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, May 29, 2016


          My blog readers from the United States will know that this weekend we in the US are celebrating Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in our armed forces. This holiday, which originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War, is now observed every year on the last Monday of May.  Many people will visit cemeteries and memorials this weekend to honor those who died to win and preserve our freedoms. Many volunteers will place American flags on the graves of those who died while serving.  And while we are thankful for those who served and gave their lives for us, there is a more important death that we should remember each day of our lives - the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  He died that we might be saved, be forgiven and set free from our sins and have the hope of an eternal life with Him. Centuries ago the Apostle Paul shared this challenge in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."  It was this verse that Sir John Bowring (1792-1872) apparently had in mind when he penned the words of this week's hymn choice in 1825.  It is said that Bowring possessed at an early age a remarkable power of attaining languages. He could speak fluently in 22 languages and converse in almost a hundred more  He became editor of "The Westminster Review" in 1825, and was elected to Parliament in 1835. In 1849, he was appointed Consul at Canton, and in 1854, was made Governor of Hong Kong,.  He received the honor of knighthood. Tradition says that Bowring was sailing past the coast of Macao, China. On the shore were the remains of an old, fire gutted church. Above the ruins, he saw the church's cross still standing, and this image, and Galatians 6:14, provided the inspiration for his hymn.  Incidentally, the title of this hymn was carved on Bowring's tombstone.  Much has happened in this world since these words were penned nearly two centuries ago, but the impact and power of the cross of Christ still stands.  Men of all nations have tried their own ways to find power, hope, peace and understanding.  But all have failed and their futile efforts have become the wrecks of time.  But Christ, through His sacrifice on the Cross and his resurrection from the dead, alone is the only way to freedom, peace and hope.  He alone can change lives. He and His power are the same yesterday, today and forever.  May we recognize and celebrate that each day of our lives.

1.     In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

2.    When the woes of life o'ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

3.     When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

4.     Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

5.    In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, May 22, 2016


          It is so sad to look back upon your life and realize that you've never reached your potential because you didn't fully apply yourself or set high enough goals for your life.  It is sad that many older people now live with this realization, but it is even more tragic when we see it happening to the younger generation, many of which have no goals and no motivation for living.  Similarly, it is disappointing to see a Christian fail to evidence spiritual growth of any kind. Scripture teaches that Christian maturity or Christlikeness is a process in which we advance from one level to the next, step by step. But the secret of such development is to have an intense desire to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives.  Unfortunately many believers never grow out of the infant stage. But this should not be the story for any true believer. This week's hymn choice expresses so well the desire for a deeper spiritual life, continuing on a higher plane of fellowship with God than we have ever before experienced. This hymn, penned by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922), has been a favorite with many Christians since it was first published in 1898. Born near Medford, New Jersey, Oatman became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church when he was nineteen years of age. His father was an excellent singer and it always delighted the son to sit by his side and hear him sing the songs of the church. Soon he was licensed to preach and was ordained by his denomination, although he never actually pastored a church. In his early life, he was actively involved in the family's mercantile business, and, upon his father's death, entered the insurance business. In 1892, he started writing gospel songs, and, from then till his death, in 1922, he wrote approximately 3,000 gospel hymn texts. It is reported that Oatman generally averaged four to five new texts each week, throughout this period of his life, receiving no more than $1.00 for each of his songs. His texts were always in great demand by the leading gospel musicians of his day. 'Higher Ground' has been a favorite with many Christians since it was first published. It expresses so well this universal desire for a deeper spiritual life, continuing on a higher plane of fellowship with God, than we have ever before experienced.  How are you growing spiritually?  Do you have a daily thirst for His Word and for Him?  Are you pressing on the upward way each day, or have you grown content with where you are?  If that is the case, this week ask the Lord to renew your passion for Him and for spiritual things.  Set your spiritual goals high and press on to higher ground.

