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, November 30, 2014


          "Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His holy Name." Psalm 30:4.   We should never forget that we need to sing hymns of glory and honor in which we tell our Maker, "We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer."  Unfortunately, I don't think that we are naturally thankful people.  At an early age we need to train our children to say "thank you" because it isn't natural for them to do that.  Often we need to set aside special times to force us to be thankful.  I think it is great that today many make October a month where we are to do things to thank our clergy.  N ow that is great, but why do we not do this regularly throughout the year.  And then there is Thanksgiving, a time when we are reminded to give thanks for all that we have, even though giving thanks should be our normal reaction throughout each day.  Sometimes our hymns help us to remember to do so. A hymn which gives praise to our Redeemer whose name is the Lord of Hosts is "We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer."  The text was written by Julia Bulkley Cady Cory (1882 - 1963), the daughter of architect J. Cleveland Cady.  Her father was also a Sunday school superintendent and, partly because of his influence, Julia began to write hymns at an early age. She and her family belonged to the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City.   Due to the popularity of the 1626 hymn "We Gather Together" which was often sung at Thanksgiving services, J. Archer Gibson, the music director at the Brick Presbyterian Church, asked Julia in 1882 to compose some new lyrics for the tune which is used with that song. After struggling for two weeks, Julia produced three stanzas.  "Kremser," a Dutch melody arranged by Edward Kremser in 1877, was used as the music for both hymns. The first public performance of her new hymn was the next Thanksgiving Day.  A month later, the author's father wished to use the hymn for a service on Christmas at the Church of the Covenant, also in New York City, so he asked his daughter to add a fourth stanza. She married Robert Haskell Cory in 1911 and raised 3 sons and they had 15 grandchildren.  Some still erroneously say that her hymn was written by an unknown author and was just translated by Julia Cory, but evidence disproves this theory.  In her three stanzas she praises God as our Creator, as the God of our Fathers, and as our Guide.  She concludes the third verse with the powerful proclamation "To Thee, our great Redeemer, forever be praise."  May this be the song and proclamation of our heart, not only during this season, but throughout the year ahead.  We serve a great God who deserves our daily adoration and thanksgiving.

1.     We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator,
In grateful devotion our tribute we bring;
We lay it before Thee, we kneel and adore Thee,
We bless Thy holy Name, glad praises we sing.

2.     We worship Thee, God of our fathers, we bless Thee;
Through life's storm and tempest our guide have Thou been;
When perils overtake us, escape Thou will make us,
And with Thy help, O Lord, our battles we win.

3.     With voices united our praises we offer,
To Thee, great Jehovah, glad anthems we raise.
Thy strong arm will guide us, our God is beside us,
To Thee, our great Redeemer, forever be praise.

Cory later added this stanza for use at Christmas:
4.     Thy love Thou didst show us, Thine only Son sending,
Who came as a Babe and Whose bed was a stall,
His blest life He gave us and then died to save us;
We praise Thee, O Lord, for Thy gift to us all.

You can listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, November 23, 2014


