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, April 14, 2024

HE LOVED ME

            "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

              As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

          Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

              For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

          Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  

Romans 8:35-39


          Tom Fettke and Doug Holck used these powerful scriptures to write this week's hymn concerning God's power to choose, redeem, and keep us from the power of Satan. Nothing can separate us from Him. Victory is ours through Him. No creature can take us or our victory away.

          Born in 1941, for many years Fettke taught vocal music in California's public school systems. He served as church choir director and minister of music in churches large and small for over thirty years. While at the Redwood Christian School System in Castro Valley, California, Mr. Fettke held the positions Director of Choral Activities and Supervisor of Music.  He was the senior editor of The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration and the senior editor of The Celebration Hymnal.

           Music dominated his life since he was five years old. His parents sacrificed mightily to provide him with training in the arts which included voice and piano lessons, drama lessons and even ballet lessons. His interest in the arts did not waver as he continued to mature. An interest in choral music came early in his development. 

          He began attending a small church as a result of the missionary outreach of his next-door neighbor. Because the church consisted of a small number of followers, he was privileged to participate in church musical activities at a much earlier age then is probably normal. The Youth for Christ movement, most noted for their Saturday Night Youth Rallies, was the most influential experience of his young life. These rallies were loaded with musical opportunities and were a catalyst for putting his music performing as well as writing gifts to work.

          He began church choir directing when he was 19.  At 31 years of age he had the opportunity to show his compositions to a publisher. All three of the ones he submitted were accepted. Since then, many of his works, like this one, have been used to encourage folks around the world. He has published over 800 compositions and arrangements (some under the pseudonyms Robert F. Douglas and David J. Allen) and produced a number of recordings.

          May this hymn encourage you this week to put your complete trust in the One who has chosen you and will protect you with the love of God, for eternity.

 

He chose me before the world was known.
He chose me to be His very own

He made me, then let me choose my way.  

I chose to move away.

 

He loved me when hope had taken wing

He loved me when I lost everything

He bought me redemption’s work was done 
thro’ Jesus Christ His Son

 

Who shall separate me from the love of God 
shall dreams of tomorrow

Pain or sorrow 
can the need of food

or earthly possessions, 
the threat of war or man’s oppression?

In all these things

Vict’ry is our reward,

Vict’ry is our reward through Jesus Christ our Lord

 

Of this I am sure 
that neither death, nor life.
 nor angels nor principalities

Nor powers, nor things present 
nor things to come

Not height, nor depth,

Nor any creature 
shall separate me from the love of God
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Listen here    CHOSEN

 




Sunday, April 7, 2024

HE GIVETH MORE GRACE

Once a month I take time to share one of my favorite hymns.  This month I have chosen He Giveth More Grace which has been a personal favorite of mine for many years.

 

            It seems that sometimes problems come in waves and they seem to overwhelm us. And recently it seems like there have been many waves of problems for many of our friends. Some have been family related, some health related, some job related and some others just unusual situations. But in this life, problems are to be expected. Yet sometimes out of problems come times of great encouragement.

           Annie Johnson Flint (1866 - 1932) lost both of her parents before she was six years old. She was adopted by a childless couple and then as a teen became afflicted with arthritis. Later she became unable to walk. She had wanted to be a composer and concert pianist, but her illness deprived her of the ability to play the piano. So, she began to write poetry. Later in life, being unable to open her hands, she wrote many of her poems on the typewriter, using her knuckles. 

          And out of these trials and problems came this great hymn which has helped so many folks over the years. It might have been based on 2 Corinthians 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me". 

          I imagine that the words also were Flint's testimony of God's provision of peace as she faced so many difficult challenges throughout her life. Have you experienced the same?  Remember, "His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again." Over the years this has become one of my favorites because I have found it so true.  I have found his grace sufficient, over and over.  This is my testimony.

          When our family used to minister in various churches this hymn was one of our favorite hymns to sing as a family. The first two verses are very familiar to me, but I must admit that I've never heard the third verse. 

          Maybe this reminder of God's grace and provision in hard times is something that you need today. Meditate and sing the following words as you trust the Lord for what He will provide for you.

