His Blood Covers Them All

“HIS BLOOD COVERS THEM ALL”

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4.7)

     INTRO.:  A song which helps us to understand how our sins are covered is “His Blood Covers Them All.”   The text was written and the tune was composed both by Tillit Sidney Teddlie (1885-1987).  Teddlie was probably one of the most prolific and best-known songwriters among churches of Christ during the twentieth century.  “His Blood Covers Them All” was copyrighted in 1948.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Teddlie; the original edition of the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard (but replaced in subsequent editions); and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons.  Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

The song emphasizes what the Lord has done to make it possible for our sins to be covered by His blood.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the fact that He came from heaven

“From heaven there came a sinless

One To rescue me from the fall;

My many sins He came to cleanse:

His blood covers them all.”

  1. Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth: Phil. 2.5-8
  2. His purpose in so doing was to rescue us from the fall: Rom. 5.12-19
  3. The result is that we can have cleansing from sin: Eph. 5.26

II. Stanza 2 mentions the fact that He called us with tender words

“The Lord invites with tender words;

I heard His glorious call.

He took my sins upon Himself:

His blood covers them all.”

  1. Jesus extended His invitation for all to come to Him: Matt. 11.28-30
  2. We can hear His call in the gospel: 2 Thess. 2.13-14
  3. The gospel reminds us that He took our sins upon Himself: 1 Pet. 2.24

III. Stanza 3 mentions the fact that He redeemed us from our sin

“Some day I’ll stand before the throne

Among the great and small,

Redeemed from every curse of sin:

His blood covers them all.”

  1. Someday all of us will stand before the throne of judgment: Rom. 14.10
  2. Both the great and the small will be there: Rev. 20.11-12
  3. Those who have believed in Christ and responded to His call will be able to say that they have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb: Rev. 5.8-9

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us that it is the blood of Christ that makes these wonderful blessings possible for us.

“His blood flows as a healing stream

From Calvary, Calvary;

It’s power cleanses my sin and shame:

His blood covers them all.”

Surely God’s people need to hear sermons, and sing hymns, which relate to our daily lives as Christians, our responsibilities in this world, and other such practical subjects.  But may we never tire of listing to preaching, and teaching one another in song, which proclaims that Christ can save us from our sins because “His Blood Covers Them All.”

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Peace Through the Blood of His Cross

“PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS”

“And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…” (Col. 1.20)

     INTRO.:  A song which tells about the peace that we can have with God because Jesus reconciled us by the blood that He shed on the cross is “Peace Through the Blood of His Cross.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Tillit Sidney Teddlie (1885-1987).  Teddlie edited many hymnbooks.  Among those in my collection are the 1938 Spiritual Melodies, the 1939 Gospel Songs (my version was “updated in 1976 by Alvin Jennings), the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs, and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2, as well as the Practical Music Reader for Normal Music Schools, Singing School, and Home Practice (undated).  “Peace Through the Blood of His Cross” was copyrighted in 1956.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it 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 Teddlie.  Today it may be found in the 1999 Into Our Hands: Songs for the Church edited by Leland R. Fleming; as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs for the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

The song reminds us of the blessings that we can have because Jesus died for us.

I. Stanza 1 mentions peace

“My soul has found peace which the world could not bring;

Its pleasures I’ve counted as dross.

I’ve fully surrendered to Jesus my King;

I have peace through the blood of His cross.”

  1. Jesus Christ came to bring peace that the world cannot give: Eph. 2.14-18
  2. To have this peace, we must count the things of this world as dross: Phil. 3.7-8
  3. The means by which we do this and surrender to Jesus as King is to obey Him: Heb. 5.8-9

II. Stanza 2 mentions freedom

“In darkness I wandered, by evil allured,

Misled by its tinsel and gloss;

Enslaved, till my freedom in Christ was secured,

I have peace through the blood of His cross.”

  1. Darkness is used throughout the scripture to represent sin: 1 Jn. 1.5-6
  2. We must be careful not to be misled or deceived by the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season: Heb. 3.13, 11.25
  3. Instead of being enslaved by sin, we can find freedom in Christ: Rom. 6.16-18

III. Stanza 3 mentions victory

“An alien was I, without hope and undone,

A prodigal, wretched and lost;

But thanks be to God, the great victory is won!

I have peace through the blood of His cross.”

  1. Those who are outside of Christ are aliens, without hope: Eph. 2.11-12
  2. Such are like the prodigal son who was wretched and lost: Lk. 15.11-16
  3. However, God makes it possible for us to have victory over this world through faith: 1 Jn. 5.4

CONCL.:  The chorus points out that it is through the blood of Christ shed on the cross that we can have these blessings.

“I have peace through the blood of His cross,

A cleansing from sin and its dross.

The things I once cherished I now count as loss;

I have peace through the blood of His cross.”

One of the things that people seek in life but is sorely lacking in our world today is peace.  Wars break out in various places on earth.  Relationships are often broken by bad attitudes and wrong actions.  Individuals are tormented by the pain and guilt of misspent lives.  In the midst of all these problems, God’s people need to let a lost and dying world know that the Savior has come and that there is “Peace Through the Blood of His Cross.”

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Live One Day at a Time

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(photo of Melissa Balusek and family)

LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself…” (Matt. 6:34)

     INTRO.:  A song which reminds us not to be anxious for tomorrow is “Live One Day at a Time.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Melissa J. Balusek, who was born on September 1, 1945, in Houston, TX.  When she was for years old, the family moved to Austin, TX.  She was raised by parents who were Christians and helped to instill in her a great love for the Lord.  They attended the Northside Church of Christ where she was baptized at an early age by Ted Williams.

Melissa received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with the intention of becoming a teacher at a Christian school.  She married Emil L. Balusek, a computer programmer for the government.  They had one daughter, Laurel.  Melissa’s song “Live One Day at a Time” was copyrighted in 1973.

Another song of Melissa’s, “O Soul Come to Jesus” beginning “Oh soul, there is a Savior Who longs to be your friend. He offers love and mercy And blessed peace within,” was copyrighted in 1975.  In 1977, she put together a book of her songs, the title of which, O Sing Unto the Lord a New Song, was taken from Psalm 96.  “Live One Day at a Time” appeared in the 1979 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons and was used in Gene C. Finley’s 1980 collection Our Garden of Song.

The song encourages us to take each day at a time.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that we don’t know what the future holds

We never know when shadows fall If another day will dawn,

Nor if the plans that we have made Will turn out right or wrong.

We only know that Jesus’ love Will go on endlessly;

While others ‘round about us fall, At peace in Christ we’ll be.

  1. The Bible says that we do not know what will happen tomorrow: Jas. 4:13-17
  2. We do know that Jesus’ love will go on endlessly and that nothing can separate us from His love: Rom. 8:35-39
  3. With this knowledge we can have a peace that surpasses all understanding: Phil. 4:6-7

II. Stanza 2 tells us that treasures in heaven are more important than anything on earth

Don’t build your mansions here on earth, Nor gather precious stones;

Forget those things that have no worth In an eternal home.

For life is so uncertain, friend, And death is ever near;

So lay up treasures in the sky, Insure your presence there.

  1. We need to remember that each soul is worth more than everything here on earth: Matt. 16:26
  2. This is important because life is so uncertain and death is ever near: Ps. 90:9-10
  3. Therefore, we should lay up treasures in heaven: Matt. 6:19-20

III. Stanza 3 tells us to set our mind on things above

The beauty of this life seems drear When seen in heaven’s light;

There is a home prepared by God For Christians living right.

Why hold to pleasures of this world That fade in just a day,

When loving Him who gave us life Is now the only way?

  1. This life will seem drear when we set our affections on things above: Col. 3:1-2
  2. The reason is that God has prepared a wonderful home for His people there: Matt. 25:34
  3. And Jesus is the only way to get to this place: Jn. 14:1-6

CONCL.:  The chorus explain how we should live in view of these facts.

So live one day at a time;

Be thoughtful, loving, and kind.

Just do your best and leave God the rest,

And live one day at a time.

We cannot change the past, so, while we can learn from what has already happened, there is no use either brooding over it or glorying in it.  Also, we do not know what the future holds, so, while we make our plans saying “if the Lord wills” and looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store for us, there is no use being anxious over it.  The best advice about how to handle life here on earth as we journey toward eternity is to “Live One Day at a Time.”

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“SUNRISE IN GLORY”

“Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24)

     INTRO.:  A song which talks about the glory that those who follow the guidance of God’s counsel will afterward receive is “Sunrise in Glory.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Tillit Sidney Teddlie, who was born at Swan, TX, on June 3, 1885, and died in 1987 at Greenville, TX, at the age of 102.  “Sunrise in Glory” was copyrighted in 1963.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 by Teddlie; the original edition of the 1971 Songs for the Church edited by Alton H. Howard (but was replaced in subsequent editions); and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons.  Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

The song seeks to focus our minds upon the glory that shall be revealed to us.

I. Stanza 1 tells us when this glory will be given to us

“When life shall come to the close of its day,

When the sun gives forth its last golden ray,

Hope sees a star in the fast darkening past;

Then will come sunrise and glory at last.”

  1. There will be a time for each of us when life shall come to the close of its day because it is appointed for man to die: Heb. 9.27
  2. Our lives are sometimes pictured as a day in which we are born like the sunrise rising and end in death like the sun setting: Ps. 19.4-6, 113.3
  3. Yet even in the darkening night of death, the Christian can see a Star that heralds a morning of sunrise and glory: Rev. 22.16

II. Stanza 2 tells us what will accompany the receiving of this glory

“Mansions of glory now wait for the blest;

God has prepared for His people a rest.

Oh, the great joy when we join the blest throng,

Singing His praises in heaven’s new song!”

  1. There will be mansions of glory that now wait for the blest: Jn. 14.1-3
  2. Also, there will be rest that God has prepared for His people: Heb. 4.9
  3. Furthermore, there will be joy in joining the blest throng to sing a new song to His praises: Rev. 5.9-14

III. Stanza 3 tells us what the hope of this glory does for us

“Hope springs anew in the faint, weary soul;

Some where our Father will heal and make whole.

Someday will dawn with a life-giving light;

Homeland and heaven will burst on our sight.”

  1. The hope of this glory springs anew in the faint weary soul to produce patience: Rom. 8.24-25
  2. What we hope for is that place where the Father will heal and make whole so that there will be no more pain and death: Rev. 21.1-4
  3. Therefore, we keep moving forward toward that city where God Himself is the light: Rev. 22.23

CONCL.:  The chorus looks past the darkness and shadows to that wonderful day of eternal sunrise.

“Sunrise in glory! wonderful day!

Darkness and shadows will vanish away.

After the long night of waiting is o’er,

Then will come sunrise and life evermore!”

Not to be confused with another song entitled “Sunrise,” with words by William C. Poole and music by Bentley D. Ackley, beginning, “When I shall come to the end of my way,” whose chorus reads, “Sunrise tomorrow, sunrise tomorrow, Sunrise in glory is waiting for me,” Teddlie’s song also points us forward to that time when God shall enable us to see “Sunrise in Glory.”

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I Love Thee So

“I LOVE THEE SO”

“…If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and My Father will love him…” (Jn. 14.23)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses the love that we should have for Jesus Christ is “I Love Thee So” (#162 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune (Danny Boy or Londonderry Air) was arranged by Leonard A. Gordon (1889-?).  The song was published in 1930 when Gordon was living in Ft. Worth, TX.  The origin of the music is of some dispute.  Over 100 songs have been produced to the same tune.  The familiar lyrics of “Danny Boy” that use this tune were originally written for a different tune by Frederick Edward Weatherly (1848-1929).  Weatherly was an English lawyer who was also a songwriter and radio entertainer.  Some say he regularly visited Ireland while others say that so far as is known he never set foot there.  In 1910 he wrote the words and music for an unsuccessful song he called “Danny Boy.”  In 1912 his sister-in-law in America sent him a tune called the “Londonderry Air” (or possibly something similar), which he had never heard before. He immediately noticed that the melody was perfectly fitted to his “Danny Boy” lyrics, modified them to fit the “Londonderry Air,” and published a revised version of the song in 1913.  The first appearance of the tune in print had occurred in 1855, in Ancient Music of Ireland, published by the early collector George Petrie (1789-1866). The untitled melody was supplied to Petrie by Miss Jane Ross of Limavady in County Londonderry, who claimed to have taken it down from the playing of an itinerant piper.  Petrie wrote, “For the following beautiful air I have to express my very grateful acknowledgement to Miss J. Ross, of N.-T.-Limavady, in the county of Londonderry—a lady who has made a large collection of the popular unpublished melodies of that county, which she has very kindly placed at my disposal, and which has added very considerably to the stock of tunes which I had previously acquired from that still very Irish county.”  This is the origin of the “Londonderry Air” name.  It appears that the title “Air from County Derry” was also used.  A great collector of the 1930s, Sam Henry, speculated that Miss Ross had collected the tune from a fiddler, Blind Jimmy McCurry, who was known to have been active in Limavady at the time. Jimmy’s descendants have embraced this theory enthusiastically.

As the tune grew in popularity, and at the same time traditional Irish music came to be more thoroughly researched, considerable doubt emerged about Miss Ross’s story. No additional versions of the melody had been encountered by other collectors. The structure of the tune is unlike any other traditional Irish tune, and it is not suited for words in any of the known Irish song meters. Miss Ross was unable to provide any supporting evidence (the name of the piper, for example), and the suspicion grew that she had composed it herself and was attempting to pass it off as a genuine Irish tune (although by doing so she would be missing out on considerable royalty payments!). She continued to maintain the truth of her original account.  There was one claim for an earlier appearance of the tune. The history of the tin whistle found on the website of the Clarke Company claims that the founder of the company, Robert Clarke, frequently played the tune while walking from Suffolk to Manchester in 1843. If true, this would be before Petrie’s publication date of 1855.  In 1979, an article “New Dates for Old Songs 1766-1803,” by Hugh Shields, appeared in Long Room (the journal of the library of Trinity College, Dublin). Shields identified a tune in Edward Bunting’s 1796 publication A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music, entitled “Aislean an Oigfear” (“The Young Man’s Dream”), as being very close to the Londonderry Air.  Edward Bunting (1773-1843) was the pioneer collector of harp music whose career began in 1792 when he was hired to write down the tunes performed at the Belfast Harp Festival.   Bunting noted “Aislean an Oigfear” from Denis Hempson (or O’Hampsey, 1697-1807), the very last traditional performer on the Irish wire-strung harp, in Magilligan, County Derry—very near to Miss Jane Ross’s home in Limavady.  In his 1840 work, A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Bunting discusses the characteristics of typical Irish melodies, stating, “‘The Young Man’s Dream’… might be suggested as answering more nearly to the  Editor’s conception of such a standard than any others with which he is acquainted.”  So after more than a century, Miss Ross was vindicated.

It is now thought that the tune may date back to the sixteenth century.  The confiscation of O’Cahan lands enraged the blind harper Rory DalI O’Cahan (also known as Rory Dall Morison; c. 1550-1660), a chieftain of the clan, for he and his people had a deep attachment to the land where they had lived for generations.  This inspired O’Cahan to compose a tune of such pain and passion that it would eventually touch the hearts of people worldwide. The tune became known as “O’Cahan’s Lament.”   Denis O’Hampsey, another blind harper from the Roe Valley brought the melody down to the nineteenth century. Denis was born at Craigmore near Garvagh in 1695 or 1697, lived in three different centuries and died in 1807 at the age of 110-112 years. Shortly after Denis’s birth his father, Bryan Darragher, moved to Magilligan to inherit the family farm. When only three Denis contracted smallpox and lost his sight.   At an early age he decided to adopt music as a career and he commenced his studies under Bridget O’Cahan, who was related to Rory Dall O’Cahan.  Denis inherited a considerable repertoire from Bridget including “O’Cahan’s Lament.”  Denis was to introduce this air throughout Ireland and Scotland as a result of his extensive travels in both countries.  Bunting then collected this song-air from Denis which bears a striking resemblance to the melody collected by Jane Ross.  Anne Geddes Gilchrist in an article entitled “A New Light upon the Londonderry Air” published in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1934) claims that Jane Ross may have made mistakes in taking down the traditional air (“Aislean an Oigfear”), which she heard Jimmy McCurry playing in 1851, but the melody she collected is clearly a variant of “Aislean,” as comparison of the music texts reveals.   If the Gilchrist hypothesis is correct, that the air is a derivative of “Aislean an Oigfear,” then it must be assumed that “Aislean” is the lament composed by Rory Dall O’Cahan and carried down over the years by Denis O’Hampsey.  Percy Grainger was an Australian composer who often collected folk tunes and produced art music settings of them that were quite sympathetic to their original character.  He composed a very highly regarded setting of the “Air from County Derry.”   Ralph Vaughn Williams then made use of the “Air from County Derry” as a hymn tune.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “I Love Thee So” may be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord (in a 1992 arrangement by Richard E. VanDyke) edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections.

The song reminds us of what Christ has done for us to elicit a response of love for Him.

I. Stanza 1 says that He made us to see

“My Savior dear, I love Thee, O, I love Thee,

For Thou hast made my blinded eyes to see,

Redeemed my soul upon the cross of Calvary,

And from the bonds of sin hath made me free.”

  1. When we come to Jesus for salvation, He makes our spiritually blinded eyes to see just as He healed the blind man: Jn. 11.25
  2. This figure of speech represents the fact that He redeemed our souls by His death on the cross of Calvary: Eph. 1.7
  3. As a result of His sacrifice, He makes it possible for us to be free from the bonds of sin: Rom. 6.17-18

II. Stanza 2 says that He brought peace to our souls

“When stormy clouds of doubt and sin were raging,

And I was tossed upon the sea of life,

You whispered peace and every wave obeyed Thee;

You gave me power to conquer every strife.”

  1. Being lost in sin is often represented by being tossed upon the raging sea by stormy clouds: Ps. 107.25-29
  2. However, when we come to Jesus for salvation, He gives us peace just as He calmed the wind and the waves on Galilee: Matt. 8.23-27
  3. By this same power He enables us to conquer every strife: Rom. 8.37

III. Stanza 3 says that He shed His blood to atone for us

“My Savior dear, how can I e’er repay Thee

For Thy great love and sacrifice for me?

I feel, dear Lord, that I am so unworthy

Of Thy atoning blood that made me free.”

  1. Because of His great love, Jesus sacrificed Himself for us: 1 Jn. 3.16
  2. Certainly, we are so unworthy because we have sinned against the Lord: Rom. 3.23
  3. Yet, we can have atonement or reconciliation by His blood: Col. 1.19

IV.  Stanza 4 says that He saved us by God’s grace (Gordon wrote only three stanzas, but having heard in my youth a song, which I think I later learned was written by Dottie Rambo, sung to this same tune and seemed to be taken from or related to John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” I came up with a fourth stanza)

“Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound that saved me,

That saved a poor and wretched soul like me.

I once was lost, but now Thy love hast found me;

I once was blind, but now mine eyes can see.”

  1. It is by God’s amazing grace that we are saved: Eph. 2.8-9
  2. Because of our sin, we are poor and wretched souls: Lk. 18.13, 1 Tim. 1.15
  3. However, Christ found us even as the Shepherd goes out to find the lost sheep: Matt. 18.12-13

CONCL.:  The chorus continues to give praise to the Savior because of His great love for us.

“I now am happy in Thy loving favor;

I would that others this great love should know.

I’ll praise Thy name throughout the endless ages;

My Savior dear, my Savior dear, I love Thee so.”

I have heard brethren say that they have trouble singing this song because whenever they do they think of “Danny Boy.”  Interestingly enough, I actually heard this song before I became familiar with “Danny Boy,” so whenever I hear the “Londonderry Air,” I always tend to think of this song!  Other hymns that have been written for this tune include “My Own Dear Land” beginning “My own dear land, where’er my footsteps wander,” in 1908 by William A. Dunkerley (pseudonym, John Oxenham); “I Cannot Tell” beginning “I cannot tell why He whom angels worship,” in 1929 by William Y. Fullerton; “Above the Hills of Time” beginning “Above the hills of time the cross is gleaming,” in 1931 by Thomas Tiplady; and “I Am the Vine” beginning “I am the Vine; My Father is the Gardener,” in 1998 by Susan H. Peterson.   Leonard A. Gordon produced another song, “Redeemed by the Blood” beginning “When the great judgment morning shall dawn, And before the tribunal we stand,” that has appeared in some of our books, especially those edited by Will and Nelson Slater.  But among those of us who used Sacred Selections for many years, Gordon will be best remembered for this song by which I can tell my Savior, “I Love Thee So.”

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Lord, I Am Coming to Thee

“LORD, I AM COMING TO THEE”

“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Lk. 15.18)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses the desire to arise and go to our Father in heaven for forgiveness is, “Lord, I Am Coming to Thee.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by by Tillit Sidney Teddlie, who was born at Swan TX, on June 3, 1885, and died in 1987 at Greenville, TX, at the age of 102.  The song was copyrighted in 1959 and first published in Teddlie’s Songs of Redemption.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Teddlie; and the original edition of the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard.  Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs for the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

The song encourages sinners to come to the Lord by contrasting the condition of the lost and the saved.

I. In stanza 1, the sinner acknowledges that he is wandering and lost

“Lord, I have wandered so far from the fold;

Sin-sick and weary, I’m lost in the cold.

Still there is pardon for me, I am told;

Lord, I am coming to Thee.”

  1. The Bible teaches that all responsible human beings have wandered or gone astray: 1 Pet. 2.25
  2. As a result, all were lost, like the sheep whom the Shepherd sought: Lk. 15.4-7
  3. In spite of our lost condition, God offers pardon for those who will come to Him: Jer. 33.8

II. In stanza 2, the sinner realizes that there are blessings in God’s house

“Hours I have spent in the night of despair,

Hungry and lonely, where none seemed to care.

Yet in Thy house there is bread, and to spare;

Lord, I am coming to Thee.”

  1. Night or darkness is often used to represent being in a state of sin and separation from God: 1 Jn. 1.5-6
  2. When we are in such a state, being spiritually hungry and lonely, it often seems as if no one cares for us: Ps. 142.4
  3. However, in God’s house there is bread and to spare that we may buy and eat: Isa. 55.1-2

III. In stanza 3, the sinner seeks the Lord’s mercy and pardon

“Since there is pardon, O Lord, let me be

Only a servant, at home and with Thee.

In deep contrition, Thy mercy my plea,

Lord, I am coming to Thee.”

  1. There is pardon with the Lord because He is gracious and merciful: Ps. 103.8-14
  2. Therefore, it should be our desire to be His servants, just as the returning prodigal son was willing to be just a servant: Lk. 15.19
  3. In order to receive God’s pardon and mercy, we must express deep contrition and repentance: 2 Cor. 7.10

CONCL.:  The chorus explains why the sinner should come to the Lord.

“Coming to Thee with a soul sin defiled,

Coming for pardon, to be reconciled,

Open Thine arms to a poor, wayward child;

Lord, I am coming to Thee.”

Teddlie has written some very well known hymns, such as “Heaven Holds All to Me,” “Worthy Art Thou,” and “The Lord’s Supper.”  Others of his songs have not become as famous, but even the lesser used ones are still good songs.  Teddlie had a way of uniting meaningful words with singable melodies.  While this one may not be as beloved as some of his others, it could still be useful to help the lost sinner say, “Lord, I am Coming to Thee.”

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What a Gathering That Will Be

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(photo of J. H.   Kurzenknabe)

“WHAT A GATHERING THAT WILL BE”

“Gather My saints together unto Me…” (Ps. 50:5)

     INTRO.:  A song that talks about that time when the Lord will gather His saints unto Himself is “What a Gathering That Will Be” (#337 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by John Henry Kurzenknabe, who was born at Moenchehof, near Cassel, in Curhessen, Germany, on June 18, 1840, the son of John George and Anna Kurzenknabe. Left an orphan in childhood, he attended the Industrial School at Cassel. When he was fourteen years old he bade farewell to friends and home on Sept. 15, 1854, and set out to seek his fortune in the New World, sailing from Bremerhaven for America on the following day. During the voyage of forty-nine days, being a very clever violinist, he made friends among the officers and crew and became also a general favorite with the passengers. His attention was especially attracted to an older lady who was sick during the whole voyage. Her children in America had sent money to bring over their mother. To this helpless woman he ministered as best he could.  On their arrival at New York, the children of the lady were there to meet her, and she told them the story of the boy’s kindness. In this family he found a temporary home. Arrangements were made for him to study at a seminary in Pennsylvania, where, having a talent for music he engaged in musical studies and made for himself a name as a teacher of the violin and vocal music.  Afterwards he received instruction under William B. Bradbury, then the most prominent teacher of music in the country.

Kurzenknabe then started on his own work. His first and only attempt to teach singing and a day-school together in a Maryland town was a total failure, but the very next engagement, which was teaching only music at Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY, proved a complete success. After teaching successfully in Baltimore and other Maryland towns, he visited the New England states and taught conventions in a number of important cities. He then returned to Hagerstown, MD, where he found a wife, Susan Shafer, daughter of George and Frederica Shafer, whom he married at Greencastle, PA, on  Nov. 13, 1859.  From here, he taught successfully in Baltimore, York, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, PA, New York, and last in Camden, NJ, where his first child, a boy, was born. His next place of residence and teaching was Moorestown, NJ, and then back to Philadelphia, where a daughter was born. With the Civil War coming on, the New England States seemed safer than Pennsylvania, so Dedham, MA, became their next home, but when sickness claimed their boy, repeated invitations from Maryland induced the Kurzenknabes journey southward again. However, the battle of Antietam left the family destitute and helpless, so they went to Sunbury, PA, where floods drove them back to Mercersburg, PA, where he began to study, but the advent of twin boys made an increase of income imperative and teaching was the only resource. A house was purchased at McConnelsburg, but sold after an occupancy of two years. Mechanicsburg was home for a short time, and finally Harrisburg became the permanent residence from which he taught for twenty-seven years in many different states, sometimes hundreds of miles from home.

Kurzenknabe was the author and compiler of the following books: Sweet Silver Echoes, Music at Sight, Gospel Trio, Songs and Glees, Wreath of Gems, Song Treasury, Peerless Praise, Gates Ajar, Sowing and Reaping, which sold over 280,000 copies, Theory of Music, Fair as the Morning, and Kindly Light.  All of these books were published by his well-known house of J. H. Kurzenknabe and Sons, of Harrisburg, PA.  Hymnary.org credits him with 194 hymn texts.  I do not have a date for “What a Gathering That Will Be,” but it was listed among “Familiar Hymns” in the 1886 On Joyful Wing: a Book of Praise and Song, compiled in 1886 by John J. Hood.  I was able to find several other tidbits about Kurzeknabe’s later life.  He and his wife had a total of fourteen children, of which three died early and the other eleven all became musicians.  In 1894 he was the president of the Pennsylvania State Music Teachers’ Association.  In 1901, accompanied by one of his daughters, he paid a visit to the home of his childhood, and remained for three months.  In 1906 he suffered a stroke of paralysis, ascribed by his attending physician as due to overwork, but he fully recovered.  And the Kurzenknabes celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Nov. 13, 1909.  However, I have been unsuccessful in locating any information about his date and place of death.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “What a Gathering That Will Be” may currently be found in Sacred Selections and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

The song looks forward with joy to that time when Christ will return to gather His people unto Him.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the sounding of the trumpet

“At the sounding of the trumpet, when the saints are gathered home,

We will greet each other by the crystal sea;

With the friends and all the loved ones there awaiting us to come,

What a gathering of the faithful that will be.”

  1. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, there will be the sound of a trumpet: 1 Cor. 15:52
  2. This trumpet will signal the time when we can greet each other by the crystal sea before the throne of God in heaven: Rev. 4:1-6
  3. Then we shall meet with the friends and all the loved ones awaiting us to come, as the Lord will bring with Him those who are asleep, the dead in Christ shall rise first, the living righteous shall be changed, and all shall be caught up together in the clouds: 1 Thess. 4:14-17 (both Crum in Sacred Selections and Jeffcoat in Sacred Songs change the third line to read, “With the saints and all the saved ones”)

II. Stanza 2 mentions the angel of the Lord

“When the angel of the Lord proclaims that time shall be no more,

We shall gather and the saved and ransomed see;

Then to meet again together on the bright celestial shore,

What a gathering of the faithful that will be.”

  1. The Bible also teaches that when Jesus returns, His holy angels will be with Him: 2 Thess. 1:7
  2. This will signal that time shall be no more because then comes the end: 1 Cor. 15:23-24 (both Sacred Selections and Sacred Songs have a change to this line, “Proclaims earth-time shall be no more,” but why I do not know; many premillennial books would make changes like this because their editors believed that there would be “time” after the Lord’s coming during His millennial reign on earth, but it would not be the same kind of “earth-time” that we experience now)
  3. Then, the redeemed shall gather, to see the ransomed and meet together on the bright celestial shore by the river of life: Rev. 22:1-2

III. Stanza 3 mentions the great and final judgment

“At the great and final judgment when the hidden comes to light

When the Lord in all His glory we shall see

At the bidding of our Savior, ‘Come, ye blessed, to my right,’

What a gathering of the faithful that will be.”

  1. Jesus promised that there will be a judgment at the last great day: Jn. 12:48
  2. Then the Lord in all His glory we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:1-3
  3. And the righteous will hear Him say, “Come, ye blessed”: Matt. 25:31-34

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the song of Moses and the Lamb

“When the golden harps are sounding, and the angel bands proclaim,

In triumphant strains, the glorious jubilee,

Then to meet and join to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb,

What a gathering of the faithful that will be!”

  1. As usual, Crum changes the first line to “golden cords,” while Jeffcoat changes it to “golden tones” and “angel hosts” (does he interpret “bands” to mean orchestras?). The book of Revelation definitely pictures individuals as having and playing on harps: Rev. 5:8, 14:1-2; yes, we realize that this is figurative language, but if we can read it in Revelation and understand it as figurative, why can we not sing it in hymns and understand it as figurative as well?
  2. The year of jubilee in the Old Testament, when all slaves were allowed to return to their original homes, is used to symbolize the final jubilee when the righteous of all ages will be gathered to their eternal home: Lev. 25:8-13
  3. Then they will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb forever and ever: Rev. 15:1-2 (Jeffcoat changes this line to read, “Then we’ll join the saints to sing the song…”; again, I do not know why, unless it is simply to make the wording easier to sing)

CONCL.:  The chorus continues to express the great joy of being gathered with the redeemed of all ages.

“What a gathering, gathering

At the sounding of the glorious jubilee!

What a gathering, gathering

What a gathering of the faithful that will be.”

When the congregation where my family attended when I was growing up changed from Christian Hymns No. 2 to Sacred Selections, and I first learned this song, I found it to be a joyfully exuberant proclamation of that for which we as Christians look.  It is not an easy song to sing.  If sung at even a reasonable tempo, it can leave the singers, especially the alto, tenor, and bass in the chorus, somewhat breathless, but if sung any slower it tends to drag unmercifully and become rather boring.  But when sung to the best of a congregation’s ability, it is a wonderful reminder concerning the reunion of the righteous of all ages at the coming of Christ that “What a Gathering That Will Be.”

what a gathering