Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Story Behind Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

This hymn has obscure beginnings. We do know that it was written by Robert Lowry, a well-known hymn writer, in 1876. Lowry, a Baptist minister and professor at Lewisburg (Bucknell) University, wanted to be known more as a preacher than as a hymn writer. He would have rather preached a sermon to an appreciative audience than to write a hymn. Yet, more than 100 years after his death, what Lowry is best remembered for is his many popular and well-loved hymns. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus is among these.

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus was first introduced at a camp meeting in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Ocean Grove was established in 1869 as a place of spiritual retreat and revival and a place to escape the summer heat of northeastern cities. Over the years, many famous hymn writers came to Ocean Grove, including Fanny Crosby, William Kirkpatrick, and Eliza Hewitt, as well as Robert Lowry. Ocean Grove still hosts many famous preachers and speakers, as well as musical artists.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Friday, August 10, 2012

'Twill Be My Theme in Glory

I'm a storyteller by trade. I love to tell stories. Give me your ear (or eye, as the case may be) and I'll give you a story. It doesn't take much to trigger a story idea.

Yet the most beautiful story that has ever been told, that can ever be told, is the story of Jesus and his love. We can never get enough of that story - the story of our salvation.
        I love to tell the story,   it did so much for me;   and that is just the reason   I tell it now to thee. 
It's more than a story, isn't it? It's the truth! It's fact, not fiction. You can hang all your hope on it, because every word is the Word of God.
        I love to tell the story,   'twill be my theme in glory,   to tell the old, old story   of Jesus and his love.

This is the song we'll sing in glory for all eternity. Jesus and his love will always be in our minds and on our tongues.
        And when, in scenes of glory,   I sing the new, new song,   'twill be the old, old story   that I have loved so long.

I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
This is a story that we can't keep to ourselves. It's a story that begs to be shared - with every tribe, every nation, every tongue.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14

Each time we hear it or we tell it, it becomes even more beautiful than it was before.
        I love to tell the story;   'tis pleasant to repeat   what seems, each time I tell it,   more wonderfully sweet.    I love to tell the story,   for some have never heard   the message of salvation   from God's own holy Word.
Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story. Acts 11:4.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Story Behind I Love to Tell the Story

The author of this hymn, Katherine Hankey, was raised in a Christian home. She organized Sunday school for the poor and disadvantaged. At only 30 years old, in 1866, she suffered from a serious illness and an extended recovery time. While she convalesced, she wrote a lengthy poem on the life of Christ. The first section, composed of 50 verses, gave us the hymn "Tell Me the Old, Old Story". It was titled The Story Wanted. The second section, titled The Story Told, brought forth the hymn "I Love to Tell the Story".

Katherine herself wrote music for both of the hymns. They never gained popularity with those tunes. William Doane wrote another tune for "I Love to Tell the Story". The hymn received the tune we know today when William G. Fischer, a Philadelphia musician and piano dealer composed the music.

Friday, July 13, 2012

When I in Awesome Wonder

When dark clouds begin to gather in the west, we often sit in our glass-enclosed sun room. It's like being outside without being outside. The lightning flashes, the deep echo of the thunder sounds, and the rain slashes at the roof. Awesome. Powerful. Wonderful. Chills zip through you as you sit and watch.

Who made the storm which displays such potent wonder? The Lord speaks through the storms.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

The writer of Psalm 19 puts it this way:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

The Lord created the storm with its awful majesty so that there will be none without excuse. We can come to know a little something of our Creator through his amazing creation and we can worship the One who spoke the universe into being.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

He doesn't display himself only in the storm. As Moses found, He can be known in the quiet, too, and in the simple things of nature.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

The most powerful way the Lord speaks to us is through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through his death on the cross to atone for our sins and through his powerful rising from the dead to conquer death forever.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1, 2

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

And when we ponder the great love the Father has for us, our only response is:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

Then will come that glorious day when we will bow at the Lord's feet and sing his praises through all eternity.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!

They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 15:2b-4

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Story Behind How Great Thou Art

Carl Boberg, a young Swedish pastor, was inspired to write this poem in 1885 after he was caught in a sudden thunderstorm. The lightning flashed, the wind blew and the rain poured down. Once the storm had passed, the birds sang again.

Pastor Boberg never intended the poem to become a hymn. Imagine his surprise when he heard his poem being sung at a church service to the tune of a Swedish folk song.

The poem was translated into German and Russian. Stuart K. Hine and his wife, English missionaries to the Ukraine, heard the hymn sung in Russian and translated the three verses into English. Mr. Hine added the fourth verse upon his return to England upon the outbreak of WWII.

The hymn gained popularity when George Beverly Shea sang it almost nightly at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades in the 1950s.

Monday, July 9, 2012

How Great Thou Art

This week's hymn is a favorite of many. Chris Rice does a beautiful job, simply singing this song.