 

(1)    He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

Chorus: His love has no limits,

His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 

(2)    When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Chorus: His love has no limits,

His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 

(3)    Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,

Our God ever yearns His resources to share;

Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;

The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

Chorus: His love has no limits,

His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 

Listen to it here. 
HE GIVETH 1

Here is an interesting A Capella version



Sunday, March 31, 2024

PRISE YE THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY

          There are many beautiful and meaningful Easter hymns that have been written, some in recent years, and many others centuries ago.  I recently found one that I had never heard before that date back to about 1709.  It has an interesting history.
          Samuel Wesley, Sr. was a poor and unpopular Anglican pastor in tiny Epworth, England.  It upset him that his wife's kitchen Bible studies were more popular than his sermons.  Though they really loved each other, Susanna is said to have said, "It is a misfortune to our family that he and I seldom think alike."
          Some of the citizens of Epworth found Samuel hard to get along with and they often expressed their feelings in difficult ways.  His crops were burned, his livestock maimed and, on February 9, 1709, his house was set on fire.  Susanna was awakened by sparks falling on her bed.  Samuel cried "Fire! Fire!". But the thatched roof caught fire and spread rapidly. The parents raced to free their trapped children.  Almost all were able to escape.
          But then someone saw five-year-old John's terrified face pressed against a window upstairs.  Instantly they formed a human ladder and he was rescued just before the wall caved.  They never forgot the amazing rescue.
          Among the things that perished that night was the manuscript of Samuel's compositions.  He often found relief in penning devotional poetry and hymns.  He had hoped this would help meet the family's financial needs.  But that night all his work was lost.
          But somehow one of his hymns was rescued. This is the only known surviving hymn by the father of the famous Wesley brothers. It became the forerunner of the many famous hymns that later were written by Samuel's son, Charles.
          Samuel's hymn tells of another preacher with whom Samuel identified, One who was likewise ridiculed and attacked.  It shares the agony of Christ on the Cross and the amazing love of the Savior.

1 Behold the Savior of mankind
Nailed to the shameful tree!
How vast the love that Him inclined
To bleed and die for thee!

2 Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
And earth's strong pillars bend!
The temple's veil in sunder breaks;
The solid marbles rend.

3 'Tis done! the precious ransom's paid!
"Receive my soul!" He cries;
See where He bows His sacred head!
He bows His head and dies!

4 But soon He'll break death's envious chain,
And in full glory shine;
O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
Was ever love, like Thine?

Amen.

Listen to if here.    SAVIOR



Sunday, March 24, 2024

PRECIOUS HIDING PLACE (TH)


TIMELESS HYMNS - A regular feature in which I choose a previous hymn blog, revise it and post it again.  This one was first posted in 2013
         

          When we accept the free gift of salvation, not only do we receive eternal life and the assurance of heaven, but we receive so much more as well.  One of the blessings that is ours is the assurance of the Lord's presence in our daily lives.  He gives us divine guidance and He becomes our rock and our hiding place when the storms of life surround us.  He shelters us no matter how dark the night may be around us - He is our precious hiding place.  
          And we are reminded of that truth in this week's hymn choice which was written by Avis M. Christiansen in 1918.  Encouraged by her grandmother, a godly woman who "loved the music of the soul expressed in verse", Avis wrote her first poem at the age of ten.  Then one morning in Moody Church, as she listened to a song by Harry Loes, the Lord reminded her that the talent entrusted to her belonged to Him.  Her immediate longing to express His love and blessing was the start of her writing poems that were turned into hymns.  
          This one was set to music by Wendell Loveless who himself wrote many Gospel hymns and choruses and also provided the music for many written by others.  
          In 1917, Avis married Ernest C. Christiansen, who later became vice president in charge of investments for the Moody Bible Institute. In spite of fulfilling the many duties of a busy homemaker, she continued to write with unfailing zeal.  Author and Bible teacher Harry A. Ironside wrote:  "Avis B. Christiansen is the gifted author of many of our sweetest gospel songs. By means of these her name is known around the world, for many of these delightful lyrics have been translated into various languages. She is a modest, retiring person whom few get to know beyond the circle of her immediate family and friends. With a very keen apprehension of spiritual realities, and a clear understanding of the great truths revealed in the Word of God, her hymns and poems are eminently Scriptural and soul-uplifting."  
          Now I don't know what you may be facing today, but meditate upon the words of this hymn knowing that He will protect you in the shelter of His love.  "Precious hiding place - not a doubt or fear, since my Lord is near, and I'm sheltered in His love".  May you claim that truth this week as you encounter the challenges of life that will come your way.

