As the Life of a Flower

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(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.”

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No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

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“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.”

Since I Have Been Redeemed

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(photo of Edwin O. Excell)

“SINCE I HAVE BEEN REDEEMED”

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: For His mercy endureth for-ever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so….” (Ps. 107:1-2)

INTRO.:  A song which speaks of the many wonderful blessings for which those who are the redeemed of the Lord can give thanks to Him is “Since I Have Been Redeemed” (#548 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune (Othello) was composed both by Edwin Othello Excell, who was born at Uniontown in Stark County, OH, near Canton, on Dec. 13, 1851, the son of a German Reformed Church minister named J. J. Excell.  After his early education in the public schools of Ohio, he married in 1871 near Brady’s Bend, PA, relocated to that state, and supported his family by working for twelve years as a plasterer and bricklayer, during which time starting at the age of twenty he began to conduct country singing schools and became a popular teacher.  From 1877 to 1883, he attended normal music schools conducted by Frederick W. Root and his father, hymn writer George F. Root.

Following his move to Chicago, IL, in 1883, the “E. O. Excell Co.” music publishing business was started with Sing the Gospel, and Excell began the publication of gospel songbooks which were widely used.  Also he was active in Sunday school work, leading the singing at Sunday school conventions and, with Methodist bishop John H. Vincent, helping to found the International Sunday School Lessons.  His powerful voice and talent as a congregational song leader were quite famous, and for twenty years he assisted Southern evangelist Sam P. Jones in his revival campaigns.  In all, Excell produced more than 3,000 gospel songs and edited about fifty songbooks.  Probably his best known melody is found with Johnson Oatman’s “Count Your Blessings,” but he also provided the tunes for Jonathan B. Atchinson’s “Let Him In” and the well-known children’s song “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” and was responsible for the modern arrangement and harmonization of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace.”

“Since I Have Been Redeemed” first appeared in Excell’s 1884 book Echoes of Eden for the Sunday School, which he compiled in Chicago.  In addition, Excell published some 38 compilations for other individuals.  He provided the plates and did printing and binding in the early songbook ventures of Robert Coleman, a prominent Baptist musician, and was the original printer of Great Songs of the Church in 1921 for Elmer L. Jorgenson who was associated with churches of Christ.  Later in 1921, Excell fell ill while assisting Gipsy Smith with a city-wide revival crusade in Louisville, KY, and returned to Chicago to be hospitalized. He died on June 10, 1921, after more than thirty weeks in Wesley Memorial Hospital.  At the time of his death, the firm which bore his name was the highest volume producer of hymnbooks in America. His heirs sold the large E. O. Excell Co. copyright portfolio to the Hope Publishing Company in 1931.

Among hymn books published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Since I Have Been Redeemed” 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; 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.

The song specifies a number of spiritual blessings that being redeemed in Christ brings to us.

I. According to stanza 1, the redeemed have a song to sing

I have a song I love to sing,

Since I have been redeemed,

Of my Redeemer, Savior, King,

Since I have been redeemed.

  1. When a person is redeemed, God puts a new song in his mouth: Ps. 40:1-3
  2. This song is about our Savior: Lk. 2:11
  3. Its purpose is to give praise to Him who is our King: Rev. 19:16

II. According to stanza 2, the redeemed have a Christ who satisfies

I have a Christ who satisfies

Since I have been redeemed,

To do His will my highest prize,

Since I have been redeemed.

  1. Those who are redeemed accept Christ as their Savior by obeying Him: Acts 2:36-38
  2. But even after making Him our Savior, we must continue to do His will: Matt. 7:21
  3. By making this our highest prize here, we can gain the eternal prize: Phil. 2:13-14

III. According to stanza 3 (not in HFWR), the redeemed have a witness bright and clear

I have a witness bright and clear,

Since I have been redeemed,

Dispelling every doubt and fear,

Since I have been redeemed.

