My Father’s Voice

MY FATHER’S VOICE

“Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee” (Psalm 143:8)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which talks about the need to hear God’s lovingkindness is “My Father’s Voice” (#80 in Hymns for Worship Supplement).  The text was written by Matthew W. Bassford (b. 1978).  The tune was composed by Glenda Barnhart Schales (b. 1949).  The song was copyrighted in 2000 by Schales and appeared in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R.  J. Stevens, Dane K. Shepard, and Tim Stevens.  

     It encourages us to listen to what God is trying to tell us.

I. Stanza 1 points out that God speaks to us today by His word

I read the Word of God,

And then at once rejoice,

For when I listen to its call,

I hear my Father’s voice.

 A. We need to read the word of God: Eph. 3:3-5

 B. It calls us to listen to the gospel message of salvation: 2 Thess. 2:13-14

 C. And we should listen because the Scriptures are God-breathed: 2 Tim. 3:16-17

II. Stanza 2 tells us that this word reveals God’s wisdom, might, and love

Its every line repeats

His will decreed above,

And every word makes evident

His wisdom, might, and love.

 A. We find God’s will decreed above in every line of His word: Jn. 7:17

 B. Thus, we can know that every word of God is pure: Prov. 30:5

 C. In this way, we learn of His wisdom, His might, and especially His love: Ro. 5:8

III. Stanza 3 says that the word will prompt us to worship God

Within its least of themes

And in its smallest part,

I find the fire to light again

His worship in my heart.

 A. The basic theme of God’s word is redemption: Eph. 1:7

 B. His word is like a fire in our hearts: Jer. 20:9

 C. This will motivate us to worship Him: Jn. 4:24

     CONCL.:  It is certainly true that God still speaks to us today.  However, there is no evidence that He does so directly now as He did to the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles of Bible times.   While He speaks to me of His existence through the very creation, I need to remember that, when it comes to knowing His will, it is through His written revelation in the Scriptures that I can hear “My Father’s Voice.”

O Gentle Savior

(portrait of T. R. Birks)

O GENTLE SAVIOR

“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 15:33)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which asks God’s peace to be with us all is “O Gentle Savior.”  The text was written by Thomas Rawson (T. R.) Birks, an English theologian and controversialist, who was born on September 28, 1810, to Thomas and Sarah (nee Fletcher) Birks at Staveley in Derbyshire, England, where his father was a tenant farmer under the Duke of Devonshire. The family being nonconformists, Birks was educated at Chesterfield and then at the Dissenting College at Mill Hill. He won a sizarship and a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A. 1834, M.A. 1837), and in his third year gained the chief English declamation prize.  Having joined the Church of England on leaving the university and taken Holy Orders in 1837, he became Rector of Kelshall, Herts, 1844; Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, 1866; Hon. Canon of Ely Cathedral, 1871; and Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy, Cambridge, 1872.

     Birks’s hymns appeared in Edward Bickersteth’s Christian Psalmody; 1833; and, together with versions of the Psalms, in his Companion Psalter, 1874. They number upwards of 100.  The tune (Coena Domini) for “O Gentle Savior” was composed by Arthur Seymour Sullivan ().  Birks’s works, to the number of 25, include Biblical, Astronomical, Scientific, Prophetic, and other subjects. He also wrote the Memoirs of the Rev. E Bickersteth (his father-in-law).  After the death of Birks’s first wife, Elizabeth (nee Bickersteth), he married his second wife, Georgina Agnes Beresford, widow of Major James Douglas.  In 1873 Birks published his First Principles of Moral Science which was followed in 1874 by Modern Utilitarianism, and in 1876 by Modern Physical Fatalism and the Doctrine of Evolution.

     Early in 1875 Birks suffered from a paralytic seizure, and this was followed by a second stroke in 1877. Birks resigned the vicarage of Trinity in 1877, and in the same year published a volume on Manuscript Evidence in the Text of the New Testament.  He still took a deep interest in questions of the day, and was able to dictate various works, pamphlets, and letters bearing upon these questions.  In April 1880, while residing in the New Forest, he was paralyzed for a week, his third attack. He was conveyed home to Cambridge, where he lingered for three years incapable of intellectual effort, and died at Cambridge, on July 21, 1883.  So far as I know, “O Gentle Savior” has never appeared among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ. I first saw it in the 1927 Church Hymnal edited by J. D. Brunk for the Mennonite Publishing House of Scottsdale, PA.

     The song is usually identified as a hymn for the closing of service.

I. Stanza 1 beseeches the Lord to hear our prayers

O gentle Savior,

From Thy throne on high

Look down in love

And hear our humble cry.

 A. The gentle Savior is Jesus Christ: I Jn. 4:14

 B. He sits on His throne with His Father on high: Rev. 3:21

 C. He promises to hear our humble cry: 1 Pet. 3:12

II. Stanza 2 beseeches the Lord to abide with us

Go where we go,

Abide where we abide,

In life, in death, our

Comfort, strength and guide.

