Samuel Medley (1738-1799)

Also found in Inspiring Hymns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids (1968 ed.) © 1951, #499 [published here as “His Loving-Kindness” with a variation on the first line to “Awake, my soul, to joyful lays” and a different tune from the Baptist Hymnal].

The Hymn

  1. Awake, my soul, to joyful lays,
    And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
    He justly claims a song from me –
    His lovingkindness, O how free!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness, O how free!
  2. He saw me ruined in the fall,
    Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
    He saved me from my lost estate –
    His lovingkindness, O how great!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness, O how great!
  3. Though numerous hosts of mighty foes,
    Though earth and hell my way oppose,
    He safely leads my soul along –
    His lovingkindness, O how strong!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness, O how strong!
  4. When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
    Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
    He near my soul has always stood –
    His lovingkindness, O how good!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness, O how good!
  5. Often I feel my sinful heart
    Prone from my Jesus to depart;
    But though I have him oft forgot,
    His lovingkindness changes not.
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness changes not.
  6. Soon I shall pass the gloomy vale,
    Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
    O! may my last expiring breath
    His lovingkindness sing in death.
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness sing in death.
  7. Then let me mount and soar away
    To the bright world of endless day;
    And sing with raptures and surprise,
    His lovingkindness in the skies.
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness in the skies.

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

Quickly, let me note some textual variants to the above wording that are found in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal:

  1. Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
    And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
    He justly claims a song from me –
    His lovingkindness is so free!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness is so free!
  2. He saw me ruined in the fall,
    Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
    And saved me from my lost estate –
    His lovingkindness is so great!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness is so great!
  3. Through mighty hosts of cruel foes,
    Where earth and hell my way oppose,
    He safely leads my soul along –
    His lovingkindness is so strong!
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness is so strong!
  4. Often I feel my sinful heart
    Prone from my Jesus to depart;
    And though I oft have him forgot,
    His lovingkindness changes not.
    Lovingkindness, lovingkindness,
    His lovingkindness changes not.

Most of the textual changes seem to be in the realm of language updating from the lat 18th Century style to a more “modern” mid-20th century rendering. I feel that the editors of the BH may have missed something in the changes of the refrain, though. There seems to be more power in singing, “Lovingkindness, Oh how sweet!” as opposed to, “Lovingkindness is so sweet!” But I quibble. Suffice it here to say that as with many hymns some variations have made their way into our song books.

Scriptural Connection

I would argue for two separate connections to Scripture, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. From the Old Testament the hymn-writer might have in mind the comforting airs of Psalm 23, a note from David’s pen that reminds us that although difficulties are prevalent, God in His loving kindness watches over His children. Bridging this to the heart of the Gospel found in John 3:16, the singer of this hymn can see the provision made by God’s great love.

What does it mean?

The narrator is dreaming of Heaven. Therefore he encourages his soul to wake up in a place of joy (that’s the suggestion by the words “joyful lays”). The idea is that heaven is a place of pure joy and comfort altogether. The changing of the pronoun (using either “to” or “in”) bears little consequence.

There is a fountain of theology in this old hymn as with many of the great old songs of the faith. We read about the beauty, comfort, and joy of Heaven provided by a God who loves us regardless of our own nature. Men might be rebellious and antagonistic toward God, but it is His lovingkindness that leads us out of that state and into this new blissful place. We are reminded that no matter how we might forget God, He in His lovingkindness towards us never changes.

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

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Harriet B. Stowe (1812-1896)

Also found in Inspiring Hymns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids (1968 ed.) © 1951, #7; Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle, Chicago (1969 ed.) © 1967, #11.

