Thursday - 30 September, 2021

 
Someone coined the phrase “ it's better to wear out than to rust out” and if you think about that statement it makes sense to the more active amongst us. But when the statement was made it was in a "church" sense the phrase was coined.
 
The phrase came from a pastor called Henry Lyte who was burdened by a very poor pastorate and this made his life very difficult and very busy at the same time. But he plodded on regardless and made the best of what he did. But tragedy was just around the corner.
While living in a fishing village in Devonshire he eventually discovered that he was dying of tuberculosis and asthma. At the time he felt very alone and isolated and turned to the words of Luke 24 and in this case the KJV is very necessary for this quote
 
“And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
 
The ageing pastor recognised he was “ toward evening” in his life, but he was very aware that he wanted to “wear out” and not “rust out” and literally crawled to the pulpit for his last sermon.
Just before his last sermon he penned the words of the now famous hymn
 
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death's sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee
In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me
Abide with me, abide with me
 
Lets all aim to “wear out” rather than “ rust out” in our Christian lives. Amen
 
 
Tuesday - 28 September, 2021

Since looking at the hymns and the hymn writers the thing that surprise me the most is the background to why the hymns have been composed. 

That always makes the story behind the hymn much more interesting.

Martin Luther was a great theologian and in his day was known as a great preacher and writer but today his name is associated with the hymns that he composed. 

It is said that he was moved by Bernard of Clairvaux and said of him “ he loved Jesus as much as anyone". Luther then went onto compose a hymn as a devotion to Christ. He started with a poem that was split into seven sections and each section was devoted to a part of The Saviours body. Feet, knees, hands, side, chest, heart and head. From the inspiration that he drew from the poem he went onto compose a hymn that compelled us to look at the cross until the "depth of gods love overwhelmed us".

O sacred head now wounded
With grief and shame way down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns thine only crown,
How art thou pale with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn.
How does that visage languish,
Which once was bright as morn.


What language shall i borrow
To thank thee dearest man?
For this, thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end.
O make me thine forever,
And should i fainting be,
Lord, let me never, ever
Outlive my love to thee.

The Message translates Matthew 27  pointing out the scorn and the shame that Jesus endured. All that he suffered at the hands of the soldiers was for our gain and I believe this modern version hammers home the depth of Gods love for us.

Matthew 27 from verse 29 

“The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red robe. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

Let the words of Luther resonate today "Lord let me never ever outlive my love for thee" Amen

 
Monday - 27 September, 2021
 

Last week we celebrated Harvest Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate everything that God has given us and all the good things that we have.

Isaiah 55 in the message reminds us 

“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

 Many years ago Matthias Claudius decided to write a poem about a feast he was attending at a friends house. The friend was called Paul Erdmann and the poem praised him as well as the hospitality he was sharing with his friends. But ultimately he was thanking God as the ultimate source of the feast.

Many years later a young music teacher Jane Campbell translated the poem and in 1861 she suggested it for a new hymnal that was being put together and it became a firm favourite especially at Harvest time

 1 We plow the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God’s almighty hand.
God sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes, and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.

 

Refrain:
All good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above.
We thank you, God, we thank you, God, for all your love.

 

2 You only are the Maker
of all things near and far.
You paint the wayside flower,
you light the evening star.
The winds and waves obey you,
by you the birds are fed;
much more to us, your children,
you give our daily bread. 

 

3 We thank you, then, Creator,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time, and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
for all your love imparts,
and what you most would welcome:
our humble, thankful hearts

 

17 September 2021

 

 

Today’s hymn is very special in that the hymn tells the story from the beginning to the end. What’s interesting about this hymn is that Dolly Parton recorded this for an album way back in the ’80s and asked to sing it for an awards programme. Now the producers were far from happy with this song/hymn as it was too overtly Christian. So Dolly said, “fine I’ll not be there!" And panic immediately set in as she was the big signing of the night. Well. In the end they relented and allowed her to sing it and she embellished the whole experience by inviting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir along to help her. A lot of the country and western singers in the states are great Christians and Dolly was only a few lines into the hymn when folk were on their feet praising His name and enjoying the whole experience. 

