Monday, January 30, 2012

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

The featured hymn this week is the beautiful 18th century hymn by Edward Perronet. There are a couple of popular tunes these lyrics are set to. The first one I have here is my favorite, "Diadem".

The second tune is "Coronation".

Here are the lyrics without any music.

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.

2. Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
ye ransomed from the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.

3. 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.
Go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him Lord of all.

4. Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.
To him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.

5. Crown him, ye martyrs of your God,
who from his altar call;
extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod,
and crown him Lord of all.

6. 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.

Friday, January 27, 2012

That Thou My God Shouldst Die for Me

I once stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon - or as close to the edge as I'll come. It's deep. Very, very deep. Unless you've seen it in person, it's difficult to fathom a "hole in the ground" that big. And it's beautiful. The colors are spectacular. Without having seen it firsthand, you can't imagine what it's like. I can't describe it adequately.

But if that's spectacular, what about God's love? Have you ever taken the time to meditate on how amazing is God's love for us? So deep was His love that He sent His Son - God Himself - to die for us.

Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?

He died for me, not because of anything He had done, but because of the sin I had done; not because He had to, but because He loved me more than I can comprehend.

Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We did nothing to deserve His love - quite the opposite. We deserve eternal punishment. Pause and think about that. Even though we did nothing good, through Christ's death, and because of His great love for us, God gave us everything good. We couldn't even seek Him out. He came to us in our weakness and brokeness and lavished His grace on us.

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Ephesians 2:4-5:  4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

His love does surpass all our knowledge. It will take all of eternity for us to comprehend it.

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

The fourth verse is the one that leads scholars to believe that Charles Wesley wrote this hymn shortly after his conversion. It references Peter's miraculous escape from prison in Acts 12 and makes the analogy to the freedom from sin we have in Christ.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

There is only one response.

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Story of Amazing Love (And Can It Be)

The hymn that we know as Amazing Love or And Can It Be was written by the prolific hymn composer Charles Wesley. I read varying accounts to the number of songs attributed to him, but it appears to be well over 5000.

Charles and his brother John were both ordained ministers and founded a holy group called "The Methodists" because of their methods of rising early and strict Bible study. Yet they were both caught in the trap of legalism. A mission trip to the American colony of Georgia proved to be disastrous and Charles came home broken and ill. After his return, both he and his brother made the acquaintance of Moravian Peter Bohler, who urged Charles to look more deeply at the state of his soul and who taught them about true evangelical Christianity.

In May of 1738, once again ill, Charles read Martin Luther's book on Galatians and was convicted. He wrote, "At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think."

He also journaled, "I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood." Two days later he began writing a hymn that many believe to be And Can It Be (Amazing Love). The hymn's words bear this theory out, especially the words of verse four.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amazing Love

This week I chose one of my favorite hymns, "Amazing Love" by Charles Wesley. It gives me shivers just to listen to it. Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Bulwark Never Failing

When we were in Manila in the Philippines, we toured the Intramuros, the old part of the city. Surrounding the inner part of the city is an eight foot thick wall built by the Spanish conquerors in the 16th century. On the edge, overlooking the mouth of the Pasig River, stands Fort Santiago.
This imposing stone fort has been on guard over the city since 1590. It withstood the Luzon earthquakes of 1880 which destroyed most of Manila. The gate was heavily damaged during the liberation of Manila in 1945, but it still stands.

This is something of what Martin Luther had in mind when he wrote A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. The hymn is based on Psalm 46, one of Luther's favorite when he was facing trials.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.

The word bulwark from the first stanza is a great one. It sounds strong, doesn't it? Our God is stronger and mightier than any bulwark. Even when the imposing mountains fall into the sea, he'll be with us. When the earth moves beneath us, he is steady and sure. Through the roughest of life's storms, he will not leave us. 

Though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for God hath will, his truth to triumph through us.

Fort Santiago has remained standing through some very difficult times. Floods, earthquakes and war have threatened it for centuries, yet it looks triumphantly over the city. The stronghold has withheld water and enemies. An earthquake was no match for the thick city walls. So is our God. There will be trials, temptations and persecutions throughout our lives here on earth. More than once, Luther felt that all had been lost. He battled depression and despair, but the Lord used these times to bring triumph from disaster. His grace and mercy proved to be sufficient for Luther. When he cried to the Lord with the words of Psalm 46, the Lord was gracious to him.

8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
   to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”

And Luther speaks in the hymn of the final triumph. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

Our associate pastor referenced this hymn in a recent sermon. He wondered what is the one little word that shall fell Satan? Interesting question. We don't know for sure what Luther had in mind, but we can take a stab at it. In John 19:30 we read, "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." In Greek, it is finished is one word. The final word. As Jesus spoke those words, his work on earth was finished. Satan had been conquered. Christ had vanquished sin and eternal death. The Enemy has been subdued and at the last day will be thrown into the lake of fire forever. There is our ultimate hope in trial. There is our supreme consolation. There is our ultimate victory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Story of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

Martin Luther, the great reformer, wrote this hymn in 1529, some 12 years after he posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. Some describe it as the "battle hymn of the reformation" and it certainly has become the hymn most easily identified with the protestant reformation. Since that time, it has been translated into almost every known language. While researching this hymn, I stumbled on a beautiful version sung in Korean. The most widely used English translation is by Frederick Henry Hodge in 1852.

Luther believed the singing of hymns to be significant in motivating the believer. The Bible was God speaking to man; hymns were man speaking to God. “I would allow no man to preach or teach God’s people without a proper knowledge of the use and power of sacred song.” He was a musician himself, playing the lute and paying his way through school by singing on the streets of Eisenach. Yes, Luther was a street performer! And he was a prolific hymn writer, composing 37 hymns.

Luther wrote this hymn during a time of great opposition by Emperor Charles V. Psalm 46 often brought him comfort in those days, and thus this great hymn, based on Psalm 46,  was born. Throughout his life and struggles, Luther would turn to his friend Philipp Melancthon and say, "Let's sing the 46th Psalm". 
About this hymn, Luther himself said, "We sing this psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and his word against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin.”

Bach used the words to this hymn as part of his Cantata No. 80 for the Reformation Festival, probably in 1715. It, too, is beautiful. 

The beauty, majesty and truth of this hymn lives on. It was sung at Dwight Eisenhower's funeral at the National Cathedral in March, 1969, and again at the National Cathedral as part of the National Service of Prayer and Remembrance shortly after the September 11 attacks. On Friday, I'll be sharing a devotional based on Psalm 46.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Yesterday in our service, we sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". It's one of my favorite hymns and one of my husband's as well. Our organist did a fabulous job. The last verse gave me shivers. Enjoy this version.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Welcome to Hymn Sing! I'm excited about this site and the opportunity to teach others about traditional worship music. In all the churches I've been a member of, each Sunday evening we've enjoyed a hymn sing. People from the congregation are invited to share their favorite and we sing it. I love hearing other people's favorites and getting a chance to sing mine from time to time. That is the inspiration behind Hymn Sing.

Disclaimer: I'm not opposed to contemporary worship music. This site is not here to bash contemporary music at all. The purpose is to develop and deepen an appreciation for the "old-time" hymns. I believe they have much to offer and we can learn much from them and the words these pious men and women penned.

My goal is to discuss a new hymn each week. Please feel free to jump in with a comment or a question. On Mondays, I will post the words and music to a new hymn. On Wednesdays, I'll give the background of the hymn, the author or composer, or some interesting facts. Fridays will be reserved for a devotional based on that hymn.

I hope you enjoy your time here. You're welcome to post to Facebook and Twitter and invite others to join us. Pass the word!