The Hymn

  1. +^Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
    When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
    Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
    Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.
  2. +^Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
    The solemn hush of nature newly born;
    Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
    In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.
  3. As in the dawning o’er the waveless ocean
    The image of the morning star doth rest,
    So in the stillness Thou beholdest only
    Thine image in the waters of my breast.
  4. +Still, still with Thee, as to each newborn morning,
    A fresh and solemn splendor still is given,
    So does this blessèd consciousness, awaking,
    Breathe each day nearness unto Thee and Heaven.
  5. +^When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
    Its closing eye looks up to Thee in prayer;
    Sweet the repose beneath the wings o’ershading,
    But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.
  6. +^So shall it be at last, in that bright morning,
    When the soul waketh and life’s shadows flee;
    O in that hour, fairer than daylight dawning,
    Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print. +Inspiring Hymns, ^Favorite Hymns.

Scriptural Connection

Psalm 139 is a song about God’s ever-presence with His children. In today’s hymn, we have a more recent telling of that same assurance.

What does it mean?

From the same pen that gave us the anti-slavery treatise Uncle Tom’s Cabin, we find this hymn of God’s presence. This is a hymn of comfort to the troubled soul. Stowe reminds us that those who know God will find Him with them from the early morning as the birds awaken with the dawn until the last rays touch the earth at the close of day.

The imagery used teaches us that the comforting presence of Almighty is felt until the shadows of our life close in around us. She includes language that holds the assurance of a new day that follows for those who are with God.

This is a lovely hymn that is designed to bring comfort to the disheartened, peace to the troubled, and joy to the sad of heart. Worshipers are reminded that the source of that comfort is the ever-noticeable presence of the Almighty God. From moment to moment, He says, “I am with Thee.”

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

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.

Words by Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

The Hymn

  1. Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
    Christ, the true, the only Light,
    Sun of Righteousness, arise,
    Triumph o’er the shades of night;
    Dayspring from on high, be near;
    Day-star, in my heart appear.
  2. Dark and cheerless is the morn
    Unaccompanied by Thee;
    Joyless is the day’s return
    Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
    Till they inward light impart,
    Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
  3. Visit then this soul of mine,
    Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
    Fill me, Radiancy divine,
    Scatter all my unbelief;
    More and more Thyself display,
    Shining to the perfect day.

(Hymn words accessed at Hymn Books .com)

Scriptural Connection

Since Wesley is pointing worshipers to contemplate the splendor of the Second Coming of Christ, one of the best connections to make with this hymn can be found in the final chapter of the Bible—Revelation 22. Particularly, I would focus on verses toward the latter part of the chapter (vv. 6-17). Here we see the announcement of the Second Coming, accompanied closely by the cry of the Church—“Come” and “Come quickly.” This passage is at the heart of this worship which focuses on the Christ.

What does it mean?

At this point in our hymnal we begin seeing a move from hymns that praise God the Father/Creator, to those which exalt the Son our Savior. Here is a prime example of such a hymn; and again it flows from the pen of the great hymn-writer Charles Wesley. This particular hymn brings to mind either the Ascension or the Second Coming. While the text of the hymn leads one to focus on the latter, the picture of the disciples standing awestruck at the moment when Christ was received into Heaven flashes to mind (see Acts 1:9-11).

There are a few terms that might visit the worshiper with difficulty in a modern day (the hymn is some 200 years old after all). Many will be names used to describe Jesus. He is named the “Sun of Righteousness,” “Dayspring,” and “Daystar” all in the first verse. Each of these descriptive titles remind us of Revelation descriptors that teach us that there is no need for sun, moon, or stars when the Son is present, for He is the eternal Light of Heavenly places. In the second stanza, the poet calls on the “Radiancy Divine” to fill him. This again points us to the “Radiant One,” who is Jesus Christ.

Another perhaps difficult portion of the hymn is the rather dismal approach in the second verse. Pointing out all of the shortcomings of the worshiper would seem counterproductive when one is trying to lift spirits up to the heavenlies, but this is Wesley’s point from the beginning. Our dire need to encounter the glory of Christ is off-set by Him. His splendor stands in drastic contrast to our sad existence. What better reason than our pitiful joylessness to allow the magnificence of Christ to enter in?

The final stanza of this little song is simply a prayer to request that Christ’s spectacular presence be the one influencing factor in the life of the Christian. Let Jesus be more evident in the life of the singer with each passing day until finally, in that day of His Second Coming, they are together forever.

*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.