The Way That He Loves


“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us….” (1 John 3:1)

     INTRO.: A song which seeks to describe the manner of love that the Father has bestowed upon us is “The Way That He Loves” (#647 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #450 in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, and #343 in Special Sacred Selections).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by William Elmo Mercer (1932-2020), who wrote more than 1,600 songs and worked extensively as a music arranger. Arguably his best known song is “Each Step I Take.” Mercer worked for the John T. Benson Company from 1951 to 1981 as a music editor. He also consulted for LifeWay, Lorenz, Brentwood, and other music companies. He and his wife Marcia traveled as singing evangelists for three decades and he served as the music minister for Scottsboro First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

     “The Way That He Loves” was copyrighted in 1958 by John T. Benson Jr., was later owned by the Singspiration division of the Zondervan Corp., and is now administered by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard; the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et al., in addition to Hymns for Worship.  The third stanza has been added.

     The song extols the love that our Lord has for us.

I.  Stanza 1 compares God’s love to day and night

The way that He loves is as fair as the day

That blesses my way with light.

The way that He loves is as soft as a breeze

Caressing the trees at night.

So tender and precious is He;

Contented with Jesus I’ll be.

The way that He loves is so thrilling because

His love reaches even me.

 A. God made the sun as the greater light to rule the day: Gen. 1:13-18

 B. He made the night as a time to declare His faithfulness: Ps. 92:1-2

 C. And He sent Jesus His Son to show that He loves the whole world, even me: Jn. 3:16

II. Stanza 2 compares God’s love to the depth of the sea and the sweetness of the rose

The way that He loves is as deep as the sea;

His Spirit shall be my stay.

The way that He loves is as pure as the rose;

Much sweeter He grows each day.

His peace hovers near like a dove;

I know there’s a Heaven above

To Jesus I’ll cling; life’s a wonderful thing

Because of the way that He loves.

 A. The sea is a fitting symbol for the depth of God’s wisdom and love: Ps. 104:24-26

 B. The rose is a beautiful flower which symbolizes God’s sweetness and love: Isa. 35:1-2

 C. As a result of this love of God, we can have His peace keeping our hearts: Phil. 4:6-7

III. Stanza 3 compares God’s love to the breadth of the sky and the brightness of the sun

The way that He loves is as broad as the sky

That spreads over all the earth.

The way that He loves is as bright as the sun;

I sing of His matchless worth.

Christ Jesus came down from His throne

To save me and make me His own.

Someday by His grace I shall look on His face

When I from this life have flown.

 A. The skies that are spread abroad over the earth remind us of the breadth of God’s power and love: Job 37:14-18

 B. The brightness of the physical sun points to the glory of the Sun of Righteousness: Mal. 4:2

 C. And because of this love, we can have the hope of seeing Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:2-3

     CONCL.:  God loves all mankind and showed it by offering His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  But He has a special kind of care and love for His people.  Faithful Christians can know with assurance that they can be saved and ultimately go to heaven because of “The Way That He Loves.”


Mansion Over the Hilltop


“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

     INTRO.:  A gospel song which mentions the “many mansions” in our Father’s house is “Mansion Over the Hilltop” (#393 in Sacred Selections for the Church, #70 in Hymns for Worship Supplement).  My friend Alan Jones reported that in 1945, a young businessman told of the story of his failing business to a church assembly in Dallas, TX. When all hope seemed lost and he was distraught, he went for a drive in the country to seek solace. He drove down a lonely road, then got out and walked a ways on foot. He happened upon a dilapidated cottage. Some of the windows had even been replaced by cardboard. Out front, a little girl was playing with a doll whose stuffing was coming out, but she seemed contented and happy. The businessman asked the child how she could be so happy in her poor living conditions. She replied, “Mister, my daddy just came into a lot of money, and he is building us a brand new mansion just over that hilltop.”

     The young man’s heart was pierced, now putting his failing business in perspective. He said that it was as if God was telling him, “Son, don’t you know that I have a mansion prepared for you just beyond the clouds?” He went home cheered and with new purpose to work toward that mansion and leave his business in the hands of his heavenly Father.  In the audience that day, listening to the young businessman, was gospel song writer Ira Stanphill (1914-1993). He was so moved by the story that the next morning he wrote the text and composed the tune (I’ve Got a Mansion) to “Mansion Over the Hilltop.” The song was copyrighted in 1949, was owned by Singspiration Music, and is now administered by Brentwood-Benson Music Pub. Inc.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 1968 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1990 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise, both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2017 Standard Songs of the Church edited by Michael A. Grissom; in addition to Sacred Selections and Hymns for Worship Supplement.

     The song is designed to whet our appetite for heaven.

I. Stanza 1 emphasizes contentment

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below,

A little silver and a little gold;

But in that city, where the ransomed will shine,

I want a gold one, that’s silver lined.

 A. We should learn to be satisfied or content with such things as we have: 1 Tim. 6:6-8

 B. However, there is a city where the ransomed will shine: Rev. 21:1-4

 C. Its beauty and grandeur are symbolized by precious metals such as gold and silver: Rev. 21:18-21

II. Stanza 2 emphasizes suffering

Though often tempted, tormented, and tested

And like the prophet my pillow a stone;

And though I find here, no permanent dwelling,

I know He’ll give me a mansion my own.

