Go Tell the Story

vera holding

(photograph of Vera Holding)


“…Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mk. 5:19)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which exhorts us to tell others how the Lord has done great things and has compassion is “Go Tell the Story.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Vera Zumwalt Holding, who was born on December 30, 1894, at San Saba in San Saba County, Texas, the youngest of six children of William A. Zumwalt (1862–1923) and Sarah Ethel [Faver] Zumwalt (1861–1946).  Her family were all members of the church of Christ.  Baptized into Christ at the age of twelve, she was educated in Texas and Oklahoma, taking graduate studies at the American Conservatory in Chicago, IL, to prepare herself for a career as a concert singer.  Then along came a young newspaper man, Chester A. Holding (1894–1963), whom she married about 1913, probably in Oklahoma.   He changed her life, and she instead became a newspaper woman, editor, and poet.  The couple adopted two children, daughter Carol J. and son Robert L.  After living a while in Musselshell County, Montana, the family moved to Tipton and then to Norman, both in Oklahoma.

A product of the famed Stanley Vestal-Foster Harris School of Writing, Vera authored over 200 short stories, five volumes of verse, 136 True Western historical articles, a book of devotions, three novels for young adults, and many other features.  In 1960, she won the Miriam Whitney White Award for the poem contributing the most to Americana with “Symbol.”  Another of her poems, “Petition,” was made into plaques and became a project of the Gold Star Mothers of America.  Many of her poems were set to music.  She was a regular contributor to the Oklahoma Woman, had a regular monthly book review of Western history in True Frontier, and often served as a guest lecturer for religious and civic organizations.  A very active member of the Oklahoma Federation of Writers, she was chosen “Sweetheart of Oklahoma Writers” because of her continuing help to young writers.  In 1974, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers’ Hall of Fame.

Listed in “Who’s Who of Women in Communication” and “Who’s Who of American Women,” Vera was a member of the corps of Oklahoma Press Women, often conducting workshops at colleges and universities all over the nation.  For thirteen years, she was on the staff of the famed Professional Writers Short Course at Oklahoma University.  A past President of the Poetry Society of Oklahoma and past State President of the Oklahoma League of Pen Women, she was chosen Oklahoma Pen Woman of the Year in 1976.  Also she was a member of the Women’s Posse of Western Writers.  In September of 1978, she won a week’s study at the Guidepost’s workshop in New York, being chosen one of fifteen out of more than 4,000 screened.   She won the trip for an article, “Yes, I Know God Answers Prayers.”  Her hymn ”Go Tell the Story“ was copyrighted in 1979.  In 1980, Gene C. Finley included it in his collection Our Garden of Song.  Vera Holding died on September 1, 1984, at 89 years of age in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, OK, and was buried at Tipton Cemetery in Tipton, Tillman County, OK.

”Go Tell the Story“ emphasizes the importance of telling the story of Jesus to others.

I. Stanza 1 indicates the motive for telling the story

When a troubled world in darkness

Gropes for help to find the light,

When sore, stumbling feet need guidance

Through a long and weary night,

May compassion walk beside you

As you lend a helping hand;

May the simple words of Jesus

Help the lost to understand.

  1. The world is troubled by the darkness of sin: Jn. 3:19
  2. Those who have found the light should have compassion on those in sin: Jude v. 22-23
  3. It should be our aim to point them to the simple words of Jesus which are spirit and life: Jn. 6:63

II. Stanza 2 explains the means for telling the story

Follow Jesus, He can help you,

He can lift the weary load;

He can guide you through the darkness

To a wider, brighter road.

Tell the story, sweetest story,

How the blessed Savior came,

How He left His home in heaven

To redeem the world from sin.

  1. We must tell people to follow Jesus: Matt. 16:24
  2. He will lead them to the brighter road that leads to life: Matt. 7:13-14
  3. He can do this because He came to redeem the world from sin: Gal. 4:4-5

III. Stanza 3 describes the reward for telling the story

Then when all of life is over,

And you’ve followed His command,

“Go and tell the wondrous story,

Every nation, every land,”

You will hear the loved voice saying,

“Child, well done, come home today,”

And you’ll go to him in glory

Where all tears are washed away.

  1. Someday all of life will be over when the Lord returns: 2 Pet. 3:10
  2. Then those who have faithfully followed His commands will hear Him say, “Well done, enter in”: Matt. 25:21
  3. And they will be rewarded by going where all tears are washed away: Rev. 21:1-4

CONCL.:  God has done so much for us, not only providing for all our physical needs but, since we’ve all sinned and thus deserve eternal punishment in hell, offering us forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life in heaven through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.  He has revealed His plan for the salvation of mankind in the gospel.  And His plan includes the imperative that those who have already heard and obeyed His word to be redeemed should then seek out others to whom they can “Go Tell the Story.”

go tell the story

The Victor’s Song

h k holder

(photo of Ken Holder)


“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which expresses thanks to God for the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ is “The Victor’s Song.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Harold Kendall “Ken” Holder, who was born on June 17, 1955, at Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee, the son of Harold Lee Holder (1931–1998) and Joann Holder.  His great-grandfather, William Franklin Foster of Maury County, TN, taught singing schools.  His paternal grandmother and great aunts told him stories of his great-grandfather’s teaching them to sing.  Through his great-grandfather, grandmother, and father, he came from a long line of singers in the church of Christ.  For many years, his father served as first a deacon and then an elder with the Riverside Dr. Church of Christ in Nashville.  Ken was a senior in high school when he began to lead singing.

At the end of his freshman year in college, Ken became song leader for the Jefferson Ave. Church of Christ in Cookeville, TN.  In the summer of 1976, Henry Shelby encouraged him to attend the Texas Normal Singing School, then in Sabinal, TX.  Ken returned to the Texas School the following year and was promoted to student teacher, helping John Blackstone in his Third Year Harmony and Hymns Composition Class.  Later that same summer, he taught Third Year Harmony and Hymn Composition, Voice Class, and Second Song Leader Coaching at the Southeastern Singing School in Huntsville, AL, under director Walter Chaney.  “The Victor’s Song” was written in June of 1977.  Ken received the Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee Technical University at Cookeville in June of 1977, and the Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in August of 1978.

Also in 1978, Ken went on a fifteen day choir tour of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and France.  In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “The Victor’s Song” in his collection Our Garden of Song.  Ken moved to the Atlanta, GA, area, where he was a music educator at Lithia Springs High School, directing Headliners!, one act plays, musicals, and many other productions, and was an active member of two professional educational organizations,  PAGE and GMEA.  He passed away on Apr. 19, 1997, at the age of 41, survived by his parents, a brother and sister-in-law, a sister and brother-in-law, and five nieces and nephews.  The funeral was held on Apr. 23 at the Cole and Garrett Funeral Home in Goodlettsville, TN, with burial in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens.  I am acquainted with his brother David who serves as a gospel preacher and an elder with the Castleberry Church of Christ in Ft. Worth, TX.

“The Victor’s Song” encourages us to fight the battle to win the prize.

I. Stanza 1 talks about the Christian’s warfare

Our life is filled with warfare,

So we must be prepared

To fight the fight in Jesus’ name,

For by His death we’re spared.

Christ, the King, has promised

To share with us His might;

And now through our deep faith in Him

Can we our battles fight.

  1. All Christians are engaged in a spiritual warfare: 1 Tim. 1:18
  2. Therefore, we must fight the good fight of faith in Jesus’ name: 1 Tim. 6:12
  3. It is our deep faith in Him that will bring the ultimately victory: 1 Jn. 5:4

II. Stanza 2 talks about the Christian’s strength

The battle song of strength now

Is ours because we know

That we can put our armor on

And triumph o’er the foe.

We gird our loins with God’s truth

And wield the Spirit’s sword;

We take the shield of faith and march

With armies of the Lord.

  1. We can be strengthened with might by the Spirit as Christ dwells in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:16-17
  2. To help give us this strength, we must put on the whole armor of God; Eph. 6:10-17
  3. Thus clad, we can march with the armies of the Lord: Rev. 19:11-14

III. Stanza 3 talks about the Christian’s victory

We see the prize of victory

In heavenly halls above,

And when we lay our armor down

We’ll share in God’s great love.

Around the throne of Jesus

We’ll sing the victor’s song

With all those faithful warriors who

Have proven to be strong.

  1. God has promised His people that we can be more than conquerors in Christ: Rom. 8:31-37
  2. When this conquest or victory is gained, we’ll sing around the throne with the redeemed of all ages: Rev. 4:9-11
  3. But to have the victory and its reward, we must be faithful: Rev. 2:10

CONCL.:  As long as we live on this earth, we must continually fight in this great spiritual warfare.  It can be very tiring and sometimes discouraging, so we must look to Jesus Christ for the strength and courage to press on.  However, if we are faithful as good soldiers of the Lord, someday we shall sing “The Victor’s Song.”

the victors song0004

Come, Go with Me, Friend

chester hewitt

(photo of Chester L. Hewitt)


“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages each one to think about obtaining that hope which is laid up for us in heaven is “Come, Go with Me, Friend.”  The text was written by Chester Lafayette Hewitt who was born on March 4, 1893, in Chambers in Thurston County, Washington.  While living in Idaho, he married Cora Elizabeth (nee Neeley) Thomson in 1917.  She had been born in 1894 in Illinois, They had two children.  Hewitt labored in preaching and teaching the gospel for over fifty years.

Most of Hewitt’s preaching work was done in helping new or weak congregations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  Since these congregations were small and support was difficult, he was often paid anywhere from five to one hundred dollars a month.  Hewitt would frequently drive up to one hundred miles each Lord’s day to help in the worship services at various places.  His wife Cora passed away in 1961, at the age of 66, while they were living in Oregon.

Hewitt’s song writing began in 1964 when he was preaching in Prosser, WA.  He was requested to write “Come, Go with Me, Friend” by the man who provided the tune, Charles Edward “Charley” Holland (1902-2002).  It was arranged by Ed Buchanan and eventually copyrighted in 1978 by Hewitt, who also wrote some other songs. In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “Come, Go with Me, Friend” in his collection Our Garden of Song.  In his latter years, Hewitt was no longer able to preach full time any more because of his age, but he was able to teach the adult Bible class at the Westside congregation in Yakima, WA.   He died in December of 1984 at the age of 91.

“Come, Go with Me, Friend” is an encouragement to prepare for a home in heaven.

I. Stanza 1 refers to the glorious light of heaven

There’s a beautiful home just over the way

That the righteous alone shall inherit some day;

There the sun never shines by day or by night,

For God and His Son are its glory and light.

  1. That beautiful home just over the way is by the river of life: Rev. 22:1-5
  2. The righteous alone shall receive it as an inheritance: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
  3. There will be no sun there because the glory of God and the Lamb is its light: Rev. 21:22-23

II. Stanza 2 compares this earth to heaven

No sickness nor death that city invade;

All our trials and cares there forever shall fade.

Our home here on earth can never compare

With that beautiful home we shall find over there.

  1. No sickness or death such as we experience here on earth will be in heaven: Rev. 21:4-7
  2. All our trials and cares will fade because the things which cause them will be absent: Rev. 21:27, 22:15
  3. In fact, nothing on earth, including our sufferings, can be compared to the glory of heaven: Rom. 8:18

III. Stanza 3 tells us how to have a home in heaven

To win that bright home when life here is through,

All our Savior commands we must faithfully do.

We must love Him and serve Him by day and by night;

Then a home will be ours in that city so bright.

  1. To win an entrance into this bright home we must do His commandments: Rev. 22:14
  2. This means loving and serving Him by day and night: Deut. 11:13-14
  3. When we do this, we’ll gain heaven, pictured as a holy city: Rev. 21:1-3

CONCL.:  The chorus invites all those who desire a home in heaven to come.

Come, go with me, friend,

To that beautiful home,

Where cares shall end

And we’ll never more roam.

As a Christian, I want everyone possible to go to heaven.  Therefore, I should tell each person I meet about Jesus and invite him or her, saying, “Come, Go with Me, Friend.”

come go with me

Such Is His Love

odessie harris

(Photo of Odessie Wade Harris)


“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 Jn. 4:9)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which extols the love that God manifested by sending His only begotten Son is “Such Is His Love.”  The text was written by Odessie F. Wade (Mrs. Galen L.) Harris, who was born on Feb. 25, 1929, on a farm at Endicott near Littleton in Wetzel County, West Virginia, the daughter of Archie and Alma Wade.  The family was originally Methodist, but when they left the farm and moved into Littleton, they lived near the meeting house of the church of Christ.  Odessie began attending there, learned the truth, and obeyed the gospel in the fall of 1946.  Having been educated in the grade and high schools of Wetzel County, she was valedictorian of her graduating class of 1947.

After graduation, Odessie attended business school in Wheeling, WV, where she received her diploma as Junior Accountant, and worked at a bank in Wheeling for a short time.  In the fall following graduation from business school, she moved to Moundsville, WV, and placed her membership with the Cedar Ave. congregation, where she met Galen Larrimore Harris, who later became her husband.  They were married on Sept. 8, 1950.  She kept books for an automobile dealer until February of 1952 when she went to work for what is now P.P.G. Industries, where she completed over 27 years.  Her songs include “Let Our Bending Be” and “Such Is His Love,” the latter copyrighted in 1971 with tune composed by John D. Bacon (1900-1982).  Bacon encouraged her in her song writing.

In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “Such Is His Love” in his collection Our Garden of Song.  Later, the Harrises were members of the Mound City Church of Christ in Moundsville, but they eventually moved to Thonotosassa in Hillsborough County, Florida.  Galen died on July 30, 2001, at Lakeland in Polk County, Florida.  Odessie died, aged 81, at Lakeland on Aug. 16, 2010, from heart failure.  Her funeral service was held on Aug. 18 at the Lakeland Funeral Home.

“Such Is His Love” identifies three aspects of God’s relationship to mankind which show His great love.

I. Stanza 1 mentions His mindfulness

I stand beneath the canopy of heaven

And view the vastness of the starry sky;

I wonder how our God in all His greatness

Could mindful be of creatures such as I.

  1. God created the canopy of heaven: Gen. 1:1, 14-19
  2. When we gaze at the vastness of the starry sky, we marvel at His greatness: Gen. 15:5
  3. Yet, in all this we realize that God has been mindful of us: Ps. 8:3-9

II. Stanza 2 mentions His nearness

I’m only one among His many children

Yet feel His nearness; He’s my guiding light.

He promised in His word, “I’ll never leave thee;”
He’ll guide my feet in paths of truth and right.

  1. God’s love has made it possible for us to become His spiritual children: 1 Jn. 3:1-2
  2. Thus, He will draw near to us if we draw near to Him: Jas. 4:8-10
  3. And He has promised never to leave us: Heb. 13:5-6

III. Stanza 3 mentions His friendship

It means so much to have a friend like Jesus,

When earthly friends forget and go their way,

To know that He will be my shield and comfort,

And surely come to take me home someday.

  1. Jesus is certainly a good friend to have: Jn. 15:13-15
  2. He is a friend who will comfort us in our trials: 2 Cor. 1:3-7
  3. And His goal when He comes someday is to take us home to be with Him: Jn. 14:1-3

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of the ultimate expression of God’s love.

God so loved, He gave the Prince of heaven,

His only Son, on Calvary;

Giving hope for life in heaven’s glory,

Such is His love for you and me.

When we consider how that God loved the whole world, including each one of us, enough that He sent His Son to this earth to die for our sins on Calvary and give us the hope of heaven’s glory, then we are made to marvel that “Such Is His Love.”

such is His love

Going with Jesus to Glory Land

w j graves

(photo of W. J. Graves)


“Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24)

     INTRO.:  A song which talks about the hope of being with the Lord in glory is “Going with Jesus to Glory Land.”  The text was written by James Rowe (1865-1933).  The tune was composed by William Jefferson Graves, who was born on January 27, 1865, in Hunt County, TX, the son of Jefferson Asbery Graves and Sarah Nabors Graves.  On Jan. 27, 1892, he was married to Gertrude Sims (1874–1966).  Trained in singing at several music schools, he also studied under Judson L. Moore, a music teacher, song writer, and publisher in Georgia.  Graves spent practically his entire life in Hunt County where he followed his profession as a music teacher and song writer who wrote songs for several different companies.

The author of more than 100 songs, Graves wrote “Dare to Be a Daniel,” “Tell Sinners Salvation is Free,” and “Going with Jesus to Glory Land,” which was copyrighted from his home at Cumby, TX.  His works were accepted by many music publishing companies.   Graves was a member of the Christian Church for fifty years and for the last fourteen years of his life resided in Greenville, TX, where he held membership with the Central Christian Church in that city.  Mrs. Graves was also a music teacher and song writer.

After having been ill for a duration of eight months, Graves, aged 80, died on Thursday, Dec. 13, 1945, at his home in Greenville, TX.  He was survived by his wife, a half brother, a half-sister, and several nieces and nephews.  The funeral service was held on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the James-Peters Funeral Chapel with James L. Sandlin, minister of Central Christian Church and Fred Moore of Ardis Heights officiating. Burial was in East Mount Cemetery.  Gene C. Finley included “Going with Jesus to Glory Land” in his collection Our Garden of Song.

The song identifies some things that Jesus does so that we can go with Him to Glory-land.

I. Stanza 1 says that He holds our hands

I’ve a carol to sing while gladly I cling

To Jesus, the blessed one who holds my hand;

For with goodness enfolding me, ever upholding me,

I’m going with Jesus to Glory-land.

  1. The Christian can sing a joyful carol of praise to Jesus: Jas. 5:13
  2. We do this because He is the blessed one who holds our hands, symbolizing the fact that He leads us by His example: 1 Pet. 2:21
  3. Also, His goodness enfolds us as all spiritual blessings are found in Him: Eph. 1:3

II. Stanza 2 says that He hides our past in mercy

He is hiding my past in mercy at last,

And helping my weak and wayward soul to stand;

So to others upraising Him, serving and praising Him,

I’m going with Jesus to Glory-land.

  1. Jesus hides our past in mercy by offering forgiveness through His blood: Eph. 1:7
  2. Then He helps our weak and wayward souls to stand: Eph. 6:11-13
  3. As a result, we should serve and praise Him: 1 Pet. 4:11

III. Stanza 3 says that He leads us in the right way

With the angels above I’ll sing of His love,

Forever upon the blessed golden strand;

So with rapture I follow Him, honor and hallow Him,

I’m going with Jesus to Glory-land.

  1. Our hope is to join with the angels above in singing praise to Jesus: Rev. 5:8-14
  2. This will be in His presence upon the blessed golden strand beside the river of life: Rev. 22:1-5
  3. But if we truly want this blessing we must follow His leading in this life: Matt. 16:24-26

CONCL.:  The chorus expresses the desire to be with Jesus in Glory-land.

Ever fondly I cling to Him, sweetly I sing to Him,

While resting my future on His promise grand;

From the tempter He’s hiding me, cheering and guiding me,

I’m going with Jesus to Glory-land.

Life is often thought of as a journey toward eternity.  When we travel here on earth, we usually have a certain destination in mind.  For Christians, our final goal is “Going with Jesus to Glory Land.”

going with Jesus

Where Have You Been for So Long?


(photograph of Norman Gipson)


“…How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:15)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which is designed to encourage us to bring glad tidings of good things to the lost is “Where Have You Been for So Long?”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Harold Norman Gipson, who was born on August 29, 1918, in Estelline, Hall County, Texas, to West Texas pioneers John Holbert Gipson (1874–1941) and Mattie Pauline Hill Gipson (1880–1973).   His first sermons were preached in 1935 at rural churches of Hall and Briscoe Counties, TX.  On August 28, 1938, he was married to Annice Aline Teurman, and they had five children, four of whom survived to adulthood.  His local work included churches in Grand Prairie, Houston, Ballinger, and Amarillo, all in Texas.  He served five years in New England, two in Maine and three in Massachusetts, helping the cause there.  In addition, he held gospel meetings and singing schools in more than thirty states and engaged in preaching efforts in Canada, Spain, and England.

Beginning around 1969, Gipson began work with the Sunset School of Preaching (now Sunset International Bible Institute), serving as an instructor for three years and director of the school for five years.  In 1979, he moved to Denver, CO, to serve as local evangelist with the Bear Valley congregation.  His writings include The Steward of God, a treatise on the eldership, and Why a Christian Cannot Be a Mason.  Articles by him have appeared in the Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate, Twentieth Century Christian, North Atlantic Christian, and other religious journals.  He has appeared on lectureships at Abilene Christian University, Northeastern Christian Junior College, York College, and Lubbock Christian College.   Also, he served on the boards of Gander Brook Christian Camp in Maine, and Koinonia Christian Camp in Texas.

In addition, Gipson produced several hymns which have been published, including “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” and “Our Journey to Heaven.”  His song “Jesus Reigns in Heaven” (copyrighted in 1942) appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons for The Firm Foundation Publishing House.  In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “Where Have You Been for So Long?” (copyrighted in1978) in his collection Our Garden of Song.  And, “Lord, Hear Our Prayer” was written for the 1991 New Songs of Faith.  Gipson eventually returned to Lubbock, Texas, where he died, aged 88, on May 14, 2007.   Preceded in death by his wife, who died in 1989, sons Timothy Charles and Harold Don, five brothers, and a sister, he was survived by three daughters, Norma Ann, Linda Jo, and Nita Kay; seven grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; one sister; many nephews and nieces; and a multitude of friends. A memorial service was conducted on Thursday, May 17, at the Sunset Church of Christ in Lubbock.  A graveside service was held on Saturday, May 19, in the Old Southland Cemetery, Grand Prairie, Texas.

“Where Have You Been for So Long?” should motivate us to be more active in sharing the gospel.

I. Stanza 1 mentions talking about Jesus

I talked to a man about Jesus;

He listened with wondrous surprise.

Then I felt the start of pain in my heart

When he asked me with tears in his eyes:

  1. We should talk to others about Jesus, as did the healed demoniac: Mk. 5:19-20
  2. Our hope is to find those who will listen with noble and good hearts: Lk. 8:15
  3. But we won’t go until we feel the pain of Christ’s love compelling our own hearts: 2 Cor. 5:14-15

II. Stanza 2 mentions telling about the Lord

I told him the Lord came from glory

To bring down salvation to men;

He joyfully heard the wonderful word,

Then wept as he asked me again:

  1. We need to tell people how the Lord came down from glory: Phil. 2:5-8
  2. His purpose in doing so was to bring salvation to sinful men: 1 Tim. 1:15-16
  3. But in order to obtain this gift, people must hear an receive the word of God: 1 Thess. 2:13

III. Stanza 3 mentions speaking the good tidings

To all the whole world tell the tidings

That Christ is the Life, Truth, and Way;

So when time is done and judgment has come,

No one in that throng may need say:

  1. We need to spread the tidings to the whole world: Mk. 16:15-16
  2. These tidings are about Christ who is the Life, Truth, and Way: Jn. 14:6
  3. This is essential for them to be prepared for the judgment: 2 Cor. 5:10

CONCL.:  The chorus asks us why we are not seeking to reach more people.

Where have you been for so long?

Why didn’t you come to my door?

Just living in sin so long I have been;

Why didn’t you tell me before?

When we as Christians stand before God in judgment, we certainly don’t want to hear someone such as a friend or neighbor say, “Where Have You Been for So Long?”

where have you been

Who Is This King of Glory?


(photograph of Robert W. Gillen)


“Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8)

      INTRO.: A hymn which identifies Jesus Christ as the King of glory who is strong and mighty in battle is “Who Is This King of Glory?”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Robert Wesley Gillen, who was born at Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California, on July 31, 1925, and lived in Dinuba, CA, most of his life. As a boy he accompanied his father, Arlo C. Gillen, on his calls to serve churches as minister of the gospel in the San Joaquin Valley.  Displaying a talent for music at an early age, he learned to read music by the age of six from the hymn books, and led his first song at ten years.   At age 13, he was buried with his Lord in baptism and served the remainder of his days as an active and faithful member of Christ’s church. While in grammar school he played the snare drum and then was first violin in the D.U.H.S. orchestra.   He sang bass in the high school chorus, and was the soloist in the “Messiah” at both Fresno and Visalia. Also, he sang in two operas, “The Magic Flute” and “La Traviata,” as well as in the Mozart Festival which featured Mozart’s “Requiem.”   Singing bass or high tenor with equal ease, he sang alto in a male quarter over radio station KEKC in Visalia, California, in the later thirties.

Gillen served his country in the Air Force during World War II and the Korean War. Between wars he was engaged in the retail farm supply business.   In addition, he was a song leader and chorus director for over forty years, having sung on twenty-eight television programs for the churches of Christ, and had several songs published. Among them are “That Upper Room,” and “Who is This King of Glory?” The latter was copyrighted in 1972.  His song “Jesus My God, My Lord, and King” appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons for The Firm Foundation Publishing House.  In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “Who Is the King of Glory” in his collection Our Garden of Song.   Over the years, Gillen served his Lord and church in hundreds of ways, including as a deacon, a Bible school teacher, treasurer, and a member of the board of trustees.

In his later years, Gillen suffered from severe physical problems, beginning with a massive heart attack that brought about his retirement from business, and then underwent surgery for cancer of the esophagus.  He passed away, aged 57, early on Sunday morning, July 24, 1983, at Dinuba in Tulare County, California, survived by his wife Romona; two sons, Bruce and Gary; one daughter, Lisa Richards; and five grandchildren. In another week he would have been celebrating his 58th birthday. The news of his passing came as a shock to many of those close to him and his friends at the Yosemite Family Encampment.   Funeral services were held at the Church of Christ in Dinuba, CA, to an overflow crowd that came to pay their last respects. This is the only congregation that Bob ever had membership. The local minister, Joe Tomlinson, officiated, and a chorus from Visalia sang songs and hymns that Gillen had written; burial followed in Smith Mountain Cemetery.  His obituary appeared in the Gospel Advocate, November 17, 1983, page 696.

“Who Is This King of Glory?” looks at several areas in which Jesus is such a glorious King.

I. Stanza 1 calls Him the angels’ King because of His birth

Some time ago and far away,

A child was born that joyous day;

All heaven rings, the angels sing,

For this He was—the angels’ King.

  1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: Matt. 2:1-6
  2. Angels announced His birth to shepherds: Lk. 2:8-14
  3. This shows us that He is so much better than the angels: Heb. 1:1-4

II. Stanza 2 calls Him the Christian’s King because of His perfect life

He humbly lived in Nazareth,

A perfect life the Scripture saith;

He then went forth good news to bring,

And he became the Christian’s King.

  1. Concerning His earthly life as a man, Jesus grew up in Nazareth: Lk. 2:51-52
  2. He lived a perfect life as an example for us: 1 Pet. 2:21-23
  3. Also He brought to man the good news or gospel of His kingdom: Matt. 4:23

III. Stanza 3 calls Him the King of kings because of His death, resurrection, and ascension

He died one day but then arose,

He reigns in triumph o’er His foes;

Good will to men all earth now sings,

For He was crowned the King of kings.

  1. Jesus died one day for our sins: Rom. 5:8
  2. But He arose again the third day: 2 Tim. 2:8
  3. Now He reigns in triumph as King of kings: Rev. 19:11-16

IV. Stanza 4 calls Him the eternal King because of His return in glory

I know we, too, from earth must fly,

When life is over by and by;

In clouds on high we’ll see Him wing—

All hail to Thee, eternal King.

  1. Someday we too from earth must fly away: Ps. 90:10
  2. After that we shall see Him come from on high for us: 1 Thess 4:14-17
  3. Then we shall join with those who hail our King eternally: Rev. 5:8-14

CONCL.:  The chorus first asks who the King of glory is and then answers that Jesus is our  wonderful King.

Who is this King of glory?

Who is this King of glory?

Who is this King of glory?

Jesus, my wonderful King!

Jesus, my wonderful King!

As Christians, we should always be ready to give the answer of Christ whenever someone asks us, “Who Is This King of Glory?”

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