It Pays to Serve Jesus

huston_fc_2

(photograph of Frank C. Huston)

IT PAYS TO SERVE JESUS

If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and…him will my Father honor” (John 12:26)

     INTRO.:  A song which discusses the importance of serving Jesus and the blessings that come to those who do so, “It Pays to Serve Jesus” (#582 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #481 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Frank Claude Huston, who was born at Orange, IN, on Sept. 12, 1871, the son of Thomas M. and Mary Harris Huston, and attended school in Fayette County. Both of his parents were musically inclined, and at the age of twelve, he was playing cornet in a local concert band. By the age of seventeen, he was singing regularly in male and mixed voice units, and at eighteen, he was conducting church music. His education was received at the Moody Bible Institute, and he studied music with William E. M. Hackleman (a cousin), Daniel Brink Towner, W.C. Caffin, and Charles H. Gabriel.  On May 13, 1894, Huston married Bertha Martin and that same year was converted to Christ. There were seven children. He spent a brief period as a public school teacher and then in 1904 became a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) but was also known for his musical abilities.  For several years he was a singing evangelist and traveled for a time with the Charles Reign Scoville party, working in 180 evangelistic campaigns from Nova Scotia to Florida.

Huston served as Chaplain of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Field Artillery, Rainbow Division, in the First World War and continued his interest and participation in patriotic organizations. He served a term as Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and a term as national president of the Federated Patriotic Societies.  During World War II, Huston volunteered his services to the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  For many years Huston lived in Indianapolis, IN, owning and operating his own publishing company in Indiana for a number of years, and was a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. One of his best known books was Selected Sacred Songs.   Huston is credited with more than 400 songs, some patriotic.  His two best-known hymns, for which he provided both words and music, are “It Pays to Serve Jesus,” written in 1909 while he was preaching for the Oaklandon Christian Church in Indianapolis and copyrighted by him, and “The Christ of the Cross,” which was copyrighted in 1924. It was in April of 1909, while Frank was directing the music for Evangelist W. S. Buchanan in a series of services being held in Providence Christian Church, Scranton, PA, that he was inspired to write the music of “It Pays to Serve Jesus.” His hosts during the Scranton engagement were Mr. and Mrs. Gwylym Edwards. One day while Frank was musing at the keyboard of the Edwards’ piano, a melody suddenly came to him which he decided was worth saving. So he quickly wrote it down on a piece of music paper which he usually carried around in his pocket for just such emergencies, and promptly forgot all about it.

Returning to his home in Indianapolis, Hustron paid a visit to an eighty-two year old friend, M. E. Mick. During their conversation, Mick suddenly said to Huston, “You have written so many good songs, won’t you write one for me on the subject we have just been discussing, and call it, ‘It Pays to Serve Jesus’?”  While in Harrisburg, PA, Huston recalled Mick’s plea of several weeks earlier and suddenly remembered the manuscript in his pocket, and out of sheer curiosity, he took it out, and the words of a stanza and chorus fell into place almost spontaneously. Before he knew it, he was singing a brand new hymn to his own original tune.  Among the several hundred others are “Keep on Believing,” “The Word of God Shall Stand,” “Lead On, O Christ, Thou Holy One,” and “O Holy Day of Pentecost.”  Later “It Pays to Serve Jesus” was owned by the Standard Publishing Company, a firm associated Christian Churches and located in Cincinnati. OH, which renewed the copyright in 1937.  Moving to Florida in 1941, Huston’s final years were spent in Jacksonville, FL, where, in his eighties, he served as chaplain for the Jacksonville Chapter of the Coast Guard.  A book, One Hundred Hymns and Gospel Songs, was published in 1955. For the last eighteen years of his life, Huston lived in Florida Christian Home in Jacksonville, a home for the aged maintained by the Christian Church. There, he was active with his music and voluminous correspondence.  He died on October 14, 1959, in Jacksonville, FL. His funeral service was held in the Edgewood Avenue Christian Church in Jacksonville, and interment was in Knightstown, IN.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “It Pays to Serve Jesus” has appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2010 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song talks about all the wonderful privileges that are associated with serving Jesus.