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Great Redeemer's Praise

There was an ad on the radio recently where a store was promoting a sale. The announcer came on and told the audience about this big clearance. A lone little voice quietly sang a ditty. No, the announcer insisted the sale was bigger than that. A couple of other voices joined in the jingle. No, no, the announcer insisted this was a really, really big sale. A symphony chorus broke in, full and rich and deep. Yes, the announcer said that was how big the sale was.

As Christians, we have even grander news than a clearance sale. We have the death and resurrection of Jesus to proclaim to the world.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Are a thousand tongues even enough to proclaim our Lord's majesty, power and salvation? He has given us the greatest gift of all - eternal life. What will we do in eternity? We'll praise Him, of course. It will take an eternity to glorify Him for His grace and mercy to us.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

This praise isn't to be reserved for Sundays only. On the contrary, the Lord's praise is to be constantly on our lips.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Even the deaf, the blind, and the lame will speak and leap and sing. There is no circumstance when praise should be far from your lips. And on that glorious day when we shall be taken to heaven, all our hindrances will be removed and we'll be able to praise Him with all that we have.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

The Bible has it's own version of O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing. It's Psalm 150.

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Story Behind O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

A bout of pleurisy while studying under Peter Bohler led to the renewal of Charles Wesley's faith on May 21, 1738. You can read more about that story here.

One year after this renewal, he decided to write a hymn to commemorate this event. The result was an 18 stanza long poem. The seventh verse, which says, "O for a thousand tongues to sing" has become the first verse of the shorter hymn we know today. The reference for these words is most likely from Peter Bohler who said, "Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all."

The hymn was placed first in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780. The music to which we sing these words was composed by Lowell Mason in 1839. Mr. Mason was the first music teacher hired by an American public school. He wrote music for over 1600 hymns and is said to be the "Father of American Church Music."

Monday, June 25, 2012

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

This week's hymn is a favorite of mine. When I was in summer Sunday school in junior high or high school, we had to memorize these words. I've never forgotten them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Story Behind Onward Christian Soldiers

Sabine Baring-Gould (the hymn's author) wrote about this hymn:

Whit-Mon­day (the day after Pentecost) is a great day for school fes­tiv­als in York­shire. One Whit-Mon­day, thir­ty years ago, it was ar­ranged that our school should join forc­es with that of a neigh­bor­ing vil­lage. I want­ed the child­ren to sing when march­ing from one vil­lage to another, but couldn’t think of any­thing quite suit­a­ble; so I sat up at night, re­solved that I would write some­thing myself. “Onward, Christ­ian Sol­diers” was the re­sult. It was writ­ten in great haste, and I am afraid some of the rhymes are faulty. Cer­tain­ly no­thing has sur­prised me more than its pop­u­lar­i­ty. I don’t re­mem­ber how it got print­ed first, but I know that very soon it found its way into sev­er­al col­lect­ions. I have writ­ten a few other hymns since then, but only two or three have be­come at all well-known.

He originally meant it to be sung to a movement of Hayden's Symphony in D. It was published the same year it was written - 1865 - in The Church Times and subsequent hymnals. It didn't gain wide recognition until Arthur Sullivan wrote a new tune for it in 1871.

It was sung at the end of the 1942 Academy Award winning movie Mrs. Miniver. This hymn was also sung at President Eisenhower's funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. in 1969.

Friday, May 25, 2012

When Peace Like a River

When Mrs. Spafford survived the sinking of the ship that took the lives of her four daughters, she fell into despair. Easy to understand. Who wouldn't be despondent? Her three oldest daughters clung to her as the ship sank. Her infant was swept out of her arms by the waves. She was saved only because a plank of wood buoyed her unconscious body.

Yet she was able to sing along with her husband, "It is well with my soul."
        When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,   when sorrows like sea billows roll;   whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,   It is well, it is well with my soul.  Refrain:  It is well with my soul,   it is well, it is well with my soul.   2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,   let this blest assurance control,   that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,   and hath shed his own blood for my soul.   (Refrain)
Knowing the background of these words truly brings the hymn to life.

Of course, the Spafford's understood that we have been saved from something even bigger than the sinking of a ship.
        My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!   My sin, not in part but the whole,   is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,   praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!   (Refrain) 
With the Lord in our life, nothing can touch us. No trial is too big that he won't see us through. No sin is too much that he cannot cover with his blood. Yes, it is a glorious thought. A peace-filled affirmation to us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. A buffer in a season of storms.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31; 35-39

Peace is a beautiful gift from the Lord and one that he bestows on us when we walk with him and submit our ways to him.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Even when our lives here on earth appear to be anything besides peaceful, we know we have a great peace waiting for us in heaven. Mr. Spafford must have been thinking of his children as he penned the last verse.

