Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me


(picture of Arthur S. Sullivan)


“When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them” (Matt. 9:36)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which asks Jesus to look on us with compassion as He did on the multitudes is “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me” (#521 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written by Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871).  It was first published in her 1869 work Thoughts in Verse on Sacred Subjects.  Miss Elliot is best known for her hymn “Just As I Am, Without One Plea.”  The tune (Hanford or Sullivan) used with “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me” was composed by Arthur Seymour Sullivan, who was born at Bolwell Terrace in Lambeth, England, on May 13, 1842.  At the age of twelve, he was a chorister of the Chapel Royal under Thomas Helmore.  Educated at the Royal Academy of Music in England, where he studied under W. Sterndale Bennett and John Goss, he also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, where his teachers included Moritz Hauptmann, Felicien David, and Ignaz Moscheles.

After his return to England, Sullivan held several organist positions and in 1866 became professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music.  He composed a great deal of church music, and most of his hymn tunes were produced between 1867 and 1874.  This one was written in 1871 at Hanford in Dorsetshire, England, when he was a guest in the home of Mrs. Gertrude Clay-Ker-Seymer.   His tunes appear in two hymnbooks of which he was the editor, The Hymnary of 1872 and Church Hymns with Tunes of 1874.  This tune was first published in the latter.  It is often used with another Charlotte Elliot hymn of 1834, “My God, My Father, Though I Stray.”  Perhaps Sullivan’s most famous tune was provided, also in 1871, for the 1864 hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” by his good friend Sabine Baring-Gould.

However, Sullivan is best remembered for the music which he composed with the librettos and lyrics of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert for the Savoy Opera of London, including H. M. S. Pinafore in 1878, The Pirates of Penzance in 1879, and The Mikado in 1885, along with other secular pieces such as “The Lost Chord.”  These works brought him international fame for which he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883, and the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas became a part of English tradition.  Sullivan did not believe that popular melodies should be used for hymns and so declined numerous requests for permission to make hymn tune arrangements from his operetta music.  He died at Westminster, England, on Nov. 22, 1900.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the text of “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me,” to my knowledge, has appeared only in Hymns for Worship Revised.

The song expresses a request for Jesus to provide for our spiritual needs.

I. Stanza 1 asks for rest

Jesus, my Savior, look on me,

For I am weary and oppressed;

I come to cast myself on Thee:

Thou art my Rest.

1. We often are weary because we are oppressed by the trials and tribulations of life: Ps. 9.9

2. However, we can come to Jesus the Savior to cast our cares on Him: 1 Pet. 5:7

3. He is our Rest who will give us rest: Matt. 11:28-30

II. Stanza 2 asks for strength

Look down on me, for I am weak;

I feel the toilsome journey’s length;

Thine aid omnipotent I seek:

Thou art my Strength.

  1. Many times we find that as human beings the flesh is weak: Matt. 26:41
  2. However, Jesus is omnipotent or all powerful and will give us aid: Heb. 2:17-18
  3. He is our Strength who will provide us with strength: Eph. 3:16

III. Stanza 3 asks for light

I am bewildered on my way,

Dark and tempestuous is the night;

O send Thou forth some cheering ray:

Thou art my Light.

  1. This world is often pictured as a place of darkness: Jn. 3:19
  2. God promised to send out a cheering ray: Mal. 4:2
  3. Jesus is the Light who enables us to have light: Jn. 8:12

IV. Stanza 4 (not in HFWR) asks for peace

When Satan flings his fiery darts,

I look to Thee; my terrors cease;

Thy cross a hiding place imparts:

Thou art my Peace.

  1. As long as we live in this world of spiritual warfare, Satan will fling his fiery darts at us: Eph. 6:16
  2. However, the cross is a refuge behind which we can find protection: 1 Cor. 1:18
  3. Jesus is the Peace who makes it possible for us to have peace: Col. 4:6-7

V. Stanza 5 (also not in HFWR) asks for life

Standing alone on Jordan’s brink,

In that tremendous latest strife,

Thou will not suffer me to sink:

Thou art my Life.

  1. Someday we shall stand at the brink of death just as the Israelites stood on Jordan’s brink waiting to cross over into the promised land: Josh. 3:1
  2. At that time, Jesus will not let us sink, just as He did not let Peter sink: Matt. 14:28-31
  3. Jesus is our Life who brings us life: Jn. 10:10

VI. Stanza 6 (#4 in HFWR) asks for Christ to be our all

Thou wilt my every want supply,

E’en to the end, whate’er befall;

Through life, in death, eternally,

Thou art my All.

  1. Just as a shepherd provides for all the needs of his flock, so the Lord will supply all our wants: Ps. 23:1
  2. And He has promised to be with us even to the end: Matt. 28:20
  3. Thus, He is our All who grants us all that we need: Col. 3:11, 2 Pet. 1:3

CONCL.:  There is another stanza, #4:

I hear the storms around me rise;

But when I dread th’impending shock,

My spirit to the Refuge flies:

Thou art my Rock.

