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, July 30, 2023

HE TOUCHED ME (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

          Bill Gather has had a profound impact on gospel music during the past 50+ years and many of us have grown up singing songs written by him.  He began writing in 1960 but it wasn't until his 54th song that his music made an impact on the national level.  It turned out that this week's choice is probably the most famous of those which he has written.  
         According to Gather, he wrote this song during a time when he was accompanying an old preacher friend of his, Dr Dale Oldham, on some evangelistic crusades. He recalled: "He was a very eloquent speaker. One night after one of those meetings, Dr. Oldham said to me, 'Bill, the word "touch" is a very popular word. It comes up so often in the New Testament stories about Jesus touching people's eyes and healing them, or touching people's lives and changing them. It's a special, spiritual word and you ought to write a song that praises His touch.' So I did."     
          Doug Oldham, Dr. Oldham's son, was the first to record the song in 1964 and later in the year Bill's own group recorded it. Bill recalled: "Doug sang it around in church circles, but I think it really started to get popular as people would take it back to their own congregations and sing it as a chorus. Its funny, you write 53 songs and then you write one little baby, and even though it comes out of the womb the same way they all did, this baby just all of a sudden goes BOOM!"   
          Many other artists have recorded this song, including most famously, Elvis, who made it the title track of his 1972 Grammy Winning gospel album. The King covered it after hearing an arrangement by his backing group, The Imperials.  While these famous musicians certainly helped make the song popular, I think much of its worldwide acceptance came because the words hit home.  
          When Christ touches a life he changes it completely and one is no longer the same.  The person is set free from the shackles and burden of their sin and now they are made whole.  If you have experienced this touch and change, then sing along with these words this week and praise God for the joy He has put within your life.
 
(1)     Shackled by a heavy burden
Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same
He touched me, oh he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
 
(2)     Since I met this blessed savior
Since he cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
Ill shout it while eternity rolls
He touched me oh he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
 
Listen to it here.   LISTEN
 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

MORE HOLINESS GIVE ME

         Philip Paul Bliss lived in a log cabin on a homestead in a rural Appalachian mountain region of northern Pennsylvania. His father was a devout Christian and a musical man who was always singing gospel songs.  Young Philip learned to sing with his father and to whistle and play on reeds or other rude instruments he would make himself.   He showed a love of music early in life.  
          At the age of eleven, it is said that Philip left home to work on a farm, carrying all of his clothing done up in a handkerchief.  For the next five years he worked on farms and in lumber camps, meanwhile taking every opportunity for schooling that presented itself.
 
          After a Baptist minister conducted a revival at a school he attended, he was baptized at the age of twelve by a minister of a nearby Christian Church.  He is reported to have said, however, that he never could remember the time when he did not love the Savior
          Philip P. Bliss and Lucy J. Young were married in June of 1859 in the parlor of a minister's house at Wysocks, PA.  Lucy was about eighteen years of age at that time and he was twenty. Neither of them had money, so they continued to live with Lucy's parents, and Philip worked on the farm for his father-in-law for the typical wage of thirteen dollars a month.  That winter he also taught music lessons in the evenings, and he had a great desire to learn more about music.
          In the summer of 1860 a "Normal Academy of Music" was held at Geneseo, New York, offering instruction from some of the notable musicians of the area.   Philip despaired of being able to attend, lacking the thirty dollar fee, and was disheartened at his future prospects.  However, Lucy's Grandmother, Allen, who lived there with the family, hearing his distress and listening to his plight, kindly gave him the silver coins she had been saving for years in an old stocking. This amounted to more than the fee. This was a pivotal moment, and he spent six weeks of the hardest study of his life there.   Bolstered with this training, he became a professional music teacher the following winter.  It is said that his father-in-law gave him a twenty-dollar melodeon, and with the small, foot pedal powered reed organ, and a horse named Fanny, he traveled about the area giving lessons.
          Philip's travels and associations increased, and he visited Boston, New York and Brooklyn.  In the summer of 1869 in Chicago, he and Lucy happened upon a gospel meeting of  Dwight L. Moody. Their decision to attend the meeting changed the course of their life.  Mr. Moody was without his leader for the singing that night and Philip helped as he could from the audience, which drew Mr. Moody's attention.  In shaking hands on the way out, Mr. Moody got him to promise to come and help in the singing as often as he could.  This he did and Philip continued in association with Mr. Moody.
          In December of 1876, Philip and Lucy spent a very happy Christmas with their two sons, ages four and one, and their extended family at Rome. Then, leaving their sons with the grandparents and aunt, were required to leave for Chicago as they had engagements there.  They traveled by rail and shortly before eight o'clock on the cold stormy evening of December 29, 1876, the connecting train in which they traveled from Buffalo, New York around Lake Erie, approaching Ashtabula, Ohio, plunged into a ravine as the bridge gave way.  Some of the 160 passengers escaped from the seven cars through broken windows into the icy water and snow, but it is said that within five minutes, the stoves and lamps in the varnished wooden cars had set them ablaze, and the remainder of the passengers perished in the intense heat of the ensuing fire.  A survivor reported that Philip had escaped through a window, but went back to find Lucy and did not return.  They both died in the flames and no trace of their remains was found.  

