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 29, 2019

HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?



        "The Lord is my strength and shield.  I trust him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.   I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."   Psalm 28:7 (NLT)  What a testimony and message to begin a new year.  Can you say that as you reflect upon the Lord's care and provision during the past year that it makes you want to burst out in singing?  That is the message shared in this week's hymn choice.  How can I keep from singing?  Many sources give credit for its writing to Robert Lowry (1826-1899).  It is said that he was a man of rare administrative ability, a most excellent preacher, a thorough Bible student, and whether in the pulpit or upon the platform, always a brilliant and interesting speaker. He is also remembered for his work and writing in music. His melodies are sung in every civilized land, and many of his hymns have been translated into various languages. While preaching the Gospel was his lifework, music and hymnology were his favorite studies. But they were always a side issue, a recreation.  Lowry frequently said that he regarded "Weeping Will Not Save Me" as the best and most evangelistic hymn he ever wrote. The following are some of his most popular gospel melodies: "Shall We Gather at the River?," "One More Day's Work for Jesus," "Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight?," "I Need Thee Every Hour," "The Mistakes of My Life," "How Can I Keep from Singing?," "All the Way My Saviour Leads Me," "Saviour, Thy Dying Love," and "We're Marching to Zion."   But getting back to this week's hymn, there are numerous other verses and claims of authorship.  For example, Doris Plenn claims to have learned the original hymn from her grandmother, who reportedly believed that it dated from the early days of the Quaker movement. Plenn contributed a verse around 1950 which was taken up by Pete Seeger and other folk singers.  So no matter who wrote all the words or which version you accept, the message is the same.   "No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I'm clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?"  And remember we are told in Ephesians 5:18-20,  " ... be filled with the Holy Spirit,  singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "  May your new year be filled with an endless song coming from a thankful heart! 

1      My life flows on in endless song;
above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

2      Through all the tumult and the strife,

I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

3      What though my joys and comforts die?

I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth. 
Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

4      The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing? 
Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, December 22, 2019

AWAY IN A MANGER (TH)


TIMELESS HYMN - A special monthly feature where I highlight some of my favorite hymns that have been featured previously in this blog.  These entries are revised and expanded and shared again for our encouragement and challenge.  This hymn was first shared here on December 25, 2011



          One of the very first Christmas carols that children learn to sing is the familiar "Away In A Manger".  This carol shares some of the things that baby Jesus might have experienced upon his birth in the stable in Bethlehem.  But the carol is also a simple prayer for the Lord's presence in the daily lives of those who sing it.  What a simple but profound song.  But there are numerous opinions about the writing of this carol. According to Wikipedia, the online dictionary, the song was first published with two verses in an Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection, "Little Children's Book for Schools and Families" (1885).  It bore the title "Away in a Manger" and was set to a tune called "St. Kilda" by J.E. Clark. For many years the text was credited to the German reformer Martin Luther. Research has shown, however, that this is nothing more than a fable. In the book "Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses" (1887) the song has the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn" and the note, "composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones." A possible reason for the attribution to Luther is that the 400th anniversary of his birth was in 1883 and the words were either based on a poem written for this anniversary or were credited to Luther as a clever marketing gimmick. However this song has never been found in Luther's works. The third stanza, "Be near me, Lord Jesus" was first printed in Gabriel's "Vineyard Songs" (1892), where it appeared with a tune by Charles H. Gabriel (simply marked "C").  So these words are probably by Gabriel. Gabriel credited the entire text to Luther and gave it the title "Cradle Song." But no matter who actually wrote it, it has been part of most Christmas celebrations for many years. The thoughts and words can easily be understood and appreciated by those of all ages.  It includes prayers for the new Savior to stay by our side, to be near us, to love us and some day to take us to heaven to live with Him there.  I think my favorite line is "I love Thee Lord Jesus".  And that should be our daily prayer. Now let's not forget that the Babe born in the manger was the same Son of God who later hung on the cross and then rose from the dead for the payment of mankind's sins. And if you have never accepted Him as your personal Savior, doing so today would be the greatest Christmas gift you could ever receive.

(1) Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
The stars in the sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

(2) The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
'Til morning is nigh.

