Devotional


In the devotional book, Voices of the Faithful, a missionary shares how her prayer in the midst of a dark-of-night burglary (that could have and probably would have ended in her physical violation and even death) was answered by God striking fear into the hearts of her assailants. Although bruised and scratched from the encounter, she remained alive with her purity intact. Her faith had grown to the point that she shares, “Even if I had not been delivered, He is still trustworthy and faithful.” (p. 33)

Where is our faith and commitment today? Are we ready, in the middle of a dark moment, to pray for deliverance? Even more, can my commitment to God hold fast if He chooses a different path for me than deliverance as I understand it?

Graciously, most of us will not be face to face with death by a violent means. My prayer is that we, in even our simply uncomfortable tests of commitment, will join this Christian worker in the understanding that God is trustworthy and faithful even when deliverance this side of Glory does not look like we expect it to look.

 “But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:18

Words by John Keble (1792-1866)

(Also included in the Broadman Hymnal, 1940 ed., Broadman Press, Nashville – #177; Voice of Praise, 1947, Broadman Press, Nashville – #177; Inspiring Hymns, 1968, Zondervan, Grand Rapids – #19; The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, Word/Integrity, Waco – #625; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 1986, Word, Waco – #412; Favorite Hymns of Praise, 1967, Tabernacle Publishing, Chicago – #422.)

The Hymn

  1. Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
    It is not night if Thou be near;
    O may no earthborn cloud arise
    To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.
  2. When the soft dews of kindly sleep
    My wearied eyelids gently steep,
    Be my last thought, how sweet to rest
    Forever on my Savior’s breast.
  3. Abide with me from morn till eve,
    For without Thee I cannot live;
    Abide with me when night is nigh,
    For without Thee I dare not die.
  4. If some poor wandering child of Thine
    Has spurned today the voice divine,
    Now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
    Let him no more lie down in sin.
  5. Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
    With blessings from Thy boundless store;
    Be every mourner’s sleep tonight,
    Like infants’ slumbers, pure and right.
  6. Come near and bless us when we wake,
    Ere through the world our way we take,
    Till in the ocean of Thy love
    We lose ourselves in Heaven above.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal.

Scriptural Connection

Two or the hymnal editors (as well as the editors at CyberHymnal) selected Psalm 84 as the scriptural background for this hymn. Specifically mentioned is verse 11 which starts with the line “The Lord God is a Sun and Shield . . .” In keeping with the praise aspect and the psalmly connection to our current section of hymns I would be glad to take this connection.

On the other hand, I see a closer relationship between the poem used for lyrics and the declaration in Revelation 22:5 “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” This verse allows for the exchange of the Sun for the Savior as the light that illumines and gives comfort.

What does it mean?

As suggested, this hymn is one that is designed to bring comfort, warmth, and light to the worshiper. The call is to the Savior (a reason to move from the Psalms to the Revelation in our scripture of choice), and the request is for continual abiding.

Theologically, this hymn calls for all people to trust in the Christ indicating that without Him all hope is lost. The majority of the hymnals I consulted choose stanzas 1, 2, 3, and 6 as text inclusions with a variation on verse 6: “Be near to bless us when we wake . . .” Even so, the hymn directs people first to believe in Christ and rest in Him, and also requests that the Savior abide or remain with the worshiper.

This hymn, while not as avidly used in circles where I worship, has not lost its power of comfort of those who rest in the light provided by the Sun, the Savior. May your life today be filled with that same comforting light.

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

Words paraphrase from Psalm 100 by William Kethe; Thomas Ken

(Also included in the Broadman Hymnal, 1940 ed., Broadman Press, Nashville – #3 Baptist Hymnal, 1975 ed. Convention Press, Nashville – #17, 1991 ed. Convention Press, Nashville – #5, 2008 ed. LifeWay,  Nashville – #40; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1947 – #123; Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle Publishing Co., Chicago, 1967 – #12; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #20; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #101.)

Traditionally sung to the tune known as “Old 100” this is perhaps the wording for which the tune was composed. (see Reynolds, William J., Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976, p.32, for commentary on the use of this tune.)

