Yes, I stole the title for this post from an old spiritual, but it is appropriate to what I want to mention today. I was alerted via my Facebook news feed to this post. The article exposes just five of an overwhelming number of what well-grounded theologians would call false prophets for our day (and the number is far greater than the five representatives).

My response is not so much that we should be shouting down our spiritual noses at these misguided teachers who misrepresent Christ and the Gospel, but that we become more aware of the Gospel and the subject of the Gospel, namely the Christ.

The thing that disturbs me most is not even the number of people crowding into the arenas that play home to these personalities and the venues where they hold their festivals of tickling ears. What does disturb me most is the black cloud that is afforded the true Christian community because these teachers claim to be something that they are not–preachers of the Gospel of Christ.

I commend the article to you and pray that more and more believers will spend more time and energy supporting and serving their local New Testament church rather than these mega-movements that draw sheep away from the Good Shepherd.

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Probably the best part of Advent Season is the Advent–the Coming–of the Christ (the Anointed One).

He is the One whose advent was told about hundreds of years before it happened. Isaiah said, “a virgin shall conceive” and she did!

He is the One whose coming is an advantage for all the world and the basis for the ADVENTure that is the life of Christendom.

He is the One whose appearance on our planet changed calendars, societies and hearts. And this from the very night of His birth–this night. And so I can say, “Merry Christmas” and sing with the whos down in Woodville, “Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day.”

And most of all we can welcome Jesus. Will you join me this Christmas in welcoming Jesus into your heart, your home, your highways and byways and plans?

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.

One of the most spectacular parts of the Christmas story is that it is not confined to one day out of the year. Yes, we take time to celebrate annually. This practice keeps us in mind of the most comforting of the names given to Christ by the prophet – Immanuel. Isaiah names Him, and Matthew explains the name – “God with us!”

I cannot think of a more powerfully comforting phrase than this. God, who is so far beyond us, has chosen to be one with us. He did it in the act of the first Christmas morning. And He continues to be with us in the moment of salvation and in the living of the Christian life.

As we look back over the year 2012, may we see moments where we actually lived like God is with us.  In looking forward to the New Year ahead of us, let us pray for those moments when we will again experience “God with us!”

Words by James Montgomery (1771-1854)

(Also included in the Baptist Hymnal, 1975 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #26; 1991 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #30; 2008, ed., LifeWay, Nashville, #137; The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, Word/Integrity, Waco – #65; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 1986, Word, Waco – #21.)

This old hymn seems to arrive in the hymn collections from two distinctive backgrounds. The lyrics are relatively unchanged from hymnal to hymnal, but the tune used in the decidedly Southern Baptist hymnals is one adapted from the 1551 Genevan Psalter tune called “Old 134th”, setting the words to a much older tune. In hymnals that are no less evangelical in their bent, but perhaps more interdenominational in their focus collectors have opted for a tune penned by composer Aaron Williams (1731-1776) and entitled “St. Thomas”.

The Hymn

  1. Stand up and bless the Lord
    Ye people of His choice;
    Stand up and bless the Lord your God
    With heart and soul and voice.
  2. Though high above all praise,
    Above all blessing high,
    Who would not fear His holy name,
    And laud and magnify?
  3. O for the living flame
    From His own altar brought,
    To touch our lips, our minds inspire,
    And wing to heaven our thought!
  4. There, with benign regard,
    Our hymns He deigns to hear;
    Though unrevealed to mortal sense,
    Our spirits feel Him near.
  5. God is our strength and song,
    And His salvation ours;
    Then be His love in Christ proclaimed
    With all our ransomed powers.
  6. Stand up and bless the Lord;
    The Lord your God adore;
    Stand up and bless His glorious name;
    Henceforth forevermore.

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

Scriptural Connection

Hymn editors are fond of applying Nehemiah 9:5 as a Scriptural foundation for this hymn. The verse (in part) quotes the Levites/leaders of Israelite worship proclaiming, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever.” There is no denying that the quote can be extracted from this verse and that both the verse and the hymn are calls to worship for God’s people.

I also find a connection with the call of Isaiah found in chapter 6 of the book named for the prophet. It is there that Isaiah is called to be a spokesman for God and it is there that the idea of one’s lips being cleansed for the task of lifting up the word of God with fire is so vividly (see Isaiah 6:5-7 and hymn stanza 3).

What does it mean?

