THE GREAT REDEEMER
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:3)
INTRO.: A song which expresses devotion to the one in whom we have redemption through His blood is ”The Great Redeemer” (#18 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #250 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Francis Foster. Almost nothing is know about this individual. Hymns for Worship has Frances Foster, but it is certainly not the Frances Foster (June 11, 1924 June 17, 1997) who was an American film, television and stage actress and an award-winning stage director. All other sources have Francis, which is generally a masculine name as opposed to the feminine Frances, so the assumption is that the author was a male. One website says, ”Who is the greatest purchaser in history? If you asked one guy named Francis Foster, in 1915 when he wrote ‘The Great Redeemer,’ hed probably say it was God.”
Basically, Foster is a virtual unknown, except for a few facts and the hymns which he left. He wrote a handful of songs, some ten of which were published in two Sparkling Jewels collections by Samuel Beazley and James Ruebush, No. 1 in 1912, and No. 2 in 1915. The website hymnary.org shows a total fourteen hymns to Fosters credit: It is not known if “The Great Redeemer” was in the second Sparkling Jewels collection or not, but it is at least possible. The tune was composed by Samuel W. Beazley (1873-1944). The song was copyrighted by Beazley in 1915, and the copyright was renewed in 1943 by the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company. One source shows that the song was listed in at least ten publications.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lords church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared 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 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1994 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor; in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition, which had “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” by William and Gloria Gaither at the same opening) and Sacred Selections.
The song speaks of several things we can do in our relationship to the Redeemer.
I. Stanza 1 indicates that we should love Him
How I love the great Redeemer Who is doing so much for me;
With what joy I tell the story Of the love that makes men free.
Till my earthly life is ended, I will send songs above,
Then beside the crystal sea More and more my soul shall be Praising Jesus and His love.
A. We should love our Redeemer who has done and is doing so much for us: 1 Pet. 1:7-8
B. The reason that we love Him is because He first loved us and made us free: 1 Jn. 4:19
C. This love must continue till our earthly lives are ended, being faithful until death: Rev. 2:10
II. Stanza 2 encourages us to rejoice in Him
He has purchased my redemption, Rolled my burden of sin away,
And is walking on beside me, Growing dearer day by day.
That is why I sing His praises, That is why joy is mine,
That is why forever more On the everlasting shore I shall sing of love divine.
A, Jesus purchased our redemption with His blood: Eph. 1:3
B. Therefore, we can rejoice always in the Lord: Phil. 4:4
C. One way we should express this joy is by singing praises: Jas. 5:13
III. Stanza 3 suggests that we should praise Him
Glory be to Him forever! Endless praises to Christ the Lamb!
He has filled my life with sunshine, He has made me what I am.
O that everyone would know Him, O that all would adore!
O that all would trust the love Of the mighty Friend above, And be His forever more.
A. Jesus Christ is the Lamb who is worthy of all praise because He takes away the sin of the world: Jn. 1:29
B. One reason is that He fills our lives with sunshine of His divine light: Jn. 1:4-5
C. Therefore, everyone should praise and adore Him forever more: Rev. 5:11-12
CONCL.: I usually omit the chorus.
He is everything to me, And everything shall always be;
I will never cease to raise A song of gladness in His praise;
Here, and in the world above, My soul shall sing of saving love;
Life and light and joy is He, The precious Friend who died for me.
It was Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum in 1956 that primarily introduced and popularized the southern style country music gospel singing convention type of song with its fast tempo and emphasis on special parts among churches of Christ generally. Since then, this song seems to have become a particular favorite of many. To be honest, I have never cared much for it personally, but it is certainly important to give our praise to ”The Great Redeemer.”