        And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,   the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;   the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,   even so, it is well with my soul.   (Refrain
Then we will be in glory with all of the saints from time past and together with them and the Shunammite woman say, "All is well."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Story Behind It Is Well with My Soul

This hymn grew out of the personal tragedy of the hymn's author Horatio G. Spafford. He was a well-known Chicago lawyer in the early 1870s when the Lord chose to take home his young son after a bout of scarlet fever.

In October, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city and destroyed all of Mr. Spafford's holdings. Tragedy appeared to be his constant companion. After all their losses, Mr. Spafford decided the family needed to get away and relax. He arranged a trip to Europe. The family traveled to New York to board the Ville de Havre. At the last minute, Mr. Spafford was called back to Chicago, but he insisted his family continue on the trip and he would join them as soon as possible.

On November 23, 1873, the Ville de Havre collided with the Lochearn, an English ship. The Ville sunk in 12 minutes and claimed 226 lives, including those of his four daughters. His wife cabled him once they reached Wales with the words, "Saved alone." She fell into despair until a friend told her that it is easy to be grateful when things are good but that we need to be careful not to be a fair-weather friend to God.

Mr. Spafford rushed to his wife's side. As the ship passed the spot in the Atlantic where his daughters lost their lives, the captain called to him. Immediately afterwards, he went to his stateroom and penned the words to this hymn.

Philip Bliss, impressed with the sentiment Spafford expressed in the poem, quickly put it to music. Shortly afterward, Mr. Bliss was killed in a tragic train accident.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Story Behind I Need Thee Every Hour

This hymn's author, Annie Hawks, began writing poetry at the tender age of 14 and she had several published in a newspaper.

When she was 24, she married and she and her husband joined a church in Brooklyn, New York, whose pastor was the hymn writer Robert Lowry. He recognized Annie's talent and challenged her to use it to write hymns. He told her that if she wrote the words, he would write the music.

The best way to tell how I Need Thee Every Hour came to be is through Annie's own words. This happened in 1872.

"I remember well the circumstances under which I wrote the hymn. It was a bright June day, and I became so filled with the sense of the nearness of my Master that I began to wonder how anyone could live without Him, in either joy or pain. Suddenly, the words I need Thee every hour, flashed into my mind, and very quickly the thought had full possession of me.

Seating myself by the open windows, I caught up my pencil and committed the words to paper - almost as they are today. A few months later Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune Need, for my hymn and also added the refrain.

For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow, with which it has often been associated.

At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later, however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words 1 had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Need Thee Every Hour

This week's hymn is I Need Thee Every Hour. Because the lyrics aren't included with the video, I've printed them below. Enjoy!

1. I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.

Refrain: I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

2. I need thee every hour;
stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their power
when thou art nigh.

3. I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

4. I need thee every hour;
teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises in me fulfill.

5. I need thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Everlasting Arms

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
who rides on the heavens to help you
and on the clouds in his majesty.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemy before you,
saying, ‘Destroy him!’
So Israel will live in safety alone;
Jacob’s spring is secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
where the heavens drop dew.
Blessed are you, O Israel!
Who is like you,
a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper
and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
and you will trample down their high places.” Deuteronomy 33:26-29

These verses come at the end of Deuteronomy, as part of Moses' farewell to the people. In the next chapter, Moses climbs Mount Nebo and dies. The book of Joshua then opens with the people of Israel preparing to enter and conquer the Promised Land.

What a formidable task that appeared to be. The inhabitants of the land had been proclaimed to be giants a generation before! The people had cowered in fear and as a result, wandered the desert for forty years. Joshua himself is seen begging the Lord for his help.

And God promised to go before them in a mighty way. So he did. He was the everlasting arms underneath the people. He was their strength and their mighty conqueror, delivering them from their enemies.

If he delivered his people from their earthly enemies in such a mighty way, how much mightier the way that he has delivered us from our ultimate enemy - Satan - and the sin and death he brings. At first glance, this deliverance didn't have the awesome punch that many of the battles in the book of Joshua did. Just a poor man on a cross.

Ah, but the victory over sin and death was greater and far more powerful. In the end, he will bring us to that place of new grain and wine where we will live in safety forever.

What troubles or enemies are assailing you today? Does God seem small and weak beside them? Remember, he is the everlasting arms supporting you.

Children like to play the game of "Catch Me". They fall backwards and trust that someone bigger and stronger than they are will keep them from falling flat on their backs on the ground. Do we have that kind of trust in our God. No matter what insurmountable problems lie before you today, God is there, bearing you up, caring for you, going before you to defeat it all.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,   leaning on the everlasting arms;   what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,   leaning on the everlasting arms.  Refrain:  Leaning, leaning,   safe and secure from all alarms;   leaning, leaning,   leaning on the everlasting arms.  2. O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,   leaning on the everlasting arms;   O how bright the path grows from day to day,   leaning on the everlasting arms.  (Refrain)  3. What have I to dread, what have I to fear,   leaning on the everlasting arms?    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,   leaning on the everlasting arms.  (Refrain) 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Story Behind Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Anthony Showalter was leading a singing school in an Alabama church in 1887. When he returned to his boardinghouse room one night, two letters awaited him. Both were from former students, and both men told of the recent loss of their wives. Mr. Showalter wrote back, seeking to comfort the young men in the midst of their grief.

