Teach Me to Pray

(Photograph of Albert S. Reitz)


“…Lord, teach us to pray….” (Luke 11:1)

     INTRO.:  A song that encourages us to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray is “Teach Me to Pray.”  The text was written and the tune (In Hoc Signo or Reitz,) was composed both by Albert Simpson Reitz, who was born on January 20, 1879, at Lyons, Kansas. When he was born, his father, John Adams Reitz, a Methodist minister, was 41 and his mother, Sophia Magdalena (nee Huth) Reitz, was 36. Albert lived at Geary, Kansas, in 1895.  In his early career, he worked for the Y.M.C.A. in Topeka, Kansas, from 1903 to 1908, and traveled as a musician with evangelist Henry Ostrom for seven years.  He attended the Moody Bible Institute at Chicago in 1917-1918 and then married Elsie May Oehmcke on August 29, 1918, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.  They became the parents of at least three daughters.

     After becoming a minister himself, Reitz served at the First Baptist Church, Berlin, Wisconsin (1918–21); the Rosehill Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California (1921-26); and the Fairview Heights Baptist Church, Inglewood, California (1926–52) where he remained for 26 years, retiring in 1952.  Reitz was encouraged to write hymns by Daniel B. Towner and produced over 100 gospel songs in his life­time.    “Teach Me to Pray” is dated 1925 following a soul-stirring Day of Prayer conducted by the Evangelical Prayer Union at Reitz’s Rosehill church and first appeared that year in Gospel Solos and Duets No. 2, compiled by Herbert G. Tovey. 

     The copyright was renewed in 1953 by Broadman Press.  Reitz was still living at Inglewood, California, in 1960. He often told the story of how he had preached a sermon on Sunday, buried his wife on Monday, and his daughter on Tuesday.  He died, aged 87, on November 1, 1966, at Inglewood, California, and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Teach Me to Pray” has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I first saw it in the 1968 Great Hymns of the Faith edited by John W. Peterson and published by Singspiration Inc., then a division of Zondervan Publishing House of Grand Rapids, MI.

     The song is all about learning how to pray acceptably to the Lord.

I. Stanza 1 calls prayer a heart-cry

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;

This is my heart-cry day unto day;

I long to know Thy will and Thy way;

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

 A. Prayer is important in the life of a Christian: Phil. 4:6-7

 B. It is the cry of our heart’s desire: Rom. 10:1

 C. In prayer we seek to know God’s will and His way: Matt. 6:10

II. Stanza 2 tells us that we need power in prayer

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,

Here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;

Men lost and dying, souls in despair:

O give me power, power in prayer.

 A. God is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us: Eph. 3:20

 B. We need this power because we live on an earth filled with sin, sorrow, and care: Mk. 4:18-19

 C. Also we need power in prayer because people are lost and dying in despair: Lk. 19:10

III. Stanza 3 mentions our weaknesses

My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew;

My sinful nature Thou canst subdue;

Fill me just now with power anew.

Power to pray, and power to do!

 A. There are times when we are weak, but God can renew our will so that we can be strong: 2 Cor. 12:9-20

 B. We have a “sinful nature,” though the Bible does not teach that it is inherited but acquired by practice, and God can subdue it when we turn to Him for forgiveness: Eph. 2:1-5

 C. We need to pray to God for power to overcome the effects of this nature:2 Cor. 13:4

IV. Stanza 4 identifies the Lord as our pattern for prayer

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;

Thou art my pattern, day unto day;

Thou art my surety, now and for aye;

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

 A. The Lord taught His disciples how to pray: Matt. 6:5-15

 B. Therefore, He is our pattern for how to pray: Heb. 5:7

 C. He also is our surety under the new covenant to make intercession for us: Heb. 7:22-25

     CONCL.: The chorus points out the importance of prayer to our living in Christ.

Living in Thee, Lord, and Thou in me;

Constant abiding, this is my plea;

Grant me Thy power, boundless and free;

Power with men and power with Thee.

Jesus is no longer physically here upon this earth for me to learn directly from Him as did the apostles.  However, through His written word that he left for all mankind, He can still “Teach Me to Pray.” 


“My Evening Prayer”


“…For so He giveth His beloved sleep” (Ps. 127.2)

     INTRO.”  A song which talks about God giving His beloved little ones sleep is “My Evening Prayer.”   The text is anonymous.  A couple of people recall learning this poem as a bedtime prayer or as an evening song when they were little children.  The tune was composed by Homer Franklin Morris (1875–1955).  Morris produced both lyrics and music for “Anywhere Is Home” and provided the tune for “Won’t It Be Wonderful There” with words by James Rowe.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “My Evening Prayer” appeared in the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V.  E. Howard.