My life will have its share of problems.  However, my Lord who loves me and died for me does not expect me to deal with them all alone.  He has promised to be with me and help me.  Therefore, I should constantly be asking Him, “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me.”

Just a Closer Walk with Thee


(picture of Mosie Lister)


“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18)

     Introduction:  A hymn which asks the Lord to go with us that He might preserve us unto His heavenly kingdom is “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (#482 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #177 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text is an anonymous American folk hymn, the source of which is unknown.  The tune (Closer Walk) is a spiritual, the source of which is also unknown and which is considered an American folk song.  Both are thought to be from African-American slave origins.  In 1940 Kenneth Morris arranged and published for the first time the well-known version after gospel musicians Robert Anderson and R.L. Knowles listened to William B. Hurse direct a performance of it in Kansas City and then brought it to Morris’ attention.  The arrangement in our book was made by Thomas Mosie Lister, who was born at Cochran, GA, on Sept. 8, 1921, the second son of Willis W. and Pearl Holland Lister, who were both musical and attempted to teach their son music at an early age on their farm in the Empire District of Dodge County.  They placed the young Lister in the church choir, but soon discovered that he could not distinguish musical tones.  Mosie grew up with people of minority groups.  When he was nine, he began learning music theory from his father, who taught music as a hobby, and his family moved to a farm, where they lived until he was nineteen.  At age twelve, he started taking violin lessons.  His ear training abilities began to improve and by the time he was a teenager he was already studying harmony and composition.

At age sixteen, fresh out of high school, Lister tried to get into country music, having transferred his violin lessons into country fiddle and guitar.  One of the top ranked fiddle players in Georgia, he was converted at age seventeen and turned his attention to gospel music, hoping to compose.  In January, 1939, he traveled to the Vaughan School of Music in Lawrenceburg, TN, and studied harmony with Adger M. Pace and G. T. Speer to further his desire.  After serving in the navy during World War II, he enrolled in Middle Georgia College where he continued to study harmony, counterpoint, arranging, piano and organ. His first involvement in a gospel quartet came in 1941, the same year that his first song was published, as a member with the Sunny South Quartet in Tampa, FL, which also included Jim “Big Chief” Wetherington; with whom he left to form the Melody Masters Quartet.   In 1946 he met Wylene Whitten. They married that same year, moved to Atlanta, and in 1949 gave birth to identical twin daughters, Brenda and Barbara.  In 1948, Hovie Lister (no relation) invited him to be the original lead singer for the Statesmen Quartet, but he eventually had to quit singing because of vocal problems.  For three decades he held a number of different jobs in the music field including Gospel singer, songwriter, and arranger, and since 1955, has devoted his life to writing gospel songs and hymns.  His own publishing firm, Mosie Lister Publications, founded in 1953, was merged with Lillenas Publishing Co. in 1969.

Other well-known songs by Lister include “Where No One Stands Alone,” “Till the Storm Passes By,” “Then I Met the Master,” “He Knows Just What I Need,” and “How Long Has It Been?”   I have been unable to find a date or source of publication for his arrangement of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”  Once he said, “I think that God has directed my thoughts on certain occasions toward writing songs.  I don’t think my songs would have gone as well as they have if God hadn’t directed.  I prayed that God would use what talent I have to bring some blessing to other people.”  Associated for the rest of his life with the Lillenas Publishing Company of Kansas City, MO, he became quite famous as a songwriter and arranger, and was also director of publications for the Faith Music Catalogue.  Lister was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Southern Gospel Music Association in 1997. His songs have been recorded by nearly every Southern Gospel artist.   For many years he was the song director at the Riverside Baptist Church in Tampa, FL, then later became an ordained Baptist minister in Bradenton, FL.  After Wylene’s death in 2001, he married Martha Jean Hunter in 2002, and they moved to Franklin, TN, where one of his daughters lived.  As of 2014, Lister’s songs cataloged over 700 in numbers, with thousands more in arrangements. He died on February 12, 2015, aged 93.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, other arrangements of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” have been found, and in one form or another the song has appeared in the 1959 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater (in a 1948 arrangement by Jesse R. Baxter Jr.); the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch (Baxter arrangement); the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by Lloyd O. Sanderson (arrangement by the editor); the 1977 edition of the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons (Sanderson arrangement); The 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard (original edition arrangement by John T. Benson, revised edition choral arrangement by Kenneth Davis); the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand (Baxter arrangement); the 1997 new edition of the 1961 Best Loved Songs and Hymns edited by Ellis J. Crum (arrangement by Robert E. Winsett); the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs and Hymns and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert Taylor Jr. (latter with Baxter arrangement); and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections (latter with Baxter arrangement).