But what to write? When he came to the end of each letter, he wanted to include a Bible verse. He picked Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms ….”

He pondered the words of that verse as he penned them into the letters, and the lyrics of the chorus of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms came to his mind. He wrote to his friend, Elisha Hoffman, explaining that he had a chorus, but no verses. Mr. Hoffman wrote back with the rest of the words of this famous hymn.

Sam Duncan, a student and nephew of Mr. Showalter, was given the class assignment to write the tune for this poem. The piece was published under his uncle's name in the book Glad Evangel for Revival, Camp and Evangelistic Meeting Hymnal.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Be Not Dismayed

When you sit down and start speaking with people, so many of them have difficult stories to tell. Adversity visits each and every one of us from time to time.

Hudson Taylor is someone who comes to mind. He established China Inland Mission in the mid-1800s. Over his long career, he suffered ill health, survived two rebellions and several typhoons, endured the death of both of his wives and many of his children, and yet God took care of him and used him in a mighty way.
        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:  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.
Perhaps there is someone you know today who is faced with a difficult trial. Perhaps that someone is you. Do you feel like no one cares? Is anyone there for you? The answer is yes! There is!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 3:16

The Israelites were facing a seemingly insurmountable problem - defeating the Canaanites. Yet God told them he would take care of them.

Much as we love our children, we don't take perfect care of them. There are times we fail. God never does. His loving eye never leaves us. We are forever under his watch-care. What a beautiful, comforting thought in the midst of the worst trial.

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: 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. 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: 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Story Behind God Will Take Care of You

This hymn was written in 1904 and has quite an interesting story. The Martins were guests at the Practical Bible Training School in Lestershire, New York. Mr. Martin was helping the principal put together a songbook.

One Sunday, Mr. Martin was supposed to go preach at a church some distance from the school. Mrs. Martin wasn't feeling well, and he thought about canceling and staying home to take care of her. Their nine year-old son piped up at this point. "Don't you think God will take care of her?"

With that, Mr. Martin went off to conduct the service. While he was gone, his wife, thinking about what their son had said, wrote the words to the hymn God Will Take Care of You. When he came home - relieved to find his wife much better - she gave the words to him. He sat down at the organ and within an hour composed the music.

Later that same evening, a couple of the teachers came by and they sang the hymn. Later in the week, it was sung at a school assembly and then added to the songbook.

We'll be hearing more about Civilla Martin as she wrote the words to another popular hymn - His Eye Is on the Sparrow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

God Will Take Care of You

This week is a hymn a remember my grandmother request we sing during the hymn sing at our Sunday evening service. It may have been her last visit to Wisconsin. It's special to me. So, this week I'm featuring God Will Take Care of You. Words by Civilla Martin and music by her husband Walter Stillman Martin.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Take My Life

Here is the second half of Ruth Babbel's piece on Take My Life and Let It Be and Frances Ridley Havergal. A big thank you to her for being my guest this week. You can find out more about Ruth and her work at her website.

If the text to “Take My Life” is autobiographical, then it seems [Frances Ridley Havergal] took the apostle Paul’s instruction to heart: “… I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him: a living sacrifice…”(Romans 12:1, NEB). The words she wrote on that wintry day in 1874 form a prayer of consecration—a transaction I doubt she made lightly, and precious to God.

All six stanzas of this hymn begin with a tiny but mighty word: Take. “Take my life, and let it be/Consecrated, Lord, to Thee/Take my moments and my days/Let them flow in ceaseless praise….” In this act of surrender, her heart became the Savior’s throne. Her hands moved at the impulse, or under the influence, of His sacrificial, self-giving love. Her voice (she was a contralto soloist) sang for her King. And as for her will, her words, and her keen intellect—all that went on the altar, too.

“Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.” There’s no empty show of piety here.

Rather, this stanza speaks of the day she wrapped up nearly 50 pieces of jewelry and gave them away to the Church Missionary Society—a deed that made her strangely happy!

Between the lines, Havergal’s classic hymn shows us a woman so alive to the glory of the risen Christ that she held nothing back. As she offered Him everything, allowing Christ to freely live and move through her ordinary life, she modeled the meaning of consecration.

In the final stanza, she seems to seal the offering, alluding to the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with fragrant oil (Luke 7:38):

“Take my love—my Lord, I pour

At Thy feet its treasure-store

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only, all for Thee.”

