I Am His Child

“I AM HIS CHILD”

“Praise ye the Lord…for He is good: His mercy endureth for ever” (Ps. 106:1)

     INTRO.:  A song which praises the Lord for His mercy that makes it possible for us to become His spiritual children is “I Am His Child” (#15 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Donald M. Alexander (b. 1946).  The song was copyrighted in 1986 and first published in the 1987 Hymns for Worship edited by Dane K. Shepard and R. J. Stevens.    It is related to another Alexander song, “Mended and Whole” (#369).  Concerning these hymns, Alexander wrote, “One day a neighbor came to our door with a Bible in hand which his mother had given him. He had been crying. He told me that he had just learned that his mother had died. He said that his mother had wanted him to start going to church, that he didn’t know much about it, but his mother had given him the Bible shortly before she died. This neighbor was a very worldly man, having a rough background which included drugs, alcohol, and immoral lifestyle. I had tried previously to get him to go to church with us and to have a Bible class. He had previously refused. But on this day he was ready to try. We began to study the Bible and after a few sessions and his attendance at church, he was baptized. As he came up out of the water, he had tears in his eyes and said, ‘I don’t know much about this. You will have to treat me like a baby.’  I reassured him by telling him that the Lord now considers him a babe in Christ, a child of God – His child. He got a large grin on his face and said ‘I am his child. That’s great!’ In the days after his baptism, we studied the Bible and prayed together. He and I did not have the same back-ground but now we had Jesus in common. I began to write ‘I Am His Child’ shortly afterward.”

     Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story.  Alexander continued, “However, some grow weary and pursue sin. About four months later, this new brother slipped back into sin for a moment’s reckless folly. One afternoon he became intoxicated, grabbed his truck keys, drove one mile to a shopping center to purchase some liquor. When he came out of the liquor store, he got into an argument with a man over how he had parked. The man, claiming to be afraid, drove to his home, got his gun, came back and shot my new brother three times as he sat in his truck. He died instantly. I was asked to identify the body at the morgue, an experience I will never forget. The thought occurred to me that here was a man broken by sinful living who, for a short time, was mended and whole. I wrote ‘Mended and Whole’ after performing a memorial service for one who had not learned to follow the Savior in the control of his anger and paid dearly for it” (Guardian of Truth; Vol. XL, No. 16, p. 19; August 15, 1996).  The arrangement of the music for “I Am His Child” was made by R. J. Stevens.  Alexander has written either words or both words and music for several other songs in Hymns for Worship, including “Saints, Lift Your Voices,” “Blessed in Christ,” “In the Glory of His Cross,” “Above All, Love,” and “Brotherly Love.”   Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “I Am His Child” may be found only in Hymns for Worship, as well as a small booklet of his hymns which Don told me that he had published privately.

     The song speaks of some of the blessings to which one who has become God’s child has access.

I. Stanza 1 mentions forgiveness

“Must I live a life of sinning Just to know God will forgive me?

Must I then be broken-hearted Just to know that He can cheer me?”

 A. Must we live lives of sinning just to know that God will forgive? Or, in other words, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Paul said, “Certainly not”: Rom. 6:1-2

 B. The fact is that we can be assured of God’s forgiveness when we meet His revealed conditions because He Himself has promised it: 1 Jn. 1:9

 C. We can also know that He will cheer us when broken hearted because He is the God of all comfort: 2 Cor. 1:3-4

II. Stanza 2 mentions the Lord’s presence

“Must I be in heaven with Him Just to know the Lord is reigning?

Must I see His acts of power Just to know that He is with me?”

 A. We do not need to go to heaven to know that the Lord is reigning because it is so declared in His inspired word that Christ is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens: Heb. 8:1

 B. Nor do we need to see His acts of power to believe in Him because these things were written that we might believe: Jn. 20:29-31

 C. Because of His power manifested in these signs and because of His promise, we can know that the Lord is with us: Matt. 28:20

III. Stanza 3 mentions prayer

“Must my prayers be loudly spoken Just to know the Father hears me?

“Must I die with no one knowing Just to know the Father sees me?”

 A. Prayers do not have to be loudly spoken in order to be heard by the Father: Matt. 6:5-7

 B. Those who are children of God have His promise that His ears are open to their prayers: 1 Pet. 3:12

 C. Therefore, whether we live or die, we can know that the Father sees and cares for us: Matt. 12:28-31

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the promise of Christ’s return

“Must I see the King leave heaven Just to keep my hopeful yearning?

Must I watch with perfect vision Just to know that He’s returning?”

 A. We do not need to see the King leave heaven to know that He’s coming back because the angels stated that He will so come in like manner as He went into heaven: Acts 1:11

 B. Certainly, we must watch and pray because we do not know the time of His return: Matt. 25:13

 C. However, we do not need to watch with perfect vision because we know that He Himself has promised to return: Jn. 14:1-3

     CONCL.:  The chorus expresses praise to God for all these spiritual blessings in Christ.

“Praise the Lord!  I am forgiven!  And my Father up in heaven

Knows and hears and will be with me; Praise the Lord!  I am His child!”

It is certainly a great source of encouragement for me to spend time contemplating, and singing about, these wonderful privileges and advantages that I have because “I Am His Child.”

Savior, I Look to Thee

(photo of J. I. Thomas)

SAVIOR, I LOOK TO THEE

“At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 17:7)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses the desire to look to our Maker with eyes that have respect to the Holy One of Israel is “Savior, I Look to Thee.”  The text was written and the tune (Thomas) was composed both by James Irving (J. I.) Thomas, who was born in Shiro in Grimes County, TX, on September 10, 1902, to James J. Thomas and Effie Mae Martin Thomas.  He married Nealy Annie Arnold on August 15, 1925, and they lived their lives in San Antonio, TX.  Mr. and Mrs. J. I. Thomas had two children, but one died at childbirth.  The other child was a daughter named Sharon who married and had two sons and a grandson.  Thomas’s primary occupation was that of a furniture salesman, and he became a manager with the Household Furniture Company.  He studied music, completing courses in rudiments and harmony, and was also taught by Tillit S. Teddlie and his uncle, Clement C. Martin.  

