Friday 03rd December

 

Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears wrote his carol, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, from the wellsprings of his profound faith in God and the belief that through the centuries God sends his emissary angels to earth with a resounding message of peace. He also wrote his carol while recovering from a devastating illness and from the depths of profound despair. In 1849, when Reverend Sears wrote his carol, the United States still reeled from the aftermath of the Mexican War and the burning issue of slavery that in another decade would ignite the Civil War.  Europe reverberated with revolutions, and people all over the world warred with themselves and each other. No one seemed to be listening to angel’s songs of peace. 


When Reverend Sears wrote this in 1849, carols were just beginning a nineteenth century revival as famous composers began to write new and contemporary versions of their ancient forms and It Came Upon The Midnight Clear was one of the first of these new carols. 


Like carols and carol singing and dancing, Reverend Sears was experiencing a renaissance in his own life when he wrote, “It came upon a midnight” on a farm in Sandisfield, a town in western Massachusetts within sight of the Berkshire Hills. Edmund Hamilton Sears was the youngest of three sons of Joseph and Lucy Smith Sears. As a child, Edmund loved the Berkshire hills near his farm and later told a friend and colleague Chandler Robbins that he imagined the hilltops touched heaven and that angel messengers rested on the hilltops between heaven and earth on their errands of love. 

 

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear spells out a call for peace and goodwill that echoes as “solemnly and stilly” and some would say futilely as the call that resounded in his time. Some Christians contend that because it doesn’t mention Jesus, it should be removed from denominational hymn books and others have rewritten the words to include Jesus. 

 

 

1 It came upon the midnight clear, 
that glorious song of old, 
from angels bending near the earth 
to touch their harps of gold: 
"Peace on the earth, good will to men, 
from heaven's all-gracious King." 
The world in solemn stillness lay, 
to hear the angels sing. 

 

2 Still through the cloven skies they come 
with peaceful wings unfurled, 
and still their heavenly music floats 
o'er all the weary world; 
above its sad and lowly plains, 
they bend on hovering wing, 
and ever o'er its Babel sounds 
the blessed angels sing. 

 

3 And ye, beneath life's crushing load, 
whose forms are bending low, 
who toil along the climbing way 
with painful steps and slow, 
look now! for glad and golden hours 
come swiftly on the wing. 
O rest beside the weary road, 
and hear the angels sing! 

 

4 For lo! the days are hastening on, 
by prophet seen of old, 
when with the ever-circling years 
shall come the time foretold 
when peace shall over all the earth 
its ancient splendours fling, 
and the whole world send back the song 
which now the angels sing.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 02nd December 

 

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Polish carol

 

 

Infant holy,

infant lowly,

for his bed a cattle stall;

oxen lowing,

little knowing,

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Swift are winging

angels singing,

noels ringing,

tidings bringing:

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

 

 

The hymn singing traditions in eastern European countries are rich and diverse, but virtually unknown in hymnals published in the United States. We have a large selection of hymns from German sources, for example, through the translations of John Wesley, who was especially interested in Moravian hymns, in the eighteenth century and Catherine Winkworth in the nineteenth century. To a lesser degree, hymns translated from French, Italian, Spanish, and a few from Scandinavian countries are represented as well. During the twentieth century, the lack of good singing translations from eastern European countries was further exacerbated by world wars, the rise of the Third Reich, and the Iron Curtain.

 

Manuscripts of The Polish sacred song date back to at least the thirteenth century in the Catholic Church. Even though these songs may have been initially influenced by the plainsong used in the offices and Mass settings of the Church, local musical variations soon influenced the performance of these. 

 

Polish hymn scholar Daniel Neises describes some of the general characteristics of The Polish sacred song: “Polish religious songs are a distinct repertory of congregational songs composed and derived from Polish folk music in general.

 

The little jewel, “Infant holy, infant lowly,” has many of these characteristics. The text was composed in Polish and it is no accident that one of the few Polish hymns we have in English is a Christmas carol. Daniel Neises continues: “Perhaps the most well-known and beloved part of the Polish religious song repertory is its superb ‘kolędy’, or Christmas carols. These, if any, are the most likely of all Polish hymns to be found in English translations, and are certainly among the finest Christmas songs from any tradition.”