 A. We are often tempted with trials to test us: Jas. 1:2-3

 B. We may even have a stone for our pillow as did Jacob: Gen. 28:10-11

 C. But even though we may have no permanent dwelling here, we may be assured that God has for His people “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”: 2 Cor. 5:1

III. Stanza 3 emphasizes hope

Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely,

I’m not discouraged, I’m heaven bound;

I’m just a pilgrim in search of a city,

I want a mansion, a robe and a crown.

 A. Christians are not poor or deserted or lonely, but are heaven bound: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

 B. They are simply pilgrims looking for a city as were the patriarchs of old: Heb. 11:13-16

 C. Along with the mansion, God’s people can expect a robe and a crown: Rev. 4:4

     CONCL.: The chorus exhorts us to continue looking towards heaven as our ultimate goal.

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,

In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;

And some day yonder we will never more wander

But walk the streets that are purest gold.

This song has often been criticized as being very materialistic.  “I want a gold one that’s silver lined.”  However, the language obviously draws from John’s description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation.  If we can understand the figurative, metaphorical nature of the items mentioned by John, why cannot we do the same with the song?  I did not grow up singing this song until we switched from Christian Hymns No. 2 to Sacred Selections during the early 1970s when I was in my late teens.  However, I was familiar with it because my small, rural elementary school had a “chapel” service every Friday morning, and about once a year, an alumnus of the school who had become a missionary would return to speak in the chapel service and be asked to play the song on the piano.  As Alan Jones wrote, “May we take the hymn’s lesson to heart. Let us be content with our cottage, whatever its condition, as we look forward to our mansion.  Why should we be discouraged? We are heaven bound!” with a “Mansion Over the Hilltop.”

Lord, Send a Revival


“…That our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.“ (Ezra 9:8)

     Introduction:  A gospel song which asks the Lord to give us a little reviving is “Lord, Send a Revival.”  The text was written and the tune (Matthews) was composed both by Baylus Benjamin McKinney “B. B.” McKinney (July 22, 1886 – September 7, 1952), an American singer, song writer, teacher, and music editor.  McKinney was a native of rural Heflin in south Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Son of James Calvin McKinney and Martha Annis Heflin McKinney, B . B. attended Mount Lebanon Academy, Louisiana; Louisiana College, Pineville, Louisiana; the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; the Siegel-Myers Correspondence School of Music, and the Bush Conservatory of Music, both in Chicago, Illinois.  Oklahoma Baptist University awarded him an honorary Mus.D. degree.

     McKinney served as music editor at the Robert H. Coleman Company in Dallas, Texas, from 1918 to 1935. In 1919, after several months in the army, McKinney returned to Fort Worth, where Isham E. Reynolds asked him to join the faculty of the School of Sacred Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught at the seminary until 1932, then ministered at the Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth from 1931 to 1935. In 1935, McKinney became music editor for the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee.  He wrote the words and music to 149 hymns and gospel songs and was also the editor of the widely-used Broadman Hymnal (1940, Nashville).  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Lord, Send a Revival,” which was copyrighted in 1927 and renewed in 1955 by Broadman Press, Nashville, TN, has not appeared in any to my knowledge. I first saw it in the 1964 Christian Praise published by Broadman.

     The song talks about the need for revival in the world, in the church, in sinners’ hearts, and in our own individual lives.

I, Stanza 1 calls for revival over land and sea

Send a revival, O Christ, my Lord

Let it go over the land and sea;

Send it according to Thy dear Word,

And let it begin in me.

 A. There has always been some need for revival: Hab. 3:2

 B. We might hope that it will come to the earth as waters cover the sea: Isa. 11:9

 C. But it will come only according to God’s word: 2 Thess. 3:1

II. Stanza 2 calls for revival among God’s people

Send a revival among Thine own,

Help us to turn from our sins away;

Let us get nearer the Father’s throne,

Revive us again we pray.

 A. Sometimes even God’s people need reviving: Ps. 85:6

 B. We need to turn away from our sins: 1 Jn. 1:8-9

 C. And we need to get nearer the throne of grace: Heb. 4:14-16

III. Stanza 3 calls for revival to those lost in sin

Send a revival to those in sin,

Help them, O Jesus, to turn to Thee;

Let them the new life in Thee begin,

Oh, give them the victory.

 A. All responsible human beings are at one time lost in sin: Rom. 3:23

 B. God wants them to turn to Him: 1 Thess. 1:9-10

 C. Then they can begin walking in newness of life: Rom. 6:3-4

IV. Stanza 4 calls for revival in every heart

Send a revival in every heart,

Draw the world nearer, O Lord, to Thee;

Let the salvation true joy impart,

And let it begin in me.

 A. Every individual child of God should seek for revival in his or her own heart: Ps. 138:7

 B. Then we can help to draw the world nearer to the Lord:  Jas. 4:8

 C. In this way both we and they can know the true joy that salvation imparts: Ps. 51:12

     CONCL.:   The chorus repeats the request for revival

Lord, send a revival,

Lord, send a revival,

Lord, send a revival,

And let it begin in me

As we see a world lost in sin, as we see churches drifting from the truth, and as we see individuals whose love for God has grown cold, we should fervently asking our God, “Lord, Send a Revival.” 

