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 30, 2012


Julia Harriet Johnston (1849-1919) was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister who served First Presbyterian Church for many years in Peoria, Ill. Julia became a Sunday school teacher and for 41 years was head of the infant class in the children's department.  In addition, for twenty years, Julia was president of the Presbyterian Missionary Society of Peoria which had been founded by her mother. Also a prolific author, she produced primary Sunday school lesson material for the David C. Cook Publishing Co. She also wrote about 500 hymn texts. Today her reputation as a hymn writer rests primarily upon the hymn "Grace Greater than Our Sin."  We don't know what led her to write the words to this week's choice, but her inspiration might have been 1 Timothy 2:6, "Christ Jesus…gave Himself as a ransom for all men."  The verses of the hymn trace the glorious story from the time that we were lost in sin and sadness, to his sacrifice to ransom us, to the point where we became trophies of his grace, and finally to the time when we will eternally join the hosts in singing to Him, the King of Love.  And our response should be "Hallelujah!  what a Saviour who can take a poor lost sinner and lift him from the miry clay and set us free!"  And if you've experienced this in your life you should also want to always tell the story, shouting Glory!  Glory! Glory!  I love this song of testimony and victory because I have personally experienced this.  Have you?  I hope that this be a constant reminder  to you throughout this week of  what Jesus has done for you.

1.    There's a sweet and blessed story
Of the Christ who came from glory,
Just to rescue me from sin and misery;
He in loving-kindness sought me,
And from sin and shame hath brought me,
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me. 
Hallelujah! what a Savior,
Who can take a poor, lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set me free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting glory, glory, glory,
Hallelujah! Jesus lifted me. 

2.   From the depth of sin and sadness
To the heights of joy and gladness
Jesus lifted me, in mercy full and free;
With His precious blood He bought me,
When I knew Him not, He sought me,
And in love divine He ransomed me. 
Hallelujah! what a Savior,
Who can take a poor, lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set me free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting glory, glory, glory,
Hallelujah! Jesus lifted me. 

3.   From the throne of heav'nly glory—
Oh, the sweet and blessed story!—
Jesus came to lift the lost in sin and woe
Into liberty all-glorious,
Trophies of His grace victorious,
Evermore rejoicing here below. 
Hallelujah! what a Savior,
Who can take a poor, lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set me free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting glory, glory, glory,
Hallelujah! Jesus lifted me. 

4.   By and by, with joy increasing,
And with gratitude unceasing,
Lifted up with Christ forevermore to be,
I will join the hosts there singing,
In the anthem ever ringing,
To the King of Love who ransomed me. 
Hallelujah! what a Savior,
Who can take a poor, lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set me free!
I will ever tell the story,
Shouting glory, glory, glory,
Hallelujah! Jesus lifted me. 

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, December 23, 2012


This Advent hymn is one of my favorites especially when it is sung a cappella. The hymn's origins may be traced back to the late 16th century in a manuscript found in St. Alban's Carthusian monastery in Trier in the original German, "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen." The original stanzas (sources list at least 19 and as many as 23) focused on the events of Luke 1 and 2 and Matthew 2.   There is some speculation about the origin of the image of the rose with some Catholic sources claiming the original focus was upon Mary.   It has been suggested that at a later date Protestants took the hymn, altering its focus from Mary to Jesus, citing Isaiah 11:1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.". Some controversy arose as to the original German word in the first line of stanza one: Was it "Ros" (rose) or "Reis" (branch)?   A passage from Isaiah 35:1 suggests a stronger biblical basis for the image: "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose."   Theodore Baker (1851-1934) provided the most commonly sung translation of stanzas one and two in 1894.  The third stanza is a slightly adapted version of a stanza written in German by Friedrich Layritz (1808-1859) and translated by Harried Reynolds Kraugh (1845-1925) in 1875. Layritz's final stanza expands the metaphor of the Rose image, adding fragrance. He then petitions the "Flower" to "dispel in glorious splendor the darkness everywhere." Of course, this is no ordinary flower and it represents Christ, the Light of the World.   And while we don't know in what season Christ was actually born, we do know that He came to a world that was cold and dark because of sin.  And He came to bring the glorious splendor of light and fragrance to people everywhere who would claim Him as Savior.  And that is the message shared through this hymn over the centuries.  Are you still living in the darkness and coldness of winter night or have you been transformed by what He has done for you?  That is the true importance of Christmas.