 A. We should want the Lord to go with us: Matt. 2:20

 B. He has promised to abide with His people: Jn. 14:23

 C. It must be our aim to magnify the Lord in both life and death: Phil. 1:20

III. Stanza 3 beseeches the Lord to lead us

O lead us daily

With Thine eye of love,

And bring us safely

To our home above.

 A. The righteous will ask the Lord to lead them: Ps. 5:8

 B. And He leads them with His eye of love: Ps. 32:8

 C. His purpose is to bring us safely to our home of glory above: Ps. 73:24

     CONCL.:  I dare say that this song is almost completely unknown to those associated with the Churches of Christ.  It used to be a custom always to have a closing hymn right before dismissal, and many congregations still do this.  When we are assembled together, there is nothing greater to ask the Lord before we depart than for Him to be with us as we address Him as “O Gentle Savior.” 

All That Thrills My Soul

(photograph of Thoro Harris)

ALL THAT THRILLS MY SOUL

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory”      (Colossians 3:4)

     INTRO.:  A song which extols Christ as our life with whom we shall appear in glory is “All That Thrills My Soul” (#324 in Special Sacred Selections).  The text was written and the tune (Harris) was composed both by Thoro Harris (1874–1955).  Born in Washington, DC, Harris attended college in Battle Creek, MI, and afterwards produced his first hymnal at Boston, MA, in 1902.  Then he moved to Chicago, IL, at the invitation of Peter Bilhorn, and in 1932 to Eureka Springs, AR. After the death of his first wife, Freda Harris (1884–1936), he married Ruby Bryant (1903–1957) in 1937.  Harris composed and compiled a number of works, such as Echoes of Paradise (1903), Light and Life Songs (1904), Eternal Praise (1913), Songs of His Coming (1919), and Hymns of Hope (1922), and was well known locally as he walked around with a canvas bag full of books for sale.  Hymnary.org credits Harris with 586 hymns.  “All That Thrills My Soul” was produced in 1931.  Another of Harris’s well known songs is “More Abundantly,” copyrighted in 1914, which appeared in Sacred Selections for the Church.  Harris died, aged 80, in Eureka Springs, and is buried there in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery. So far as I know, “All That Thrills My Soul” has never appeared among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ other than the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum. I first saw it in the 1968 Great Hymns of the Faith edited by John W. Peterson and originally published by Singspiration.  The copyright was renewed in 1959 and assigned to Nazarene Publishing House.

     The song is an expression of joyful praise for the blessings of Christ.

I. Stanza 1 mentions His presence

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,

By His presence all divine?

True and tender, pure and precious,

O, how blest to call Him mine!

 A. Jesus can cheer our hearts: John 16:33

 B. He does this by His presence as He dwells in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:17

 C. We are truly blest when we call upon the name of the Lord: Acts 2:21

II. Stanza 2 mentions His love

Love of Christ so freely given,

Grace of God beyond degree,

Mercy higher than the heavens,

Deeper than the deepest sea!

 A. Surely the love of Christ was so freely given in His death: 1 Jn. 3:16

 B. That death shows the grace of God beyond degree by which we are saved: Eph. 2:8-9

 C. By this grace we receive mercy that is higher than the heavens: Tit. 3:4-5

III. Stanza 3 mentions His redemption

What a wonderful redemption!

Never can a mortal know

How my sin, though red like crimson,

Can be whiter than the snow.

 A. We have redemption through the blood of Christ: Eph. 1:7

 B. Our sins are red like crimson: Isa. 1:18

 C. But God can wash them whiter than the snow: Ps. 51:7

IV. Stanza 4 mentions His goodness

Every need His hand supplying,

Every good in Him I see;

On His strength divine relying,

He is all in all to me.

 A. His hand supplies our every need: Phil. 4:19

 B. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him: Jas. 1:17

 C. Therefore we rely on His divine strength: Eph. 3:16-17

V. Stanza 5 mentions His promise

By the crystal flowing river

With the ransomed I will sing,

And forever and forever

Praise and glorify the King.

 A. His promise involves taking us to live by the crystal flowing river: Rev. 22:1-2

 B. There we shall sing with all the ransomed: Rev. 14:1-3

 C. And we shall praise and glorify the King forever and forever because we shall have eternal life: 1 Jn. 2:25

     CONCL.:  The chorus affirms that Jesus is the fairest of ten thousand.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,

He is more than life to me;

And the fairest of ten thousand

In my blessed Lord I see.

It should motivate me to sing praises to my Savior throughout my life on earth in hope of a home in heaven because in Christ Jesus I can find “All That Thrills My Soul.”

