Saturday, 28 March 2015

Inspiring Story Behind "Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive" Isaac watts' prayer for forgiveness

Isaac Watts, that prolific writer of English hymns, has contributed a most helpful penitential hymn, which bears the date of 1719. The sentiment of this hymn is rather an assumption of sin and a realization of God's knowledge of it, and therefore a penitential petition for forgiveness.

watts' prayer for forgiveness


Show pity, Lord; O Lord! forgive;
Let a repenting rebel live.
Are not Thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in Thee?

Great God, Thy Nature hath no bound,
So let Thy pardoning Love be found.
wash my soul from every sin,
And make my guilty conscience clean!

My lips with shame my sins confess
Against Thy law, against Thy grace:
Lord, should Thy judgment grow severe,
1 am condemned, but Thou art clear.

Yet save a trembling sinner. Lord,
Whose hope, still hovering round Thy word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.

This hymn is a versification of the fifty-first psalm. In this psalm David prays for the remission of sins, making deep confession. It was after he had been guilty of specially heinous sin. It is, therefore, a psalm which is always appropriate in times of humiliation or at services of confession. The psalms, as we know, were the first hymn book. They still, in their scriptural form, are chanted in the churches. In their proper rendering we have the privilege of most beautiful and expressive worship. Some of the best of our hymns are versifications of these old biblical chants of the sanctuary. Of these, Luther and Watts have given us two of the best in their respective renditions of the 130th and 51st psalms.

"From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" Luther's 130TH psalm

It has been well said of Luther that he is the "Ambrose of German hymnody." This is high but deserved praise. His hymns are characterized by simplicity and strength and have a popular churchly tone in the true sense of that word churchly. Julian says: "They breathe the bold, confident, joyful spirit of justifying faith, which was the beating heart of his theology and piety." A striking illustration of this is found in his hymn of penitence, which is a versification of the thought of the psalmist, namely, "Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu Dir"

Luther began the writing of hymns in 1523, and as this hymn bears the date of 1524 it is therefore among the earlier of his contributions to the rich storehouse of Evangelical hymnody. His hymns were the product of his environment and the expression of his strong faith in the presence of trial. A careful reading of the text of this hymn, while it is strictly penitential, shows lines strikingly expressive
of faith and trust. There are several translations of the vigorous German of this hymn into very excellent English.

The translation which is probably most familiar and which is most widely used is that of Miss Winkworth, which we here give. It will prove excellent devotional reading.

Luther's 130TH psalm


Out of the depths I cry to Thee,
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee!
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
Let my prayer come before Thee!
If Thou remember each misdeed.
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

Our pardon is Thy gift ; Thy Love
And grace alone avail us.
Our works could ne'er our guilt remove,
The strictest life must fail us.
That none may boast himself of aught.
But own in fear Thy grace hath wrought
What in him seemeth righteous.

And thus my hope is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit:
I rest upon His faithful word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just —
Here is my comfort and my trust.
His help I wait with patience.

And though it tarry till the night.
And round till morning waken,
My heart shall ne'er mistrust Thy might.
Nor count itself forsaken.
Do thus, O ye of Israel's seed.
Ye of the Spirit born indeed,
Wait for your God's appearing.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our kind and faithful Shepherd, He,
Who shall at last set Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed" A Classic Christmas Lullaby & Carol

Martin Luther has given us another Christmas hymn — at least it is commonly attributed to him — the ''Cradle Hymn," which is a marvelously sweet lullaby. This hymn is very short; but it is very dear to the little ones, who without exception soon learn to sing and to love it.

A CHRISTMAS LULLABY


Away in a manger, no crib for His bed.
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay —
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes.
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;

I love Thee, Lord Jesus. Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

The above is distinctly a "cradle hymn." It is so simple, so evangelical and so beautiful that even if the critics cannot agree as to its authorship, we certainly are unanimous as to its use.

Good News From Heaven The Angels Bring - Luther's Timeless Classic Christmas hymn

Martin Luther, who contributed much to the Reformation cause through his hymns, which are known by every peasant in Germany, and for which in most instances he has furnished his own melody, has given us one of the very best and most meaningful of our Christmas hymns.

Luther's Christmas hymn

Good news from heaven the angels bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a Child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.

This is the Christ, our God and Lord,
Who in all need shall aid afford;
He will Himself our Saviour be,
From all our sins to set us free.

To us that blessedness He brings,
Which from the Father's bounty springs:
That in the heavenly realm we may
With Him enjoy eternal day.

All hail! Thou noble Guest, this morn.
Whose Love did not the sinner scorn:
In my distress Thou comest to me;
What thanks shall I return to Thee?

Were earth a thousand times as fair.
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
She yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

Praise God upon His heavenly throne,
Who gave to us His only Son:
For this His hosts, on joyful wing,
A blest New Year of mercy sing.

The original of this carol, we are told, Luther wrote for his little son Hans when he was only five years old. It is still sung at daybreak on Christmas morning by singers standing in the dome of the "Kreuz Kirche" in Dresden. Luther wrote it in 1535. The translation which is in most common use is by Miss Winkworth. The music bears the date of 1539 and has come down to us with the words as one of the glad notes of the Christmas time.

"Shout the glad tidings, exultingly sing" Muhlenberg's Christmas hymn

Hymns like these which we have just quoted prepare us to sing William Augustus Muhlenberg's valuable contribution to our Christmas collection of hymns. It is
a hymn in which the echoing harmonies of heaven touch a responsive chord in our very souls. We feel the power in the words and the melody and are literally ready to shout when called to sing —

Shout the glad tidings, exultingly sing,
Jerusalem triumphs, Messiah is King!
Sion, the marvellous story be telling,
The Son of the Highest, how lowly His birth!
The brightest archangel in glory excelling.
He stoops to redeem thee, He reigns upon earth:

Chorus. — Shout the glad tidings, exultingly sing,
Jerusalem triumphs, Messiah is King,
Messiah is King, Messiah is King.

Tell how He cometh; from nation to nation.
The heart-cheering news let the earth echo round;
How free to the faithful He offers salvation.
How His people with joy everlasting are crowned.