  1. This is not the idea of our “witnessing for Jesus,” as only the apostles could truly be witnesses of Him: Acts 1:8 (cf. v. 2), 21-22
  2. Nor is it referring to some kind of direct witness of God to us, since He has already born witness to His inspired messengers: Heb. 2:3-4
  3. Rather, it is the witness that God gives to us in the Scriptures to dispel doubt and fear: 1 Jn. 5:9-10

IV. According to stanza 4 (also not in HFWR), the redeemed have a joy that is inexpressible

I have a joy I can’t express,

Since I have been redeemed,

All through His blood and righteousness,

Since I have been redeemed.

  1. Christians can rejoice in the Lord: Phil. 4:4
  2. Peter says that in a sense this joy is “unspeakable” (KJV): 1 Pet. 1:9
  3. This joy is the result of the redemption that is available by His blood: Eph. 1:7

V. According to stanza 5 (#3 in HFWR), the redeemed have a home prepared in heaven

I have a home prepared for me,

Since I have been redeemed,

Where I shall dwell eternally,

Since I have been redeemed.

  1. From the foundation of the world, God has prepared a kingdom for those who come to Him for redemption: Matt. 25:34
  2. As a result, Jesus is now in heaven preparing a home for His people: Jn. 14:1-3
  3. The redeemed will dwell there eternally because it is a place of eternal life: Mk. 10:29-30

CONCL.:  The chorus then captures the feeling of happiness on the part of one who is redeemed

Since I have been redeemed,

Since I have been redeemed,

I will glory in His Name,

Since I have been redeemed,

I will glory in my Savior’s Name.

What a wonderful life of peace and joy I can have “Since I Have Been Redeemed”!

Rise Up, O Men (Child) of God

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(picture of William P. Merrill)

“RISE UP, O MEN (CHILD) OF GOD”

“Yet a little while, and…He will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages us to labor for the Lord while we wait for Him to come is “Rise Up, O Men (Child) of God” (#545 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written by William Pierson Merrill, who was born at Orange, NJ, on Jan. 10, 1867.  The Merrills must have moved to Massachusetts, because at the age of eleven, he became a member of the Belleville Congregational Church at Newburyport, MA.  Two years later, after his family returned to New Jersey, he became a member of the Second Dutch Reformed Church at New Brunswick, NJ.  His first book, Faith Building, was published in 1885, when he was just eighteen.  Educated at Rutgers, from which he received the A. B. degree in 1887 and the M. A. degree in 1890, and at Union Theological Seminary, from which he received the B. D. degree also in 1890, he became a minister that year with the     Presbyterian Church.  He served churches, first in Philadelphia, PA, for five years, and then in Chicago, IL, for sixteen years.  In 1896 he married Clara Dwymour Helmer, and in 1900 authored his second book, Faith and Sight.

In 1911, while Merrill was living in Chicago and active with the “Brotherhood Movement” of the Presbyterian Church, Nolan R. Best, then editor of The Continent, a Presbyterian newspaper published at Chicago, suggested to Merrill that there was an urgent need of a “brotherhood hymn.”   About that same time, Merrill read an article by Gerald Stanley Lee entitled “The Church of the Strong Men.”  With these two ideas incubating in his mind, the hymn suddenly came to Merrill, almost without conscious thought or effort, one day as he was returning to Chicago on one of the Lake Michigan steamers.   As a poem entitled “To the Brotherhood,” it first appeared with the first line “Rise up, O men of God” in the Feb. 16, 1911, issue of The Continent.  Its first publication as a hymn was in The Pilgrim Hymnal published in 1912 at Boston, MA, with a tune (Festal Song), which had been composed, probably around 1872, by William Henry Walter (1825-1893).  It had first appeared in the 1894 Hymnal Revised and Enlarged, edited by J. Ireland Tucker and W. W. Rosseau, where it was used with  “Awake, and Sing the Song” by William Hammond.

Other tunes have been used with Merrill’s hymn, but the one by Walter is probably the best known.  Later in 1911, Merrill moved to become minister with the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, NY, where he remained until his retirement in 1938.  An active leader in movements for civic betterment, he became president of the Trustees of the Church Peace Union in 1915.  In addition to preaching and producing hymns, he was the author of several more books, including Footings for Faith in 1915, Christian Internationalism in 1919, The Common Creed of Christians in 1920, The Freedom of the Preacher in 1922, Liberal Christianity in 1925, Prophets of the Dawn in 1927, The Way in 1933, and We See Jesus in 1934.  Declining an invitation to become President of Union Theological Seminary in 1917, he did receive honorary degrees from New York University, Columbia, and Rollins College of Deland, FL, prior to his death in New York City on June 19, 1954.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Rise Up, O Men of God” has appeared with the Walter tune in the 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition).  It is found with another tune (St. Thomas) attributed to Aaron Williams in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J.  Crum; the 1978 edition of 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; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.  Both tunes are used in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand, and the 2009 Songs for Worship and Praise also edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.

The hymn exhorts each child of God to rise up and serve Lord.

I. In stanza 1 we are told to have done with lesser things and give our all to the Lord

Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things.

Give heart and mind and soul and strength

To serve the King of kings.

  1. Someone has suggested that “lesser things” may refer to church suppers, entertainment, bowling teams, and other worldly activities that do not relate to the work of the church: 2 Tim. 2:3-4
  2. Rather, we should give all our heart, soul, mind, and strength to God: Mk. 12:30
  3. This is how the King of kings wants us to serve Him: Deut. 11:13

II. In stanza 2 we are told to wait for His eternal kingdom by pursuing brotherhood and working to end wrong

Rise up, O men of God!

His kingdom tarries long.

Bring in the day of brotherhood

And end the night of wrong.

  1. “His kingdom tarries long” may sound premillennial to some (though if the author was a millennialist, he would more likely have been postmillennial), but we can understand it as a reference to the eternal kingdom of heaven into which Christ will usher His people at His second coming: 2 Pet. 1:10-11
  2. To prepare for it, we should strive to bring in the day of brotherhood: 1 Pet. 2:17
  3. We should also labor to end the night of wrong by shining the light of truth on it: Eph. 5:8-14

III. In stanza 3 we are told to come to the aid of the church and make her great

Rise up, O men of God!

The church for you doth wait,

Her strength unequal to her task;

Rise up and make her great!

  1. The church is the spiritual body of Christ: Eph. 1:22-23
  2. On the surface “Her strength unequal to her task” sounds as if the church is not sufficient to do its work, but if we understand that the church is made up of members, it is equal to its task only as the members do their part: Eph. 4:16
  3. Therefore, we need to be as the people of Nehemiah’s day: Neh. 2:18

IV. In stanza 4 we are told to lift up the cross of Christ to a lost and dying world

Lift high the cross of Christ!

Tread where His feet have trod.

As brothers of the Son of Man,

Rise up, O men of God!

  1. We lift high the cross of Christ by preaching the message of the cross to sinful mankind: 1 Cor. 1:18-24
  2. Then we illustrate the message of the cross by treading in the footsteps of our Savior who left us a perfect example: 1 Pet. 2:21-22
  3. In this way we truly show that we are “brothers of the Son of Man”: Heb. 2:11-12, 17

CONCL.:  The editors of Hymns for Worship Revised changed the title/first line to ‘Rise Up, O Child of God’ and the last stanza to “As children of the Son of Man.”  I assume that they copied these alterations from some other source.  I do not know when or where these changes were first made, but the probable reason given for them was to have the hymn sound more “inclusive.”  However, I believe this kind of altering is a cave-in to appease feminists who disdain the usage of words like “men” and “brothers” as being too “patriarchal.”  The fact is that in every language such terms are often used in an inclusive sense to identify all people, both male and female.  Trying to “correct” hymns sometimes results in inconsistencies.  The original last stanza is in agreement, “As brothers (plural)…O men (plural) of God.”  But the “revised” version reads “As children (plural)…O child (singular) of God.”  Even the United Methodist Hymnal of 1989, no friend to “non-inclusive” language, retains the reading, “Rise up, O men of God” with a note “’Ye saints’ may be substituted for ‘O men.’”  This would be preferable to “O child,” but I guess the less I give my opinion about it, the less problem I’ll have with high blood pressure.  Regardless of that, God wants His people to labor for Him and says to all of us, “Rise Up, O Men (Child) of God.”

Let Jesus Dwell Within Your Soul

“LET JESUS DWELL WITHIN YOUR SOUL”

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17)

     INTRO.:  A song which exhorts us to allow Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith is “Let Jesus Dwell Within Your Soul” (#661 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #519 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Miss Vernie Prichard, about whom I have been able to find no further information.  The tune was composed by D. A. Roberson.  One source says that it was owned by Stamps – Baxter Music, but all other sources say that it was copyrighted by the Quartet Music Company; I have not been able to identify the date.  I have been able to locate almost no further information on Roberson either, except that according to Hymnary.org, he was the author of four texts, “Can the world see Jesus in your life?”, “In heaven the Lord has a mansion,” “There’s a train that’s bound for glory,” and “Labor on each day,” the last of which was occasionally found in some books edited by Will W. Slater.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Let Jesus Dwell Within Your Soul” has appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song mentions several situations in which we need to make sure that we have Jesus dwelling in our souls

I. Stanza 1 refers to sighing

O will you now from sighing cease?

O will you seek the path of peace?

Give Christ your heart, make heaven your goal,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

  1. Sighing is usually a sign of experiencing sadness and trouble: Ps. 31:9-10
  2. One reason that many sigh is because they lack the peace of God ruling in their hearts: Col. 3:15
  3. Therefore, the Lord offers to help us deal with our sighings if we give Him our hearts: Prov. 23:26

II. Stanza 2 refers to trials

Through trials oft your soul must go,

The Savior wills this to be so,

Trust Him with all, as they of old,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

  1. As long as we live on earth, we shall go through manifold trials: 1 Pet. 1:6
  2. The Savior wills this to be so in the sense that He allow it to strengthen us: Jas. 1:2-4
  3. But He will help us bear them if we let Him dwell within us and trust Him: Ps. 37:3-6

III. Stanza 3 refers to sorrows

Though sorrows come and troubles sore,

Trust in the Savior more and more;

Though oft you’ve sinned, He’ll make you whole,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

  1. No matter who we are, this life will have it share of sorrows: Eccl. 2:22-23
  2. To help us deal with our sorrows, we need to trust the Savior more and more: Prov. 3:5-6
  3. Many of our sorrows are the result of our sins, but Christ can make us whole if we seek His forgiveness: 1 Jn. 1:9

IV. Stanza 4 refers to sin

Poor sinners, hear His voice of love,

‘Tis calling you to heaven above;

Give Him your heart, He’ll make it whole,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

  1. At one time or another all responsible people are sinners because all have sinned: Rom. 3:23
  2. But Jesus is calling sinners to salvation through the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14
  3. And if we give Him our hearts, He’ll make us whole because He offers redemption through His blood: Eph. 1:7

V. Stanza 5 refers to death

And when the hour of death draws near,

Trust Him to take away all fear,

The joys of heaven will soon unfold,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

  1. Every day that we live, the hour of death draws near because it is appointed for men to die once: Heb. 9:27
  2. However, if we trust Jesus, He will take away all fear: Heb. 2:14-15
  3. Thus, through Him the joys of heaven will unfold for the righteous: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

CONCL.:  The chorus, which can be omitted if there aren’t all the parts needed, continues to encourage us to let Jesus dwell in our souls all of our lives.

Let Jesus dwell within your soul,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul;

Let joys increase as ages roll,

Let Jesus dwell within your soul.

After Sacred Selections became the almost universally used hymnbook among churches in the area where I grew up, I noticed that when we attended Sunday afternoon singings in congregations with a lot of strong altos and tenors this song was often sung.  It has never been one of my favorites, but I certainly would want to encourage you, as I do everyone, to “Let Jesus Dwell Within Your Soul.”

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

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(picture of Kate Hankey)

“TELL ME THE OLD, OLD STORY”

“Christ died for our sins…was buried, and…rose again the third day…” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

     INTRO.:  A song about the importance of telling the old gospel story of how Christ died, was buried, and rose again is “Tell Me the Old, Old Story” (#534 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #279 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Arabella Catherine Hankey, who was born at Clapham, England, an elite southwestern suburb of London, on Jan. 12, 1834, the daughter of Thomas Hankey.  Her father was a wealthy English banker and was a member of William Wilberforce’s evangelical “Clapham Sect” of the Church of England, which had worked to abolish slavery and the slave trade in the British Empire.  Known to her family and friends as “Kate,” she became involved in religious work while still in school.  As a young girl, she enthusiastically began teaching a children’s Sunday school in Croydon.  When just eighteen, she organized a Bible study class for shop girls in London factories.

Then, as a result of a trip to South Africa to bring home an invalid brother, Kate became deeply interested in foreign missions, and to that cause she contributed all the royalties from her various publications in later years, including her Bible Class Teaching and many books of verses.  One such work was a long poem on the life of Christ entitled The Old, Old Story.  In 1864, Kate experienced a serious illness at the age of thirty and later penned the poem in 1866 while recovering.  It was divided into three headings.  The first, “The Story Wanted,” was completed on Jan. 29, 1866 and is the source of this hymn.  The second was “The Story Told,” from which the familiar hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” came.   The third was “The Story Welcomed.”  Originally, Kate provided her own melody for this hymn.

However, a new tune (Evangel or Old Old Story) was composed and the chorus added in 1867 by William Howard Doane (1832-1915).  That year, he was attending the International Meeting of the Y.M.C.A. in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Major General Russell, commander of the English forces in Ireland, quoted Hankey’s poem and gave Doane a copy.  One hot summer afternoon, while traveling home on a stagecoach between Glen Falls House and Crawford House in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Doane set down the music.  That night it was sung by his companions in the parlor of the hotel.  First printed as sheet music, the song appeared later that same year in Doane’s Silver Spray, published at Cincinnati.  During her last years, Kate Hankey was active in hospital visitation work at London.  She died at Westminster in London, England, on May 9, 1911.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “Tell Me the Old, Old Story” has appeared in the 1925 edition of the1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, a0nd the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; 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.; 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 expresses the desire to hear the old, old story of Jesus Christ.

I. From stanza 1 we find the desire to hear the story of Christ’s love

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,

Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,

For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

  1. This story involves things unseen: 2 Cor. 4:18
  2. Of course, Jesus demonstrated His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins: 1 Jn. 3:16
  3. We need to hear this story simply, as to a little child: Matt. 18:

II. From stanza 2 we find the desire to hear the story of Christ’s redemption

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,

That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.

Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;

The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

  1. We must listen carefully so that we can understand this story: Eph. 3:3-5
  2. It tells us that it is only through the blood of Christ that we can have redemption or forgiveness of sin: Eph. 1:7
  3. And we need to be told often so that our minds might be stirred up by way of reminder: 2 Pet. 3:1-2

III. From stanza 3 we find the desire to hear the story of Christ’s salvation

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;

Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.

Tell me the story always, if you would really be,

In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

  1. The story should be told with earnest tones and grave because salvation is a serious matter: 1 Pet. 1:10-12
  2. The basic message of first-century Christians was that Jesus came to save sinners: 1 Tim. 1:15
  3. It is this message from God that brings us comfort: 2 Cor. 1:3-4

IV. From stanza 4 (not in HFWR) we find the desire to hear the story of heaven

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear

That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.

Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,

Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

  1. “This world” refers to life on earth which presents so many dangers to our souls: 1 Jn. 2:15-17
  2. In contrast, “That world” refers to heaven, the ultimate goal which Jesus desires for us: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
  3. And to make it possible, Christ died that we might be made whole: Rom. 5:8

CONCL.:  The chorus then emphasizes the importance of telling the story that it might be heard

Tell me the old, old story,

Tell me the old, old story,

Tell me the old, old story,

Of Jesus and His love.

If I hope to please God here and have a home in heaven, I must continually express the attitude, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story.”

When Jesus Comes

“WHEN JESUS COMES”

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21)

     INTRO.:  A song which reminds us that when the Lord returns, those who have been good and faithful servants will enter into the joy of the Lord is “When Jesus Comes” (#653 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by James Washington Gaines (1881-1937).  It was copyrighted in 1923.  Other well-known songs by Gaines include “Take My Hand and Lead Me,” “In That Home of the Soul,” and the music to “You Never Mentioned Him to Me.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “When Jesus Comes” (not to be confused with the Fanny Crosby hymn “Will Jesus Find Us Watching” which begins, “When Jesus comes to reward His servants”) has appeared in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat ; 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.

The song encourages us to look forward to and prepare for the second coming of Christ.

I. Stanza 1 tells us what will happen when Jesus returns

When Jesus comes again to gather His own,

And to the true a crown is given,

I want to hear Him say, “My servant, well done,

Thy soul shall know the joys of heaven.”

  1. Someday Jesus will come again to gather His own: 1 Thess. 4:13-17
  2. Then a crown will be given to those who have been true in enduring temptation: Jas. 1:12
  3. Also, they will hear Him say, “Enter in”: Matt. 25:34

II. Stanza 2 tells us how to prepare for His return

I want to tell to all the story of love,

That they may know His pardon free,

And there before His throne in glory above,

Receive a crown of victory.

  1. We need to tell to all the story of love by teaching others also: 2 Tim. 2:2
  2. Of course, both we and they need to know His pardon free: Isa. 55:7
  3. And we must be faithful to receive the crown of victory: Rev. 2:10

III. Stanza 3 tells us why He will return

He’s coming back again, His jewels to claim,

They shall receive eternal rest;

’Tis sweet to know that all who come in His name

Shall there be numbered with the blest.

  1. When Jesus comes back, He will claim His jewels: Mal. 3:17
  2. These shall then receive eternal rest: Heb. 4:8-9
  3. And they will be numbered with the blest or redeemed of all ages: Rev. 7:9-10

IV. Stanza 3 tells us about when He will return

I do not know the day my Savior will come,

But I must be prepared to go;

If I am ready, He will call me His own,

And that’s enough for me to know.

  1. We do not know when the Savior will come: Matt. 24:36
  2. Therefore, we need to be prepared: Matt. 24:44
  3. If we are ready, He will call us to the resurrection of life: Jn. 5:28-29

CONCL.:  The chorus (which I usually omit) talks about the desire of the Christian regarding Christ’s return.

I want to know that He will welcome me there,

I do not want to be denied;

I want to meet Him in that city so fair,

And ever there with Him abide.

In the original edition of Hymns for Worship, this song was listed under “Special Selections” with the note, “This section has been provided for songs with more difficult music and different textual style.  The usefulness of these selections is left to the discretion of each congregation and user.”  This note is omitted in the Revised Edition.  I do not think that I have ever been in an assembly where this song has been sung, but having looked it over I doubt if it is one that could be rendered effectively in most congregations due to its more difficult music and textual style, especially in the chorus.  Still, there is nothing unscriptural about the words, and we do need to remember that it is important to be ready “When Jesus Comes.”