Jesus Passed By


“And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.” (Matthew 20:30)

     INTRO.:  A song which draws its title from the account of the blind men of Jericho whom Christ made to see is “Jesus Passed By” (#184 in Special Sacred Selections).The text was written and the tune was composed by Marvin Price Dalton (1906-1987).  Born in Arkansas, Marvin was the son of William Henry Dalton and Effie Leona Thomas Dalton.  He married Kleal Audrey Pauli, taught singing schools for at least 11 years, and worked in singing at conventions.  Probably his most famous song is “What a Savior,” beginning, “Once I was straying in sin’s dark valley.”  Dalton died in Oklahoma.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, so far as I know, “Jesus Passed By” has been found only in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.

     The song draws language from the account of Jesus healing the blind men in Jericho.

I. Stanza 1 gives the need of Christ’s coming

There is a story of long ago,

Men roamed in darkness no where to go;

One day the scene changed, they ceased to cry,

There was a reason, Jesus passed by.

 A. God’s plan for man’s redemption is a story of long ago: 1 Tim. 1:9

 B. Mankind was in darkness: Jn. 3:19-20

 C. But God accomplished a change by sending His Son: Gal. 4:4- 5

II. Stanza 2 tells the results of Christ’s coming

Men found compassion, hungry were fed,

Some saw their loved ones brought from the dead;

They found great comfort came from on high,

There was a reason, Jesus passed by.

 A. Jesus demonstrated compassion while He was on earth: Matt. 9:36-38

 B. His compassion was shown by raising the dead: Matt. 11:1-6

 C. This fact symbolizes that He brought comfort from on high: 2 Cor. 1:3-7

III. Stanza 3 shows the importance of Christ’s coming

One day a sinner, I found relief,

Gone was my burden, gone was my grief;

Angels were singing, and so was I,

There was a reason, Jesus passed by.

 A. At one time or another all responsible human beings are sinners: Rom. 3:23

 B. However God offers relief through the redemption made possible by the blood of Jesus: Eph. 1:7

 C. Whenever a sinner repents and turns to the Lord, the angels of heaven rejoice: Lk. 15:10

     CONCL.:  The chorus expresses praise to Jesus for what He has done for us.

Glory and honor be to the King,

Shout hallelujah, make praises ring;

Look to the future home in the sky,

There is a reason, Jesus passed by.

God, in the person of His Son, came down from heaven on high to this earth to be born of a virgin so that He might demonstrate God’s mercy through both His life and His death on the cross.  We can have salvation from sin and the hope of heaven because “Jesus Passed By.”

High Above The Seraphim (or Theophany)

(Portrait of Frédéric François Chopin)


“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphim….” (Isa. 6:1-2)

     INTRO.:  A hymn that pictures the seraphim who stand above the throne is “High Above The Seraphim” or “Theophany” (#73 in Hymns for Worship Supplement).  The text was written by Craig Arthur Roberts (b. 1958).  The tune (Mazurka) was arranged from a piano piece composed by Frédéric François Chopin, who was born on February 22 or March 1, 1810, in Żelazowa Wola, a village forty-six kilometers west of Warsaw, Poland, in the Province of Mazowsze, Duchy of Warsaw. The parish baptismal record gives his birthday as February 22, 1810, but a date one week later, March 1, was stated by the composer and his family as his birthday. Chopin’s father, Nicolas Chopin, was a Frenchman from Lorraine who had migrated to Poland in 1787 at age sixteen. Nicolas subsequently tutored children of the Polish aristocracy, including the Skarbeks, whose poor relation, Justyna Krzyżanowska, he married. The wedding took place at the 16th-century parish church in Brochów on June 2, 1806. Frédéric was the couple’s second child and only son. The eldest child, Ludwika, was to become his first piano teacher.v

     In October 1810, when Chopin was seven months old, the family moved to Warsaw.  Chopin’s first professional piano tutor, beginning in 1817, was the Czech, Wojciech Żywny. Seven-year-old “little Chopin” began giving public concerts that soon prompted comparisons with child prodigies Mozart and Beethoven. Chopin, tutored at home until he was thirteen, attended the Warsaw Lyceum from 1823 to 1826. Others in Chopin’s family were musically talented. Chopin’s father played the flute and violin; his mother played the piano and gave lessons to boys in the elite boarding house that the Chopins maintained. As a result Chopin became conversant with music in its various forms at an early age.  That same year, Chopin composed two Polonaises, in G minor and B-flat major.

     In the autumn of 1826 the teenage Chopin began a three-year course of studies with the Silesian composer Józef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory, which was affiliated with the University of Warsaw.  Young Chopin left Warsaw in 1830, three weeks after completing his studies, and made a brilliant debut in Vienna. Then in September 1831 Chopin traveled from Vienna to Paris. In Paris, Chopin found artists and other distinguished company, as well as opportunities to exercise his talents and achieve celebrity, and before long he was earning a handsome income teaching piano to affluent students from all over Europe. By August 1, 1835, Chopin had become a French citizen. In Paris, Chopin seldom performed publicly. In later years he generally gave a single annual concert at the Salle Pleyel, a venue that seated three hundred.

     In February of 1848, Chopin gave his last Paris concert. He passed the winter of 1848 in unremitting illness. He no longer had the strength to give lessons, but he was still keen to compose. In June 1849 his sister Ludwika Jędrzejewicz, who had given him his first piano lessons, agreed to come to Paris. On October 15, when Chopin’s condition took a marked turn for the worse, his numerous visitors were asked to leave, and a handful of his closest friends remained with him. On October 17, 1849, after midnight, the physician leaned over him and asked whether he was suffering greatly. “Not any more,” Chopin replied. He died a few minutes before two o’clock in the morning.  The arrangement of Chopin’s music, the Mazurka in F Major, Op. 68 No. 3, composed in 1829, was made by Roberts, and the hymn was copyrighted in 2001.  In addition to being found in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement, it was used, under the title “Theophany” in the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs both edited by Steve Wolfgang, et. al.

     The song is filled with praise for Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb.

I. Stanza 1 centers on singing

High above the seraphim

Sounds an everlasting hymn;

Voices echo through the hall

And shake the temple wall.

Living creatures bless the King,

Four and twenty elders sing,

“Worthy, He who overcame;”

“The Word of God” His name.

 A. There is an everlasting hymn sung in heaven: Rev. 15:2-5

 B. Living creatures bless the King: Rev. 4:6-8

 C. Also the 24 elders sing that the Lamb is worthy: Rev. 5:8-10

II. Stanza 2 centers on giving Christ dominion and glory

Praise the Seed of Abraham!

All dominion to the Lamb!

Sing of Him, in glory slain,

“Lord God Almighty reigns!”

Shout the God-breathed prophecy;

“He who was will ever be!”

“Kings of earth have passed away!”

The Son is Lord this day!

 A. Jesus was of the seed of Abraham: Gal. 3:16

 B. He was also the Lamb who could open the seals: Rev. 5:1-7

 C. Thus, He is qualified to be the Lord God Omnipotent who reigns as King of kings: Rev. 19:6-16

III. Stanza 3 centers on coming and bowing to the King

Night to night I come to Him,

Kneel before His diadem;

While a thousand thousand sing,

I fall before the King.

Soon will He be changing me,

Clothed in immortality,

Swallowed up in victory,

And evermore to be.

 A. Even in this life, there is a sense in which we can come and bow before the King: Heb. 4:14-16

 B. We do this while a thousand thousand sing: Rev. 5:11-14

 C. Then someday He will come to clothe us in immortality and bring victory: 1 Cor. 15:50-57

     CONCL:  The description of this hymn in the Sumphonia Hymn Supplement says that it “is a vision of Christ, not as seen physically, but through scripture.   Through word pictures in Old Testament prophecy and Revelation, we visit the throne scene.  Here we gaze upon the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.  Also here, we respond as did the ancient prophets who had the same encounter—we lose our strength and fall down and worship Him.  The hymn closes with an assurance of our resurrection.”  What a glorious day it will be when we stand before the throne and can gaze “High Above The Seraphim.”

Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By

(Book by Emma Campbell)


 “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me”. (Mark 10:47)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which draws its thoughts from the incident where Jesus healed a blind man in Jericho is “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By.”  The text was written by Emma Frances Riggs Campbell, who was on November 16, 1830 in Newark, New Jersey, one of eleven children of Abner Campbell, owner of a looking-glass and picture-framing business, and Deborah (Conger) Campbell. Her sister Catherine Smith Campbell married future Florida governor Ossian Bingley Hart.   Campbell graduated from the Packer Institute for Girls in Brooklyn, New York in 1959. She and a sister opened a school in Morristown, New Jersey, in the 1860s. Campbell also taught Sunday school for 37 years at the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown. 

     “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By” was inspired by an 1864 religious revival meeting in Newark held by Edward Payson Hammond, specifically a sermon mentioning Luke 18:37 and the story of Jesus healing the blind Bartimaeus. Campbell’s hymn was first published in 1864 using the Greek letter Eta as a pseudonym, which has led to Campbell being misidentified as Miss Eta or Etta Campbell in many early hymnals. The hymn was anthologized numerous times and was frequently performed by the gospel singer Ira D. Sankey.

     Decades later, Campbell wrote a book in 1909 entitled The Hymn Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By—Its History and Other Verses, describing the song’s origin. Campbell also published several other hymns, a collection of verse, several children’s novels, and a short biography of her brother-in-law Ossian Hart. Emma F. R. Campbell died on February 25, 1919 in Morristown. The tune (Las Palmas) for “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By” was composed by Theodore E. Perkins (1831–1912).  Perkins also provided music for other hymns, such as Catherine Jane Bonar’s “Fade, Fade, Each Earthly Joy” and Lawrence Tuttiet’s “Go Forward, Christian Soldier.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By” has, to my knowledge, never appeared in any. 

      The song uses a miracle of Jesus to point out spiritual blessings that Jesus brings.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the throng

What means this eager, anxious throng,

Pressing our busy streets along?

These wondrous gatherings day by day,

What means this strange commotion, pray?

Voices in accents hushed reply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Voices in accents hushed reply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

 A. Christ was frequently followed by a throng or multitude: Lk. 18:35-36

 B. Such multitudes would press the busy streets: Lk. 8:40-45

 C. Often these gatherings caused a strange commotion: Lk. 5:25-26

II. Stanza 2 mentions children

E’en children feel the potent spell

And haste their new-found joy to tell.

