Worship


Try to remember one or two of the most meaningful worship times you have ever experienced. As I look back over my almost 54 years of attending church, revival meetings, retreats, and the like, two things stand out (aside from the moment I surrendered my life to Jesus).

The first found me sitting in a seminary classroom (of all places). My Old Testament (and later Hebrew) professor, David Garland, was in the habit of starting each class session with prayer. Unlike other instructors who might call on a student to lead us in prayer, Dr. Garland always voiced the prayer himself. Each day of class we would settle into our seats, and he would call us to prayer. Most of his prayers were fairly generic, but in their generalities the words spoken would, more often than not, address the specific high and low points of every student in class. In a one-minute public prayer, Dr. Garland could lift you to the throne of God and deposit you at the feet of the Master to revel in worship even as you got down to the business of dissecting the Scripture for academic purposes.

In a totally different setting, I found myself worshiping with about 800 teenagers at youth camp one year. The music was inspiring and uplifting at the first worship time on Monday of the week of camp. Following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the camp preacher stood up, and instead of preaching a magnificent, relevant sermon from one of Jesus’s parables, he had us sing one more song and go to the cabins. The atmosphere of worship prevailed throughout the week, and by the time he offered an opportunity for response on Wednesday evening, scores of teens and volunteer sponsors were committing and re-committing their hearts and lives to Jesus.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. —James 4:10

John Needham (d. circa 1786)

The Hymn

  1. Awake, my tongue, thy tribute bring
    To Him Who gave Thee power to sing;
    Praise Him Who is all praise above,
    The source of wisdom and of love.
  2. How vast His knowledge, how profound!
    A deep where all our thoughts are drowned;
    The stars He numbers, and their names
    He gives to all those heavenly flames.
  3. Through each bright world above, behold
    Ten thousand thousand charms unfold;
    Earth, air, and mighty seas combine
    To speak His wisdom all divine.
  4. But in redemption, O what grace!
    Its wonders, O what thought can trace!
    Here, wisdom shines forever bright;
    Praise Him, my soul, with sweet delight.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print.

Scriptural Connection

In Exodus 4, verse 11, the Almighty gives a reminder to Moses in the midst of the servant’s “call” experience, that it is God who has made even the mouth and tongue of man. So it is that man’s mouth should say what it is that God Almighty has given him to say. In response to this, we find this ancient hymn that teaches us to praise the One who made our lips.

What does it mean?

This song written some 200 years ago is one which calls the worshiper to the act of righteous praise. In ancient fashion we have a passion for the giving of praise where praise is due. In a way the archaic disposition of the song is a bit of a drawback for the song. Perhaps it is this reason that more hymn collectors pass this selection over than choose to include it in their volumes. One thing that causes me to struggle with this one is the way the poet approaches God from a seemingly negative side in order to bring us to the throne of glory.

Even so, there are a few phrases that bring us cause to really hear the heart of the poet. He insists that “ten thousand thousand charms unfold.” We are reminded of the vastness of the Creator. Constant images of depth and vast expanse turn our minds to the greatness of God. Much like more modern song writers say in today’s pop culture – “Our God is an awesome God . . .” or “How great is our God . . .” In the late eighteenth century, to examine the vastness of God would turn our attention to how inadequate we are when standing in His presence. And even then, as inadequate as we find ourselves to be, we must use the tongue that God has placed in us for its greatest activity—praise of God.

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

Translated from German (c. 1800) by Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

Also included in The Broadman Hymnal, 1940 edition, Broadman Press, Nashville, #7; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1947, #127; The Baptist Hymnal, 1975 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #44; 1991 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #221; 2008 edition, LifeWay, Nashville, #141; Inspiring Hymns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1951, #1 (entitled “May Jesus Christ Be Praised”); Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle, Chicago, 1967, #1; The Hymnal for Worship & Praise, Word, Waco, 1986, #87; The Celebration Hymnal, Word, Waco, 1997, #215.

As you can tell by a simple glance, the poem which provides the words for this hymn is much lengthier than provided for in most hymnals. Some more recent hymnals credit a separate third verse (“Ye nations of mankind, In this your concord find:/May Jesus Christ be praised!/Let all the earth around Ring joyous with the sound:/May Jesus Christ be praised!”) to Robert Bridges when he included the hymn in an 1899 hymnal. Hymnal editors have included various stanzas from the original as well: Broadman and VoP – 1, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, & 15 (with minor changes to line 3); BH 1975, 1991, & 2008 – 1, 10, Bridges above, 14; Inspiring Hymns and Favorite Hymns – 1, 9, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, 15; The Hymnal – 1, 5, 10, Bridges above, 13, 15; Celebration – 1, 10, Bridges above, 15.

The Hymn

  1. When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  2. When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  3. Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  4. My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  5. Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  6. To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  7. Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  8. When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  9. When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  10. The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  11. No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
    Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
    There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  12. Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  13. Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
    Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
    God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
    Shall Jesus Christ be praised!
  14. In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  15. Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print.