 

Edith Margaret Gellibrand Reed (1885-1933) was a British musician and playwright. Her education included study at the Guildhall of Music in London, and she was also an associate in the Royal College of Organists.

 

She is now known for her translation of The Polish Carol which she found in the hymn collection. From there it spread to hymnals and increased in popularity.

 

It’s a great hymn and well loved Christmas Carol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 01st December 

 

What child is this?

 

GREENSLEEVES, the tune for which this text was probably written, is one of the most beautiful and beloved melodies of the season.


Though not exclusively a Christmas tune, its association with this season goes back to at least 1642, where it is paired with the Waits’ carol, “The old year now away is fled.” Shakespeare refers twice to GREENSLEEVES in his play Merry Wives of Windsor, helping to date it in the 16th century.

William Chatterton Dix, an Anglican layman, was the son of a surgeon in Bristol, England. He spent most of his life as a businessman, working as a manager for the Maritime Insurance Company in Glasgow, Scotland. 

 

We know of his church affiliation only through his hymns that were published in Altar Songs, Verses on the Holy Eucharist, and A Vision of All Saints.

Hymnologist Albert Bailey notes that some of Dix’s hymns are “horribly sentimental,” but on the whole says, “his hymns are simple, reverent, sincere, imaginative, not above the average comprehension, and two of them at least have proved to be continuously serviceable.” In addition to “What child is this,” Dr. Bailey is referring to “As with gladness men of old,” an Epiphany hymn.

Beginning with a rhetorical question, “What child is this?” the poet condenses Luke 2:8-16, painting a picture of a classic Nativity scene with the Christ Child sleeping on “Mary’s lap” while angels sing “anthems sweet” and shepherds “watch are keeping.”

Stanza two makes fleeting reference to the less than ideal conditions. In essence, he asks why the Christ Child should be in such a humble setting “where ox and ass are feeding.


In the final stanza, the poet expands the circle of those attending this humble scene. Drawing from the Epiphany season and the gifts brought by the magi, we take our place at the manger, bringing gifts of “incense, gold, and myrrh.” This is a setting that defies the conventional class structures of the time; the invitation is open to both the “peasant” and “king.” In a sentiment that is very common in hymnody, “the King of kings” will be “enthroned ” in “loving hearts.”

 

 

 

  1. What Child is this who, laid to rest

    On Mary's lap is sleeping?

    Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,

    While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

  1. Why lies He in such mean estate,

    Where ox and ass are feeding?

    Good Christians, fear, for sinners here

    The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

  1. So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,

    Come peasant, king to own Him;

    The King of kings salvation brings,

    Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 30th November

 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night, 
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.

 

Congregations sometimes have difficulty giving up a familiar older hymnal when a new one arrives on the scene. In many ways, the story of this hymn from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century is also about the transition between old ways of congregational singing giving way to new trends. We sing many Christmas hymns and carols that offer a poet's personal thoughts on the season, but relatively few attempt to sing the biblical witness of the nativity verbatim. "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," Nahum Tate's version of Luke 2:8-14, offers us a way to sing the Christmas story virtually direct from Scripture. In some editions, the hymn is entitled, “Song of the Angels at the Nativity of our Blessed Saviour.”

 

In his day, singing a congregational song based on anything but the Psalms was very unusual. Psalm singing was the usual practice during the era of Nahum Tate in England. In those days, Tate would have been known, among other things, as the writer of metrical psalms — hymns that paraphrased a psalm directly from Scripture and placed it in a poetic form  — with the goal of neither adding nor deleting any content from the text of the psalm.

 

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” is unusual for its day in that it follows this practice, but rather than being based on a psalm, it is a paraphrase of Luke’s account of the nativity. The practice was based on those churches following the lead of John Calvin whose Genevan Psalter (1551) provided congregations with all they needed for singing in public worship.

 

Furthermore, the practice was to sing the psalms unaccompanied in unison. A worship leader would "line out" each line of the hymn; that is, the leader would sing each line in advance so that the congregation could hear the melody and repeat it. The Supplement to the New Version of Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate (1700) indicates a slight loosening of the stranglehold of metrical psalmody by also including, in addition to this Christmas hymn, hymns for Easter and for Holy Communion.