 

The gates and doors were barred
All the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound

Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin' through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
Heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call

Hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldier's feet

There was no one there but Mary
So I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me
As she told us where she'd been

She said they've moved Him in the night
And none of us knows where
The stones been rolled away
And now His body isn't there

We both ran toward the garden
Then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and the empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said

But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they'd taken Him
Was more than I could tell

Well, something strange had happened there
Just what I did not know
John believed a miracle
But I just turned to go

Circumstance and speculation
Couldn't lift me very high
'Cause I'd seen them crucify Him
Then I saw Him die

Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I'd promised Him
Just added to my shame

When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn't be the same

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room

Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried

He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies

Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I'd ever had
Just melted into peace

He's alive, He's alive
He's alive and I'm forgiven
Heaven's gates are open wide

He's alive, He's alive, He's alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

16 September 2021

 

 

Today's hymn uses two pieces of scripture to depict the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” We see the spirit involved in creation hovering over the surfaces of the water. The earth being formless and empty.

 

Then we look at 2ndPeter 1 and the message translation reminds us that “We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts.” This is warning us that none of this is made up by man it all comes direct from God “inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

 

As usual Charles Wesley has woven solid theology into his hymn bringing order out of our chaos, shining a light into our darkness and unlocking the truth by the ancient prophets.

 

 

1 Come Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire,
let us thine influence prove;
source of the old prophetic fire,
fountain of life and love.

 

2 Come, Holy Ghost, for, moved by thee,
thy prophets wrote and spoke:
unlock the truth, thyself the key,
unseal the sacred book.

 

3 Expand thy wings, celestial Dove,
brood o'er our nature's night;
on our disordered spirits move,
and let there now be light.

 

4 God, through himself, we then shall know,
if thou within us shine;
and sound, with all thy saints below,
the depths of love divine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

15 September 2021

 

Galatians 6 v 14 reminds us that “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

 

Isaac Watts made a habit of writing a hymn for an important sermon and eventually he wrote 600 hymns becoming “The Father of the English Hymnbook”

 

Some even say that he was responsible for the “finest hymn in the English language” and this hymn was written for an important Communion service. Of course, if you haven’t guessed I’m talking about “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”.

 

This hymn vividly depicts the scene at Calvary and the dying Saviour and at the same time reminds us that His love demands our soul, our life and our all.

 

1 When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

 

2 Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

 

3 See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

4 Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

14 September 2021

 

The year was 1858 and the Preacher was a 29 year old man called Dudley Tyng and in a city wide evangelical event he spoke to 5000 men and 1000 responded to the gospel invitation.

 

However 4 days later Tyng was tragically injured while standing beside a corn threshing machine on his family farm. His loose sleeve caught amongst the cogs and an artery was cut and there was a severe loss of blood.

 

As he lay on the ground dying he said to his father “Stand up for Jesus' father and tell my brothers in the ministry to stand up for Jesus”.

 

The following Sunday a friend called George Duffield preached from the short text “Stand therefore” and read a poem he had just written called “Stand up stand up for Jesus''. Following that the words appeared in a children's leaflet for Sunday School then the words were set to music.

 

 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
Ye soldiers of the cross; 
Lift high his royal banner, 
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army shall He lead, 
Till every foe is vanquished, 
And Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
Stand in his strength alone; 
The arm of flesh will fail you, 
Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor, 

Each piece put on with prayer; 
Where duty calls or danger, 
Be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
The strife will not be long; 
This day the noise of battle, 
The next the victor's song.
To those who vanquish evil
A crown of life shall be; 
They with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

13 September 2021

 

A long time ago in the 80’s I once preached in a church and was told that it was to be “Psalms only”. I don’t remember much about that service but one thing I do remember was that there was no organ or piano used. A man stood at a  lectern with a tuning fork to make sure we were in the correct key. Changed days indeed.

 

Every day is a school day and here’s a wee bit of history.

 

There was and still is a thing called “Exclusive Psalmody”. Exclusive Psalmody is the practice of singing only the Biblical Psalms in church as part of worship. It is still practiced by several protestant churches.