(1)   Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

(2)   Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God's love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

(3)   The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

(4)   This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

(5)   O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's best known writers, faced some difficult times during his life.  In 1861, his wife tragically died when her dress caught on fire in their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  That same year the Civil War broke out, tearing the nation apart.  Two years later, during some of the fiercest days of the conflict, Henry's seventeen year old son, Charley, ran away from home and boarded a train to join President Lincoln's army.  In June of 1863 Charley contracted typhoid fever and malaria and was sent home to recover.  By August he was well enough to return but on November 27, during the battle of New Hope Church, in Virginia, he was shot through the left shoulder.  The bullet nicked his spine and came close to paralyzing him.  Upon hearing the news, Longfellow rushed to Washington to be with his son.  Finding him well enough to travel, he brought him back home to Cambridge.  There he sat by his son's bedside, slowly nursing him back to health.  On Christmas Day Longfellow vented his feelings by penning the words of this week's carol which is best understood against the backdrop of the war.  Two verses are omitted from most hymnals because they speak of the cannons thundering in the South and the hated tearing apart "the hearthstones of a continent."  The author feels like dropping his head in despair but then he hears the Christmas bells and is reminded that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep."   And while the author was reflecting upon the times in which he lived, I believe the same can be said about the times in which we live.  Trouble, despair and even hatred can be seen all around and at times there seems to be no hope.  But God is not dead.  And while we will never see true peace and goodwill on earth until Christ returns, we can rest in the fact that God does provide personal peace to those who trust Him. And someday He will return and reign.  So as you see or hear the Christmas bells during this season, be reminded that we can know and obey the God who is the only perfect peace giver.

(1)   I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

(2)   I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

(3)   And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

(4)   Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

(5)   Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Listen to it being sung here.   LISTEN

Sunday, December 9, 2012


"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."  2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV.  In the weeks ahead we will hear and often meditate on the truth of the birth of Christ and what it should mean to us.  I is a marvelous story of the virgin birth of God's only Son who came to earth, was born and lived as a human, to become the sacrifice that would allow us to be reconciled to God.  And part of this amazing story is how the Son willingly left the glory and riches of heaven to come to this earth to be born in a lowly stable.  For our sakes He became poor that we might share in the riches of glory.  And having experienced this our hearts should cry out, "Jesus, Wonderful Lord!"  And that is the title and theme of this week's hymn which also happens to be one of my favorites.  When compared to most of the hymns that we share which were written centuries ago, this one is relatively "new".  It was penned by Paul White, in 1950.  But, unfortunately, that is all I know about this hymn.  I have not been able to find out anything about the author, let alone why it was written. If you have more information, please share it in a comment below. But the three verses do share about the life of Jesus from His birth to His death.  And it shares that He is not only our Redeemer, but also our friend.  And so as we begin the busy Christmas season I believe  this hymn is a fitting reminder of the riches we have because of Him.  May we never lose sight of this truth as we are drawn into all the activity that surrounds us during these holiday weeks.  Truly, Jesus is our Wonderful Lord!

(1)   Born among cattle, in poverty sore,
Living in meekness by Galilee's shore,
Dying in shame as the wicked ones swore:
Jesus, wonderful Lord!
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!
He is my friend, true to the end;
He gave Himself to redeem me--
Jesus, wonderful Lord!

(2)   Weary, yet He is the world's only rest,
Hungry and thirsty with plenty has blest,
Tempted He promises grace for each test:
Jesus, wonderful Lord!
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!
He is my friend, true to the end;
He gave Himself to redeem me--
Jesus, wonderful Lord!

(3)   Friend of the friendless, betrayed and denied,
Help of the weak, in Gethsemane cried,
Light of the world, in gross darkness He died:
Jesus, wonderful Lord!
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!
He is my friend, true to the end;
He gave Himself to redeem me--
Jesus, wonderful Lord!

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I love the Christmas season. But with all the presents to buy, parties to plan, and trees to decorate, the Christmas season seems to fly quickly by. And soon we will realize that Christmas has passed once again. And so often a feeling of sadness creeps in as we put the Christmas decorations away for another year. Yet Christmas gives us a reason to celebrate all year long. A Savior has been born! And because of that, we have a hope that no Christmas tree or party could ever give us. Through the familiar words of "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly," we can remember to rejoice, even after Christmas day has passed. For after recounting the story of Jesus' birth, the carol encourages us, "Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, Praises voicing, greet the morrow."  We need not let disappointment creep in after Christmas. Instead, we can keep rejoicing, free from sorrow, because our Savior has set us free from sin. And as the carol joyfully proclaims, "Christ, the Babe, was born for you!"  The carol is based on a traditional Polish Christmas carol which was translated to English by Edith M. G. Reed.  It is a very simple, short carol, but it conveys the special reminder that Christ did all this for us.  So as we enter another Christmas season may we daily personalize and celebrate this special message - Christ the Babe was born for you.