 

This paraphrase was included in the influential Scottish Translations and Paraphrases (1745) almost 50 years later. The 1781 edition of this collection reflects the influence of Tate’s paraphrase but made some changes:

While humble shepherds watch’d their flocks
in Bethleh’ms plains by night.
An angel sent from heav’n appear’d
and fill’s the plains with light. 

 

Tate’s paraphrase, though straying too far from Scripture for some, was closer to the wording found in the King James Version, an important qualification of earlier metrical versions. This later paraphrase, while still close, indicates a loosening of the paraphrase standards, allowing for a little more flexibility. 

 

It is interesting to note that this hymn was not greeted unanimously with acclaim. Like Tate’s other literary endeavours, it received its share of criticism. Just as today’s church goers develop affection for particular hymns and do not appreciate changes, some church people did not like people messing around with the hymns. Nothing changes.

 

When shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round the tub...

Only joking, of course. Here are the official words to ‘While Shepherds Watched’.

 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down
and glory shone around.

“Fear not,” said he – for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind –
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind:

“To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be the sign:

“The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands
and in a manger laid.”

Thus spoke the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song:

“All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
goodwill henceforth from highest heaven
begin and never cease!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 29th November

 

Oh Holy Night

 

A parish priest in a small French town commissioned a local poet and wine commissionaire, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, to write a poem for the village’s Christmas Eve mass. 

 

Cappeau read through the birth of Christ in the gospel of Luke en route to Paris and finished the poem O Holy Night by the time he reached the city.

 

Cappeau turned to his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to compose the music to the poem, and three weeks later, the song was sung in the village on Christmas Eve. Initially, Cantique de Noel (the song’s French name) was widely loved by the Church in France, but when leaders learned that Cappeau was a socialist and Adams a Jew, the song was uniformly denounced as unfit for church services. But the common French people loved it so much, they continued to sing it.

 

The song came to the U.S. via John Sullivan Dwight, an abolitionist during the Civil War. Moved by the line in the third verse, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in His Name all oppression shall cease,” he published it in his magazine and quickly found favour in the north during the war.

 

Even though it was banned in France, the song was still popular among the people. On Christmas Eve in 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian War, an unarmed French soldier jumped out of the trenches, walked into the battlefield, and started singing, “Minuit, Chretiens, c’est l’heure solennelle ou L’Homme Dieu descendit jusqu’a nous,” the song’s first line in French.

 

After singing all three verses, a German solider emerged and started singing, “Vom Himmel noch, da komm’ ich her. Ich bring’ euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring’ ich so viel, Davon ich sing’n und sagen will,” the beginning of a popular hymn by Martin Luther.

 

Fighting stopped for the next 24 hours in honour of Christmas Day. Soon after, the French Church re-embraced O Holy Night.

 

 

 

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend;

He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 28th November 

 

 

Silent Night

 

The words of Silent Night were written by a Priest called Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, Austria, in 1816 and the music was added in 1818, by his school teacher friend Franz Xaver Gruber, for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria.

 

There is a legend associated with the carol that says, Fr. Mohr wanted the carol to be sung by the children of the village at the midnight Christmas Eve service, as a surprise for their parents. But in the middle of practising, the organ broke and not a note would come from it! So the children had to learn the carol only accompanied by a guitar. They learnt the carol so well that they could sing it on its own without accompaniment.

 

However, there are no records to indicate that a children's choir was involved or that the organ was broken!

 

At Midnight Mass in 1818, Fr. Mohr and Franz Gruber sang each of the six verses with the church choir repeating the last two lines of each verse. Mohr set down the guitar arrangement on paper around 1820 and that is the earliest manuscript that still exists. It is displayed in the Carolino Augusteum Museum in Salzburg. There are a number of manuscripts of various 'Stille Nacht' arrangements that were written by Franz Gruber in later years.

 

The original words of the song were in German (and it was called 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht') and the first translation into English went:

 

Silent night, holy night,
Bethlehem sleeps, yet what light,
Floats around the heavenly pair;
Songs of angels fills the air.
Strains of heavenly peace. 

 

Now the first verse is normally translated as:

 

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

The carol was sung during the Christmas Truce in the First World War in December 1914 as it was a song that soldiers on both sides knew!

By the time that the carol was famous, Fr Mohr had died. Franz Gruber wrote to music authorities in Berlin saying that he had composed the tune, but no one believed him and it was thought that Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven had written it! But then the 1820 manuscript was found and in the top right corner Fr Mohr had written: 'Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber.'.

