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, June 25, 2017


         We've all been there and have experienced those times in life when we are discouraged, fearful, worried, perplexed and weighed down with care.  It is part of life. It might be due to the death of a loved one.  It might be because of a medical test result we are waiting for or have received.  It might be because our company is downsizing.  It might be due to bad choices our children have made.  It might be due to difficult decisions we are facing.  There are so many events in life which can overwhelm us.  As I am writing this I, too, am facing concerns over serious medical tests I am facing the next few days and the possible diagnosis.  But as I was working today, the Lord brought to my mind the words of this week's hymn choice.  It is a hymn which I haven't heard in years, but the Lord saw fit to bring it back to my mind today when I needed some encouragement.  Have you experienced this extra special peace from God, a peace that passeth all understanding, in your times of distress?  Years ago I received a telephone call that my parents were in an auto accident.  My mother was killed instantly and dad was hospitalized.  It was an overwhelming experience, but I vividly recall the special peace that God provided for my family during this very difficult time in our lives.  My mother's favorite verse was 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."  We found that promise so true.  There are numerous promises of peace for God's children found in the scriptures.  Psalm 29:11, "The Lord will give strength to His people;The Lord will bless His people with peace."  I especially appreciate Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  When I log on to my computer each day I see a picture of a mother bird covering her two babies with her wings.  The verse I've included with the picture is Psalm 91:4, "He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  The protection of a mother in a time of storm. The words to this song were penned by Haldor Lillenas (1885-1959).  He was born in Norway but emigrated to America as a child.  His family settled first in South Dakota and then moved to Oregon in 1889.  After attending college and becoming a pastor, he later founded the Lillenas Publishing Company.  He is said to have written some 4,000 hymns and supplied music for many evangelists.  Now I don't know what prompted the writing of this particular hymn, but I assume that he must have personally experienced the peace and calm which God alone can provide.  I don't know what your period of discouragement or fear might be today, but put your trust in the Lord and experience hope renewed and the peace which He will give in your time of challenge.  I know that I will do the same as I face the tests and unknown results in my life in the next few days.  May we experience that peace that passeth all understanding.

1.     Like the sunshine after rain,
Like a rest that follows pain,
Like a hope returned again,
Is the peace that Jesus gives.
Oh, the peace that Jesus gives
Never dies; it always lives.
Like the music of a psalm,
Like a glad, eternal calm,
Is the peace that Jesus gives,
Is the peace that Jesus gives.

2.     Like the soft, refreshing dew,
Like a rosy daybreak new,
Like a friendship tender, true,
Is the peace that Jesus gives.
Oh, the peace that Jesus gives
Never dies; it always lives.
Like the music of a psalm,
Like a glad, eternal calm,
Is the peace that Jesus gives,
Is the peace that Jesus gives.

3.     Like a river deep and long,
With its current ceaseless, strong,
Like the cadence of a song,
Is the peace that Jesus gives
Oh, the peace that Jesus gives
Never dies; it always lives.
Like the music of a psalm,
Like a glad, eternal calm,
Is the peace that Jesus gives,
Is the peace that Jesus gives.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, June 18, 2017


        Many of the great hymns of the faith have been penned when the authors faced a tragedy or suffered from great physical pain or emotional distress.  William Cowper (1731-1800), the author of this hymn, experienced a number of  tragic events in his life, beginning with the death of his mother when he was six years old. It is said that he suffered from depression all of his life.  The son of an Anglican clergyman, Cowper studied for the law, but was so intimidated at the prospect of the law exam that he attempted suicide. Cowper was institutionalized in a mental asylum for a time.  Upon his release, he went to church where he met the Reverend Morely Unwin and his wife, Mary.  The Unwins took Cowper under their wing, and Cowper lived with them for more than two decades.  When Rev. Unwin fell from a horse and was killed,  John Newton (author of the hymn, "Amazing Grace") came to the Unwin home to pay his respects.  He persuaded Cowper and Mrs. Unwin to move to Olney, where Newton served as the pastor of a church.  Behind her new home was a beautiful garden where Cowper and Newton met nearly every day to work on their hymns.  Then Mary Unwin became seriously ill, and it appeared that she would die.  Cowper began to experience severe depression again, because Mary had been a mother figure to him and his best friend.  That crisis, in 1772,  inspired him to write "O for a Closer Walk with God", words that comforted him in his distress.  The day after he penned these words he wrote: "She is the chief of blessings I have met with in my journey since the Lord was pleased to call me. ... Her illness has been a sharp trial to me.  Oh, that it may have a sanctified effect, that I may rejoice to surrender up to the Lord my dearest comforts, the moment He may require them.  ... I began to compose the verses yesterday morning, before daybreak, but fell asleep at the end of the first two lines:  When I awakened, the third and fourth were whispered to my heart in a way which I have often experienced."  Fortunately, Mary recovered from her illness.  Cowper, who had written poetry for most of his life, worked with Newton on a collection of hymns that they entitled Olney Hymns.  That collection included 280 of Newton's hymns and 68 of Cowper's hymns, including this one.  Through his trials and depression, Cowper's desire was to have a closer walk with God.  But, like most of us, at times he strayed and missed "the blessedness" and the peace which He experienced when He was walking with God.  To walk with God requires us to "walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 6:16, 25) and be submissive to Him and dependent on Him.  And if sin raises a barrier between us or if there is an "idol" which stands in the way of our relationship, we need to confess it to restore the intimacy with Him that we once knew.  Is it your desire to have a closer walk with Him?  Are there things that are hindering you in that walk?  If there are, then confess them to Him today and ask Him to "tear" them away and restore the joy of your salvation.  May our daily prayer be, "O for a closer walk with God".