Infant holy, Infant lowly, for His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing, Christ the Babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing, noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the Babe was born for you.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Some of the great hymns of praise were written many centuries ago.  This week's hymn was actually written in 1680 and has been sung by believers all of these years.  It was written by Joachim Neander whose father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfatrher - all Joachim Neanders - had been preachers of the gospel.  How about that for an amazing heritage!  It is said that Joachim, the hymn writer, was rather wild and rebellious growing up.  At the age of 20 he and a group of students entered a church to ridicule and scoff at the worshippers.  But instead he was convicted by the sermon and that led to his conversion.  And a few years later he actually became the assistant preacher of that very same church.  It is said that he enjoyed taking long walks near his home in Hochdal, Germany.  And on these walks he would worship and often would compose hymns which he sang to the Lord while he strolled.  He is known as the first hymn writer from the Calvinist branch of Protestantism.  Unfortunately he battled tuberculosis and died when he was only 30 years old.  But shortly before he died he penned the words of this week's hymn selection.  An interesting sidelight is the fact that one of his walking spots was a beautiful gorge a few miles from Dusseldorf.  He loved this spot so much and eventually it was actually named for him - Neander Valley.  Two hundred years later, in 1856, miners discovered caves in this valley that contained human bones.  Later these bones were thought to be proof of evolution's famous "missing link" and they were called the Neanderthal fossils.  It is sad that his name would become world famous for human evolution, a concept that he would have rejected.  Today praise choruses have replaced many of the great old hymns of the faith in our worship services.  But that doesn't replace the profound message of this hymn that He is the King of creation and He wondrously reigneth. He is our health and salvation and He shelters us under His wings.  And, appropriately, the last phrase should be our challenge this week - "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do if with His love He befriend you."

(1)    Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, 
the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

(2)     Praise to the Lord, who over all things 
so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

(3)   Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!

All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

(4)    Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work 

and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Listen to this hymn being sung here.   LISTEN

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Our beautiful maple tree - taken this week

For the beauty of the earth, 
for the glory of the skies, 
for the love which from our birth 
over and around us lies; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour 
of the day and of the night, 
hill and vale, and tree and flower, 
sun and moon, and stars of light; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good"  Psalm 107:1

Thanks for visiting this blog.  Our weekly hymns will resume on Sunday.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


It used to be that Thanksgiving Day would not be complete without the singing of this traditional Dutch Hymn.  In the United States, it was popularly associated with Thanksgiving Day and was often sung at family meals and at religious services on that day. It was sung as an expression of thanks to God as our defender and guide throughout the past year. However, "We Gather Together" must be understood and appreciated from its historical setting.The text was originally written by an anonymous author, at the end of the sixteenth century, to celebrate the Dutch freedom from the Spanish overlords, who had been driven from their land, and the freedom that was theirs, both politically from Spain and religiously from the Catholic Church.  A number of Dutch nationalistic songs developed as a result of this patriotic emphasis and this hymn is generally considered to be the finest of these musical expressions. "We Gather Together" resonated because under the Spanish King, Dutch Protestants were forbidden to gather for worship. You can readily see the references to these historical events throughout the hymn's text: "The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing," "so from the beginning the fight we were winning," as well as the concern, in the final stanza, that God will continue to defend – "and we pray that Thou still our defender will be." It was first published in 1626 and for the next two centuries the singing of this hymn was limited to the Dutch people. The English translation of this text was made in 1893 by Theodore Baker a highly respected music researcher. "We Gather Together's" first appearance in an American hymnal was in 1903. It had retained popularity among the Dutch, and when the Dutch Reformed Church in North America decided, in 1937, to abandon the policy that they had brought with them to the New World in the 17th century of singing only psalms and add hymns to the church service, "We Gather Together" was chosen as the first hymn in the first hymnal.  But while the Dutch have an historical reason for singing it, the words are still appropriate for us today.  Our religious liberties may be challenged, but we still have the freedom to gather and bring our petitions to the Lord who will continue to be our Defender.  Praise God that He will not abandon His children.  Sing praises to His Name.

