I’m Homeward Bound Today 

I’M HOMEWARD BOUND TODAY

“For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country” (Heb. 11:14)

     INTRO.:  A song which talks about seeking a country or homeland (NKJV) is “I’m Homeward Bound Today.”  The text was written and the tune (Sandusky) was composed both by yours truly, Wayne S. Walker (b. 1954).  Here is my short “official” biography.   I was born and raised near Hillsboro, OH, where my family attended the Park Ave. (now Northside) church of Christ, and I obeyed the gospel there.  After graduating from Florida College, I began full time preaching work in 1974 which has continued for over 47 years.  My wife of 38 years is named Karen, and we have two sons.   Mark is 30, and Jeremy is 25.   Much of my earlier located preaching work was done in Ohio, including three years in Akron with two different churches, seven years in Medina, and fifteen years in Dayton.  Then after six years in Affton, MO, outside of St. Louis, we moved to Salem, IL, in 2008, and I began work with the Elm Grove church near Iuka, IL, in rural Marion County outside of Salem in 2009.   I turned 67 earlier this year.

     “I’m Homeward Bound Today” was my very first attempt at hymn writing.  It was produced around 1971 to 1972 when I was seventeen or eighteen years of age.  Since then I have polished some things in it to round off a few sharp edges, but it is still essentially the work of a young man in his upper teens.  I recently dug through my old papers with all my early stabs at writing hymns and decided to resurrect this one because it was probably the best of those youthful efforts.  I have made a few other changes to render it a little more singable, but I left most things the way they were because they represent my melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic, as well as lyrical, thinking at that time.

     The song is designed to encourage us to be looking toward our eternal home.

I. Stanza 1 mentions God’s promise

I’m homeward bound today;

The Lord has promised me

A heavenly home to call my own

If I’ll but faithful be.

 A. Heaven is the home toward which Christians are bound: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

 B. There the Lord has promised us eternal life: 1 Jn. 2:25

 C. But to gain this home and receive its promise, we must be faithful: Rev. 2:10 

II. Stanza 2 mentions God’s way

There is a way to God;

It’s found in Christ, the Lord.

He gave a book, and if we’ll look,

We’ll find it in His word.

 A. There is a strait and narrow way that leads to God: Matt. 7:13-14

 B. Christ the Lord is the way through which we come to the Father: Jn. 14:6

 C. This way is found in the book known as the word of God: Jas. 1:21

III. Stanza 3 mentions God’s Son

Christ Jesus is the King

And Savior of my soul;

He makes His plea for you and me

To press on to our goal.

 A. Christ Jesus is the King of kings: Rev. 19:11-16

 B. He is also the Savior of our souls: Eph. 5:23

 C. As such, He encourages us to press on to the heavenly goal: Phil. 3:12-14

IV. Stanza 4 mentions God’s conditions

If you accept the Lord

And walk within His way,

A home above built by His love

He’ll grant in that last day.

 A. We accept the Lord and receive His salvation by obeying Him: Heb. 5:8-9

 B. Then we must continue walking by faith in His way: 2 Cor. 5:7

 C. The end result will be a mansion or dwelling place above: Jn. 14:1-3

V. Stanza 5 mentions God’s reward

Obey what Jesus says;

Believe His word so true.

Then garments white with crown so bright

Will be awaiting you.

 A. Those who will receive God’s reward are those who truly believe Jesus: Acts 16:30-34

 B. This reward will consist of garments white: Rev. 7:9-14

 C. They will also receive a crown so bright: 2 Tim. 4:6-8

     CONCL.:  The chorus repeats the main idea of the song.

I’m homeward bound;

The Lord has promised me

A heavenly home to call my own

If I’ll but faithful be.

One of the sweetest words in any language is “home.”  However, with regard to material things such as houses and lands, the old saying, though trite, is true. that “you can’t take it with you.”  Homes on earth are never permanent, but Jesus is preparing an eternal home for His people in heaven.  Thus, wherever on this earth I may dwell, if I’m a Christian, then “I’m Homeward Bound Today.” 

God’s Great Love

GOD’S GREAT LOVE

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us” (Eph. 2:4)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds us that God is rich in mercy and love for us is “God’s Great Love.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Aaron Wesley Dicus (1888-1978).  A scientist who invented the automatic turn signal for automobiles and Dean at Florida (Christian) College in Temple Terrace, FL, he was also a gospel preacher who in his later years produced some 24 hymns and spiritual songs.  The best-known of these is “Our God, He Is Alive,” followed by “Lord, I Believe.”

     “God’s Great Love” was copyrighted in 1973 by Dicus and assigned to Sacred Selections Inc. of Kendallville, IN.  It was published in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.  Also, it later appeared in a small booklet entitled Songs and Hymns by A. W. Dicus, A Scientist with a Song which was put out around 1979 by the Dicus Family and contains “the complete works of A Scientist with a Song.”

     The song emphasizes the importance of God’s love for us.

I. Stanza 1 points out that God’s love is a giving love

How great Thy love that Thou didst show

To all the human race,

When from above Thou didst bestow

Thy gift by heaven’s grace.

 A. God loved the world—the entire human race: Jn. 3:16

 B. Because of His love, He gave us a gift: 2 Cor. 9:15

 C. This gift manifested His grace for our salvation: Eph. 2:8-9

II. Stanza 2 points out that God’s love was demonstrated by the death of Christ

 No greater love for friend could be

Than that Thy Son hath shown,

When on the cross of Calvary

For sin He did atone.

 A. There is no greater love for a friend than to die for him: Jn. 15:13

 B. Jesus died for us on the cross of Calvary: Lk. 23:33

 C. He did this to atone for (reconcile) sinners: Rom. 5:8-11

III. Stanza 3 points out that God’s love is praised in worship

No earthly joy is quite so dear,

No pleasure can life bring,

As when we meet to worship here

With Christ our Lord and King.

 A. God wants us to worship Him: Jn. 4:24

 B. One facet of our worship is accomplished only as we meet or assemble: Heb. 10:24-25

 C. Christ our Lord and King promises to be with us when we do so: Matt. 18:20

IV. Stanza 4 points out that God’s love is the pattern for our love

With mutual love we now abide;

Our prayers we trust are heard.

In God and Christ we now confide,

Believing in His word.

 A. We should love one another as Christ loved us: Eph. 5:1-2

 B. We should also pray for one another: Eph. 6:18

 C. This is because we share a mutual relationship by abiding in God and Christ: Jn. 14:23

     CONCL.:  This is truly a hymn as opposed to a “gospel song” (not that there is anything wrong with gospel songs—just different categories).   It could be useful before the Lord’s supper in preparing the minds of a congregation for partaking of the elements in memory of Christ and the fact that “on the cross of Calvary For sin He did atone.”  And at all times it is good to acknowledge the benefits of “God’s Love.”

When Jesus Left His Father’s Throne

WHEN JESUS LEFT HIS FATHER’S THRONE

 “…Christ Jesus…being in the form of God…made Himself or no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant….” (Philippians 2:5–7)

      INTRO.:  A hymn which identifies Christ Jesus as the One who was in the form of God, but emptied Himself, and was made in the likeness of men is “When Jesus Left His Father’s Throne” (#204 in PHASS).   The text was written in 1816 by James Montgomery (1771–1854).  The hymn was written for the Hallam Sunday School, near Sheffield, England.  It has apparently been altered.  The commonly-used tune (Kingsfold or County Down, which PHASS uses for four other selections), as in The Hymnal 1940 of the Protestant Episcopal Church, is a traditional English minor-key folk melody taken from Broadwood and Fuller-Maitland’s English County Songs of 1893 and arranged as a hymn tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906.

     However, PHASS uses a tune (Bovina) composed by Laura A. Tate (Early 20th Century).  According to the 1988 Psalter Hymnal Handbook, Laura A. Tate composed the tune which was first published with the text “Amid the Thronging Worshippers,” taken from Psalm 22, in the 1912 Psalter published by the United Presbyterian Church (UPC). No information is known about her, but since her tune was copyrighted by the UPC in 1904 she may have been associated with that denomination.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ, the only one that I know of to include “When Jesus Left His Father’s Throne” is the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al. 

     The song gives praise to Christ for His condescension.

I. Stanza 1 mentions His humble birth

When Jesus left His Father’s throne,

He chose a humble birth;

Like us, unhonored and unknown,

He came to dwell on earth.

Like Him may we be found below,

In wisdom’s path of peace;

Like Him, in grace and knowledge grow,

As years and strength increase.

 A. Jesus was born of a woman under the law: Gal. 4:4

 B. He came to dwell on earth in the flesh: Jn. 1:14

 C. As He increased in wisdom and stature, so we must grow in grace and knowledge: Lk. 2:52, 2 Pet. 3:18

II. Stanza 2 mentions His blessing the children

Sweet were his words and kind his look,

When mothers round him pressed;

Their infants in His arms He took,

And on His bosom blessed.

Safe from the world’s alluring harms,

Beneath His watchful eye,

Thus in the circle of His arms

May we for ever lie.

 A. Jesus always had sweet words for little children: Matt. 18:1-4

 B. Mothers would bring their little children to Him for blessing: Matt. 19:13-14

 C. We can figuratively lie in His arms by being babes in malice: 1 Cor. 14:20

III. Stanza 3 mentions His triumphal entry

When Jesus into Zion rode,

The children sang around;

For joy they plucked the palms and strewed (strowed)

Their garments on the ground.

Hosanna our glad voices raise,

Hosanna to our King!

Should we forget our Savior’s praise,

The stones themselves would sing.

 A. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as prophesied: Matt. 21:1-7 (some books have “Sion” and others read “When Jesus into Salem rode”)

 B. Evidently children were among those who spread their clothes and palm branches on the ground, saying “Hosanna”: Mk. 13:8-10 (cf. Matt. 21:15)

 C. Should we forget our Savior’s praise, even the stones would sing: Lk. 19:39-40

IV. Stanza 4 mentions His poverty (this may have originally been in the position of stanza 2)

Jesus passed by the rich and great,

For men of low degree;

He sanctified our parents’ state,

For poor like them was He.

For we have learned to love His name;

That name divinely sweet,

May every pulse through life proclaim,

And our last breath repeat.

 A. It is understood that Jesus’s earthly parents were poor: Lk. 2:22-24 (cf.  Lev. 12:1-8)

 B. In material and physical respects, Jesus Himself was poor: Lk. 9:57-58

 C. We benefit from His poverty in that because He became poor for our sakes, we can become rich: 2 Cor. 8:9

     CONCL.:  James Montgomery left us many fine hymns, especially the lovely “In the Hour of Trial,” perhaps his best-known.  The subject of this hymn study may be among his lesser-known works.  However, it draws a number of interesting applications from various events in the life of Christ our Lord and Savior as we consider what happened “When Jesus Left His Father’s Throne.”

Oh, It Is Wonderful

OH, IT IS WONDERFUL

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

     INTRO.:  A hymn which extols the love that God showed in giving His only begotten Son for us is “Oh, It Is Wonderful.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (August 18, 1856 – September 14, 1932), who was a writer of gospel songs and composer of gospel tunes. He is said to have written and/or composed between 7,000 and 8,000 songs, many of which are available in 21st century hymnals, and used several pseudonyms, including Charlotte G. Homer, H. A. Henry, and S. B. Jackson.  “Oh, It Is Wonderful” was copyrighted by Gabriel in 1898.  After its renewal in 1926, it was owned by The Rodeheaver Co.  So far as I know, it has never been found in any hymnbook published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ.  I first saw the hymn in the 1948 Church Service Hymns published by the Rodeheaver Company but have never located it in a hymnal using shaped notes.

     The song reminds us of what Jesus did and is doing for our salvation

I. Stanza 1 reminds us of His death

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,

Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me.

I tremble to know that for me He was crucified–

That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

 A. The love of Jesus is truly amazing: 1 Jn. 3:16

 B. Because He loves us, He proffers us God’s grace for our salvation: Eph. 2:8-9

 C. This is possible because He died: Phil. 2:5-8

II. Stanza 2 reminds us of His condescension

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That He should extend His great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 A. Jesus, who was God in heaven with the Father, became flesh: Jn. 1:1-14

 B. He did this even while we were yet sinners and His enemies: Rom. 5:6-10

 C. His purpose was to redeem us: Eph. 1:7

III. Stanza 3 reminds us of His mercy

I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding to pay the debt;

Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

 A. He paid our debt by becoming a sin offering for us: 2 Cor. 5:21

 B. We should never forget such wondrous mercy: Tit. 3:3-5

 C. Rather, we should praise and adore Him both now and in eternity: Rev. 5:8-12

      CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of how wonderful Jesus is to us:

Oh it is wonderful

That He should care for me enough to die for me;

(some books read: That He should care enough for me to die for me;)

Oh it is wonderful,

Wonderful to me!

(some books have: Oh He is wonderful, wonderful to me!)

This song might also be useful to sing before the Lord’s supper.  We can have but little conception of the condescension of Christ, in coming from heaven’s glory to this sin-cursed earth. Yet, as Christians, we need to keep the sacrifice of Christ in view, and remember that “Oh, It Is Wonderful.” 

Rejoice and Sing That God Is Great!

REJOICE AND SING THAT GOD IS GREAT!

“…This is the Lord; we have waited for Him.  We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isa. 25:9)

     INTRO.: A hymn which exhorts us to be glad and rejoice in the Lord’s salvation is “Rejoice and Sing That God Is Great.”  The text was written by Matthew W. “Matt” Bassford, who was born on September 22, 1978, in Columbia, MO, to Ronald and Mary Lou Bassford.  After graduating in 1996 from Hickman High School in Columbia, he studied journalism and religion at University of Missouri, graduating in 2000, and then studied law at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, graduating in 2003.  His wife’s name is Lauren. I do not know Matt personally, but I believe that I have known some in his family. When I first became acquainted with his name, he was preaching with the Joliet church of Christ in Joliet, IL, where he began in 2006 and continued until 2017. In addition to having written Bible class lesson material, he is the author of a number of hymns, serving with Lauren as technical editors for the 2012 Sumphonia hymnal Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al., for which I also served as an associate editor. Since then, Matt has moved to Columbia, TN, where he labors with the Jackson Heights church of Christ.  The tune for “Rejoice and Sing That God Is Great” was composed by Craig Arthur Roberts (b. 1957).  The song was copyrighted in 2000.   It appears in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement.

      The song gives us reasons to rejoice and thank God.

I. Stanza 1 mentions His salvation

Rejoice and sing that God is great!

Give thanks, O holy nation!

This is the Lord for whom we wait;

Be glad in His salvation.

 A. God is great and greatly to be praised: Ps. 48:1

 B. He is the Lord for whom we wait: Ps. 37:9

 C. Therefore, we can be glad in His salvation: Ps. 35:9

II. Stanza 2 mentions His refuge

The Lord will be our shade in heat,

Our gate and wall unbroken,

Our rock and refuge in defeat;

Believe, for He has spoken.

 A. The Lord is a shade from the heat of the sun: Ps. 121:5-6

 B. He is like a gate in a wall which surrounds and protects us: Ps. 118:19-20

 C. And He is a strong rock upon which we can stand firm: Ps. 18:2

III. Stanza 3 mentions His peace

His sure protection cannot cease,

Nor can His care be severed!

So dwell, you faithful, in His peace,

And trust in Him forever.

 A. He cares for us so that we my cast our burdens on Him: Ps. 55:22

 B. Thus, we may dwell in His peace: Ps. 19:11

 C. But to have this peace, we must trust Him: Ps. 37:3-5

     CONCL.:  The leadership of the fall homeschool camp that our family attended for several years  chose the Hymns for Worship Supplement as our “official” songbook.  Usually two nights, Tuesday and Thursday, were devoted primarily to congregational singing.  One year I was asked to lead a couple of songs and chose to introduce two, this one and another, as modern hymns in contrast to the Contemporary Christian Music style of “praise and worship songs” so popular today.  One of the important aims of our worship should be to “Rejoice and Sing That God Is Great.”

In Tenderness He Sought Me

IN TENDERNESS HE SOUGHT ME

“Great are Thy tender mercies, O Lord” (Psalm 119:156)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which praises the Lord for His great tender mercies is “In Tenderness He Sought Me.”  The text was written by William Spencer Walton (1850–1906).  The tune (Clarendon) was composed by Adoniram Judson Gordon (1836–1895).  The song was first published in The Coronation Hymnal, edited by Gordon and Arthur T. Pierson at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the American Baptist Publication Society in 1894.  Walton also penned a song titled simply “Hallelujah!” beginning “Cleansed in Our Savior’s Precious Blood,” a portion of which was used in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs as “Oh, What a Savior We Have Found.”   Gordon is perhaps best known for composing the tune used with “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” but he also provided both words and music for “We’ll Say Good Morning in Glory” which has appeared in several of our books.   So far as I know, “In Tenderness He Sought Me” has never been found in any hymnbook published by members of the Lord’s church for use in Churches of Christ.

     The song helps us to understand the great lengths to which Christ went to save us.

I. Stanza 1 tells why Jesus did what He did

In tenderness He sought me,

Weary and sick with sin;

And on His shoulders brought me

Back to His fold again.

While angels in His presence sang

Until the courts of Heaven rang.

 A. Jesus sought us tenderly because were sinners: 1 Tim. 1:15

 B. Like a shepherd, He wanted to bring us back to the fold: Matt. 18:11-13

 C. And when a lost sheep is returned, the angels rejoice: Lk. 16:4-7

II. Stanza 2 tells what Jesus did

He washed the bleeding sin wounds,

And poured in oil and wine;

He whispered to assure me,

I’ve found thee, thou art Mine;

I never heard a sweeter voice;

It made my aching heart rejoice!

 A. He washed us from our sins: Rev. 1:5

 B. He whispered to us His sweet assurance: 1 Jn. 5:13

 C. And He made our hearts rejoice: Acts 8:35-39

III. Stanza 3 tells how He did it

He pointed to the nail prints,

For me His blood was shed,

A mocking crown so thorny

Was placed upon His head;

I wondered what He saw in me,

To suffer such deep agony.

 A. He shed His blood for us: Matt. 26:28

 B. He experienced cruel mocking with the crown of thorns: Mk. 15:16-20

 C. He suffered deep agony: 1 Pet. 3:18

IV. Stanza 4 tells the present result of what He did

I’m sitting in His presence,

The sunshine of His face,

While with adoring wonder

His blessings I retrace.

It seems as if eternal days

Are far too short to sound His praise.

 A. We sit with Him in heavenly places: Eph. 2:4-6

 B. We enjoy all spiritual blessings: Eph. 1:3

 C. We sound His praises: 1 Pet. 2:9

V. Stanza 5 tells the future result of what He did

So while the hours are passing,

All now is perfect rest,

I’m waiting for the morning,

The brightest and the best,

When He will call us to His side,

To be with Him, His spotless bride.

 A. The hours are passing so that our salvation is nearer than before: Rom. 13:11

 B. We now wait for the coming of the Lord: 1 Thess. 1:9-10

 C. Then He will call us to be with Him in heaven: 1 Thess. 4:13-17

     CONCL.:  The chorus extols the love, mercy, and grace of God for our salvation that  was manifest in the death of Christ.

Oh, the love that sought me!

Oh, the blood that bought me!

Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,

Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold.

This song might be useful to sing before the Lord’s supper.  It reminds me that I was a lost sinner destined for eternal damnation, but because He loves me and wanted to save me, Jesus came and “In Tenderness He Sought Me.”

Then Be Prepared

THEN BE PREPARED

“…He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31)

     INTRO.:  A song which exhorts us to be ready for that day in which God will judge the world in righteousness is “Then Be Prepared.”  The original text was written and the tune was composed both by Charles Eddy (C.E.) Leslie, who was born on July 10, 1845, possibly in or near Chicago, IL.  There is very little biographical information about this person.  He compiled hymn books for The Chicago Music Co. and later the C. E. Leslie Music Co. of Chicago, IL, including Leslie’s Temple Anthems, The Sentinel, and the Chicago Anthem Book.  This hymn, also known as “That Beautiful Golden Gate,” beginning, “There is a city made by God,” is dated 1886 and was first published that year probably in Joy and Praise for Sunday School edited by R. A. Glenn and D. W. Crist for publisher H. L. Benham and Co. of Cincinnati, OH.  Leslie died on September 1, 1893, and is buried at Cottage Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin.

     “That Beautiful Golden Gate” was included in The Modern Hymnal which was edited by Robert H. Coleman and published by the Broadman Press of Nashville, TN, in 1926, as altered and arranged by Baylus Benjamin McKinney.  Then a form of the song, entitled “Then Be Prepared,” was used in Christian Hymns No. 2 which was edited by Lloyd O. Sanderson and published by the Gospel Advocate Co. also of Nashville, TN, in 1948, with both words, under the penname of Vana R. Raye, and music arranged by Sanderson.  I have added another stanza (no. 3 below), adapted from the Collected Poems of Robert Hill, published in 1965 and written for the congregations of the First Presbyterian and Moore Memorial Presbyterian Churches of Tyler, TX.

     The song encourages us to think of what awaits us in eternity and prepare ourselves for it.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the city of God

There is a city made by God,

Whose street is paved with gold;

The glory of that heavenly place

By prophets has been told.

 A. The eternal home made by God is referred to as a city: Heb. 13:14

 B. John describes it as having a street paved with gold: Rev. 21:21

 C. The prophets of old searched and inquired about it: 1 Pet. 1:9-12

II. Stanza 2 mentions the mansion bright

There is a mansion bright and fair

In that celestial place,

For those who turn from all their sin

And trust His pardoning grace.

 A. Jesus promised to prepare a mansion or dwelling place for His people in heaven: Jn. 14:1-3

 B. But to receive it, we must turn from all our sin by repentance: Acts 3:19

 C. Only in this way can we trust His pardoning grace and be saved: Eph. 2:8-9

III. Stanza 3 mentions the land of pure delight

There is a land of pure delight

Where flows the living stream,

Whose cool and fragrant waters roll

Forever like a dream.

 A. This eternal home is also referred to as a land or country: Heb. 11:13-16

 B. There flows the living stream filled with the waters of life: Rev. 22:1-2

 C. And they will flow forever because there we shall have eternal life: 1 Jn. 2:25

IV. Stanza 4 mentions the coming judgment

There is a time for men to die;

Then comes the judgment day.

Each one must give to God account;

How sad to hear, “Away”!

 A. There is a time for men to die: Heb. 9:27

 B. Then after that comes the judgment day: 2 Cor. 5:10

 C. Each one must then give account to God: Rom. 14:10-12

     CONCL.: The chorus admonishes us to be prepared to meet God in judgment and to enter the gates of pearl.

Then be prepared (to meet Thy God)
To pass through the pearly gates;

The King of kings (is ruler there)

In justice there awaits.

If it is our desire to pass through judgment into that land of pure delight and have a mansion in that eternal city, we must heed the warning, “Then Be Prepared.”

Praise the Lord for His Goodness

PRAISE THE LORD FOR HIS GOODNESS

“Praise ye the Lord…” (Ps. 111:1)

     INTRO.: A hymn which admonishes us to praise the Lord with our whole heart is “Praise the Lord for His Goodness.”  The text was written by Matthew W. “Matt” Bassford, who was born on September 22, 1978, in Columbia, MO, to Ronald and Mary Lou Bassford.  After graduating in 1996 from Hickman High School in Columbia, he studied journalism and religion at University of Missouri, graduating in 2000, and then studied law at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, graduating in 2003.  His wife’s name is Lauren. I do not know Matt personally, but I believe that I have known some in his family. When I first became acquainted with his name, he was preaching with the Joliet church of Christ in Joliet, IL, where he began in 2006 and continued until 2017. In addition to having written Bible class lesson material, he is the author of a number of hymns, serving with Lauren as technical editors for the 2012 Sumphonia hymnal Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al., for which I also served as an associate editor. Since then, Matt has moved to Columbia, TN, where he labors with the Jackson Heights church of Christ.  The tune for “Praise the Lord for His Goodness” was composed by R. J. (Roy Joseph) Stevens (1927-2012).  The song was copyrighted in 2000 by Stevens and Bassford.   It appears in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement.

     The song, evidently based on Psalm 111, expresses several reasons why we should praise the Lord.

I. Stanza 1 refers to His goodness

Praise the Lord for all His goodness!

We will shout our thanks abroad.

We will sing with those who love Him,

“Gracious are the works of God.”

 A. God’s goodness is worthy of being praised: Ps. 107:8

 B. One way to praise His goodness is to shout thanks abroad: Ps. 95:1-2

 C. Specifically, we can do this as we sing with those who love Him: Ps. 100:1-2

II. Stanza 2 refers to His works

They are splendid and majestic,

And their thought is our delight;

They were done to be remembered

And to teach us of His might.

 A. His works are splendid and majestic: Ps. 145:10-12

 B. We should delight in the very thought of them: Ps. 1:1-2

 C. These works are great and to be remembered: Ps. 111:2-4

III. Stanza 3 refers to His uprightness

All His deeds are truth and justice;

All the laws He gives are sure.

They are made in His uprightness

And upheld forevermore.

 A. The deeds of the Lord manifest truth and justice: Ps. 111:7

 B. All of His laws are sure: Ps. 19:7-9

 C. These things reflect God’s uprightness: Ps. 111:8

IV. Stanza 4 refers to His mercies

We are children of His mercies,

Which will always be the same.

He has brought our peace forever;

Great and awesome is His name!

 A. God is truly a God of mercies: Ps. 103:8-18

 B. By His mercy He brings peace in redemption:  Ps. 130:7-8

 C. Therefore, great and awesome is His name: Ps. 111:9

     CONCL.:  The leadership of the fall homeschool camp that our family attended for several years  chose the Hymns for Worship Supplement as our “official” songbook.  Usually two nights, Tuesday and Thursday, were devoted primarily to congregational singing.  One year I was asked to lead a couple of songs and chose to introduce two, this one and another, as modern hymns in contrast to the Contemporary Christian Music style of “praise and worship songs” so popular today.  The primary goal of our singing in worship should be to “Praise the Lord for His Goodness.”

Give to the Winds Thy Fears

GIVE TO THE WINDS THY FEARS

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4)

      INTRO.:  A hymn which exhorts us to seek the Lord that He might deliver us from all our fears is “Give to the Winds Thy Fears.”  The text was written by Paul Gerhardt (1607–1676).  Gerhardt was the son of Christian Gerhardt, Burgermeister of Gräfenhainichen near Wittenberg, Germany. He enrolled at the University of Wittenberg in 1628. In 1655, he married Anna Maria Berthold. He appears to have frequently preached in Berlin in the 1640s.  In 1651, Gerhardt was appointed, at the recommendation of the Berlin clergy, Lutheran Probst (chief “pastor”) at Mittenwalde, near Berlin.

     Gerhardt was also a hymn writer.  A couple of his hymns, “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” and “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow,” have appeared in some of our books.  “Give to the Winds Thy Fears” (Befiehl du deine Wege) first appeared in the 1656 Pietatis Melica Praxis.  In 1657, Gerhardt returned to Berlin as third diaconus of St. Nicholas’ church. However, Gerhardt became involved in the contest between Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (who was of the Reformed Church) and the Lutheran clergy of Berlin; Gerhard was deposed from his office in February 1666, though he still remained in Berlin. In November 1668, he accepted the post of archidiaconus at Lübben an der Spree, was installed in June, 1669, and remained there till his death.

      “Give to the Winds Thy Fears” was translated from German to English in his Collection of 1737 by John Wesley (1703-1791).  Two tunes are commonly used with the hymn.  One (Diademata) was composed in 1868 by George Job Elvey (1816-1893).  It is most commonly associated with the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” for which it was produced.  The other (Festal Song) was composed in 1872 by William H. Walter (1825-1893).  It is most commonly associated with the hymn “Rise Up, O Men of God” and requires each stanza to be divided in half.   I have provided my own tune (Haynes Street).  So far as I know, the text has never appeared in any hymnbook published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ

     The hymn mentions several things which God does to help deliver us from our fears.

I. Stanza 1 says that He lifts up our heads

Give to the winds thy fears,

Hope and be undismayed.

God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,

God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms,

He gently clears thy way;

Wait thou His time; so shall this night

Soon end in joyous day.

 A. The word “fear” is used by the Bible in both a good and a bad sense; the song obviously is using it to mean things that make us afraid or terrified: 2 Tim. 1:7

 B. When our heads are bowed in sorrow, He will lift them up: Ps. 3:3-4

 C. Thus, our night will end in joyous day: Ps. 30:5

II. Stanza 2 says that He makes bare His arm

He everywhere hath sway,

And all things serve His might,

His every act pure blessing is,

His path unsullied light;

When He makes bare His arm,

What shall His work withstand?

When He His people’s cause defends,

Who, who shall stay His hand?

 A. All things serve His might because He formed all things: Prov. 26:10

 B. Therefore, He will make bare His arm for all to see: Isa. 52:10

 C. The purpose of this is to defend His people’s cause: Zech. 9;15

III. Stanza 3 says that He sits on the throne

Still heavy is thy heart?

Still sinks thy spirit down?

Cast off the world, let fear depart

Bid every care begone.

What though thou rulest not;

Yet heaven, and earth, and hell

Proclaim, God sitteth on the throne,

And ruleth all things well.

 A. Sometimes our spirits are cast down and disquieted: Ps. 42:5

 B. In such times we can let every care begone by casting our burdens on the Lord: Ps. 55:22

 C. This is possible because God still sits on His throne and rules over the nations: Ps. 47:8

IV. Stanza 4 says that He wisely counsels us

Leave to His sovereign sway

To choose and to command;

So shalt thou, wondering, own that way,

How wise, how strong this hand.

Far, far above thy thought,

His counsel shall appear,

When fully He the work hath wrought,

That caused thy needless fear.

 A. We should leave everything to His sovereign sway by saying, “If the Lord wills”: Jas. 4:15

 B. This is because all of God’s works have been made in wisdom: Ps. 104:24

 C. Therefore it is always best to look to Him for counsel: Ps. 33:10-11

V. Stanza 5 says that He sees our weakness

Thou seest our weakness, Lord;

Our hearts are known to Thee;

O lift Thou up the sinking hand,

Confirm the feeble knee!

Let us in life, in death,

Thy steadfast truth declare,

And publish with our latest breath

Thy love and guardian care.

 A. God sees our weaknesses because He sees our frame and remembers that we are dust: Ps. 103:14

 B. He will help us to strengthen our hands which sink down and our feeble knees: Heb. 12:13

 C. So in following Him, whether in life or death we can publish or magnify His love and care: Phil. 1:20

     CONCL.:  As this hymn has appeared in none of our books, I first became aware of it when a junior in high school (1971) doing research for a paper on the early days of the temperance movement in the late 1800s.  I was studying some events which took place in my hometown of Hillsboro, OH, and eventually led to the establishment of the national Women’s Christian Temperance Movement.  The records said that when Mother Eliza Jane Trimble led the ladies of Hillsboro on the very first temperance march from the Presbyterian Church to the saloons downtown, they were singing “Give to the Winds Thy Fears.”

All Hail to Christ the King

ALL HAIL TO CHRIST THE KING

“…The Lamb is…Lord of lords, and King of kings…” (Rev. 19:14)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which exhorts us to honor Christ the Lamb as King of kings is “All Hail to Christ the King.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Aaron Wesley Dicus (1888-1978).  In addition to being a school teacher, an inventor, head of the physics department at Tennessee Polytechnical Institute in Cookville, TN, a military trainer in nuclear studies at Oak Ridge, TN, and academic dean of Florida (Christian) College in Temple Terrace, FL, near Tampa, Dicus was throughout his career a gospel preacher and in later life a hymn writer.  His best known songs are “Our God, He Is Alive” and “Lord, I Believe,” but he composed some 22 others.  “All Hail to Christ the King” was copyrighted in 1973 by Dicus and assigned to Sacred Selections that same year. 

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.  In addition, it is found in a little booklet entitled Songs and Hymns by A. W. Dicus: A Scientist with a Song, containing all of Dicus’s songs, printed by the Dicus family, and published in Chattanooga, TN, sometime after his death in 1978, perhaps around 1979 or a little later. 

     My friend David Tant recently shared with me some observations about brother Dicus.  “Just read your post about the song by A. W. Dicus. He was at FC when I was there.  One thing you may not be aware of. He invented something we use every day. The turn signals on our cars. I’m not sure of the date, but it was in the 1930s. The first I remember seeing was on a 1939 Buick, as I recall.  Anyhow, I am told he wrote ‘Our God…’ and ‘Lord, I Believe…’ to show that even scientists believe in God.”

      “All Hail to Christ the King” points out some concepts that are true because Christ is King.

I. Stanza 1 reminds us of Christ’s power

All hail the power of Christ, our King,

Before whom kingdoms fall,

Whom God anointed Lord and King,

And crowned Him Lord of all.

 A. As King, Christ has all power or authority: Matt. 28:18

 B. He rules over all kingdoms of this world: Rev. 11:15

 C. We must acknowledge Him as Lord of all: Rom. 10:9-10

II. Stanza 2 reminds us of Christ’s grace

Let all the saints of every race,

Who heeded heaven’s call,

Praise Him for His untiring grace

Who loved us first of all.

 A. The saints are those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus: 1 Cor. 1:2

 B, This sanctification took place when they heeded heaven’s call in the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14

 C. They should praise Him for His grace by which they are saved: 2 Cor. 8:9

III. Stanza 3 reminds us of Christ’s preparation of heaven

When we depart to unknown space

From this terrestrial ball,

We cherish hope of heaven’s place

Where Christ prepared for all.

 A. Someday we shall depart to unknown space: Phil. 1:23

 B. The Christian will do so with the hope of heaven: Col. 1:5

 C. We know that Christ went to prepare a place there for His people: Jn. 14;1-3

     CONCL.:  With all due respect to brother Dicus’s memory, this song sounds a great deal like a “take off” on the hymn “All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name” written by Edward H. Perronet (1721-1792). Through the years, some brethren have refused to include Perronet’s hymn in many songbooks which they published, or, if it was found in a book which they used, refused to sing it, because they claimed that it was premillennial, mistakenly assuming that the song is asking people to crown Christ in some earthly kingdom at His return. As a result of this kind of thinking, Ellis J. Crum arranged stanza 1 to say, “They brought the royal diadem And crowned Him Lord of all,” and made other alterations, while Alton H. Howard changed the final stanza to read, “Praise Him” instead of “Crown Him.”  This overlooks the fact that the author uses present tense language to describe a past act, the coronation of Jesus following His resurrection and ascension, intending to emphasize to our minds what it would have been like if we had actually been there.  The song does not so much describe the redeemed in eternity as it refers to the hosts of heaven who were surrounding the throne when Jesus ascended, and, again, present tense language was used to picture what it would have been like if we had been present on that occasion.  At least, if it is true that brother Dicus objected to “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” he didn’t try to tinker with it but just wrote his own new song.  In any event, because Jesus is Lord of lords we should encourage one another that we may “All Hail to Christ the King.”