(3) Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Listen to it here    AWAY

Sunday, December 15, 2019

THAT BEAUTIFUL NAME


          "You shall call His name JESUS," Joseph was told (Matthew 1:21), as was Mary (Luke 1:31). In His miraculous conception and His birth, "The Word [God the Son] became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1, 14).   What a beautiful, wonderful and matchless name, the sweetest name of all to every believer.  And in Philippians 2:10 we are told that someday ... "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth."  It was this beautiful name that was the motivation for Jean Perry (1865-1935) to pen the words of this week's hymn choice.  Little is known of Jean Perry, beyond her name, and the years of her birth and death.  But an interesting story centers around the tune which was written by Mabel Johnston Camp. Apparently, the hymn poem was given to her by the author and she attempted to compose a tune to suit it. Dissatisfied with the result, she tore up the manuscript and dropped it in the waste basket. But her husband came by, some time later, and spotted the scraps. On a whim, he took them up and patiently fitted the pieces back together. Norman Camp believed the music provided a lovely setting for the words, and he convinced his wife to have the song published. And as a result this hymn has ministered to many over the years.  As we enter the Christmas season this year, the words of this hymn should remind us again of the miraculous birth and impact of Jesus.  The author went on to share how He became the Savior when He bore our sins on the cross of Calvary.  May we never forget this amazing truth.  And finally the author shares how this truth was whispered in her heart many years ago, how to Jesus she gave her life and how she was freed from the power of sin.  Hopefully that is also your testimony.  And if it is, join in singing this testimony hymn this week.  Be reminded of how beautiful and matchless is the name and power of Jesus!


1      I know of a name, 
A beautiful name,
That angels bro't down to earth;
They whispered it low 
One night long ago,
To a maiden of lowly birth.
Refrain:
That beautiful name, 
That beautiful name,
From sin has power to free us!
That beautiful name, 
That wonderful name,
That matchless name is Jesus!

2      I know of a name, 
A beautiful name,
That unto a Babe was given;
The stars glittered bright 
Thro'out that glad night,
And angels praised God in heav'n. 
Refrain:
That beautiful name, 
That beautiful name,
From sin has power to free us!
That beautiful name, 
That wonderful name,
That matchless name is Jesus!


3      The One of that name, 
My Savior became,
My Savior of Calvary;
My sins nailed Him there, 
My burdens He bare.
He suffered all this for me. 
Refrain:
That beautiful name, 
That beautiful name,
From sin has power to free us!
That beautiful name, 
That wonderful name,
That matchless name is Jesus!

4      I love that blest name, 
That wonderful name,
Made higher than all in heaven;
'Twas whispered, I know, 
In my heart long ago,
To Jesus my life I've given. 
Refrain:
That beautiful name, 
That beautiful name,
From sin has power to free us!
That beautiful name, 
That wonderful name,
That matchless name is Jesus!

Listen to it here    BEAUTIFUL

Sunday, December 8, 2019

VERILY, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU




        How often today do we sing any gospel song that includes the phrase "verily, verily"?  It's not a word in our vocabulary today. But Jesus used the word verily many times as he taught.  It means truly or certainly.  Saying, "Verily, verily," before making a statement is a strong claim to its truth.   Jesus is not merely saying, "Believe me, this is true."  He is actually saying, "I know this is true firsthand." So, when we read Jesus' words and see statements beginning with "verily," "truly," or some variation, we should recall the deeper meaning. Those claims are not only Jesus' opinion on the truth. Those are ideas about which He has intimate, personal, firsthand knowledge.  And so that was the case when in John 5:24 Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."  As a result we should believe it and claim it. It is said that this was the favorite verse of James McGranahan (1840-1907) and also the motivation in 1878 for his writing of this week's hymn choice.  He  was an American Gospel song and hymn writer who  also wrote the music for such familiar hymns as "Christ Returneth!," "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing," and "The Banner of the Cross," as well as both the words and music for "Verily, Verily," and "Go Ye into All the World."  During his life he composed over 25 hymns.  Now this song of his is a song that I have not heard or sung in decades.  But it brings back many good memories of hearing it sung joyfully in services when I was growing up.  Think of the words.  What a thrill to know that He has set us free from all condemnation.  He paid all of our indebtedness.  And even though we are unworthy, weak and sinful, He will not cast us out.  And He assures us that we have everlasting life because of what He has done for us and our response to Him. Verily, verily - it's true!  What a great Savior!  Rejoice in this truth!


1     Oh, what a Savior that He died for me!
From condemnation He hath made me free;
"He that believeth on the Son" saith He,
"Hath everlasting life."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you;"
"Verily, verily," message ever new!
"He that believeth on the Son"-'tis true! -
 "Hath everlasting life!"