I. Stanza 1 teaches us that those who serve Jesus receive true pleasure and joy

The service of Jesus true pleasure affords,

In Him there is joy without an alloy;

’Tis heaven to trust Him and rest on His words;

It pays to serve Jesus each day.

  1. A job well done always brings a sense of joy: Eccl. 2:24
  2. And serving Jesus brings true joy, both here and in eternity: Matt. 25:21-23
  3. Trusting Him by resting on His words is like a taste of heaven on earth: Ps. 20:6

II. Stanza teaches us that those who serve Jesus receive the riches of mercy

It pays to serve Jesus whate’er may betide,

It pays to be true whate’er you may do;

’Tis riches of mercy in Him to abide;

It pays to serve Jesus each day.

  1. “Whate’er may betide” would include the various trials and temptations of life: Jas. 1:2-3, 12
  2. No matter what happens, we need to be true or faithful to Him: Rev. 2:10
  3. People of this world may become rich in material things because of the work that they do, but serving Jesus faithfully produces far greater treasures: Matt. 6:19-20

III. Stanza 3 teaches that those who serve Jesus will receive a reward from the Redeemer Himself

Though sometimes the shadows may hang o’er the way,

And sorrows may come to beckon us home,

Our precious Redeemer each toil will repay;

It pays to serve Jesus each day.

  1. Shadows symbolize the tribulations of this life which we must face: Acts 14:22
  2. These tribulations often bring sorrows: Matt. 24:4-8
  3. The rewards for toil in this life may include fame, power, and praise of men, but the ultimate reward for faithfully serving Jesus is a crown of life in heaven: 2 Tim. 4:6-8

CONCL.: The chorus  reiterates how truly blessed servants of Jesus are

It pays to serve Jesus, it pays every day,

It pays every step of the way,

Though the pathway to glory may sometimes be drear,

You’ll be happy each step of the way.

Serving Jesus has its benefits even now in this life, but when we reach the end of the way and receive our eternal reward, Christians surely will more fully understand that “It Pays to Serve Jesus.”

Advertisements

The Glory-Land Way

torbett

THE GLORY-LAND WAY

“That ye may know what is the hope of His calling and what is the riches of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:18)

     INTRO.: A song which talks about the way in which we may know the hope of His calling and the riches of His inheritance is “The Glory-Land Way” (#574 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #459 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (The Way) was composed both by James Samuel Torbett, who was born on March 15, 1868, in Tennessee (some sources say Alabama, others Georgia), the second child and first son of John Cornelius and Mary Elizabeth (McCauley or Macaulay) Torbett, whose other children were Ellen, John Walter, Oscar, Frank, Ada, and Bert. His father was a Civil War veteran captured at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Their ancestors came from the town of Torbert, on the left bank of the Shannon River in Ireland, and landed in Maryland. From there they spread to Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and finally to Texas and Oklahoma. A year after James’s birth, the Torbetts moved to Jacksonville, Texas, and eventually settled in Coryell County.  When he was ten years of age, James began borrowing and reading every book he could find, frequently sitting up until eleven or twelve o’clock at night to read. He had a splendid memory. His education was through the ordinary public schools, but he had a spirit of adventure and went out to see the world for himself.

Through the influence of a neighbor, Mrs. Gillespie, who was a music teacher, Torbett studied music and at the age of twenty began teaching music in the country schools and churches, a work which lasted a total of 35 years.   James’s father had led church and camp meeting music for thirty years, and was an example and a help to him. James joined the Methodist Church as a child but was never very active.  On Mar. 5, 1893, he married Miss Eugenia Wicker of Mound, TX, an active member of the Church of Christ, who became his devoted, loyal wife for many years.   Torbett always attended church with her, and they had four children: James Eugene (Gene), who as a trombonist led a fine band during World War I; Samuel Edwin, who died young; and twin daughters, Annice Amanda and Ellen Annez. James’s life was a distinctive service to humanity, teaching people who had not had an opportunity to study music. He taught them how to sing, going from one place to another, organizing schools of from fifteen to twenty-five students, at a nominal charge per student, and ending each school with a picnic and dinner on the grounds, the entire neighborhood participating.  Doing this kind of work for twenty years, he carried around with him a little folding organ.

In 1914 James entered the merchantile business by opening a large bookstore on the southeast side of Town Square in Gatesville, TX, but music was his principal interest, and he frequently spent his time giving singing lessons and composing. He published many books of songs, and made connections with other musicians, especially the Stamps-Baxter Quartet, who used his music frequently over the radio.  Torbett is said to have produced over 100 gospel songs.  Hymnary.org credits him with fifteen hymns, the most famous of which is “The Glory-Land Way,” dated 1924.  Another of his gospel songs “Will the Angels Come for Me?” was used in Sacred Selections.  Also, he composed popular secular songs and taught instrumental music, playing the violin.  He retired from business around 1937.  Torbett was active in instituting the Texas State Organization of Music in country schools. Soon after his death on May 16, 1941 (some sources say that his brother gave the year as 1940), 4,200 of the members from all parts of the state held a special meeting in Waco, TX, where many of his songs were sung.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “The Glory Land Way” has appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; 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; 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.; the 2012  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; and the 2017 Standard Songs of the Church edited by Michael A. Grissom; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song encourages us to follow the way that the Lord wants us to go

I. Stanza 1 identifies the nature of this way

I’m in the way, the bright and shining way,

I’m in the glory-land way;

Telling the world that Jesus saves today,

Yes, I’m in the glory-land way.

  1. There is a way that leads to life: Matt. 7:13-14
  2. It is a bright and shining way because of who established it: Jn. 8:12
  3. It tells the world that Jesus saves: Lk. 2:11, 19:10

II. Stanza 2 mentions the call of this way

List to the call, the gospel call today,

Get in the glory-land way;

Wanderers, come home, oh, hasten to obey,

And get in the glory-land way.

  1. Christ calls us to His way: Matt. 9:13, 20:16
  2. This call comes to us through the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14
  3. And it tells us that to enter this way we must obey: Rom. 16:17-18

III. Stanza 3 refers to the end result of this way

Onward I go, rejoicing in His love

I’m in the glory-land way;

Soon I shall see Him in that home above,

Oh, I’m in the glory-land way.

  1. If we expect to reach the goal, we must press onward: Phil. 3:13-14
  2. As we do so, we can be rejoicing in His love: Phil. 4:4
  3. The cause of this joy is the hope of seeing Him in that home above: 1 Jn. 3:1-3

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of the importance of  traveling in this way

I’m in the glory-land way;

I’m in the glory-land way;

Heaven is nearer, and the way groweth clearer,

For I’m in the glory-land way.

It is true that many of the older style gospel songs, and especially some of the earlier twentieth century southern variety, are rather repetitious. This is certainly the case with this song.  If we sing all three stanzas with the chorus each time, we shall have sung the phrase “I’m in the glory-land way” (or its equivalent) some fifteen times by the end of the song. Yet it seems to me that this somewhat egregious example of gospel-song repetition at its worst comes across as nearly “classic poetry” when stood side by side with some of the contemporary praise and worship songs.  In any event, we should be thankful that Christ has made it possible for us to travel in “The Glory-Land Way.”

torbett2

An Empty Mansion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“AN EMPTY MANSION”

“In my Father’s house are many mansions….I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2)

INTRO.: A gospel song which centers upon the many mansions that Jesus is preparing in the Father’s house is “An Empty Mansion” (#198 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #392 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Beuna Ora Bryant (Mrs. J. B.) Karnes, who was born on Feb. 8, 1889, in Comanche County, TX, and in 1911, at the age of 22, met and married Jess O’Brian Karnes, who had also been born in 1889. A series of events led up to the production of this song. In 1928, Jess, who was a successful builder in Abilene, TX, lost his lumber yard to a disastrous fire and had no insurance to cover the loss. A few months afterwards, the Great Depression began and their life’s savings were wiped out. By this time, the Bryants had a large family of twelve children, three of which had been born with a genetic disease known as Frederick’s Ataxia, a form of muscular dystrophy, and one of these sons caught pneumonia and died later that year.

The next few years the Karneses struggled to survive. Jess moved the family back to the farm, and they worked at share cropping, picking cotton, or just about anything which would provide food and shelter. Then, in 1937, as the Depression was beginning to end and it appeared that the worst was over, Buena’s father was hit and killed by a drunk driver as he walked along the sidewalk in Mansfield, TX. Three months later, filled with grief, her mother passed away. With all the events of the past few years fresh in her mind, Buena penned a poem beginning, “Here I labor and toil as I look for a home,” which was first published by Stamps-Baxter in their 1939 book Joyful Songs, with a tune (Empty Mansion) composed by Clarence A. Luttrell (1896-1986). Buena remained a housewife until her death in Ft. Worth, TX, on Oct. 7, 1974. After the song’s renewal in 1966 by Luttrell, it was assigned to National Music Co., and then in 1984 to M. Lynwood Smith Pub., but Stamps-Baxter still claims copyright ownership.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, it has appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. 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.; the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; and the 2017 Standard Songs of the Church edited by Michael Andrew Grissom; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song focuses our attention on things above rather than on things of this earth.

I. The  first stanza explains what we are looking for

Here I labor and toil as I look for a home,

Just an humble abode among men,

While in heaven a mansion is waiting for me

And a gentle voice pleading, “Come in.”

  1. Whatever time we have here upon this earth is filled with labor and toil: Ps. 90:10
  2. However, God has prepared a place for His people in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
  3. And His gentle voice is pleading with us so that we can finally hear Him say, “Enter in”: Matt, 25:21

II. The second stanza explains why we can look for it

Ever thankful am I that my Savior and Lord

Promised unto the weary sweet rest;

Nothing more could I ask than a mansion above,

There to live with saved and the blessed.

  1. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord: Lk. 2:11
  2. He has promised to the weary sweet rest: Matt. 11:28-30
  3. Also, He has promised that we can have the hope of living forever with the saved and the blessed if we set our affections on things above: Col. 3:1-2

III. The third stanza explains when we can look for it

When my labor and toiling have ended below

And my hands shall lie folded in rest,

I’ll exchange this old home for a mansion up there

And invite the archangel as guest.

  1. Our labor and toiling below will end at death: Heb. 9:27
  2. Those who die in the Lord shall have rest from their labors: Rev. 14:13
  3. Their final hope is to receive a mansion and live with the angels who surround the throne of God: Rev. 5:11

CONCL.: The chorus points us forward to that mansion which is now empty, just waiting for each of God’s people in the after a while.

There’s a mansion now empty, just waiting for me,

At the end of life’s trouble some way;

Many friends and dear loved ones will welcome me there

Near the door of that mansion someday.

As is usually the case, Ellis Crum of Sacred Selections decided that we won’t have any “friends and dear loved ones” in heaven, so he changed the third line of the chorus to read, “And I know that the Savior will welcome me there,” and Hymns for Worship has followed that alteration. Not many Stamps-Baxter songs found their way into the hymnbooks which L. O. Sanderson edited for the Gospel Advocate Co., but this was one of them, and I can remember singing it quite frequently when growing up in a congregation which used Christian Hymns No. 2. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that while here on earth, we have no continuing city, so we need to remember that what we seek to come is “An Empty Mansion.”

Ere the Sun Goes Down

“ERE THE SUN GOES DOWN”

“…The sun knoweth his going down” (Ps. 104:19)

    INTRO.:  A hymn which likens the going down of the sun to the end of life is “Ere the Sun Goes Down.”  The text was written by Josephine Pollard (1834-1892).  Born in New York City, NY, she was a poet, author, and hymn-writer.  She produced several one-syllable history books for children in the 1880’s, as well as numerous juvenile Biblical stories.  Among her one-syllable history books are The Life of George Washington, The History of the United States, and Our Naval Heroes.  Her titles are very popular with homeschoolers and parents as a way to promote reading.  Also, she provided texts for several hymns, such as “Beyond the Sunset’s Radiant Glow,” “I stood outside the gate,” and “Joy-bells ringing, Children singing” which appeared in Ira D. Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos of 1878.  I do not have a date or source of publication for “Ere the Sun Goes Down.”   The tune was composed by William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921).  The only hymnbook in which I have seen the song is in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 published by The Gospel Advocate Co., where arrangements of both the text, titled “Till the Sun Goes Down” and beginning “There is work enough to do,” under the pseudonym of Vana R. Raye, and of the tune were made by editor Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1901-1992).

The song suggests several things that we need to do before the sun of our lives goes down.

I.  Stanza 1 mentions work

I have work enough to do,

Ere the sun goes down,

For myself and kindred too,

Ere the sun goes down:

Every idle whisper stilling

With a purpose firm and willing,

All my daily tasks fulfilling,

Ere the sun goes down.

  1. We must do God’s works while it is day before the night comes: Jn. 9:4
  2. One such work is learning to still every idle word: Matt. 12:36
  3. Like all servants, our daily tasks should be fulfilled heartily, as unto the Lord: Col. 3:22-23

II. Stanza 2 mentions learning to control our anger

I must overcome my wrath

Ere the sun goes down;

I must walk the heavenly path

Ere the sun goes down.

For it may be death is wending

Hither, with the night descending,

And my life will have an ending,

Ere the sun goes down.

  1. We need to control our anger because the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God: Jas. 1:19-20
  2. Also, walking the heavenly way means putting away anger and wrath: Col. 3:8-10
  3. And we need to work on this now because death is wending: Heb. 9:27

III. Stanza 3 mentions helping others

I must speak the loving word,

Ere the sun goes down.

I must let my voice be heard,

Ere the sun goes down:

Every cry of pity heeding,

For the injured interceding,

To the light the lost ones leading,

Ere the sun goes down.

  1. We should speak a loving word to comfort others: 2 Cor. 1:3-4
  2. We should also heed each cry of pity even to giving a cup of cold water: Matt. 10:42
  3. One purpose of helping others in these ways is to lead lost ones by letting our lights shine: Matt. 5:14-16

IV.  Stanza 4 mentions obedience

As I journey on my way,

Ere the sun goes down,

God’s commands I must obey,

Ere the sun goes down.

There are sins that need confessing;

There are wrongs that need redressing

If I would obtain the blessing,

Ere the sun goes down.

  1. Loving God means obeying His commands: Jn. 14:15
  2. One command is to confess our sins: 1 Jn. 1:9
  3. Another is to redress wrongs and be reconciled: Matt. 5:23-24

CONCL.: Here is Sanderson’s version:

  1. There is work enough to do

Ere the sun goes down;

Time is swiftly passing too—

Soon the sun goes down.

Every idle whisper stilling,

Every purpose firm and willing,

Every Christian task fulfilling,

Till  the sun goes down.

  1. We must love in word and deed

Till the sun goes down;

Erring ones must hear and heed

Ere the sun goes down.

With the message swiftly speeding,

For the injured interceding,

To the light the lost ones leading,

Ere the sun goes down.

  1. We must go the narrow way

Till the sun goes down;

God’s commands we must obey

Till the sun goes down.

Every day the Lord confessing,

With true hearts our wrongs redressing,

If we would obtain the blessing

When the sun goes down.

Just as surely as the sun sinks into the west each day, so each one’s life will inevitably come to its end.  Preparing for death and eternity means doing our very best to accomplish what the Lord wants from us “Ere the Sun Goes Down.”

God’s Tomorrow

GOD’S TOMORROW

“…And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds us that in heaven God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes is “God’s Tomorrow” (#426 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Alfred Henry Ackley (1887-1960).  Born on January 21, 1887, in Spring Hill, PA, he was the youngest son of Stanley Frank Ackley and the younger brother of hymn writer Bentley DeForest Ackley.  Alfred’s father taught him music, and he also studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Graduating from Westminster Theological Seminary in Maryland, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1914 and served churches in Pennsylvania and California. Also, he worked with the Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver evangelist team and for Homer Rodeheaver’s publishing company, producing around 1,500 hymns.  “God’s Tomorrow” was copyrighted in 1928 by Homer A. Rodeheaver. The copyright was renewed in 1956 by The Rodeheaver Co.  Another of Ackley’s hymns appearing in some of our books is “I Shall Not Be Moved” beginning, “As a tree beside the waters,” but his most famous work is likely “He Lives.”  Ackley died on July 3, 1960, in Los Angeles, CA.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; in addition to Sacred Selections.