 

It's now one of the most, if not the most, recorded songs in the world! 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

Wednesday 03rd November

 

Psalms 

 

The Psalms is a wonderful book to turn to for encouragement and healing words. Whether you are in need of peace, protection, or comfort from worry or anxiety, or are looking to offer praise and thanksgiving, the book of Psalms is the perfect place to start. The book of Psalms is widely viewed as the most popular book of the Bible. The main theme and focus of the Psalms are on God's power and goodness. The author's use of poetry to convey thoughts of hope for the future, praise for God as sovereign Creator of all, dependence upon God, and God's faithfulness. 

 

lt's only my opinion but if you are having trouble finding a prayer in your heart then a read through the  Psalms could be the answer to your prayer needs and offer supplication to your problem. Psalm 46 is one of the “stand out” Psalms.

 

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

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

 

For several decades, some theorists have suggested that William Shakespeare placed his mark on the translated text of Psalm 46 that appears in the King James Version although many scholars view this as unlikely, stating that the translations were probably agreed upon by a committee of scholars.

 

Interesting fact though, Shakespeare was in King James' service during the preparation of the King James Bible and was generally considered to be 46 years old in 1611 when the translation was completed. There are a few extant examples of Shakespeare's actual signature, and as was customary at the time, with spelling being somewhat lax in those days, on at least one occasion he signed it 'Shakspeare', which divides into four and six letters, thus '46'. The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is "shake" and the 46th word from the end is "spear."

 

We stand amazed each day to the love and the grace of our God and as the Psalm 46 tells us

 

He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”          Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 02nd November 

 

Job

 

Job Chapter 1 The Message

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!

4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.

 

The First Test: Family and Fortune

 

6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

 

Like the other Wisdom books Job is primarily composed of poetry and also Job 28 consists of a hymn to Wisdom. Yet Job stands in strong contrast to Proverbs. Many scholars believe that Job was written to correct a possible misunderstanding of the message of Proverbs. 

 

Job is different from Proverbs in another important way. Most Proverbs could be read in one or two verse segments and the full meaning would be clear. To understand the full impact of the book of Job, we are told that the book must be read and understood as a whole. In fact, some scholars believe that Job requires understanding as a whole more than any other book of the Old Testament. So for todays purpose I have simply included some words from Job Chapter 1

 

The climax of the book occurs when God does appear to Job and Job humbly acknowledges the divine sovereignty. Whatever else we might say about Job, it is not a typical book about being good. The questions it raises and the way in which differing opinions are presented can be confusing and even frightening. A reader of Job must "stay with it" throughout the whole book and then ponder what all the speeches and answers mean. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 01st November

 

Esther

The unknown author of the book of Esther was most likely a Jew very familiar with the royal Persian court. The detailed descriptions of court life and traditions, as well as the events that occurred in the book, point to an eyewitness author. Some have suggested Mordecai himself was the author, though the accolades for him found in the text suggest that another person, perhaps one of his younger contemporaries, was the author.

 

The book is named for the “star” of the story, a young Jewish girl named Hadassah who was taken from her guardian, Mordecai, and forced to compete for the affection of the king. This unlikely contestant for a beauty pageant was crowned queen of Persia and renamed Esther, meaning “star.”

 

Esther is the only book in the Bible not to mention the name of God. But that is not to say that God was absent. His presence permeates much of the story, as though He were behind the scenes coordinating “coincidences” and circumstances to make His will happen.

 

Nothing is truly coincidental, the book of Esther says to us. When events seemed out of control to Esther and Mordecai, when the king dictated ruin for their people, when evil was poised to triumph . . . God was at work. He worked through their dark days , their faithful obedience , and their victories .This message is clear: God is sovereign even when life doesn’t make sense. God is also the great Promise Keeper. 

 

 

 

Esther Chapter 2

 

 Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling: “Let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women; he will put them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.”

The king liked this advice and took it.

*

5-7 Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish—a Benjaminite. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had raised his cousin Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother. The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents died, Mordecai had adopted her.

