“WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL JESUS”
“My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song I will praise Him” (Ps. 28:7)
INTRO.: A song which gives praise to the Lord in whom we can trust for help is “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus” (#526 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Anna Belle Russell, who was born at Pine Valley in Chemung County, NY, on Apr. 21, 1862. The daughter of Chancey and Jane Denson Russell, she spent most of her life in Corning, NY, where she was an active member of the Free Methodist Church. She and her sister, Cora C. Russell, made their home together, and both of them authored a number of hymns. This one was penned around 1921. When later asked if there was any story about the origin of the song, she replied that there was none. The tune (New Orleans) was composed, also in 1921, by Ernest Orlando Sellers (1869-1952).
Sellers was a native of Hastings, MI, who completed high school at Lansing, MI. Afterwards, he was an apprentice to a surveyor and civil engineer and was eventually appointed city engineer and superintendent of public works in Lansing. Later, he resigned to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, and then served as a YMCA secretary in Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. Following this, he worked as an assistant minister with the Euclid Ave. Baptist Church in Cleveland, OH, for two years and then returned to Moody Bible Institute as assistant director of the music department. During this time he was active as a song leader for the crusades of evangelists Reuben A. Torrey, Gipsy Smith, A. C. Dixon, and J. Wilbur Chapman.
Leaving Moody, Sellers became director of the music department of the Bible Baptist Institute, later the Baptist Theological Seminary, in New Orleans, LA. Throughout his years there, he produced a number of hymn tunes, This one, originally entitled “A Song in the Heart,” first appeared in the 1921 Hosanna in the Highest compiled by Gipsy Smith and William McEwan for the Hosanna Publishing Co. in Brooklyn, NY. A favorite of Smith’s, it was widely used as the campaign song for his evangelistic meetings. When the copyright was renewed in 1949, it was owned by Broadman Press. After Sellers retired, he made his home in Eola, LA, where he died. Two years later, Miss Russell died at Corning, NY, on Oct. 29, 1954.
I first became acquainted with “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus” as a result of seeing it in several denominational hymnbooks, such as the 1940 Broadman Hymnal, edited by Benjamin B. McKinney for the Broadman Press; the 1948 Christian Service Hymns edited by Homer A. Rodeheaver for the Rodeheaver Co.; the 1957 All American Church Hymnal, edited by Earl Smith for the John T. Benson Publishing Co.; the 1964 Christian Praise also published by Broadman; and the 1968 Great Hymns of the Faith, edited by John W. Peterson for Singspiration. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the only one, so far as I know, to include it is Hymns for Worship.
The song mentions a number of circumstances when we can trust in Jesus for help.
I. Stanza 1 tells us that Jesus will give us a song when days are dreary and nights are long
There is never a day so dreary,
There is never a night so long,
But the soul that is trusting in Jesus
Will somewhere find a song.
- Sometimes our days seem dreary: Job 14:1-2
- And sometimes the nights are long: Ps. 6:6-7
- However, no matter how dim or dark things may look, the Lord will enable us to have a song in our mouths: Ps. 40:1-3
II. Stanza 2 (not in HFWR) tells us that Jesus will help us to bear our cross
There is never a cross so heavy,
There is never a weight of woe,
But that Jesus will help to carry
Because He loveth so.
- Following Jesus means bearing our cross: Matt. 16:24
- Because it often presses us down, it is sometimes referred to as a burden: Ps. 55:22
- But since He bore His cross for us, Jesus will help us bear ours too by making it light: Matt. 11:28-30
III. Stanza 3 (#2 in HFWR) tells us that Jesus will lighten the cares that we have
There is never a care or burden,
There is never a grief or loss,
But that Jesus in love will lighten
When carried to the cross.
- There will always be cares of this world which Satan will use to choke the word: Mk. 4:18-19
- Many times such cares are the result of losses that we experience in life: Phil. 3:7-8
- However, those who truly trust in the Lord can cast their cares upon Him: 1 Pet. 5:7
IV. Stanza 4 (#3 in HFWR) tells us that Jesus will pardon the guilty sinner who comes to Him
There is never a guilty sinner,
There is never a wandering one,
But that God can in mercy pardon
Through Jesus Christ, His Son.
- All of us were guilty sinners at one time or another: Rom. 3:23
- However, God offers us mercy to make pardon available: Tit. 3:3-5
- This mercy is made possible through Jesus Christ who came to save the lost: Lk. 19:10
CONCL.: The chorus offers praise to Jesus for all these wonderful blessings
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus,
In the heart He implanteth a song:
A song of deliverance, of courage, of strength,
In the heart He implanteth a song.
As we think of all the good things that Jesus has done and is doing for us, the most important of which is providing a way by which we can be saved from sin, we should certainly want to sing a song of praise to our “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus.”