Mortals, your homage be gratefully bringing.
And sweet let the gladsome hosanna arise;
Ye angels, the full Alleluia be singing;
One chorus resound through the earth and the skies.

The text of this hymn has come to us unaltered from the pen of the author, who is the grandson of the Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, D. D. He bore a Lutheran name, but through attendance in English Sunday schools became an Episcopalian and carried his Lutheran spirit into that church, where he did a wonderful work in the development of hospital and other benevolent work in New York City.


"O Love that wilt not let me go" George Matheson, 1842-1906

DR. GEORGE MATHESON was one of the most be loved clergymen in the Church of Scotland. His writings were numerous and of a high order; but the marvel of it all is that he was able to accomplish so much without his sight, for from the age of fifteen he was totally blind. His hymn beginning, "O Love that wilt not let me go," was sung out of his blindness and gives evidence of the courage with which he bore his great affliction. 

His own story of how he came to write the hymn is well worth quoting: "My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of June 6, 1882. I was at the time alone. It was the day of my sister s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something had happened to me, which was known only to myself; and which caused the most severe mental suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression rather of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself." 

William T. Stead quotes this letter from a correspondent : "At a time of great spiritual darkness, when God, Christ, and heaven seemed to have gone out of my life, . . . I heard this hymn sung in a little country chapel. The first two lines haunted me for weeks, and at last brought light and comfort to my dark soul." 

Story Behind Classic Hymn "From Greenland's icy mountains" Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

BISHOP REGINALD HEBER, after years of longing for the spread of the gospel in India, crowned his career with a few years of most useful service as Bishop of Calcutta. He made extensive visitations among the struggling missions nearly a century ago and ordained the first Christian native, Christian David. At last he laid down his life, a victim of fever, as a result of his labors in that benighted land. 

During the years of his life as rector of Hodnet, while longing for a career in India, he wrote many hymns, as well as other forms of literary productions, and won the respect and friendship of Milman, Southey, and other litterateurs. 

One Saturday afternoon, the day before Whit sunday, 1819, he was at Wrexham Vicarage with his father-in-law, Dr. Shipley, Dean of Saint Asaph. Dr. Shipley was planning to preach on the following morning a sermon in aid of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and in the evening Reginald Heber was to begin a series of lectures in the same church. As they sat together with some friends the Dean asked him to write a hymn on a missionary theme to be sung at the morning service. After Heber had retired for a while he returned and the Dean asked him: "What have you written?" Heber in reply read the first three verses of "From Greenland's icy mountains." The Dean exclaimed that they were very satisfactory. "No, no," replied Heber, "the sense is not complete." And so he added one more verse "Waft, waft, ye winds, His story" and the whole hymn was sung the next morning at the service. 


History Behind "Stand up, stand up for Jesus!" George Duffield, Jr., 1818-1888

THE hymn, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus," was written during the great revival of 1858, that came to be known as "The Work of God in Philadelphia." It was based upon the dying words of the Rev. Dudley A. Tyng, one of the most active ministers in the revival. It is said that, when he preached on March 30, 1858, at the noonday prayer meeting in Jayne s Hall, five thousand men listened to his sermon from the text, "Go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord," and that before the close of the meeting over a thousand expressed their purpose to become Christians. 

A few days later at "Brookfield," not far from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, he left his study for a moment and went out to the barn, where a mule was working, harnessed to a machine, shelling corn. When he patted the mule on the head, his sleeve caught in the cogs of the wheel and his arm was frightfully torn. 

After a painful but short illness, death finally claimed him. As he was dying, his father asked him if he had any message for his fellow ministers in the revival. He replied, "Let us all stand up for Jesus." That message was borne to them along with the sorrowful news of his death. Dr. George Duffield, Jr., the following Sunday preached a memorial sermon on his late friend, Tyng, taking as his text Ephesians 6. 14; and he wrote this hymn, based upon Tyng's dying words, as a fitting climax to the thought of his sermon. 

History Behind Classic Hymn "All hail the power of Jesus name!" Edward Perronet, 1726-1792

THE Rev. Edward Perronet was a most devout man, who had the courage of his convictions and was not afraid to suffer for what he thought to be right. He lived in the days of the Wesleys and was intimate with them, and the philanthropic Lady Huntingdon was his patroness for a time. But these friends he felt it necessary to surrender because he conscientiously differed with them on some points of belief. His immortal hymn, "All hail the power of Jesus name," has proved a blessing to Protestants of all beliefs. 

One of the most dramatic instances of its use was found in the experience of the Rev. E. P. Scott in India. His friends had urged him not to venture near a certain barbarous inland tribe, whom he wished to evangelize. But he went forward with high courage, never wavering in his duty, and trusting in God to protect him. When at last he reached their country among the hills, he came upon a company of these savages. Immediately they surrounded him, pointing their spears at him with threatening scowls. He had nothing in his hands but his violin; and so, closing his eyes, he began to play and sing, "All hail the power of Jesus name." When at last he opened his eyes he expected to be killed instantly. But his life had been spared through the singing of the hymn. Their spears had dropped, and they received him first with curiosity and interest, and then later with eagerness, as he told them the gospel story and won their hearts to the will of Jesus Christ.  

History Behind "When I survey the wondrous cross" Author : Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

MATTHEW ARNOLD declared the greatest Christian hymn in the English language to be "When I survey the wondrous cross." At least it is admittedly the greatest hymn of a great hymn-writer, Isaac Watts, the father of modern English hymnody. He was the son of a deacon in the Independent Church, who had no sympathy with young Watts's custom of making rhymes and verses when a boy. At the age of eighteen Watts was one day ridiculing some of the poor hymns then sung in the churches, when his father said to him, sarcastically, "Make some yourself, then." Accordingly, Watts set himself to writing a hymn, and produced the lines beginning: "Behold the glories of the Lamb." That was the start of his eminent career as a hymn-writer. 

He became a clergyman, but illness compelled him to give up the pastorate, and for thirty-six years he remained at the home of Sir Thomas Abbey at Theobaldo, continuing his hymn-writing, which had reached its highest expression in this hymn, based on Paul s words, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Once, after this hymn had been sung in the Church of Saint Edmund, London, Father Ignatius repeated to his congregation the last two lines of the hymn impressively 

"Love so amazing, so divine, 
Demands my soul, my life, my all." 