This hymn is, as stated above, a call to worship. It urges all of God’s people to make known their praise for God without shame. This is not a call for all of creation as many of our other adoration hymns have been. Rather, it is for “the people of His choice” or His chosen people. Those who have reason to lift up their voices in blessing to God are those who have become part of His people.

It is also interesting to note (along with the no less than 4 tunes which have been used over the years to sing this song) that most hymn collections (all of the ones that I have access to) omit the fourth stanza above (including only 5 of the 6). As best I can determine, this omission can be attributed to the lesser impact of the stanza when included with the other 5 more powerful verses in calling the worshiper to praise. [One other quick note: the original poem (written for a Sunday school anniversary in the early 19th century) read “Ye children of His choice” in line 2, but was changed by the author before the hymn was published in a collection.]

We are called upon to bless (or worship) Him with every fiber of our being (“heart and soul and voice”). We have reason to do so because of the cleansing (see stanza 3) and because of the salvation He has provided (see stanza 5 above—4 in our hymnal). As the hymn-writer closes his poem, he gives us the very idea of the extent of our praise—from now and until eternity (“Henceforth and evermore”).

So, believers (Christians, Christ followers, choose your favorite name for yourself as one who has accepted the chosen-ness in Christ), Stand Up! (be seen, make yourself known) and Bless God—with all of your being!

*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 Robert Robinson (1735-1790)

It is not unusual that we have reached a hymn that is unfamiliar to me. While growing up in the tradition that included our hymnal of study, there were selections that were often over-looked or just plain skipped as we sang our Sunday morning worship tunes. This is one of those hymns. So unfamiliar was it that it did not make it to the editors’ last selection in any of the other hymnals in my library. Nevertheless, we will look at these words and see what we can find there. Perhaps it will be a revived hymn that returns to future hymnals.

The Hymn

  1. Mighty God, while angels bless Thee,
    May a mortal sing Thy Name?
    Lord of men as well as angels,
    Thou art every creature’s theme.
    Lord of every land and nation,
    Ancient of eternal days.
    Sounded through the wide creation
    Be Thy just and endless praise.
  2. For the grandeur of Thy nature,
    Grand beyond a seraph’s thought;
    For the wonders of creation,
    Works with skill and kindness wrought.
    For Thy providence, that governs,
    Through Thine empire’s wide domain,
    Wings an angel, guides a sparrow,
    Blessèd be Thy gentle reign.
  3. For Thy rich, Thy free redemption,
    Bright, though veiled in darkness long,
    Thought is poor, and poor expression;
    Who can sing that wondrous song?
    Brightness of the Father’s glory,
    Shall Thy praise unuttered lie?
    Break, my tongue, such guilty silence!
    Sing the Lord Who came to die.
  4. From the highest throne of glory
    To the cross of deepest woe,
    All to ransom guilty captives;
    Flow my praise, forever flow!
    Reascend, immortal Savior;
    Leave Thy footstool, take Thy throne;
    Thence return, and reign forever,
    Be the kingdom all Thine own! (Source for Hymn Words: Cyber Hymnal)

Scriptural Connection

This is a hymn of general praise. Therefore it would be good to find a connection in the Psalms. One suggestion is Psalm 47:7 – God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise.”

Another possibility might be to look to Paul’s letter to the Philippian church (Philippians 2:9-11) where we learn that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

What does it mean?

Verse one of this hymn calls for the worship of God. Why? It is because worshiping God is the right (or “just” as stated in the last line) response to God. One tricky bit of terminology that should be addressed in stanza one is the reference to the Ancient of Days. This is a title that has been attributed to the Creator from the bygone days of Biblical history. God is the “Ancient” because of His existence before the world began. In our hymn today He is the “Ancient of eternal days” because He is ever-existent.

The oxymora that open stanza three are classic in their poesy. The redemption that is both rich and free at the same time. This is a gospel appeal. The hymn writer also reminds us that this redemption is not understood by many, but that those who do find it see it in its brightness.

Another troubling word might be “reascend” found in stanza 4. The poet is calling for Christ (the Savior) to take his rightful place in Heaven’s throne room.

A final word about this hymn that may be helpful is that Robinson is questioning (several times through the hymn) if humans—lowly and unworthy as we are—should have the ability or even be allowed to praise God (right along with the angels). Notice that he suggests that our best praise will be compared to a person who always speaks with a lisp. He also indicates that the highest thoughts and expressions known to man are too poor in quality to sing the praise of the Maker/Savior/Master (read verse 3 again).

The conclusion is that even though our praise is poor, it must be expressed—and we must sing right alongside the angels and all of Creation.

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