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, 2011


Please accept my wishes for a beautiful and memorable Christmas. For this week I decided to choose the beautiful simple message of Away In A Manger. 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) where it simply bore the title "Away in a Manger" and was set to a tune called "St. Kilda," credited to 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) it bears 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 spurious attribution to Luther is that the 400th anniversary of his birth was in 1883. The words were either based on a poem written for this anniversary or were credited to Luther as a clever marketing gimmick.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"), thus these words are probably by Gabriel. Gabriel credited the entire text to Luther and gave it the title "Cradle Song." This verse is sometimes attributed to Dr. John McFarland, but since the popular story dates his contribution to 1904 (postdating the 1892 printing by 12 years), his contribution is highly questionable". But no matter who actually wrote it, it has been part of most Christmas celebrations for many years. And just a reminder, the Babe born in the manger was the same Son of God who later hung on the cross for the payment of mankind's sins. And if you have never accepted Him as your personal Savior, the message of Christmas has not yet changed your life. Accepting Him today would be the greatest Christmas gift.

(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. LISTEN

Sunday, December 18, 2011


One of the things I most appreciate about the Christmas season is the beautiful music that we hear during this time. One of my very favorites is "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing". It is one of more than 6,500 hymns written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church. Written in 1739, it is generally thought to be one of Wesley's finest and John Julian, noted hymnologist, considered this one of the four most popular hymns in the English language. A sombre man, Wesley requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was sung to a different tune initially. Over a hundred years later, in 1840, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn's music to fit the lyrics of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" already written by Wesley. In its original version the text consisted of ten four-line stanzas. There have been many alterations made over the years to the words but the present version is still basically the product of Charles Wesley. The text is really a condensed course in biblical doctrine in poetic form. The first stanza tells of the angels appearing to the shepherds and the following verses teach such spiritual truths as the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the immoratality of the soul, the second birth and a concern for Christ like living. It is interesting to note that in 1627 the English Puritan parliament abolished the celebration of Christmas and all other "wordly festivals". During the remainder of the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century there was a scarcity of carol hymns in England. So this hymn is one of the relatively few important carol hymns to have been written during this time. I have included the most commonly found verses below, although in practice today most just sing the first three, or variations of those three. So as part of your Christmas celebration, join in singing this great carol.

(1) Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(2) Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(3) Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(4) Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman's conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.
Adam's likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Listen to it here. LISTEN

Sunday, December 11, 2011


As we enter the Christmas season, I've actually chosen a sad traditional carol for this week. Future weeks will feature some which are more joyful. I promise. When I was in fifth grade we were taught this week's choice. We sang it as part of our school-wide Christmas program. My how times have changed. Unfortunately, today it would not be politically correct to teach this and use it in an assembly. But that sad change is not the topic of this blog. Looking back I doubt that when I learned it that I really understood at all what is was speaking about. The background is from the scripture found in Matthew 2: 16-18, "Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." So while we sing it at Christmas, it really relates to a time after the birth of Christ, a sad time when Herod ordered the death of all children who were two or under. What a tragic time for mothers. Mothers had carried their child in their womb for nine months, lived through the pain of child birth, and then nursed and raised their little son to the point where he was beginning to walk and talk. Then they were taken away and killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. But as sad as it is, it does remind us that God did miraculously protect His Son who later would be the lamb slain for the salvation of mankind. The "Coventry Carol" actually dates from the 16th century where it was performed in Coventry, England, as a play called "The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors". It is the only carol that has survived from this play. The oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known printing of the melody dates from 1591. The carol is traditionally sung a cappella. Now maybe in the midst of the joyful Christmas season I should not have chosen this sad hymn. But it still is a part, though a sad part, of the Christmas season and the story of the miracle of Christmas.

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor Youngling for Whom we sing
By, by, lully, lullay?

Herod the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever morn and day
For Thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

You can listen to it here. LISTEN

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Do you ever get discouraged as you read the daily newspaper and listen to the news on the radio or television? If you don't you are fortunate. At times it seems like the world around us is crumbling. And in one sense it is. The news is full of wars, riots, terrorism, economic downturns, storms, violence, congressional gridlock, political correctness, and anti-Christian decisions. Is anybody in charge? For the Christian, the answer to that is simple. Yes. This is our Father's world. He created it and He has a plan for the future. And in that knowledge we can rest no matter what happens around us. Often when I am troubled and concerned I find that a good walk clears my mind and recharges me. Such was probably the case with the author of this week's choice. Maltbie Davenport Babcock, a minister from New York took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook's panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario. He would tell his wife that he was "going out to see the Father's world". Shortly after his death in 1901, at the age of 42, she published a compilation of Babcock's writings entitled Thoughts for Every-Day Living that contained the poem "My Father's World." The original poem contained sixteen stanzas of four lines each. The poem was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard, who apparently did not want to call attention to himself and signed using his initials rearranged as "S.F.L." Most sources state that Sheppard adapted the music from a traditional English melody. In this week's hymn, we are reminded of one of the most basic truths, "This is my Father's world." Such simple words, yet how much we need to be reminded of them! In these details - "rocks and trees ... skies and seas", so masterfully created by God, we see a visual reminder that He still holds the world in his hands. As the hymn writer so aptly put it, "O let us not forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet."

(1) This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

(2) This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

(3) This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav'n be one.

(4) This is my Father's world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, "The Lord is in this place."
This is my Father's world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

(5) This is my Father's world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father's world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

(6) This is my Father's world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father's world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate'er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Listen to it being sung here. LISTEN