Archive for the ‘Song’ Category

In a previous post (My Lord Draws Nigh), I shared my attempt to put a poem by the hymn writer, DW Whittle, to music. Having sung the second verse, my nephew asked me if I would sing the rest so that he could hear how it sounds.

Understanding Mr. Whittle’s words requires a knowledge of Scripture. Specifically, he refers to bells spoken of in Exodus 28:33-35: “You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe. It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the Lord, so that he will not die.” “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31), so that the priests had to approach an holy God with much reverential fear and caution.

But the text turns this fear to a joy, because our gracious “Heavenly High Priest”, “Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” (Hebrews 7:22) This high priest of Hebrews is superior, as it says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

In the words of Mr. Whittle’s poem I have inserted dashes where two notes are needed to sing the word and braces for words that I have dropped out in the singing because they don’t fit the meter. I believe that these deletions do not significantly change the meaning of the text.

“Swift, with melodious feet,
The midnight hours pass by;
As with each passing bell so sweet,
I think, ‘My Lord draws nigh.’

“I see Hea-ven’s open door,
I hear God’s gracious voice;
I see the blood-washed ’round the throne,
And with them I rejoice.

“It may be – that these sounds
Are [the] golden bells so sweet
Which tell me of the near approach
Of [the] Heavenly High Priest’s feet.

“Not every night is thus;
Some nights with pain are drear.
[Then] I join my moan with crea-tion’s groan
[And] the chimes I do not hear.

“[But] the Lord remains the same;
Faithful He must abide;
And on His word my soul I’ll rest,
For He is by my side.

“Some midnight sleepless saints,
Made quick by pain to hear,
Shall join the glad and welcome cry,
‘The Bridegroom draweth near.’

“Then I shall see His face
His beauteous image bear;
I’ll know His love and wondrous grace,
And in His glory share.

“So sing my soul in praise,
As bells chime o’er and o’er,
The coming of the Lord draws near,
When time shall be no more.”

Major D. W. Whittle died March 4, 1901, at Northfield, Massachusetts.

I am greatly encouraged by courageous Christians of the past and commend to you the reading of biographies of past Christians. I re-watched the movie, “The Hiding Place”, with my wife a few nights ago. Betsy and Corrie ten Boom became deep in the faith because of how they entrusted their very lives to God in the midst of suffering. We may learn much from these faithful ones concerning how to live for Christ. I was struck by two things about DW Whittle’s story: 1) He was so focused on Christ that in the midst of pain that would lead to his death in two weeks, he could compose such deep trust and worship of God, and 2) “In speaking of his hymns he once said, “I hope that I will never write a hymn that does not contain a message — there are too many hymns that are just a meaningless jingle of words; to do good a hymn must be founded on God’s word and carry the message of God’s love.”” (by Jacob Henry Hall). Let us seek to write and speak and sing act in every way based in God’s word with the message of God’s love.

If you would like to hear my singing of this poem to the tune that I wrote, click on My Lord Draws Nigh.

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My oldest brother sent out a family email with a link (Major DW Whittle) and a “hope they will encourage you…” concerning the last words penned by D.W. Whittle, who wrote some 200 hymns. Well they did indeed encourage me for reasons of knowing at present a minor bit of the pain from which he must have written these faith filled words and his focus on heaven and God’s presence then and now. But I was also challenged by the words, “The last words he wrote have never been set to music.” I determined the meter to be 6, 6, 8, 6. I looked in one of my hymnbooks and did not find a tune that fit the words. There was not an exact match of the meter to this this poem, but even if there had been, tunes don’t always fit the syllable emphases. So, foolish neophyte songwriter that I am, I wrote my own tune. Singing it through, I realized that the first line needed an eighth note couplet for differing phrasing in different verses. Then I realized that in three of the lines Mr. Whittle had not been so exact in his number of syllables. In one of these the eighth note couplet took care of it, but in verse 4 I could find no other way to fit the words to the tune than to eliminate two words and add two tied eighth notes that are used in this verse. The deletions I made don’t significantly change the meaning and are shown in parentheses below. Still, line 3 has 9 syllables so “cre-a” in “creation’s” is divided into the two eighth notes.