When the king’s order had been publicly posted, many young girls were brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was overseer of the women. Esther was among them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 31st October 2021

 

Nehemiah

 

The Book of Nehemiah, largely takes the form of a first-person memoir concerning the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile by Nehemiah, a Jew who is a high official at the Persian court, and the dedication of the city and its people to God's laws (Torah).

 

One of the powerful messages of Nehemiah is how much you can accomplish when you align yourself with the will and plan of God. Nehemiah and his followers do what seems to be impossible because they are doing what God has called them to do. You don't have to rebuild a wall to do the will of God

 

 

“The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.”

I was cupbearer to the king.

 

 

A cup-bearer was historically an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty was to pour and serve the drinks at the royal table. ... He would guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the drink before serving it.

When we think of what was being said at the top of the page and the best thing would be to “align yourself with the will and plan of God”   you can see that even today that could be a hard act to follow but that’s what Christianity Is all about. It's not just “dipping in your toe” it “full immersion” that’s needed and that involves total commitment to God and his plans for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 30th October 2021

 

Ezra 1 

 

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—this fulfilled the Message of God preached by Jeremiah—God prodded Cyrus king of Persia to make an official announcement throughout his kingdom. He wrote it out as follows:

From Cyrus king of Persia, a Proclamation: God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship in Jerusalem, Judah. Who among you belongs to his people? God be with you! Go to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build The Temple of God, the God of Israel, Jerusalem’s God. Those who stay behind, wherever they happen to live, will support them with silver, gold, tools, and pack animals, along with Freewill-Offerings for The Temple of God in Jerusalem.

5-6 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone, in fact, God prodded—set out to build The Temple of God in Jerusalem. Their neighbors rallied behind them enthusiastically with silver, gold, tools, pack animals, expensive gifts, and, over and above these, Freewill-Offerings

 

 

People have asked through centuries “is God really for me?”  As well as that they have asked, “Is God really in command?”

 

In a way, Ezra answers this. God does what He promises. God said through Jeremiah that Israel would return to Jerusalem. Isaiah specifically prophesied that Cyrus would be instrumental in allowing their return. And just as God promised, it happened. Maybe this is a time to ask yourself, “What has God promised you?" 

 

“The Lord stirred up the spirit” of Cyrus and “moved the spirits” of the people to return. When God wants something to happen, He makes Himself known. The Holy Spirit whispers in the ear, “tickles the thoughts, and impresses the heart”. Have you noticed any “tickling” lately? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? 

 

The people began packing. The king, as well as their neighbours, began to “encourage” them with gifts. 

 

Amazing how God works.

 

Follow His plan and He not only directs your path, but gives you more than you asked. What unexpected gifts has God surprised you with lately? 

 

We serve a God who fulfills His promises, moves us forward, and rewards us abundantly as we serve Him. How great is that! If you have time read more of Ezra and thank God for all his promises. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 29th October

 

 1 Chronicles 29:10-20

The book of Chronicles teaches us the importance of prayer, in this reading David prays to God

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

 

‘Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honour come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.

14 ‘But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.’

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God.’ So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.

 

 

Some interesting points about this reading . This is the first time in the Bible that God is referred to as a Father to his people “Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.“ Jesus taught His disciples to pray beginning with this phrase, 'Our Father' (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus may have had this passage in mind when teaching His disciples about prayer because there are other similarities between the two passages. Also this verse supplies the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer ‘For thine is the kingdom’ (Matthew 6:13, KJV).

 

David could say this as a man who had a life full of both riches and honour. David knew that those things came from God and not from himself. Sometimes it is good to remember that when we pray, we are praying to God and everything on this earth comes from God. 

Prayer accomplishes at least two things.  It strengthens our relationship with God and gives us access to God's power and purpose. God has a purpose for us and our church that we can only discover as we spend time with God asking questions and listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 28th October

 

The book of Kings

 

1 Kings 3 from verse 5 ( from The Message)

 

That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”

Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.

7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.

“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”

15 Solomon woke up—what a dream! He returned to Jerusalem, took his place before the Chest of the Covenant of God, and worshiped by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. Then he laid out a banquet for everyone in his service.

 

 

 

People talk about the wisdom of Solomon and he certainly proved his label in 1stkings 3. God asked him what could He give him and quite unusually but wisely he asked for “ a God listening heart”. Because of this request God gave Solomon a wise and mature heart and after all this God gave him as well, the wealth and Glory that he didn’t ask for.