 

During the Reformation, Martin Luther used hymns as well as Psalms but Calvin preferred the Psalms. This became the norm for the next 200 years. Hymns became acceptable again for the Reformed in the middle of the nineteenth century, though several denominations continue the practice of Exclusive Psalmody.

 

During the reformation in Scotland, the practice of “Exclusive Psalmody” made Psalm singing a central part of public worship. The book of common order introduced in the Church of Scotland by John Knox in 1564 contained versions of the Psalms adapted from John Calvin's “Genevan Psalter.” Psalms were sung to Genevan tunes and were only permitted to be sung in unison.

 

Frances Rous Cornwall, in 1579, and educated at Oxford. He adopted the legal profession and was M.P. for Truro during the reigns of James and of Charles I. He also represented Truro in the Long Parliament, and took part against the King and the Bishops. He was appointed a member of the Westminster Assembly; of the High Commission.

 

Francis Rous is credited as the author of "The Lord's My Shepherd," his text was substantially edited after publication. Rous's original version of Psalm 23 read :

 

My Shepherd is the Living Lord And He that doth me feed
How can I then lack anything whereof I stand in need?

 

But a change to the words won approval in Scotland due to its perceived accuracy in translation and in 1650 The General Assembly of The Church of Scotland approved the Rous version for the Scots Metrical Psalter. It is usually sung to the tune “Crammond.”

 

1 The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

 

2 My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e’en for his own name’s sake.

 

3 Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill,
for thou art with me and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

 

4 My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes.
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

 

5 Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me,
and in God’s house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

12 September 2021

 

Some of the hymns we sing have been around for hundreds of years and many of them have been. It's only when you look at the date the writers lived at the bottom of the hymn do we realise that we now sing some hymns that have been written in the last 50 or 60 years.

 

Even newer than that in some churches.

 

Hymns have been derived from poetry books, sermons and even ramblings in a notebook.

 

Carol and Jimmy Owens are prolific hymn writers and they started the “Jesus Movement"  in the late ’70s and over the years they have attracted the top gospel singers from all over the world including Graham Kendrick and Amy Grant and the great Pat Boone.

 

In the late seventies together with Pat Boone they wrote a gospel musical called Come Together and they toured over 400 venues alone in the United Kingdom. Church halls and Cathedrals.

 

The backbone of the musical was a verse from Matthew 10 verse 8 

 

 Freely you have received; freely give.” And the anthem from that musical became a standard hymn that we all sing and love.

 

Freely Freely

 

God forgave my sin in Jesus' name

I've been born again in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share His love as He told me to

He said, "Freely, freely you have received
Freely, freely give
Go in my name, and because you believe
Others will know that I live"

All power is givin' in Jesus' name
In earth and Heaven in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share His power as He told me to

He said, "Freely, freely you have received
Freely, freely give
Go in my name, and because you believe
Others will know that I live"

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

11 September 2021

 

 

It might seem unusual when someone tells you that when you are suffering to turn away from self pity and self concern and instead focus on The One who deserves our constant praise. 

 

Caroline Noel was trying to be a poet but she gave up by the age of 20. This was because she was bed ridden with a serious illness but by the age of 40 she picked up her pen and published some poetry in a book called “In the name of Jesus and other verses for the sick and lonely.”

 

If you think the tone of her work was sympathetic and comforting you would be wrong. In fact it was more theological in nature focusing on Jesus and his power.

 

 

Eugene Petersons the message translates  Phillipians 2 as :

 

"Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, and became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”

 

Caroline Noel then went on to have one of her poems turned into a hymn and asked that the tempo of the hymn be “not slow” but “with pace enough to be an anthem” Of course the hymn was :

 

 

 

 At the name of Jesus ev'ry knee shall bow,
ev'ry tongue confess him King of glory now.
'Tis the Father's pleasure we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

 

 At his voice creation sprang at once to sight,
all the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
all the heav'nly orders in their great array.

 

 Humbled for a season to receive a name
from the lips of sinners unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious, when from death he passed.

 

 In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue
all that is not holy, all that is not true;
crown him as your Captain in temptation's hour:
let his will enfold you in its light and pow'r.

