“Worthy Art Thou”

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom…" (Rev. 5:12)

     INTRO.: One of the grandest hymns which gives power and riches and wisdom of praise to Christ is "Worthy Art Thou" (#34 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #5 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Worthy) was composed both by Tillit Sidney Teddlie, who was born in Swan, TX, on June 3,1885, the eighth of nine children of Theodore and Sarah Ann Porter Teddlie, and he was baptized into Christ by A. M. Shelton at Golden, TX, in Aug. of 1903. His wife was the former Edna
Webb and they had one child, Pete. After receiving his education at North Texas Teachers College in Denton, TX, he became a gospel preacher, and began his preaching work at Vernon, TX, in 1923. During his life, he served churches in Memphis, TN, and Belton, Dallas, Greenville, Ennis, and Sulphur Springs, Lone Oak, and Quinlan,TX, baptizing more than a thousand people. In 1923 he conducted a tent meeting at Thalia, TX.  Merchants closed their stores for the day services; over 400 came and 28 people were baptized. Also, Teddlie served as superintendent of Boles Home in 1927 and 1928.

     However, Teddlie’s influence in the field of church music was his greatest. His music training began with his first singing school at age nine, taught by his brother, Jim. Also, he attended the Southern Development Normal in Waco, Texas, a school for advanced instruction in theory and harmony. Soon after his baptism, he began teaching singing schools, producing gospel songs, and publishing hymnbooks. His first singing school was taught with his brother, V. O. Teddlie, in 1903 or 1904 at White’s Prairie, TX, where six-hour sessions were conducted daily for two weeks. At Frederick, OK, he picked cotton during the day and taught singing school at night. A few years later, he started writing the hymns for which he is most famous. In 1906 he composed his first hymn entitled, "I Have Waited Too Long To Prepare," which told the story about an infidel who was dying of pneumonia. The man, who had boasted about his life style, begged his doctor to "tell my friends better. Tell them I’ve waited too long to prepare, but you have time."  "Worthy Art Thou" was composed in 1930 when Teddlie was preaching at Belton, TX. Sitting on his front porch one Sunday morning, he was studying his B. W. Johnson’s New Testament Notes, Volume II, and looking for something to put in his sermon. The book was open to Revelation and between the fourth and fifth chapters there was an artist’s illustration of worship with the 24 elders standing before the throne singing, "Thou art worthy to receive blessing and honor, praise and thanksgiving." So he penciled the song on the flyleaf of his copy of Johnson’s Notes that Sunday morning. It was first published later that year and then copyrighted in 1932 by the Gospel Advocate Company.

     During his lifetime,Teddlie was credited with around 130 songs, as well as tunes for many others by different writers, and published some fourteen hymnbooks, including Spiritual Melodies in 1938, Gospel Songs in 1939, Standard Gospel Songs in 1943, and the Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 in 1965. His last published songbook was in 1974 and entitled Golden Harvest Hymns. As late as 1979, when he was 94, he was still preaching by appointment on occasion and leading singing quite often.  After his retirement, he lived for many years in Dallas, TX, where he was a member of the Skillman Ave. church of Christ. On June 3, 1987 Teddlie celebrated his 102nd birthday at Hilltop Haven Nursing Home in Gunter, TX, and died there on Aug. 17, 1987 at the age of 102. His funeral took place in Dallas, and he was buried in Greenville, TX. Undoubtedly, Teddlie is among the best-known hymnwriters among churches of Christ.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Worthy Art Thou" appeared in 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 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Today it may be found in 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song suggests several things of which our Lord and Savior is worthy.

I. The first stanza says that He is worthy of all our soul’s adoration
"Worthy of praise is Christ our Redeemer, Worthy of glory, honor, and power!
Worthy of all our souls’ adoration, Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou!"
 A. The soul is the spiritual part of man: Matt. 10.28
 B. It is with our souls that we praise and adore the Lord: Psalm 103.1-2
 C. Mary, the mother of Jesus, said, "My soul magnifies the Lord": Luke 1.45

II. The second stanza tells us that He is worthy of angels’ worship
"Lift up the voice in praise and devotion, Saints of all earth before Him should bow;
Angels in heaven worship Him saying, ‘Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou!’"
 A. Angels were commanded to worship Him: Psalm 97.7–the Jews understood the word "gods" here to refer to angelic beings
 B. This statement is quoted in the New Testament to show that Jesus is better than the angels: Heb. 1.5-6
 C. It also proves that Jesus is a divine being because only Deity is worthy of any worship: Mt. 4.10, Rev. 22.8-9

III. The third stanza says that He is worthy of glory and honor
"Lord, may we come before Thee with singing, Filled with Thy spirit, wisdom, and power;
May we ascribe Thee glory and honor; Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou!"
 A. Glory is distinguished praise, exalted reputation,, adoration, magnificence, splendor, or a state of exaltation: John 17.5
 B. Honor is high regard, respect, or esteem, fame, credit, dignity: John 5.23
 C. Jesus is worthy of glory and honor not only because of who He is but also because of what He has done for us: Rev. 1.5-6

     CONCL.: The chorus tells us that He is
"Worthy of riches, blessings, and honor, Worthy of wisdom, glory, and power!
Worthy of earth and heaven’s thanksgiving; Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou."
As we consider all that Jesus Christ has done for us to make our redemption possible through His blood, we need to make sure that we express our thanks for His sacrifice and say, "Worthy Art Thou!"


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