And he added: "Well, I am surprised to hear you sing that. Do you know that altogether you put only fifteen shillings in the collection bag this morning?"





Jesus Lover of My Soul Hymn Story - Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

IN the Civil War of the sixties many drummer-boys had left school to join the army. One of them, named Tom, was called "the young deacon," as he was a great favorite and was respected by the soldiers for his religious life.

Both his widowed mother and his sister were dead, so he had gone to war. One day he told the chaplain he had had a dream the night before.

In his sleep he was greeted home again by his mother and little sister. "How glad they were !" he said. "My mother pressed me to her heart. I didn't seem to remember they were dead. O, sir, it was just as real as you are real now!"

The following day in frightful battle both armies swept over the same ground four times, and at night between the two armies lay many dead and wounded that neither dared approach. Tom was missing; but when the battle roar was over they recognized his voice singing, softly and beautifully, "Jesus, Lover of my soul." When he had sung, 

"Leave, ah ! leave me not alone, 
Still support and comfort me," 

the voice stopped and there was silence. In the morning the soldiers found Tom sitting on the ground and leaning against a stump dead. But they knew that his "helpless soul" had found refuge with Jesus, the Lover of the soul. 

Be Not Dismayed Whate'er Betide, God Will Take Care of You - C. D. Martin

Be not dismayed whate'er betide,  God will take care of you is one of my favorite hymns and I believe that that is true of millions of other Christians as well.

A BLIND man was seen crossing the street at a dangerous place in the Bronx, New York city. A friend nearby overheard him singing softly, "God will take care of you," and asked, "Why are you singing that hymn?" He replied: "Because I must cross this dangerous street, and maybe one of the many wagons might strike me and I might get killed. But the thought came to me that, even if it did occur, my soul would go straight to God. And if he led me across all right, it would be just another evidence of his care of me. So I could not help singing to myself, God will take care of you. Hallelujah!" 

A little Sunday school girl once told her mother she was never afraid to pass through a certain dark hallway leading to their home, "because," she explained, "I simply sing, God will take care of you, and I always come through safely." 

This hymn was sung at each session of the State Christian Endeavor Convention, Altoona, Pennsylvania, in 1910. At the close of one of the sessions a man, touched by the song, inquired after salvation. A little later some delegates, while singing this song at their hotel, noticed several men at the door of a nearby barroom attracted by the singing. One had a glass of beer in his hand, which he quietly poured into the gutter leading to the street before the strains of the song were finished.

Below are the Lyrics of this song, God Will Take Care of You.

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

Refrain:
God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.

We have other songs on this site besides this hymn God Will Take of You. You can find more links to posts on this site here.

Story Behind Classic Hymn "Blest be the tie that binds" John Fawcett, 1739-1817

THE Rev. Dr. John Fawcett, pastor of the Baptist church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire, had accepted a call to a London church and had preached his farewell sermon, when the tender devotion of his parishioners compelled him to sacrifice his larger ambitions for a career in London, and he remained with them until his death. As a result of this experience he wrote the hymn, "Blest be the tie that binds." 

A pale young man was once teacher of a class of unruly girls in D. L. Moody's Sunday school. One day he tottered into Mr. Moody's store, pale and bloodless, and exclaimed: "I have been bleeding at the lungs, and .they have given me up to die. I must go away at once." "But you are not afraid to die?" asked Mr. Moody. "No," he replied, "but I must soon stand before God and give an account of my stewardship, and not one of my Sunday school scholars has been brought to Christ." 

Immediately he called on all the scholars, appealing to them to accept Christ; and for ten days he worked and prayed with them as never before until each member of the class was saved. On the night when he left for the distant place, where he finally died, says Mr. Moody, "we held a true love feast. It was the very gate of heaven that meeting." He prayed and they prayed, and then with streaming eyes they sang: 

"Blest be the tie that binds 
Our hearts in Christian love ; 
The fellowship of kindred minds 
Is like to that above." 

Bidding each farewell at the train, the dying man whispered that he would meet them all in heaven. 

Story Behind Classic Hymn "The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin" Philip Bliss, 1838-1876


DR. S. EARL TAYLOR, now missionary secretary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, has visited Christian missions around the world, and has had unusual opportunity to hear missionary hymns sung in many different lands. But rarely has he ever been so thrilled by hymn-singing, he declares, as during an eclipse of the sun in the Orient. In India the natives have a superstitious dread of an eclipse of the sun. They fear that the sun is being swallowed by a demon of some sort. 

Once Dr. Taylor was in Calcutta during an eclipse of the sun. For days before that event he saw the city s streets crowded with pilgrims on their way to various sacred places, where they hoped to worship and bathe in the Hoogly River just below the Ganges during the time of the eclipse, expecting thereby to ward off evil. When at last the fateful hour of darkness arrived hundreds of thousands of natives thronged the sacred waters, terrorized by the eclipse and making a great clamor because they feared that a great power of evil in the form of a snake was about to swallow the sun-god. As Dr. Taylor, looking from the Y. M. C. A. Building on the heights above, witnessed this terrible evidence of heathenish superstition, he heard a group of native Christians singing in their meeting: 

"The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin; 
The Light of the world is Jesus." 

The effect was thrilling ! For India's spiritual darkness is due solely to the eclipse of Jesus, the Light of the world, made by heathenism in the hearts of her benighted millions. 

History Behind "Almost persuaded, now to believe" Hymn author: Philip Bliss, 1838-1876


IN the year A. D. 62 a certain Roman citizen was cast into prison because of a multitude of accusations against him. At his hearing before Festus he appealed to Caesar for justice, and was held for trial at Rome. Shortly afterward he was asked to state his defense before King Agrippa and Bernice, who were then visiting Festus. That defense, uttered by Paul for he was the accused prisoner is found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and is one of the greatest addresses to be found in the Holy Scriptures. At the conclusion King Agrippa said to Paul: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" to which Paul replied, "I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." 