“Not every night is thus;
Some nights with pain are drear.
(Then) I join my moan with creation’s groan
(And) the chimes I do not hear.”

If somehow my tune might introduce this encouraging poem to singing it for some number of Christians, it would have been well worth the effort. It was worth it anyway as I reflected on God’s goodness to me communicated through the words and sang about it.

My Lord Draws Nigh tune is a link to the melody written and a short mp3 file of me singing the second verse. Enjoy and be encouraged by considering the goodness and nearness of our God.

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It is time for a seasonal entry. I start off with a little “bah-humbug”, but hang with me, because is is short.

I have long been disturbed by the a phrase in the third verse of the Advent hymn, “Joy to the World”:

“No more let sins and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground.”

As if we could prevent these problems or as if they will be quelled this side of His second advent. And yet, by the power of the Spirit, we can and should reduce sins (1 Corinthians 10:13), and that will reduce sorrow (Proverbs 13:15). But deceivers will go from bad to worse (2 Timothy 3:13) and the world problems will increase (Matthew 24:7-8). The post-millennial view (1) that things will improve until Christ’s return just does not fit Scripture (Matthew 24-25 and many others). Thorns, both literal and spiritual, will increase. (Isaiah 51:6, Jude 1:14-15)

So how do I sing this verse? In times past I have hummed this line, but I realized last evening that the majority of this hymn is about the Second Advent. Consider Psalm 98 from which Isaac Watts is said the have been inspired to write the hymn. It concludes, “For He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity.” (verse 9) Yes, we received our King with the Magi as vanguard, in our hearts individually as believers, and intermittently in various societies, but the level of fulfillment of His reign herein sung about occurs during the time of the Second Advent.

That being the case, I will sing this song with renewed and greater joy this season because celebration of the First Advent should always point to the Second.

“Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.” (2)

  1. 3 Views on the Millennial Kingdom | Christopher L. Scott3 Views on the Millennial Kingdom – Christopher L. Scott (christopherscottblog.com)
  2. Isaac Watts, 1739

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I wanted to write a song of praise to God about
how His character secures our hope of salvation.
Given the meter of in each verse, which is long meter,
there should be a several good hymn tunes that would fit.
Following is a tune I have written for it.

To God Who Salvation Brings

To God who does create all things
His Chosen ones salvation brings
Be praise from all He made and reigns
From all He blesses and sustains

What God determines and intends
What He ordains and He begins
Cannot be altered, none condemns
Orders all things by His commands

And yet within God’s sovereign plan
Alters outcomes by prayers of man
Enlightens, directs, and protects
Encourages, instructs, corrects

All knowing and almighty He
As blessed saints secure are we
Goodness and grace toward us are pure
That prove to us His love is sure

When paths are steep and days are dim
Recall His Word and cling to Him
God’s promises will hold you fast
As they have helped saints in the past

In heaven when before the throne
We worship God, His goodness known
His power, wisdom, and His might
Have brought us to this wondrous sight

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The hymn by this name has become one of my favorites over the years because it conveys the holiness and glory of God by transporting the mind to the mercy seat both in the tabernacle and in heaven. The version I have has 5 verses. The original, written by Frederick Faber, has 8 verses: (for a choir rendition, albeit too slow for my liking, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4VtpEu3CDQ)

My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!

How dread are Thy eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
Incessantly adored!

How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be;
Thy endless wisdom, boundless power,
And glorious purity!

O how I fear Thee, living God,
With deep and tender fear;
And worship Thee with trembling hope,
And penitential tears!

Yet, I may love Thee, too, O Lord,
Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart!

No earthly father loves like Thee,
No mother, e’er so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done,
With me, Thy sinful child.

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh, what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name,
Earth has no higher bliss.

Father of Jesus, love’s Reward!
What rapture it will be
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze, and gaze on Thee!

As I sang this wonderful hymn, and others, and mused on Psalm 103, more verses came to me. They are not of a quality of the original but I do intend them as worship to God:

He righteous deeds each day performs
Judgments for the oppressed
Compassionate and gracious He 
With love for the distressed

As high as heaven above earth
So great His steadfast love
Is toward all those who fear their God
The God who dwells above

As far as east is from the west
Transgressions He removes
A Father who compassion on
A child who his God fears

For all is peace, my soul at rest
Submitted to His will
Our God is good and great and kind
To know Him is a thrill

One day in heaven we will be
Adoring face to face
But now we see His glory great
Through His redeeming grace

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…or “Heavenly Thoughts” (or at least I desire so) or “Random Musings on the Life and the Afterlife” (which is more likely).