Pell, William J. (Ed.). (1962). Frances Ridley Havergal’s Opened Treasures. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers

Literary Heritage website:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Story Behind Take My Life and Let It Be

My friend, Ruth Babbel, has written a wonderful piece about Take My Life and Let It Be and the woman who wrote it, Frances Ridley Havergal. Today is the first part of her piece, about the woman God used to compose this hymn.

Frances Ridley Havergal—A Life Freely Offered
by Ruth Babbel

A.W. Tozer might have included her in his “army of fragrant saints.” Though her life was brief—she died of severe lung inflammation at age 42—the woman who penned the words to “Take My Life, And Let It Be” continues to speak through her hymns, poetry, and devotional writings.

Frances Ridley Havergal was a well-known hymn-writer by the time she reached her mid-30s. Eventually she had 71 hymn lyrics to her credit. Though she had no formal theological training apart from her diligent, daily study of the Scriptures, coupled with a strong prayer life, her words have a humble weightiness about them, often piercing the heart.

Havergal was born into an English clergyman’s family in Astley, Worcestershire, in the Christmas season of 1836. With a knack for languages, she studied Latin, French, German, Greek, and Hebrew. At the piano, she played Bach with skill and grace.

One of her most noteworthy qualities is that she filled her heart and mind to the brim with God’s Word. Perhaps this was what made her life not just fragrant, but fruitful (Psalm 1). Even in her youth she memorized vast portions of the Bible—from Isaiah to the Minor Prophets, from the psalms of David to the New Testament.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Take My Life and Let It Be

I am so pleased to have a guest blogger here this week. She was my locker-mate in 8th grade and we've connected again through Facebook. Later this week, I'll be sharing her insight into this hymn - one of my favorites. Until then, please enjoy this.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Language Shall I Borrow?

The words of the Bible and of this stirring Good Friday hymn say all that needs to be said today. They will do the talking.
What thou, my Lord, has suffered 
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

Psalm 103:9-12:
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

What language shall I borrow 
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

From Revelation 7:9-12:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Story Behind O Sacred Head Now Wounded

The words to this most beautiful hymn were penned by Bernard of Clairvaux who lived from 1091-1153. Bernard founded the Cistercian order of monks in the early 12th century. The words come from his poem Salve Mundi Salutare.

The poem had seven sections, each focusing on a different part of Jesus' body: his feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and head. Paul Gerhardt, a German hymn writer from the 1600s translated the last section of the seven from Latin into German. Several men have been credited for the translation into English.

The music comes from Hans Leo Hassler, who wrote it for a funeral. The hymn appears in a 1656 hymnal. John Sebastian Bach used the tune 5 times throughout St. Matthew's Passion. Apparently, he loved the tune, because he also used it in 5 cantatas and in his Christmas Oratorio.

Monday, April 2, 2012

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Every time I hear or sing this hymn, I'm so deeply moved by it's beauty and the thought-provoking lyrics that remind me of my Savior's suffering and his unending mercy.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sweet Hosanas Ring

At our church every year on Palm Sunday, the Sunday school children process into the sanctuary at the beginning of the service, waving palms and singing a Palm Sunday song. More than once, they've sung All Glory, Laud and Honor. How beautiful and stirring. And appropriate.

All glory, laud, and honor, 
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
Matthew 21:8 says that a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road and others cut tree branches and spread them on the road.

This all happened to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

We are commanded in these verses to rejoice and shout. Palm Sunday is a day of celebration. Our King is establishing His kingdom. He has secured it for us. We rejoice because because He brings us salvation. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)
The people of the Hebrews 
with psalms before thee went;
our prayer and praise and anthems
before thee we present.
That salvation came at a price we can't imagine. What He did for us on Good Friday and on Easter deserves our undying praise. And He gives us all eternity to praise Him. How glorious it will be. "Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him." (Psalm 68:4)

Yet a mere five days later, these same crowds cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!"

Is that how fast our devotion for our Lord evaporates? Or do we live a life of praise - no matter what the circumstances? Living a life of praise is a conscious decision. Each day we must pray for the strength to praise Him in all things. Palm Sunday should live in our hearts, not just on this day, but every day of the year. Every minute of our lives, we should be mindful of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." (Psalm 68:19)
Thou didst accept their praises; 
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King.

All glory, laud, and honor,
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Story Behind All Glory, Laud and Honor

Theodulf was born in Spain around the year 760 AD, but fled the Iberian peninsula because of the Muslim conquest. Charlemagne promoted him to Bishop of Orleans and he served as a scholar, an educator, a poet, and an adviser to the emperor. He was a church reformer, opposing the use of icons. He wrote books on baptism and the Holy Spirit. When Charlemagne died in 814, his sons squabbled over the empire, and his son Louis the Pious imprisoned Theodulf on suspicion of conspiring with his enemies.
Louis the Pious

The story is told that Theodulf composed this hymn while in prison. As Louis passed by his cell on a Palm Sunday, Theodulf sang the hymn and Louis released him on the spot. The story is likely untrue, as Theodulf died four years later, most believe in prison and of poisoning.