 

 

(1)    I was straying when Christ found me

In the night so dark and cold;

Tenderly His arm went round me,

And He bore me to His fold.

Precious hiding place,

Precious hiding place,

In the shelter of His love;

Not a doubt or fear,

Since my Lord is near,

And I'm sheltered in His love.

 

(2)    With His nail-scarred hand He bro't me

To the shelter of His love;

Of His grace and will He taught me,

And of heav'nly rest above.

Precious hiding place,

Precious hiding place,

In the shelter of His love;

Not a doubt or fear,

Since my Lord is near,

And I'm sheltered in His love.

 

(3)    Tho' the night be dark around me,

I am safe, for He is near;

Never shall my foes confound me,

While the Savior's voice I hear.

Precious hiding place,

Precious hiding place,

In the shelter of His love;

Not a doubt or fear,

Since my Lord is near,

And I'm sheltered in His love.

 

You can listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, March 17, 2024

OPEN OUR EYES

          Being blind physically must be one of the most difficult handicaps that some must live with.  So many of normal life activities are very difficult or even impossible without sight.  And, in most cases, there is no way to restore your sight.  And yet many people have successfully lived though being blind physically. I think of someone like Fanny Crosby whose music has ministered to multitudes over the years.
          But there is a more serious blindness – spiritual blindness.  It's a condition everyone is born with.  But there is a cure.  God has provided a free cure. 
Psalm 119:18, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
          
With our eyes opened, we see in God's Word the living God who graciously reveals himself to us. We learn how to live the way God intends for us. We ultimately find the "wonderful things" of God's grace and mercy—above all, in God's gift of Jesus—and we live in gratitude for all he has done for us.
          Now 
every speaker has times when he/she feels like he/she is speaking to a brick wall. Youth speakers might experience this more than most other speakers.  How can God possibly get to a group of people when their eyes and ears are closed? Robert Cull felt that way when he was speaking to a group of young people in a Christian school in Hawaii. As long as he was entertaining them, it was okay.  But when he started drawing them to Jesus Christ, he lost them.
          
Bob felt defeated and wondered if it was hopeless. That's when God seemed to encouraged him to write a prayer song to "reach closed-hearted people". After praying about it for half an hour, he says, "the song, like an answer to my prayer, fell into my head".  Since that time, this song has been translated and recorded in dozens of languages. The song was copyrighted in 1976 and published by Maranatha! Music. 
           The song is really a prayer that we could sing and recite daily.  Remember
Psalm 119:18, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.

Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.

Listen to it here.  EYES

 



Sunday, March 10, 2024

FATHER, WHATE'ER OF EARTHLY BLISS

          The Lord has oftened used the sufferings and difficult experiences of his children to encourage others, often through the music which they compose.  Such was the case with Anne Steele (1717-1778), the daughter of a Baptist preacher and timber merchant, William Steele.
          Steele faced many challenges.  She lost her mother at age 3, a potential suitor who drowned at age 20, her step mom at 43 and her sister-in-law at 45.  She spent many years caring for her father until his death in 1769. She suffered a severe hip injury. For most of her life she also exhibited symptoms of malaria, including persistent pain, fever, headaches and stomach aches.  She was bed ridden for some years before her death.
          Out of her suffering, she began writing devotional material and her ministry along side her dad to his congregation blossomed. In her mid-forties, she submitted her. Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional for publication.  Of this work her father said "I pray God to make it useful and keep her humble."
          So many of his poems were converted to hymns that Anne is remembered as one of the foremost women hymnists of the eighteenth century.
          This week's hymn choice is an interesting prayer of hers.  She asks for a calm and thankful heart and God's presence on her journey here below.
          When the hour of her journey's end finally came, she welcomed its arrival, and though her feeble body was excruciated with pain, her mind was perfectly serene. She took the most affectionate leave of her weeping friends around her, and at length, the happy moment of her dismission arising, she closed her eyes, and with these animating words on her dying lips, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," gently fell asleep in Jesus.