A number of different positive and negative details have brought me to thinking more than a few thoughts about heaven lately. Beauty in nature, sermon comments, Scriptures I’ve read, and various quotes I’ve come across have been among the positive inputs, while governments’ foolishness, review of my purposefulness, and personal back pain have been pointed reminders that this is not my home.

One of my least liked sayings is quite common to high school and college students: “These are the best years of your life.” When I hear some evidently less than content adult say this to a young person I want to explain to them how their words are an invitation to suicide for some segment of the young people they are saying it to. If it doesn’t get any better than this with the yelling parents, the sneering peers, the self-accusing mindset, and the “you can never be good enough” and “indulge yourself” advertising, why continue living? In some ways the saying is of course legitimate and Solomon agrees: “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them….The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.'” (Ecclesisastes 11:9-12:1,13-14) So he is advising that you put away vexation while you are young and healthy and enjoy life. But how do you do that with all of the accusing elements I mentioned before these verses? You acknowledge your Creator by enjoying life and following impulses according to what pleases Him and in consideration of the fact that you will be brought to account hearafter concerning all that you do.

If all there is, as the Naturalist and Post-modernist say, is this life then the quote my 3rd son found the other day is indeed apropos for all time: “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears this is true.” (Branch Cabell in “The Silver Stallion”). It is a bit humorous until you think about it a second time. If “it doesn’t get any better than this” and “If the dead are not raised [no heaven], let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (I Corinthians 15:32) So the optimist and pessimist and Naturalist and Post-modernist are claiming there is no heaven but they don’t really believe it. Under stress they call out for God and wish for heaven. And if they were correct it would render false this claim, “He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  And I affirm the truth of the Word of God and say “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Romans 3:4). But if man cannot find the work of God in the beginning, creation, or the end, heaven or hell, why even discuss these things? Modern man agrees with this statement and refuses to discuss anything that is not either from empirical evidence or personal feeling. But this is the very point of the statement that man can not discover God’s works from around him or within him but from God’s revelation only: “‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit…But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised…For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2: 9-10, 14,16)  These things not having entered the heart of man include the glories of heaven. The Spirit of God and the mind of Christ are one and the same, the discernment to understand and affirm the Word of God, the Bible. So by God’s revealed Word we understand that, as the song says, “Heaven is a wonderful place; filled with glory and grace; I want to see my Savior’s face; for heaven is a wonderful place.” That is indeed what makes heaven such a draw to His saints, not gold streets or reunions with loved ones or even lack of pain, but seeing His face. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. (Matthew 5:8)

Someone might say at this point, “All this talk of heaven when there is so much to do on earth” or “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” But to be truly heavenly minded, that is aligned with the thoughts of God, will most certainly propel one to be of the most earthly good. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:2-3) Seeing God is our motivation for being pure in heart. The pure in heart will be at peace with God and at peace within themselves both of which cannot help but make them inclined toward pursuing peace in all their interactions with others. We cannot be pure of our own accord but “He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” (I John 3:5-6) So we pursue holiness to please Him and to confirm and affirm our relationship with Him in anticipation of our sight of Him; this brings good to us and the world around us as we minister God’s goodness to the world. So denying the motivation and need for considering heaven not only lessens the holiness of the believer it lessens the value to all mankind.  And Francis Bacon takes this up in another way, “They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts in his body, and, if he be not kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.” (“Essays”) Not only the help to man is denied him by not focusing on God (and by extension seeing His face one day), but also the very value of man as made in God’s image and one for whom Christ died to save, so that he becomes nothing more than “a base and ignoble creature.”

We are in fact commanded to focus upward. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Whien Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4) The whole rest of chapter 3 and on to 4:6 Paul promotes consequences of this focus being holy living within oneself, toward others and toward God. When He is revealed; we also will be revealed with Him. As the hymn says,”When by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in heaven a place, just to be there and to look on His face will through the ages be glory for me. O that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me.”