Whatever the story, the Lord used Theodulf to write a beautiful and classic hymn that has survived for 1200 years.

Monday, March 26, 2012

All Glory, Laud and Honor

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. This is an ancient hymn of the church celebrating Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem just five days before his death.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Music of the Spheres

Spring has come to many in the United States very early this year. Even in the Upper Midwest, forsythia are blooming, magnolias are budding out, and grass is greening. Add in the carol of the birds as they flit across the blue skies, and it's truly beautiful.

No matter where you look in God's creation, true beauty can be found. Blue-green Caribbean water.

Majestic mountains.

Pine trees laden with snow.

Flowers and butterflies.

A mountain stream.

Psalm 19: 1-4 says,
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Too often we worship the creation and not the Creator. Yet Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

God gave us this amazing creation so that we could learn about Him. The stars, the majestic oaks, the blades of grass, the human hand are like books, revealing God to us. Without words, they show us how incomparably powerful God is. There is none beside Him. (Deuteronomy 4:35). We are mere creatures, He the divine Potter. He is truly the one over us. When we look at a harvest moon shining in the sky or study cells under a microscope, we must recognize that next to the all-powerful Lord, we are finite. He is infinite.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

The passing of the seasons, the inbred knowledge of the birds to build their nests, the regular rising and setting of the sun all serve to remind us here on earth of God's sovereignty and his faithfulness. If He has control of all of this, He will not forget us but will care for us.

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:30.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

Then together, let's say, I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! Deuteronomy 32:3

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Story Behind This Is My Father's World

Maltbie D. Babcock was quite an athlete in his day, not only competing, but also excelling in several sports. He was born into a well-to-do and aristocratic family. In addition to all of this, he was an outstanding scholar.

The Lord blessed him with one more thing - a heart forhis Heavenly Father. He followed the Lord's humble call and became a pastor in a Presbyterian church in upstate New York. It was a beautiful area known as the "escarpment". He loved to walk through what he called, "my Father's world." In the distance, he could often see Lake Ontario.

Legend says that these walks are what inspired him to write "This Is My Father's World". The hymn, however, wasn't published in his lifetime. In 1901, at the age of 42, he set out on a tour of the Holy Land. During the Atlantic crossing, he contracted a bacterial infection and died at an international hospital.

After his death, his wife went through his papers and complied them into the book "Though for Everyday Living". That book contained this hymn. Frank L. Sheppard, an accomplished musician, set the words to an old English tune and published in 1915 in his book "Alleluia", a Presbyterian Sunday school book.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Is My Father's World

This week, we'll be taking a look at This is My Father's World. It's one of my favorites. Enjoy!

This is my Fathers world
and to my listening ears,
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

This is my Fathers world,
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hand, the wonders wrought.

This is my Fathers world,
the birds, their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white
declare their makers praise.

This is my Fathers world,
He shines in all thats fair.
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Fathers world,
oh let me neer forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Fathers world,
the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied
and earth and heaven be one

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wonderful, Marvelous Grace

The story is told that Mayor Laguardia of New York, in the depths of the Great Depression, walked into a courtroom, dismissed the judge, and sat to preside over some cases himself. Mayors had the right to do so in those times.

The case came up of a poor old woman accused of stealing bread for her grandchildren.

Mayor Laguardia found her guilty, sentencing her to a fine of $10 or 10 days in jail. Even as he pronounced the sentence, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a $10 bill. Then he fined all those in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city where a woman had to steal to feed her family. The woman left the courtroom, tears in her eyes, with enough money to feed her family for several months. *

Isn't that a beautiful picture of God's love for us? When we stand before him, we are guilty. There is no denying that fact. We have broken his law over and over again. Yet, even as he hands down the censure, he is sending Christ to bear our punishment. We don't have to pay the fine - the fine we could never repay no matter how long we tried.

What emotions swirled inside that woman as she left the courthouse? There must have been overwhelming relief - the burden of feeding her grandchildren had been lifted, at least for a few months. Unbelievable joy. She must have been so frightened when the mayor sentenced her. How would she ever pay the fine? Then to have it paid for her? I imagine she went home, threw a small party for the children and told all of her neighbors.

These are the emotions Haldor Lillenas portrays in his beautiful hymn.

Isn't that a beautiful picture of God's love for us?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus is a celebration of the fact that we, saved by God, stand in his grace. Listen to the pure joy in the first verse.

Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Just how big is this grace? It is greater than all our sin. Sounds small, but when you think of it, the depth of God's love and mercy to us in indescribable. We, alone, are helpless to do anything about a guilty, polluted, sinful state. Yet God saw us, sitting in our rags on the ash heap, chose us, loved us, and saved us. Wonderful, marvelous, matchless.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!

