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, February 26, 2023

WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE (TH)

TIMELESS HYMNS - A feature in which I choose a previous hymn blog, update and revise it and share it once again.  This hymn was first featured here in 2013
          
     Despite his short life, Philip P. Bliss was one of the most important and influential gospel song writers of the nineteenth century.  At age 10, while selling vegetables to help support the family, Bliss first heard a piano. At age 11, he left home to make his own living. He worked in timber camps and sawmills. While working he irregularly went to school to further his education.  
          In 1857, Bliss met J. G. Towner, who taught singing. Towner recognized Bliss's talent and gave him his first formal voice training. He also met William B. Bradbury, who persuaded him to become a music teacher. His first musical composition was for a flute. 
        In 1858, he took up an appointment in Rome Academy, Pennsylvania.  In Rome Bliss met Lucy J. Young, whom he married in 1859. She came from a musical family and encouraged the development of his talent.  
          At age 22 Bliss became an itinerant music teacher. On horseback he went from community to community, accompanied by a melodeon. Bliss's wife's grandmother lent Bliss $30 so he could attend the Normal Academy of Music of New York for six weeks.  In 1869, Bliss formed an association with Dwight L. Moody. Moody and others urged him to give up his job and become a missionary singer. 
          In 1874, Bliss decided he was called to the task of "winning souls" and he became a full-time evangelist. Bliss made significant amounts of money from royalties and gave them to charity and to support his evangelical endeavors.  
          On one occasion, Christian publisher Fleming H. Revell (Dwight Moody's brother-in-law) was about to launch a new Sunday School paper and wanted a song that would capture the overall focus of the publication. The name of the paper was to be Words of Life. Mr. Revell asked Bliss if he could come up with a song to fit the paper.  So Bliss composed this week's hymn, "Wonderful Words of Life"  
           But after the first issue of the publication the song was all but forgotten. Mr. Revell passed on a copy to another hymn writer, George Stebbins, who began using it in evangelistic meetings.  It caught on, after that, and became very popular.  About the hymn and meetings, Bliss said,  "I carried that song through two seasons of evangelistic work, never thinking it possessed much merit, or that it had the element of special usefulness, particularly for solo purposes. It occurred to me to try it one day during the campaign in New Haven, and, with the help of Mrs. Stebbins, we sang it as a duet. To our surprise the song was received with the greatest enthusiasm and from that time on to the close of the meetings was the favorite of all the hymns used. As an illustration of the hold it got upon the people all about that section of the country, I received a letter from the Secretary of the Connecticut State Sunday School Association offering me what seemed an absurdly large sum of money, if I would, with Mrs. Stebbins, come to the State Convention and sing that one song."  I have not been able to find if they went to the convention and what the "absurdly large sum of money" was.  
          However, it is a great song reminding us of the impact of God's words.  May we never take them for granted.
 

(1)   Sing them over again to me, 
wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, 
wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life.
 
(2)   Christ, the bless├Ęd One, gives to all 
wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, 
wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life.
 
(3)   Sweetly echo the Gospel call, 
wonderful words of life;
   Offer pardon and peace to all, 
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, 
wonderful words of life.
 
 
Listen to it being sung here.   LISTEN


Sunday, February 19, 2023

TEACH ME TO WAIT

     Did you ever think about how much time you spend waiting?  You might wait for a friend to arrive, for a bus to arrive, for a package to arrive.  You might wait to be served, for a program to start, for a decision to be made, for an answer, for a loan to be approved, for a loved one to call.  We can spend endless hours waiting, often not too patiently.
          But while there are so many things for which we wait, there are many of our decisions to be directed by the Lord.  And He always answers – in His time.  In fact, the scripture gives us advice about waiting on the Lord in Isaiah 40:31, "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."
          That, folks, is advice that we all need.  Calm down, be patient, trust and watch the Lord work!
          Carl Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989) probably experienced this truth many times over his life.  The son of a traveling Methodist preacher, Hamblen became a 1930s radio and country-western movie star, and it wasn't long until he had a record contract too. He owned race horses for a time, and by 1938 even ran for Congress (though he lost in a close race). All along the way he tried to manage the stress of his celebrity status with alcohol and gambling.
          
In 1949, Stuart and his wife Suzy attended a prayer meeting at the home of Henrietta Mears. This was one of the meetings of the Hollywood Christian Group, and on that particular night, a young man named Billy Graham was there to speak to the group. Suzy made sure they were there early, and she and Henrietta disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Stuart and Billy alone. The two men hit it off right away, and Stuart asked Billy if he would like to come on his radio show to promote his tent crusade. Billy did show up at the radio station, and after the radio interview, Stuart urged his listeners to go down to the tent to hear more of Billy, and ended by stating "Make sure you all come, cause I'll be there too!" Well, Suzy wasn't going to let those words ring untrue. 
          That evening, as Stuart started to settle in for the night, Suzy appeared, all ready to go out the door. She looked at Stuart and said, "You ready to go? You told everyone that you were going to be there. You don't want to disappoint your fans!" So, Stuart went and sat front row center. Night after night, Stuart was there, front row center, until he could take it no more. What a lot of people don't know, is that Stuart was the son of Dr. James Henry Hamblen, an itinerant Methodist circuit preacher and the founder of the Evangelical Methodist Church denomination, and conviction was hitting Stuart hard. Knowing that the tent crusade was scheduled to end in a couple of days, Stuart decided to escape; packed up his hound dogs, and headed out for a hunting trip.  But he couldn't get away because the Holy Spirit continued to work and Stuart was soon converted.
          
Stuart gave himself to God, and perhaps any remaining conversion skeptics began to believe when he subsequently declined to promote beer on the radio, for which he was fired from his show.  He used his last several shows to let his nationwide-listening audience know why he would be leaving the air. Hearing this, in 1952, the Prohibition Party asked Stuart to run for the President of the United States on their ticket. He had never done that before, and so he did. When the final votes were counted, he had set a new record for votes for the Prohibition ticket, running 4th to Dwight Eisenhower.  In his final days he wrote more than 225 songs and shared his testimony in many places.
          But this week's song choice, written in 1953, is one of the best testimonies he has left. What a reminder for us to claim the truth of Isaiah 40:31 – wait on our knees as the Lord answers and teaches us.  Rely on the Lord, not on the advice of others.  Lord, teach us to wait.
 
Teach me Lord to wait down on my knees
Till in Your own good time You answer my pleas
Teach me not to rely on what others do
But to wait in prayer for an answer from You

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings as eagles
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait

Teach me Lord to wait while hearts are aflame
Let me humble my pride and call on Your name
Keep my faith renewed, my eyes on Thee
Let me be on this earth what you want me to be

There's a time and a season for all things
You promised in Your word to answer my pleas
I'm crying to You, Lord to grant sweet relief
Oh, Lord remove all my unbelief

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings as eagles
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait
 
Listen to it here.    WAIT
 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

LOOK AND LIVE

             I doubt that I am alone, but I admit to having a real fear of snakes.  I don't mind looking at them in the enclosures of a zoo but I don't ever want to be with one in the open, even if it is not dangerous.
            For that reason I can't even imagine having to live with dangereous fiery serpents as the Israelites did.  This was a punishment, 
A plague of poisonous snakes infested the camp of Israel, sent as a divine judgment because of their complaints and ingratitude.  Many people died.
          Finally, "the people came to Moses, and said, we have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
          "And, the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived " (Numbers 21:7-9)
          
This might seem to be an incredible story, but it was confirmed by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15)
          And so to live in the midst of the serpents one had to just look at the serpent on the pole.  Otherwise, it was death.
          And to escape the penalty of hell, one needs to look at the Cross, accept God's forgiveness for your sins and receive eternal life.  On the Cross he carried our sins and our punishment.
          
William Augustine Ogden (1841-1897), was born in Ohio and his family moved to IN when he was age six. He studied music in local singing schools at age 8, and by age 10 could read church music fairly well. Later, he could write out a melody by hearing it sung or played. He enlisted in the American Civil War in the 30th IN Volunteer Infantry. During the war he organized a male choir which became well known throughout the Army of the Cumberland. After the war, he returned home, resumed music study, and taught school.
          He wrote many hymns, including this week's choice, both lyrics and music. He later issued his first song book, "The silver song" (1870). It became quite popular, selling 500,000 copies. He went on to publish other song books.
          T
he gospel songs written by Ogden and others were generally kept simple for a reason. Without photo copiers and video projectors and other modern aids, they needed to teach their songs quickly, so people could go home singing the truths being taught. This purpose precisely suited the work of the Sunday School. Indeed, the common term for gospel songs in that era was "Sunday School songs." Mr. Ogden published the present song in 1887, in Triumphant Songs for Sunday Schools and Gospel Meetings.
          Now Ogden points out the importance of this truth when he begins the song "with I've a message from the Lord … recorded in His Word."  So the message is authentic and important

1.     I've a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
This message unto you I'll give,
'Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."
  Refrain:
"Look and live," my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live;
'Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."
2.    I've a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
'Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know 'tis true.
3.    Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you'll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.
4.    I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
To Jesus when He made me whole—
'Twas believing on His name, hallelujah!
I trusted and He saved my soul.
Listen to it here.   LOOK
 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

For over 15 years I have written weekly hymn blogs, over 800 of them.  But while I have shared information about them, I have never listed which were my personal favorites.  So I am beginning a new feature in which once a month I will share one of my favorites and why it has had an impact on my life.
 
GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
 
          A few days ago, I woke up to a beautiful cool fall day.  I sat on the edge of my bed with a heart full of thankfulness for all the Lord had done for me.  I had just come through three stays in the hospital and a procedure in the Surgical Center.  And God had brought me through this challenging experience.
          Spending this special time with the Lord was a great way to start the day.  And He wasn't too busy and I felt His presence.
          But as sometimes happens my mind began to race ahead.   I thought of some physical challenges I still faced.  I thought about my wife's loss of hearing in her one ear.  And I shared with the Lord my concerns about her upcoming major surgery to discover the extent of possible colon cancer.
          Now while I committed all of these concerns to the Lord, I admit that I still felt uneasy about the upcoming events.  I had peace, but I admit that it was an uneasy peace.
          My radio was on while I sat there praying and suddenly, I heard an old hymn that I hadn't sung in years, "God Will Take Care Of You".  It was exactly what I needed at that moment.  It is one of my favorites because of its message.
          This old hymn was written in 1904 by Rev. and Mrs. Stillman Martin.   Martin, a well-known Baptist evangelist, was invited to preach at a church some distance from where they lived. That Sunday morning, Mrs. Martin became suddenly ill, making it impossible for her to accompany her husband to his preaching engagement. Rev. Martin seriously considered canceling his speaking assignment, since he would need to be gone from her for a considerable time. 
          Just then, however, their young son spoke up and said, "Father, don't you think that if God wants you to preach today, He will take care of mother while you are away?" Agreeing, Martin kept his preaching appointment. The service proved to be unusually blessed of God, with several people professing Christ as Savior as a result of the sermon. 
          Returning later that evening, Martin found his wife greatly improved in health. And, while he was gone, she had been busily engaged in preparing a new hymn text, inspired by the chance remark of their young son earlier that day. That same evening, Rev. Martin composed the music for his wife's words just as they are still sung today. 
           It is amazing how after all these years the Lord brought these words back to me.  Are you facing a trial or an unknown future?  Then lean, weary one, upon His breast.  For God will take care of you!
 
1.     Be not dismayed whate'er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.
Refrain:
God will take care of you,
Through every day, o'er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

2.   Through days of toil when heart doth fail
God will take care of you
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.
Refrain
   
3.   All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.
Refrain

4.  No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.
Refrain

          He has done that for me and He will continue to do so, for He has made that promise to all His children.  And He is faithful.   Lord, help me to continue to trust in you and rest on your promises.
          Listen to it here.    CARE