          Philip P. Bliss was only thirty-eight years old at the time of his death, yet it is said that he authored hundreds of hymn texts and composed many of their tunes. The story of his life shows that he was not only a great example of a man who, through divine providence, raised himself from poverty to national acclaim, but a great example of the Christian attributes he expressed in his hymn More Holiness Give Me.  The basic structure of the piece is the repeated prayerful entreaty for "more" of the essential Christian attributes he describes.

          At first glance the lines may seem to be an unrelated list tied together by rhyme. However, note in the first verse that there is a connection between having faith in the Savior and a sense of his care, to having patience in suffering, feeling sorrow for sin, having a desire to strive within, praying with purpose and finding joy in service.
           The lines of the second verse speak of what the Savior has done for us, and refer to His teachings (hope in his word), example (meekness in trial), crucifixion (sorrows, grief), atonement (praise for relief), and resurrection (glory), for which we are grateful. The third verse effectively describes the requirements for being like the Savior and coming home to his kingdom: serving, overcoming the stains of earth life, and becoming pure and holy.  
          Bliss wrote a tune that he named MY PRAYER for More Holiness Give Me, and in some early publications the hymn had the title, My Prayer.   The completed work is believed to have been first published in 1873,

          Take time this week to study these powerful words.  May they be your prayer.

1.   More holiness give me,

           More strivings within,

More patience in suff'ring,

More sorrow for sin,

More faith in my Savior,

More sense of his care,

More joy in his service,

More purpose in prayer.

 

2.       More gratitude give me,

           More trust in the Lord,

More pride in his glory,

More hope in his word,

More tears for his sorrows,

More pain at his grief,

More meekness in trial,

More praise for relief.

 

3.       More purity give me,

           More strength to o'ercome,

More freedom from earth-stains,

More longing for home.

More fit for the kingdom,

More used would I be,

More blessed and holy—

More, Savior, like thee.

 

Listen to it here.   REQUEST

 

 



Sunday, July 16, 2023

HE IS ABLE (CLASSIC CHORUS)

          The blind man in Bethsaida was helpless and hopeless.  He wasn't able to do anything to regain his sight.  He depended upon others to get around.
          There was a man in the region of Decapolis who was deaf and mute.  He was miserable with his condition and he too wasn't able to do anything about it.
          The invalid man had lain by the side of the pool at Bethesda for thirty-eight years, unable to get into the pool when the water stirred.  He was paralyzed and also not able to do anything about it.
          Then there was the widow's son who had died and the ruler's daughter who had also died.  The parents were in deep grief but they weren't able to do anything for their children.
          These were just some who faced terrible situations but were not able to do anything to change them.
          Then one day they met the one who was able and their lives were changed.  Along came Jesus, the Son of God, who could heal and provide life.  He alone was able.
          The scripture tells us "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  Psalm 147:3 (NASB).  And He still does that today, for He is able! And that is the truth that stirred Dr. Paul E. Paino, the founder of Calvary Ministries International, to pen this simple but profound chorus.
          In the 1950-1960 era this chorus was a favorite in youth meetings and prayer meetings.  The message that God was able to meet all of our needs was a message and a hope that people needed.  And that need and truth is still the same today.
          We simply need to remember that the Word of God is life and health. His Word is true and trustworthy; His Word is perfect and pure, and His promises to us endure from one generation to another. And God has promised to "heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds."
           What He has done for others, He will do for you. Let us trust in His love, rest in His promises, and believe the truth of God's Word which tells us that "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds," and He alone is able because He went to the Cross on our account, and shed His blood to become our substitute.
            Do you have some needs that you aren't able to solve?  Then trust the Lord who is able to carry you through any situation, no matter who difficult or impossible it may seem.
 
He's able, He's able
I know He is able,
I know my Lord is able
to carry me through.
 
He's able, He's able
I know He is able,
I know my Lord is able
to carry me through.
 
He healed the broken-hearted
And set the captive free.
He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see.
 
He's able, He's able
I know He is able,
I know my Lord is able
to carry me through.
 