     Thomas worked to help establish the Harlandale Church of Christ in San Antonio, TX, as one of her charter members.  He was the congregation’s first song leader and would lead singing for some 56 years in both local and evangelistic work.  He taught several singing schools in Poteet, TX, and San Antonio, directed chorus singing, and sang in quartets including on a radio program in Texas.  In 1953 and 1954, his male quartet, consisting of himself, Van Arnold, Gene Hicks, and Fred Burney, sang every Sunday morning over WOAI radio for the church’s gospel program.  A number of recordings were made of their singing.  He also served as an elder at Harlandale for eighteen years.  The congregation at one time was as large as 500 members; however, due to the development of San Antonio, the congregation’s size diminished and it later merged with the Southeast congregation.  One of the congregation’s preachers was Paul Stevens who would take J. I. Thomas with him to work gospel meetings together.  Stevens would preach, and Thomas would lead the singing. 

     J. I. Thomas wrote about twelve published hymns including “It Will Be Joy Someday,” “I Am Walking With My Savior,” “Over There We’ll Never Grow Old,” and “’Twill Be Joy Some Day” (dedicated to Tillit S. Teddlie).  “Savior I Look to Thee” dates to 1959.  It was first used by Thomas and his male quartet in New Braunfels, TX.  Holland Boring Sr. was present and so impressed that he published it in the 1961 Heart Melodies.  According to V. E. Howard’s Church Gospel Songs and Hymns, the Firm Foundation Publishing House secured a copyright for the song in 1961 which, according to Praise for the Lord, was renewed in 1987.   Boring also heard “I’ll Praise My King” sung during an afternoon singing at Harlandale and published it in Heart Melodies as well.  J. I. Thomas died on March 8, 1977, at  San Antonio in Bexar County, Texas.  The family’s grief was compounded when his wife died two days later on March 10, 1977.  They are buried together in Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, “Savior I Look To Thee” appeared in the 1971 Songs of the Church 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 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 1999 Into Our Hands edited by Leland R. Fleming; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.  It was also used in the 1980 Our Garden of Song compiled by Gene C. Finley.

     The song speaks concerning the most important of our relationships, that with Jesus Christ.

 I. Stanza 1 talks about living for Jesus

Savior, I look to Thee,

Yes, Thee alone;

Help me to do Thy will,

While here I roam.

Savior, I long to be

Close to Thy side;

There on that golden shore,

With Thee abide.

 A. To live for Jesus, we must look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith: Heb. 12:1-2

 B. We should long to be close to His side and so draw near: Jas. 4:8-10

 C. By doing His will, we can abide in Him and He in us: Jn. 15:1-4

II. Stanza 2 talks about communing with Jesus

Precious Thou art to me,

Savior of love;

O hear my earnest plea,

Savior above.

When dangers round me roll,

I have no fear;

Each day He keeps my soul,

Always so near.

 A. Jesus communicates with us about His love through His word: 1 Jn. 3:16

 B. We communicate with Him as our Mediator in prayer: 1 Tim. 2:1-5

 C. With this communion He keeps our souls from stumbling: Jude vs. 24-25

III. Stanza 3 talks about dying in Jesus

Lord, grant me peace and rest,

When life is o’er;

There dwell with all the blest

On that bright shore.

Safe in Thy loving care

O let me be;

In mansions over there,

To rest with Thee.

 A. Those who die in the Lord receive rest from their labors: Rev. 14:13

 B. They will dwell with the blest on the shore of the river of life: Rev. 22:1-5

 C. And they will be safe in the mansions prepared by Christ: Jn. 14:1-3

     CONCL.:  Jesus plainly stated that our relationship on this earth with Him will have a direct bearing on our relationship to Him and the Father in eternity.  Jesus pointed out that we must obey His will.  Sadly, there are those who dismiss many of the commands that Jesus taught.  Thus, to have a relationship with Jesus in eternity requires that I have a relationship with Him in the here and now, and I can begin this relationship that will take me through this life, past death, and into eternity by saying, “Savior, I Look to Thee.” 

Saints Lift Your Voices

“SAINTS, LIFT YOUR VOICES”

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall…mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31)

     INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to wait upon the Lord and mount up with wings as eagles is “Saints Lift Your Voices” (#7 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Donald M. Alexander (b. 1946).  The song was copyrighted in 1986 and first published in the 1987 Hymns for Worship edited by Dane K. Shepard and R. J. Stevens.  Concerning the hymn, Alexander wrote, “In the early 1980s the congregation where I preached experienced much growth as dozens of individuals obeyed the gospel and converted to Christ. The work was tiring as well as exhilarating; filled with valleys as well as mountain peaks. It was exciting to be a part of such an effort….We saw some new converts rise up and grow. They went to other congregations and were faithful. Some of them married each other and continued to grow. Sadly, others grew weary and fell away….Two young Christians, each of whom I had the opportunity to teach and baptize, met each other at another congregation, fell in love, and asked me to marry them. Before they moved away from Sacramento, they presented me with a large framed print showing an eagle with wings spread, ready to ‘mount up.’  It had this inscription: ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint’ (Isa. 40:31). It has been my favorite Old Testament passage since and was the inspiration for this familiar hymn that I wrote” (Guardian of Truth; Vol. XL: No. 15, p. 11; August 1, 1996).

     The arrangement of the music was made by R. J. Stevens.  Alexander has written either words or both words and music for several other songs in Hymns for Worship, including “I Am His Child,” “Blessed in Christ,” “In the Glory of His Cross,” “Mended and Whole,” “Above All, Love,” and “Brotherly Love.”  He told me that these, along with others that he has composed, have been published in a small booklet of his hymns.  The only time that I have ever met Don, at least that I can remember, is one year when he spoke at the Florida College lectures and we were present.  He and I have had some e-mail correspondence through the years.  However, we know his mother-in-law, Bennie Flem of Englewood, OH, quite well and consider her a dear friend.  In addition to Hymns for Worship, among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Saints Lift Your Voices,” which was written in 1984, may be found in the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement edited by David Maravilla, Mark Coulson, Charlotte Couchman, Craig Roberts, and Steve Wolfgang, and of which Don is listed as one of the associate editors.  When the Haynes St. church in Dayton, OH, where I preached from 1987 to 2002, decided to purchase Hymns for Worship Revised, I believe that “Saints Lift Your Voices” was the first one of Alexander’s hymns that I led.

      The song extols God for the relationship that His people can have with Him.