A clergyman by the name of Brundage was once preaching upon this subject and concluded his sermon with these solemn words: 

"He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, but to be almost saved is to be entirely lost." Philip Bliss was present and was so deeply impressed by these words that he wrote one of his most helpful hymns, based on the phrase "almost persuaded," as a direct result of this sermon. During the Moody revivals many souls, almost persuaded, were helped by the appeal of this hymn to decide for Christ before it was too late. 

Story Behind "Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear" John Keble, 1792-1866

ONE of the literary landmarks of the early nineteenth century, in sacred poetry at least, was The Christian Year, the work of the Rev. John Keble. A high churchman of the Church of England, he was one of the founders of the Tractarian Movement, which aimed at producing a higher spiritual condition within the church. At one time he was professor of poetry in Oxford University.

From his Christian Year was taken our hymn, "Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear," which was part of a long hymn entitled "Evening."

In "Famous Hymns of the World," Allan Sutherland tells this story of Keble's hymn: "In a wild night a gallant ship went to her doom. A few women and children were placed in a boat, without oars or sails, and drifted away at the mercy of the waves. Earlier in the evening, before the darkness had quite settled down, brave men on the shore had seen the peril of the vessel and had put out in
the face of the tempest, hoping to save human life, but even the ship could not be found. After fruitless search, they were about returning to the shore, when out on the water, and above the wail of the storm, they heard a woman's clear voice singing:

Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear,
It is not night, if Thou be near.

The work of rescue was quickly accomplished. But for the singing, in all probability, this boatload of lives would have drifted beyond human help or been dashed to pieces before morning."


History Behind Classic Chrismas Carol "Hark! the herald angels sing" Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

THE only hymn of Charles Wesley that has been admitted to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England is this Christmas hymn. This is true in spite of the fact that, as an ordained clergyman of that denomination, he was the greatest hymn-writer ever produced by the Church of England. But, of course, Charles Wesley and his brother, John Wesley, belong to Methodism as well. Until death came to them they remained clergymen of the Established Church. The great religious movement founded by John Wesley, and inspired by the hymns of Charles Wesley, and known therefore as the Wesleyan Revival, was intended to quicken the spiritual work of their church. But, besides doing this, it developed into organized Methodism as a separate church, and as such has proved to be a tremendous religious force in the world.

This Christmas hymn was first written in 1739 and first published the same year in Hymns and Sacred Poems by John and Charles Wesley, their first joint hymnal; and it began with the lines:

Hark ! how all the welkin rings,
Glory to the King of kings.

Many revisions have been made in the original hymn, some of which are contained in our Sunday School Hymnal. This hymn has been more widely published in hymn books than any other by Charles Wesley, and is one of the most beloved hymns in the English language. It gives such clear utterance in poetic form to the doctrines of the incarnation that the full meaning of the birth of Christ fairly sings its way into the hearts and memories of those who worship.


"He Leadeth me! O blessed thought!" Joseph Henry Gilmore, 1834-1918

DR. JOSEPH H. GILMORE, the son of a governor of New Hampshire, began his career as pastor of a Baptist church, later becoming professor of Hebrew in Rochester Theological Seminary and afterward professor of English literature in Rochester University, New York. In 1862, the year of his ordination, he was visiting in Philadelphia and conducted the Wednesday evening prayer meeting in the First Baptist Church of that city. 

He took for his subject the Twenty-third Psalm, that most beloved hymn from the world's first hymn book. After the meeting Dr. Gilmore wrote this hymn on the text, "He leadeth me beside the still waters." It came as a result of a conversation in the home he was visiting that evening on the theme of the prayer meeting.

Dr. Gilmore has described the occasion thus : "During the conversation, the blessedness of God's leadership so grew upon me that I took out my pencil, wrote the hymn just as it stands to-day, handed it to my wife, and thought no more about it. She sent it, without my knowledge, to the Watchman and Recorder. Three years later I went to Rochester to preach for the Second Baptist Church. On entering the chapel, I took up a hymn book, thinking, I wonder what they sing? The book opened at He leadeth me ! and that was the first time I knew my hymn had found a place among the songs of the church."

Below are the lyrics
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Refrain:

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.



"Christ for the world we sing" Samuel Wolcott, 1813-1886

THE influence of a motto or slogan when used as a rallying cry in a campaign can scarcely be measured. Many a political election has been determined by the popularity of some striking phrase. In many a war an army has been inspirited by a battle cry, such as, "On to Richmond!" We all know the inspiration of the "Look up! Lift up!" motto in Epworth League work, and of "The Evangelization of the World in this Generation" in missionary work.

This hymn was suggested and partly inspired by just such a motto, which had been adopted by the Young Men's Christian Association of Ohio. And at their meeting on February 7, 1869, this motto was woven into a legend of evergreen letters over the pulpit of the church where they met: "CHRIST FOR THE WORLD AND THE WORLD FOR CHRIST."

There was a clergyman in attendance upon that meeting, a native of South Windsor, Connecticut, by the name of Dr. Samuel Wolcott. He had been a missionary to Syria and also pastor of several Congregational churches in New England and elsewhere. He was nearly fifty-six years old, and though he had not done much hymn-writing up to that time, before he died seventeen years later he had written over two hundred hymns. So impressed was he on this occasion by the motto, and by all that was said and done during the meeting to re enforce it, that on his way home from the service, walking through the streets, he composed the hymn, "Christ for the world we sing."

"God be with you till we meet again" Jeremiah Eames Rankin, 1828-1904

DR. RANKIN, a native of New Hampshire and a graduate of Middlebury College, for many years held the pastorates successively of several prominent Congregational churches in New England and Washington, D. C, until 1889, when he became president of Howard University.

While pastor of a Congregational church in Washington, D. C., he became so impressed with the etymology of the farewell greeting, "good-by," which really means "God be with you," that he determined that a hymn should be wrought out of this beautiful idea. So he came to write "God be with you till we meet again."

When he had written the first stanza he sent it to two different composers, one quite famous, the other little known, each of whom wrote a tune for it. He chose the tune of the latter, W. G. Tomer, who was then teaching school in Washington. Dr. Rankin submitted it to his organist, J. W. Bishoff, a musical editor, and Bishoff approved of it, making certain changes in it. In the words of the author: "It was sung for the first time one evening in the First Congregational Church, in Washington, of which I was then the pastor and Mr. Bishoff the organist. I attributed its popularity in no little part to the music to which it is set. It was a wedding of words and music."