 

Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
with his Father's glory, with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him King of glory now.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

10 September 2021

 

In the summer of 1864 an epidemic was sweeping through New York and thousands were dying. Pastor Robert Lowry had buried too many of his church members and was finding it more and more difficult to comfort the many friends and members that were affected by this dreadful epidemic.

 

One day he was comforting a family and had used the words of Revelation 22 to help him. I have taken this from The Message translation

 

1-5 Then the Angel showed me the Water-of-Life River, crystal bright. It flowed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, right down the middle of the street. The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations. Never again will anything be cursed. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. Never again will there be any night. No one will need lamplight or sunlight. The shining of God, the Master, is all the light anyone needs. And they will rule with him age after age after age.

 

Lowry took great comfort in these words that in a way was taking him back to the Garden of Eden and the first words that came into his head was in fact a question.

 

“Shall we gather?” and then the response was “yes! ''We'll gather at the river” and at that river we will see all of our friends again. And once more a hymn took life, gave hope and still lives today.

 

 

Shall we gather at the river?
Where bright angel feet have trod
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God

Yes, we'll gather at the river
The beautiful, the beautiful river
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God

Soon we'll reach the shining river
Soon our pilgrimage will cease
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace

Yes, we'll gather at the river
The beautiful, the beautiful river
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

09 September 2021

 

 

The history of Gospel music is well known and it all started off with songs that could be sung by those enslaved by their masters and could be recited like a prayer or even to keep each other motivated and alive.

 

Charles H Gabriel noted that hymns were being sung like dirges slow and monotonous and he felt people needed something new and alive.

 

Matthew 26 tells the story of the disciples sleeping in the garden of Gethsemane

 

 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

 

Hymns needed to feed on the raw emotion of Jesus and what he had to endure but at the same time as an audience the singer of these hymns had to be uplifted especially at the amazement at the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice.

 

Charles H Gabriel was known as the king of gospel music and saw a need for such a hymn and he set about putting this to the test and he wrote

 

 

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene
And wonder how He could love me
A sinner condemned, unclean

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song will ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love for me

He took my sins and my sorrows
He made them his very own
He bore the burden to Calvary
He suffered and died for me

Oh, how marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love

Forever I will sing Your praise
Jesus, Risen King
Oh my God I stand amazed that You loved me

When with ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see
It will be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love for me

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

08 September 2021

 

As a person who makes cards, it is sometimes difficult to design a card for a person who has had bad news or going through a rough patch. The popular choice seems to be a card that I make that says “ there are no words”.

 

A music teacher called AJ Showalter lived in Alabama and came home one day to two letters from old students. Both students had recently lost their wives and in fact had died on the same day. AJ began writing letters of sympathy to the two students. A verse from Deuteronomy 33 came to his mind  “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’”

 

He then wrote a third letter to a friend called Ellisha Hoffman who happened to be a hymn writer and suggested a few words to a new hymn and between them they wrote “Leaning on the everlasting Arms”

 

 

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.

 

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]

 

 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]

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

07 September 2021

 

Years ago I knew a girl who was blind, she was a teenager and had never been to school because of an overprotective mother. They moved to a new council house that had no stairs and in the house there was a piano that no one could be bothered to get rid of.

 

Now I know it sounds like a cheesy story but Lorna played with that piano and within a short space of time she could batter out a tune no problem and later became a piano tuner in her late adult life.

 

Fanny Crosby was blind too and she was the author of over 8000 hymns (yes 8000) and while she was under contract to a publishing house she managed to write three hymns per week. I wonder if those who managed to write great hymns had John 5 verse 13 in their minds “ I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”

 

Now one of her good friends was called Phoebe Palmer Knapp and she came to Fanny with a tune that was stuck in her head. Fanny asked her to play it on the organ and then asked Fanny “what do you think this tune says to you?”

Phoebe had to play it three times and finally the blind woman responded “that tune says Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine what a foretaste of glory divine.”

 

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior, am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love, 

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

06 September 2021

 

I am wondering if these hymns and stories are evoking any memories in you? As I come across the hymns and the stories behind them I can sometimes think of specific incidents in my life where the hymn was played out. ( am I getting old?)

