"In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us of the redemption that we have through the blood of Christ is "Blessed Redeemer" (#107 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen (1895-1985). Other songs by Mrs. Christiansen in Hymns for Worship include "How Good Is the God We Adore" and "Give Me a Burning Heart." The tune (Redeemer) for "Blessed Redeemer" was composed by Harry Dixon Loes, who was born in Kalamazoo, MI, on Oct. 20, 1892. At birth he was named Harold, but during his early childhood became known as Harry and retained this name throughout his life. During his student days, he chose his own middle name after A. C. Dixon, who was then minister at the Moody Church in Chicago, IL. After a brief period of work with Marshall Field and Co. in Chicago, he studied at Moody Bible Institute and began composing gospel songs under the guidance of Daniel Brink Towner.
Later, Loes studied at the American Conservatory of Music, the Metropolitan School of Music, and the Chicago Musical College. In 1920, while listening to a sermon on the subject of "Our Blessed Redeemer," he was moved to write this melody, sending the music and the suggested title to Mrs. Christiansen, a friend of many years and a capable writer of hymn poems. She produced the three stanzas and refrain as they now stand. The hymn was copyrighted the following year and first appeared in Songs of Redemption, compiled in 1921 by W. Plunkett Martin and James W. Jelks, and published by the Baptist Home Mission Board in Atlanta, GA. The copyright was later assigned to Singspiration Music and after its renewal in 1949 was owned by John T. Benson Jr.
For more than twelve years, Loes was engaged in evangelistic work throughout the United States and Canada. From 1927 to 1939, he lived in Okahoma, serving as music director first at the First Baptist Church in Okmulgee, and then at the First Baptist Church in Muskogee. In 1939 he returned to Chicago and joined the music faculty at the Moody Bible Institute. After his retirement, he remained in Chicago, continuing as a part-time teacher at Moody and becoming associated with the Rodeheaver Company, for whom he wrote many gospel songs and choruses. In In all, he composed some 1500 hymn texts and 3000 hymn tunes. His death occurred in Chicago on Feb. 9, 1965.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Blessed Redeemer" may be found in the 1977 edition of 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition); and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song describes what our Redeemer did for us and what our response should be.
I. Stanza 1 pictures Christ on His way to Calvary to die for our sins
"Up Calvary’s mountain, one dreadful morn,
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss."
A. Calvary is the Latin name for the hill Golgotha where Jesus was crucified: Lk. 23:33
B. One of the basic facts of scripture is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins: 1 Cor. 15:1-4
C. His purpose in doing this was to save us from endless loss: 1 Tim. 1:15
II. Stanza 2 pictures Christ on the cross with the great love that He had
"’Father forgive them!’ thus did He pray,
E’en while His life-blood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so."
A. Christ’s love for sinful mankind is seen in His prayer that His crucifiers might be forgiven: Lk. 23:34
B. It was the shedding of His blood that made remission of sins possible: Matt. 26:28
C. Given the fact that all have sinned and thus deserve eternal punishment, there is no act of love greater than what Jesus did in giving Himself for us: Eph. 5:2
III Stanza 3 pictures Christ as the object of our praise for being our Savior and Friend
"O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end!
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore."
A. Because of what He has done for us, Christ is worthy of our loving Him with all our heart: Mk. 12:29
B. Also, because of what He has done for us, He is worthy of our praising Him with our lips: Heb. 13:15
C. And the hope of Christians is to love and praise Him forever in heaven: Rev. 5:9-10
CONCL.: The chorus focuses our minds on the suffering that Jesus experienced for us by His death on the cross.
"Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding—dying for me!"
This song could be a welcomed addition to those we use in preparation for the Lord’s supper. It could also be an effective invitation song. Since Christ paid the price of our redemption, we should certainly be thankful for this "Blessed Redeemer."