God himself alone knows how many, many times this hymn has been sung on parting by friends, who have never again met upon this earth. But no happier farewell can be uttered by Christians than the simple wish, "God be with you till we meet again."

"Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide" Lyrics and Story (Henry Francis Lyte 1793 -1847)

THE spirit of the walk of Christ with the disciples to Emmaus at eventide is reproduced in the hymn, "Abide with me." This has been sung at the close of many a day, and, indeed, of many a Christian life, as believers have uttered it as a prayer for the presence of Christ. 

It was composed one Sabbath evening in 1847 out of a deep sadness that had settled down upon its author, the Rev. Henry F. Lyte. He had conducted his last communion service that day at the close of a pastorate of twenty-four years at Brixham, England. 

A fatal illness had already seized him and he was about to leave England to prolong his life, if possible, in the South. Toward evening he walked down his garden path to the seaside, and there thought out the imagery and many of the lines of his famous hymn. 

Into this he has woven the sense of change and of helpfulness that one must feel in the presence of death, and also the trustful dependence upon Jesus Christ, the "Help of the helpless," which every true Christian must feel in that solemn hour.

Returning to his home, he wrote out the hymn, perfecting its lines and giving to the Christian world one of its tenderest prayer-hymns. He left at once for the south of France, and soon after his arrival in Nice his strength failed him, and
whispering the words "Peace! Joy!" while he was pointing his hand upward, he died.

Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

This hymn, "Abide with me" was very popular in the battle trenches of the First World War. It is also remembered as a song sung by  British Nurse Edith Cavell the night before the Germans shot her for helping British soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium.

Abide with me is also a favorite hymn of the British of the Royal Family. It was played at the weddings of the future George VI to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and their daughter Elizabeth to Prince Philip.
Henry Francis Lyte - Abide with me hymn composer

It is a fixture of the FA Cup final, Anzac Day and the British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. On Sept 21, 2001 it was unforgettably played at Ground Zero by a Salvation Army band during the commemoration of the September 11 attacks.

It also features on the soundtracks of several movies – The Full Monty, 28 Days Later, A Bridge Too Far – and is always associated with mourning and tragedy.

Below are the lyrics of this great hymn.

    Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

    Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

    I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

    I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

    Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.




"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild" Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

JOHN B. GOUGH with a friend one day went up to a small garret room. A feeble voice said, "Come in!" and they entered. Through the gloom they saw a boy, ten years old, lying on a heap of chips. "What are you doing there?" they asked. "Hush !" he replied; "I am hiding." As he showed his bruised and swollen arms, he added : "Poor father got drunk and beat me because I would not steal. . . . Once I went to ragged school and they taught me Thou shalt not steal, and told me about God in heaven. I will not steal, sir, if my father kills me." 

The friend said: "I don't know what to do with you. Here is a shilling. I will see what we can do for you." The boy looked at it a minute, and then said: "But please, sir, wouldn't you like to hear my little hymn?" They marveled that a lad suffering from cold and hunger and bruises could sing a hymn; but they answered : "Yes, we will hear you." And then in a low, sweet voice he sang, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild." At the conclusion he said : "That's my little hymn. Good-by." 

Next morning they mounted the stairs again, knocking at the door, but there came no answer. They opened the door and went in. The shilling lay on the floor, and there too lay the boy dead, but with a brave smile on his face. He sleeps in the grave until that day when His "Gentle Jesus" will take him home to heaven.

"In the cross of Christ I glory" John Bowring, 1792-1872

AMONG the hymn-writers represented in our Sunday School Hymnal are to be found a shoe maker, a prisoner in bondage, an editor, several bishops and a cardinal, a converted slave-trader, a lawyer, a blind woman, a student, and a college professor. None, however, bore greater distinction, or won higher glory in the public life of a statesman, than did Sir John Bowring. He represented the English government in France at one time. Later he was consul to Hongkong, and afterward governor of Hongkong. He became a great factor in the political development of the Orient. Twice he was a member of the British Parliament and was knighted in 1854. Besides his distinctions in statecraft, he won high literary honors and was the master of thirteen different languages, having made translations from all of them into English. 

In spite of all these great earthly successes, and in spite of the fact that he was a Unitarian by faith, he humbled himself before the cross of Jesus Christ and uttered his faith in the striking word-picture of this hymn : 

In the cross of Christ I glory, 
Towering o'er the wrecks of time. 

He lived to be over eighty years old, writing other famous hymns, among them our well-known missionary hymn, "Watchman, tell us of the night." At length he died in 1872 at Exeter, his birthplace ; and upon his tombstone you may read the inscription, "In the cross of Christ I glory."  

"Oft in danger, oft in woe" Henry Kirke White, 1785-1806

Two authors are responsible for the hymn, "Oft in danger, oft in woe." The first verse was written by a young man, Henry Kirke White, who died October 19, 1806, while still a student in Saint John's College, Cambridge University. The other verses were written by a fourteen-year-old girl, Frances Sara Fuller-Maitland, who successfully carried the spirit of White's fragmentary lines into the subsequent verses, first published by her mother, Mrs. Bertha Fuller-Maitland in 1827. 

White was born in Nottingham, England, March 21, 1785. Not wanting to become a butcher, like his father, he became apprenticed to a weaver when only fourteen years old, afterward entering a law office. His genius as a poet began to blossom while he was still a boy. A book of his poems that he published at the age of seventeen showed that he had become irreligious. 

A dear friend of his, named Almond, had become a Christian, and told White that they could no longer associate together, because of White's scorn of the Christian life. This hurt White so deeply that he exclaimed: "You surely think worse of me than I deserve !" But Almond's courageous stand brought White to his senses, and gradually the young poet realized his lost condition and found his way to the Saviour of mankind. The story of his struggle toward the light is pictured in his hymn, "When marshaled on the nightly plain." After his death in college they found on some mathematical papers his lines, beginning, "Much in sorrow, oft in woe."  