Scriptural Connection

There are a variety of Psalms offered as connections to the Scripture for this hymn. One hymnal suggests Revelation 5 as a connection because of the praise to Christ offered in both the Bible passage and the hymn. One expert also turned us to Romans 9:5 in that verse’s praise of Christ as God over all. Any of these would be appropriate. I would lean more toward the New Testament connections because of the refrain of the hymn: “May Jesus Christ be praised!”

What does it mean?

This particular hymn is directly a call to praise Christ. All of the stanzas include the refrain over and over to praise Jesus Christ. The interspersed lines give us the reasons and the timing to do such praise. At work, at prayer, in happy occasions and fearful ones. Always run to Jesus (“to Jesus I repair”) in all occasions and in every moment and as you do so give Him praise.

This hymn, while unfamiliar to me from my developmental years, has quite a respect among hymnists—and well it should. This is a hymn, regardless of the stanzas chosen to sing, which points all worshipers to the One who is worthy of our praise. We can praise Him no matter the time of day, the activity in which we are engaged, or the circumstances which touch our lives.

“May Jesus Christ be praised!”

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

Attributed to “Hayword” in John Dobell’s Selection, 1806

Also included in The Broadman Hymnal 1940 edition, Broadman Press, Nashville – #175.

The Hymn

  1. Welcome, delightful morn,
    Thou day of sacred rest!
    I hail thy kind return;
    Lord, make these moments blest;
    From the low train of mortal toys,
    I soar to reach immortal joys,
    I soar to reach immortal joys.
  2. Now may the King descend,
    And fill His throne with grace;
    Thy scepter, Lord, extend,
    While saints address Thy face:
    Let sinners feel Thy quickening Word,
    And learn to know and fear the Lord,
    And learn to know and fear the Lord.
  3. Descend, celestial Dove,
    With all Thy quickening powers;
    Disclose a Savior’s love,
    And bless the sacred hours:
    Then shall my soul new life obtain,
    Nor Sabbaths be enjoyed in vain,
    Nor Sabbaths be enjoyed in vain.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal)

Scriptural Connection

This week’s hymn is one that is difficult to approach scripturally unless we take the first lines as our guide. In doing this we discover a Sabbath-day hymn and our mind quickly jump to Exodus 20. Here in the midst of the Ten Commandments (specifically verses 8-11) we find the command to keep the Sabbath Day holy. The reason is that the Sabbath is a day of rest; a day that the Creator ceased from all His creative work and rested. In doing this He made the Sabbath a special day in which mankind is to rest.

Our hymn writer would have us focus on the blessing of rest as given to mankind in the example of the Creator. And so, narrowing our focus even more, we might choose verse 10 as the specific connection for our current hymn.

What does it mean?

The Sabbath, Jesus assures us, was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (see the context in Mark 2:23-28). When we write a hymn to celebrate the Sabbath, it should be one that calls our attention to the meaning of the word (a simple translation would be “rest”). This is what we find in today’s selection. The first stanza focuses on the point of Sabbath celebration—rest.

The remaining stanzas call us to the reason for taking a day of rest in the first place—so that we can enjoy time with God. We learn that (1) we can abandon our earthly playthings as we find joys that reach beyond our physical/mortal realm. (2) We then invite God in His Trinity to be a part of our day. The Bible teaches that when we gather in Christ’s name, He is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit, so why should we invite God? The answer to this question is that we are not “inviting” Him in the truest sense of the word, but actually realizing that we are in His presence and proclaiming “We’re so glad You’re here!”

As with a number of the older hymns, this one has not seen as much use in worship services in the modern church, but it is an excellent reminder of the fact that we are made by God, we are in need of communion with Him, and that we can find delight in the day that He set aside for our sake.

So, on our next Sabbath Day, our day of rest and worship, we can proclaim, “Welcome! Delightful Morn!”

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

Words by Robert Grant (1779 -1838)

Also included in The Broadman Hymnal 1940 edition, Broadman Press, Nashville – #2; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville (1947) – #122; The Baptist Hymnal, 1975 edition, Convention Press, Nashville – #30; 1991 edition, Convention Press, Nashville – #16; 2008 edition, LifeWay, Nashville – #24; Inspiring Hymns, Singspiration, Grand Rapids (1951/1968 edition) – #407; Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle, Chicago (1967/1969 edition) – #13; The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration, Word, Waco (1986) – #10; The Celebration Hymnal, Word, Waco (1997) – #104; New Songs of Inspiration Volume 12, Brentwood, Nashville (1983) – #215.

One note: The Celebration Hymnal includes a fifth verse penned by David Guthrie (included below in italics), all other hymnals hold to Grant’s original four stanzas.