 

You could probably put together quite a few sermons and Sunday School lessons on that one story but I think the important thing that sets Solomon apart from all the rest is that he asked for a God listening heart as well as what he did as a result of his dream.

 

He thanked God. He publicly demonstrated his gratefulness and his respect for God. The God listening heart was certainly at work in Solomon.

 

Many times in life we pray to God. We might even pray “fervently” but do we ever “go back to Him“ in prayer? Do we ever thank him for a contented life? Do we ever ask for a God listening heart? When you think about it, the wisdom of Solomon was far reaching. His wisdom extended to things we may not have thought of or have even taken for granted. Maybe today amongst other things we should pray for wisdom and the ability to be discerning in all things.   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th October 

 

Samuel

 

1 Samuel 3 and I feel a favourite hymn coming on.

 

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle

 

 

 

Everytime I sing the hymn, “I the Lord of sea and sky” and I come to the chorus “Here I am  Lord, it is I Lord, I can hear you calling in the night,” I am reminded of the young Samuel.

 

Mistaking it was Eli who was calling him, it was the Lord all the time calling him.

 

Dan Schutte who wrote the hymn never assumed the tune would become so well-known.      Mr. Schutte was a Jesuit in his early thirties learning theology in Berkeley, California when one of his friends requested him to compose a song for a forthcoming ordaining Mass of deacons. 

  

Schutte has stated that he frequently used Scripture as the foundation of his songs, so as he thought about the concept of being called for the ordaining Mass, he looked to the stories of the prophets, like Jeremiah, who asked God to bestow him with the best words to use.

 

Schutte describes his inspiration of the chorus as, “In all those stories, all of those people God was calling to be prophets have expressed in one way or another their humanness or their self-doubt.”

 

You can imagine the young Samuel saying these words on the night he was called “Here I am, Lord; here I stand, Lord” to the self-doubting ultimate version: “Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord?”

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 26th October

 

Ruth

 

Chapter 2 

 

Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

 

 

Ruth, as we know is one of the greatest love stories with three characters . Ruth,  her mother in law Naomi and Boaz. The books tell us that Naomi represents Israel while Ruth represents the church and in the background is Boaz a man like Jesus and a man of redemption.

 

Ruth is a love story as well as a story of the harvest. Working in the fields and knowing your place amongst the gleaners and the harvesters. Boaz a kind man insisted that Ruth stay in his field and made sure that she would have a harvest to feed her and her mother in law.

 

The message behind all of this was that we should always stay in the Lord's field.  Don't stray.  Here lies peace, safety, provision, and satisfaction. Out there in the big bad world lies turmoil, danger and confusion and while some of it looks good, a lot of it is a lie.

 

When you find the way with Christ hard, when you find the going difficult, that is when you need your brothers and sister the most. Don't pull away, don't lag behind the harvest.  Rather, reach out and ask for help.  Don't turn back - stay in this field.

 

You see, this isn't the end of the story of Boaz and Ruth.  This was merely their first meeting.  But a little later, we see Boaz come back to the field and pick Ruth up in His arms and marry her. Even so, you and I must stay in the Lord's field, busy with His harvest, at any moment our Boaz could come for us, gather us up in His arms and take us home to heaven.  Since no one knows that moment, we simply don't have time to be distracted

 

There is a job to be done, there will always be a harvest out there and we have to get on with it.   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 25th October

 

Judges

 

Judges Chapter  16 

 

25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.

When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

 

 

The text of Judges gives no indication as to who wrote the book, but Jewish tradition names the prophet Samuel as the author. The namesake of 1st and 2nd Samuel, Samuel was the last of the judges, one of the special leaders whom God raised up to rescue His people. The judges did not oversee merely legal matters, as in our sense of the role, their tasks often included military and administrative authority as well.

 

In Judges, He disciplined them for following other gods, disobeying His sacrificial laws, engaging in blatant immorality, and descending into anarchy at times. Yet because they were His people, He listened to their cries for mercy and raised up leaders to deliver them. 

 

Unfortunately, even these godly individuals did not wield sufficient influence to change the nation’s direction. 

 

Memories from the Bible are a gift. Remembering the past teaches us countless lessons about how to live today. The Israelites forgot. They did not remember the miraculous events that brought them to their land or the covenant that united them to their God. But God did not forget His covenant—and because of His great love for His people, He disciplined his children so that they might return to Him.

 

Have you forgotten the great works God has done in your life? Perhaps your difficult circumstances are overpowering your faith. Do you feel as if He is disciplining you right now? Know that He disciplines those He loves Return to Him. Remember, trust, and obey. He is waiting with open arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 24th October

 

In the book of Joshua the story of Rahab the prostitute is a worthwhile story and should be investigated more if you have the time. Chapter 2 of Joshua picks up the story of Rahab who is harbouring spies sent over by Joshua.

 

 

Joshua 2 

 

15-16 She lowered them down out a window with a rope because her house was on the city wall to the outside. She told them, “Run for the hills so your pursuers won’t find you. Hide out for three days and give your pursuers time to return. Then get on your way.”

17-20 The men told her, “In order to keep this oath you made us swear, here is what you must do: Hang this red rope out the window through which you let us down and gather your entire family with you in your house—father, mother, brothers, and sisters. Anyone who goes out the doors of your house into the street and is killed, it’s his own fault—we aren’t responsible. But for everyone within the house we take full responsibility. If anyone lays a hand on one of them, it’s our fault. But if you tell anyone of our business here, the oath you made us swear is canceled—we’re no longer responsible.”

21 She said, “If that’s what you say, that’s the way it is,” and sent them off. They left and she hung the red rope out the window.

22 They headed for the hills and stayed there for three days until the pursuers had returned. The pursuers had looked high and low but found nothing.

23-24 The men headed back. They came down out of the hills, crossed the river, and returned to Joshua son of Nun and reported all their experiences. They told Joshua, “Yes! God has given the whole country to us. Everybody there is in a state of panic because of us.”

 

 

 

In this chapter Joshua sends two spies over the River Jordan to scout the territory, especially Jericho. Upon entering Jericho, the spies immediately hit up the house of the prostitute, Rahab, and spend the night there. ... While the soldiers go off in search of the Israelites, Rahab goes to her roof to cut a deal with the two spies. God was not pleased with prostitution. So why did the spies stop at the house of Rahab, a known prostitute? Since the spies were seeking information, they may have felt it was a safe place to gather facts without being questioned in return.

 

Perhaps the nature of Rahab's business made her home the only place strangers could stay without attracting attention. Whatever the reason, the LORD knew Rahab's heart was open to him, and he used her to help the Israelites win the victory over Jericho.

 


Rahab's story shows that God will help us when we want to start doing right. No matter how we have sinned in the past, God can help us if we surrender to him.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 23rd October

 

Deuteronomy

 

The Book of Deuteronomy commonly thought of as the “words of Moses” and is also known as the Fifth Book of Moses. The book consists of sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses shortly before they entered the Promised Land.

 

A notable reading is from Deuteronomy 28

 

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

 

 

These blessings are all and good but there are important points to note for the blessings to be effective.

 

First of all God is the source of all our blessings. He is number one above all else so his blessings should be welcomed.

 

The second thing is God's blessings are attached to his commands. So we should note that they go hand in hand. One is fully dependent on the other and that leads us to the third point.

 

His blessings are activated by our choices. Like water to a plant, like the sun to a good crop, his blessings will stand well with us if we nurture them and their subsequent outcome.

 

And finally they come in all shapes and sizes. Some of his blessings and commands are so easy to follow and adhere to it makes perfect sense but there are others that will take huge leaps of faith to understand.

 

 

And who do we turn to when we are faced with that? God of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 22nd October

 

Numbers 6 24-26 

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The Lord lifts up his countenance upon thee, and gives thee peace.

 


The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Old Testament and records the story of how the Israelites prepared their journey for the promised land as well as the Israelites rebellion and wandering in the wilderness. The author of this book is Moses.

 

Most of Numbers 6 deals with a thing called the Nazarite vow, this was something that the people took to show their allegiance to God and setting them apart from all others who didn’t.

 

Following the same idea of being set apart, the priestly blessing introduced in Numbers 6 is the Lord’s way of reminding the Israelites that they are set apart as a holy nation in contrast to the rest of the world.

 

It is no surprise then that we say this in our own churches and special times as well as during a normal church service. These verses are the desire of God’s heart for His people. What more do we need?   If God of the universe, the Creator of all things is favourable toward us then we need nothing more. God only wants the best for His children. His desire is to bless us. 