          "Bless the Lord, O my soul;  And all that is within me, bless His holy name!"   Psalm 103:1.  This is the familiar opening verse of Psalm 103, a Psalm of David, which was the inspiration for the writing of this week's hymn.  The words were penned by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) in 1834.  Lyte was educated at Portora (the Royal School of Enniskillen), and at Trinity College, Dublin. During his studies he distinguished himself by gaining the English prize poem on three occasions. He had intended studying medicine, but he abandoned this for theology, and he took Holy Orders in 1815. In 1817, he moved to Marazion, in Cornwall, where, in 1818, he underwent a great spiritual change as a result of  the illness and death of a brother clergyman. Lyte says of him, "He died happy under the belief that though he had deeply erred, there was One whose death and sufferings would atone for his delinquencies, and be accepted for all that he had incurred." And concerning himself he shared,  "I was greatly affected by the whole matter, and brought to look at life and its issue with a different eye than before; and I began to study my Bible, and preach in another manner than I had previously done."  He wrote "Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven" for his congregation at Lower Brixham in Devon, England. Based on Psalm 103, Lyte succinctly states the psalm's main points: "Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies" (v. 3-4) become "ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven." And enlarging on the palmist's declaration that God is slow to anger and will not always chide (v. 8-9), Lyte declares, "Slow to chide and swift to bless." In his refrain, Lyte picked up on the primary theme of the Psalm: "Praise Him, praise Him." Today, some hymnals have changed these words to "Alleluia!" But either refrain fittingly calls us to join with all creation in praise of the King.  Queen Elizabeth II chose this hymn to be sung as the processional at her wedding which was on November 20, 1947, exactly one hundred years after the death of Henry Francis Lyte.  Several tunes are used for this hymn and there are two familiar ones listed below.  The tune, written by Sr. John Goss in 1869 specifically for this hymn, is the one most commonly used.  There have also been several other verses and variations of the words over the years, but the ones shared below are frequently used today.  So, as you approach this Thanksgiving season, let this hymn be a reminder of what the Lord has done for us as you thank and praise Him.  Allelujah, allelujah, praise the everlasting King!

1    Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me, His praises sing?
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King!

2    Praise him for his grace and favor
to his people in distress.
Praise him, still the same as ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness!

3    Fatherlike he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows.
In his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows!

4    Angels in the height adore Him,
Ye behold Him face to face;
Saints triumphant, bow before Him,
Gathered in from every race.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace!

Here are two different versions of this hymn.  The first is one tune sung by a choir.    LISTEN 1
The second is a different version done by the Gathers and Signature Sound.   LISTEN 2

Sunday, November 16, 2014


        Mark 8:34 - "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  Opportunities to follow and serve the Lord come to us in many ways.  Sometimes the Lord calls us to actually pick up and move, maybe to a foreign country, to serve him.  Sometimes He provides us with a new job opportunity that will allow us to share our testimony and faith in our community.  .  Sometimes He may call us to go visit and befriend a neighbor.  Sometimes the opportunity might be to visit one who is homebound and needs encouragement.  And sometimes we may be led to join a ministry in our church or in our community where we can serve him and others.  Unfortunately, often we are too busy or too tied to our present schedule to hear and/or respond to His leading.  And then we miss the blessing that He has in store for those who follow up.  It is one thing to say wherever you lead Lord, I will follow.  It is another thing to actually obey and follow Him and serve Him wherever He is leading.  Often it is our lack of faith that keeps us from responding when we see the obstacles and the changes that obeying would require us to make.  We are just not ready to surrender our all. In January of 1936, the Southern Baptist songwriter B. B. McKinney was leading the music at the Alabama Sunday School Convention. The featured speaker was the Reverend R. S. Jones, McKinney’s friend of many years, who because of ill health had recently returned from missionary service in Brazil.  The two men were visiting over dinner one evening when Mr. Jones revealed to Dr. McKinney that his physicians would not allow him to return to South America.  When asked about his future plans, the missionary said, “I don’t know, but wherever He leads I’ll go.”  The words stuck in Dr. McKinney’s mind, and before the convention’s evening session began, he had written both the words and music of this song.  At the close of Mr. Jones’ message, Dr. McKinney related this story and sang “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go” to the congregation.  Consider the words of this hymn of consecration this week and see if there are things standing in your way of responding to the Master who gave His life for you.  Maybe it is time to obey and follow Him, no matter what it may cost you, as you see the needs and opportunities that He reveals to you.

(1)    "Take up thy cross and follow Me,"
I heard my Master say;
"I gave My life to ransom thee,
Surrender your all today."
Wherever He leads I'll go,
Wherever He leads I'll go,
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I'll go.

(2)    He drew me closer to His side,
I sought His will to know;
And in that will I now abide,
Wherever He leads I'll go.
Wherever He leads I'll go,
Wherever He leads I'll go,
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I'll go.

(3)    It may be through the shadows dim
Or o'er the stormy sea:
I take my cross and follow Him,
Wherever He leadeth me.
Wherever He leads I'll go,
Wherever He leads I'll go,
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I'll go.