In crowds they to the place repair

Where Christians daily bow in prayer,

Hosannas mingle with the cry,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Hosannas mingle with the cry,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

 A. Even children were impressed by Jesus: Matt. 21:15-16

 B. Many who came in contact with Jesus hastened to tell their new-found joy: Jn. 4:28-30

 C. This is what led people to cry “Hosanna”: Matt. 21:9-11

III. Stanza 3 mentions Jesus

Who is this Jesus? Why should He

The city move so mightily?

A passing stranger, has He skill

To move the multitude at will?

Again the stirring tones reply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Again the stirring tones reply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

 A. People asked who this Jesus was: Jn. 7:26-27

 B. He moved many by His miracles: Jn. 11:45-47

 C. His “skill” caused some to believe: Jn. 9:16

IV. Stanza 4 mentions miracles of healing

Jesus! ’tis He who once below

Man’s pathway trod ’mid pain and woe;

And burdened ones where’er He came,

Brought out their sick and deaf and lame;

Blind men rejoiced to hear the cry,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Blind men rejoiced to hear the cry,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

 A. Jesus came to tread men’s pathway to leave us an example: 1 Pet. 2:21

 B. In doing so, He trod amidst pain and woe, and He Himself suffered: Heb. 2:14-18

 C. And He demonstrated His compassion through miracles of healing: Matt. 9:35-36

V. Stanza 5 mentions Christ’s present ministry

Again He comes—from place to place

His holy footprints we can trace;

He pauses at our threshold, nay,

He enters, condescends to stay:

Shall we not gladly raise the cry

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Shall we not gladly raise the cry

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

 A. While Jesus is not physically on earth as He once was, He can still dwell in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:17-19

 B. We need to be followers of His and walk in love: Eph. 5:1-2

 C. As He condescends to stay with us, we can have His mind in us: Phil. 2:1-8

VI. Stanza 6 mentions the danger of rejection

But if you still this call refuse,

And dare such wondrous love abuse,

Soon will He sadly from you turn,

Your bitter prayer for mercy spurn,

Too late! too late! will be the cry—

Jesus of Nazareth has passed by.

Too late! too late! will be the cry—

Jesus of Nazareth has passed by.

 A. Yet there are those who refuse His call: Prov. 1:24-26

 B. God in turn will refuse those who reject Him and abuse His love: Heb. 10:26-31

 C. There will come a time when any attempt by the wicked to plead for mercy will be too late: 1 Pet. 3:12

     CONCL.:  There are four other stanzas–

6. Bring out your sick and blind and lame,

’Tis to restore them Jesus came;

Compassion infinite you’ll find

With boundless power in Him combined.

Come quickly while salvation’s nigh,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Come quickly while salvation’s nigh,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

7. Ye sin-sick souls, who feel your need,

He comes to you, a friend indeed;

Rise from your weary, wakeful couch,

Haste to secure His healing touch;

No longer sadly wait and sigh, 

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

No longer sadly wait and sigh,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

8. Ho! all ye heavy laden, come!

Here’s pardon, comfort, rest, a home:

Ye wanderers from a Father’s face,

Return, accept His proffered grace;

Ye tempted ones, there’s refuge nigh:

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Ye tempted ones, there’s refuge nigh:

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

9. Ye who are buried in the grave

Of sin, His power alone can save;

His voice can bid your dead souls live,

True spirit-life and freedom give.

Awake! Arise! for strength apply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Awake! Arise! for strength apply,

Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

     Of this hymn, Ira D. Sankey wrote the following.  An officer of the English army sends me the following incident: “A soldier was stationed at Edinburgh Castle, and one evening left his post on a pass until midnight.  He had a week’s pay in one pocket and the washing money earned by his wife in the other, and was on his way to the public house to have a night in gambling. His eye caught the poster outside the Tolbooth Church, announcing your meetings. The officer liked the singing, and went in just to hear one song.  As he entered, Mr. Moody was preaching on ‘The Blood.’ That had no interest for him. After the address you sang, ‘Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.’ He listened with deep interest to the hymn. ‘Too late, too late,’ was God’s arrow to his soul.  An officer of his regiment and I went into the inquiry room, and among a great crowd we saw this comrade’s red coat. He was in great distress. We spoke to him, holding to John 3:16.  That night the man went home in­stead of to the public house, and his wife was astonished to see him so early, and sober. He laid down all the money on the table, which astonished her still more.  Then he went to bed, but was in too great distress to be able to sleep. The words Too late, too late rang in his ears. About two o’clock in the morning John 3:16 gleamed in­to his soul. He leaped from the bed, pleaded that grand promise, and Jesus received him.  This was told the following morning by himself at the Castle. He held to his faith, and when the regiment left he was known throughout the camp as a man of God. The glorious Gospel with him began in song, and goes in song.  What wondrous things can happen when even metaphorically “Jesus of Nazareth Passeth By.”

(Note: Hymnal editors have obviously done some tinkering with the text.)