The song points out some of the blessings of heaven to be received on the day of the Lord.

I.  Stanza 1 calls it a day of gladness

God’s tomorrow is a day of gladness,

And its joys shall never fade;

No more weeping, no more sense of sadness,

No more foes to make afraid.

  1. This gladness or joy will never fade because we shall have eternal life: Mk. 10:29-30
  2. Such joy involves no more weeping or sadness: Rev. 21:1-4
  3. The reason is that there will be no foes there to make afraid: Rev. 22:15

II. Stanza 2 calls it a day of greeting

God’s tomorrow is a day of greeting;

We shall see the Savior’s face,

And our longing hearts await the meeting

In that holy, happy place.

  1. First and foremost, we shall see the Savior’s face: 1 Jn. 3:1-3
  2. There will also be the meeting with the dead in Christ who will be raised: 1 Thess. 4:16-17
  3. And we shall all be together in that happy, holy place: Rev. 22:1-5

III. Stanza 3 calls it a day of glory

God’s tomorrow is a day of glory;

We shall wear the crown of life,

Sing through countless years love’s old, old story,

Free forever from all strife.

  1. This glory involves wearing the crown of life: Rev. 2:10
  2. Those who wear the crown will sing love’s old, old story in the song of Moses and the Lamb: Rev. 15:2-4
  3. And they will be forever free from all strife because they will be at rest: Rev. 14:13

CONCL.:  The chorus expresses the desire for the dawning of that day

God’s tomorrow, God’s tomorrow,

Every cloud will pass away At the dawning of that day;

God’s tomorrow, no more sorrow,

For I know that God’s tomorrow Will be better (some books have brighter) than today!

Years ago in a congregation with which I labored, a group of members got together once a month in one another’s houses and sang hymns.  One evening when I led this song, evidently unfamiliar to them, a lady responded that it had “weird chords.”  I guess that various people will have different ideas as to what is “weird” in musical harmony.  In my experience, this hymn has not been much used among us, and it is not in most currently available hymnbooks.  But as Christians, we certainly look forward to “God’s Tomorrow.”

As the Life of a Flower

newell_lep

(portrait of Laura E. Newell)

AS THE LIFE OF A FLOWER

“…All the glory of man as the flower of grass.  The grass withereth and the flower thereof fadeth away” (1 Pet. 1:24)

     INTRO.:  A gospel song which reminds us that all the glory of man is as the flower of the grass is “As the Life of a Flower” (#570 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #556 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Laura Emeline Pixley Newell, who was born on Feb. 5, 1854, at New Marlborough, MA.  The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Pixley, but orphaned as an infant, Laura was adopted by her aunt, Mrs. Hiram Mabie, who at the time lived in New York. In 1858, the Mabie family moved to a farm south of Wamego, KS, with an abolitionist colony. Two years after the move, Mr. Mabie died, and his wife resumed teaching.  In 1860, Mrs. Mabie accepted positions in Topeka and then Wabaunsee KS, before starting a school in her home near Zeandale where she taught for many years.

Under her adopted mother’s tutelage, Laura received her education. As early as age twelve, Laura was writing rhymes, and two years later her poems began to appear in local newspapers. She had no thought of a literary career but simply wrote to give vent to her poetical mind. In 1871, Laura married Lauren Newell, a carpenter from Manhattan, KS. They lived in Tabor Valley, KS, had at least six children, one of whom died accidentally from a fall, and belonged to the Congregational Church at Wabaunsee, commonly known as “Beecher’s Bible and Rifle Church.”  In 1873, Laura was listening to an address by a speaker who lamented the death of genuine hymns, and she resolved to try her hand in that line of work.

That began a long period of writing songs both sacred and secular, services for all anniversary occasions, cantatas, and adapting words to music and music to words.  Laura’s best known hymn, “As the Life of a Flower,” was produced in 1904, shortly after her adoptive mother passed away, and first appeared in Sonnets of Praise, edited by Emmett S. Dean at Waco, TX, for the Trio Music Company in 1907.  The tune was composed by George Henry Ramsey (1858-1915).  Born in Erath County, TX, the son of William and Bristiana Lemley Ramsey, he married Clara Jane Whitacre and died at Lingleville, TX.  Mrs. Newell, a very modest and unpretentious lady, was indeed a prolific writer, penning several hundred poems annually. She had over eight hundred poems published in a single year, a most remarkable record.  Her verses numbered in the thousands prior to her death on Oct. 13, 1916, at Manhattan, KS.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “As the Life of a Flower” has appeared in the 1938 Spiritual Melodies and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 both edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1960 Hymnal both edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1971 Songs of the Church 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 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 encourages us to remember that life is short and to use our opportunities here wisely in preparation for eternity.

I. Stanza 1 says that our lives are like a flower in terms of their brevity

As the life of a flower,

As a breath or a sigh,

So the years that we live

As a dream hasten by;

True, today we are here,

But tomorrow may see

Just a grave in the vale,

And a memory of me.

  1. Many figures of speech are used in Scripture to describe the brevity of life: Job 7:16, Ps. 90:9-10
  2. Today we are here, and it is the only time we have promise of: Heb. 3:13
  3. Tomorrow may and some day surely will see us in the grave: Heb. 9:27

II. Stanza  2 says that our lives should be like a flower in terms of their sweetness

As the life of a flower,

Be our lives pure and sweet;

May we brighten the way

For the friends that we greet;

And sweet incense arise,

From our hearts as we live

Close to Him who doth teach

Us to love and forgive.

  1. Flowers are pretty to look at, and our lives can brighten the way for others as we strive to be the light of the world: Matt. 5:14-16
  2. Also, most flowers smell good, and our actions can be a sweet smelling aroma to others: Phil. 4:18
  3. But we can accomplish these aims only as we live close to the Lord: Jas. 4:8

III. Stanza 3 says that our lives can be like a flower prepared for God’s garden above

While we tarry below

Let us trust and adore

Him who leads us each day

Toward the radiant shore

Where the sun never sets,

And the flowers never fade,

Where no sorrow or death

May its borders invade.

  1. This eternal garden is described as “the radiant shore where the sun never sets”: Rev. 21:23, 25
  2. It is also pictured as a place where “the flowers never fade”: Rev. 22:1-2
  3. And it is a place “where no sorrow or death may its borders invade”: Rev. 21:1-4

CONCL.:  The chorus again emphasizes the brevity of our lives on earth.

As the life of a flower,

As a breath, or a sigh,

So the years glide away,

And alas, we must die.

Our time here is given to us by God as preparation for eternity.  Since we simply do not know when the Lord will return or even when we must die, we always need to be ready and remember that our earthly existence is “As the Life of a Flower.”

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

weigle_cf

“NO ONE EVER CARED FOR ME LIKE JESUS”

“I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord…according to all that the Lord hath bestowed…” (Isa. 63:7)

     INTRO.:  A song which focuses our attention on the lovingkindness of our Lord and all that He has bestowed on us is “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus” (#562 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #141 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune (Weigle) was composed both by Charles Frederick Weigle, who was born on November 20, 1871, at Lafayette, IN, the son of a God-fearing immigrant German baker and his wife.  There was a total of twelve children, five boys and seven girls.  Young Charles was sent to a Lutheran parochial school.  The Weigles attended church, but Charles became rebellious as a young boy and after getting into trouble with the law was converted when age twelve at the Methodist Church where his parents attended.   When he was still a lad in high school, the family moved to Florence, KY, where at age seventeen he went to work at the Dueber Watchcase Factory.  His keen interest in music led him to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he received training that later helped him in his ministry.  Then he went on to a career as an itinerant crusade evangelist in the Methodist Church.

Not only was Weigle an inspiring preacher, but also he was a gifted songwriter.  This particular song was the product of one of the darkest periods of his life.  Quite frequently believers find new joys in their times of sorrow and despair because they discover a greater closeness with the Lord during those experiences. For example, such was the case with the blind songwriter Fanny J. Crosby.  She once said, “If I had not lost my sight, I could never have written all the hymns God gave me.”  One day Weigle returned home from an evangelistic crusade to find a note left by his wife of many years.  It said that she was leaving him and taking their only son with her because she had had enough of being an evangelist’s wife.  She wrote, “I’m leaving Charlie.  I want to go the other way—to the bright lights.”  Over the next several years, he became so despondent that there were even times when he contemplated suicide because of the terrible feeling that no one really cared for him any longer.  However, his spiritual faith was gradually restored, and he soon became active again in his preaching work.

Having authored several hymns before this time, Weigle felt compelled in 1932 to create a gospel song that would contain a summary of his past tragic experience.  It was originally copyrighted by the Hall-Mack Co. of Philadelphia, PA, which merged with the Rodeheaver Co.  It was later owned by Singspiration and now belongs to Brentwood-Benson Music.  Having renewed his commitment to the Lord, Weigle went to produce some 400 more songs, nearly 1,000 in all, and during his life edited several hymnbooks, including Songs of Peace, Purity and Power No. 2 (1903), Great Tabernacle Hymns (circa 1916), Songs of the True Life (circa 1935), and Songs About Jesus (1940).  However, the choice words of “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus,” which came from a heart that had been broken, are probably his best known and have been a comfort to many.  In 1963, at the age of 92, Weigle told his story to an Atlanta, GA, radio station, which was also published in a book to raise funds for the Tennessee Temple Schools in Chattanooga, TN.  Spending the last fifteen years of his life on the campus of the Tennessee Temple Schools, he continued his work of preaching and songwriting until his death at Chattanooga, on December 3, 1966.

Among hymn books published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus” 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 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 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 Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song points out that we can always look to Jesus as our Friend and Guide.

I.  In stanza 1 we are told that Jesus can change our lives completely

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,

Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true.

I would tell you how He changed my life completely;

He did something no other friend could do.

  1. All Christians should tell others about Jesus: Mk. 5:19
  2. The reason is that we have found Him to be a friend: Jn. 15:15
  3. He can change our lives because He is able to do something that no other friend can do, and that is never to forsake us: Ps. 37:25

II. In stanza 2 we are told that Jesus can lead us in the way that we ought to go

All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me;

All my heart was full of misery and woe.

Jesus placed His strong arms about me,

And He led me in the way I ought to go.

  1. The reason why we need a leader is that our lives are full of sin: Rom. 3:23
  2. As a result of sin, our hearts are often full of misery and woe: Job 14:1
  3. The leadership of Jesus to help us with these things is pictured as placing His strong arms about us: Deut. 33:27
    III. In stanza 3 we are told that Jesus can save us eternally

Every day He comes to me with new assurance;

More and more I understand His word of love.

But I’ll never know just why He came to save me,

Till someday I see His blessed face above.

  1. To those who truly believe in Him, Jesus offers assurance of eternal life: 1 Jn. 5:11-13
  2. We understand that His reason for doing this is His great love: Eph. 3:16-19
  3. The result is that someday we shall see His blessed face: 1 Jn. 3:1-2

CONCL.:  The chorus emphasizes the fact that Jesus does all this for us because He cares for us

No one ever cared for me like Jesus;

There’s no other friend so kind as He.

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me;

O how much He cared for me.

When I was a teenager and the congregation where we attended changed from Christian Hymns No. 2 to Sacred Selections, a dear, elderly sister asked me to lead this song.  I asked her how she knew it, and she replied that she had never even heard it before but saw it in the new hymnbooks, read over the words, and thought that they had a comforting message.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to catch on, and my experience through the years is that it has been seldom used.  Yet, it reminds me that with God’s help, I can rise above the problems and hurts that I may experience in life, knowing that “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.”