The Lord Is for Me

THE LORD IS FOR ME

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)

   INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds Christians that the Lord is on our side so that we need  not fear what man can do to us is “The Lord Is for Me.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Diana Brock Dow, who began playing the violin at seven years old, started to take her music seriously in high school, and even enrolled as a music major at Florida College, in Temple Terrace, Florida, where she met her husband, Daniel (Danny) Dow, whom she married in 1981.  Through the years she has been blessed with the opportunity to play the violin in a couple of symphonies.  A home school mom, Diana began teaching private music lessons at the insistence of a home school mom friend of hers and then began teaching her own children in 1992. The idea for a string orchestra made up of home school students was introduced to her while living in Lubbock, TX, where her son participated in a home school band. 

     Once in Huntington, Texas, Diana knew that it was time to start a string orchestra in East Texas and began the East Texas Home School String Orchestra in 2006.  She also began writing and composing hymns.  “To Whom Shall We Go?” was copyrighted in 2005 and published in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens et. al.  I have a copy of another song by Diana, “The Lord Is for Me,” copyrighted in 2011, which I think that I downloaded from a group on Facebook.  Diana lives in Sinton, TX, with her husband who preaches for the Borden Street Church of Christ.  They have 6 sons, 5 daughters-in-law and 9 (soon to be 11) grandchildren.  She enjoys teaching and has spent nearly 30 years home educating her boys.  She teaches private violin and piano lessons as well as The Coastal Bend Strings, a home school string orchestra.  She has also taught Bible classes for nearly 40 years and enjoys creating effective methods of telling others about the Good News. 

     “The Lord Is for Me” expresses several reasons for not being afraid.

I. Stanza 1 reminds us that God is for us

The Lord is for me; I’ll not be afraid.

For wisdom and strength I’ve fervently prayed.

What man can touch me when truth’s on my side?

What man should I fear when God is my guide?

 A. If God is for us, who can be against us?: Rom. 8:31

 B. All we have to do to receive His help is to pray: Phil. 4:6-7

 C. Therefore we need have no fear of what man should do: Heb. 13:5-6

II. Stanza 2 reminds us that God is with us

Though others may mock and cause me despair,

They do me no harm while my God is there.

They want to confuse; they want to cause doubt.

They think I am weak and I’ll soon give out.

 A. There are scoffers who want to mock our faith: 2 Pet. 3:3-4

 B. However, God is still there near us if we draw near to Him: Jas. 4:7-8

 C. With His help, we’ll not lose heart and give up: 2 Cor. 4:16-18

III. Stanza 3 reminds us that God is our King who fights for us

What they do not know, what they cannot see,

My Father, the King, is fighting for me.

A sword at my side, a shield in my hand,

With courage and trust, I bravely will stand.

 A. Our Father who fights for us is the King: Ps. 145:1

 B. He provides us with a sword and shield: Eph, 6:16-17

 C. We simply need to trust Him: Prov. 3:5-6

IV. Stanza 4 reminds us that God has promised a reward

I’m ready to work, I’m ready to fight,

For what lies ahead—a glorious sight:

A robe and a crown, a city of gold,

A place near God’s throne—to this hope I’ll hold.

 A. We need to be ready to fight the good fight of faith: 1 Tim. 6:12

 B. As we do so, we must look for the reward or prize that lies ahead: Phil. 3:13-14

 C. This reward involves wearing a robe and a crown: Rev. 4:4

     CONCL.:  For most of the twentieth century, the vast majority of religious music written and composed by those associated with Churches of Christ was in the form of gospel songs with a chorus sung after each stanza.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I like gospel songs, such as those written by Fanny J. Crosby.  However, now that we are in the twenty-first century, it is good to see more of the older style hymns being composed which praise God or express devotion to the Lord, such as this one by which I am reminded that “The Lord Is for Me.” 

Angel Voices Ever Singing

ANGEL VOICES EVER SINGING

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne…” (Revelation 5:11)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which pictures the angels round about the throne and makes application of that fact is “Angel Voices Ever Singing.”  The text was written by Francis Pott (1832–1909).  Pott was born at Southwark in Surrey, England.  After attending Brasenose College, Oxford, he became an Anglican minister in 1856 and served at Bishopsworth in Gloucestershire from 1858 to 1868.   This hymn was penned in 1861 for a celebration at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Wingate, Lancashire, England.  Pott wrote several original hymns, but is better known as a hymn translator.  One of his best known translations is the medieval Latin hymn “The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done.”   Sometimes his work is incorrectly attributed to Alfred Pott.  Pott served on the committee which compiled Hymns Ancient and Modern. He retired to Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells, due to deafness in 1891, and died at Speldhurst, Kent, England.  The tune (Angel Voices) for “Angel Voices Ever Singing” was composed in 1872 by Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900).  So far as I know, the song has never appeared among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ. I first saw it in the 1961 Trinity Hymnal published by Great Commission Publications.