The Hymn

  1. 1.      All people that on earth do dwell,
    Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
    Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
    Come ye before Him and rejoice.
  2. 2.      The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
    Without our aid He did us make;
    We are His flock, He doth us feed,
    And for His sheep He doth us take.
  3. 3.      Oh, enter then His gates with praise;
    Approach with joy His courts unto;
    Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
    For it is seemly so to do.
  4. 4.      For why? the Lord our God is good;
    His mercy is for ever sure;
    His truth at all times firmly stood,
    And shall from age to age endure.
  5. To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
    The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
    From men and from the angel host
    Be praise and glory evermore.

[Verses in bold print are found in our example hymnal – which also includes the following doxology:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.]

(Hymn words accessed at Cyberhymnal)

Scriptural Connection

Some hymn connections are much easier than others. For instance as this one is a paraphrase of Psalm 100, it is safe to assume that this is the best connection for the hymn. And as such here is the King James translation of that Psalm:

1Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

2Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

What does it mean?

As simply as can be put, this psalm calls all of creation into praise of the Creator God. The opening lines call out all the people who live on Earth. We must assume that the word “all” includes all, and therefore, every person who lives (or “dwells”) on this Earth should participate in raising their voice to God.

This praise includes service to God. We are asked to serve in fear. Here is another difficulty, because we want to equate fear with fright or cowardice. This is not the type of fear that is spoken of at this point though. Instead it is a reverence, an awe if you will, for One who makes us, but treats us as lovingly as a shepherd would his sheep. (One quick note: if you access the link you will notice that the Cyberhymnal uses the word “folk” in its rendering of the lyrics for this hymn, where the original paraphrase and the context call for the word “flock” so I have corrected the wording here.)

The hymn continues: Praise, praise, praise again. And then poses the question “for why?” and then answers in the next words “the Lord our God is good.” Need we any other reason to send praise after praise after praise to Him? The psalmist and the hymnist and this commentator agree that we do not? So “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

[For those who are keeping score, I did miss last Monday–it was Labor Day (one of our holidays here in the  USA) so I took a breather. Now we’re back with the latest hymn-sing post.]

Words by George W. Frazier (1830-1896) [stanza 3, Alfred S. Loizeaux (1877-1962)]

(Also included in Baptist Hymnal – 1975 ed. #3; 1991 ed. #248; 2008 ed. #337; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #93; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #268)

This old hymn has been included in numerous volumes of hymnals. As you can see from the list of my personal collection (I don’t think Heber’s hymn was excluded from any hymnal I own), this is a favorite song of praise. It remains a favorite for many Christians today.

The Hymn

  1. God, our Father, we adore Thee!
    We, Thy children, bless Thy name!
    Chosen in the Christ before Thee,
    We are “holy without blame.”
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Abba’s praises we proclaim!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Abba’s praises we proclaim!
  2. Son Eternal, we adore Thee!
    Lamb upon the throne on high!
    Lamb of God, we bow before Thee,
    Thou hast bro’t Thy people nigh!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Son of God, who came to die!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Son of God who came to die!
  3. Holy Spirit, we adore Thee!
    Paraclete and heavenly guest!
    Sent from God and from the Savior,
    Thou hast led us into rest.
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    By Thy grace forever blest;
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    By Thy grace forever blest!
  4. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
    Three in One! we give Thee praise!
    For the riches we inherit,
    Heart and voice to Thee we raise!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Thee we bless thro’ endless days!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Thee we bless through endless days!

Scriptural Connection

To find a Scriptural connection, hymnal editors over the years have focused either on the worship/adoration theme of the music or on the address of the Father by His children (looking for references to children of God as their basis). In the latter case, one could turn to Romans 8:16 for the assertion that we (as Christians) are children of God.

Personally, I believe that when looking for a Scriptural connection of a hymn one is better served to look for passages that speak to the message of the song rather than the details. So I would more likely choose a worship passage such as John 4:23, where the evangelist teaches us that we are to worship in spirit and in truth.

What does it mean?

This hymn is a hymn of praise to God. Each stanza focuses on a separate person of the Trinity to be the recipient of the praise of God’s people. Taking each verse individually we see some excellent teaching about God, Salvation, and the Holy Spirit.