 

I had a favourite aunt and uncle who lived in Pollok and it was where the rest of the family gravitated towards. She had three bedrooms and a separate kitchen so she could accommodate us all. Inevitably on a Saturday night there would be a sing song. Something which I hated to sit and be a part of. MY mother's party piece was “The Old Rugged Cross” and as she was a Mahalia Jackson fan she never managed to match that “spiritual wonderfulness” of Mahalia.

 

My uncle Robert however was a Jim Reeves fanatic and managed to do a good impersonation of him and he was the only “one singer one song” that I could tolerate. Now his party piece was “It is no Secret.”

 

 

“The chimes of time ring out the news, another day is through
Someone slipped and fell, was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength your courage to renew
Do not be disheartened, I have news for you
It is no secret what God can do
What he's done for others he'll do for you
With arms wide open, he'll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do

There is no night for in his light you'll never walk alone
You'll always feel at home, wherever you may roam
There is no power can conquer you while God is on your side
Take him at his promise, don't run away and hide
It is no secret what God can do
What he's done for others he'll do for you
With arms wide open he'll pardon you
It is no secret what God can do”

 

 

The writer of this song was Stuart Hamblen. A country and western star as well as a Hollywood actor, he was a hardened drinker and a gambler. Billy Graham was in town and Hamblen invited him onto a radio show that he was doing. The next day Hamblen went to the Billy Graham Crusade and walked onto the grass at Billy's invitation to have Christ in his life.

 

Newspapers got wind of this and it was hot news for a few weeks. One day while walking along a Hollywood street John Wayne happened to walk by and said to Hamblen “Is it true what they are saying about you?” Hamblen replied, “It is no Secret”.

 

John Wayne replied “sounds like a song to me” to which Hamblen replied, “John what God has done for me he can do for you.”

 

That night Hamblen wrote the song that was to become his own personal testimony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

05 September 2021

 

My secret passion is hymns being sung by Country and Western stars and especially Bluegrass performers. Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Alan Jackson are among the best but simply the best for me is Glen Campbell.

 

A young man called Austin Miles was a talented photographer and songwriter and such was his talent he was immediately offered a job as an editor in the music business. One day his boss asked him to write a hymn for a new hymnal and that it should be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line, bring hope to the hopeless and a downy pillow for the dying.”

 

Austin opened his Bible at John 20  “ 11 and by that time Mary had returned to the tomb and was standing outside crying. And as she wept, she stooped and looked in 12 and saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.

13 “Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him!

15 “Why are you crying?” he asked her. “Whom are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned toward him.

“Master!” she exclaimed.

17 “Don’t touch me,” he cautioned, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

 

 

This imagery of Mary in the garden was so real he imagined he was there. He thought he was looking down a gentle winding path shaded by olive branches where a woman in white walked slowly into the shadows to meet someone. It was then the words came to him and he composed the wonderful In the Garden.

 

 

 I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

04 September 2021

 

Like a scene from Gregory's Girl, picture this. The bell rings and we line up to go into the primary school building. As we enter the building one of the teachers (whose husband was “the minister'') would play “Onward Christian Soldiers,'' the deputy head stood on the stairwell clapping his hands, and to the beat of the piano and his hand clap we “marched” up the stairs into our classrooms. One day an “eejit” behind me stepped on my heel and my shoe (Clarks sandal from 1stSunday in May) came off, I had to come out of the line and retrieve my show, I sat on the stairs to put the offending shoe on and you can imagine my terror as the deputy head appeared behind me shouting “McEwan! My room now”. The only time I ever got “the belt” in my lowly school career.

 

So you can imagine the memories that “Onward Christian Soldiers“ evokes in my imagination. But I think the most important thing is that ever since the apostle Paul told the Ephesian Christians to put on the armour of God, Christians all over have used this imagery as a call for battle and being prepared. (As a 10 year old sitting in the deputes room I wish I had known these words).