 

The meaning of the word “Bless” is to make somebody or something holy: to bestow holiness on somebody or something in a religious ceremony. Just by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we become holy under God’s umbrella of righteousness. 

 

God is our protector and our defence. He wants us near Him.  His promise is not only to protect us, but to take care of us. As God watches over us His face shines upon us. When God’s face shines upon us it is His favour and acceptance.  Remember that when Jesus was on the cross, God, the Father, had to turn away from Him, because at that moment Jesus took our sin upon Him and this made Him sin. God, being a holy God could not look upon His own Son in that moment and His eyes shifted from being upon His Son to looking upon us in Christ.   We are His righteousness and God’s love focuses on us. He is delighted with His children and treats us with kindness and goodness


 
It is up to us to open our arms and receive his blessing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 21st October

 

We read in Leviticus 11 "These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture,  the red kite, any kind of black kite,  any kind of raven,  the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk,  the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl,  the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey,  the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat."

 

Today we look at Leviticus and it's hard to bring out a verse from this book without courting controversy as there are so many rules and regulations contained within. Some relevant most not. But today let us look at the book itself and what we can learn from it 

 

The content of Leviticus relates directly to the Exodus and on more than 50 occasions the text says something like, “The LORD spoke to Moses”. The New Testament also refers to Moses as the author of passages from Leviticus (Matthew 8:4; Luke 2:22; Hebrews 8:5).

 

The word Leviticus derives from the tribe of Levi, whose members were set aside by the Lord to be His priests and worship leaders. As a title, the word means ‘pertaining to the Levites.’  Its content was originally meant to instruct the new nation of Israel in proper worship and right living, so that they might reflect the character of their divine King.

 

The book of Leviticus was important and was the first book studied by a Jewish child; yet is often among the last books of the Bible to be studied by a Christian. Today’s readers are often put off by the book’s lists of laws regarding diet, sacrifice, and social behavior, most of which don’t relate to the way we live today.

 

But what we can take away from this book is that we discover the holiness and utter “otherness”—of God. And we learn how sin devastates humanity’s relationship with their Creator.

 

The overall message of Leviticus is sanctification. The book communicates that receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance should be followed by holy living and spiritual growth. 

 

In Leviticus we learn that God loves to be approached, but we must do so on His terms. A lesson that we can all take on despite what book in the Bible we are reading and a recipe for a good life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 20th

 

Exodus 23

 

I could not recommend “This present darkness” by Frank Peretti enough as a book. Back in the ’90s, it seemed as if the whole of St Paul's was reading this marvellous Christian rollercoaster ride.

 

One of the significant visuals of the book was the way the angels appeared and were described. It starts with two strange figures appearing outside the little college town of Ashton: "They were tall, at least seven feet, strongly built, perfectly proportioned". They are, it transpires, angels on their way to look in on Pastor Hank Busche who has prayed for help.

 

In literature (and in our own heads) Angels come in all shapes and sizes. They appear on Cards and years ago girls swapped “scraps” of the now famous angel in the clouds. Images that seem timeless but are they a true picture?

 

But make no mistake the angels in the Bible are not cute and ingenuous. They had a role to play, a message to deliver or a battle to assist.

 

In Exodus we read of another angel and we are given some clues in his identity as it says in verse 21 “since my name is in him”. Some books tell us that this is the Angel of God in him. Not mentioned by name we only know a few angels by name, and in a sense, Michael  and Gabriel each have the name of God in their name but neither Michael nor Gabriel commanded this kind of obedience from Israel or presumed to sit in judgment over them. This is the specific Angel of the LORD. Could it be  Jesus appearing in the Old Testament, before His incarnation in Bethlehem?

 

This Angel would go before them into the place which “I” have prepared and we know that same principle is true of our life with Jesus today. Not only is it true that Jesus goes before us to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:2-3), but the place we walk in today was prepared by God, and where we will walk tomorrow is prepared by Him also.    Amen 

 

 

Exodus 23 reads

 

20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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.

Refrain:
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.

Refrain

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. 

 

Refrain:
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.

 

[Refrain]

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.

 

[Refrain]

 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]

 

Monday

 

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.