2     All my iniquities on Him were laid,
All my indebtedness by Him was paid;
All who believe on Him, the Lord hath said,
"Hath everlasting life."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you;"
"Verily, verily," message ever new!
"He that believeth on the Son" -'tis true! -
"Hath everlasting life!"

3     Though poor and needy, I can trust my Lord;
Though weak and sinful, I believe His word;
Oh, glad message; every child of God
"Hath everlasting life."
 Verily, verily, I say unto you;"
"Verily, verily," message ever new!
"He that believeth on the Son" -'tis true! -
"Hath everlasting life!"

4     Though all unworthy, yet I will not doubt;
For him that cometh He will not cast out:
"He that believeth" - oh, the good news shout!
 Hath everlasting life."
 Verily, verily, I say unto you;"
"Verily, verily," message ever new!
"He that believeth on the Son" - 'tis true! -
"Hath everlasting life!"

Listen to it here    VERILY

Sunday, December 1, 2019

THERE IS A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD (TH)


TIMELESS HYMN  - Another revised and repeated blog of one of the great hymns of the faith - There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood  - originally shared here on June 6, 2010.


          William Cowper (1731 - 1800) studied to become an attorney but he never actually practiced law. He struggled from manic depression and often felt that he was doomed to eternal damnation and hell. He made several attempts at drinking poison only to have spasms in his hand which prevented him from doing so. He then tried to hang himself with a strong garter. He passed out and then the garter broke while he was still suspended. He struggled with knowing that God could forgive him for this attempt. After having significant difficulties battling depression, he had a mental breakdown and was sent to a mental hospital. There Cowper found a Bible on a bench. He opened it and read it. He turned to the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, which he said showed him the mercy of the Savior. He also turned to Romans 3:25 where he read, “Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness.” It was upon reading this verse that Cowper said he was immediately converted.  Cowper was able to regain his mental health, and he left the hospital. He ended up in the town of Olney where John Newton was a pastor. Newton recognized Cowper’s gift as a poet, and he encouraged him to write hymns. And that Cowper did. He wrote sixty-eight hymns in a fairly short period of time. Today's hymn was the first hymn he wrote after his recovery. It is evident that the Lord worked in him and gave him the assurance of forgiveness. There are many interesting stories told about the impact of this great hymn. One has to do with a large religious service conducted at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco. The gifted speaker began to direct most of his eloquence against the power of the blood of Christ. When he was done, an elderly lady stood up in the midst of the crowd and softly began to sing this hymn as a touching rebuttal to the speaker's remarks. A hush fell over the audience as they listened. But before she could begin the second verse, about one hundred people rose to join her. By the time they reached the third verse, nearly a thousand were singing along. The triumphant, thrilling strains rang out - "Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, 'til all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more." The message, written by one cured by the Lord from deep depression, still rings out today in the hearts of those who've experienced the power of the blood of Christ.  Have you experienced this power and transformation?

(1) There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

(2) The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.
Wash all my sins away,
wash all my sins away;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.

(3) Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more,
be saved, to sin no more;
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.

(4) E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die,
and shall be till I die;
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

(5) Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave,
lies silent in the grave;
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.

Listen to it here. LISTEN

Sunday, November 24, 2019

COME CHRISTIAN, JOIN TO SING

          My wife and I are big Penn State football fans.  Before our physical challenges prevented us from going, we often were able to attend five or six home games each year.  We enjoyed the enthusiasm of the band, the excitement of the fans and the general atmosphere.  It was stirring to hear the 105,000 fans cheer “We are ... Penn State!”  Now we watch the games on television but we miss the thrill of being there. Sports fans can be enthusiastic. Likewise, concertgoers raise their hands and swoon at rock stars. Supporters clap, cheer and throw confetti for leading politicians. So why shouldn’t Christians unite their hearts, souls and minds and raise their voices and cheer for the lover of souls, the giver of good things, the creator of the universe, the all-powerful glorious one, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end?  “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15).  King David was eager to worship. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1). And he had so much enthusiasm, dancing before the Lord when the ark returned to Jerusalem, that his wife was embarrassed by his behavior (2 Samuel 6:14-16).  Christian Henry Bateman (1813-1899) was ordained into the Church of England after being a Congregational minister.  He is credited as being the author of this hymn although there are some who believe that Bateman’s hymn is actually  a rewritten version of the hymn “Join Now in Praise, and Sing” by William Edward Hickson (1803-1870).  But no matter who actually wrote it, the hymn is a challenge to Christians to join in praising the Creator.  Each stanza begins with an exhortation - an imperative command to “Come” or “Praise.” In stanza one, Bateman provides us with the reason for singing - We offer “loud praise to Christ our King  ... before his throne ... ”   Christ desires our praise - “praise is his gracious choice. . . .”  Stanza two reassures all of us that this King is also “our guide and friend” and that “his love shall never end.”  This King will “condescend” to be our friend. To condescend surely did not mean to patronize as it tends to mean today, but implies that Christ the King humbles himself to be in a personal relationship with us.  Stanza three reassures us that we need not fear death. Beyond life, our songs will continue on “heaven’s blissful shore  ...  singing forevermore: Alleluia! Amen!”  Football games and concerts are fun. Political events are important. But a greater priority is to worship God. Why not praise Him with the enthusiasm of a Super Bowl fan, the adoration of a music enthusiast, and the zeal of a political supporter?  Pray for this nation to recognize the awesomeness of God and give Him the praise due to His name.