      The hymn praises God in a similar manner as the angels of heaven.

I. Stanza 1 refers to God’s throne

Angel voices, ever singing,

Round Thy throne of light,

Angel harps, forever ringing,

Rest not day or night;

Thousands only live to bless Thee,

And confess Thee Lord of might.

 A. The angels worship God around the throne: Rev. 7:11-12

 B. Some are very adamant in pointing out that no Scripture specifically says that angels play harps, but some beings are pictured as “harping on their harps,” which likely symbolize the beauty of the music of heaven: Rev. 14:2

 C. We join with them to confess the name of Jesus: Phil. 2:9-11

II. Stanza 2 refers to God’s nearness

Thou who art beyond the farthest

Mortal eye can scan,

Can it be that Thou regardest

Songs of sinful man?

Can we feel that Thou art near us

And wilt hear us? Yea, we can.

 A. God is beyond the farthest that mortal eye can scan: Jn. 1:18

 B. Yet, He is near enough to regard the songs of sinful men: Ps. 28:6-7

 C. And He has promised in His nearness to hear His people: 1 Jn. 5:14

III. Stanza 3 refers to God’s works

Yea, we know Thy love rejoices

O’er each work of Thine;

Thou didst ears and hands and voices

For Thy praise combine;

Craftsman’s art and music’s measure

For Thy pleasure didst design.

 A. God’s love rejoices over all His works which in turn bless Him: Ps. 103:20-22

 B. Ears and voices combine to praise Him: Ps. 150:1-2, 6

 C. Music is one of God’s works which bless His name: Ps. 145:10-12

IV. Stanza 4 refers to God’s praise

Here, great God, today we offer

Of Thine own to Thee;

And for Thine acceptance proffer,

All unworthily,

Hearts and minds, and hands and voices,

In our choicest melody.

 A. All that we can offer God actually belongs to Him in the first place: 1 Chron. 29:14

 B. Even at that we are unworthy and undone because of our sin: Isa. 6:5-7

 C. But we can make acceptable melody by singing: Ps. 100:1-2

V. Stanza 5 refers to God’s honor and glory

Honor, glory, might and merit,

Thine shall ever be,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Blessed Trinity;

Of the best that Thou hast given

Earth and heaven render Thee.

 A. God is worthy of glory, honor, and power: Rev. 4:8-12

 B. This is true of the “Blessed Trinity” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Matt. 28:18-19

 C. In turn, we render to Them the best of what They have given us: Ps. 56:12

      CONCL.:  There are probably literally thousands of good hymns used by people through the ages to praise God which have never  appeared in hymnbooks published among Churches of Christ.  Indeed, no one hymnal could ever contain them all.  John Julian’s monumental Dictionary of Hymnology, which merely lists the known hymns just down to around 1908 with their sources, contains 1,768 pages.  And it is undoubtedly incomplete.  But with the ones which we do have and know, we can join in praising God with the “Angel Voices Ever Singing.” 

Christ Never Fails

(portrait of Thomas Haynes Bayly)

CHRIST NEVER FAILS

“…For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5)

     INTRO.:  A song which indicates that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us is “Christ Never Fails” (Special Sacred Selections #181).  The text was written by Joseph T. Larson (20th Century).  It was copyrighted in 1936 by Larson and assigned to John T. Benson Jr.  Little is known of this author except that he apparently lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The tune (Long Long Ago) for which the words were probably written had been composed by Thomas Haynes Bayly, an English poet, songwriter, dramatist, and author who was born in Bath, England, on October 13, 1797, the only child of Nathaniel Bayly, an influential citizen of Bath.  He was related through his mother to the Earls of Stamford and Warrington and the Baroness le Despencer.  Displaying a talent for verse from a young age, he was found dramatizing a tale out of one of his story-books in his eighth year. He attended Winchester School, where he produced a weekly newspaper which recorded the proceedings of the master and pupils in the school. At the age of 17 he began working at his father’s office for the purpose of studying the law, but soon devoted himself to writing humorous articles for the public journals, and produced a small volume entitled Rough Sketches of Bath. He studied at St Mary Hall, Oxford with the intention of joining the church, but it is reported that “he did not apply himself to the pursuit of academical honours” and left university after three years. Bayly travelled in Scotland, and afterwards visited Dublin, where he distinguished himself in private theatricals and achieved his earliest successes as a ballad writer.