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Listen to it here.  LISTEN

Sunday, November 11, 2012


One of the best know hymn writers in history was Fanny Crosby (1820 - 1915).  Despite her blindness she made a major impact on the worship of evangelicals through her music.  By the end of the 19th century, she was "a household name" and "one of the most prominent figures in American evangelical life". Crosby was "the premier hymnist of the gospel song period", and one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000, with over 100 million copies of her songs printed.  And you and I have sung many of these great hymns over and over for years.  However, one of her most profound  hymns is one that very few people have ever heard or sung.  And the hymn that I am speaking about is this week's choice, "Be Thou Exalted".  Part of the reason that this hymn is not well known might be the actual music which was composed by Alfred Smith.  It is a tricky rhythm with the verses in 9/8 time and the chorus in 12/8 time.  The theme may be based on Psalm 97:9, "For Thou, Lord, art high above all the earth.  Thou art exalted for above all gods." The three verses share the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, some of their attributes, and what each should mean to us.  So often in our daily lives we tend to exalt so many less important things, such as our jobs, our possessions, our successes, our ministries, and even our family.  We need instead to worship and exalt the triune God of eternity which alone is worthy of our praise.  And as you read the words this week may you join in singing "Thine be the glory forever Amen!".  Since I have not been able to locate a video of this being sung, I am linking to a great video of it being played by harps.  Hopefully you will be able to associate the words with the music as you worship this week.

(1)    Be Thou exalted, forever and ever,
God of eternity, Ancient of Days!
Wondrous in majesty, perfect in wisdom,
Glorious in holiness, and worthy of praise.
Be Thou exalted by seraphs and angels,
Be Thou exalted with harp and with song;
Saints in their anthems of rapture adore Thee,
Thine be the glory forever Amen!

(2)  Be Thou exalted, O Son of the Highest!
Gracious Redeemer, our Savior and King!
One with the Father, coequal in glory,
Here at Thy footstool our homage we bring.
Be Thou exalted by seraphs and angels,
Be Thou exalted with harp and with song;
Saints in their anthems of rapture adore Thee,
Thine be the glory forever Amen!

(3)  Be Thou exalted, O Spirit eternal!
Dwell in our hearts, keep us holy within;
Feed us each day with Thy Heavenly Manna
"Healer of wounded hearts" Thy praises we sing.
Be Thou exalted by seraphs and angels,
Be Thou exalted with harp and with song;
Saints in their anthems of rapture adore Thee,
Thine be the glory forever Amen!

Listen to it being sung here.   LISTEN 1
Listen to a beautiful rendition played by a harp choir.  LISTEN

Sunday, November 4, 2012


While preparing for last Friday's hymn sing at the Pinebrook Bible Conference I was searching for hymns about the name of Jesus.  The theme of the sing was "That Beautiful Name".  I was actually surprised at how many familiar hymns I found.  However one that I wanted to use was this week's choice and I was unable to find it in any of the hymnbooks that I have.  I know that my wife and I used to sing it as a duet, but I was surprised that it wasn't part of my books.  So maybe it is new to you.  Hopefully you will appreciate the words and the praise they give to Jesus.  The hymn writer was Oscar C. Eliason (1902 - 1985), a Swedish American clergyman, who served as a pastor and evangelist in the Assemblies of God. He was a prolific poet and composer who composed over 50 hymns and gospel songs.  Eliason and his brother Paul were diagnosed with tuberculosis which resulted in their hospitalization at a sanatorium in Minneapolis. After the death of Paul in 1929 and the collapse of Eliason's right lung, Oscar was "very depressed and discouraged". After reading accounts of healing in the Pentecostal Evangel, Eliason requested prayer and he credits his healing from tuberculosis to the prayers of a visiting Presbyterian minister in 1964.  He wrote this hymn in 1946 and it was purchased by Haldor Lillenas for $400. It was published in several Nazarene song books and hymnals. Cliff Barrows and the Billy Graham Crusade Choir sang it at a Billy Graham crusade in Minneapolis which was attended by Eliason. It was a thrill for him to hear his hymn sung by the huge choir.  The words speak for themselves and should be the testimony of each believer.  Or names are important to us and we all love to hear our names shared in a positive way.  Unfortunately, here on earth the name of Jesus is just a curse word to so many.  But when we have a personal encounter with Him, His name and work should stir our hearts like nothing else.  Can we say that no other name means so much to us.  Meditate on these words this week.  Are they your testimony?

(1)   I've learned to know a name I highly treasure.
O how it thrills my spirit thro' and thro'!
O precious name, beyond degree or measure,
My heart is stirred whene'er I think of You!
My heart is stirred whene'er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free --
The only name thro' which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

(2)   That name brings gladness to a soul in sorrow.
It makes life's shadows and its clouds depart --
Brings strength in weakness for today, tomorrow,
That name brings healing to an aching heart.
My heart is stirred whene'er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free --
The only name thro' which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

(3)   That name still lives and will live on forever,
While kings and kingdoms will forgotten be.
Thro' mist or rain, 'twill be beclouded never.
That name shall shine and shine eternally.
My heart is stirred whene'er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free --
The only name thro' which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

Listen to it being sung here.  LISTEN