My guess is that Mr. Lillenas had a difficult time coming up with the words to adequately describe the fullness of his heart when he pondered how much the Lord loved him. Have you felt that matchless bursting of your heart?

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Does our thanksgiving overflow so that others can see the joy of God's grace in our lives? Do we live our lives, every day grateful for what He did for us? Because of us, will God's grace reach more and more people?

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

*Snopes neither confirms nor denies the validity of this story. I post it here only as an example of grace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Story Behind Wonderful Grace of Jesus

The writer of the hymn Wonderful Grace of Jesus, Haldor Lillenas, was born in Norway and immigrated to the United States when he was a small child.
Converted to Christianity at the age of 21, he entered Bible college and later became an elder and a pastor in the Nazarene church. He obtained his musical training through personal and correspondence study. He and his wife, Bertha, worked as evangelists for a time, traveling the country.

Later, he settled down in Illinois and bought himself a used organ for the extravagant sum of $5. They didn't have much money at the time. He composed Wonderful Grace of Jesus on that organ and made - you guessed it - $5 on the sale of the hymn.

In 1924, he founded Lillenas Publishing Company which later became Nazarene Publishing Company. He worked there for 20 years as an editor. Like many other hymn composers, he was prolific. Together, he and his wife wrote over 4000 hymns.
In 1982, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

While the tune may lend itself to being played uptempo, in a bubbly sort of fashion, Lillenas himself cautioned about the hymn begin played too fast. He wanted it to be slower so that everyone could focus on the the wonderful grace of Jesus.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

This is a much-loved hymn in our church. I'm a little disappointed that the sopranos don't reach for the high note at the end of the refrain, but it's a good arrangement nonetheless. I've included the words below the video because they don't scroll across the song. Enjoy!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him Gods dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fairest Savior

As I prepared to write this, I struggled with the meaning of the word "fairest". The second stanza helped me a little because it says:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer 
Fairer and purer are used here for emphasis. Similar words are used in poetry to give impact.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary solidified my understanding. It defines fair as, "pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming, or flawless quality."

Think of the "fairest of the fair". The beauty queen. The best of all of the beautiful women. Fresh, charming, flawless. The second stanza reads:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer  who makes the woeful heart to sing. 
That's what the hymn's author chose to call Jesus. He is flawless, our perfect Savior.

1 Peter 1:18-20 says:
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

At Passover, the Jewish people were required to slaughter a perfect lamb, one "without defect" (Exodus 12:5), and sprinkle that blood on their doorposts. Then the Angel of Death wouldn't visit them. They would be saved from certain death.

That's what our Perfect Sacrifice did for us. Jesus, the fairest, offered Himself as our sacrifice and saved us from certain death. If He wasn't the fairest, the perfect one, His sacrifice wouldn't have been acceptable to God. The Passover in Exodus foreshadowed our Fairest Savior's death on the cross.

Verse four gives a wonderful response to this news:
Beautiful Savior!  Lord of all the nations!  
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.
Amen and amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Story Behind Fairest Lord Jesus

I have to say, I'm a little surprised at how old this hymn is. For some reason, I thought it was rather new, perhaps late 19th century or even early 20th century, but some traditions say it's as old as the 12th century, sung when Crusaders made their way to the Holy Land. Originally, some believe, it was sung to a Gregorian chant. None of that can be substantiated.

Others attribute the hymn to around 1620, when the followers of the reformer John Hus were driven from Bohemia in a bloody purge. They settled in Silesia, now part of Poland. This is said to have been a Bohemian folk song.

The first known appearance of the hymn was in the Roman Catholic Munster Gesangbuch of 1677. Hoffman Fallersleben heard a group of Silesians singing this hymn, wrote down what they sang, and published it in his Schlesische Volkslieder in 1842. This is the version of the hymn we know.

The hymn appeared in English in Richard Storrs Willis' Church Chorals and Choir Studies in 1850.
A notation about this hymn in that collection stated that it was, "sung by the German knights on the way to Jerusalem." That may well be where the Crusader legend began. Willis was also the composer of It Came upon a Midnight Clear.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Every Morning

When I was a child and upset at night about what happened during the day, my mother often told me, "Things will look better in the morning." She was right. Day dawned and things weren't as bad as I had imagined them.

Thomas O. Chisholm understood this when he wrote Great Is Thy Faithfulness. The hymn is based on Ecclesiastes 3:22-23:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

Just who is this God on whom we depend? He's not fickle - he's faithful. Completely faithful. We may have faithful friends, but they aren't beside us 24/7. They can't perfectly understand everything we are going through and can't always work problems out for us. God can. And He does.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Every morning His mercies are new for us. Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews, told a story her father told her when she was worried. He asked her when he gave her the ticket for the train. She answered that he gave it to her right before she needed it. Her father compared that to God - each new morning, just when we need it, He will provide whatever we require. What a wonderful analogy.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Whenever the sun rises, whenever the seasons change, whenever the birds sing in the trees, that is a testament to God's faithfulness to his promises. As children, we're told not to make promises you can't keep. We're human and we don't always keep our word. God always does. Look out your window and remember how much He loves us.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Of course, the greatest promise He kept was to send His son to die for our sins. He has vowed to give us eternal paradise.