     Bayly returned to London in January, 1824 and married the daughter of Mr. Benjamin Hayes, of Marble Hill, County Cork in 1826. The profits from his literary works were considerable, and his income was increased by his wife’s dowry.  While the young couple were staying in Bitterne, Hampshire, Bayly wrote the song “I’d Be a Butterfly,” which became immediately popular. Not long afterwards he produced a three-volume novel, The Aylmers; a second tale, A Legend of Killarney, written during a visit to that part of Ireland; and numerous songs and ballads, such as “Gaily the Troubadour Touched his Guitar” and “I’ll Hang my Harp on a Willow Tree,” which appeared in two volumes, named respectively Loves of the Butterflies and Songs of the Old Château.  After relocating from Bath to London, Bayly dedicated his time to writing ballads and pieces for the stage. The play Perfection, written during a journey by stagecoach from Bath to London and now regarded as his best dramatic work, was declined by many theatrical managers, but ultimately Madame Vestris produced it and appeared in it.  By 1831 Bayly and his wife were experiencing financial difficulties, which combined with poor physical health, had a detrimental effect on Bayly’s creativity. During a trip to France to convalesce, he was able to recover sufficiently to write the poem The Bridesmaid, which drew a flattering letter from Sir Robert Peel.

      In 1833 Bayly wrote “Long, Long Ago,” a song dealing with nostalgia.   Bayly regained his productivity, and in a short time he wrote thirty-six dramatic pieces. However, by 1837 he had begun to suffer from a range of serious medical conditions. His novel Weeds of Witchery was published that year.  In the same year he wrote a trilogy of novels, Kindness of Women, consisting of a double novel Kate Leslie and an independent tale David Dumps, Or, The Budget of Blunders. He developed dropsy and jaundice, died on April 22, 1839, aged 41, and was buried at Cheltenham.   Originally called “The Long Ago,” his most famous song’s name was apparently changed by the editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold when it was first published, posthumously, in a Philadelphia magazine, along with a collection of other songs and poems by Bayly. The song was well received, and became one of the most popular songs in the United States in 1844. The first popular recording of the song was that by Geraldine Farrar for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1913.  The arrangement of the music for Larson’s lyrics was made by Harold Theodore Brundin (1892-1980).  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the hymn appears in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.  I first saw it in the 1957 All-American Church Hymnal published by John T. Benson Jr.

     The song encourages us to trust Him who will never fail us.

I. Stanza 1 says that we show that we trust Him by letting Him come in.

Will you trust Jesus and let Him come in?

Christ never fails!  Christ never fails!

He is the victor o’er death and o’er sin;

He still prevails!  Christ prevails!

 A. Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts wanting us to open so that He may come in: Rev. 3:20

 B. We should let Him in because He is the victor over death: Heb. 2:14-15

 C. Also, He the victor over sin because He came to save sinners: 1 Tim. 1:15

II. Stanza 2 says that we show that we trust Him by calling on Him in trouble.

Will you trust Jesus when foes linger near?

Christ never fails!  Christ never fails!

Call now upon Him who always will hear;

Christ still prevails!  Christ prevails!

 A. In this evil world we often face troubles caused by foes: Ps. 27:1-2

 B. When this occurs, we should call upon the Lord: Ps. 55:12-16

 C. He has promised that He will always hear our cries: Ps. 4:1-3

III. Stanza 3 says that we show that we trust Him by giving Him our doubts and sin.

Will you trust Jesus and let Him come in?

Christ never fails!  Christ never fails!

Then He will banish your doubts and your sin;

Then you’ll prevail!  You’ll prevail!

 A. We make it possible for Christ to come in and dwell in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:16-17

 B. Then He will banish our doubts: Ps. 42:5-6

 C. And He will banish our sin by granting remission: Acts 2:38

     CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us that Christ never fails but always prevails:

Christ never fails, for He always prevails;

Grace for each trial to you He will bring.

Then from the depth of your heart you can sing:

“Christ never fails!  Never fails.”

Here is Bayly’s original ballad:

1. Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,

Long, long ago; long, long ago.

Sing me the songs I delighted to hear

Long, long ago; long ago.

Now you are come, all my grief is removed.

Let me forget that so long you have roved.

Let me believe that you love as you loved,

Long, long ago; long ago.       

2. Do you remember the path where we met?

Long, long ago; long, long ago.

Ah yes, you told me you ne’er would forget.

Long, long ago; long go.

Then to all others, my smile you preferred.

Still my heart treasures the praises I heard.

Still my heart treasures the praises I heard.

Long, long ago; long ago.

3. Though by your kindness my fond hopes were raised,

Long, long ago; long, long ago.

You, by more eloquent lips have been praised,

Long, long ago; long ago.

But by long absence your truth has been tried.

Still to your accent I listen with pride.

Blest as I was when I sat by your side,

Long, long ago; long ago.

When I was in elementary school, “Long, Long Ago” was in one of the songbooks that we used to sing out of in our music classes.  So I was already familiar with it when I saw Larson’s hymn.  At one time it was common for hymn writers to set religious poems to popular music.  This particular combination here emphasizes to us that “Christ Never Fails.”