1    Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
loud praise to Christ our King;
Alleluia! Amen!
let all, with heart and voice,
before his throne rejoice;
praise is his gracious choice.
Alleluia! Amen!

2    Come, lift your hearts on high,
Alleluia! Amen!
let praises fill the sky;
Alleluia! Amen!
he is our Guide and Friend;
to us he’ll condescend;
his love shall never end.
Alleluia! Amen!

3    Praise yet our Christ again,
Alleluia! Amen!
life shall not end the strain;
Alleluia! Amen!
on heaven’s blissful shore,
his goodness we’ll adore,
singing forevermore,
"Alleluia! Amen!”


Listen to it here.  COME

Sunday, November 17, 2019

HELD IN HIS MIGHTY ARMS



        "The eternal God is your Refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27.   "The arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous"  Psalm 37:17.  Possibly you have good memories of being held in the arms of a parent.  It was a place of comfort and safety, a secure retreat from the cares of your world.  Now in my senior years I often wish that I could again escape to those arms of love and protection of my parents.  But believers do have the everlasting arms of God which are always there to protect and comfort us.  Now we know God is spirit and doesn't have arms as we do. However, the imagery is used in Scripture to convey the idea of His limitless power.  One who believed and experienced this was Winfield Macomber (1865-1896).  He came to Christ at age 16, then worked distributing materials for the American Bible Society. In 1890, he enrolled at the New York Missionary Training Institute (later renamed Nyack College), and in 1892 went to the Congo for the International Missionary Alliance. He returned to America a year later for health reasons, and in 1894 began teaching the Congolese language at his alma mater. He compiled an English-Fioti grammar and dictionary for use by missionaries, and, in 1896, he returned to missionary work in the Congo. But once again, ill health forced his departure but he never made it back to America.  He died in Portugal at the age of forty-one.  His was a short life, but one of lasting influence. And he was safe in God's keeping until his work here was done and then he was lifted to his heavenly rest in the Lord's loving arms. But he left behind a hymn which may have been his testimony.  "Oh! what wonderful, wonderful rest! trusting completely in Jesus I'm blest. Sweetly He comforts and shields from alarms, holding me safe in His mighty arms."  If today you are facing difficult challenges in your life, then flee to His almighty, everlasting arms and experience the rest and comfort which is there for you.


1.    Safe is my refuge, sweet is my rest,
Ill cannot harm me, nor foes e'er molest;
Jesus my spirit so tenderly calms,
Holding me close in His mighty arms.
Refrain
Oh! what wonderful, wonderful rest!
Trusting completely in Jesus I'm blest;
Sweetly He comforts and shields from alarms,
Holding me safe in His mighty arms.

2.    Pressing my tear stained cheek to His own,
Hushing my grief with His sweet gentle tone;
Touching my heart with His healing balms,
Holding me still in His mighty arms. 
Refrain
Oh! what wonderful, wonderful rest!
Trusting completely in Jesus I'm blest;
Sweetly He comforts and shields from alarms,
Holding me safe in His mighty arms.


3.    Tempests may rage, sin's surges may beat,
Ne'er can they reach my sheltered retreat;
Free from all danger, from dread alarms,
Resting so safe in His mighty arms.
Refrain
Oh! what wonderful, wonderful rest!
Trusting completely in Jesus I'm blest;
Sweetly He comforts and shields from alarms,
Holding me safe in His mighty arms.

