(picture of Morris Lynwood Smith)
“O LORD, OUR LORD, HOW EXCELLENT AND MIGHTY”
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth…” (Ps. 8.1)
INTRO.: A hymn which acknowledges the God of heaven who created the universe as our Lord is “O Lord, Our Lord, How Excellent and Mighty” (#90 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Morris Lynwood Smith, who was born Mar. 27, 1924, in Lincoln County, MS, near Brookhaven, to Rance and Lillian Smith. His mother died when he was about two months old, and he ultimately came to live with his grandfather T. E. (Nong) Smith (1977-1953) and Nong’s second wife Josie. He was baptized in Aug., 1938, by his grandfather. T. E. Smith was one of the early preachers who became interested in music, attending singing schools of others, teaching his own, and writing songs. After attending singing schools held by his grandfather Lynwood left home at the age of seventeen and studied at the Stamps Quartet School of Music in Dallas, Texas, in the 1940s. Becoming first and foremost a gospel preacher he preached over the greater part of the United States and held about 25 meetings each year, usually riding with friends when he could or, when he could not, wearing his body out on Greyhound buses, and flying on airplanes when necessary.
Lynwood’s second love was gospel singing. In 1952, he began publishing music and produced more than twenty songbooks, writing over 700 songs himself, most of which were intended for southern singing convention songbooks issued annually by various companies. His own books include Lasting Songs and Hymns, Living Songs, Abiding Faith, Heavenly Harmonies, Gospel Herald, Precious Praises, Golden Sheaves, Heavenly Sunlight, Joyful Sounds, Gospel Banner, and Songs for the Shadows. His text “Gazing Upward into Heaven,” with a traditional tune often attributed to Asa Hull and usually associated with Mary D. James’s hymn “All for Jesus,” was made popular when it was published in the 1956 Sacred Selections for the Church edited by Ellis J. Crum. In addition, Smith produced the title song for the book Our Garden of Song, a collection of biographical information about various hymn writers among churches of Christ edited in 1980 by Gene Cleveland Finley. Lynwood was a member of the New Salem Church of Christ near Loyd Star outside of Brookhaven in Lincoln County, MS.
“O Lord, Our Lord” was copyrighted in 1964 and first appeared in Smith’s New Songs No. 3. The tune (Stafford) was composed by Christopher C. Stafford (1893-1977). Stafford’s best known melody is undoubtedly that provided for “The New Song” with words by Jesse R. Baxter Jr. of Stamps-Baxter fame. M. Lynwood Smith Publications, Inc., of Wesson, MS, has issued around eighteen books of hymns for churches and now owns the copyright of the well-known song “Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All” by W. Oliver Cooper and Minzo C. Jones, as well as some hymns by Tillit S. Teddlie, Lloyd O. Sanderson, and Albert E. Brumley. Also, Smith has sponsored and arranged a chorus known as The Gospel Lamplighters which made five records, as well as a number of quartets. Lynwood’s last sermon was with the Capitol Hill Church of Christ congregation in Oklahoma City, OK, on October 14, 2007. En route home, he missed a flight and spent an uncomfortable time in Dallas, TX, finally arriving home late at night on Monday. That week, he was admitted to the hospital suffering from double pneumonia, and the chronic condition of congestive heart failure. He departed this life at about 4:00 a.m. on October 24, 2007 at King’s Daughters Medical Center, Brookhaven, MS.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “O Lord, Our Lord, How Excellent and Mighty” may be found in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship.
The song gives several reasons why we should praise God as our Lord.
I. Stanza 1 says that His name is high and holy
“O Lord, our Lord, How excellent and mighty,
How high and holy is Thy wondrous name.
O how exalted is Thy mighty glory,
Far up above and o’er the earth’s domain.”
A. The very name of God is to be holy and awesome: Ps. 111.9
B. Therefore, His mighty glory should be exalted: Ps. 29.11
C. This should be done over all the earth’s domain: Ps. 96.1
II. Stanza 2 says that He will listen to our prayers
“O Lord, our Lord, Who dwelleth in the heaven,
Incline Thine ear and hear my feeble plea.
Help me to serve Thee till my work is finished,
Then take me home, O Lord, to live with Thee.”
A. God dwells in the heaven: Ps. 123.1
B. Yet, He is willing to incline His ear and hear our prayers: Ps. 17.6
C. In response to our prayers, He has promised to help us serve Him and then take us home that we may dwell in His house forever: Ps. 23.6
III. Stanza 3 says that He will have mercy upon us to forgive
“O Lord, our Lord, In mercy look upon me;
I am unworthy of Thy tender love.
O holy One, Forgive me of my sinning,
And help me daily look to Thee above.”
A. The God whom we worship and serve is a God of mercy: Ps. 103.8-11
B. While we are not worthy of His love, He offers us forgiveness of sins: Ps. 32.1
C. Also, He will help us to look to Him that we might not sin further: Ps. 119.11
CONCL.: We need to consider who God is, what He has done for us, and how He blesses us both now and in promise for eternity. This almighty yet loving Being is the One to whom we pray for help in time of need, ask forgiveness for our sins, and look for the hope of heaven. Most assuredly we should sing praises to Him, saying, “O Lord, Our Lord, How Excellent and Mighty.”