How Deep His Love

HOW DEEP HIS LOVE

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge….” (Eph. 3:19)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which talks about the love of Christ which passes knowledge is “How Deep His Love” (Hymns for Worship Supplement #51).  The text was written by Huey Parnell Hartsell (1930-2016).  The tune was composed by Roy Joseph “R. J.” Stevens (1927-2012).  The song was copyrighted in 2006 by Hartsell and Stevens and so far as I know was first published in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R.J. Stevens, Dane K. Shepard, and Tim Stevens.  It is also included in a little booklet entitled Worshipful Hymns and Stories edited in 2012 by Stevens and Hartsell of songs written and arranged by the editors.

     “How Deep His Love” praises Christ for His great love with which He loved us.

I. Stanza 1 refers to His cross

How deep His love, and great the shame,

That for my sins, Christ bore such pain.

And those who would, the story tell

Must see His cross to teach it well.

 A. Jesus endured great shame for us: Heb. 12:1-2

 B. He did this by dying in such pain for our sins: 1 Cor. 15:1-4

 C. This is the message of the cross: 1 Cor. 1:18-21

II. Stanza 2 refers to His bearing our sins

How deep His love, with broken heart,

To bear my sins, from God, did part.

Labor of soul, God, satisfied,

When His own Son, was crucified.

 A. When Jesus died, He bore our sins: 1 Pet. 2:24

 B. This is the labor or work that He finished by His death: Jn. 17:4, 19:30

 C. And it was by being crucified, one of the cruelest ways to die: Lk. 23:22

III. Stanza 3 refers to His care

How deep His love, how sweet His care,

That one so vile He makes His heir.

See from His cross, love flowing down;

And I so worthless can wear a crown.

 A. The Bible tells us that the Lord cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7

 B. He cares so much for us that He wants to make us His heirs: Rom. 8:16-17

 C. As a result, we can look forward to wearing a crown: 2 Tim. 4:6- 8

IV. Stanza 4 refers to His forgiveness

How deep His love; Lord help me see

That all my sins, Bring shame to Thee,

And how His death, did open the way;

For love so deep, I must obey.

 A. All of our sins bring shame to the Lord: Heb. 6:6

 B. But His death opened the way to forgiveness: Jn. 14:6

 C. Our response to His love should be to obey Him: 1 Jn. 5:2-3

     CONCL.:  I had the privilege of meeting and knowing, however briefly, Huey Hartsell.  He held a gospel meeting in 2009 for the Ohio St. church at Salem, IL, when I was located there.  After that, I saw and heard him when he spoke during a couple of other meetings with congregations in central and southern Illinois prior to his passing in 2016.  He left us a number of good songs.  This one speaks concerning the death of Christ and reminds us of “How Deep His Love.”

All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord

ALL PRAISE TO OUR REDEEMING LORD

“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which gives praise to God even where two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name is “All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord.”  The text was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788).  It first appeared under the title “At Meeting of Friends” in his Hymns for Those That Seek and Those That Have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ published in 1747.  It was originally in three eight line stanzas, but since the 1820s has been printed in six four line stanzas.  The tune (Armenia) was composed by Sylvanus Billings Pond, an American music publisher and composer who was born on April 5, 1792, at Milford, Vermont.  Early in life, Pond was a piano maker in Albany, New York, by 1820, was partner of the publishing house of Meacham and Pond there, and became a prominent musician of his time.  In 1832, he moved to New York City and joined the Firth Brothers.  The firm’s name became Firth, Hall and Pond, and in 1848 was reorganized as Firth, Pond and Co.; it was one of the principal publishers of Stephen Foster’s songs.

     This tune first appeared in The Musical Miscellany, edited by Thomas Hastings and Ezra Collier of New York in 1836.   In 1850 Pond retired, and his son, William A. Pond, became the owner. In 1863, the firm became known as William A. Pond and Company.  The elder Pond wrote and compiled tune music, especially for Sunday schools, and conducted the New York Sacred Music Society and the New York Academy of Sacred Music.  His publications include Union Melodies (1838), United States Psalmody (1841), and The Book of Praise for the Dutch Reformed Church in America (1866).  He died on March 12, 1871, in Brooklyn, New York.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord” appeared in the 1986 Great Songs of the Church Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann, and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.  The full text with Pond’s music may be found in The United Methodist Hymnal of 1989.

     The song exhorts us to praise God for the fellowship of believers.

I. Stanza 1 praises the Lord for His redemption

All praise to our redeeming Lord,

Who joins us by His grace;

And bids us, each to each restored,

Together seek His face.

 A. God is worthy of all praise: Heb. 13:15

 B. We can have redemption through the blood of Christ:  Eph. 1:7

 C. Those thus restored are joined together: Eph. 2:16-19

II. Stanza 2 praises the Lord for His hope

He bids us build each other up;

And, gathered into one,

To our high calling’s glorious hope,

We hand in hand go on.