(1) I'm pressing on the upward way,
New heights I'm gaining every day;
Still praying as I'm onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
      Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven's tableland,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
(2) My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.
  Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven's tableland,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
(3) I want to live above the world,
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
  Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven's tableland,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
(4) I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray, 'til heaven I've found
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."
  Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven's tableland,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
Listen to it being sung here.    LISTEN

Sunday, May 15, 2016


        I am not a sailor and have very seldom been at sea or in a boat.  I prefer to be on dry land. However I have ridden in a few ferry boats such as the Staten Island Ferry.  Years ago we were on a ferry boat going to Dog Island off the coast of Florida when a mild storm came upon us.  We did go through some very nasty waves and the boat rocked, but we were never in danger.  However, I have seen movies and read books about severe storms at sea and I am sure that I never want to experience that. So I can't say that I understand what a real storm at sea is really like, but it must be a very dangerous and scary experience.  However, all of us have experienced the storms of life which come upon us, often very unexpectedly.  Some are mild while many are strong and severe and at times we wonder if we can even avoid drowning.  But the child of God does have an anchor that can keep us secure and steadfast as the billows and waves roll.  In fact, Hebrews 6:19 reminds us that ""We have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast..."  And that anchor is Jesus, the one who demonstrated control over the elements when He was here on earth."  It was this verse from Hebrews that is said to have inspired the author of this week's hymn choice to pen the words of this hymn.  Priscilla Owens (1829–1907) was a public school teacher in Baltimore for 49 years. She also was a Sunday school teacher at the Union Square Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore. She wrote a number of hymns and songs for her pupils and this is the best one still known today.  The music was written by William Kirkpatrick (1838–1921) of Philadelphia who was a member of the same denomination as Owens.  He was a prolific writer of hymn tunes and compiler of hymn collections.  I am told that this hymn is closely associated with the Boys' Brigade which has the motto, "Sure and Stedfast"  Are you experiencing the storms of life right now in your life?  Maybe it is a health issue, or a job or financial issue, or problems with a spouse or family member, or feelings of inadequacy or loneliness, or fears about tomorrow.  The believer is not immune to these difficult issues and at times our "cables strain".  But remember, if you are the Lords, you are fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.  No storm is too difficult for Him to handle.  Put your trust  in Him.

                                (1)     Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,

When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

(2)     It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Savior's hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

(3)     It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o'erflow.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

(4)     It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the veil.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

Listen to it here.    LISTEN

Sunday, May 8, 2016


          While growing up it was common in our church to have week long missionary conferences each year, usually with a different visiting missionary each night.  And it was common during these meetings to sing the few missionary hymns that were in our hymnal.  I often thought that this probably wasn't fair to the visiting missionaries who probably seldom had a chance to sing other hymns.  But one of those missionary hymns that was sung regularly was "So Send I You". This hymn has been labeled by many evangelical leaders as the finest missionary hymn of the twentieth century. It was first published in 1954 after having been written sixteen years earlier by a Canadian school teacher, Margaret Clarkson (1915-2008). Clarkson was a teacher in a gold-mining camp in northern Ontario, Canada. It was a lonely life for this woman, but she also knew that this is where God wanted her to serve Him. She had a great desire to be a missionary on a foreign field but because of her health was unable to go. One day she was reading John 20:21, "Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." While meditating on this verse she wrote the words to this hymn.  She said "I spent seven years in the north. I experienced loneliness of every kind; mental, cultural, but particularly spiritual, for in all of those seven years I never found real Christian fellowship – churches were modern and born-again Christians almost nonexistent."   Now that background helps explain the words of this hymn.  But there is more to the story than I ever knew until I looked into Clarkson's history. And I will share that with you following the words of the original song.