Jesus Never Fails

(Photograph of A. A. Luther)


“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

      INTRO.:  A song which reminds us that while heaven and earth will pass away, Jesus and His word will not pass away is “Jesus Never Fails.”  The text was written and the tune was composed by Arthur Abner Luther, who was born on June 26, 1891, in Fairview, Pennsylvania, near Erie, to Elba Jabez Luther (1860–1923) and his wife Minnie E. Bayle Luther (1868–1947). At the time, hhiHHis father was 30, and his mother was 22.  On June 1, 1900, “Abner” was nine years old and had gone to school for eight months. His parents were farmers and had been married for eleven years. He was the oldest and had a brother that was five years old and twin brother and sister who were three years old. The family lived with his grandparents and helped them with the farm.  As a boy he had a great desire to be a missionary, but that never materialized. He then wanted to compose a song for all to sing; but his tries failed.

      Luther taught in the public schools in the Town of Fairview for two years after graduating from Edinboro (PA) State Normal School.  On Oct. 24, 1916, he married Irena Louese Lehnies (1897–1986) of Marilla, NY. Together they were granted four children, Robert A. (1918–1998), Carl Wayne (1922–1928), John V. (1927–2007), and Elizabeth Anne (Palmer 1931–2016).  Also in 1916, he began his theological studies at Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio. He received his bachelor of arts degree there in 1923. Later he was the recipient of an honorary degree of doctor of divinity from the American Bible College in Philadelphia.  In 1918, he was a minister at Clarksville, New York, and described as of medium height and slender, with blue eyes and brown hair.  On Jan. 1, 1920, Arthur was a preacher and 28 years old. Irene was 22. They had a little boy, Robert, who was a year and a half and were living in Blendon, Ohio.  On Nov. 22, 1922, he won The Citizen All-Ohio Short Story Contest and $100.  As he grew older he became involved with the Dr. O.E. Williams evangelistic team, which would go to the most remote places to preach the gospel.  Over a 25-year period Luther, who was an accomplished musician, composed about 35 hymns. His most famous composition, “Jesus Never Fails,” was copyrighted in 1927 and has been translated into numerous languages for use in missionary work.

     On Apr. 1, 1930, Arthur was minister of a Congregational Church in Erie, Pennsylvania.  After that, he was superintendent of the Williamsport (Pa.) City Mission, minister of the Zanesville (Ohio) United Brethren Church, and coordinator of activities for the Congregational Christian Church in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  Also, he was a director for 20 years of the Odosagih Bible Conference, an interdenominational organization with facilities at Lime Lake.  Luther then served a Congregational Church in North Collins, New York, for 21 years, where he made several improvements, including having the auditorium redecorated. In May of 1949 Luther spoke at a noon meeting of the Christian Businessmen’s Committee of Greater Buffalo at Downtown YMCA.  After the copyright to “Jesus Never Fails” was renewed in 1955, it was assigned to Singspiration.  Arthur suffered a stroke in 1956 and retired in January, 1957.  He died, age 68, on Jan 30, 1960, at his home in the Town of Marilla, NY.  Preceded in death by his parents and son Carl, he was survived by his wife, two sons, Robert and John, daughter, Mrs. Kenneth Palmer, nine grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren. Funeral services were conducted at the Marilla Methodist Church, and he was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Erie County, New York.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Jesus Never Fails” has, to my knowledge, never appeared in any.  I first saw it in the 1948 Church Service Hymns edited by Homer A. Rodeheaver and published by the Rodeheaver Company. 

     The song refers to several situations in which we need to remember that Jesus will not fail us.

I. Stanza 1 mentions times of doubt and fear

Earthly friends may prove untrue,

Doubts and fears assail;

One still loves and cares for you,

One who will not fail.

 A. Earthly friends often do prove untrue: Ps. 41:9

 B. Also, we may be assailed by doubts and fears: 2 Cor. 7:5

 C. However, no matter what, there is one who cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7

II. Stanza 2 mentions dark skies and strong gales

Though the sky be dark and drear,

Fierce and strong the gale;

Just remember He is near,

And He will not fail.

 A. Dark skies often represent times of great sorrow: Ps. 13:1-2

 B. Strong gales often represent the tribulations of life: Acts 14:22

 C. Yet the Lord will always be near as we draw near to Him: Jas. 4:8

III. Stanza 3 mentions life’s bitter hours

In life’s dark and bitter hour

Love will still prevail;

Trust His everlasting power

Jesus will not fail.

 A. Some of life’s bitterest hours are times of extreme grief that bring tears: Ps. 6:6-7

 B. But nothing can separate us from God’s prevailing love: Rom. 8:35-39

 C. Therefore, we need to trust Him: Prov. 3:5-6

       CONCL.:  The chorus emphasizes the fact that Jesus will never fail us.

Jesus never fails,

Jesus never fails;

Heaven and earth may pass away,

But Jesus never fails.

As we journey through the trials and troubles of this life it should give us great comfort and courage to know that “Jesus Never Fails.”

My Father Watches Over Me


Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses trust in the God who feeds the birds is “My Father Watches Over Me” (#39 in Special Sacred Selections).   The text was written by William Clark Martin (1864–1915). A couple other hymns by Martin have appeared in some of our books.  They are “He Calls for You” with music by Rufus Henry Cornelius, and “The Name of Jesus” with music by Edmund S. Lorenz. Other rather well-known songs by Martin include “I Remember Calvary,” “My Anchor Holds,” and “Still Sweeter Every Day.”