 A. We should build each other up or edify one another: Eph. 4:12-16

 B. This is because we have all been gathered into one body: 1 Cor. 12:12-14

 C. One thing that holds us together is our common hope: Col. 1:3-5

III. Stanza 3 praises the Lord for His grace

The gift which He on one bestows,

We all delight to prove;

The grace through every vessel flows,

In purest streams of love.

 A. God has bestowed different gifts to all His people: 1 Pet. 4:10

 B. Rather than being jealous, we should delight in the diversity of gifts: 1 Cor. 12:25-31

 C. The reason is that these gifts are given by God’s grace: Rom. 12:6

IV. Stanza 4 (not in GSR and PFTL) praises the Lord for His unity

E’en now we think and speak the same,

And cordially agree;

Concentered all, through Jesus’ name,

In perfect harmony.

 A. God wants us to think and speak the same thing: 1 Cor. 1:10

 B. With such attitude, we will do all things in the name of Jesus Christ: Col. 3:17

 C. In this way, we shall keep the harmony or unity of the Spirit: Eph. 4:1-3

V. Stanza 5 praises the Lord for His joy

We all partake the joy of one;

The common peace we feel;

A peace to sensual minds unknown,

A joy unspeakable.

 A. We should rejoice with those who rejoice as fellow partakers: Rom. 12:15

 B. With this joy also comes a sense of peace: Phil. 4:4- 7

 C. It is so divinely different that it is a joy unspeakable: 1 Pet. 1:6-8

VI. Stanza 6 praises the Lord for His hope

And if our fellowship below

In Jesus be so sweet,

What height of rapture shall we know

When round His throne we meet!

 A. Our fellowship below is sweet: Phil. 2:1-2

 B. But even higher will be our rapture above for which we hope:  Col. 1:3-5

 C. Then we shall meet around His throne: Rev. 4:2-11

     CONCL.:  Though this hymn is “old,” the words having been written in 1747 and the music dating back to 1836, it is fairly “new” to American Churches of Christ, appearing in only a couple of recent hymnbooks, one from 1986 and the other from 1992.  But it is a good song for worship.  It should always be our desire to give “All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord.” 

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

(portrait of Frederick A. Challinor)

TELL ME THE STORIES OF JESUS

“…Suffer the little children come unto to Me…for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14)

      INTRO.:  A hymn which is based upon the idea of telling little children about Jesus is “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” (#173 in Special Sacred Selections).   The text was written by William Henry Parker, who was born on March 4, 1845, at Basford in Nottinghamshire, England.  Parker started his career as an apprentice in the machine construction department of a lace making plant in New Basford, where he worked for some time. Later in his career, he headed an insurance company.  A member of the the Chelsea Street Baptist Church in Nottingham, he wrote these lyrics in 1885 for his Sunday school students at the Chelsea Street Church.  One of his publications was The Princess Alice, and Other Poems of 1922.  Parker died on December 2, 1929, at Basford in Nottinghamshire, England. 

     The tune (Stories of Jesus) was composed by Frederick Arthur Challinor, who was born on November 12, 1866, at Longton in Staffordshire, England.  Challinor left school at ten years of age and went to work making bricks. At twelve, he worked in a colliery—first on the surface, and then full time underground.  Next, he went into the pottery industry, and it was here that his musical life began when he met a boy who had been a member of a workhouse band and gave Challinor instruction during their food breaks. He also studied harmony from books and took lessons when money became available.  While still working full time, he studied for the Diploma examination of the Royal College of Music. After some setbacks, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in September, 1897. In 1903, he received his doctorate.

     Challinor produced this particular tune, probably with Parker’s text, in 1903 for a competition sponsored by the national Sunday School Union in London.  By this time he had over 400 compositions published, including the cantatas Judah in Babylon, The Gardens of the Lord, and Bethany. One of his best remembered works is a choral ode composed about 1930 for the centenary festival of Josiah Wedgwood (of china fame) at Hanley, near Stoke-on-Trent.  His music belongs to a populace living in hard times.  Also, he was the champion of a religious folk tradition when writing music for the high spots of the year such as Sunday School Anniversaries.  Challinor died on June 10, 1952, at Paignton in Devonshire, England, and was buried at Brixham.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the hymn appears in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum. 

     It reminds us of how wonderful and important the stories of Jesus are.

I. Stanza one mentions the stories in general

Tell me the stories of Jesus

I love to hear;

Things I would ask Him to tell me

If He were here;

Scenes by the wayside,

Tales of the sea,

Stories of Jesus,

Tell them to me.