     The song is a fitting request to the Lord for both children and adults when retiring for the night.

I. Stanza 1 addresses Jesus as Shepherd

Jesus, tender Shepherd, lead (hear) me.

Bless thy (Your) little lamb tonight;

Through the darkness be Thou (please be) near me,

Keep me safe till morning light.

 A. Jesus is our tender Shepherd who leads us and hears us when we cry: Jn. 10:11-14

 B. His people are the sheep, or little lambs, of His pasture: Ps. 100:3

 C. Therefore, we look to Him to be near us and keep us safe: Ps. 23:1-6

II. Stanza 2 expresses thanksgiving for all His good gifts

All this day Thy (my days Your) hand has led me,

And I thank Thee (You) for Thy (Your) care;

Thou hast (You have) clothed me, warmed me (warmed me, clothed me), fed me.

Listen to my evening prayer.

 A. He cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7

 B. He has clothed, warmed, and fed us—indeed every good and perfect gift comes from Him: Jas. 1:17

 C. And He has promised to hear our prayers: 1 Jn. 5:14-15

III. Stanza 3 asks God for His blessings both physical and spiritual

May my love be always for Thee (May my sins be all forgiven),

Bless the friends I love so well;

Take me, when I die (us all at last), to heaven,

Happy there with Thee (You) to dwell.

 A. We should ask God to help us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength: Mk. 12:28-30

 B. We should always ask Him to bless our friends: 3 Jn. vs. 1-2

 C. And we should pray that He will take us to heaven to be with Him: Rev. 21:1-3

     CONCL.: Alterations found in different sources are noted in parentheses.  This song is very similar to another hymn entitled “A Child’s Evening Prayer,” with a text that was written and a tune that was composed both by W. T. Giffe, which appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson.  When I was young and now when I am older, before pillowing my head for the night’s sleep, I have always sought to speak to God in “My Evening Prayer.”

Saved! Saved! Saved!

(Gravestone of Roger Mills Hickman)


“…Justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses great joy in the fact that we can be justified by Christ’s blood and thus be saved from wrath through Him is “Saved! Saved! Saved!” The text was written by Oswald Jeffray Smith (1889–1986).  Smith said that he wrote this hymn during the First World War, and it is thus dated 1917.  He is best known for the hymn “Into the Heart of Jesus.”  The tune (Hickman or Peoples Church) was composed by Roger Mills Hickman who was born on November 28, 1888, at Marionville, Missouri, the son of William Granville Hickman (1859–1905) and Martha E Hunter Hickman (1860–1949). He moved to Independence, Missouri, at age 16, and studied music with instructors in Kansas City.  Coming to Christ at age 20, he attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, where he met his wife Irene Talley. They served in the evangelism field together until her death in 1942.

     Roger went on to serve as music and Christian education director at churches in Louisiana and Florida. He wrote over 100 gospel songs, including the music for Smith’s “Saved! Saved! Saved!  The song was copyrighted in 1918 and first published in the 1918 edition of Tabernacle Praises No. 1, which Hickman compiled with Arthur McKee. The hymn was included in the songbook used by the Paul Rader-Arthur McKee evangelist campaigns of 1919 and first introduced during their meetings at Toronto’s Massey Hall.   One evening author Smith was selling souvenir songbooks in the aisles.  He had just resigned from the Dale Presbyterian Church, and his ministry appeared to be over. 

     The young man, out of work, was sunk in the depths of discouragement. Hearing his song sung by 3,400 voices which seemed as though they would lift the roof, he was greatly encouraged and decided that God still had work for him.  After the song’s renewal in 1946, it was owned by Hope Publishing Co.  Hickman headed the Music Department at the Baptist Bible Institute in Lakeland, Florida from 1949 to 1953. He died on February 25, 1968 (aged 79), at Lakeland, Florida, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lakeland. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Saved! Saved! Saved!” has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I first saw it in the 1957 All-American Church Hymnal compiled and published by John T. Benson.

     The song discusses several aspects to being saved.

I. Stanza 1 tells what salvation is all about

Saved! saved! saved! my sins are all forgiven;

Christ is mine! I’m on my way to Heaven;

Once a guilty sinner, lost, undone,

Now a child of God, saved through His Son.