So send I you to labour unrewarded
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown
To bear rebuke, ot suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you to toil for Me alone

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken
Over wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary
So send I you to suffer for My sake

So send I you to loneliness and longing
With hart a-hungering for the loved and known
Forsaking kin and kindred, friend and dear one
So send I you to know My love alone

So send I you to leave your life's ambition
To die to dear desire, self-will resign
To labour long, and love where men revile you
So send I you to lose you life in Mine

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred
To eyes made blind because they will not see
To spend, though it be blood to spend and spare not
So send I you to taste of Calvary

"As the Father hath sent me, so send I you"

Now here is the part of the story that I found very interesting. According to Clarkson "Some years later [in 1963 - after more life-experience and contact with real missionaries] I realized that the poem was really very one-sided; it told only of the sorrows and privations of the missionary call and none of its triumphs. [So,] I wrote another song in the same rhythm so that verses could be used interchangeably, setting forth the glory and the hope of the missionary calling. This was published in 1963. Above all I wish to be a biblical writer, and the second hymn is the more biblical one." Unfortunately the original hymn words were already accepted into widely distributed printed hymnals. Few know of her change of heart and change of words, though she would prefer the latter to be the more popular version.

So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer-
So send I you, my victory to win.

So send I you-to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters-
So send I you, to bring the lost to me.

So send I you-my strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence-
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you-to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, "well done, My faithful servant-
Come, share My throne, My kingdom, and My crown!"
"As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you."

You can listen to the original words here.   LISTEN

Sunday, May 1, 2016


       For many years I have enjoyed walking. While lately most of it has been in malls or in our church, because of my physical limitations, I have especially enjoyed times of walking on nature paths or around town, especially in my hometown of Lititz.  And most of my walks have been with Jesus.  Now not physically, as exciting as that would be, but spiritually as I talk to him in prayer.  And those times together are very special times.  Actually the Bible often talks about our need to walk with Him throughout our lives.   Micah 6:8, "What does the Lord require of you?  To walk justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  And this week's hymn choice by William Gladden (1836-1918) is a prayer talking about this daily walk. In verse one, we ask for for the privilege of walking with Christ "in lowly paths of service." We want to understand the "secret" of how we, as we serve Christ and others, can "bear the strain of toil, the fret of care."  In stanza two, we ask for sensitivity toward "the slow of heart", those who do not recognize the wisdom offered by the Master. We ask to be taught how to guide those with "wayward feet" along "the homeward way."   The third verse turns inward, as we request to be taught "thy patience" so that we may dwell with Christ "in closer, dearer company." Our labor will maintain a "faith [that is] sweet and strong" and our "trust" in the Master will help us "triumph over wrong." In the final stanza, we look "far down the future's broadening way" with "hope" and therefore have "peace" that only the Master "canst give" when we dwell with him. This hymn was published in 1879 in three eight-line stanzas in Sunday Afternoon, a magazine prepared by the author, under the title "Walking with God."  But over the years it has been changed to its present form of four verses and paired with the Victorian tune Maryton.  The author, Washington Gladden, was actually a controversial 19th century clergyman of the Congregational Church.  He was a preacher unafraid of a good fight.  For a period of time, he served as editor of the New York Independent newspaper, and his editorials were credited with starting the investigation that sent the notorious Boss Tweed to jail.  Gladden was especially interested in labor disputes, and got involved in a number of strikes, not to encourage them, but to negotiate peaceful settlements. He sparked controversy when he opposed the acceptance of a $100,000 donation to his denomination by John D. Rockefeller.  "Tainted money," he called it, because of Rockefeller's business policies.  But throughout his ministry he emphasized applying the gospel to life in America.  And there has been no controversy associated with Gladden's hymn which  expresses in simple language what we all feel, a need to walk with God, to feel God's presence and to have Him help us through the tough struggles of life.  Make this your prayer this week as you meditate on these words and as you walk with Him. . Just like the hymn, make your reaction and conclusion be "With Thee, O Master, let me live."

1.     O Master, let me walk with Thee,
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

2.     Help me the slow of heart to move,
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

3.     Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
In closer, dearer, company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.

4.     In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way,
In peace that only Thou canst give,

With Thee, O Master, let me live.

You can listen to it here.   LISTEN