1    Father, whate’er of earthly bliss
Thy sov'reign will denies,
Accepted at Thy throne of grace,
Let this petition rise.

2    Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From every murmur free;
The blessing of Thy grace impart,
And let me live to Thee

 

3    Let the sweet hope that Thou art mine

My life and death attend;

Thy presence thro' my journey shine,
And crown my journey’s end.

The music can be heard here.   CALM

 


Sunday, March 3, 2024

BLESSED ASSURANCE

Once a month I take time to share one of my favorite hymns.  This month I have chosen Blessed Assurance which has been a personal favorite of mine for many years.

 

          How could I not pick hymns by Fanny Crosby among my favorites? All of us have enjoyed and have been touched by the many words written by the great blind hymn writer. 

          The themes for her hymns were often suggested by visiting ministers who wished to have a new song on a particular subject. It is amazing that, especially for a blind person, someone could write on this variety of spiritual truths and experiences with such proliferation. And with such speed.

          For a considerable period of her life, while under contract to a music publisher, she wrote three new hymns each week. She used over 200 pen names. Many of her original texts are still being uncovered and perhaps might be found and published in the future. 

          About 500 of her hymns were accompanied by the music of an amateur musician, Mrs. Phoebe Knapp, the wife of the second president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. She attended the same church as Fanny and kept a pipe organ in her apartment to help her compose. One day Fanny was visiting her friend Phoebe as the Knapp home was having the large pipe organ installed. The organ was incomplete so, using the piano, Phoebe played a new melody she had just composed. "What do you think the tune says?" she asked. "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine", answered Fanny Crosby. And with that inspiration, Fanny penned the words of this great hymn of testimony which is still being sung today in many churches. 

          And what a powerful message it contains. We have the assurance that Jesus is ours and His praise should be on our lips all day long. I also marvel at how a blind person can talk about sight as she does with the phrase "Visions of rapture now burst on my sight." Then later she says that she is "watching and waiting, and looking above". Then she ends with the testimony "filled with His goodness, lost in His love". 

          There isn't too much that we can count on today in this changing world. But, what a joy to have this blessed assurance in your life, that Jesus, your Savior, is yours for eternity.  Is this your story?  Is this your song?  May your heart be filled with His praises all the day long.

 

(1)   Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long.

 

(2)   Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;

Angels descending bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long.

 

(3).  Perfect submission, all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blest,

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior, all the day long.

 

Listen to it here.  LISTEN

 


Sunday, February 25, 2024

WORK FOR THE NIGHT IS COMING (TH)

 TIMELESS HYMNS - A regular feature in which I choose a previous hymn blog, revise it and post it again.  This one was first posted in 2014. 

          I clearly remember a few years ago sitting with some couples who were several years older than I was.  They were talking about retirement and how they had also retired from all their responsibilities at church.  They said that it was time to step aside and let somebody else do it.  I was really taken back by this discussion and while I just listened, I thought how can one retire from serving the Lord, especially when there are so many opportunities and needs all around us.    
          Now I realize that as one gets older there are some things that become more difficult to do, especially with physical changes.  But one can adjust and find ways to use the gifts that God has given.  And retirement does provide more time to serve the Lord.  Retirement in the Lord's work should not be an option.  Readjustment may be a better choice.  
          Unfortunately, while I have been talking about older folks, the very same problem exists with others who are much younger.  All sorts of things attract us and take us away from serving the Lord.   Boats, cabins, races, sports, vacations, family, hobbies take us away from serving and worshipping on Sunday.  Jobs, activities, recreation, hobbies limit our availability to serve during the week.  More and more we have to hire professionals to cover areas of service and outreach once done by volunteers.  Maybe we need to memorize and daily quote John 9:4, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work."  But do we really believe that.
            Is the night coming soon?  I think so.  It may have been that verse that was behind the writing of this week's hymn, "We'll Work Till Jesus Comes". Sometimes dated 1829, the text was written by an unknown author. In many books the song appears as "Anonymous." Some authorities believe that it is from the American folk tradition. 
          In other books, it is attributed to Mrs. Elizabeth King Mills (1805-1829). The daughter of Philip King, she married Thomas Mills, who was a Member of Parliament. No other information about her is available, except that she was a poet who produced what was once a well known hymn, "We Speak of the Realms of the Blest."  But no matter who wrote it, this hymn reminds us of the urgency of serving, while we still can. 
          The stanzas share the story of the Christian's pilgrimage from earth to heaven. In stanza 1 we are told that heaven is a land of rest for which we sigh. In stanza 2 we are told that in contrast this earth is not our home.  In stanza 3 we are told that, therefore, we must flee to Jesus Christ for our rest.  In stanza 4 we are told that Christ will help us through death.  In stanza 5 we are told that finally our tears shall be wiped away.  But the refrain sounds out the commitment, we'll work till Jesus comes ... and we'll be gathered home! 
           Have you "retired" from serving the Lord faithfully?  Maybe this week we need to renew our commitment to serve and share the Gospel with the many that need the good news.  The night is rapidly approaching when we can work no more.