 A. Salvation means having our sins forgiven: Eph. 1:7

 B. We need forgiveness because once all of us were guilty sinners: Rom. 3:23

 C. This forgiveness makes it possible for us to become children of God: 1 Jn. 3:1

II. Stanza 2 tells how we receive salvation

Saved! saved! saved! by grace and grace alone;

Oh, what wondrous love to me was shown,

In my stead Christ Jesus bled and died,

Bore my sins, for me was crucified.

 A. We are definitely saved by grace: Eph. 2:8-9.  However, many believers would have a problem with saying “Saved by grace and grace alone” because the Bible never says that salvation is by grace alone.  It is “by grace through faith.”  If it is “by grace alone” it cannot be “by grace through faith,” and if “by grace through faith” it cannot be “by grace alone.” Those who accept this doctrine have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to make it “by grace alone” and “through faith alone” at the same time.  Those who are wont to change hymn lyrics to make them more scriptural might consider altering line 1 to read “by grace from God alone.”

 B. This grace by which we are saved us offered to us as a result of God’s great love: Jn. 3:16

 C. And God’s great love was demonstrated by the fact that Christ Jesus bled and died for us: Rom. 5:8

III. Stanza 3 tells who made salvation possible

Saved! saved! saved! oh, joy beyond compare!

Christ my life, and I His constant care;

Yielding all and trusting Him alone,

Living now each moment as His own.

 A. Those who are saved can rejoice in the Lord: Phil. 4:4

 B. This is because Christ is our life: Col. 3:1-4

 C. Therefore, we trust in Him alone for salvation: Eph. 1:12-13

     CONCL.:  The chorus continues to exult in the salvation that Christ offers by His death:

Saved! I’m saved thro’ Christ, my all in all;

Saved! I’m saved, whatever may befall;

He died upon the cross for me,

He bore the awful penalty;

And now I’m saved eternally—

I’m saved! saved! saved!

The original music was apparently written for only a solo with accompaniment in the stanzas and full four-part harmony in the chorus.  Hymns for the Living Church, published in by Hope Publishing Company has an arrangement for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass in the stanzas as well as the chorus.  As a Christian, I can shout for joy because I’m “Saved! Saved! Saved!”

Sail On!


“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

     INTRO.:  A song which is designed to encourage us to be of good cheer while we are sailing on the seas of tribulation is “Sail On!”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856–1932). The song was copyrighted in 1908 by Gabriel.  A new arrangement was made in 1918 by Homer Alvin Rodeheaver (1880–1955).  The copyright was renewed in 1946 by the Rodeheaver Company.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Sail On” has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I first saw it in the 1948 Church Service Hymns edited by Rodeheaver, George Sanville, and Bentley D. Ackley.

     The song compares the life journey of the Christian to a naval voyage on the ocean.

I. Stanza 1 refers to the stormy sea

Upon a wide and stormy sea,

Thou’rt sailing to eternity,

And thy great Admiral orders thee:

Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

 A. The stormy sea is often used to symbolize the trials and tribulations of life: Rev. 15:1-2

 B. Through this sea, we are sailing to eternity: Isa. 57:17

 C. Our great Admiral who tells us to sail on is the captain of our salvation: Heb. 2:10

II. Stanza 2 refers to the overcast sky

Art far from shore, and weary worn,

The sky o’ercast, thy canvas torn?

Hark ye! a voice to thee is borne:

Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

 A. The shore toward which we are sailing is heaven: Rev. 21:1-4

 B. The torn sail canvas might represent our weakness: Matt. 26:41

 C. But the voice of Jesus is there telling us to press on: Phil. 3:13-14

III. Stanza 3 refers to the course

Do comrades tremble and refuse

To further dare the taunting hues?

No other course is thine to choose,

Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

 A. Comrades may grow afraid and forsake us: 2 Tim. 4:10

 B. The daunting hues could be thought of as the trials of life: Jas. 1:2

 C. But we have no other course to choose other than the race set before us: Heb. 12:1-2

IV. Stanza 4 refers to the snarling waves

Do snarling waves thy craft assail?

Art powerless, drifting with the gale?

Take heart! God’s Word shall never fail.

Sail on! Sail on! Sail on!

     CONCL.: The chorus exhorts us to keep on sailing. 

Sail on! Sail on!

The storms will soon be past,

The darkness will not always last;

Sail on! Sail on!

God lives and He commands:

Sail on! Sail on!

We shall face many raging storms while we journey on the seas of life, but if it is our desire to reach the heavenly harbor of safety, we have no other choice but to “Sail On!”