 A. Jesus is no longer living in the flesh on earth for us to hear His stories, but what He said was confirmed by those who heard Him and then recorded in His written word: Heb. 2:3-4

 B. He told of scenes by the wayside: Matt. 13:3-4, 18-19

 C. He also told tales of the sea: Matt. 13:47-50

II. Stanza two mentions the children who must have heard some of His stories

First let me hear how the children

Stood round His knee,

And I shall fancy His blessing

Resting on me;

Words full of kindness,

Deeds full of grace,

All in the love light

Of Jesus’ face.

 A. Children often came to Jesus: Matt. 18:2-3

 B. They were brought so that He could bless them by laying His hands on them: Matt. 19:13-15

 C. Though we cannot see Jesus’ face, we can still love Him and share His glory: 1 Pet. 1:7-8

III. Stanza 3 mentions one special event in the life of Christ

Tell me, in accents of wonder,

How rolled the sea,

Tossing the boat in a tempest

On Galilee;

And how the Maker,

Ready and kind,

Chided the billows,

And hushed the wind.

 A. On one occasion, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee: Matt.  8:23

 B. Suddenly there arose a great tempest: Matt. 8:24-25

 C. Jesus rebuked the wind and stilled the sea: Matt. 8:26-27

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Into the city I’d follow

The children’s band,

Waving a branch of the palm tree

High in my hand.

One of His heralds,

Yes, I would sing

Loudest hosannas,

Jesus is King!

 A. Jesus was about to enter the city of Jerusalem: Matt. 21:1-7

 B. The multitudes followed spreading branches on the road: Matt. 21:8-11

 C. Even the children cried Hosanna: Matt. 21:15-16

V. Stanza 5 mentions some of the comparisons that Jesus used in His teaching

Tell how the sparrow that twitters

On yonder tree,

And the sweet meadow-side lily

May speak to me—

Give me their message,

For I would hear

How Jesus taught us

Our Father’s care.

 A. God feeds the birds of the air: Matt. 6:25-27

 B. God also clothes the lilies of the field: Matt. 6:28-31

 C. Thus we can know that God cares for us even more than the sparrows: Matt. 10:28-31

VI. Stanza 6 mentions Christ’s suffering and death

Show me that scene in the garden,

Of bitter pain.

Show me the cross where my Savior

For me was slain.

Sad ones or bright ones,

So that they be

Stories of Jesus,

Tell them to me.

 A. Jesus suffered bitter pain in the garden of Gethsemane: Lk. 22:39-44

 B. Then He was slain on the cross for us: Lk. 23:33

 C. We should tell the stories of Jesus to others: 1 Cor. 2:1-5

     CONCL.:  Some might dismiss this hymn as just a children’s song and not suitable for a general worship service.  Each person will have to make up his or her own mind about this.  Certainly, it is appropriate for young children to learn and sing.  However, all Christians are “children” of God, and there are ways in which we are to be like a little child.  Therefore, whether young or old, I should be asking fellow believers to “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus.”

Father, Help Me Pray

FATHER, HELP ME PRAY

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which asks for God’s help to pray better is “Father, Help Me Pray” (Hymns for Worship Supplement #37).  The text was written by Matthew W. Bassford (b. 1978).  The tune was composed by Richard Louis Morrison (b. 1945).   The song was copyrighted in 1999 and appears in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens, Dane K. Shepard, and Tim Stevens.

     It encourages us to learn how to pray as God wants us to do.

I. Stanza 1 makes the request

Dear Father, guide my wayward soul

And teach me how to pray,

For when I need Your care the most,

I often turn away.

 A. We need God’s guidance in our lives: Ps. 31:1-3

 B. We especially need the Lord to teach us to pray: Lk. 11:1-4

 C. The reason for this is that all we like sheep have gone astray: 1 Pet. 2:25

II. Stanza 2 gives the reason

The sins and woes that plague my flesh

Corrupt my spirit, too.

They scatter doubt within my heart

And take me far from You.

 A. Even God’s children have to deal with the problem of sin: 1 Jn. 1:8-9

 B. Sin corrupts our spirits: 2 Cor. 11:3

 C. And it takes us far from God: Isa. 59:1-2

III. Stanza 3 offers the solution

So help me, Lord, when I depart,

To turn again to prayer,

That I may both receive Your love

And see You in Your care.

 A. There may be times when we depart from the Lord: Heb. 3:12- 13

 B. The solution is to turn again the prayer first for forgiveness: Acts 8:20-22

 C. Then we must continue in prayer to cast our cares on Him who cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7

     CONCL.:  Prayer should be an important, in fact a vital, part of the Christian’s life.  Jesus wants us to pray (Luke 18:1).  The early disciples prayed (Acts 4:23-31, 12:5-12, 16:25).  Prayer brings the peace of God which surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).  Thus, as a disciple of Christ, I should call upon God, saying, “Father, Help Me Pray.”