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:40

He will be faithful to that promise. What a wonderful assurance that is.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Story Behind Great Is Thy Faithfulness

The story behind Great Is Thy Faithfulness is remarkably similar to some of the other stories we've had. Thomas O. Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1866. As a young man, his health was frail and he spent much time bedridden. At the age of 27, he came to know the Lord and one of his favorite Scriptures became Lamentations 3:22-23. “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
He became a pastor at the age of 36 but had to retire a year later because of poor health.

He was able to take missions trips, and while away, he wrote his friend, William Runyan, a little known composer. Thomas often included poems in these letters Runyan was so moved by one of the poems, he wrote the music to the hymn we now know as Great Is Thy Faithfulness. It was published in 1923.

George Beverly Shea began to sing it at the Billy Graham crusades and the hymn became popular.

Thomas Chisholm became a prolific poet, writing over 1200 poems in his long lifetime. He died in 1960.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hungering for More about Jesus

What the first thing you do after you finish with your workout? Probably grab a bottle of water and guzzle it down. You're panting and longing for a drink to satisfy your thirst.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6.

Too often we rush through Bible reading. There are other things to be done - kids off to school or activities, dinner to be made, bills to be paid. Daily Bible reading slides to the bottom of the list. It gets forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our busy modern world.

We don't function well if we go an entire day without food or water. By the end, we're weak, exhausted, and in need of sustenance. And we fill that need by going to the refrigerator or the pantry.

If we don't spend time each day in God's word, meditating about what he says to us and reveals to us in the Bible, we grow weak and exhausted. Plodding along in our Christian life is difficult. We fall further and further behind in our race to the end.

We need sustenance.

The only place to get it? In God's word. May this be our prayer:

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.


More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

This week, challenge yourself to spend more time in God's Word. Take the time to meditate on the wonderful and glorious things he has done for us. Like we savor fine food, let us savor the words of our Lord.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Story Behind More about Jesus

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt was born in 1851, graduated as valedictorian of her normal school class and went on to teach in the public schools in Philadelphia. All of this suddenly ended when she suffered a debilitating back injury and became bed-ridden for an extended period of time.

Could she have been bitter? Certainly. Could she have complained to God about the unfairness of it all? None of us would have blamed her if she did.

But the truth is, she didn't. From her bed, she studied English literature and began to sing and write.

She took this time to learn more about Jesus. This was her prayer to her Lord, that he open her eyes so she would see more of Him and reflect more of Him.
More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

Some of her poems became known to Professor John R. Sweeney, who set them to music.

Eliza's back condition improved and she was able to resume some of her duties, though she struggled with pain the rest of her life. She became Sunday school superintendent of the Northern Home for Friendless Children and later at Calvin Presbyterian Church. She died in 1920.

Monday, February 6, 2012

More about Jesus

We sang this hymn in church yesterday morning and I couldn't get the words out of my head. Hope this has you singing all day today!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crown Him Lord of All

This year is the Diamond Jubilee, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the English throne. Her coronation was an event filled with pomp and pageantry as the crown was placed on her head.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, God crowned Him, exalting Him to the place of honor and glory He earned by dying in our place.

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

If only we could have been in heaven on that glorious day! Imagine the pomp and circumstance then.

All hail the power of Jesus' name!  
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Do Christians forget about Christ's kingship? We understand and emphasize the fatherly love God has for us, and rightly so. He tells us to come to Him as a child comes to his father. But do we stand in awe of the Lord and remember with wonder what he has done for us? He suffered in our place, took our sin, bore God's wrath and triumphed over death. Because of this, we have confidence that on the day of judgement, we will be declared righteous and will not have to suffer the consequences of our sin. What a truly glorious thought.

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget 
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.
Our glorious God humbled himself to the point of death and afterwards received the reward prepared for him.

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11

As if that weren't enough, his death purchased crowns for each of us on the last day. When that time comes, everyone who has ever lived, everyone of every race and culture and language will fall at his feet and acknowledge His kingship over us.What a glorious day that will be.

Imagine the rejoicing in heaven as all of God's people gather in His throne room and praise Him for all He has done for us. The human mind can't begin to comprehend what it will be like. Take the coronation of an earthly king and multiply it infinitely and you'll get the idea.

Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 51:11

O that with yonder sacred throng 
we at his feet may fall!
We'll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.
We'll join the everlasting song,
and crown him Lord of all.