Our Evening Prayer


“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.” (Psalm 67:1)

     A song which asks God to bless us at the end of the day as we in turn give Him thanks for His care during the day is “Our Evening Prayer.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Bernard Bates (B. B.) Edmiaston.  Born on July 16, 1881, at Bennetts in Baxter County, Arkansas, Bernard was the son of David W. and Georgia Ann (Fluty) Edmiaston, and the husband of Ella Allen Edmiaston. He studied music under Rufus Turner, Franklin L. Eiland, W. H. Lawson, Berry McGee, Emmett S. Dean, G. W. Fields, John Herbert, and many others, and taught singing schools for at least 38 years. He wrote and published songs through the Trio Music Company, Waco, Texas, and was director of the Southern Development Normal School of Music in Waco.

     I have not found a date or original source for this hymn beginning “Now hath passed another day,” but according to Hymnary.com it appeared in two songbooks, Eden Echoes and Glad Hosannas, both published in 1906 by the Trio Music Co. of Waco, TX.  Edmiaston’s best known song is perhaps “Some One Is Dying” with music by Z. S. Lee that was found in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), edited by L. O. Sanderson and others for the Gospel Advocate Co.  Edmiaston died on December 2, 1964, at Bronte, Texas, and was buried in Fairview Cemetery at Bronte.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Our Evening Prayer” appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons for the Firm Foundation Co.

     The song both offers praise to God and seeks His blessings at the end of the day.

I. Stanza one suggests that we pray

Now hath passed another day,

And its labors all are done;

Let us altogether pray

To the great and holy one.

 A. Every day passes as evening comes: Ps. 65:8

 B. When evening comes, our day’s labors are done: Ps. 104:23

 C. Thus, evening is a good time to pray: Ps. 141:2

II. Stanza two suggests that we call on God to allay our fears

Thou hast watched our footsteps all

Through the dangers of the day;

Thou wilt hear our every call

And will all our fears allay.

 A. God watches over His people to guard them from dangers: Ps. 23:4

 B. In such situations, we can always call upon Him: Ps. 4:1

 C. And He will allay all our fears: Heb. 13:6

III. Stanza three suggests that we thank God for His care

Thanks to Thee we give each day

For Thy love and tender care;

Master, hear us while we pray;

Be Thou near us everywhere.

 A. Because of who He is and what He does, God deserves our thanks: Ps. 95:1-2

 B. He will hear us when we pray: 1 Pet. 3:12

 C. And He will be near us as we draw near to Him: Jas. 4:8

     CONCL.:  The chorus repeats the ideas of thanking God and asking His blessings when we pray at night.

Father, we give

Thanks for Thy protecting care;

Father, bless us,

Bless us in our evening prayer.

There is no better way of closing the day than by going before the throne of the Lord in “Our Evening Prayer.”

My Anchor Holds


“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast….” (Hebrews 6:19)

     INTRO.:  A song which identifies the anchor of the soul which is both sure and steadfast as our hope is “My Anchor Holds.”  The text was written by William Clark Martin (1864-1914). Born at Hightstown, NJ, he married Euretta (Etta) May Wilcox In 1891, and they had at least three children.  He graduated from the Peddie Institute in Hightstown in 1884, and in 1891 from the Crozer Theological Seminary, Upland, PA. He became minister of the Grace Baptist Church, Camden, NJ (1891-1894); Noank Baptist Church, Noank, CT (1894-1900); Tabernacle Baptist Church, New Albany, IN (1902-1904); First Baptist Church, Seymour, IN (1902-1904); First Baptist Church, Bluffton, IN (1904-1909); Grace Baptist Church, Somerville, MA (1909-1912); and First Baptist Church, Fort Myers, FL (1912-1914). 

     Martin penned many hymn lyrics.  Ones which have appeared in some of our books include “He Calls for You” with music by Rufus Henry Cornelius and “The Name of Jesus” with music by Edmund S. Lorenz.  “My Anchor Holds” is dated 1902.  The tune was composed by Daniel Brink Towner (1850–1919).  The song was first published in Towner’s One Hundred Gospel Hymns for Male Voices published in 1902 by The Moody Bible Institute Colportage Association of Chicago, IL.  Martin died of heart failure at his farm in Rialto, FL. After the song’s copyright was renewed in 1930, it was assigned to Hope Publishing Co.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, it has appeared in the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie, and the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard.

     The song encourages us to keep holding on to our anchor of hope against all onslaughts.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the angry surges of life’s tempests

Though the angry surges roll

On my tempest driven soul,

I am peaceful, for I know,

Wildly though the winds may blow,

I’ve an anchor safe and sure,

That can evermore endure.

