“Why Do I Sing About Jesus?”

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree…" (1 Pet. 2.24)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages us to sing praises about the One who bare our sins in His own body on the tree is "Why Do I Sing About Jesus?" (#469 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune (Ketchum) was composed both by Albert Allen Ketchum, who was born on Feb. 12, 1894. While a student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, during the early 1920’s, he produced this song, along with twelve to fifteen others, which he sold to fellow-student Harry D. Clarke (1888-1957). It first appeared in Clarke’s Gospel Truth in Song, No. 2, published in 1922. Apparently, the song was not listed as copyright until the next year, because some books have the notice, "Copyright 1923, Renewal 1951 by Albert A. Ketchum, Assigned to Hope Publishing Co."  However, the copyright was not filed until 1931, and other books have the notice, "Copyright 1931, Renewal 1959 by Hope Publishing Co." The song reminds us that our relationship with the Lord is meant to be a joyful experience, and one of the most effective ways to manifest the joy of our hearts is to have a song upon our lips. Thus, it is important that believers carry a song of praise to the Lord with them. An additional benefit to this is that the world will see and hear the story of Jesus and His love through our song.

     In the 1940’s, Ketchum was associated with Delco Products Co. in Los Angeles, CA, and lived in nearby Long Beach, but little else is known about him, including the time and place of his death, other than that he flourished in the early twentieth century. Originally considered only a "special" song to be sung as a solo or a duet for revivals and youth services, the hymn, the only one of a number produced by him to achieve wide usage, became increasingly popular as a congregational number after being included in the 1967 Crusader Hymns edited by Donald P. Hustad.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the only other one besides Hymns for Worship in which I have seen the song is the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum. It has also appeared in the 1972 Favorite Hymns of Praise published by the Tabernacle Publishing Co., the 1974 Living Hymns published by Hope Publishing Co., the 1975 Baptist Hymnal and the 1991 Baptist Hymnal published by Convention Press, and the 1997 Celebration Hymnal published by Word Music and Integrity Music.

     It is a fine musical tribute to our Lord which explains several reasons why we should sing about Jesus.

I. Stanza 1 points out that we sing about Jesus because He saved us
"Deep in my heart there’s a gladness, Jesus has saved me from sin!
Praise to His name, what a Savior! Cleansing without and within."
 A. Our hearts should greatly rejoice and be glad with song because of Jesus: Ps. 28.7
 B. This is because of what the angel told Joseph, that Jesus would save His people from their sins: Matt. 1.21
 C. Thus, because of His love for us, He made it possible for us to be cleansed or washed from our sins: Rev. 1.5-6

II. Stanza 2 points out that we sing about Jesus because He frees us
"Only a glimpse of His goodness, That was sufficient for me;
Only one look at the Savior, Then was my spirit set free."
 A. Since we are among those who have not seen and yet have believed, the glimpse of His goodness that we have today is through that which is written: Jn. 20.29-31
 B. However, in this way we can look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: Heb. 12.1-2
 C. Having been cleansed from our sins through Him, we must stand fast in the freedom of Christ: Gal. 5.1

III. Stanza 3 points out that we sing about Jesus because He shows us grace
"He is the fairest of fair ones, He is the Lily, the Rose;
Rivers of mercy surround Him, Grace, love and pity He shows."
 A. Both the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon are exquisite flowers that have been used to denote great beauty and express affection for that beauty: S. S. 2.1-2
 B. For us today, His beauty is manifested in the fact that rivers of mercy surround Him: Jude v. 21
 C. Not only salvation, but every blessing that we have is the result of the grace of Christ: 1 Tim. 1.14

     CONCL.: The chorus asks the question of the title and gives the primary answer:
"Why do I sing about Jesus? Why is He precious to me?
He is my Lord and My Savior, Dying, He set me free."
I should determine to allow God’s love to be reflected in my life every day as I consider, "Why Do I Sing About Jesus?"


2 thoughts on ““Why Do I Sing About Jesus?”

  1. According to information I found on the Internet but have not been able to confirm, Ketchum was born to William Wallace and Anna Augusta Allen Ketchum, and served as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces. His death occurred on May 21, 1982, most probably in California, and his body is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA.


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