Sing along with it here.   ABLE
 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE LAMB

          For over 30 years I began each morning leading my students in reciting "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America … ".  For many of us the pledge was a renewal and reminder of our commitment to our country.  To others it was just a routine activity to start the day.
          But making a pledge can have serious consequences if it is taken seriously.  The 56 men who signed the declaration of independence faced sufferings for themselves and their families.  
Of the 56 men, 5 were captured by the British and tortured before they died. 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. 2 lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army.  Another 2 sons were captured.  9 of the 56 fought and died from wounds of hardship of the war.
          Now, it's one thing to make a bold declaration in the comfort of a congressional meeting, but it's quite another to pay the price, to fulfill that declaration on the field of battle, to pay with blood; yours - your families - and your neighbors.
          Now remember the day when you confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  You proclaimed your desire to be a Christian, to be united with Christ, and to be bathed in his blood. Courageously you pledged that nothing but absolute independence from the shackles of sin and the ways of this world would be acceptable. Do you also remember the day when you were buried with Christ in baptism and were raised to live a new life. In doing this, you were again making a bold declaration, a pledge of allegiance to the Lamb who made your life change possible.
          You were at that time pledging your allegiance - your devotion, your loyalty, your dedication, your commitment, your very life - to the Lamb of God, to Jesus Christ. Understand that you were at that time proclaiming what Paul proclaimed in Galatians 2:20; "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me..."
          Now it is a very bold declaration to say, that you will no longer live for yourself, that you will no longer seek your will for your life, that you will no longer live for the things of the world (power, pleasure, popularity and possessions). But rather that you will seek God's will for your life, seeking to do what pleases him far and above what pleases you!  Declaring that He comes first is one thing but it is quite another to live up to it. To pay the price. To fulfill that declaration on the battlefields of our daily lives. Most times saying words is the easy part, the actions are much tougher.
         There are real battles to be fought, real struggles to overcome. We are called in scripture to "finish the race," "to fight the good fight," "to endure hardships like a good soldier."
 Yes, we are in a real war, we have a real enemy, and he does not like it when someone, opposes, challenges, defies him. Our enemy, Satan, will attack us, pursue us, tempt us, he will try to make sin look good. He will at times, come at us head on just like a roaring lion, and at other 
times he will appear as angel of light.
          Let's make no mistake about it - there is a high price to pay to fulfill our pledge - THAT JESUS IS OUR LORD. Our Lord demands total, radical, unswerving allegiance and the fact that he does is no secret.
          Are we keeping, with the help of the Lord, our pledge of allegiance to the Lamb?
 
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
 
I have heard how Christians long ago
Were brought before a tyrant's throne
They were told that he would spare their lives
If they would renounce the name of Christ
But one by one they chose to die
The Son of God they would not deny
Like a great angelic choir sings
I can almost hear their voices ring
 
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
 
Now the years have come, and the years have gone
But the cause of Jesus still goes on
Now our time has come to count the cost
To reject this world, to embrace the cross
And one by one let us live our lives
For the one who died to give us life
Till the trumpet sounds on the final day
Let us proudly stand and boldly say
 
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
 
To the Lamb of God who bore my pain
Who took my place, who wore my shame
I will seek to honor His commands
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
 
pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Listen to it here. ALLEGIANCE
 
 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN

This is a feature where once each month I share one of my personal favorite hymns.

          For many years this has been one of my favorite hymns.  I appreciate it because it has a positive message of hope.  It's not "if" we get to heaven, but "when" we get to heaven.  It shares the message of Jesus of a coming time when this pilgrim journey will be over and we will see Him face to face.
          The hymn is a source of comfort and assurance, especially as we struggle with the cares and heartaches of this life.  We sang it at my father's memorial service and then, three months later, around my brother's bed as he quietly passed into glory. What a testimony for the believer.
          Over the years I have had the responsibility of leading many hymn sings, music for conferences and retreats, as well as programs for seniors.  As we come to the end of these worship experiences I usually choose this hymn to close.  Those of us who are there don't know if we will ever be together once again on this earth.  But if we are born again believers we can look forward to that time of meeting again in heaven.  There we will raise our voices in praise of our great Savior.  What a day that will be!
          Sometimes we can appreciate a hymn even more when we know something about the author.  Eliza Hewitt (1851-1920) was a teacher in Philadelphia.  One day while overseeing her students in the playground, she, unfortunately, suffered a severe back injury and was forced to bed for months, dealing with the pain the rest of her life.  Although Eliza could have been resentful, and no one would have blamed her, she felt the presence of the Lord while confined to bed. She started studying Literature and English while recovering from her injury. Barely did she know that she was being prepared by God to write poetry and hymns, and these two subjects would prove very useful.          
          As Eliza recovered some of her strength in later years, she was able to get around slowly. She attended the summer Methodist Camp meeting, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Here she met Emily D. Wilson and they formed a great friendship. They worshipped and studied together and together created this hymn, "When We All Get To Heaven." The hymn was first published in 1898.
          Are you perplexed? Discouraged? Worried?  Why not sing and claim the words of this great hymn, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"
          That day is coming soon.  I hope to sing and shout with you then, around His throne.
(1)    Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and bless├Ęd
He'll prepare for us a place.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory!
 
(2)    While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory!
 
(3)    Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory!
 
(4)    Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we'll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory!

Listen to the music here.    
LISTEN