a birth that comes when the individual puts his or her faith in Christ . In order to have spiritual life and enter God's eternal kingdom, it's necessary to be born again (Titus 3:5).  As for Nicodemus, many believe that he may have come to faith and become a follower of Christ. We know he protested the plot against Jesus (John 7:50-51), and after the crucifixion he helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus (John 19:38-42). I understand that some historical information outside the Bible suggests that the once wealthy Nicodemus was ostracized and became destitute, likely because of his stand for Christ.  The story of Nicodemus and his encounter with Jesus was the inspiration for William T. Sleeper (1819-1904) to pen the words of this week's hymn choice in 1877.  The music was added by George C. Stebbins.   Stebbins was helping Dr. George Pentecost in evangelistic meetings in Worcester, Massachusetts and  Dr. Pentecost was preaching on the new birth. He shared the story of Nicodemus. Stebbins felt the phrase "Ye must be born again" could be combined with the phrase "verily, verily I say unto you" and with a musical setting could be a setting for a chorus of a hymn.  He approached Sleeper and asked him to write some verses to go with this chorus. Sleeper took the challenge.  Before the meetings closed, Stebbins added the musical setting to the words that Sleeper provided and the new hymn was completed.  And over the years this hymn has been used to convey the message of the Gospel to those who have heard it.  And while this hymn may not be very familiar today, its clear message remains.  The only way to heaven is to be born again through the work of Jesus who makes salvation possible to those who believe.  Have you experienced this free gift of salvation?  Are you born again?

1.     A ruler once came to Jesus by night
To ask Him the way of salvation and light;
The Master made answer in words true and plain,
"Ye must be born again.
Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again;
I verily, verily say unto thee,
Ye must be born again."

2.     Ye children of men, attend to the word
So solemnly uttered by Jesus the Lord;
And let not this message to you be in vain,
"Ye must be born again.
Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again;
I verily, verily say unto thee,
Ye must be born again."

3.     O ye who would enter that glorious rest,
And sing with the ransomed the song of the blest,
The life everlasting if ye would obtain,
"Ye must be born again.
Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again;
I verily, verily say unto thee,
Ye must be born again."

4.     A dear one in heaven thy heart yearns to see,
At the beautiful gate may be watching for thee,
Then list to the note of this solemn refrain,
"Ye must be born again.
Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again;
I verily, verily say unto thee,
Ye must be born again."

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN

Sunday, December 4, 2016

WE'LL TALK IT OVER


          I believe that one of the toughest and most common questions that Christians ponder is "Why?".   Why did you take my loved one home?  Why did I get this disease?  Why did I lose my job?  Why are my children in so much trouble?  Why can't we make ends met financially?  Why is our country in so much trouble?  And on and on.  Christians are not promised an easy path in life.  There are many trials and disappointments and at times we become frustrated and discouraged.  And often there are no easy answers to those questions.  But a true believer must place his faith in the Lord who directs our paths and knows all that we are going through.  We rest in the promise that "all things work together for good" for those in the Lord's family.  And as the shadows deepen and our heart bleeds we must rest in the hands of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Father.  And we hope that some day He will reveal the reasons to us and we will understand His ways.  Now I don't know what particular trials Ira Stanphill (1914-1993) had gone through, but I am sure, like each of us, he had his share.  And it may have been his questions that inspired him to write this week's hymn choice.  I have mentioned Stanphill in previous blogs for he is said to have written more than 500 gospel songs.  At the age of 10 he was already a fluent musician, having learned to play the piano, organ, ukulele and accordion.  He later learned to play the xylophone, guitar, saxophone and clarinet.  A the age of 17 he was composing and performing his own music for church services, revival campaigns and prayer meetings.  As a singer evangelist he traveled around the world and preached and performed in 40 countries.  Later, as a pastor, he is said to have often opened his Sunday evening services at the piano playing and singing a new song which he had just written.  The simple words of his many songs touch the hearts of many for they echo the thoughts of most believers. "I trust His leading, He'll never fail ... Tho' only one step ahead I see." "I'll hide my heartache behind a smile ... I know I'll find that all my burdens are silver lined."  What a comforting thought to know that someday we will be with our Savior who has all the answers to our present troubling questions. Presently those questions may bog us down.  However, I can't help but wonder, when we finally get to heaven and see out Savior and our loved ones, if these questions will still be of importance to us.  Or, will they be forgotten in the rapture of being there and participating in the eternal worship that will take place.  Maybe they will no longer bother us as we see how His path has led us to eternity.  Who really knows.  But we do know that we will be with our Father who knows all things and controls all things.  And all of our present trials and heartbreaks will then be gone forever.  What a day, glorious day that will be!

1 -  Tho' shadows deepen, and my heart bleeds,
I will not question the way He leads;
This side of Heaven we know in part,
I will not question a broken heart.
We'll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We'll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I'll ask the reasons - He'll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

2 -  I'll trust His leading, He'll never fail,
Thru darkest tunnels or misty vales.
Obey his bidding and faithful be,
Tho' only one step ahead I see.
We'll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We'll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I'll ask the reasons - He'll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

3 -   I'll hide my heartache behind a smile
And wait for reasons 'til after while.
And tho' He try me, I know I'll find
That all my burdens are silver lined.
We'll talk it over in the bye and bye.
We'll talk it over, my Lord and I.
I'll ask the reasons - He'll tell me why,
When we talk it over in the bye and bye.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN