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, March 26, 2023

ONE DAY (TH)

TIMELESS HYMNS - A regular feature in which I choose a previous hymn blog, revise it and post it again.  This one was first posted in 2013. 

          John Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918) was an evangelist who won thousands of souls to Jesus Christ and influenced hundreds of young men to enter the ministry.  
          Chapman took on several pastorates before shifting to the evangelistic circuit. He began preaching with the legendary D. L. Moody in 1893, as well as leading many evangelistic events of his own. Among Chapman's disciples on the evangelistic circuit was Billy Sunday.  
          In late 1895, Chapman was appointed Corresponding Secretary of the Presbyterian General Assembly's Committee on Evangelism, overseeing the activities of 51 evangelists in 470 cities. 
          In 1905, John H. Converse, a wealthy Presbyterian philanthropist, offered to underwrite Chapman's expenses if he would reenter the evangelistic field full time. Converse also set up a trust fund so as to finance Chapman's crusades posthumously. 
          Chapman accepted the offer and in 1907, joined forces with popular gospel singer Charles McCallon Alexander to launch the "Chapman-Alexander Simultaneous Campaign."  The duo assembled an impressive team of evangelists and songleaders and took to the streets. 
          During these years Chapman was also heavily involved in the promoting of religious summer conferences. He was at one point the director of the Winona Lake Bible Conference in Indiana and also helped to establish Bible conferences in Montreat, North Carolina, and the Stony Brook Assembly summer conferences on Long Island. 
          By the end of 1910 Chapman's "mass evangelism" technique was losing favor in evangelistic circles, and Chapman and Alexander were back to large meeting revivals by 1912. In May 1918, Chapman was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, a position which inundated him with such a high level of stress that he developed a serious enough case of gall stones and needed emergency surgery on December 23, 1918.  He died two days later, on Christmas Day, aged 59.  
          Now we have no information on the writing of this hymn.  Possibly it came from a sermon he was working on.  He most likely gave the text to his organist, Charles Marsh, who provided the tune.   
          The hymn relates the key events in the life of Christ - His birth, His death, His resurrection and His second coming.  And the impacts of these events on us are emphasized - He loved me, He saved me, He justified me and He is coming back for me.  What a stirring reminder of what Christ has done for each of us.  
          Thank Him for all of this as you meditate on these words this week.
 
 
(1)   One day when Heaven 
was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming — O glorious day!
 
(2)    One day they led Him 
up Calvary's mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming — O glorious day!
 
(3)    One day they left Him 
alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o'er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming — O glorious day!
 
(4)   One day the grave could 
conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming — O glorious day!
 
(5)   One day the trumpet 
will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my belov├Ęd ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming — O glorious day!
 
Listen to the words of this hymn here.    ONE


 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

LORD, KEEP US STEADFAST IN YOUR WORD

         To many Martin Luther's hymn "A Mighty Fortress", considered the "Battle Hymn" of the Reformation, is Luther's greatest work.  But Luther's much simpler and shorter hymn, "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word", may be almost as popular. The hymn was certainly popular in the church orders of the 16th and 17th centuries, which often prescribed it as the hymn sung after the sermon every week.
          Now I must admit that I never heard this hymn despite attending the required weekly chapel services at the Lutheran university which I attended for four years.  It was my grandson, Noah, who introduced it to me and suggested that I should include it in my blog.  And that was a good suggestion.
          
Luther's hymn was published in 1542 when it appeared with the subtitle, "A Children's Hymn, to be Sung Against the Two Archenemies of Christ and His Holy Church, the Pope and Turk."   Luther and the Reformers' theological conflict with the various popes is well-known.  The political conflict between the Holy Roman Empire, to which the Reformers and their princes belonged, and the Turkish Ottoman Empire was also a significant factor during the time of the Reformation. 
          In Luther's day the Turks controlled not only much of the Middle East and North Africa, they also held land in southeastern Europe (modern day Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Balkans).  In the early 1500's there were a series of battles in Austria and Hungary between the Turks and the Holy Roman Empire.  The siege of Vienna in the autumn of 1529 led to the decision of Emperor Charles V to call the Diet of Augsburg to unite the Holy Roman Empire against threat of Turkish invasion. In 1541 there were two additional battles between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks, which led Luther to pen this hymn.  The army of the Holy Roman Empire was defeated at Budapest in August, and the imperial fleet was largely destroyed near Algiers in October.
          
This hymn is written in a threefold, Trinitarian format.  This first verse is an appeal to God the Father to preserve us by His Word, rather than by the force of arms.  Luther does not lead his people to pray for the imperial armies or for victory in battle, but for God to sustain His people by His Word, come what may.
          In the second verse Luther emphasizes the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ with the title "Lord of lords" (Rev 17:14; 19:16).   He is Lord over all emperors, kings, presidents, or rulers of any kind.  We are in constant need of the help that only Jesus can give, and His rescue of His people always leads to praise and thanksgiving.
          The final verse calls on the Holy Spirit to send unity to the people of God, so that we work together and are not divided in the face of opposition.  Our greatest struggle is not against any earthly power, but against death itself (1 Cor 15:36).  No matter what happens in this world, we trust in the Holy Spirit to raise us from the dead and give to us eternal life.  As Luther wrote in his explanation of the third article of the Apostles' Creed, "On the Last Day [the Holy Spirit] will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ."
          The hymn was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth in 1863.  She is known for her English translations of German hymns which remained close to the original.
          While written many years ago and in different times, the hymn still has a powerful and important message for believers today.  May this be our prayer today.
 
1      Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word;
curb those who by deceit or sword
would seek to overthrow your Son
and to destroy what he has done.
2      Lord Jesus Christ, your pow'r make 
 for you are Lord of lords 
defend your Christendom that we
may sing your praise eternally

3.    O Comforter of priceless worth,
send peace and unity on earth;
support us in our final strife
and lead us out of death to life.

Listen to it here.   STEADFAST   

 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

ONCE IT WAS THE BLESSING. (HIMSELF)

          Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919) was a well-known nineteenth century Christian preacher, author and founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination. Simpson composed the lyrics of over 120 hymns.
          This hymn is known as both "Himself" and "Once It Was The Blessing".  Unfortunately, it is seldom sung today.
          Ministry kept Simpson very busy and he eventually he found himself worn out in body and mind.   In this state, he discovered what Paul wrote of in Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you." Simpson realized Christ lived in him and was everything he needed. 
          Writing about his discovery, he said: "If this precious little secret of  'Christ in you' will help you, you may have it. May you make better use of it than I! I feel I have only begun to learn how well it works. Take it and go on working it out, through time and eternity - Christ for all, grace for grace, from strength to strength, from glory to glory, from this time forth and even forevermore."
           In 1899 Simpson wrote this hymn which he titled "Himself," to testify of his joyful experience of Christ being his all. The first stanza gives us a taste of his experience of Christ:
Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word.
Once the gift I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
          
With a series of twenty statements, arranged in five stanzas, the song contrasts how Simpson used to see things "once," and how his focus had changed, "now," through the maturing process. In immaturity, there is a tendency for us to focus most on what God can give us, His blessings and answers to prayer, and not on "Himself." That is the author's main point.
          As we read, sing, and even pray with precious hymns like this one by A. B. Simpson, our fellowship with the Lord is enriched. We can learn from the pattern of ones who have gone before us as we seek to know and experience the Lord. Thank the Lord for such a heritage of hymns such as this one!
            Simpson's words, "Now it is the Lord," because Christ is our everything!" is a message that we all need today.  As a young Christian I remember my grandparents singing and living this hymn.  It is my prayer that I may do the same.
1.    Once it was the blessing,
   Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
  Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
  Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
  Now Himself alone.
All in all forever,
  Only Christ I'll sing,
Everything is in Christ,
  And Christ is everything.

2.  Once 'twas painful trying,
  Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
  Now the uttermost;
Once 'twas ceaseless holding,
  Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting,
  Now my anchor's cast.

3.   Once 'twas busy planning,
  Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
  Now He has the care;
Once 'twas what I wanted,
  Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
  Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

4.   Once it was my working,
  His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
  Now He uses me;
Once the pow'r I wanted,
  Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
  Now for Him alone.

5.  Once I hoped in Jesus,
  Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
  Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
  Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
Safe within the veil.
Listen to it here.  HIMSELF


Sunday, March 5, 2023

HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW


For over 16 years I have written weekly hymn blogs, nearly 800 of them.  But while I have shared information about them, I have never shared which were my personal favorites.  So I am beginning in 2023 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.

          One of my favorite spots is on my recliner which is just inside the room that overlooks our backyard.  It is next to a window and right outside the window is a birdfeeder which attracts many types of birds, especially sparrows.
          I recently read that there are probably about 50 different species of sparrows in the United States.  Estimates are that there are more than 1.6 billion sparrows in the world.  And all need food and shelter.  But God, their creator takes care of them.
          "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26).  "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father's care. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29–31). 
           The birds are a daily reminder to me of my Father's care for me.  Often I need that reminder when facing the toils, discouragements and cares of daily living.  
          These scriptures were the inspiration for this week's song which has encouraged listeners for over a century.  According to Civilla Martin, writer of the lyrics, "Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle - true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them."
          "One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience." 
          The next day she mailed the poem to Charles Gabriel, who supplied the music. Singer Ethel Waters helped make this song popular and she so loved this song that she used its name as the title for her autobiography.  
          Of course I don't know what is going on in your life right now, but I am sure that you, too, often face times of frustration, challenge and discouragement.  In those times be reminded that if you are a child of God, He will take care of you.  Your heart need not be troubled.  He is your constant friend and will put a song in your heart as you experience His care, comfort and leading.  
          If He can see and care for the sparrow, certainly He will see and care for you.  "For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me!"
 
(1)     Why should I feel discouraged, 
why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, 
and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? 
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, 
and I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

(2)     "Let not your heart be troubled," 
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, 
but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, 
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, 
and I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

(3)     Whenever I am tempted, 
whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, 
when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, 
from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, 
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, 
and I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.