"My country, tis of thee" Lyrics and Story - Samuel Francis Smith, 1808-1895

A STUDENT, twenty-three years old, studying in Andover Theological Seminary for the Baptist ministry, wrote the American national hymn in less than a half hour on the second day of February, 1832. His name was Samuel F. Smith, the author also of "The morning light is breaking." The words were in part inspired by the tune we call "America," which he had found in a German collection of songs loaned to him shortly before by Lowell Mason, that master editor of hymn-books in the early nineteenth century. Mason had secured the book from William C. Woodbridge. 

Authorities have disagreed as to where the tune came from whether Saxony, Russia, Sweden, or England, in all of which countries it has been popularly sung to patriotic words. Because of its striking similarity to certain ancient tunes, it has been claimed by various writers to have come from an old French tune or a still older Scottish carol. The probabilities are and on this most editors agree to 
day that the first man to write the tune in nearly its present form was Henry Carey, an English composer, who lived from 1685 until 1743. Once when regret was expressed to Dr. Smith that his American national hymn is sung to the same tune as the British hymn, he replied : "I do not share this regret. On the contrary, I deem it a new and beautiful bond of union between the mother country and her daughter." The hymn was first sung July 4, 1832, at a children's patriotic celebration in Boston. 

"O Say, Can You See by the Dawn's Early Light" - Francis Scott Key, 1779-1843

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY, author of the "Star-Spangled Banner," was born at Double Pipe Creek, Maryland, on the estate of his father, John Ross Key, an officer in the Revolutionary War. He was educated at Saint John's College, practiced law at Frederick, Maryland, and for three terms served as district attorney at Georgetown in the District of Columbia under President Andrew Jackson. 

During the War of 1812 with England, Key visited the British ship, "Minden," in order to secure the release of some of the prisoners, one of them being his friend, Dr. William Beanes, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Merely because of his sympathy with the American cause, Dr. Beanes was held by the British. Key was successful in getting the prisoners released. But just as they were all about to depart, the British decided not to let them go that night because of the attack about to be made upon Baltimore. Accordingly, they were taken on board the frigate "Surprise" and carried up the Patapsco River to their own vessel, which was kept under guard, lest they escape and give away information to their fellow countrymen. During the battle between the ships and the forts their anxiety was intense. And as Key walked the deck, eagerly awaiting the dawn, which should tell him whether or not over Fort McHenry the flag was still there, he wrote on the back of a letter : 

"O say, can you see by the dawn's early light, 
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last 
gleaming?" 

On the rowboat that bore him shoreward in the morning he completed the song now so famous.
 

"Jerusalem the golden" - Bernard of Cluny, 12th Century

THE pious monk, now known as Bernard of Cluny, was born in the twelfth century in Morlaix, France; and upon maturity dedicated himself to the service of God in the Abbey of Cluny. Whether or not he was named after Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, as some suppose, it is known that he was much younger than the author of "Jesus, the very thought of Thee." From within the cloistered walls of the Abbey the godly man looked out upon the world about him, and was sick at heart to see so much worldliness and sin in the life of the people of his day. 

As he meditated upon this sad condition, which weighed so heavily upon his soul, he wrote in the Latin language a great poem of three thousand lines, entitled "Concerning a Disdain of the World." While it is largely a satire upon the sinful age, and warns against the wrath to come, the poem by way of contrast contains the most exalted passages, expressing the poet's eager contemplation of the glorious life awaiting the blessed in heaven. Dr. John Mason Neale, an English clergyman and scholar, has made exquisite translations into English from these lines upon heaven, and from his translations, among others, has been taken our stirring hymn, "Jerusalem the golden." It has been called the "Hymn of heavenly homesickness," as it expresses so tenderly the yearning of the devout soul for "that sweet and blessed country." 

"O for a thousand tongues to sing" Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

CHARLES WESLEY, the greatest hymn-writer in Methodist history, wrote over six thousand hymns, some of which have attained the first rank in English hymnody. He and his brother, John Wesley, admitted that they made more converts through their hymns than through their preaching. 

Charles Wesley usually celebrated each anniversary of his birthday by writing a hymn of praise to God. Little wonder, therefore, that the first anniversary of his conversion, his spiritual birthday, should be celebrated by one of the most helpful hymns in use among Methodists. The opening line of the hymn, "O for a thousand tongues to sing," is reminiscent of a remark of praise to God, once uttered to Wesley by Peter Border : "Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all." 

When Charles Wesley was converted he had been ill in bed for some time, and the fear of death had often come into his mind. On Sunday, May 21, 1738, his brother and some friends came in and sang a hymn. After they went out he prayed alone for some time. In his journal we read: "I was composing myself to sleep in quietness and peace when I heard one come in and say, In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities. The words struck me to the heart. I lay musing and trembling. With a strange palpitation of heart, I said, yet feared to say, I believe, I believe ! " These memories he has woven into that wonderful third verse of the hymn: 

Jesus ! the name that charms our fears, 
That bids our sorrows cease ; 
Tis music in the sinner s ears, 
Tis life, and health, and peace.  

"Glorious things of thee are spoken" - John Newton, 1725-1807

WHEN John Newton, an English preacher of the eighteenth century, in his old age could no longer read his texts, he was urged to give up preaching. "What!" said he, "shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?" And in these words he correctly characterized himself as he had been before conversion. Newton could never forget that the grace of God had rescued him from the depths of sin. His godly mother had taught him the Scriptures. But she died when he was only seven years old, and at the age of eleven he went to sea with his father. His life as a sailor was full of exciting adventures and full of wickedness. He became a sea captain and a slave-trader, and was enslaved himself for a time. For years the only good influence that he knew came through his love for his future wife, Mary Catlett. 

One frightful night, when he was twenty-three years old, the waterlogged vessel he was steering was almost lost. Thus facing death all night long, he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and turned away from his sins. Later he came under the influence of Whitefield and the Wesleys, entered the Christian ministry, and lived a life of wide usefulness in the service of the Master. His influence lives today chiefly in the hymns that he wrote, many of them being first published with those of Cowper in the "Olney Hymns" and similar collections. His hymn, "Glorious things of thee are spoken," which we sing to the Austrian national tune, is one of the finest hymns of praise in the English language. 