In stanza one, we address God the Father. We see how and why we can be known as His children—it is through Christ, and in Him that we can be seen as blameless. Frazer also takes advantage of the Father-child relationship by including the affectionate term “Abba” as a reference to God. What is so spectacular about this part of the hymn is that instead of the more formal title “Father,” Christians, because of Christ, can have that intimate relationship in which (as in the Aramaic “Abba”) we can refer to God as Papa or Daddy . . . even as we sing His praises.

Stanza two focuses on the Son. We see His attributes—He is “Eternal”—as well as His responsibilities—He came to earth to die. In so doing He is the Lamb (bringing to mind the picture of a sacrificial lamb) who was offered in sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

Verse three was a later addition to this hymn which was originally included in a hymnal of the Plymouth Brethren who were opposed strongly to ascribing praise to the Holy Spirit. Their idea was that while He is a person of the Godhead, there is no Scriptural foundation for addressing praise to the Spirit. The author of the third verse was part of the publishing family who printed the original hymnal but he had no conviction about not praising the Spirit. So when another hymn editor asked about a verse addressed to the Spirit, Loizeaux, wrote several options one of which was chosen to include in the new hymnal. Loizeaux also suggested that he felt that adding in this verse made the thought more complete—after all it was also a hymn confirming the Trinity. One difficult word in this verse is the archaic word “Paraclete” which is a transliteration of a Greek term for the Holy Spirit—the Comforter which will be sent after Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection. He is the person of the Trinity who lives (or dwells) within the heart of the believer as an honored guest and guide.

The last stanza brings everything together, and I must agree with Loizeaux that without the third verse addressing the Holy Spirit, this final stanza would seem a little out of place. Instead we have a full and complete thought. Like the Godhead is complete in the Trinity, our praise is complete only as we praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in His entirety for an eternity.

For those who would like to sing along, the tune normally used for this hymn is BEECHER by John Zundel (1815-1882) which is you might remember from singing “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

Words by St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), tr. by William H. Draper (1855-1933)

(Also included in Baptist Hymnal – 1975 ed. #9; 1991 ed. #27; 2008 ed. #11; Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle Publishing Co., Chicago, 1967 – #24; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #63; Inspiring Hymns, Singspiration/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1951 – #232; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #64)

The Hymn

1.     All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2.     Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3.      Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
4.      Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5.      And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
6.      And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
7.      Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
(hymn words accessed from Cyber Hymnal)

[Bold print indicates verses included in our study hymnal.]

Scriptural Connection

Because this is a hymn of praise it is no wonder that hymn collectors over the years have chosen any one of a number of the praise Psalms as the connection for this hymn. For a reference among these many you might connect with Psalm 66, Psalm 100, or Psalm 104 (the latter is popular among many hymnal editors).

What does it mean?

This is a hymn that calls all of Creation into the worship hall of praise. Francis of Assisi having been renowned for his love of nature and his desire to make connection between the creation and its Creator it is not surprising that he would pen this great hymn of our faith.

As you can see, there were a number of stanzas penned for this hymn of faith. The writer calls on the heavenly bodies as well as the animals and all of Nature to adore the God who made them. The final verse points us to the Trinity—which indicates the orthodox belief in One God in Triune Being (Father, Son, and Spirit) (see the post on “Holy! Holy! Holy!” for more on the Trinity).

Archaic language that might be cumbersome for the modern reader/singer of this hymn would include the “Thou” and “Ye” references. These are both words of second person address. While some might opt for changing these references to “you” for the modern reader, the ancient language offers something that we miss out on today. Namely the use of a “thou” rather than “you” indicates the close family/friend relationship between children and parents or brothers and sisters. One misconception is that to use the term “thee” or “thou” in addressing a person is more formal than the simple “you.” Quite the opposite is true. The thought that Christ is closer than a brother for the believer touches on the endearment of using such language. A second reason to keep the language from the 19th Century translation/paraphrase is the poetic nature of Shakespearean English.

This same language helps us to see the connection that St. Francis draws between mankind and the rest of creation. This also gives an ear to Christ’s assertion that if people ceased to praise God, then all of Nature would do it. (see Luke 19:28-40 for the story.)

Some later hymn collectors (including the editors of the two latest versions of Baptist Hymnals) added the words commonly known as Old 100 (or Doxology) as a verse of conclusion for this hymn. The main reason to do this is to give the practice of praise to those voices called into praise. St. Francis has called us to worship, now let us worship.

