Hold the Fort

sherman

(picture of William T. Sherman)

“HOLD THE FORT”

“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

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“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 ( http://drhamrick.blogspot.com/2012/02/christs-love-is-all-i-need.html ) 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

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(picture of Luther B. Bridgers)

“HE KEEPS ME SINGING”
“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

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“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.  Cyberhymnal.org 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.”

Hymntime.com 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.”    Hymnary.org 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”

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“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.”

Be With Me, Lord

“BE WITH ME, LORD”

“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5)

INTRO.: A hymn which asks the Lord to honor His promise never to leave nor forsake us is “Be With Me, Lord” (#72 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #27 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960). Chisholm was a school teacher and newspaper editor who became a Methodist minister but gave that work up because of poor health and went into the insurance business. A prolific hymn text author, he also wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” for William M. Runyan, “O to Be Like Thee” for William J. Kirkpatrick, “Only in Thee” for Charles H. Gabriel, and “Living for Jesus” for C. Harold Lowden. The tune (Sanderson) for “Be With Me, Lord” was composed by Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1901-1992). Sanderson was a long-time music editor for the Gospel Advocate Co. of Nashville, TN, and compiled three major hymnbooks for that firm.

Sanderson and Chisholm never met, but they maintained an active correspondence by mail. In 1934 Sanderson, who was living in Springfield, MO, was working on a hymnbook and one evening had a tune with an unusual meter come to mind. Stopping to jot down the melody and completing the harmony later that night, he searched for words to fit but found none. Eight days later, he received a letter from Chisholm, who lived in Vineland, NJ, with a poem, telling of an incident that occurred to him the same night that Sanderson came up with his tune. Chisholm had gone to bed, but some words came to mind, so he got up and wrote them down. They matched Sanderson’s tune exactly. The song was first published in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by Sanderson and others for the Gospel Advocate Co. It is probably the most popular of all Sanderson’s hymns, and the best known of Sanderson’s and Chisholm’s dozen or so collaborations which include “All Things Work Together for Good,” “Bring Christ Your Broken Life,” and “A New Creature” or “Buried With Christ.”

In addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and Christian Hymns (No. 1), among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Be With Me, Lord,” has appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by Sanderson; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; 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 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 originally edited by Elmer L. Jorgenson; 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.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.

The song mentions several situations in which the Christian will want the Lord to be with him.

I. Stanza 1 mentions bearing the loads of life

“Be with me, Lord, I cannot live without Thee;

I dare not try to take one step alone.

I cannot bear the loads of life unaided;

I need Thy strength to lean myself upon.”

A. We dare not take one step alone because it is not in man who walks to direct his steps: Jer. 10:23

B. All of us have loads or burdens of life that we cannot bear alone, but the Lord tells us to cast them on Him: Ps. 55:21

C. Therefore, we should look to Him for strength in bearing these loads of life: Phil. 4:13

II. Stanza 2 mentions times of trial

“Be with me, Lord, and then if dangers threaten,

If storms of trial burst above my head,

If lashing seas leap everywhere about me,

They cannot harm or make my heart afraid.”

A. As long as we live on this earth, we will have to face fiery trials: 1 Pet. 4:12

B. The lashing seas which leap everywhere about us symbolize these tribulations which we’ll be called on to bear: Acts 14:22

C. However, these things cannot harm us or make us afraid because if God is with us, who can be against us?: Rom. 8:31

III. Stanza 3 mentions our various journeys throughout life

“Be with me, Lord, no other gift or blessing

Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare:

A constant sense of Thy abiding presence,

Where’er I am to feel that Thou art near.”

A. As we journey through life, every good and perfect gift, including God’s being with us, comes down from above: Jas. 1:17

B. If we keep His word, He has promised spiritually to abide in us: Jn. 14:23

C. And this will be true wherever we are because the Lord has said that He is with us always, even to the end of the world: Matt. 28:20

IV. Stanza 4 mentions feeling loneliness and pain

“Be with me, Lord, when loneliness o’ertakes me,

When I must weep amid the fires of pain;

And when shall come the hour of ‘my departure’

For ‘worlds unknown,’ O Lord, be with me then.”

A. There will be times in life when we shall experience loneliness and must weep amid the fires of pain: Ps. 6:6-8

B. One such time may well be the hour of our departure for worlds unknown: 2 Tim. 4:6

C. However, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord has promised to be with us: Ps. 23:4 (Note: Some books have the last word of the song as “there,” which simply does not rhyme with “pain.” It might be argued that “then” doesn’t necessarily rhyme with “pain” either, but it’s close enough for poetry, and much closer than “there” and “pain.” All the Gospel Advocate songbooks edited by Sanderson have “then,” so that is obviously the correct word. I have been able to trace this error to Will Slater’s Hymns of Praise and Devotion, where it was probably just a typographical mistake. I assume that Sacred Selections simply photocopied the song from Slater, and Hymns for Worship then copied it from Sacred Selections rather than going to original sources, thus perpetuating the mistake. It is interesting that Sacred Selections has corrected the error in later printings, but so far Hymns for Worship has not.)

CONCL.: As I was growing up and through the years in every congregation with which I have labored, we have often sung this song in our worship assemblies, sometimes before prayer, sometimes as a closing hymn, and at other points in the service. I have even heard it sung at funerals, and it certainly has appropriate thoughts for such occasions. The older I get, the more my life impresses me with the fact that I need to bow before my God and humbly beseech His help, simply asking, “Be With Me, Lord.”

Take The Name Of Jesus With You

lydia baxter

(picture of Lydia O. Baxter)

TAKE THE NAME OF JESUS WITH YOU

 “For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

     INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to give due consideration to that name by which we are saved is “Take The Name Of Jesus With You” (#430 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #661 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Lydia Odell Baxter, who was born at Petersburg, NY, on Sept. 8, 1809.  As young women, she and her sister were converted by the preaching of a traveling Baptist missionary, Eben Tucker.  A little while later, the two sisters were mainly responsible for the establishment of a Baptist church in their hometown.  After her marriage, Lydia moved to New York City, NY, with her husband, where she zealously continued to carry on her religious work.  Due to a serious illness, she became a partial invalid and was confined to her bed much of the time, but her home was a gathering place for preachers and other religious workers who came to her for advice.

Though Lydia was simply a housewife, all who knew her said that her radiance was an inspiration to them.  Because of her patient cheerfulness, people often visited her sickroom not so much to comfort her as to be blessed by her.  In 1855 she published a collection of religious poetry, Gems by the Wayside.  Also she produced a number of gospel songs, such as “There Is a Gate Ajar for Me,” which were widely used.  In 1870 she penned “Take the Name of Jesus With You” while she was on her sickbed just four years before her death.  An avid student of the Bible, she often engaged in discussions of scriptural names with her friends and felt that the very utterance of the name of Jesus carried her to a deeper understanding, saying, “When the tempter tries to make me blue or despondent, I mention the name of Jesus, and he can’t get through to me anymore.”

The tune (Precious Name) was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915).  The song first appeared in Pure Gold, edited in 1871 at New York City for Biglow and Main, by Doane and Robert Lowry (1826-1899).  Mrs. Baxter, who never permitted her physical disability to stop her active mind from studying God’s word and writing about it or to quench her spiritual joy, died in New York City on June 22, 1874, at the age of 65.  This song became widely known in evangelical churches through its use in evangelistic campaigns during the latter nineteenth century by revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody and his music director Ira David Sankey (1840-1908).  It has become a very popular closing hymn.  In many places, congregations do not sing the melody as it was originally and is usually written but follow some slight alterations that are attributed to Austin Taylor (1881-1973).

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “Take the Name of Jesus With You” 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 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.; 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 reminds us of the power of Jesus’s name which we should carry with us throughout life.

I. In stanza 1, we are told that the name of Jesus will give us joy and peace

Take the name of Jesus with you,

Child of sorrow and of woe,

It will joy and comfort give you;

Take it then, where’er you go.

  1. As human beings, we are children of sorrow and woe: Job 14:1
  2. But the name of Jesus brings joy and comfort because it is through believing in His name that we have the right to become children of God: Jn. 1:12-13
  3. And to continue this joy and comfort, we must take it wherever we go by following Him: Matt. 16:24

II. In stanza 2, we are told that the name of Jesus will serve as a shield from every snare

Take the name of Jesus ever,

As a shield from every snare;

If temptations round you gather,

Breathe that holy name in prayer.

  1. God has promised to be a shield for His people: Gen. 15:1
  2. We need a shield to protect us because temptations round us gather: Jas. 1:14-15
  3. While there is no magic in simply uttering the name “Jesus,” when we truly confess His name it can help us live a life that is pleasing to God: Phil. 2:5-11

III. In stanza 3, we are told that the name of Jesus will enable us to rest in His loving arms

O the precious name of Jesus!

How it thrills our souls with joy,

When His loving arms receive us,

And His songs our tongues employ!

  1. It is only in the Lord that we can find true joy: Phil. 4:4
  2. This joy is for those who seek refuge in His loving arms: Deut. 33:27
  3. While it is good for His songs to employ our tongues, we must also remember that to have the blessings that come in the name of Jesus, we must make sure that we do all things in His name or by His authority: Col. 3:16-17

IV. In stanza 4 (not in HFWR), we are told that the name of Jesus will make it possible to be with Him in heaven

At the name of Jesus bowing,

Falling prostrate at His feet,

King of kings in heaven we’ll crown Him,

When our journey is complete.

  1. At judgment, every knee will bow before Jesus in submission: Rom. 14:10-12
  2. Because He is King of kings, the righteous will crown Him with their eternal praises: Rev. 5:11-12
  3. And when we stand before His throne, those who on earth have claimed the name of Jesus in obedience to Him will have His name written on then: Rev. 3:12 (Because some editor perhaps thought that this stanza might be somehow considered premillennial, many of our books have altered it to read, “King of kings in heaven reigning, As we stand in Him complete.” One book changed the last line to “’Til all foes He shall defeat.”)

CONCL.:  The chorus re-emphasizes the hope and joy that the name of Jesus can bring.

Precious Name, O how sweet!

Hope of earth and joy of Heav’n.

Precious Name, O how sweet!

Hope of earth and joy of Heav’n.

As you go about your daily tasks, you can let Jesus share each concern that comes your way as you “Take the Name of Jesus with You.”