The song expresses the desire to have a closer walk with the Lord.

I. Stanza 1 says that the Lord will walk with us in weakness

I am weak, but Thou art strong;

Jesus, keep me from all wrong.

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk, dear Lord, close to Thee.

  1. As human beings, we are weak: 2 Cor. 12:10, 13:4
  2. But Jesus is strong, and if we trust Him, He will help to keep us from all wrong: 1 Cor. 10:13
  3. Therefore, we can be satisfied as long as we’re drawing close to Him: Jas. 4:7-8

II. Stanza 2 says that the Lord will walk with us in toils and snares

Through this world of toil and snares,

If I falter, Lord, who cares?

Who with me my burden shares?

None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

  1. Toils and snares refer to the trials and temptations of this life: Jas. 1:2, 12
  2. When we suffer these tribulations and falter, we may wonder if anyone cares: Ps. 142:3-4
  3. But we know that Jesus cares because He tells us to share our burden with Him: Ps. 55:22

III. Stanza 3 says that the Lord will walk with us in death

When my feeble life is o’er,

Time for me will be no more;

Guide me gently, safely o’er

To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

  1. Our feeble lives will be over at death: Heb. 9:27
  2. Then time will be no more because we’ll stand before God in judgment: 2 Cor. 5:10
  3. But if we’ve followed Christ faithfully, He’ll guide us to His eternal kingdom: 2 Pet. 1:10-11

IV. Robert E. Winsett added a Stanza 4 which says that the Lord will walk with us in heaven

When life’s sun sets in the west,

Lord, may I have done my best.

May I find sweet peace and rest,

In that home, glad home, of the blest.

  1. Life’s sun setting in the west is another figure to depict death: Jn. 9:4
  2. It should be our desire to do our best because only those who do the will of God will enter heaven: Matt. 7:21
  3. And if this is the case, we shall find sweet rest: Rev. 14:13

CONCL.:  The chorus encourages us to seek a closer walk daily with the Lord.

Just a closer walk with Thee,

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea.

Daily walking close to Thee,

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

The paths which I must tread in this life on my way to eternity are often rugged and difficult.  If it is my desire to go to heaven, I can’t make it on my own but need help.  So it should be aim always to look to the Lord and say to Him that I need “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

Hold the Fort


(picture of William T. Sherman)


“Hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2:25)

     INTRO.:  A song which exhorts us to hold fast until Jesus comes is “Hold the Fort” (#234 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876).  Born at Clearfield County, PA, he went in 1864 to Chicago, IL, in the employ of Dr. George F. Root, the musician, where he was engaged in conducting musical institutes, and in composing Sunday School melodies.  Later he joined Daniel W. Whittle in evangelical work. Bliss produced “Hold the Fort” in 1870 after hearing Whittle relate an incident from the American Civil War.  Just before William Tecumseh Sherman began his famous march to the sea in 1864, and while his army lay camped in the neighborhood of Atlanta, GA, on the 5th of October, the army of Confederate General Hood, in a carefully prepared movement, passed the right flank of Sherman’s army, gained his rear, and commenced the destruction of the railroad leading north, burning blockhouses and capturing the small garrisons along the line. Sherman’s army was put in rapid motion pursuing Hood, to save the supplies and larger posts, the principal one of which was located at Altoona Pass where General Corse of Illinois was stationed with about fifteen hundred men, Colonel Tourtelotte being second in command.

Six thousand men under command of General French were detailed by Hood to take the position. The works were completely surrounded and summoned to surrender. Corse refused and a sharp fight commenced. The defenders were slowly driven into a small fort on the crest of the hill.  Many had fallen, and the result seemed to render a prolongation of the fight hopeless. At this moment an officer caught sight of a white signal flag far away across the valley, twenty miles distant, upon the top of Kenesaw Mountain. The signal was answered, and soon the message was waved across from mountain to mountain: “Hold the fort; I am coming. W. T. Sherman.”  Cheers went up; every man was nerved to a full appreciation of the position; and under a murderous fire, which killed or wounded more than half the men in the fort, Corse himself being shot three times through the head, and Tourtelotte taking command, though himself badly wounded, they held the fort for three hours until the advance guard of Sherman’s army came up and French was obliged to retreat.

The song was first published in Bliss’s Gospel Songs of 1874.  Two years later, Bliss’s death occurred in a railway disaster at Ashtabula, OH. He escaped from the car, but lost his life when he went back in trying to save his wife. Not long before his death, Bliss once told Ira D. Sankey that he hoped that he would not be known to posterity only as the author of “Hold the Fort,” for he believed that he had written many better songs. However, when Sankey attended the dedication of the Bliss monument, at Rome, PA, he found these words inscribed: “P. P. Bliss, Author of “Hold the Fort.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, to my knowledge this song has appeared only in the 1956 Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.

The song pictures the Christian’s life as a battle.

I.  Stanza 1 discusses the signal

Ho! my comrades, see the signal,

Waving in the sky!

Reinforcements now appearing,

Victory is nigh!

  1. The signal represents the promise of Jesus: Matt. 28:20
  2. He brings reinforcements because those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful: Rev. 17:14
  3. As a result, His people are assured of victory: 1 Jn. 5:4

II. Stanza 2 discusses the enemy

See the mighty host advancing,

Satan leading on;

Mighty men around us falling,

Courage almost gone.

  1. The mighty host advancing is the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places: Eph. 6:10-12
  2. Our great enemy is Satan who leads them on: 1 Pet. 5:8-9
  3. The fact that many might men around are falling could refer to either those who are passing away or to those who are falling from grace due to error or sin: Gal. 5:4

III. Stanza 3 discusses the banner

See the glorious banner waving,

Hear the bugle blow;

In our Leader’s Name we triumph

Over every foe.

  1. The banner represents the Lord’s leadership over His people: Ps. 60:4
  2. The blowing of the bugle is the call to arms in the fight of faith: 1 Tim. 6:12
  3. As we follow and fight in the Lord’s name, we shall be more than conquerors: Rom. 8:35-37

IV. Stanza 4 discusses the Commander

Fierce and long the battle rages,

But our help is near;

Onward comes our great Commander,

Cheer, my comrades, cheer!

  1. Fierce and long the battle will rage as we wage the good warfare: 1 Tim. 1:18
  2. But our help is our great Commander, the Captain of our salvation: Heb. 2:10
  3. Therefore, even in tribulation we may be of good cheer: Jn. 16:33

CONCL.:  The chorus encourages us to be steadfast and wait for His help.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”

Jesus signals still,

Wave the answer back to Heaven,

“By Thy grace we will.”

Our lives as Christians are often described as a great spiritual warfare in which Satan and his hosts are the attacking enemy, Christ is our Commander, and our responsibility is to “Hold the Fort.”

Christ’s Love is All I Need



“Know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19)

INTRO.: A song which exhorts us to know the love of Christ that we might be filled with all the fullness of God is “Christ’s Love is All I Need” (#371 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #264 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Christ’s Love) was composed both by George William Sides, who was born Aug. 29, 1880, in the Pleasant Grove community of Walker County, AL, to William Lafayette and Martha Elizabeth Sides. Information about George W. Sides has been hard to find, but David R. Hamrick ( ) has been able to piece together a biography from primary sources such as census records and newspaper articles. As a young man Sides went to work in the coal mines at nearby Carbon Hill, but by age thirty he was back in Pleasant Grove as a music teacher. On Oct. 13 of that same year, 1910, he married Alice Pearl Ray, and the couple went on to have three children, Mary, George Jr., and Jennie.

It was probably during this period that Sides published his first paperback hymnbook, the undated Perennial Hymns of Praise, edited with L. Dow McDonald, R. H. Brooks and J. T. Lane, which was published simultaneously by Sides in Oakman, AL, and by Brooks in Whitesburg, TN. Sides moved his family to the neighborhood of Hatley in Monroe County, MS, in 1912. Though his primary occupation was farming, during this time he was also associated with the Stanley-Gardner Company, a gospel music publisher in Saltillo, MS, owned by James Henry Stanley (composer of “Prepare to meet thy God”) and W. P. Gardner. Sides produced two books for Stanley-Gardner, Our Tidings of Praise, co-edited with J. H. Stanley, and The Golden Harp, co-edited with J. H. Pannell and Samuel W. Beazley.

“Christ’s Love Is All I Need,” beginning, “Though dark and dreary be life’s way,” first appeared in the 1924 Gospel Sunshine, from B. B. Bateman in Knoxville, TN. Other songs by Sides from the years of 1924 to 1926 published by Bateman include “Get right,” “Glory all the way,” “He died for me,” “Home of the soul,” “I’ve found the glory way,” “Riches untold,” “Sinful pleasures now are past,” “Sometime, but when I cannot tell,” “The Lord has been so good to me,” and “Who can take away your sin?” Hambrick noted that if Sides wrote this many songs in three years, he probably wrote many more, though it is possible that some of these were reprints from earlier years. In 1929 George W. Sides moved his family further west to farm in the Pettit community just outside Greenville, MS. In later years he served three terms as a justice of the peace and passed away on November 3, 1956, in Avon, MS, south of Greenville.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Christ’s Love Is All I Need” has appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song suggests several situations in which we look to Christ’s love for guidance.

I. Stanza 1 says that Christ’s love will lead us through the dark and dreary ways of life

Though dark and dreary be life’s way And burdens hard to bear;

There’s One whose love will never fail, My heart shall ne’er despair.

My hope is staid in Him today, And He will safely lead

To that sweet home beyond the sea; Christ’s love is all I need.

A. While the Christian finds many things to enjoy in this life, all of us experience days of darkness from time to time: Eccl. 11:7-8

B. While friends on earth may forsake us during such times, the Lord is one whose love will never fail: Ps. 27:10

C. Therefore, like Jeremiah, we should stay our hope in His love: Lam. 3:21-23

II. Stanza 2 says that Christ’s love will lead us through the trials and storms of life

Though trials press on every side And many snares there be;

I look in simple faith to Him Who calmed the stormy sea.

He is the Shepherd kind and true, His sheep He’ll ever feed;

This cheers me on and makes me strong, Christ’s love is all I need.

A, Jesus showed His power by calming the stormy sea: Matt. 8:23-27

B. Therefore, like sheep with their shepherd, we depend on Him to help us in the trials and tribulations of life: Jn. 10:14-15

C. The love of this powerful Shepherd will help to make us strong in times of storm: Eph. 3:16-17

III. Stanza 3 says that Christ’s love will lead us through death to heaven

And when I hear the boatman’s call, “Come cross the chilly tide;”

I shall not fear to launch my bark, For Christ is at my side.

He bore the sting of death for me, Has met my every need;

And so I sing the sweet refrain, Christ’s love is all I need.

A. The “boatman’s call” refers to the time of death, an appointment that all will keep: Heb. 9:27

B. However, those who are in Christ need not fear to launch their barks because Christ has delivered us from the fear of death: Heb. 2:14-15

C. Because He bore the sting of death for us, through Him we can have victory even in death and finally over death: 1 Cor. 15:54-56

CONCL.: The chorus (which I sometimes omit) reminds us how important Christ’s love is to our lives.

Christ’s love is all I need each day,

I know, I know, Christ’s precious love is all I need;

He’ll lead me safely on life’s way,

I know, I know Christ’s precious, precious love is all I need.

I trust that I shall have my share of good times in life, and I know that I shall have my share of bad times too. However, through everything, one fact that I must remember is that “Christ’s Love Is All I Need.”

He Keeps Me Singing


(picture of Luther B. Bridgers)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing with grace in your hearts…” (Col. 3:16)

     INTRO.:  A song which exhorts us to keep Christ in our hearts that we might sing with grace is “He Keeps Me Singing” (#452 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #157 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and tune (Sweetest Name) was composed both by Luther Burgess Bridgers, who was born at Margaretsville, NC, on Feb. 14, 1884, to James Buchanan Bridgers (1856-1913), a minister, and Georgiana nee Cooke.  Luther’s father conducted revival meetings until his death, often with his son assisting him, from 1904-1913.  Beginning to preach at the age of seventeen, Luther was educated at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, from 1902 to 1906.  There he met his wife Sarah Jane “Sallie” Veatch (1885-1911) with whom he would have three sons.  His first congregation was in Perry, Florida in 1908 and 1909, but he eventually relinquished local work in favor of itinerant evangelism throughout the southeastern United States.   For over twelve years, he served as minister for Methodist Churches in Georgia and was widely known for his evangelistic zeal.

It is often reported that this song was produced either in 1909 or 1910, presumably after Bridgers suffered the tragic loss of his wife and three sons, who were burned to death in a fire which destroyed the house of his father-in-law at Harrodsburg, KY, where they were visiting while he was conducting a revival in that state.  When he had completed the words, he picked out the melody on a piano, and his wife’s sister put down the notes.  It first appeared in The Revival No. 6, compiled at Atlanta, GA, in 1910 by Charlie Davis Tillman (1861-1943).  Tillman is best remembered for his melodies used with “Ready to Suffer” and “When I Get to the End of the Way.”  This book included seven songs by Bridgers, all bearing a copyright date of 1910.  However, some sources claim that the fire took place on March 26, 1911, after the song was published, and the song simply took on a greater poignance following the incident.

In 1914 Bridgers married Miss Aline Winburn of Gainesville, GA, a music teacher at Shorter College in Rome, GA, with whom he had another son, Luther B. Bridgers Jr. (1915-1992). Also that year, he became general evangelist for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  Robert H. Coleman purchased this hymn from Bridgers in 1917 and included it in his widely-used Popular Hymns, published in 1918.  Except for a brief period following World War I when he did mission work in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Russia, Bridgers was engaged in evangelistic work for eighteen years.  In 1921 Asbury College awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity for his greatly successful evangelistic work.  After 1932, he served as a minister in Atlanta, GA, and Morehead, NC, for thirteen years.  Following his retirement in 1944, he lived in his wife’s hometown of Gainesville, GA, until his death at Atlanta, GA, on May 27, 1948.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “He Keeps Me Singing” has appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons;; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song exhorts us to sing with joy even during the “midnight experiences” of our lives and explains why we can do so.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that in life’s ebb and flow, Jesus can give us peace

There’s within my heart a melody

Jesus whispers sweet and low,

“Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,

In all of life’s ebb and flow.”

  1. The means by which Jesus whispers to us today is His written word: Jn. 14:26
  2. One of the things which Jesus promised His disciples was to give them peace: Jn. 14:27
  3. This peace is available in all of life’s ebb and flow, referring to our tribulations: Rom. 5:1-5:

II. Stanza 2 (not in HFWR) tells us that Jesus saves us from sin and strife

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,

Discord filled my heart with pain;

Jesus swept across the broken strings,

Stirred the slumbering chords again.

  1. At one time or another, all of our lives were wrecked by sin and strife: Rom. 3:23
  2. But Jesus, by His blood shed on the cross, makes it possible for us to pass from death unto life: Jn. 5:24
  3. As a result, the slumbering chords can be stirred to praise God: Heb. 13:15

III. Stanza 3 (#2 in HFWR) tells us that Jesus provides us a fellowship in which we can shout and sing

Feasting on the riches of His grace,

Resting ’neath His sheltering wing,

Always looking on His smiling face,

That is why I shout and sing.

  1. This fellowship is pictured as resting beneath His sheltering wing: Matt. 23:37
  2. Even though we cannot literally look on His smiling face, we can see Him as revealed in Scripture: Heb. 2:9
  3. As a result of this fellowship, we can sing to the Lord: Eph. 5:18-19

IV. Stanza 4 (not in HFWR) tells us that Jesus left us an example in our trials

Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,

Trials fall across the way,

Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,

See His footprints all the way.

  1. In this life trials will often fall across our way: Jas. 1:2-3
  2. The path is sometimes rough and steep because of such troubles: Job 14:1
  3. But in His own immense suffering, Jesus provides an example of how to deal with our trials: 1 Pet. 2:20-24

V. Stanza 5 (#3 in HFWR) tells us that Jesus is coming back to take us home with Him on high

Soon He’s coming back to welcome me

Far beyond the starry sky;

I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,

I shall reign with Him on high.

  1. We really do not know whether Jesus is coming back soon or not: Matt. 24:36 (I usually just sing “So He’s coming back”)
  2. However, we do know that He is coming back to take His people to be with Him forever: 1 Thess. 4:14-17
  3. For some reason, all of our books change “reign with Him” to “live with Him,” but the Bible teaches that the redeemed shall reign with Him forever and ever: Rev. 22:1-5

CONCLUSION: The chorus points out that all these wonderful blessings are possible because of Jesus.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus–

Sweetest name I know,

Fills my every longing,

Keeps me singing as I go.

When I remember what Jesus has done for me—offers me peace, saves me from sin, gives me His divine fellowship, leaves me His example, and promises me eternal life with Him—then even when things are rough, I will find   that “He Keeps Me Singing.”

Jesus, Rose Of Sharon



That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…being rooted and grounded in love…”   (Eph. 3:17)

     INTRO.:  A song which describes the love with which Christ dwells in our hearts is “Jesus, Rose Of Sharon” (#445 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #131 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text is attributed to Ira A. Guirey, the identify of whom is unknown.  No information is available about this author, other than that she was active in the early part of the twentieth century.  There is the possibility that the name is a pseudonym for another gospel hymn writer.  However, there was an Ida Augusta Guirey who was born in 1874 to George Guirey and Sarah Francis Higgins Guirey.  According to 1880 United States Census records, this birth took place in San Francisco, CA.  She passed away in 1957.  There is no way of knowing for sure if this person is the author of the song. says that Ida A. Guirey (Early 20th Century) also wrote a hymn entitled “Under the Blood” in 1920 with music by C. S. Brown, beginning “My sins, which were many, are all washed away, And now I am happy and free; I sing of God’s mercy by night and by day, His wonderful mercy to me.” lists Guirey as the author of five other hymns, “God Has Given Each a Field,” “It Was Heaven in My Heart when Jesus found me,” “More and More My Heart,” “O to Be Like Jesus and to walk,” and “There Is Joy, Wonderful Joy.” gives one more title, “Do you need a friend to help you?”  Researchers have suggested that she must have appreciated nature, including beautiful and fragrant flowers, like roses; that her age probably was that of at least a young woman, if not older; and that she most likely wrote as she looked at one of the more obscure books of the Bible since only Song of Solomon 2:1-2 uses the phrase which she borrowed for her song’s title and oft-repeated description. The tune (Sharon) was composed by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932).  Gabriel, who lived for a time in San Francisco, often himself used the alias “Charlotte G. Homer” for the author’s name when he provided both words and music for a hymn; other well known songs by Gabriel include “Come to the Feast,” “God Is Calling the Prodigal,” “I Will Not Forget Thee,” “O That Will Be Glory for Me,” “Only a Step,” “Send the Light,” “I Stand Amazed,” “He Lifted Me,” and “Where the Gates Swing Outward Never.”  The song “Jesus, Rose of Sharon” was produced, probably in 1921, and was first published in Rodeheaver’s Gospel Songs, compiled at Chicago, IL, in 1922 by Gabriel and Homer Alvin Rodeheaver (1880-1955).

Born at Union Furnace, OH, Rodeheaver was a well-known gospel musician, hymn writer, and religious music publisher of the early twentieth century.   Rodeheaver’s work greatly influenced the popularization of the gospel song in the first half of the twentieth century.  In 1908 he became songleader for the crusades of evangelist Billy Sunday, and in 1910 founded The Rodeheaver Publishing Company in Chicago.  Gabriel became associated with this firm in 1912.  In 1920 Rodeheaver established Rainbow Records, one of the earliest labels devoted solely to gospel music.  In 1936 The Rodeheaver Company merged with the Hall-Mack Publishing Company of Philadelphia, PA, and in 1941 was moved to Winona Lake, IN.  Rodeheaver composed only a little but edited some eighty hymn collections, perhaps the most-used of which was his 1948 Christian Service Hymns.  One of his tunes that appears in some of our books was composed for “Good Night and Good Morning” copyrighted in 1922 with words by Lizzie DeArmond.  “Jesus, Rose of Sharon” had originally been copyrighted by Rodeheaver, and the copyright was renewed in 1950 by The Rodeheaver Company, which is now a division of Word, Inc.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “Yield Not To Temptation” has appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song figuratively pictures Jesus as the rose of Sharon whom we cherish and adore

I. Stanza 1 says that Jesus is like a flower that fills our lives with a beautiful fragrance

Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart;

Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart,

That where’er I go my life may shed abroad

Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God.

  1. As a flower imparts a sweet smell, so Jesus imparts His truth that we might be holy: 1 Pet. 1:15-16
  2. We then shed abroad this fragrance by the example of our lives: Matt. 5:16
  3. In this way, others can receive a knowledge of the love of God: Eph. 5:1-2

II. Stanza 2 says that Jesus is like a flower which is sweeter and fairer than any on earth

Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to see

Than the fairest flowers of earth could ever be,

Fill my life completely, adding more each day

Of Thy grace divine and purity, I pray.

  1. The reason that Jesus is the sweetest and fairest is that He brings us salvation by the grace of God: Tit. 2:11-14
  2. Thus, we should want him to fill our lives completely: Col. 1:9-11
  3. When we are so filled, He will add more each day of His purity: 1 Tim. 4:12

III. Stanza 3 (not in HFWR) says that Jesus is like a flower whose balm can heal us

Jesus, Rose of Sharon, balm for every ill,

May Thy tender mercy’s healing power distill

For afflicted souls of weary burdened men,

Giving needy mortals health and hope again.

  1. In Jesus Christ, sinful mankind can find that “balm of Gilead” which God prescribes for our souls: Jer. 8:22
  2. We need this balm because our souls are afflicted or burdened and need rest: Matt. 11:28-30
  3. Only Christ can give us health and hope by providing for our spiritual healing: Mal. 4:1-2

IV. Stanza 4 says that Jesus is like a flower that will bloom forevermore

Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom forevermore;

Be Thy glory seen on earth from shore to shore,

Till the nations own Thy sovereignty complete,

Lay their honors down and worship at Thy feet.

  1. It is the desire of God for the beauty of Christ to spread from shore to shore as He is preached to all nations: Lk. 24:46-47
  2. The goal of this preaching is that the nations will own His sovereignty: Phil. 2:9-11
  3. And the ultimate hope is to lay our honors down and worship at His feet before His throne: Rev. 22:1-5

CONCL.:  The chorus expresses the desire that this flower would bloom within us

Jesus (Blessed Jesus),

Rose of Sharon,

Bloom in radiance

And in love within my heart.

CONCL.:  I have heard people question whether it is scriptural to use this song because the term “rose of Sharon” is used only once in the entire Bible, and in that instance it does not refer to Jesus.  Kyle Butt of Apologetics Press made the following comments:

In fact, although no one can say for certain which flower is the actual “rose of Sharon,” many scholars think the best guess is the cistus or rock-rose. The cistus blooms in various parts of Palestine, and is well known for its soothing aroma and pain-relieving qualities.

     When and why the title “Rose of Sharon” was given to Jesus is rather vague. But at least two reasons as to why it might have been assigned to our Lord seem fairly clear. First, Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of beauty and splendor. Of course, His earthly body could not boast of such attributes (Isaiah 53:2), but His spiritual beauty and majesty remain unsurpassed by any created being in Heaven or on Earth (2 Peter 1:16). Second, Christ’s healing powers and pain-relieving actions find a definite point of comparison with those of the rock-rose. Is it any wonder that the “Great Physician,” Who came to heal those who were physically ill as well as those who were spiritually sick, should be given the name of a flower known for its sweet aroma and soothing medicinal qualities?

     Although the Holy Spirit never chose to inspire the Bible writers to refer to Jesus as the “Rose of Sharon,” it nevertheless is a name we can employ to speak of the majesty, beauty, and healing power of our Lord. (end of quote)

Of all the lovely flowers on earth, none could be more precious than “Jesus, Rose of Sharon.”

“Yield Not To Temptation”



“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41)

    INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to keep from entering temptation is “Yield Not To Temptation” (#442 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #111 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune (Palmer or Yield Not) was composed both by Horatio Richmond Palmer, who was born at Sherburn, NY, on Apr. 26, 1834.  After early music instruction from his father and his aunt, he studied in New York City, NY, Berlin, Germany, and Florence, Italy.  In 1857, he became head of the music department at Rushford Academy in New York, and served as music director at the Rushford Baptist Church.  After the Civil War, he moved to Chicago, IL, where he edited a monthly music journal known as The Concordia, wrote various books, and conducted music festivals with great success.

One day, while Palmer was working on the dry subject of music theory, the idea for this hymn came to him in a flash, so he laid aside the theoretical work and hurriedly penned both the words and the melody as fast as he could write.  Later he submitted them to a friend for criticism, and some changes were made in the third stanza.  The song first appeared in his Sabbath School Songs, published in 1868 at Chicago by Adams, Blackmer, and Lyon.  Returning to New York, he organized the Church Choral Union of New York City, which gave massive concerts.  At one such concert at Madison Square Garden, he conducted four thousand voices.  From 1877 to 1891, he was dean of the summer school of music for the assemblies at Chautauqua, NY.

A well-known American music teacher, songwriter, and composer in his day, he produced a number of hymns, many of which were published by the Biglow and Main Company of New York City, edited popular song collections, and produced other musical works.  Some of his more popular books include The Song Queen, The Song King, The Song Herald, The Sovereign, Palmer’s Theory of Music, Palmer’s Piano Primer, The Common Sense Music Reader, the Choral Union, and Concert Choruses.  Other well-known hymns with music by him are “Peace, Be Still” (beginning “Master, the tempest is raging”) by Mary Ann Baker, “Come, Sinner, Come” (beginning “While Jesus whispers to you”) by William E. Witter, and “Love One Another” (beginning “Angry words, O let them never”) by an unknown author.  Palmer’s death occurred at Yonkers, NY, on Nov. 15, 1907.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “Yield Not To Temptation” has appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song presents several things that we can do to help us keep from yielding to temptation.

I. From stanza 1, we learn that we must determine to fight manfully onward
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. It is important not to yield to temptation because yielding is sin: Jas. 1:14-15
B. Therefore, we should strive to gain victory over it: 1 Jn. 5:4
C. To gain this victory, we must fight manfully onward: 1 Tim. 6:12. The battle with temptation is a life-long one, and the first step towards winning is to resolve that we will fight the good fight of the faith
II. From stanza 2, we learn that we must avoid evil companions and their bad influences
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. We need to recognize the dangers of evil companionships: 1 Cor. 15:33
B. One of these dangers is the use of bad language: Eph. 4:29
C. Instead of these evil influences, we should be kindhearted: Eph. 4:31-32. Because each of us is influenced by what we see and hear from others, we should strive to keep ourselves unspotted from the world
III. From stanza 3, we learn that we must look to Jesus for help and keep our eyes on the crown
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. God has promised a crown to those who overcome: Rev. 2:10
B. By looking to Jesus, we can conquer: Rom. 8:35-37
C. Our Savior will renew our strength as we look to Him and set our affections above: Col. 3:1-2. Since both the crown that we hope for and the Savior from whom we seek help are in heaven, we should always be looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith

CONCL.:  The chorus again reminds us that when we face temptation we should seek help from Jesus

Ask the Savior to help you,

Comfort, strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you,

He will carry you through.

Some object to the phrase “Ask the Savior to help you,” apparently because they believe that it is wrong to pray to Jesus, and I have actually heard people sing instead, “Ask the Father to help you.”  However, whatever one’s position on praying to Jesus is, I would think that we can simply understand the idea of asking the Savior to help us as calling upon Him in the song to be our Mediator when we pray to the Father.   The stanzas were originally written for soprano and alto duet, as in Hymns for Worship Revised.  Several arrangements with all four parts have been made, including one in 1960 for Sacred Selections for the Church.  When I was growing up, my piano teacher told me that her father, who had been a state representative from our area in the early 1900s, often said that every young person should memorize and live by the words of the song “Yield Not to Temptation.”