 

Ephesians Chapter 6 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

 

A 31 year old teacher Sabine Baring-Gould composed “Onward Christian Soldiers“ as a marching song for his children. They were due to march to a neighbouring town where he lived in Yorkshire and he wanted the children to sing something significant and we have been singing it ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03 September 2021

 

The year was 1744 and England was at war with France. It was expected that the King, George the second would be deposed and The House of Stuart would be returned to the throne. Wesleyan meetings were being broken up and sometimes John or Charles Wesley were arrested and hauled through the courts.

It was during this time that the Wesleys published a hymn book titled “Hymns for times of trouble and persecution”. A verse from Mark 10 must have been prominent in their thoughts “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The first hymn in their new hymnal was “Ye Servants of God” and the instruction that went along with it advised that it “Had to be sung in a Tumult.”

 

1 You servants of God, your Master proclaim, 
and publish abroad his wonderful name; 
the name all-victorious of Jesus extol; 
his kingdom is glorious and rules over all. 

 

2 God rules in the height, almighty to save; 
though hid from our sight, his presence we have; 
the great congregation his triumph shall sing, 
ascribing salvation to Jesus our King. 

 

3 "Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!" 
let all cry aloud, and honor the Son; 
the praises of Jesus the angels proclaim, 
fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb. 

 

4 Then let us adore and give him his right: 
all glory and power, all wisdom and might, 
all honor and blessing with angels above 
and thanks never ceasing for infinite love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

02 September 2021

 

Going back to The Billy Graham Crusade, after he had talked to the folks in the arena the choir would sing the famous “Just as I am without one plea” and the awesome response “O Lamb of God I come.”

 

Billy Graham's words helped. Of course, but it's when the choir began to sing that lives were changed and lives were saved. I wonder if you know of any other hymns that literally make the hairs on your neck stand to attention?

 

Melody was a poor girl and raised a “hippy” lifestyle in southern California. She left the Jewish faith and tried Buddhism but that did nothing for her. She then met Keith Green and together they found everything they needed in Jesus Christ and in 1977 she wrote the famous “There is a redeemer” with her husband Keith composing the last verse. Sadly in 1982 Keith was killed in a plane crash along with two of their three children. Melody was not in the plane, she was at home heavily pregnant with their third child.

 

Despite all of this Melody Green lived by the words of Job 19 verse 25

 

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

 

And of course she wrote the words :

 

There is a redeemer
Jesus, God's own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Holy One

Jesus my redeemer
Name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Oh, for sinners slain

Thank you, oh my father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
'Til the work on Earth is done

When I stand in Glory
I will see His face
And there I'll serve my King forever
In that Holy Place

Thank you, oh my father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
'Til the work on Earth is done

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

01 September 2021

 

 

Another thing that I remember from the old Sunday School days was arriving at the church. We had to make sure we were carrying our Bibles, it was frowned upon if you carried it in your pocket and in one case I knew a girl who carried her Bible in a brown paper bag but that was to protect it. All Bibles had to be carried loud and proud and we should not be ashamed to carry them.

 

In the 1880s James Montgomery was a famous newspaper editor in Sheffield. He was made famous by the fact that he was imprisoned twice for his editorials and was outspoken against slavery and promoted democracy for all.

 

In 1824 Montgomery was inspired by Nehemiah 9:5 to compose a hymn for a Sunday School Anniversary.

 

“Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.  You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”

 

James Montgomery believed it was one thing to stand up for God in the church or praise him from the steps of the temple but it is another thing to praise him in the workplace and that was a thing James Montgomery loved to do and so must we. 

 

 

Stand up, and bless the Lord,
ye people of His choice;
stand up, and bless the Lord your God
with heart, and soul, and voice.

 

Tho' high above all praise,
above all blessing high,
who would not fear His holy Name,
and laud and magnify?

 

 O for the living flame,
from His own altar brought,
to touch our lips, our minds inspire,
and wing to heav'n our thought!

 

 There, with benign regard,
our hymns He deigns to hear;
though unrevealed to mortal sense,
the spirit feels Him near.

 

 God is our strength and song,
and His salvation ours;
then be His love in Christ proclaimed
with all our ransomed pow'rs.

 

Stand up and bless the Lord,
the Lord your God adore;
stand up, and bless His glorious Name
henceforth for evermore.