 A. Trials and tribulations are often likened to the angry surges of a tempest: Matt. 14:24

 B. Though the winds may blow, we can be peaceful: Phil. 4:6-7

 C. This is because we have an anchor, the purpose of which is to stabilize our ship: Acts 27:29

II. Stanza 2 mentions the perils of mighty tides

Mighty tides about me sweep,

Perils lurk within the deep,

Angry clouds o’ershade the sky,

And the tempest rises high;

Still I stand the tempest’s shock,

For my anchor grips the rock.

 A. Christians may sometimes find themselves in perils: 2 Cor. 11:26

 B. Angry clouds may be thought of as symbolizing the trials we face: Jas. 1:2-4

C. But we can stand the shock because our anchor grips the rock which is Christ: 1 Cor. 10:4

III. Stanza 3 mentions the heavy strain of sudden blasts

I can feel the anchor fast

As I meet each sudden blast,

And the cable, though unseen,

Bears the heavy strain between;

Through the storm I safely ride,

Till the turning of the tide.

 A. Again, the sudden blasts represent the tribulations we face in life: Acts 14:22

 B. However, the cable which bears the heavy strain is the love of God from which nothing can separate us: Rom. 8:38-39

 C. The turning of the tide may refer to the time when we gain the ultimate victory: 1 Cor. 15:50-57

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the troubles and griefs of tempters

Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;

Griefs like billows o’er me roll;

Tempters seek to lure astray;

Storms obscure the light of day:

But in Christ I can be bold,

I’ve an anchor that shall hold.

 A. Our lives here on earth are filled with many griefs and troubles: Job 14:1-2

 B. These situations provide temptations which have the potential to lure us astray: Jas. 1:12-16

 C. But can always come boldly to Christ to find grace and mercy in time of need: Heb. 4:14-16

     CONCL.:  The chorus continues to remind us that our anchor is both sure and steadfast.

And it holds, my anchor holds:

Blow your wildest, then, O gale,

On my bark so small and frail;

By His grace I shall not fail,

For my anchor holds,

My anchor holds.

The storms of life can sometimes be pretty rough.  Thus, I need something that will enable me to withstand them and not drift away.  It is a great comfort to know that “My Anchor Holds.”

My Hope Is in the Lord


“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Colossians 1:27)

     INTRO.:  A song which points out that Christ is our hope of glory is “My Hope Is in the Lord.”  The text was written and the tune (Wakefield) was composed both by Norman John Clayton (1903-1992). Norman J. Clayton was born on January 22, 1903, in Brooklyn, New York, the ninth of ten children. He was converted at the age of six in the South Brooklyn Gospel Church, where his mother, Mary Alice (Wakefield) Clayton, had been a foundation member and was church organist by the age of 12. He kept up the role of church organist for the rest of his life. Clayton’s profession was in the building industry, but he also created his own publishing house, Gospel Songs, which was later absorbed into the Rodeheaver Company. In 1942 he was working with Jack Wyrtzen’s Word of Life organization, providing music for both the radio broadcasts and crusade meetings. That same year Clayton wrote his most popular gospel song, words and music, “Now I Belong to Jesus.”   Clayton produced both words and music for another of his well known hymns, “My Hope Is in the Lord,” in 1945 while at Malverne, NY, and first published it that year in Word of Life Melodies No. 2.   The copyright was renewed in 1973 by Norman Clayton Publishing Co.  Another lovely and popular song of Clayton’s is “Every Moment of Every Day.”   

     According to Kenneth Osbeck, Norman Clayton “tells how it is his usual practice to write the music first before the words,” and that “he feels it is vitally important that every song he writes be biblically based” (101 More Hymn Stories, page 204).  In order to create songs worthy of His Lord, Clayton made it his practice to memorize scripture, so his songs would have a strong Biblical basis. He also found it easiest to write songs for special occasions. Clayton’s gospel songs were eminently singable, musically sweet and tender of sentiment.  Clayton’s most popular songs reflect his evangelical emphasis, focused on the saving work of Christ and the sweetness of relationship with God through Him. The absence of deeper or more divers theological issues may have robbed Clayton of a more enduring place in Christian song-writing. By the time of his death churches were beginning their push into more upbeat music and more Charismatic themes.  Normal Clayton died in 1992, at the age of 89.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “My Hope Is in the Lord” has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I first saw it in the 1967 Favorite Hymns of Praise, edited by Donald P. Hustad and published by Tabernacle Publishing Company.