 

(1)    O land of rest, for thee I sigh!

When will the moment come

When I shall lay my armor by

And dwell in peace at home?

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

And we'll be gathered home.

 

(2)"No tranquil joys on earth I know, 

No peaceful, sheltering dome.

This world's a wilderness I know; 

This world is not my home."

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

And we'll be gathered home.

 

(3)   To Jesus Christ I fled for rest;

He bade me cease to roam,

And lean for comfort on His breast

Till He conduct me home.

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

And we'll be gathered home.

 

(4)    I sought at once my Savior's side;

No more my steps shall roam.

With Him I'll brave death's chilling tide

And reach my heav'nly home.

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

And we'll be gathered home.

 

(5)    Our tears shall all be wiped away, 

When we have ceased to roam;

And we shall hear our Father say, 

'Come, dwell with Me at home.'"

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

We'll work till Jesus comes,

And we'll be gathered home.

 

Listen to it being sung here.   LISTEN

 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

GOD IS THE REFUGE OF HIS SAINTS

          Isaac Watts was truly one of the great hymn writers of all time.  He is said to have written over 600 hymns, 52 other works, including a book of logic used widely in universities, and on grammar, astronomy, philosophy and geography.  But in addition to his scholarly books, he wrote most of his hymns in his early twenties. 
          In 1739 he suffered a stroke that left him able to speak but unable to write.  A secretary was provided to transcribe his dictated poems and books.  But over the years he became increasingly weak and eventually bedridden.   He died in 1748.
          Apparently, he was not a very handsome man.  Standing five feet fall, he had an outsized head and a prominent nose.  His skin was tallowy.  One woman, Elizabeth Singer, having never met him face-to-face, fell in love with him through his hymns and poems.  But when she met him she was unsettled.   He fell in love with her but she couldn't bring herself to marry him.  Later she said "I only wish I could admire the casket (Jewelry box) as much as I admire the jewel."
          And, unfortunately that was the end of that brief romance.
          This particular hymn was one of the first written by Watts.  It was inspired by Psalm 46.  "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." Psalm 46:7
          God is our refuge, 
our safe place, our retreat, the place we go when we are afraid. And there is a lot of fear going around today. God is also our strength or "power." This is the same word that Jesus uses in in Acts 1:8 when he promises to give us "power" with the coming of the Holy Spirit who now lives within us.
          
But in the midst of these anxieties, we are reminded that we have the strong refuge, our loving God as we read Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Here God is presented as a refuge and fortress for His people in a time of earthly upheaval.

           Centuries may have passed but God is still the refuge of His saints. He provides sweet peace and new strength to fainting souls.

           Dear saint may He be your refuge today.

 Listen to it here.   REFUGE

 

God is the refuge of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade;
Ere we can offer our complaints,
Behold Him present with His aid.


Let mountains from their seats be hurled
Down to the deep, and buried there;
Convulsions shake the solid world:
Our faith shall never yield to fear.

Loud may the troubled ocean roar;
In sacred peace our souls abide;
While every nation, every shore,
Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide.

There is a stream, whose gentle flow
Supplies the city of our God,
Life, love, and joy, still guiding through,
And wat'ring our divine abode.

That sacred stream-Thy holy Word-
That all our raging fear controls;
Sweet peace Thy promises afford,
And give new strength to fainting souls.

Zion enjoys her Monarch's love,
Secure against a threatening hour;
Nor can her firm foundations move,
Built on His truth, and armed with power.