     The tune for “My Father Watches Over Me” was composed by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856–1932).  It was copyrighted in 1910 by Gabriel, who was a prolific American gospel song writer and hymn tune composer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This song was a favorite of Homer Rodeheaver, who devoted an entire chapter to it in his 1917 book Song Stories of the Sawdust Trail.  When the copyright was renewed in 1938, it was owned by The Rodeheaver Co.  Ellis J. Crum arranged it in 1977 for his Special Sacred Selections.

     The song offers several reasons to trust in our heavenly Father.

I. Stanza 1 says that God watches over us

I trust in God wherever I may be,

Upon the land, or on the rolling sea,

For come what may, from day to day,

My heavenly Father watches over me.

 A. Wherever we may be, we can always trust God: Ps. 37:3-5

 B. Even if we are in the uttermost part of the sea, His hand will lead us: Ps.  139:9-10

 C. Day by day His eyes are upon the righteous: Ps. 34:15

II. Stanza 2 says that God cares for the flowers and birds

He makes the rose an object of His care,

He guides the eagle thro’ the pathless air,

And surely He remembers me;

My heavenly Father watches over me.

 A. We know that God clothes the flowers: Matt. 6:28-30

 B. He also knows what happens to the birds: Matt. 10:29-31

 C. Thus we can be assured that He remembers us: Ps. 103:13-14

III. Stanza 3 says that Go will be with us regardless of our trials

I trust in God, for, in the lion’s den,

On battlefield, or in the prison pen,

Through praise or blame, through flood or flame,

My heavenly Father watches over me.

 A. God will be with us in the proverbial lion’s den as He was with Daniel: Dan. 6:16-22

 B. He will be with us in the battle between good and evil: Eph. 6:10-18

 C. And He will be with us even if we are in prison for His name’s sake as He was with Paul and Silas: Acts 16:23-36

IV. Stanza 4 says that God is like a shepherd who guards his sheep

The valley may be dark, the shadows deep,

But O, the Shepherd guards His lonely sheep;

And thro’ the gloom He’ll lead me home,

My heavenly Father watches over me.

 A. We may travel the dark valley of the shadow of death: Ps. 23:1-4

 B. But the Lord is our Shepherd whom we can follow: Jn. 10:2-4

 C. And He will lead us to our eternal home: Rev. 7:13-17

     CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of the importance of trusting in God at all times.

I trust in God, I know He cares for me;

On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;

Though billows roll, He keeps my soul;

My heavenly Father watches over me.

Life’s journey becomes much more bearable and hopeful when I know that “My Father Watches Over Me.”

Give Me A Kind, Forgiving Heart


“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving is “Give Me A Kind, Forgiving Heart” (#9 in Hymns for Worship Supplement).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Anne F. Stevens, who I assume is the same Anne Finley Stevens who wrote “Grant Me Peace and Hope” (#628 in Hymns for Worship Revised).   I have seen references to an Anne Lois Finley Stevens who was born on April 25, 1949, and lives in Seminole, TX.  “Give Me A Kind, Forgiving Heart” was copyrighted in 1999 and was included in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens et. al.  Anne Finley Stevens has written another rather popular hymn, “The Apples in a Seed,” copyrighted in 1999, which is also included in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens et. al.

     “Give Me A Kind, Forgiving Heart” asks God to help us be kind and forgiving.

I. Stanza 1 mentions granting pardon

Give me a kind, forgiving heart.

Let pardon be my goal.

May no grudge enter in my heart

To take control.

 A. We should be willing to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us: Col. 3:13

 B. Our goal must be mercy to grant pardon to others: Matt. 5:7

 C. We must not let any grudge of bitterness enter our hearts: Heb. 12:15

II. Stanza 2 mentions a gentle tongue

Give me a sweet and gentle tongue.

Let kindness be my song.

Keep me from words that wound and keep

My tongue from wrong.

 A. We need a tongue that is sweet and gentle: Col. 4:6

 B. It should refrain from any corrupt word that would wound: Eph. 4:29-30

 C. Thus, we must make strenuous effort to keep our tongues from wrong: Jas.3:2-12

III. Stanza 3 mentions a yearning for truth

Give me a soul that yearns for truth,

Hungering for Thy word.

Help me to share the greatest

Story ever heard.

 A. Our souls should yearn for truth because only the truth can make us free: Jn. 8:32

 B. To learn the truth we must hunger and thirst for righteousness: Matt. 5:6

 C. Then we should share the greatest story ever heard by teaching others: 2 Tim. 2:2

IV. Stanza 4 mentions a longing for peace

Give me a heart that longs for peace,

With other men and Thee.

Help me to know that peace must first

Begin with me.

 A. We should long for peace with other men: Rom. 12:18

 B. We should also seek for peace with God: Phil.  4:6-7

 C. But all peace must begin in our own hearts: Col. 3:15

     CONCL.:  As Christians, we need to be characterized by kindness, gentleness, truthfulness, and peacefulness.  In His earthly life, Jesus modeled these attitudes, and we should be imitators of Him.  Therefore, it should always be my desire for the Lord to “Give Me A Kind, Forgiving Heart.”

Is It the Crowning Day?