The Hymn

  1. O worship the King, all glorious above,
    O gratefully sing His power and His love;
    Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
    Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
  2. O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
    Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
    His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
    And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
  3. The earth with its store of wonders untold,
    Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
    Established it fast by a changeless decree,
    And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.
  4. Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
    It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
    It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
    And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
  5. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
    In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
    Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
    Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.
  6. O measureless might! Ineffable love!
    While angels delight to worship Thee above,
    The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
    With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.
  7. All hail to the King! In splendor enthroned;

             Glad praises we bring, Thy wonders make known.

             Returning victorious, great conqueror of sin,

             King Jesus, all glorious, our vict’ry will win.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal. [Bracketed words are from the 1956 Baptist Hymnal]

Scriptural Connection

The scriptural connection for this hymn is from the Psalms – 104 to be exact. It is another worship song. The present version that we have from hymn-writer Grant is a re-working of an earlier treatment of Psalm 104 by William Kethe from 16th Century Genevan Psalter. Here (also from CyberHymnal) is a sample of Kethe’s original language:

  1. My foule praise the Lord, speake good of his Name,
    O Lord our great God how doeft thou appeare,
    So passing in glorie, that great is thy fame,
    Honour and maieftie, in thee fhine moft cleare.
  2. His chamber beames lie, in the clouds full fure,
    Which as his chariot, are made him to beare.
    And there with much fwitneff his courfe doth endure:
    Vpon the wings riding, of winds in the aire.

Notice the ancient spelling of the original wording.

What does it mean?

While we are in the section of the 1956 Baptist Hymnal dedicated to worship and calls to worship, it almost seems redundant to say it over again, but here we are – another call to worship. This one focuses on the “otherness” of God, pointing out how glorious He is. He is mighty, spectacular, beyond our understanding of just how great He is. The stanza traditionally placed last (#4 in all our hymnals, see #5 above) places those who are called into worship in stark contrast to the Mighty Maker.

Sing this hymn with the regal tune attributed to Johann Haydn (1737-1806) and you will be transported into the throne room of heaven and be in the very presence of the One to whom we are called to worship.

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

[Having taken a couple of weeks off for the holidays, we will take up where we left off, with number 19.]

Words by Isaac Watts (1674 -1748)

The Hymn

  1. Now to the Lord a noble song!
    Awake, my soul; awake, my tongue;
    Hosanna to th’eternal Name,
    And all His boundless love proclaim.
  2. See where it shines in Jesus’ face,
    The brightest image of His grace;
    God, in the person of His Son,
    Has all His mightiest works outdone.
  3. The spacious earth and spreading flood
    Proclaim the wise and powerful God;
    And thy rich glories from afar
    Sparkle in every rolling star.
  4. But in His looks a glory stands,
    The noblest labor of thine hands;
    The pleasing luster of His eyes
    Outshines the wonders of the skies.
  5. Grace! ‘tis a sweet, a charming theme;
    My thoughts rejoice at Jesus’ Name:
    Ye angels, dwell upon the sound!
    Ye heav’ns, reflect it to the ground!
  6. O may I live to reach the place [O may I reach the happy place]
    Where he unveils His lovely face!
    Where all His beauties you behold,
    And sing His Name to harps of gold!

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal. [Bracketed words are from the 1956 Baptist Hymnal]

Scriptural Connection

An excellent connection to make for this hymn because of the desire to direct praise to God the Son is found in Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again, ‘Rejoice!’”

What does it mean?

With yet another hymn calling worshipers to the act of praise is found here. This time we are called to awake from our sleepy state to offer praise to, specifically, God the Son. We are reminded that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love (see John 3:16), and the epitome of all that God has planned.

The love of God shines from Christ. The grace of God proceeds from Christ. The wealth of God is found in Christ. Therefore as we lift a noble song to the Lord, we discover that Christ is that noble song that we sing.

May we forever keep singing it.

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

Before you gather ‘round the Christmas tree and begin to plunder the greed hidden there, take a moment to reflect on Christmas. Shall I say CHRIST-mas. Today is the day that we celebrate the moment that the world welcomed its Maker. I like the fairly new Christmas song by Chris Rice (it’s been recorded not only by Rice, but also by the likes of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant): “Welcome to our world.” This is the one thing that is all too often forgotten amidst the reckless abandon with which we practice our avarice on Christmas. We even encourage it with our children trying to bribe them into good behavior with a jolly old elf who will or will not give them all of their selfish desires depending on their behavior.

So this morning as you pour your Christmas morning coffee and settle onto the couch in front of your Yuletide evergreen, take a moment to read the Christmas story (most people choose Luke 2, but there are some other great passages in Matthew and Mark, and I really like John 1 for a thoughtful approach). Then take a moment to say to the Savior about whom we celebrate: “Welcome to our world; welcome to our home; welcome to my life.” And Merry Christmas to one and all.

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