     “My Hope Is in the Lord” reminds us that our only source of true hope is Jesus Christ.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that Jesus gave Himself for us

My hope is in the Lord

Who gave Himself for me

And paid the price

Of all my sin at Calvary.

 A. Hope is an important element of our salvation: Rom. 8:24-25

 B. Our hope is in the Lord because He gave Himself for us: Matt. 20:28

 C. He paid the price of our redemption: Eph. 1:7

II. Stanza 2 tells us that Jesus makes possible our righteousness

No merit of my own

His anger to suppress,

My only hope is found

In Jesus’ righteousness

 A. Because all have sinned, we have no merit of our own to gain salvation by our own works: Tit. 3:5

 B. Thus, nothing that we can do will appease God’s anger by making atonement or reconciliation—only Christ could do that: Rom. 5:10-13

 C. Like Paul, we must not seek our own righteousness but rather the righteousness which is from God by faith in Christ: Phil. 3:9

III. Stanza 3 tells us that Jesus now stands before the Father’s throne

And now for me He stands

Before the Father’s throne;

He shows His wounded hands

And names me as His own.

 A. Jesus now stands before the Father’s throne to make intercession for us: Heb. 7:25

 B. His wounded hands testify that He paid the price for our redemption: Jn. 20:24-29

 C. As a result, He names us as His own since He knows who are His: 2 Tim. 2:19

IV. Stanza 4 tells us that Jesus demonstrated God’s grace

His grace has planned it all;

‘Tis mine but to believe,

And recognize His work of love,

And Christ receive.

 A. We are justified by His grace: Rom. 3:23-24

 B. Our responsibility is to believe: Jn. 3:16

 C. When we thus receive Christ we have the right to become God’s children: Jn.1:11-13

     CONCL.:  The chorus tells us that Jesus gives us eternal life

For me He died,

For me He lives,

And everlasting life

And light He freely gives

Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary for my sins.  Then he was declared to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead and ascended back to heaven where He ever lives to make intercession for me.  Therefore, because of all that He has done for me, I can with certainty say, “My Hope Is in the Lord.”

Lord, I Have Shut the Door


“When thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to enter into a secret place, shut the door, and pray to the Father in heaven is “Lord, I Have Shut the Door.”  The text was written and the tune (Sanctuary) was composed both by William Marion Runyan (1870–1957).  William was the son of Methodist minister William White Runyan and Hannah O. Runyan.  He showed an interest in music when very young, and by age 12 often served as church organist.  The husband of Lena Knapp, he became a Methodist minister at 21, and held various pastorates in Kansas from 1891 to 1903. He was appointed evangelist for the Central Kansas Methodist Conference, and served for two decades. 

     Runyan wrote his first gospel song in 1915, and was greatly encouraged by Daniel Towner of the Moody Bible Institute. “Lord, I Have Shut the Door” was copyrighted in 1923 and first printed that year in Runyan’s Songs of Salvation. Perhaps his most famous melody is that for Thomas Obadiah Chisholm’s “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” also copyrighted in 1923. In 1924, Runyan went to John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He served as minister of the Federated Church, and editor of the Christian Workers Magazine. Later moving to Chicago, Illinois, he was associated with the Moody Bible Institute, and was an editor for Hope Publishing Company until retiring in 1948.  He received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Wheaton College, Illinois, in 1948.  After the copyright to “Lord, I Have Shut the Door” was renewed in 1951, it was assigned to Hope Publishing Co.  .Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the song has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I first saw it in the 1967 Favorite Hymns of Praise, edited by Donald P. Hustad and published by Tabernacle Publishing Company.

     The song is designed to stimulate intimate communication with God.

I. Stanza 1 tells us to hear

Lord, I have shut the door,

Speak now the word

Which in the din and throng

Could not be heard;

Hushed now my inner heart,

Whisper Thy will,

While I have come apart,

While all is still.

 A. Today, God speaks to us through His Son: Heb. 1:1-2

 B. We need to hush our inner hearts that we might hear Him: Matt. 17:5

 C. To accomplish this, we may need to do as Jesus did and go into a solitary place: Mk. 1:35

II. Stanza 2 tells us to bow

Lord, I have shut the door,

Here do I bow;

Speak, for my soul attent

Turns to Thee now.

Rebuke Thou what is vain,

Counsel my soul,

Thy holy will reveal,

My will control.