I. Stanza 1 focuses on who God is

“There is none like Him; None can compare;

No god His equal, No prince His heir!

Lift up your eyes and See His great might!

Soar like an eagle, On wings of flight!”

 A. There is no one like God: Isa. 46:9

 B. No god is His equal because He is above all gods: Ps. 135:5

 C. No prince is His heir because He is the eternal one: Ps. 90:1-2

II. Stanza 2 focuses on how we come to know God

“Have you not known Him?  Have you not heard?
God is Creator Of all the earth.

Lift up your eyes and See His great might!

Soar like an eagle, On wings of flight!”

 A. This God wants us to know Him: Jn. 17:3

 B. To know Him, we must hear His word: Isa. 55:3

 C. We must also recognize Him as the Creator of all the earth: Gen. 1:1

III. Stanza 3 focuses on what God will do for His people

“Some will grow weary; Sin they’ll pursue.

Servants of God their Power He’ll renew.

Lift up your eyes and See His great might!

Soar like an eagle, On wings of flight!”

 A. As in the days before the destruction of Jerusalem, so in every age some will grow weary and their love become cold: Matt. 24:12

 B. The reason is that they pursue sin because they will be hardened by its deceitfulness: Heb. 3:12-13

 C. However, the servants of God can look to Him that their inward man might be renewed day by day: 2 Cor. 4:16

     CONCL.:  The chorus gives praise to God for calling us to soar like eagles on wings of flight.

“Saints, lift your voices, Though dark your days!

Lift up your spirits, Sing out His praise!

Upward the calling, Brighter the light!

Soaring like eagles, On wings of flight!”

If we put our trust in God and are determined to be faithful to Him no matter what, He has promised to provide everything that we need to persevere and ultimately gain the prize.  Therefore, as the people of God, we should exhort one another as often as possible, saying, “Saints, Lift Your Voices.”

Lift Your Voice in Praise

“LIFT YOUR VOICE IN PRAISE”

“They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord” (Isa. 24:14)

     INTRO.:  A song which exhorts us to lift up our voices and sing for the majesty of the Lord is “Lift Your Voice in Praise” (#3 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was co-written by Linda Coffey.  The tune was composed by the co-author of the text Dane K. Shepard (b. 1951).  I do not know anything about Linda Coffey, but Dane K. Shepard is the co-editor of Hymns for Worship, first published in 1987 by Shepard-Stevens Music Inc.  The hymn was copyrighted in 1986 and first appeared in the original edition of Hymns for Worship.

     The song offers praise to the Lord who is God of all the earth.

I. Stanza 1 praises His name

“Lord, God of all the earth, We praise Thy holy name;

The King of kings and Lord of lords Shall ever be the same.”

 A. Jehovah is God of all the earth and we praise His holy name because His name stand for who and what He is: Ps. 8:1

 B. He is King and Lord over all the kings of the earth: Dan. 2:47

 C. And His nature shall ever remain the same: Mal. 3:6

II. Stanza 2 praises His grace

“Lord, God, Thy grace and power Delivers us from sin;

The Lamb of God and Prince of Peace The victory shall win.”

 A. Jehovah is a God who will give grace and glory to those who walk uprightly: Ps. 84:11

 B. By His grace and power, He delivers us from sin: Ps. 79:9

 C, To do this, He sent His Son to be the Lamb and Prince of Peace: Isa. 9:6-7

III. Stanza 3 praises His love

“Lord, God of faith and love, We give our hearts to Thee;

The Living Word, the great I AM Our hope shall ever be.”

 A. Jehovah is certainly a God of love for us today just as He loved Jacob under the Old Covenant: Ps.47:7

 B. In His love, He wants us to give our hearts to Him: Prov. 23:26

 C. And to those who do so, He will be their hope forever: Ps. 146:5

     CONCL.:  The chorus continues to praise the Lord God in the person of Christ the King:

“How wonderful, how glorious Is Christ our King above;

Let us all rejoice, O lift your voice In praise of His grace and love.”

Since both the Father and the Son are one (Jn. 10:30) in nature and purpose, when we “praise God” we are in effect praising both the Father and the Son.  Therefore, we should encourage one another to “Lift Your Voice in Praise.”

Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting

“JESUS, I AM RESTING, RESTING”

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which looks unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, for all that we need is “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.”  The text was written by Jean Sophia Pigott, who was born on Sept. 8, 1845, probably at Ryevale House, in Leixlip near Lucan, County Kildare, Ireland.  Facts about this author are scarce.  According to Gordon Harry Taylor in his Companion to the Song Book of the Salvation Army (St. Albans, England: The Campfield Press, 1988), she was the first child of William Wellesley Pole and Lucy Henrietta Trench Pigott.  Her brother, Thomas Wellesley Pigott was a missionary to China who was murdered in the 1901 Boxer Rebellion.  “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” is usually dated 1876.  It was first published in the 1876/1877 Keswick Hymns of Consecration and Faith, with the tune (Tranquility or Resting) composed by the editor, James Mountain (1843-1933).  

      Also Jean contributed a couple of other significant hymns to that same work, such as, “Take Thine Own Way With Me, Dear Lord,” and “Thou Whose Name is Called Jesus.”   Another hymn of hers that is sometimes used is “Thine Is Such Wondrous Power” beginning “Lord Jesus, thou dost keep thy child,” and in 1877 she published A Royal Service, and Other Poems.  Miss Pigott attended the Keswick Convention only once, and shortly thereafter she died on Oct. 12, 1882, at her home in Leixlip.  “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” became a favorite hymn of the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. He would often take a break from the strain of his heavy schedule, sit down, and sing this hymn. He felt that his faith was strengthened, not by striving or struggling, but by resting and abiding in Christ for his constant power and unchanging joy.

    The song lists several things that we find by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

I. Stanza 1 mentions rest

“Jesus, I am resting, resting,

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,

And Thy beauty fills my soul,

For by Thy transforming power,

Thou hast made me whole.”

 A. Jesus came to provide a rest to the people of God: Heb. 4:9

 B. Those who receive His rest can rejoice always in the Lord: Phil. 4:4

 C. This is because by His transforming power He has made them whole or free from sin: Rom. 6:17-18

II. Stanza 2 mentions grace

“O, how great Thy loving kindness,

Vaster, broader than the sea!

O, how marvelous Thy goodness,

Lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,

Know what wealth of grace is Thine,

Know Thy certainty of promise,

And have made it mine.”

 A. God is known for His lovingkindness or mercy towards sinful mankind: Tit. 3:5

 B. He is also known for His goodness in giving us every good and perfect gift: Jas. 1:17

 C. All of these things are manifestations of the grace by which we are saved: Eph. 2:8-9

III. Stanza 3 mentions love

“Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,

I behold Thee as Thou art,

And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,

Satisfies my heart;

Satisfies its deepest longings,

Meets, supplies its every need,

Compasseth me round with blessings:

Thine is love indeed!”

 A. We must learn to trust in Jesus: Eph. 1:12

 B. We trust Him because His love for us is so pure and changeless: 1 Jn. 3:16

 C. This love makes possible all spiritual blessings in heavenly places: Eph. 1:3

IV. Stanza 4 mentions glory

“Ever lift Thy face upon me

As I work and wait for Thee;

Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,

Earth’s dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father’s glory,

Sunshine of my Father’s face,

Keep me ever trusting, resting,

Fill me with Thy grace.”

 A. The Lord lifts His face upon us in the sense of looking upon us with His favor: Num. 6:25

 B. When this happens, earth’s dark shadows flee because we are walking in the light: 1 Jn. 1:5-7

 C. Just as Christ is the brightness of God’s glory, so He will bring us to glory: Heb. 1:1-3, 2 Pet. 1:3

     CONCL.:  The chorus repeats the first four lines of the opening stanza.

“Jesus, I am resting, resting,

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.”

While we must obey God to be the recipients of His spiritual blessings, the fact is that we cannot make it through this life to heaven on our own.  That is why God sent Jesus—to save us and help us.  Therefore, it should be my desire always to be saying to my Savior, “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.”

Press Along to Glory Land

“PRESS ALONG TO GLORY LAND”

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14)

     INTRO.:  A gospel song which exhorts us to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus is “Press Along to Glory Land” (#431 in Songs of the Church). The text was written by James Rowe (1861933).  An immigrant to the United States from England, Rowe was a prolific author of gospel song texts, including “After the Shadows” (“After the midnight”), “God Holds the Future in His Hands,” “He’s My King,” “Home of the Soul” (“If for the prize we have striven”), “I Choose Jesus,” “I Have Been Redeemed” (or just “Redeemed” or “I’m Redeemed”), “I Walk with the King” (“In sorrow I wandered”), “I Would Be Like Jesus,” “Just Outside the Door” (“O weary soul”), “Looking to Thee,” “Love Lifted Me” (“I was sinking deep in sin”), “O Come to the Savior,” “Our King Immanuel,” “Praise The King,” “Ring Out the Message,” “The Friend Divine,” “What Is He Worth to Your Soul?”, “Wonderful City,” “Wonderful Jesus,” “Won’t It Be Wonderful There?”, and “You Never Mentioned Him to Me.”

     The tune for “Press Along to Glory Land” was composed by Emmet Sidney Dean (1876-1951). Dean was a Methodist musician who provided melodies for a number of gospel songs that have appeared in our books, including “Ye Are the Light of the World” by Pearl F. Hatchett Thomas and “Just Over in the Glory Land” by James W. Acuff.   Becoming a well-known singing school teacher in the southern states, Dean for many years lived in Waco, TX, where he was president of the Trio Music Company.  This firm was originally organized by John M. Greer, John Edmond Thomas, and Franklin Lycurgus Eiland who was a member of the church of Christ, but others, such as Dean and H. W. Elliot, were later added to the company.   “Press Along to Glory Land” was copyrighted it in 1911 by Dean and renewed in 1939 by John T. Benson, Jr., but in 1981 the copyright was assigned to Singspiration, a division of the Zondervan Corporation.

    Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons.  In addition to Songs of the Church, it may be found today in the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard, as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.

     The song suggests some reasons why we should keep pressing on to the eternal goal.

I. Stanza 1 says that we should want to extol God’s grace

“O ransomed souls with joyous song,

Press along to glory land;

Extolling grace that saves the race,

Press along to glory land.”

 A. We have been ransomed: Matt. 20:28 (Sacred Songs of the Church has “O ransomed soul,” probably a misprint for “souls.”  However, do you notice the rhyme pattern of the song?  It is internal in the first and third lines of each stanza, except the very first line; cf. “grace/race, rave/save, sweep/keep, more/before, sing/King, wear/there, and praise/days” to “souls/song.”  Somewhere it runs in my mind that I have seen the line reading “O ransomed throng with joyous song,” but I’ve not been able to confirm that.)

 B. Therefore, we express our joyous song with grace in our hearts to the Lord: Col 3:16

 C. In this song we extol the grace by which God saves the race: Eph. 2:8-9

II. Stanza 2 says that we should want Christ to save us

“The foe may rave, but Christ will save,

Press along to glory land;

The storm may sweep, but He will keep,

Press along to glory land.”

 A. The foe, our enemy the devil, will continue to rave: 1 Pet. 5:8

 B. However, Christ came to save us from sin: Matt. 1:21

 C. And even though the storm may sweep, He will keep His people by faith through the power of God: 1 Pet. 1:5

III. Stanza 3 says that we should want to join those gone before

“To join once more those gone before,

Press along to glory land;

With saints to sing before the King,

Press along to glory land.”

 A. In the resurrection, we shall join once more those gone before: 1 Thess. 4:16-17

 B. Then we shall join with the saints to sing forever: Rev. 5:8-9

 C. And we shall stand before the King who sits upon the throne: Rev. 4:6-11

IV. Stanza 4 says that we should want to wear the crown

“The crown to wear forever there,

Press along to glory land;

To sing His praise in countless days,

Press along to glory land.”

 A. Those who endure temptations shall receive the crown of life: Jas. 1:12

 B. Those who receive it shall sing His praise: Rev. 15:3-4

 C. And they shall do so in countless days because they will receive eternal life: 1 Jn. 2:25

    CONCL.: The chorus continues to admonish us to keep on giving out the message grand and letting God’s love be our song.

“Press along, glad soul, press along,

Giving out the message grand;

Letting love, God’s love, be your song,

Press along to glory land.”

As we consider all that God has done for us even here upon this earth and especially all that God has prepared for the faithful in eternity, such things should motivate us to “Press Along to Glory Land.”

O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be

“O WHAT THEIR JOY AND THEIR GLORY MUST BE”

“…New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from my God…” (Revelation 3:12)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which focuses on the New Jerusalem which is pictured as coming down out of heaven from God is “O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be,” sometimes rendered as “O What the Joy and the Glory Must Be.”  The text was written in Latin (“O quanta qualia sunt illa Sabbata”) by Peter Abelard, who was born in 1079 at the little village of Le Pallet about 10 miles east of Nantes in Brittany, France, the eldest son of a minor noble Breton family.  His birth name was Pierre du Pallet, but he took the surname Abelard while in college.  As a boy, he studied the liberal arts and excelled at the art of dialectic (a branch of philosophy), which, at that time, consisted chiefly of the logic of Aristotle transmitted through Latin channels. Instead of entering a military career, as his father had done, Abelard became an academic.  During his early academic pursuits, Abelard wandered throughout France, debating and learning.  The nominalist Roscellinus of Compiègne was his teacher during this period.  Abelard’s travels finally brought him to Paris while still in his teens. There, in the great cathedral school of Notre-Dame de Paris, he was taught for a while by William of Champeaux, then while yet only 22, set up a school of his own at Melun, then, for more direct competition, he moved to Corbeil, nearer Paris.

     The success of his teaching was notable.  After attending the lectures of Anselm at Laon he returned to Paris and stepped into the chair at Notre-Dame about the year 1115.  He fell in love with a woman named Heloise, daughter of the Canon of Notre Dame Cathedral, and secretly married her, but her father Fulbert annulled the marriage and sent her to become a nun at the convent of Argenteuil.  Abelard then sought refuge as a monk in the Abbey of Saint-Denis but soon reopened his school at an unknown priory.  After an official condemnation of his teaching, he was shut up in the convent of St. Medard at Soissons.  Finally allowed to leave, he became a hermit near Nogent-sur-Seine for a while but then consecrated the new Oratory of the Paraclete.  Fearing more persecution, Abélard abandoned the Oratory and accepted an invitation to preside over the Abbey of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys on the far-off shore of Lower Brittany.  The misery of those years was lightened because he had been able, on the breaking up of Héloïse’s convent at Argenteuil, to establish her as head of a new religious house at the deserted Paraclete.  By 1136, Abélard returned to the site of his early triumphs, lecturing on Mount St. Genevieve but was opposed by Bernard of Clairvaux.  

     Abélard appealed to Rome, but on his way to plead his case there, he became ill at the abbey of Cluny, and there he lingered only a few months before the approach of death.  Removed by friends, for the relief of his sufferings, to the Cluniac priory of St. Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saône, Abélard died there on Apr. 21, 1142.  Abelard was also long known as an important poet and musician, composing some celebrated love songs for Héloïse that are now lost.  Sometime after 1129 or 1130, he also compiled a hymn book for the religious community that Héloïse had joined. Only one hymn from this book survives, “O quanta qualia.”  It was translated into English as “O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be” by John Mason Neale (1818-1866).  The English translation first appeared in Neale’s 1851 work The Hymnal Noted.  The tune (O Quanta Qualia) is of unknown origin.  While Abelard was a composer, it is not thought that this was one of his melodies, since all of his music was lost and no book that I have seen attributes it to him.  It is generally thought to be a traditional French melody that first appeared in the Paris Antiphoner of 1681.  The modern harmonization was made in 1868 by John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876).

     The song looks beyond the sufferings of this life to the glory of heaven.

I. Stanza 1 talks about its joy

“O what their joy and their glory must be,

Those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see;

Crown for the valiant, to weary ones, rest;

God shall be all, and in all ever blessed.”

 A. There will certainly be joy in heaven among the redeemed if there is joy among the angels when a sinner returns to the fold: Lk. 15:10

 B. This joy is accompanied by rest, symbolized by the endless Sabbaths, which means rest and refers to the rest that awaits the faithful: Heb. 4:9

 C. Those who enjoy this joy and rest will also wear the crown of life: Jas. 1:12

II. Stanza 2 talks about its Monarch

“What are the Monarch, His court, and His throne?

What are the peace and the joy that they own?

O that the blessed ones, who in it have share,

All that they feel could as fully declare!”

 A. Monarch means king, and God is the universal King: Ps. 10:16

 B. His court is in heaven, where He dwells: Matt. 6:9

 C. There also is His throne, around which the redeemed shall stand and serve Him: Rev. 22:3

III. Stanza 3 talks about its peace

“Truly, ‘Jerusalem’ name we that shore,

City of peace that brings joy evermore;

Wish and fulfillment are not severed there,

Nor do things prayed for come short of the prayer.”

 A. This place where God dwells and the redeemed shall live is called the new Jerusalem: Rev. 21:2

 B. The name Jerusalem seems to be a combination of Jebus for the Jebusites who formerly dwelt in the physical city of Jerusalem, and Salem which means peace; the new Jerusalem will be a city of peace because nothing that defiles God’s perfect peace will enter there: Rev. 21:27

 C. Wish and fulfillment will not be severed there because those who dwell there shall inherit all things: Rev. 21:7

IV. Stanza 4 talks about its anthems

“There, where no troubles distraction can bring,

We the sweet anthems of Zion shall sing;

While for Thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise

Thy blessed people eternally raise.”

 A. In the new Jerusalem, there will be no troubles to bring distraction: Rev. 21:4

 B. Therefore, the redeemed will be able to sing the sweet anthems of Zion: Rev. 15:3

 C. In this, they will join with the voices of the angels to praise the Lamb: Rev. 5:11-12

V. Stanza 6 talks about its longing

“Now, in the meanwhile, with hearts raised on high,

We for that country must yearn and must sigh;

Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,

Through our long exile on Babylon’s strand.”

 A. Now, in the meanwhile, having our affections set on things above, we yearn and sigh for the city which we seek: Heb. 13:14

 B. What we are looking for is the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all: Gal. 4:26

 C. Thus, on this earth we feel exiled from home like the Jews in Babylon were exiled from their homeland: Ps. 137:1

VI. Stanza 7 talks about its praise

“Low before Him with our praises we fall,

Of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all;

Of whom, the Father; and in whom, the Son,

Through whom, the Spirit, with Them ever One.”

 A. Both on earth and in heaven the righteous shall praise the Father who sits upon the throne: Rev. 4:2

 B. Also we shall praise the Son who is the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star: Rev. 22:16

 C. And we shall praise the Spirit who is before the throne: Rev. 1:4

     CONCL.:  The one stanza most often omitted is:

5. “There dawns no Sabbath, no Sabbath is o’er,

Those Sabbath keepers have one evermore;

One and unending is that triumph song

Which to the angels and us shall belong.”

Yes, we must live here upon this earth as long as God shall please.  But while fulfilling our responsibilities for the Lord in this life, we also gaze ahead into the glimpses of the eternal future that God has planned for the righteous and think, “O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be.”

Not Made With Hands

“NOT MADE WITH HANDS”

“We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

     INTRO.:  A song which reminds us that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, is “Not Made With Hands (#375 in Songs of the Church).  The original text was apparently written by John S. Brown.  I could find no further information about Brown, except that he lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is credited with the lyrics to two other hymns, “Feasting with My Lord” and “Hidden Peace.”   The original tune was composed, or at least arranged, by Avanelle Dyer.  I could also find no further information about Dyer, except that she lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and was unmarried as of 1900 because in old hymnbooks she is listed as “Miss Avanelle Dyer.”  The song “Not Made with Hands” was copyright in 1900 by Brown Bros. of Indianapolis, IN, and apparently first appeared in The Soul Winner’s Hallelujah Songs compiled by David G. Bacon for Brown Brothers in 1904.  Some sources give the first appearance as Songs of Praise and Salvation dated 1903 (circa) published by The Christian Witness Co. of Chicago, IL, and edited by C. J. Fowler, H. L. Gilmour, William J. Kirkpatrick, and G. A. McLaughlin.  However, while this book has a copyright notice on almost every song, it does not have an overall notice.  Since the latest year given on one of the individual songs is 1903, some have adopted this as the copyright date for the entire book, but it is possible that it was not actually published until a later date.

     The original wording is as follows:

1. “Christ went a building to prepare, Not made with hands,

And ’twill be decked with jewels rare, Not made with hands.”

2. “Put on the armor of our God, Not made with hands,

And take the path our Captain trod, Not made with hands.”

3. “Keep fighting sin, that awful foe, Not made with hands,

Until you hear the trumpet blow, Not made with hands.”

4. “Then come up, children, get your crown, Not made with hands,

When you have laid your armor down, Not made with hands.

5. “That city’s built with precious stone, Not made with hands,

Within we’ll gather ’round the throne, Not made with hands.”

Chorus: “I know, I know, I have another building;

I know, I know, ’Tis not made with hands.”

     All of our books which have the song use a version where the stanzas have been rewritten and the tune arranged by Joseph E. Schoate.  I have not been able to locate any further information on Schoate either, except that he lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is credited with the lyrics to a couple of other hymns, “Will You Come,” beginning “There’s a fountain that’s flowing” with the chorus “The Savior is calling, why don’t you come?”; and “There’s a Pardon for Thee,” beginning “O hear the sweet voice” with the chorus “Yes, there’s a pardon for thee.”  The latter has music by B. B. Bateman and was copyrighted in 1909 by Dean and Bateman of Waco, TX.  The oldest book to which I have been able to trace Schoate’s version of “Not Made with Hands” is Sonnets of Praise edited by Emmet Sidney Dean and published by the Trio Music Co. of Waco, TX, in 1907.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie.  Today, in addition to Songs of the Church, it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.

     The song gives reasons for us to look beyond this life to that which God has prepared in eternity.

I. Stanza 1 says that Christ has gone to prepare us a mansion in this place

“My Savior’s gone a mansion to prepare, In yon fair lands;

Adorned it will be with jewels rare, Not made, not made with hands.”

 A. Jesus promised to prepare us a mansion: Jn. 14:1-3

 B. This mansion will be in “yon fair lands,” that country to which the patriarchs looked: Heb. 11:13-16

 C. It is pictured as being adorned with jewels rare: Rev. 21:19-20

II. Stanza 2 tells us that this place is wonderful

“How wonderful the story I’ve been told, That in those lands

The gates all are pearl, the streets are gold, Not made, not made with hands.”

 A. The story about the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading that is reserved in heaven is truly wonderful: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

 B. “In those lands” there is a continuing city to come which we seek: Heb. 13:14

 C. It is pictured as having gates of pearl and streets of gold: Rev. 21:21

III. Stanza 3 tells us that this place is filled with splendor

“Just over there, its splendor I can see, All fair it stands;

How wondrous this dwelling place for me, Not made, not made with hands.”

 A. Its splendor is as the new heavens and the new earth: Rev. 21:1

 B. It is as fair as a bride adorned for her husband: Rev. 21:2

 C. And it will be a wondrous dwelling place for God Himself will dwell with His people: Rev. 21:3

IV. Stanza 4 tells us that in this place the ransomed dwell

“There, all the ransomed, robed in spotless white, Dwell in those lands,

Securely within that home of light, Not made, not made with hands.”

 A. The ransomed are pictured as being robed in spotless white: Rev. 7:13-14

 B. They, having done His commandments, have the right to the tree of life and enter into the city to dwell in those lands: Rev. 22:14

 C. This place is pictured as a home of light because the Lamb is its light: Rev. 21:23

V. Stanza 5 tells us that we shall wear a crown in this place

“When life is o’er, some morning bright and fair, I’ll leave these lands,

With all the redeemed a crown to wear, Not made, not made with hands.”

 A. The morning bright and fair refers to the second coming of Christ when all the dead shall be raised: 1 Cor. 15:52

 B. Then we shall leave these lands and be caught up in the clouds to be forever with the Lord: 1 Thess. 4:16-17

 C. And in heaven we shall wear the crown of life forever and ever: Jas. 1:12

     CONCL.:  The chorus encourages us to anticipate the mansion that Jesus is preparing in heaven.

“I know, I know, In heaven for me a mansion stands;

A home, a home, Not made with hands.”

I first became familiar with the song as it has been used in our books with Schoate’s version.  Then when I saw the original in various denominational books, it was interesting to see both the similarities and the differences.  Yes, we have responsibilities in this life, but knowing that this life someday will end and that it is designed as preparation for eternity, the child of God looks forward to that house “Not Made with Hands.”

In Life’s Evening

(Photo of O.H. Tabor)

IN LIFE’S EVENING

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7)

     INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to ask, seek, and knock in preparation for the end of life is “In Life’s Evening.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Orbin Herschel (O. H.) Tabor, who was born at Whitt, in Parker County, Texas, on June 30, 1903.  His father was Daniel Franklin Tabor, a pupil of Newton W. Allphin and Thomas Seth Cobb.  D. F. Franklin moved with his family in 1920 to West Texas, where O.H. lived for the remainder of his life. He came from a musical family, and could read and compose music, a gift he carried with him all of his life, assisting his father in teaching singing schools.  He married Nettie Pearl (Polly) Hall of Floydada, Texas. They had three children, Kay, Ruthye and Claude.  Later he earned a joint Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Sacred Literature degree from Covington Theological Seminary, and was recognized at the graduation ceremonies as the Valedictorian of his class.

       O.H. was a gifted minister with the Church of Christ for over 60 years.  He was baptized by A. Hugh Clark, and was asked to preach occasionally and to assist with summer meetings by the local church, beginning his preaching in Morton, Texas at the age of 26 in 1932, after having worked in as a pharmacist for a short time in the local drug store.  Then he began local work when he was asked to become the full time minister of the Stamford Church of Christ at Stamford, TX, in 1938. O.H. and Polly remained there for three years, then moved to Lamesa, Texas, where he became minister from 1941 to 1947. In 1947, O.H. and Polly were next invited to Carlsbad, NM, from 1947 to 1951, and then on to the Southside Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, from 1951 to 1956. O.H. and Polly then were invited to Lovington, NM, from 1956 to 1959, and back to Carlsbad, NM, at the Fox and Lake Street Church from 1959 to 1964. They returned to Lubbock with the Parkway Drive Church, from 1964 to 1968.    

     Throughout all this time, O.H. held gospel meetings in several states, from California to Kentucky; hosted a weekly radio gospel show for many years in Lamesa, Lovington, Carlsbad, and Lubbock; was a regular featured writer in The Firm Foundation for twenty-two years under the title, “The Abundant Life;” and authored eight books published by Dryden Sinclair for The Western Christian Foundation.   They are The Deeper Life, Fountains of Hope, Hills of Hope, Springs of Faith, Beams of Light, Conflicts and Crises of Christianity, The Abundant Life, and Fruitful Living.   In addition, he was a musician and composer who wrote many hymns.  Among them are “In Life’s Evening,” copyrighted in 1977 and used in the 1980 Our Garden of Song compiled by Gene C. Finley, and “Never Alone.”  O.H. Tabor retired in Lamesa, working as a part-time preacher and missionary at the Downtown Church of Christ, from 1968 until his death on June 16, 1993 at Carlsbad, in Eddy County, New Mexico.  When O.H. passed, his grandson, Roger Busse of Oregon, performed the service and eulogy.

     “In Life’s Evening” urges us to be ready for the sunset of our lives.

I. Stanza 1 reminds us that we do not know the future

Oft in life it’s hard to see what the Lord may plan for thee,

And the way is often hidden from our view;

Then in faith we turn to him, though the future years are dim

And we hear the blessed Savior sweetly say:

 A. It’s often hard to see the Lord’s plans (thoughts) for us: Jer. 29:11

 B. The way is hidden from our view because we know not what will be tomorrow: Jas. 4:14

 C. Therefore, we must walk by faith, not by sight: 2 Cor. 5:7

II. Stanza 2 reminds us that there will be difficulties along the way

There are hills in every life as we walk the path of right,

And we often may grow weary on the way;

But we trust the blessed One for His strength to face the sun,

As we read the words of Jesus every day:

 A. The hills represent the various trials of life: Jas. 1:2-4

 B. Such things may cause us to grow weary, and we must guard against doing so: Gal. 6:9

 C. To keep from losing heart we must trust in the Lord: Prov. 3:5-8

III. Stanza 3 reminds us that this earthly life will end someday

When the sun of life shall set, may there be no sad regrets

As we cross to be with Jesus over there.

Let us walk with Him each day in the strait and narrow way;

We can hear the words of Jesus sweetly say:

 A. The setting of life’s sun is a figure of death: Heb. 9:27

 B. Then the Christian will depart and be with Jesus: Phil. 1:21-23

 C. But to do this we must walk the strait and narrow way: Matt. 7:13-14

     CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of the importance of letting Jesus receive our souls and hold us safely within His sheep fold. 

Seek, ye shall find; knock, it shall open.

Ask, you’ll receive His peace of mind.

See, He is waiting to receive your poor soul;

Let Him hold you safely within His own sheep fold.

We need to seek, obey, and follow the Lord now, while we have the time and ability so that we can be ready for whatever happens “In Life’s Evening.” 

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

“OF THE FATHER’S LOVE BEGOTTEN”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which points out that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God whom He gave that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life is “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”  The text, in Latin “Corde natus ex parentis,” was written by Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius who was born in A.D. 348, in the Roman province of Tarraconensis, now Northern Spain.  The place of his birth is uncertain, but it may have been either at Caesaraugusta (Saragossa), Tarraco (Tarragona), or Calagurris (Calahorra).  Evidently from an upper class, loyal, patriotic, Roman family who were also distinguished Christians, he received an excellent education, was trained as a lawyer, and practiced law with some success.  He regarded the “empire as an instrument in the hands of Providence for the advancement of Christianity,” and who “lived to see the imperial influence cast avowedly into the Christian scale.”  In his boyhood, however, the throne was filled by Julian the Apostate, whom he describes as “faithful to Rome, though faithless to his God.”  After working as a lawyer, he served a judge, became an office-holder, rose rapidly to high office in the State, “holding the reins of power over famous cities,” and was twice provincial governor, perhaps in his native country, before the emperor Theodosius I summoned him to high office at his court.   

     Towards the end of his life, sometime after 392, possibly around age 57, Prudentius, brought somehow to feel that his past life had been wasted, decided to retire from public life and become an ascetic, fasting until evening, abstaining entirely from animal food, and resolving to devote himself to writing sacred poetry in the service of religion and the Church.  Prudentius later collected the Christian poems written during this period and added a preface, which he himself dated 405.  His works include:

Liber Cathemerinon

Liber Peristephanon

Apotheosis

Hamartigenia

Psychomachia

Libri contra Symmachum

Dittochæon

Out of these, some ten modern hymns have been credited to him.  The poetry of Prudentius is influenced by early Christian authors, such as Tertullian and Ambrose, as well as the Bible and the acts of the martyrs.   His earliest poems are the twelve long hymns contained in the Cathemerinon (for use in the morning, at meals, at night, and during festivals from which the collection took its name). While the model of Prudentius in poetry was Ambrose, there is a distinct independent development. He employed the events of the times, and was not restricted to the forms of verse used by Ambrose. While his verse was popular, the lyrical element often receded in consequence of the introduction of the didactic and epic admixture. His hymn “Corde natus ex parentis” taken from hymn no. 9, the section “Da, puer, plectrum” of the Cathemerinon, is still in use today.  Prudentius died sometime after 405, possibly around 413. 

     The English translation was made by John Mason Neale (1818-1866).  It originally began “Of the Father sole begotten,” and was published in his 1851 Hymnal Noted with only six stanzas.  It was Neale’s music editor, Thomas Helmore, who paired this hymn with a Latin plainchant tune (Divinum Mysterium) taken from the eleventh century Sanctus trope. It had appeared as early as 1582 in Piae Cantiones, where it bore the title “De Eucharistia.”  Neale’s translation was later edited to begin “Of the Father’s love begotten” and extended with three more stanzas in 1859 by Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877).  The revision was first published in Hymns Ancient and Modern of 1861.  Another translation, beginning “Of the Father’s Heart Begotten,” was made by Roby Furley Davis for The English Hymnal of 1906.  I was not able to find out which stanzas were translated by Neale and which by Baker.  It is possible that Neale did stanzas 1-6 and Baker 7-9.  However, in Hymns Ancient and Modern, the editors indicated that stanzas 2, 3, and 7 may be omitted, so perhaps they are Baker’s.  The stanzas used here are the six most common ones (which just happened to be the ones Hymns Ancient and Modern suggested), as found in The Hymnal published by James Pott & Co. of New York in 1889 and The Lutheran Hymnal of 1942.

     The song identifies exactly who this Christ is who was begotten of the Father

I. Stanza 1 (The Hymnal, Lutheran Hymnal) says that He is the Alpha and Omega

“Of the Father’s love begotten, Ere the worlds began to be,

He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,

Of the things that are, that have been,

And that future years shall see, Evermore and evermore!”

 A. Jesus Christ existed and was with the Father even before the world began to be: Jn. 1:1

 B. The term “Alpha and Omega” suggests that He is both the beginning or source and ending or conclusion of all things: Rev. 1:11

 C. He sustains this relationship to the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever: Heb. 13:8

II. Stanza 4 (The Hymnal, Lutheran Hymnal) says that He was born of a virgin

“O that birth forever blessèd, When the virgin, full of grace,

By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bare the Savior of our race;

And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,

First revealed His sacred face, Evermore and evermore!”

 A. The Bible affirms that Christ would be born of a virgin: Matt. 1:21-23

 B. This was possible because Mary was able to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit: Lk. 1:30-35

 C. The child that was thus born came to be the world’s redeemer: Gal. 4:4-5

III. Stanza 5 (The Hymnal, Lutheran Hymnal) says that He is the object of heavenly praise

“O ye heights of heaven adore Him; Angel hosts, His praises sing;

Powers, dominions, bow before Him, And extol our God and King!

Let no tongue on earth be silent,

Every voice in concert sing, Evermore and evermore!”

 A. All the angels of God worship the Son: Heb. 1:6

 B. He occupies a place far above all principality, power, might, and dominion: Eph. 1:20-21

 C. Therefore, every tongue on earth should join in to praise Him: Phil. 2:9-11

IV. Stanza 6 (Lutheran Hymnal) says that He is the subject of old time prophecies

“This is He whom seers in old time Chanted of with one accord;

Whom the voices of the prophets Promised in their faithful word;

Now He shines, the long expected,

Let creation praise its Lord, Evermore and evermore!”

 A. The Old Testament seers or prophets prophesied of the days of Christ: Acts 3:18-23

 B. And Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies that were promised in the scriptures: Lk. 24:44-47

 C. In this way, the glimmers of the p0rophets prepared the way for the morning star to rise: 2 Pet. 1:19-21

V. Stanza 8 (The Hymnal) says that He is worthy of the praises of all mankind

“Thee let old men, Thee let young men, Thee let boys in chorus sing;

Matrons, virgins, little maidens, With glad voices answering:

Let their guileless songs re-echo,

And the heart its music bring, Evermore and evermore!”

 A. The gospel plan which Christ came to fulfill is for all people, both old and young: Acts 2:17-18

 B. It would include matrons and maidens as well, since in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female: Gal. 3:28

 C. Even the guileless songs of little children would give Him praise: Matt. 21:15-16

VI. Stanza 9 (The Hymnal, Lutheran) says that He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit

“Christ, to Thee with God the Father, And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,

Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, And unwearied praises be:

Honor, glory, and dominion,

And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!”

 A. Christ is one with God the Father: Jn. 17:21

 B. The Holy Spirit is also identified as God, along with the Father and the Son: Acts 5:3-4

 C. To this one God in three persons be honor, glory, and dominion: 1 Pet. 5:10-11

     CONCL.:  The omitted stanzas are as follows:

Stanza 2.  “At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:

Heaven and earth and depths of ocean In their threefold order one;

All that grows beneath the shining

Of the moon and burning sun, Evermore and evermore!”

Stanza 3. “He is found in human fashion, Death and sorrow here to know,

That the race of Adam’s children Doomed by law to endless woe,

May not henceforth die and perish

In the dreadful gulf below, Evermore and evermore!”

Stanza 7. “Righteous judge of souls departed, Righteous King of them that live,

On the Father’s throne exalted None in might with Thee may strive;

Who at last in vengeance coming

Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, Eve0rmore and evermore!”

Although Prudentius’s poems are now chiefly studied for the sake of their historical and ecclesiastical allusions, John Mason Neale called him “the prince of early Christian poets,” and Bentley “the Horace and Virgil of the Christians.”  In more liturgical churches, this is usually thought of as an “Advent hymn” or a “Christmas song.”  However, even if we do not give any credence to man-made religious holidays, we should still be thankful that when Jesus Christ came into this world He was “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”