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

Words by Reginald Heber (1783-1826)

(Also included in The Broadman Hymnal, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1940 – #6; Baptist Hymnal – 1975 ed. #1; 1991 ed. #2; 2008 ed. #68; Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle Publishing Co., Chicago, 1967 – #2; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #3; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1947 – #126; Inspiring Hymns, Singspiration/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1951 – #20; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #262; Heavenly Highways Hymns, second edition, Stamps-Baxter/Brentwood-Benson, Franklin, TN, 1989 – #1)

This old hymn has been included in numerous volumes of hymnals. As you can see from the list of my personal collection (I don’t think Heber’s hymn was excluded from any hymnal I own), this is a favorite song of praise. It remains a favorite for many Christians today.

The Hymn

  1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
  2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
  3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
    Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
    Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
    Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
  4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
    Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! (source for Hymn words: Timeless Truths)

Scriptural Connection

These words, Heber’s paraphrase of Revelation 4.8-11, first appeared in a collection of hymns as early as 1826 (see William J. Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Nashville: Broadman Press, pp. 88-89). Several hymnals include verse 8 of this passage as a reference point for the worshiper. We are called to worship by the four creatures surrounding God’s throne as they cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!”

Another possibility for connection is suggested by the editors of the 1991 edition of the Baptist Hymnal: Isaiah 6.3. In Isaiah 6 the prophet is in the Temple praying at the occasion of the death of the beloved king Uzziah. Here he has a vision of God and of angels crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.”

In both cases the reader/singer is called into a spirit of worship and praise of the only One worthy of such praise. We can be pretty confident that this song is meant for the purpose of the worship of God Almighty.

What does it mean?

Scripturally the triple repetition suggests perfection. Thus, when we hear the creatures or the angels, or when we ourselves proclaim, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” we can know that the One we are describing or addressing is the ultimate of holiness—sacredness particularly set apart from known worldliness. Each verse gives us another note on our praise:

Verse one teaches us to begin our praise of God—the Holy One, the Almighty One, the Trinity (see the teaching at the end of the verse: “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!”)—as the very first thought of our day. Verse two draws our mind to the picture drawn by John in the book of Revelation. The saints of all time—that is those who have accepted the Gospel—are bowing down before God and Christ, tossing their crowns at His feet. This is a symbol of giving honor and accolade to One who deserves all our rewards. The setting is given as the “glassy sea” which is a reference to the pure, clear waters of Heaven. We are also told that the angels themselves (cherubim and seraphim) worship Him, too. Verse three reminds us of our unworthiness before the Christ. We cannot see Him, we cannot look upon Him because we are sinful, and He is holy. And verse four teaches us that not only does mankind praise God, but all of creation does—because He is God.

If you have opportunity to sing this hymn in church in the near future, take a moment to consider all that is being told about God and who He is in the words penned so long ago, and see if these very words don’t draw you into the presence of Lord God Almighty, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

*Hymn # refers to the 1956 edition of the Baptist Hymnal, Convention Press, Nashville, TN

Music and Faith have long been refuges for me. One of my favorite Hymns combines the two.  The point: Jesus provides for us a melody that corrects all of the discord in our lives caused by our attempts to make our own arrangements. So, let’s sing,

  1. There’s within my heart a melody
    Jesus whispers sweet and low,
    Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
    In all of life’s ebb and flow.

    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
      Sweetest Name I know,
      Fills my every longing,
      Keeps me singing as I go.
  2. All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
    Discord filled my heart with pain,
    Jesus swept across the broken strings,
    Stirred the slumb’ring chords again.
  3. Feasting on the riches of His grace,
    Resting ’neath His shelt’ring wing,
    Always looking on His smiling face,
    That is why I shout and sing.
  4. Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
    Trials fall across the way,
    Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
    See His footprints all the way.
  5. Soon He’s coming back to welcome me,
    Far beyond the starry sky;
    I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,
    I shall reign with Him on high.

These words by Luther Bridgers speak to me on two levels–first, just the whisper of the voice of Jesus catapults my heart to singing. And then, that second verse–“Jesus swept across the broken strings/Stirred the slumb’ring chords again”

Blessings.

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