"Hark, my soul! it is the Lord" - William Cowper, 1731-1800

WILLIAM COWPER is regarded as the greatest English poet who has contributed any considerable number of hymns to the wealth of our English hymnody. His life was one of great suffering and was tragic to a high degree. His early school life was extremely unhappy. Later, while studying law, he fell in love with Theodora Cowper, who was his own cousin. His devotion to her he expressed in several love poems. But to Cowper's great sorrow their marriage was forbidden by her father. The disease of melancholia fastened itself upon his mind, and his sufferings became most acute. 

Though he recovered, his life was beclouded throughout by his mental depression, and he occasionally lapsed into the most desperate forms of melancholy. 

Despite his great affliction, he wrote many of our most beloved hymns. His association with John Newton stimulated his interest in hymn-writing, even though it may not have added much wholesome cheer to his darkened soul. The hymn "Hark, my soul! it is the Lord" is perhaps the tenderest that fell from his pen. The last verse expresses simply, but exquisitely, the anxieties and yearnings of his spiritual life: 

Lord, it is my chief complaint 
That my love is weak and faint; 
Yet I love Thee and adore : 
Oh for grace to love Thee more! 


"I think, when I read that sweet story of old" - Jemima Luke, 1813-1906

JEMIMA THOMPSON, who afterward married the Rev. Samuel Luke, wrote this hymn in 1841. Like many hymns, it was partly inspired by a tune in this case a Greek melody the pathos of which stirred the author s fancy as she read it at the Normal Infant School at Gray s Inn Road. She once wrote: "I went one day on some missionary business to the little town of Wellington, five miles from Faunton, in a stagecoach. It was a beautiful spring morning; it was an hour's ride and there was no other inside passenger. On the back of an old envelope I wrote in pencil the first two of the verses now so well known. . . . The third verse was added afterward to make it a missionary hymn." 

One day a newsboy in New York entered a bank with a bundle of papers under his arm and asked two gentlemen sitting before a fire: "Papers, sirs? Three more banks down !" "No," replied one of them, "we don t want any. But stop! If you will sing us a song we will buy one." The boy agreed; and, expecting to hear a jovial song, they placed the little ten-year-old on a table. But he surprised them by singing, "I think, when I read that sweet story of old." Soon they were both in tears. They bought his papers and took his name and address; and the song of the Sunday school lad turned their thoughts to the olden story, "When Jesus was here among men." 

"Lead, kindly Light, amid th' encircling gloom" Composer: John Henry Newman, 1801-1890


THIS prayer-hymn, cast in high poetic form, was penned by John Henry Newman, afterward a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, while on ship board on Sunday, June 16, 1833. It is said that the ship had been compelled to proceed slowly because of the dense fog that encompassed it. Dr. Newman was returning to Marseilles, France, from a visit he had made to Italy. While in Sicily he was taken seriously ill and on his recovery he waited for his ship in Palermo for three weeks. 

Probably both of these facts entered somewhat into the imagery of the hymn, as is evidenced by such phrases as "th' encircling gloom" and "The night is dark, and I am far from home." 

The thought and sentiment of the hymn, however, were wrought out of the mental darkness in which Newman was then groping. Some time before, he wrote this note: "Now in my room in Oriel College, slowly advancing, etc., and led on by God's hand blindly, not knowing whither he is taking me." This darkness, beclouding his faith, had become still deeper during the summer of his Italian journey, during which he wrote "Lead, Kindly Light." But the expression of his supreme trust in God, which shines through these lines, so universally popular, has helped many a soul that has yearned for guidance "amid the encircling gloom." 

"All glory, laud, and honor" Saint Theodulph, ? -821

SOME of our best hymns were originally written many centuries ago in the Latin language, and have been brought into our English hymnody by devout modern translators. In the year A. D. 820 Theodulph, the Bishop of Orleans, was imprisoned at Metz by King Louis, the Debonnaire, who was the son of Chaflemagne. The Bishop had been falsely accused of disloyalty to his king, but he bore with patience his captivity and the ignominy brought upon him by suspicious gossipers. 

While in prison his meditations were upon the King of kings, and, taking the beautiful story of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem as his theme, he wrote a Palm Sunday hymn that has survived to the Christian Church these eleven hundred years : 

All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King, 
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring. 

Our translation was made by the Rev. Dr. John Mason Neale. 

An ancient tradition has it that the Bishop trained a chorus within the cloisters to sing his hymn with beautiful effect; and once they were singing it thus while King Louis and his court were passing on their way to the Cathedral. So enchanted was the king by its beauty that he commanded that the Bishop be released from his prison at once. The following year he died; but his church canonized him because of his preeminent piety. And to-day he is known as "Saint Theodulph."  

"The day of resurrection" Composer: John of Damascus, ? -780

EASTERTIDE brings a worldwide joy, and its coming is celebrated in many different ways. Dean Stanley once penned a description of an Easter celebration in the Greek Church in which the hymn, "The day of resurrection," was sung in the original Greek, as it was first written, and with all of its original beauty: 

"As midnight approached, the Archbishop with his priests, accompanied by the king and queen, left the church and stationed themselves on the platform, which was raised considerably from the ground, so that they were distinctly seen by the people. . . . Suddenly a single report from a cannon announced that twelve oclock had struck, and that Easter Day had begun. Then the old Archbishop, elevating the cross, exclaimed in a loud, exulting tone: Christos anesti. And instantly every single individual of all that host took up the cry, . . . with a shout, Christ is risen ! Christ is risen ! 

"At the same moment the impressive darkness was succeeded by a blaze of light from thousands of tapers. . . . Everywhere men clasped each other's hands and congratulated one another and embraced with countenances beaming with delight, as though to each one separately some wonderful happiness had been proclaimed; and so in truth it was. And all the while, rising above the mingling of many sounds, each one of which was a sound of gladness, the aged priests were distinctly heard chanting forth this glorious old hymn of victory m tones so loud and clear that they seemed to have regained their youth to tell the world that Christ is risen from the dead." 

"Fling out the banner ! let it float" Composer: George Washington Doane, 1799-1859

GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, once Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey, was born the same year in which General George Washington died 1799. His life, which spanned the years until 1872, was filled with remarkable activity. He graduated at Union College in 1818, began his ministry at Trinity Church, New York, was a professor in Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, and later rector of Trinity Church, Boston, when he was elected to be Bishop of New Jersey. 

Five years after he became bishop, he founded on the banks of the Delaware River at Burlington, New Jersey, a Protestant Episcopalian school for girls, known as Saint Mary s Hall, about which the best traditions of the Diocese of New Jersey have centered. The Bishop took the liveliest interest in the school, and watched over the destiny of his educational child with fatherly anxiety. 

His successor, Bishop John Scarborough, who inherited through his office this interest in the school, once told the writer how Bishop Doane came to write the famous missionary hymn, "Fling out the banner !" In 1848 there was to be a flagraising at Saint Mary's Hall, and the girls of the school appealed to Bishop Doane to write a song for them to sing on that occasion. The result was the writing of this hymn, which was sung for the first time by the young ladies of the seminary, and has been sung at thousands of missionary meetings since then, to the spiritual stimulation of many souls.  

"I was a wandering sheep" Composer: Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889


THE Rev. Dr. Horatius Bonar, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, was one of the founders of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. He wrote a great many hymns that are widely used. In his hymn, "I was a wandering sheep," he has told the story of salvation in simple terms that a child can understand. 

Dr. Long has written an account of the revival in a girls school in Massachusetts, where many of the girls had shown a great indifference to religion. Among the girls who laughed at the meetings and their results was one by the name of Helen B . 

They sought to interest her in attending the prayer meetings, but all they could do was to pray for her. One evening, however, they were surprised to see Helen enter the meeting with eyes downcast and face very pale. After a few hymns and prayers each one quoted some favorite hymn verses. When Helen's turn came there was a silence, and then she began : 

"I was a wandering sheep, 
I did not love the fold. 

"Her voice was low but distinct; and every word as she uttered it, thrilled the hearts of the listeners. She repeated one stanza after another of that beautiful hymn of Bonar's, and not an eye, save her own, was dry, as with sweet emphasis she pronounced the last lines : 

No more a wayward child, 
I seek no more to roam. 

That single hymn told all. The wandering sheep the wayward child, had returned."  


"Golden Harps are Sounding" Composer: Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836-1879

Miss FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL was the daughter of a clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. W. H. Havergal. He was both musician and hymn-writer; and his gifted daughter, consecrating her life and her talents to the Master, wrote many helpful hymns, setting some of them to her own music, as is illustrated by the hymn, "Golden harps are sounding." 

Miss Anne Steele, who lived and wrote some of the best hymns in the eighteenth century, frequently signed her hymns with the name "Theodosia." Miss Havergal has been compared with Miss Steele, and is sometimes styled "the Theodosia of the nineteenth century," so influential has her life proved to be through her hymns as well as through her many other good works. 

The Havergal manuscripts contain the following account of the writing of this hymn: "When visiting at Parry Barr," Miss Havergal "walked to the boys schoolroom, and being very tired she leaned against the playground wall while Mr. Snepp went in. Returning in ten minutes, he found her scribbling on an old envelope. At his request she gave him the hymn just penciled, Golden harps are sounding. Her popular tune, Hennas, was composed for this hymn." 

At the age of forty-two she died at Caswell Bay, Swansea. But shortly before she passed away, closing a life of rare usefulness in the salvation of many souls, she gathered up her strength and sang : 

"Golden harps are sounding, 
Angel voices ring, 
Pearly gates are opened . . ."  

"Glory be to the Father"

ONE of the most universally accepted forms of worship among Protestants, who would praise the Triune God in song, is the ancient "Gloria Patri." This is, strictly within the meaning of the term, a doxology, for a doxology is an alleluia or other expression of praise to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost" expresses the fundamental doctrine of the Apostles Creed, and at the same time utters worshipful praise to God. 

The story of the exact origin of the "Gloria Patri" is not known, though it is thought by many hymnologists to have come to us from the apostolic age. The coming of Christ as a babe in Bethlehem was heralded by a hymn of the angels in the first Christmas gloria : "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." After the Last Supper with the Saviour the apostles sang a hymn and went out, as it is recorded in the gospel. Hymn-singing was one of the peculiar customs of the early Christians observed by secular writers of that age. There is inspiration to us in the thought that the Christians of this day make such frequent use of the hymn to the Trinity, sung by Christians in the apostolic age. 

It is said that on May 26, A. D. 735, when his death was approaching, The Venerable Bede, the most eminent sacred scholar of his age, asked his friends to carry him to that part of the room where he usually prayed; and there he sang the "Gloria Patri" ; and when at last he had sung, "World without end, Amen," he died.  

"The God of Abraham praise" Author: Thomas Olivers, 1725-1799

THOMAS OLIVERS, when a boy orphaned and friendless, fell into the company of bad companions and won the reputation of being "the worst boy in that country in thirty years." As a man, he learned the trade of a shoemaker, but continued in his wicked ways, until at last the preaching of Whitefield got hold upon his soul, stirring him with a message from the text, "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" 

Olivers became converted, and immediately set about helping the Wesley's in the work of plucking other brands from the fire. He assisted in setting up type for the Wesleyan publications, he became an efficient preacher and, as is evidenced by this wonderful hymn, a hymn-writer of a high order. 

One night in London, he was attracted to a service in a Jewish synagogue, where he heard a great singer, Leoni, sing an ancient Hebrew melody in the solemn, plaintive mode and he became impressed with a desire to write a hymn to that tune. The result was our hymn, "The God of Abraham praise," which is in a sense a paraphrase of the ancient Hebrew Yigdal, or doxology, though Olivers gave to it a distinctly Christian flavor. 

The story is told of a young Jewess who had been baptized into the Christian faith, and in consequence was abandoned by her family. She fled to the home of the minister, poured out her heart to him, and as if to show that, after all, her joy in her new-found Saviour was greater than all her loss of home and family, she sang, "The God of Abraham praise."