Listen to it here.   ARMS

Sunday, November 10, 2019

MY WONDERFUL LORD

          It is hard to find words meaningful enough to describe the Lord and His relationship to His children. Like many hymn writers, Haldor Lillenas (1885 – 1959) chose to use the word wonderful - "inspiring delight, pleasure, or admiration; extremely good; marvelous". in this week's hymn choice.  And truly the Lord is wonderful.  And as we yield our all, our body and soul, to Him we experience the deep peace which He provides to His children.  The Bible reminds us of the need to dedicate our lives to the Lord. "I beseech (urge) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). Lillenas was born in Norway and at the age of two immigrated with his mother and two brothers to South Dakota.  Lillenas indicated that soon after his conversion at the age of 21,  he began to increasingly write hymns and songs that expressed his faith and joy. Lillenas was a prolific composer of hymns, and it is estimated that he wrote some 4,000 hymns, and supplied songs for many evangelists.  In 1924 he founded the Lillenas Music Co. in Indianapolis.  Now I must admit that I struggled for quite some time before sharing this week's hymn  because of the phrase in the chorus, "I bow at Thy shrine, my Saviour divine."  What shrine?  And why would I bow at some shrine?   He is not dead. His tomb is empty. He is now seated on a royal throne, at the right hand of the Father in heaven as our Intercessor.  Robert Catrill. in his blog Wordwise Hymns, suggests changing this line to: "I know Thou art mine,"   I agree and have made that change in the words below.  After making that change, I challenge you to claim these words as your testimony.  Have you yielded your all to the Lord?  Have you found the deep peace that results from this dedication?  Indeed, our Lord, the ancient of days, is deserving of all our praise.  Is He your wonderful, wonderful Lord?  Have you yielded your all to Him?

1     I have found a deep peace
that I never had known
And a joy this world could not afford
Since I yielded control of my body and soul
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.
My wonderful Lord, my wonderful Lord 
By angels and seraphs
in Heaven adored
I know Thou art mine!
My Savior divine
My wonderful, wonderful Lord

2     All the talents I have I have laid at thy feet
Thy approval shall be my reward.
Be my store great or small
I surrender it all
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.
My wonderful Lord, my wonderful Lord
By angels and seraphs in Heaven adored!
I know Thou art mine!
my Savior divine
My wonderful, wonderful Lord.
Wonderful, wonderful
My Lord is wonderful

3     Thou art fairer to me than the fairest of earth
Thou omnipotent, life-giving Word
O Thou Ancient of Days,
Thou art worthy of all praise,
My wonderful, wonderful Lord.
My wonderful Lord, my wonderful Lord
By angels and seraphs in Heaven adored!
I know Thou art mine!
my Savior divine
My wonderful, wonderful Lord.
Wonderful, wonderful
My Lord is wonderful

Listen to it here.   WONDERFUL

Sunday, November 3, 2019

LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS (TH)


TIMELESS HYMN  - Another revised and repeated blog of one of the great hymns of the faith originally shared here on June 27, 2010.

         It is always amazing to me how the Lord takes a person who has little or no training and uses them to create music which ministers to the hearts of many for many decades. Such is the case with Elisha Hoffman who penned over two thousand compositions and edited over fifty hymnals during his lifetime. Many of his hymns have been shared in this blog over the years. He is said to have been a natural musician and all the musical knowledge he had was gained by personal application. Mr. Hoffman's first impressions of music came from hearing the voice of sacred song in his home. It is said that his parents both had "sweet voices" and sang well. It was their custom, in the hour of family worship, both morning and evening, to sing one or two hymns. At an early age, the children became familiar with these hymns and learned to love them and to feel their power. Their lives were marvelously influenced by this little service of song in the home and a taste for sacred music was created and developed. It is sad that this custom seldom happens in homes today. Growing up my family sang together regularly, especially while we were traveling in the car. I've retained so many great hymns because of this experience. The little bit of background that I could find about this week's hymn choice indicates that Anthony Showalter actually wrote the chorus. With his need to comfort two friends who had dear ones that had just died, he sent his lyrics to Hoffman who then penned the verses. And these words continue to be a comfort to many today as we learn that leaning on the everlasting arms keeps us safe, provides real joy and peace, and allows us to face the future without dread or fear. A place of safety and security - the everlasting arms of Christ.