1.     O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

2.     Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?

3.     What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

4.     The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

5.     So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Listen to this hymn here.   LISTEN
(note - Cowper's words have been put to numerous melodies over the years.  The one chosen here is probably the most commonly used one in hymnbooks.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017


     "Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me."  Matthew 16:24.  As a youngster Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847) and his family lived in severe poverty.  His father abandoned him and his mother. Later he was orphaned at 9 years old and left with no support. He was invited by  a Rev. Robert Burrows into his home, accepted as part of his family, and had his education paid for. He graduated from Trinity College in Dubland, Ireland.  He also suffered throughout his lifetime with a frail body that was always prone to tuberculosis. Shortly after his ordination to the Anglican Church ministry, He was asked to visit a fellow clergyman, an Abraham Swanne, who was dying.  During the visit both came to the realization that  neither had really ever had a personal relationship with Christ or a genuine conversion experience.  They began to study the scriptures together and both made a sincere commitment to God. Lyte said, "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." It is said that Lyte became a skilled student of the Bible and a tireless preacher of the gospel.   Following his conversion he wrote some eighty hymn texts. His conversion experience stirred him to write this week's hymn choice in 1824.  It  reflects Lyte's own personal attitude toward the "cross" of his suffering and the fact that he found refuge in Christ alone in learning to accept and use suffering in a spiritual sense.  When Christ becomes everything, and all is sacrificed to one's life and service for Him, following the Lord Jesus makes a stark contrast to anything that came before. That is the sober message of this hymn. Faced with it, many would draw back in horror, and their lives would echo Paul's sad reference to a former traveling companion: "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (II Tim. 4:10).  Jesus declared, "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Lk. 14:33).  We are humbled when we see this kind of devotion played out in the lives of God's faithful saints. Yet there's no indication that it's to be exceptional and unusual. Each of us is only a steward of what God has given - time and talents, material things, and even relationships. And if we confess all to be truly His, then the Lord has a right to do as He pleases with His property.  It is thought that in addition to Lyte's physical afflictions, difficulty with some individuals in his church also weighed heavily upon him.  This might account for expressions from the second and third verses such as "human hearts and looks deceive me...", "foes may hate, and friends may shun me ...".  But he concludes the hymn with the joyous words, "hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise." The pain and loss suffered here is  small when compared to the blessings of eternity ahead. Mozart was thought to be a possible composer of the tune, but the connection has not been authenticated. Generally Rowland H. Prichard is credited with having written the music. The original hymn had six stanzas. Of these, one, two, four and six are commonly used today. Henry Lyte's publication of the hymn was headed by the words, "Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee" (Mk. 10:28, KJV).

1.     Jesus, I my cross have taken, 
all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, 
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, 
all I've sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! 
God and Heaven are still mine own.

2.     Let the world despise and leave me, 
they have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; 
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, 
God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, 
show Thy face and all is bright.

*3.     Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! 
Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; 
with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, "Abba, Father"; 
I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, 
all must work for good to me.

4.     Man may trouble and distress me, '
twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; 
heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, 'tis not in grief to harm me while 
Thy love is left to me;
Oh, 'twere not in joy to charm me, 
were that joy unmixed with Thee.

*5.   Take, my soul, thy full salvation; 
rise o'er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station 
something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; 
what a Father's smile is thine;
What a Savior died to win thee, 
child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

6.    Haste then on from grace to glory, 
armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, 
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, 
swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, 
faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Listen to it here.   LISTEN

Sunday, June 4, 2017


TIMELESS HYMNS #6 - A special feature where every few weeks I choose a hymn that I have written about before, revise and update it, and share it once again because I think it has a powerful message that we need.  This one was shared previously on November 16, 2008.

          I am amazed at how many great hymns were written as a result of a tragedy.  This week's timeless choice is a good example of that.  It was written by Karolina Sandell-Berg (1832 - 1903) who is often called the Swedish Fanny Crosby.  Her many songs flowed from a broken heart after being with her father, a Swedish pastor, when he fell overboard as they were crossing a lake in Sweden. He drowned before he could be rescued. So she knew what it meant when she penned the words, "Day by day, and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here." and "Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E'er to take, as from a father's hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, Till I reach the promised land."  This hymn has been an encouragement to me so often in my life.  I vividly recall a time when I was unexpectedly facing a major change in my life. As I took my morning walk, my heart was very heavy. I walked and prayed and listened to the early morning music on one of our area Christian radio stations. Suddenly I heard this song being sung.  And, it ministered powerfully to my need at that exact moment - God's answer to my prayer.  Strength I find to meet my trials here ... I've no cause to worry or to fear ... a special mercy for each hour ... His protection ... His promises ... my Father's hand.  I've often sung this song when I was preparing for surgery or having difficult physical tests performed.  It has often calmed my spirit during MRI's.  Now I don't know what challenge you might be facing today.  It is so easy to worry and get discouraged.  But you can rest in the knowledge that, "Every day the Lord Himself is near me, with a special mercy for each hour;  All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r. The protection of His child and treasure Is a charge that on Himself He laid." I challenge you to meditate upon these powerful words today as you trust Christ to meet your need.

1.     Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

2.     Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

3.     Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Listen to it being sung here.      LISTEN.