 A. The idea of bowing down represents humility: Ps. 95:6

 B. We especially need to show humility when we are rebuked: Heb. 12:5-6

 C. Our attitude should be that of Christ’s that God’s will, not ours, be done: Matt. 26:39

III. Stanza 3 tells us to be quiet

In this blest quietness

Clamorings cease;

Here in Thy presence dwells

Infinite peace;

Yonder, the strife and cry,

Yonder, the sin:

Lord, I have shut the door,

Thou art within!

 A. The Lord tells us to be quiet or still and know that He is God: Ps. 46:10

 B. When we do this, Christ will dwell in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:14-17

 C. And He will then help us to keep separate from strife and sin: Ps. 119:11

IV. Stanza 4 tells us to seek strength

Lord, I have shut the door,

Strengthen my heart;

Yonder awaits the task—

I share a part.

Only through grace bestowed

May I be true;

Here, while alone with Thee,

My strength renew.

 A. We need to have our hearts strengthened: Eph. 3:16

 B. This is possible through grace bestowed: 2 Cor. 12:7-9

 C. With this strength through grace we can be renewed: Rom. 12:1-2

     CONCL.:  The Bible does not teach that God speaks directly to people today. Rather, He speaks to us through His written word.  Yet, by His providence, He can use various situations and circumstances to communicate His will to us if our minds are closely attuned to that written word.  Therefore, if I find myself needing to ask Him for wisdom, I should enter into my closet and say, “Lord, I Have Shut the Door.”

Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round

(Portrait of John White Chadwick)


“The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are One.” (John 17:22)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which asks the Lord to help His followers be one even as He is one with the Father is “Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round.”  The text was written by John White Chadwick, who was born on October 19, 1840, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of John White Chadwick and Jane Stanley Chadwick.  Apprenticed to a shoemaker early in life, he decided to further his academic learning, and entered the Massachusetts Normal School at Bridgewater in 1857.  The husband of Annie Hathaway, he decided to become a minister, and graduated in July of 1864 from Harvard Divinity School. “Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round” was produced that year for his divinity school graduation.  In December of that same year, he also became minister of the Second Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, New York, and served there four decades. His sermons, which were published in a widely known series of volumes, attracted attention, and he became known as a radical teacher of the doctrines of his church.

     “Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round” first appeared in A Book of Poems, by John White Chadwick (published in 1876 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Roberts Brothers.  Chadwick was elected Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard in 1885, and in the following year preached the alumni sermon at the Divinity School. A frequent contributor to the Christian Examiner, The Radical, Old and New, and Harper’s Magazine, he published numerous poems in American periodicals. He remained at the Second Unitarian Church until his death at age 64 in Brooklyn, NY, on December 11, 1904.

     The tune (Yorkshire) was composed in 1750 by John Wainwright (ca. 1723-1768). That year, he published a collection of Psalm tunes, anthems, chants, and hymns. A talented musician, the following year he was appointed organist and singer at Manchester Collegiate Church (later the Manchester Cathedral). His son, Robert, succeeded him as organist after he died.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the song has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I saw it the 1926 Modern Hymnal edited by Robert H. Coleman and published by Broadman Press of Nashville, TN.

     “Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round” emphasizes the oneness that God wants with His people.

I. Stanza 1 addresses God as our Eternal Ruler

Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round

Of circling planets singing on their way,

Guide of the nations from the night profound

Into the glory of the perfect day;

Rule in our hearts, that we may ever be

Guided, and strengthened, and upheld by Thee.

 A. God is the Eternal Ruler of the universe because He created it: Gen. 1:1

 B. He is the Guide of the nations because He determined the boundaries of their dwellings: Acts 17:26

 C. Therefore, we should let Him rule in our hearts: Eph. 3:17

II. Stanza 2 calls for oneness with God and with His Son

We are of Thee, the children of Thy love,

The brothers of Thy well belovèd Son;

Descend, O Holy Spirit, like a dove,

Into our hearts, that we may be as one;

As one with Thee, to whom we ever tend;

As one with Him our brother and our friend.

 A. God’s love makes it possible for us to become His spiritual children: 1 Jn. 3:1-3

 B. He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts: 1 Jn. 4:13

 C. Through the teaching of the Spirit we can have fellowship with both the Father and the Son: 1 Jn. 1:3

III. Stanza 3 pleads for oneness with God’s children

We would be one in hatred of all wrong,

One in our love of all things sweet and fair;

One with the joy that breaketh into song,

One with the grief that trembleth into prayer,

One in the power that makes Thy children free

To follow truth, and thus to follow Thee.

