“INTO OUR HANDS”
“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak…” (1 Thess. 2:4)
INTRO.: A gospel song which encourages us to speak about the gospel to others is “Into Our Hands” (#616 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #90 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Ruth Johnson (Mrs. Roy) Carruth, who was born at Vashti, TX, on Dec. 31, 1900, and reared at Bellevue, TX. Even as a child, she liked to write poetry. Prior to her marriage, she taught school in New Mexico at a little one-room schoolhouse. She once said laughingly, “No wonder my teaching career was short.” After only one year of teaching, she married Roy Carruth, and they made their home in Vernon, TX, where she became a woman hymn writer among churches of Christ. As an author, she published a book of poems called Acorn Cups as well as many hymns.
Perhaps her best known hymn is “Into Our Hands” beginning, “Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages.” It was copyrighted in 1939 with a tune composed by Tillit Sidney Teddlie (1885-1987). The earliest book in my possession in which I have been able to locate it is Teddlie’s 1943 Standard Gospel Songs. This book is also the original source of publication for another Carruth-Teddlie collaboration, “You Can Lead Someone to Jesus.” While looking through some old Will Slater songbooks, I came across still another song by Mrs. Carruth and Teddlie, which he copyrighted in 1946, entitled “One of His Own” beginning, “The wonderful word that was sown in my heart,” in the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion. Hymnary.com lists yet another Carruth hymn, “After I’m Tested and Tried.” All of her songs which I have been able to find have music composed for them by Teddlie, who also copyrighted them.
Mrs. Carruth continued to write poetry for the rest of her life. Her husband had been injured in World War I and was unable to do secular work full time, so he preached at small congregations in the area surrounding Vernon for more than forty years, and also in California for a few years. In addition, he served as an elder. Their son Vance also became a gospel preacher. After Roy died, Ruth became more active in writing and for a while did some work with a greeting card company but found that it required too much time. Her death occurred at Vernon, TX, on Oct. 12, 1985.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Into Our Hands” has appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
The song reminds us the limited amount of time which we have to do the Lord’s work.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the swift passage of time
Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages;
Swiftly the hours are changing to years.
How are we using God’s golden moments?
Shall we reap glory? Shall we reap tears?
- Swiftly we are turning life’s pages because our days are like a sigh: Ps. 90:9-10
- Thus, we need to be concerned with how we are using God’s golden moments: Eph. 5:15-16
- This is because we shall reap glory or tears as we have sown: Gal. 6:7-8
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the need for the gospel
Millions are groping without the gospel;
Quickly they’ll reach eternity’s night.
Shall we sit idly as they rush onward?
Haste, let us hold up Christ the true light.
- The gospel is God’s power to salvation: Rom. 1:16
- Those who do not obey the gospel will reach eternity’s night: 2 Thess. 1:7-9
- To help them avoid such a fate, we must hold up Christ the true light: Jn. 8:12
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the value of the soul
Souls that are precious, souls that are dying,
While we rejoice our sins are forgiven–
Did He not also die for these lost ones?
Then let us point the way unto heaven.
- Souls are precious because each one is worth more than the whole world: Matt. 16:24-26
- To save our souls, Jesus died for everyone: Heb. 2:9
- Thus, we need to point out the way to heaven by proclaiming the gospel: Mk. 16:15-16
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of our responsibility to share God’s precious message.
Into our hands the gospel is given;
Into our hands is given the light.
Haste, let us carry God’s precious message,
Guiding the erring back to the right.
At one time, this song was very popular among our brethren. The first time that I ever heard the beloved Aude McKee (now deceased) preach was one evening in a gospel meeting at Evendale, OH (a couple of years after that he came and held a meeting at what was then the Park Ave. church in my hometown of Hillsboro, OH, where our family attended). The song leader at Evendale that night had led “Into Our Hands,” and when he stood up to speak brother McKee said that it was his favorite hymn for a very special reason. If I remember his story correctly, when he and his family first went to Africa to live and work in Lagos, Nigeria, they arrived early on a Sunday but were detained on the boat so that they were unable to make it to the Lord’s day services until the evening. The song that was being sung when they walked into the meeting house was “Into Our Hands.”