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.