 A. We should be one in hatred of all wrong: Ps. 97:10

 B. We should also be one in both our joys and griefs: 1 Cor. 12:25-26

 C. And we can all be one by following the truth which is Christ: Jn. 8:32, 14:6

IV. Stanza 4 identifies what we need in order to have this oneness

O clothe us with Thy heavenly armor, Lord!

Thy trusty shield, Thy sword of love divine;

Our inspiration be Thy constant Word,

We ask no victories that are not Thine;

Give or withhold, let pain or pleasure be,

Enough to know that we are serving Thee.

 A. We need to put on the heavenly armor of God: Eph. 6:10-17

 B. Also we need to find our inspiration in God’s word, the Scriptures: 2 Tim. 3:15-17

 C. And we need to be determined to serve God in everything we do: Heb. 9:14

      CONCL.:  Many of the older Unitarians of previous generations, such as those from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were far more conservative than most in that denomination today, or, for that matter, than a lot of people in a number of so-called modern “Christian” churches. Several good hymns came from earlier Unitarian poets who sought to acknowledge God as the “Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round.” 

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates of Brass


“He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron.” (Psalm 107:16)

     INTRO.: A hymn which calls for the gates of brass to be broken so that the King of glory might pass through is “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates of Brass.”  The text was written by James Montgomery (1771–1854).  It is among his manuscripts but is undated. It was first printed in the Evangelical Magazine, 1843; and again in Montgomery’s Original Hymns, 1853. The tune (Presbyter) was composed by Walter Olivant Wilkinson, who was born in 1852 or 1853 at Oldham near Manchester, England, the son of Isaac Olivant Wilkinson and Rebecca Keyworth Wilkinson.  He married Jenny Attenison Conner (1857–1935) in 1873 or 1874 at Manhattan, New York. The couple was living in New York City in 1880. 

     This tune was produced in 1895 and copyrighted that year by the trustees of the Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work.  By 1905, the Wilkinsons had moved to Mount Vernon, New York, and Walter died (aged 54–55) on May 20, 1908, at Manhattan, New York. His body was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, in Kings County, New York. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the song has not appeared in any to my knowledge.  I saw it the 1926 Modern Hymnal edited by Robert H. Coleman and published by Broadman Press of Nashville, TN.

     The song is about the spiritual warfare in which the people of God are engaged.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the leader in battle

Lift up your heads, ye gates of brass,

Ye bars of iron, yield,

And let the King of Glory pass;

The cross is in the field.

That banner, brighter than the star

That leads the train of night,

Shines on their march, and guides from far

His servants to the fight.

 A. Of course the King of Glory who leads us is Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Old Testament: Ps. 24:7-10

 B. He is our leader because of what He did for us on the cross: Col. 1:20

 C. Therefore, we march under His banner of love: Ps. 60:4

II. Stanza 2 mentions the enemy

A holy war those servants wage;

Mysteriously at strife;

The powers of heaven and hell engage

For more than death or life.

Ye armies of the living God,

His sacramental host,

Where hallowed footsteps never trod

Take your appointed post.

 A. As Christians we wage a holy warfare: 1 Tim. 1:18

 B. This battle is against the powers of hell: Eph. 6:11-12

 C. We are thus the army of the living God: Rev. 19:11-14

III. Stanza 3 mentions the ultimate victory

Though few and small and weak your bands,

Strong in your Captain’s strength

Go to the conquest of all lands;

All must be His at length.

Those spoils at His victorious feet

You shall rejoice to lay,

And lay yourselves, as trophies meet,

In His great judgment day.

 A. Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation: Heb. 2:10

 B. Those who have faith in Him will join in His victory: 1 Jn. 5:3-4

 C. The final victory will be gained in His great judgment day: Jn. 12:48

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the strength needed to endure

O fear not, faint not, halt not now;

Quit you like men, be strong!

To Christ shall all the nations bow,

And sing with you this song:

Uplifted are the gates of brass,

The bars of iron yield;

Behold the King of Glory pass;

The cross hath won the field!

 A. We must not faint or lose heart: 2 Cor. 4:16-18

 B. Rather, we must quit or act like brave men and be strong: 1 Cor. 16:13

 C. Only then can we stand with Christ when all the nations bow to Him: Rev. 2:26-27

     CONCL.: This hymn is unknown among Churches of Christ.  I have seen it in one other denominational hymnbook set to a different tune.   But it is the kind of hymn rich in Biblical imagery that was sung in churches before the “Jesus is my boyfriend” type of song became popular.  As soldiers in the Lord’s army, let us do what we can to tell the all the obstacles to the gospel’s progress in this world to “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates of Brass.”