(4)    My heart, my life, my all I bring 
To Christ who loves me so;
He is my Master, Lord, and King,
Wherever He leads I'll go.
Wherever He leads I'll go,
Wherever He leads I'll go,
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I'll go.

You may listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, November 9, 2014


          "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"  1 Peter 1:3.  Mercy - compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.  God's mercy - not giving us what we really deserve.  "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . Ephesians 2: 4,5.  We recently spent several days at the ocean just relaxing and watching the tides roll in and then out again.  We speculated as to how much of the ocean we could really see until the curvature of the earth ended our view.  It was fascinating to realize that even on a clear day we could only see so very little of the immense ocean.  As we watched the words of this week's hymn choice came to my mind ...  "There's a wideness in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea."  What undeserved riches we have because of God's mercy.  Psalm 103:11, "For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him."  Frederick Faber (1814-1863)  was born an Anglican and reared a strict Calvinist. After attending Oxford, he took orders as an Anglican priest and began his ministry as a rector. Faber converted to Catholicism and by the time he died, he had written 150 hymns. Knowing the power of hymns in the Protestant tradition, Faber wanted to make hymn-singing more important in the Catholic tradition.  This hymn originally had eight verses but later five additional verses were added.  Most modern hymnbooks only carry four verses and in some cases some of these verses are combinations of parts of other verses.  It has also been sung to several different melodies.  I've chosen to list the four verses that appear in most recent hymnals as well as the melody that is used in most protestant hymnals.  As you meditate upon these words this week, I pray that you, too, might be reminded of God's great mercy that we certainly do not deserve.  Romans 5:8 reminds us that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  He bore the penalty that we deserved.  Psalm 86:5 "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You."  Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

(1)   There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

(2)   There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

(3)   For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man'a mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

(4)   If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Recently I saw a handicapped man from our church who was going through more health tests.  I had been praying for him.  So I stopped to spend a few minutes with him, asking about his tests and how he was doing.  Unfortunately, the results still weren't back so he really could not give me any update.  I reminded him that I was praying for him and then I moved on to meet some responsibilities that I had.  I really didn't think anymore about our brief conversation.  But then, a few days later, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from this gentleman.  He wrote just to thank me for taking time to talk to him.  He said that I had been a blessing to him.  I was really taken back because I didn't think that I had done anything special.  But apparently I had been an encouragement and blessing to him.  A day later, on the radio, I heard this week's hymn choice.  I hadn't heard it or sung it for many years.  But its message hit home. "Out in the highways and byways of life, many are weary and sad; Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, making the sorrowing glad."  I was reminded of how easy and important it can be to be a blessing to those who are weary and sad just by just doing something as simple as taking a little time listening to them. Many years ago the Lord promised Abraham, "I will bless you … and you shall be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2). We are called, as believers, to be a blessing to others. But we can only give to them out of the resources the Lord has provided for us. He blesses us, and by that means we are equipped to be a blessing to others. George Shuler and Ira Wilson were roommates at Moody Bible Institute in 1924.  At the Institute, they combined their talents and gave the world this beautiful song of consecration. Wilson wrote the lyrics and Shuler the music.  At first the song was rejected by music publishers, so Shuler had one thousand copies printed to distribute on his own. One fell into the hands of George Dibble, an outstanding singer who was at that time music director for the International Sunday School Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Dibble asked for permission to use the song and it was granted. Soon people everywhere were singing the song, and publishers were wanting to distribute copies.  Between the time Ira Wilson wrote the lyrics and the time the song began to be so well known, Wilson apparently forgot that he was the author!  Until he died, he never remembered that he had written these famous words.  The words are powerful and should remind us daily of our need to encourage others and to be a blessing to them.  What a wonderful ministry.  This hymn would be a great prayer for us to begin every day.  "Make me a blessing to someone today."

1      Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

2      Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow'r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True, every moment you live. 
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

3      Give as 'twas given to you in you need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true. 
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN