“God, Give Us Christian Homes”

"Fathers, provoke not your children…but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6.4)

      INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the importance of the different roles of parents and children in the family is "God Give Us Christian Homes" (#472 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune (Christian Home) was composed both by Baylus Benjamin (Ben) McKinney, who was born at Heflin, LA, on July 22, 1886, the son of James Calvin and Martha Heflin McKinney. Educated at Mt. Lebanon Academy in Louisiana; the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also was a member of the faculty in the School of Sacred Music from 1919 to 1932; the Siegal-Myers School of Music, from which he received the B. M. degree in 1922; and Bush Conservatory in Chicago, IL. In 1918 he married Lelia Routh, and they had two sons. In addition to his teaching responsibilities and church work, he served as music editor for the publications of Robert H. Coleman from 1918 to 1935.

     During these years, McKinney became a prolific composer of gospel songs. When the Great Depression caused financial difficulties for the Seminary in the early thirties and it was forced to reduce its faculty, he resigned to become assistant minister at the Travis Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, TX, from 1931 to 1935. Then in Dec., 1935, he came at the invitation of T. L. Holcomb to the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, TN, first as music editor, and in 1941 as secretary of the newly organized Church Music Department. In this capacity, he edited Songs of Victory in 1837, the Broadman Hymnal in 1940, and Voices of Praise in 1948. Also, he was the first editor of The Church Musician, a monthly magazine for Southern Baptist musicians which first appeared in October of 1950.

     Both words and music for "God Give Us Christian Homes" were produced in 1949. Dr. Joe W. Burton, editor of the magazine Home Life, said that McKinney had told him in private conversation that he had the song, and Burton asked to see it, requesting permission to use it. It was first published in the May, 1950, issue for "Christian Home Week." Later that year, it was introduced at the Southern Baptist Convention which met in Chicago, IL. Originally printed in single sheets, it had widespread usage in that form and was later published in hymnbooks. McKinney is considered the most outstanding Southern Baptist hymnwriter in the first half of the twentieth century, and some of his songs, like "Wonderful Man of Galilee" and "The Nail-Scarred Hand," have found their way into our songbooks. On Sept. 7, 1952, McKinney died at Bryson City, NC, in a car wreck when he and his wife were returning to Nashville after the 1952 Church Music Leadership Week at the Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly in North Carolina.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise both edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     This song discusses what makes a godly home.

I. Stanza one says that the Bible must be the foundation
"God, give us Christian homes! Homes where the Bible is loved and taught,
Homes where the Master’s will is sought, Homes crowned with beauty Thy love hath wrought.
God, give us Christian homes; God, give us Christian homes!"
 A. The Bible needs to be loved and taught in the home because it is God’s inspired message for all mankind: 2 Tim. 3.16-17
 B. When the Bible is the foundation of the home, the Master’s will is sought because the members will develop the attitude, "Not my will, but Thine be done": Lk. 22.42
 C. Such a home will be crowned with the beauty of God’s love because it will be built upon the Lord’s will: Ps. 127.1

II. Stanza two says that the father must be true and strong
"God, give us Christian homes! Homes where the father is true and strong,
Homes that are free from the blight of wrong, Homes that are joyous with love and song.
God, give us Christian homes; God, give us Christian homes!"
 A. The husband and father must love his wife and children: Col. 3.19
 B. He must take the leadership in keeping the home free from the blight of wrong by commanding them to keep the ways of the Lord: Gen. 18.19
 C. Also, he must take the leadership in promoting the joyousness of song and teaching them to love the Lord: Deut. 6.5-7

III. Stanza three says that that the mother must be queen and show that God’s will is best
"God, give us Christian homes! Homes where the mother, in queenly quest,
Strives to show others Thy way is best, Homes where the Lord is an honored guest.
God, give us Christian homes; God, give us Christian homes!"
 A. The wife and mother is queen of the home because she is to guide or manage the household: 1 Tim. 5.14
 B. She shows others that God’s way is best by submitting to her husband and doing what is proper for the family: Col. 3.18
 C. When the mother truly loves her husband and children, the Lord will be an honored guest in that home because the word of God cannot be blasphemed: Tit. 2.4-5

IV. Stanza four says that the children must be taught to know the Lord
"God, give us Christian homes! Homes where the children are led to know
Christ in His beauty Who loves them so, Homes where the altar fires burn and glow.
God, give us Christian homes; God, give us Christian homes!"
 A. Parents must train their children to love and obey first the parents and then God: Col. 3.20-21
 B. In this way, the children will be led to know the beauty and love of Christ: Eph. 5.1-2
 C. The "altar fires" figuratively represent the emphasis in the home on making God’s will the center of the home so that the faith of the parents is passed on to the children: 2 Tim. 1.3-5

     CONCL.: Through the years, we have not had many hymns in our books about the home. This song offers a suitable musical message which focuses on what God’s word has to say about family living. We live in an age when the home seems to be breaking down because the various indivduals are not always fulfilling their God-given responsibilities. Therefore, the earnest desire of every believer should be, "God, Give Us Christian Homes."


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