(1)    What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

(2)    Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

(3)    What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Listen it here. LEAN

Sunday, October 27, 2019

THE SPACIOUS FIRMAMENT ON HIGH



        "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands" Psalm 19:1.  As a mathematician I am continuously amazed at our universe which for centuries has continued to operate with precision on a perfect schedule.  Because of the order in which it moves it is possible to accurately predict where stars and planets will be at any time in the future.  Low and high tides can be perfectly predicted. Incredible!  The moon moves around the earth every 27.3 days,  The moon orbits quite fast, 0.5 degrees per hour in the sky. In 24 hours it moves 13 degrees. The average distance between earth and the sun is 149.60 million km (92.96 million mi), and one complete orbit takes 365.256 days during which time earth has traveled 940 million km (584 million mi). There are about 10 billion galaxies in the observable universe! The number of stars in a galaxy varies, but assuming an average of 100 billion stars per galaxy means that there are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that's 1 billion trillion) stars in the observable universe!  It is hard to even comprehend the size of the universe and how it moves.  But this we know - all of this spacious firmament was created and controlled by a God who also loves us and cares for us.  And that, too, is incredible.  A hymn which points out the need to be conscious of God as the one whose glory is declared by the heavens and the earth which He created is "The Spacious Firmament on High." The text was written by Joseph Addison (1672 - 1719). This great hymn, based on Ps. 19:1-6, appeared in The Spectator, a weekly paper edited by the author. It was appended to an article he wrote called "An Essay on the Proper Means of Strengthening and Confirming Faith in the Mind of Man." There, he said, "Faith and devotion naturally grow in the mind of every reasonable man, who sees the impression of divine power and wisdom in every object on which he casts his eye. The Supreme Being has made the best arguments for His own existence in the formation of the heavens and the earth. Appropriately, the tune used for the hymn, called Creation, is adapted from "The Heavens Are Telling," a chorus in the 1798 oratorio The Creation, by Franz Josef Haydn (1732 - 1809).  In Addison's hymn stanza 1 describes the day time sky.  Stanza 2 describes the night time sky and stanza 3 describes the silence of the celestial objects.  Let's make it a point this week to view and consider the spacious firmament created by our Father.  Then bow in worship and adoration to the Great Creator who also loved us enough to provide a way in which we can come into His presence.  May we never lose the awe of this truth.

1.     The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame
Their great Original proclaim.
Th'unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his creator's powers display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.

2.     Soon as the evening shades prevail
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
While all the stars that round her burn
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

3.     What though in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
Amid the radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine.

Listen to it here  FIRMAMENT
Here you can also see and hear one of my favorite musicians, George Beverly Shea, sing this hymn.   SHEA

Sunday, October 20, 2019

IS YOUR ALL ON THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE LAID?



        "I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[ by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."  (Romans 12:1 ESV). Now the Bible makes it plain that no one will ever get to heaven by his or her own efforts. Salvation is by the grace of God - His unmerited favor - "not of works lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).  But what about our lives after salvation?  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 3:3; 5:25).  The Word of God describes Christian  living as a walk of faith and a life of surrender to the will of God.  But sacrifice and surrender are terms that we seldom here about anymore in messages or church music.  But, as someone has said, He is either Lord of all, or not Lord at all. Full surrender affects all areas of one's life, including the checkbook, the calendar, entertainment choices, jobs and relationships. All of these need to be placed on the altar of sacrifice.  It is in full surrender to the will of God that we find true peace and joy, and fulfillment in life. That is the theme of this week's gospel song choice, written by American pastor Elisha Hoffman (1839-1929). Mr. Hoffman's first impressions of music came from hearing the voice of sacred song in his home. It was the custom of his parents in the hour of family worship, both morning and evening, to sing one or two hymns. At an early age, the children became familiar with these hymns and learned to love them and to feel their hallowing and refining power. Their lives were marvelously influenced by this little service of song in the home.  Hoffman wrote over two thousand songs, often writing both. the words and the music.   Among his most popular and useful songs are: "What a Wonderful Saviour!," "Enough for Me," "Are You Washed in the Blood?," "No Other Friend Like Jesus,"and  "I Must Tell Jesus".  In this particular song he reminds us that  "You can only be blest, and have peace and sweet rest as you yield Him your body and soul."  And so the question we need to ask daily is, have we placed our all on the altar of sacrifice.  Does He control both our body and soul?  Are we experiencing the real joy and peace that comes when we yield all to Him?

1.   You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.
Refrain:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

2.   Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.
Refrain

3.    Oh, we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.
Refrain

4.   Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made;
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid
Refrain.

Here are two choices for you to listen to: