Tuesday 19th October



It must have seemed a long time to be stuck in the Ark. The family, the animals, the noise and the fear of what was going to happen next must have been disconcerting, to say the least. But in the end, God made good. He kept his word and delivered them all safely.


He gave them a new land, a better land so that everything could start from scratch. The land was dried, the boat settled and the animals released while a new life began. A new covenant between God and Noah began.


The covenant was established after the deluge subsided and it was  God's plan to preserve Noah and all the others in the ark, there will be no more disruptions and life on earth will be preserved, (after all) the value of human life is paramount.


Glasgow as a city will face untold disruption as the world's leaders battle it out for climate change and the preservation of the planet. We know it won't be straightforward and already people are panicking about transport links to their place of work and getting from A to B while the main arterial roads are closed for almost three weeks.


But while all of this goes on, what is God thinking? What is he saying? “Didn’t I tell you?”  “How are you going to fix this one?”. My hope for COP 26 is that there is room for prayer somewhere. We know that God is a God of grace and we must bring Him into the dialogue where the beauty of creation is being discussed. While all the government heads sit and ponder I hope they ask God for assistance cause only He knows what it took to create this beautiful planet.


So instead of shouting at the telly during COP 26 let's just take a minute to pray for its success and take a minute out each day before that to pray for all that this will entail. Amen



Genesis 9  ( after the flood)

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”













Monday 18th October


And the last one for a wee while


The spiritual songs come from the times of slavery and persecution and I’m told most times it was a prayer to pray together but disguise it as a song. Spirituals have a lot of emotional content and appeal and in a lot of songs it places the singer right in the middle “ as if you are there”. 


Today’s hymn is “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”


“Were You There” uses a system of coded language in its lyrics like most, if not all, African-American spirituals. Metaphors, especially those involving Old Testament figures, as well as Jesus, are often central to the meanings of spirituals. “Were You There?” tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus but underneath this narrative, however, it likens Jesus's suffering to the suffering of slaves. 


In some versions of the song, the singer asks “Were you there when they nailed Him to the Tree?” Replacing Jesus’ cross with a tree further strengthens the parallel between Jesus’ suffering and slaves’ suffering. African-Americans during the slavery period,



While this is all relevant I think this hymn goes from Christian discussion to the stark reality as Christ receives the nails being pounded into his bones and when they laid him in the tomb. But the glory is revealed in the last verse when we are asked did we feel like shouting “glory glory glory….. as He rose up from the dead.


Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? 
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? 
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

4 Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? 
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? 
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?












Sunday 17thOctober


As president of his churches young people group James Black called the roll each week. He liked to see new members come forward to their meeting and one in particular, a young girl sat in the front pew.


James knew that her father was a drunkard and there was no Christianity allowed at home, so he was worried one week when she didn’t show up. She had become seriously ill.


He thought about the day that names would be called from “ the lambs book of life” and the disappointment if one of us was absent. That night he went home and in fifteen minutes he had written three verses of a very memorable hymn. Sadly ten days later the girl died of pneumonia she missed the youth group roll call but he was sure she would have answered “ when the roll is called up yonder”.


When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more
And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair
When the saved diverse shall gather over on the other shore
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

Let us lay before the Master from dawn 'til setting sun
Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care
Then when all of life is over and our work on Earth is done
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there


Friday 15th October

A young Jewish student asked a question to Alfred Ackley. “ why should I worship a dead Jew?”. By training Ackley was a cellist and had studies at the Royal Academy in London but he was also a trained minister of the gospel serving churches in Pennsylvania and California.

Acklys answer to the student was a quick one” I tell you he is not dead! He lives! Jesus Christ is more alive today than He has ever been and in fact I can prove it by my own experiences as well as the testimony of thousands of other people.

Ackley talked to the man further and then went home and went back to his beloved gospels. He went over the story of the resurrection and suddenly the words “ He is risen” took on new meaning. He sat at his piano and “ the thought of His everlasting living presence brought the music and the words easily”


I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho' my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.


Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Thursday 14thOctober

As a child we had a rubbish collection of music in the Radiogram, the good stuff was Neil Sedaka ( Oh Carol), Cliff Richard ( living doll) and Adam Faith ( what do you want if you don’t want money) but the crackliest bit of vinyl was a Mahalia Jackson Album called “The Lords Prayer”.

Albert Hay Malotte was born on May 19, 1895 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.He was a pianist and organist, who gained his start playing for silent pictures. He later performed concerts throughout the United States and Europe.