In the description of heaven in Revelation 21 and 22 I again select verses especially focussed on His beauty and desirability to us.  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’…I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life…There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 21: 3-5,22-27; 22:3-5) Why is there no pain and crying? He makes all things new. Why is there no night and no need of lighting? He lights them. What will we do there? We will enjoy Him and serve Him. Whose your Daddy then? “They shall be His people.”

But we are not home, yet, and so we look forward as it says in the Jeremy Camp song,

“I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always”

We can say in the most desperate of times with Job, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.” (Job 19:25-27)

How should we live until we leave? “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) “Let love of the brethern continue.” (Hebrews 13:1) “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17) “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thessalonians 4:17-18) ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (II Timothy4:7-8)

The God of heaven and His presence are worth dwelling on and living by in the light of His Word.

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Yeh, you read it right, rap! You’ll need some bling, yo, ’cause this rap involves some “great and magnificent promises” says II Peter 1:4, “so that you may become partakers of the divine nature…” Yeh, that’s rich!
Begins within the trinity
In the far past eternity
Love expressed to infinity
Through interactive Deity

The Ultimate Love Story told
Love eternal never grows old
Reject it and your life will fold
Receive it for a new life bold

A story of marriage lovely
Of promises kept totally
Same and discontinuity
All patterned with typology

Father loves Son eternally
Loves rebellious humanity
Loves His people distinctively
Loves sinners that they might be free

God loves all providentially
He loves so sacrificially
Perfectly and perfectingly
His own want holy living see

God chooses to love us freely
Because God loves His Son you see
It benefits both you and me
Bring God much honor and glory

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 Click on

May the Blessing of God   for an original song speaking blessing over you.

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Un-skewing Worship

 Today in worship our church had a sharing service.  God was at work moving hearts with what to share.  Wanting my own worship to be raised to a higher level I was contemplating the following song.  After reading the verses read my thoughts below on bringing balance to worship.                                                                                                                        

              My God, How Wonderful Thou Art                  by Fredrick Faber


My God, how wonderful Thou art
Thy majesty how bright
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light


How dread are Thine eternal years

O everlasting Lord

By prostrate spirits day and night

Incessantly adored


How wonderful, how beautiful

The sight of Thee must be

Thine endless wisdom, boundless pow’r

And awful purity


O how I fear Thee, living God

With deepest, tenderest fears

And worship Thee with trembling hope

And penitential tears


Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord

Almighty as Thou art

For Thou has stooped to ask of me

The love of my poor heart

Our worship must always be skewed for lack of knowledge of God, or for knowledge we have but our own or collective blindness willfully or unwittingly neglects.  By skewed I do not mean to necessitate sinfulness (though willful neglect of knowledge is) but rather leaning to one side and therefore lacking or incomplete.  There are those who see God as harsh so that their worship is wrong and skewed away from grace.  Those of us who know grace are frequently skewed toward grace away from a true understanding of all that God’s character entails.  Grace and truth are not the paradox of God’s character, the harsh versus the warm fuzzy.  Grace is God’s truth applied; truth is the full extent of God’s grace understood.

God is pure and good and just and wrathful and loving because He is so separate and other than we, that is, holy.  His grace is that justice satisfied, that wrath poured out but not on us, that goodness reaching us, that purity transferred to us, and that love passionately pursued because He is so holy.  Grace and truth are in no way opposed.  They seem to me as two sides of the same coin, equal in value, both representative of the same thing, God’s character.  I have need of balancing my view of grace by reminder of how awesome and holy and just He is so that I better understand how kind and patient and forgiving He really is.




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Efficacious Grace (part 3)

“So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 53:11) That is, God’s Word is efficacious. Effective is a synonym, but it means “producing a result” whereas efficacious means “power to produce effects or intended results”. The shade of difference seems to be passive versus active. God’s Word actively, powerfully, and without faltering accomplishes God’s designs. So does His grace. Without it I drift, I’m sunk. With it I am enabled, it will change me. I know it;I feel it; It is happening. Click on Grace Means to Me to check out my song on how grace is at work in me.

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Overflows from the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…" Matthew 15:18


Pointing to the One who made, saved, and sustains