(Photo of Henry Egerton Foster Ostrom)


“And when the chief Shepherd appears, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4)

     Introduction:  A song which looks forward to that time when the Chief Shepherd will appear and we shall receive the crown of glory is “Is It the Crowning Day?”  The text was written under the pseudonym of George Walker Whitcomb by Henry Egerton Foster Ostrom, who was born on September 19, 1862, at Hastings, Hastings County, Ontario, Canada, the son of Henry M. Ostrum (1820 – 1878) and Elizabeth Harriet (nee Foster) Ostrom (1820–1915).  He married Mary Emily McCullough (1859–1955) in Prince Edward County, Ontario, on July 21, 1886, and they went on to have two children, a son named Henry Evan Ostrom (1887–1984), and a daughter named Marion Ostrum (Benedict, 1889–1960).

     Becoming a Methodist minister, Bible teacher, and evangelist, Ostrom was associated with the extension staff of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL, for a number of years starting in 1921.  His written works include Out of the Cain-Life (1896), Greatness (1904), The Law of Prayer (1910), and The Jew and His Mission.  In addition, he co-edited Hymns and Spiritual Songs, with John Hillis, in 1904.  Also, he produced several hymns himself.   This song made its first public appearance in 1910 at a conference session of the Siebert United Evangelical Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Some hymnals give the author as George Walker Whitcomb, Ostrom’s pseudonym.

     The tune (Crowning Day) was composed by Charles Howard Marsh (1886-1956). Marsh is best remembered as the composer of the music for J. Wilbur Chapman’s hymn “One Day.”  Ostrom wrote under his pseudonym because he felt freer to use his songs in evangelistic meetings if he didn’t draw attention to himself as the author. Henry Egerton Foster Ostrom died at the age of 79 in Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana, on December 20, 1941 of a cerebral hemorrhage, and was buried in Greencastle City Cemetery.  I first saw “Is It the Crowning Day?” in the 1948 Church Service Hymns edited by Homer A. Rodeheaver and published by the Rodeheaver Company.  So far as I know, it has not appeared in any hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ.

     The song admonishes us to live as if Christ were to come back today.

I. Stanza 1 states that Jesus may come today

Jesus may come today,

Glad day, Glad day!

And I would see my Friend;

Dangers and troubles would end

If Jesus should come today.

 A. Jesus promised to return someday: Jn. 14:1-3

 B. When He does, we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:1-3

 C. Dangers and troubles will end because He will take us to a place where there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain: Rev. 21:1-4

II. Stanza 2 states that we may go home today

I may go home today,

Glad day, Glad day!

Seemeth I hear their song;

Hail to the radiant throng!

If I should go home today.

 A. If Jesus does come today, we would go home today because He would raise the dead and change the living, so that we would rise to meet Him in the air and thus ever be with Him: 1 Thess. 4:13-17

 B. Then we would hear the song of the redeemed: Rev. 5:8-10

 C. And we would be numbered among that radiant throng: Rev. 7:8-14

III. Stanza 3 states that we should not be anxious

Why should I anxious be?

Glad day, Glad day!

Lights appear on the shore,

Storms will affright nevermore,

For He is “at hand” today.

 A. Jesus teaches against anxiety or worry: Matt. 6:24-34

 B. I don’t really know what is meant by “lights appear on the shore.”  The present tense may simply be saying that if Jesus did appear today, lights would appear on the shore, but just avoid any misunderstanding, I would have written, “He’ll appear on the shore,” which the Bible definitely teaches: Col. 3:4

 C. The reason for not being anxious is that He is at hand: Phil. 4:5.  I have no problem saying that the Lord is at hand today.  However, I don’t believe this has anything to do with His second advent, but is simply a reference to the nearness of His spiritual presence, so in a song that looks for Christ’s coming, I might have written “He may return today” just to avoid confusion.

IV. Stanza 4 states that we should be faithful

Faithful I’ll be today,

Glad day, Glad day!

And I will freely tell

Why I should love Him so well,

For He is my all today.

 A. To be prepared for that great day we must be faithful today and every day: Rev. 2:10

 B. We also need to tell others what great things the Lord has done for us: Mk. 5:19

 C. And in this way we let others know why we should love Him so well: 1 Jn. 4:17-19

     CONCL.:  The chorus points our minds forward to anticipate our Lord’s return.

Glad day, Glad day!

Is it the crowning day?

I’ll live for today, nor anxious be;

Jesus, my Lord I soon shall see.

Glad day, Glad day!

Is it the crowning day?

I have no problem with saying, “Jesus, my Lord I soon shall see” in the sense that Paul wrote about “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:21).  However, the whole context of the song is seeing Christ at His second coming, and because we simply do not know when Christ will return (Matt. 24:36), I do have a problem with blanket statements like “Jesus is coming soon,” so to clarify, I would have written, “Jesus, my Lord, I then will see.”  My friend Alan Jones, who also researches and writes about hymns, said the following of this song. “Tonight’s hymn is one I had neither seen nor heard until I saw it in an old hymnal tonight– Is It the Crowning Day? It emphasizes the practical application in our lives when we dwell on the thought that the Lord may come today. It was written by Henry Egerton Foster Ostrum (1862-1941). Born a Canadian from Ontario, he died in Greencastle, IN. He liked to use his own songs in evangelistic meetings. So, in his humility, he wrote them under the pseudonym of George Walker Whitcomb.”  Every day we should ask ourselves, “Is It the Crowning Day?”