In 1935, he took provided a tune to Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer. The song was first performed and recorded by popular baritone, John Charles Thomas. The Lord’s Prayer became a popular song during weddings and for special occasions in the church.

During World War II, Malotte toured with the USO and entertained the troops. He held a rank of Captain in the Special Services.

He composed numerous scores and songs over the years mainly to be used in the Disney animations.

 The Lord’s Prayer was not the only Biblical text he set to music. He also set the Beatitudes and the Twenty-Third Psalm to music. He died of pneumonia on November 16, 1964. He is buried at Forest Lawn, the Hollywood Hills Cemetery. However, his melody to The Lord’s Prayer, lingers on in the heart and mind of many believers.

Wednesday 13thOctober

Mark 1 v 16 tells  us that Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.”

I think it’s a “ done deal” that we , in order to be effective Christians have to stay closer to God and his son.

“ Just a closer walk with thee” is the most popular modern gospel song in the history of records. This was probably caused by one man singing it in the height of his fame . Elvis Presley entered the record books many times over for singing this song on his gospel albums and later bringing it out as a single. But it is acknowledged that over 100 artists have recorded this one song.

This history of the song goes back to an unknown writer in the slave fields of the deep south but the Southern Gospel churches kep this song alive during the second world war.


I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

When my feeble life is o'er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o'er
To Thy kingdom's shore, to Thy shore

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Tuesday 12thOctober


Ephesians 3 tells us that “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Some of us are blessed with talents that are so obvious while some of us have what we call “ hidden talents” but we have all have spiritual blessings given to us through God and his son Jesus. We just have to recognise this.

Johnson Oatman Senior was a very talented man, as a business man he was at the top of his game and it seemed whatever he touched turned to Gold. His son, Johnson Oatman junior was not so talented and as a young man tried his hand at many things but without the success of his father.

At the age of 34 Johnson junior began to write hymns and immediately found his niche. He was offered good money for his hymns and could have made a fortune as some weeks he was writing around four good hymns. But Johnson junior believed he should count his blessings and took only one dollar for every hymn that he wrote.

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 


Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.


 Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.



When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.



 So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. [Refrain]




The author of todays hymn, Edward Perronet , would probably have fallen into obscurity had it not been for this story that relates to his hymn.


Reverend E. P. Scott was a missionary, living in India during the 1800s. One day Rev. Scott met a native Indian tribesman in traditional costume. After enquiring he discovered that the native was from a ferocious mountain tribe which rarely came to the city. Feeling the need to visit the tribe to share the gospel, Rev. Scott after much prayer set out with a few provisions and his violin.

After travelling for two days, Rev. Scott suddenly found himself surrounded by a party of warriors from the very tribe he sought with their spears pointed to his heart. Fearing that this was the end for him, he pulled out his violin and began to play.

Closing his eyes tightly he sang ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’ in their native language. When he came to the stanza ‘Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe…’ he cautiously opened his eyes. He was astonished to see that the spears had been withdrawn and several of the warriors were in tears! For the next two and a half years Rev. Scott lived with this tribe teaching them the way of salvation.

 When poor health forced him to take a leave of absence, the natives followed him nearly 40 miles, wishing him to return to them soon.

This he did, spending the last days of his life with the people whose hearts had been opened by ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’.

All hail the pow'r of Jesus' Name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!
Bring forth the royal diadem
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!
You are Lord of all
You are Lord of all
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!

Sunday 10th October 


The lyrics to this uplifting hymn, ironically, arose from a series of tragedies suffered in the 1800s by Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago-based businessman and attorney.


First, in 1871, the great Chicago fire destroyed most of Spafford’s real estate investments, leading him to lose his life savings. 


Two years later in 1873, Spafford, his wife, and their four daughters booked a passage on an ocean liner sailing to Europe. Spafford had a last-minute change of plans due to business matters and never boarded the ship. While at sea, the ship was struck by another vessel and sank. Spafford’s wife survived, but all four of their daughters drowned. 


When he received news of the tragedy, Spafford boarded the next available ship to join his grieving wife. During his voyage, the ship’s captain identified for Spafford the approximate area where the shipwreck had occurred and his daughters had drowned. The painful events led Spafford to pen a hymn confirming his continued faith and love in God.


Among the hymn’s most poignant lyrics are:


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


In 1881 and despite their devastating personal loss, Spafford and his wife continued to reflect their devotion to God by moving to Jerusalem to serve the needy and establish hospitals.


His incredible faith created this meditation for us all, that no matter what horrible circumstances we face, we can be at peace knowing God is sovereign and his love is constant.


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

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ (yes, He has) has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought (a thought)
My sin, not in part, but the whole (every bit, every bit, all of it)
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more (yes!)
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

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!

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul


Saturday 9th October

 Maybe you are not familiar with todays hymn?

 Frances Ridley Havergal was an unusually gifted child. The daughter of a church rector, she was raised in Worcester, England and attended schools in England and Germany. In her love of learning, she grew to become an able scholar  becoming proficient in both Hebrew and Greek as well as a talented singer and pianist.

 The deepest desire of her heart, however, was in “personal spiritual influence upon others” . This led her to value most of all her ability to write for the spiritual benefit of others.

 Havergal suffered poor health and died at just 42 years of age

 The story of “Take My Life” gives a good picture of the kind of passion and joy she had in ministering to others. She oncetold the story behind it:

 “I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did! Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, till they finished with, “Ever, ONLY, ALL for Thee!”

In her own words, the hymn is a “consecration hymn” in which the singer commits all of their “possessions and being to the Lord for his purposes.”

 Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

 Friday 8th October

The hymn I have chosen for today is probably one of the most popular hymns that is sung around the world. People choose it to sing at weddings and funerals, pop stars have recorded it as well as famous opera stars. But like all of the hymns that are made by popular by the secular world, I sometimes wonder if the singers listen to the words.

Of course I am talk about Amazing Grace written by John Newton.

John Newton was born in London in the year 1725. His father was a sea captain. His mother was a devout Christian woman who, realizing that an illness she had would take her life within a short time, taught her son to know the Bible at an early age.

When John was seven, his mother died. He went to sea with his father when he was eleven; and by the time he was seventeen, he was in the British Royal Navy on a man-of- war ship.

During this time, John drifted far from the teachings of his mother. With each passing year, he sank deeper into the pit of sin. First, he was a sailor on a slave ship. Eventually, he was a captain, transporting slaves from Africa to ports where they could be sold for the best prices. Finally, one stormy night on a waterlogged ship in 1748, with the main mast broken in two, John Newton came face to face with the God of his childhood Bible learning. Then and there, John was saved from his darkest sins.

John’s life was changed forever. He abandoned the sea, settled in Liverpool and married Mary Catlett. Soon, John felt God’s call on his life to preach; and preach he did, securing an appointment to the parish church at Olney, England.

To add a special touch to his messages, John would close with poetic verse that he would compose. On a Sunday morning, in 1779, Pastor Newton closed his heart-warming message with an original poem about God’s grace or as John called it, “His Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.


Thursday 7 October, 2021

One of the strangest things I have read since researching our favourite hymns is that Isaac Watts wanted “ David converted to a Christian”? .

Now what he meant by that was that although he loved The Psalms he wished they were infused with the gospel , he felt that " some psalms were not appropriate for Christian worship".

He felt that they were written before the cross and the completion of Gods “ redemption and revelation”

It is said that Watts was thinking about Psalm 72 


 May he rule from sea to sea
    and from the Riverto the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him
    and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
    bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
    present him gifts.
 May all kings bow down to him
    and all nations serve him.

For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
    the afflicted who have no one to help.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
    and save the needy from death.
 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
    for precious is their blood in his sight.


And from this psalm Isaac Watts penned the hymn " Jesus shall reign"


1 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.


2 To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.


Most of the sources that I have read about this hymn say that the words of this hymn take on a new meaning when you think about the global envangelism movement of today where the word of God and the life of his son can be told in every corner of the globe and wherever the sun rises and sets.


Wednesday 6 October, 2021

Francis was born in 1182 in Assisi in central Italy, son of a rich merchant. After a rather poor education, Francis joined the army and was captured in war. He came to Christ shortly after his release, renounced his wealth, and began travelling about the countryside, preaching the gospel, living simply, seeking to make Christ real to everyone he met. 

Francis loved nature and there are many stories of his interaction and activity with animals. He reportedly once preached a little sermon to the birds, saying something like this "My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love Him. He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and all other things you need. It is God who made your home in thin, pure air." 

That understanding of nature is reflected in his famous hymn “ All creatures of our God and King.

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voices, let us sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beams, 
thou silver moon that gently gleams,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice, 
ye lights of evening, find a voice,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
that givest man both warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day
unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise him, Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
let them his glory also show:
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One: 
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Francis' hymn, "Song of Brother Sun"-was composed just before his death in 1225. Like Psalm 148, it demands that  all creation to worship God: The sun and moon, all the birds, all the clouds, all men and women of tender heart, all creatures of our God and King. The hymn was “ refashioned” in 1925 to be used in children's worship.


Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Born in Hertfordshire, Bishop Thomas Ken (1637–1711) was orphaned as a child and raised by his sister Anna and her husband Izaak Walton. They enrolled him in the all-boys school at Winchester College and when he was of the correct age he moved to Oxford University.

Ken was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1662, serving as rector to several parishes and as a chaplain to Princess Mary of Orange and then King Charles II. In 1685 he was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells. During the reign of King James II, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to sign the Declaration of Indulgence , a decree designed to promote the king’s Catholic faith. Ken was acquitted of the charge. When, however, King William III ascended to the throne, Ken refused to swear loyalty to him and resigned his office, living the rest of his life at the home of his friend, Lord Weymouth, at Longleat, 


Ken wrote in a pamphlet of hymns 

. . . be sure to sing the Morning and Evening Hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season (Ken, 1675, n.p.).This directive is most often interpreted to mean that the hymns were meant for private devotion, not the gathered assembly, and yet  four lines stood out and ever since have been sung more than any lines since.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly host

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost.


Commonly called “The Doxology,” Ken’s acclamation of praise is actually one of many doxological declarations that appear in many hymns, often in final stanza for instance “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and ``Now Thank We All Our God”. 


In the bible the words can be found in a Psalm. Psalm 26 verses 6-9


Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. ... Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge” 

Monday 4 October, 2021

Psalm 42 deals with someone who is obviously unhappy and even stressed

 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:

Martin Mystrom is from Seattle and he suffered from stress, he was a schoolteacher in Seattle.He found he had the summer off and decided to attend a summer term at  “Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas”. Little did he know what was about to happen to him, especially with all that he would be exposed to and the worship emphasis of the school. . .

He had graduated from Oral Roberts University and, frankly, was a little overwhelmed in ministry, he suffered from stress related illnesses and it was taking its toll on his spiritual life.

He found himself sitting at the piano in a room of the school, trying to write a song. He was simply playing chord progressions when he noticed a Bible on the music stand of the piano, open to Psalm 42. His eyes fell on the first verse of that chapter. After reading the verse he began to sing its message, right off the page. He wrote the first verse and the chorus of a song, practically straight through. The entire song was completed in a matter of minutes.”


Though Mr. Nystrom had not intended to perform the song publically, he shared it with a friend at Christ for the Nations before returning to Seattle. His friend introduced it to the others at the Institute, and it became a favourite. 


The whole hymn talks about the peace that can be achieved through worship and the imagery in the hymn itself suggests a peaceful scene and a wonderful relationship that can be had through God.

The hymn is a great prayer too and Nystrom attended a conference in Korea in the 1990’s that began with 100,000 Korean Christians singing his hymn as a dramatic witness of its power.


As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You 

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You

You're my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything

Sunday 3 October, 2021


In America there was a need for a portable organ that can be used on street corners, jail visits and general mobile use. Peter Bilhorn designed a small folding organ, weighing sixteen pounds, and started its manufacture in 1887. His Bilhorn Brothers Organ Company grew and is still thriving and Bilhorn organs have won gold medals at six World Expositions, and are currently in use on battleships, in army camps, in rescue missions and hospitals, and on far-flung mission fields.


Peter Bilhorn was born in Illinois in 1861, shortly after his father was killed in the Civil War. He was converted at twenty under D. L. Moody’s preaching, and after he acquired musical training he then went onto launch a career in evangelism which was to make him world famous. 


When Peter Billhorn was just 21 years he wanted to show his love for Christ in some way. He then approached his Pastor and Evangelist Frances Rowley for advice.


In a memoir Rowley commented  “I was minister of the First Baptist Church of North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1886,”. “The church and community were experiencing a period of unusual interest in religious matters, and I was assisted by a remarkable young singer by the name of Peter Bilhorn. One night after the close of the service he said, ‘Why don’t you write a hymn for me to set to music?’ During the night these verses came to me. The original poem began, ‘Can’t you sing the wondrous story?’ but when the song was first published by Sankey in 1887 the phrase was changed to “I will sing …”

we now sing this hymn as 


I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me;
How He left the realms of glory
For the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Raised me up and gently led me
Back into the narrow way.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then at last He'll bring me over
Saved by grace and mystery
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Saturday - 2 October, 2021

You may not have heard of today's hymn or of Bill and Gloria Gaither but they are two of the most prolific modern hymn writers in America and their shows have been going on in TV since the late 60’s. My dad used to gather the Gaithers videos and would hear them in all their “ cheesiness” in the background when we visited.

I then started recognising some of the videos and found myself thinking” Good this is the one that has “ Because he lives”. I shamelessly hung around to see these folks and all their entourage belt out a great hymn.

It was dark times in the late sixties for the Gaithers as they were both suffering from ill health, Gloria was three months pregnant and they were just starting out as Pastors in the area that they lived in. News of Vietnam was all around them and the world was a nice place to be in, so they thought.

One day, a discouraged and disheartened Bill was inspecting a newly paved area of their parking area. It was a part of their church site where there was no sun. But Bill noticed right at the top corner of the site where the sun shone, and it was there he found a single blade of grass poking through the layers of rock and tar to reach out for the sunlight. You can imagine the smile on his face.

Fast forward to the late summer and Gloria had their baby. When they came home they decided to write this hymn remembering the blade of glass being able to grow in a hostile environment, they rejoiced in the knowledge that their baby could in fact face uncertain days because Christ lives.


How sweet to hold
A new born baby
And feel the pride
And the joy that he gives
But greater still that calm assurance
We can face uncertain days

And because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives

And then one day
We'll all cross that river
And fight life's final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he reigns

Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know, I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives

Friday - 1 October, 2021

I love researching the words and origins of all of these hymns so far and I am lucky to have a few books that make it so much easier. But then suddenly one jumps from the pages and it’s a hymn we all love but the story behind the hymn and the composers make the whole thing just stand out loud and proud. It’s a long one today. Forgive me but it’s a story worth telling

Anna Bartlett Warner, was born in 1827. Warner could trace her lineage back to the Puritan Pilgrims on both sides. Her father was Henry Warner, a well known New York City lawyer originally from New England, and her mother was Anna Bartlett, from a wealthy, fashionable family in New York’s Hudson Square. When Warner was a young child, her mother died, and her father’s sister Fanny came to live with the Warners. Although Henry Warner had been a successful lawyer, he lost most of his fortune in the Panic of 1837 and in subsequent lawsuits and poor investments. The family had to leave their mansion at St. Mark’s Place in New York and move to an old, ramshackled farmhouse on Constitution Island, near West Point.  Seeing such a change in their family’s financial situation, Susan and Anna started writing to earn money.Both sisters became devout Christians in the late 1830s. 


The sisters published 106 novels and children’s books. Anna wrote a fresh hymn for her Sunday School class each month. It is believed that Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the last cadets to attend their classes. He graduated the year of Anna’s death.


In a novel they wrote called “ Say and Seal” , Sunday School teacher Mr. Linden comforts his sick student, Johnny Fax. 


A poem is read to soothe the dying child.


Jesus loves me, this I know, 
for the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to him belong; 
they are weak, but he is strong. 

Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so. 


Jesus loves me he who died 
heaven's gate to open wide. 
He will wash away my sin, 
let his little child come in. 


Jesus loves me, this I know, 
as he loved so long ago, 
taking children on his knee, 
saying, "Let them come to me." 


These words were published as a hymn in the hymnbook “Original Hymns”.The tune and chorus were added in 1862 by Dr. William Batchelder Bradbury. Dr. Bradbury dedicated himself to teaching, writing and publishing his music; published 59 collections of sacred and secular music. He wrote hymns such as “He Leadeth Me”, “Just As I Am” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. “Jesus Loves Me” appeared in his hymnal “The Golden Sower”.


In America in Westpoint ,when they were on military duty, the cadets were taught the words and would sing “Jesus loves me.”

Anna outlived her sister by more than thirty years. The popularity of the song was so great, that both sisters were buried with military honours because of their contribution they made to the spiritual well being of the soldiers. They are the only civilians buried in the West Point Cemetery.


Their home, Good Crag, was willed to West Point Academy and made into a National Shrine. Their home is now a museum in their honour.


Jesus Loves Me” is the first hymn taught to new converts and children worldwide. Additional verses have been added throughout the years.

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.


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.


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.