Notes on our weekly music

researched and compiled by Jo-Ann Beck

Let’s discuss and hear modern hymns, praise songs, and hymnal music,
used in our weekly Sunday Worship Service.

7/25/21 – I LOVE all types of Christian music, and this Sunday we will hear many different styles. This Sunday, we will hear missionaries during the 9:30 hour, and we will share in the Lord’s Supper during the service. Our music incorporates all these factors. Oh, and be sure to read the Call to Worship ahead of the service. It is Psalm 51: 1-4,10-14.

We are learning a ‘new’ praise song, “Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens”. By that I mean, it has a new melody set to an old hymn. If you have a Trinity hymnal nearby, it is hymn 17. The original hymn and tune is from the 1800s, but it has no chorus. The new hymn is just the first 2 verses AND a chorus.

Our second praise song should be familiar to us, as we have sung it 4 times this year. “May All the People’s Praise You” was written by the Getty’s and friends. I enjoy the Irish overtones ( but then that’s my heritage, I guess).

Just prior to joining in Communion, we will sing, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”. The hymn was written by Joseph Hart. If he were to stand before us, he would have one of those amazing testimonies to share. He struggled against God for years. IF he went to church, it was with the intent to find fault. This continued until he was 45, when in a Moravian church, he heard words of hope. Three years later he became a minister and began to write hymns. *Aside: this hymn was ‘updated’ by Indelible Grace. They are out of Nashville and many were part of Reformed University Fellowship (PCA).

Hymn #246, “Man of Sorrows, What a Name”, was composed by Philip P. Bliss. He had worked as a farmhand, then in the lumber camps, then became a music teacher! Talk about a career change! While working for a hymn publishing group, D.L. Moody urged him to be a singing evangelist. Sadly, God called him home 1 year after writing this hymn, after a fiery train wreck.

7/18/21 – Hello again! Pastor David is continuing with the study of Exodus 32 and the Golden Calf. Be sure to read the two short passages in Deuteronomy listed for meditating.

Our two praise hymns are not new. They are by CityAlight and by Faithful. “Christ is Mine Forevermore” has 3 verses and 4 choruses. Verses 1 and 2 focus on our waywardness, and verse 3 deals with us being strangers in this world. The 4 choruses offer us wonderful words of comfort: hope and a paid debt, peace and strength, armor and being delivered, and keys with our hearts’ treasure.

At This Very Time”, by Faithful, was just released this April. They are 3 women of singing and songwriting skill, each focuses on different aspects in the Christian music scene. They tell us in 1, that God is faithful, good and able. verse 2 assures us of what we cannot see, a city and rest in God. The chorus speaks of God’s appointed time and that nothing is too difficult.

Hymn 338, “Spirit of God, Descend Upon my Heart” was composed in 1854 by George Croly, in London, at age 84. He knew that the most important thing was not what was on the outside, but the inside of a person. Here, in this hymn, he shuts the door and asks for the Spirit to fill him.

Amazing Grace”, hymn 460, has a very familiar backstory. Did you know that at age 82, he was asked to retire due to poor health and memory? His answer was ; “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things; that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior!” May we all share that sentiment.

7/11/21 – This week , we should all be familiar with both the praise hymns and the two from the Trinity Hymnal. Thought to ponder during the week: What will music in heaven sound like? Hebrew? Classical? Modern? African, Indonesian, Chinese? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Our praise hymns are , “Turn Your Eyes” , and , “His Mercy is More”. “Turn Your Eyes” has a familiar tune, but a variation on the lyrics. I found out that Sovereign Grace Music (Church)is a reformed, evangelical church currently in Louisville, Ky. It originally was in Gaithersburg, MD in 1982. They partner with John MacArthur and John Piper. Matt Papa and Matt Boswell wrote “His Mercy is More” in 2018. It has the feel of a modern worship song, but retains the overall structure of a traditional hymn. This hymn was inspired by a John Newton sermon.

Hymn #34, “The God of Abraham’s praise”, was written by Thomas Olivers, a Methodist preacher and hymn writer from Wales. He had a close relationship with Great Britain’s Jewish community…you can hear it in the tune. He was close friends with John Wesley, and is even buried in Wesley’s London grave.

Hymn #9, “All You That Fear Jehovah’s Name” is from the Psalter 1912. The preface states:” The prime distinction of this Psalter is its use of the metrical version of the Psalms approved September 22nd, 1909 by a joint committee from 9 churches of the Presbyterian family in Canada and the United States”.

7/4/21 – May you all have a blessed 4th, and an even more blessed Lord’s Day. We welcome back our Mission Team that returns from JAARS on Saturday. I encourage us all to read the Scripture (John 20:21) and to look over the two catechism questions and answers.

Our Praise Hymns are familiar, one by the Getty music group, “I Will Wait For You” and the other , written by Paul Baloche, “Behold Him”. The first is based on Psalm 130, written as a hymn of distress. If you have time, compare the actual Psalm to the lyrics of the hymn. The second hymn has many opposites, but also Jesus’ qualities.

In our Trinity Hymnal, we will sing #1- “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”. This is based on Psalm 100, a more joyous hymn than 130. Written by William Kethe in 1561, this is his most famous psalter. Very little is known about his early life, but it’s believed he fled England during the reign of Queen Mary. He helped translate the Geneva Bible and wrote about 25 psalms. Louis Bourgeois”s OLD HUNDRETH tune is usually connected to the hymn. Louis was a French composer and theorist during the Renaissance. He was a major compiler of Calvinistic hymn tunes.

Hymn 444, O Zion,Haste, Your Mision High Fulfilling, was composed by Mary A. Thomson (1834-1923). She wrote most of the hymn while tending to one of her children who was sick with typhoid fever. She left it unfinished for about 3 years until she could get the refrain to suit her. She wrote,”I feel indebted to the composer of the tune, TIDINGS, for writing so inspiring a tune to my words.” James Walch wrote the tune in 1875. This is his best known tune. God really does work in marvelous ways!

6/27/21 – This week we have the pleasure of hearing Josh Stenger bring us the message while Pastor David is on the Mission trip. Josh ‘s reference is Mark 4:26-33, The Parable of the Growing Seed. I can’t wait to hear how the title, ‘Not Knowing What You Don’t Know’ connects.

Our praise hymns are familiar. “Mighty to Save”, by Hillsong, from Australia. Muse over the key phrases: needs compassion, forgiveness, take me as you find me, all my fears and failures. Do any of these apply to you? Then also ponder on the chorus phrases: he can move mountains, mighty to save, and conquered the grave. May these words lift you up this week.

The second praise hymn is by Sovereign Grace. They have spent 30 years writing Christ- exalting songs. “Turn Your Eyes” does a wonderful job of blending a familiar chorus as the verse, then introducing a new chorus (Ps 96:1). Not only do we look to the Lord for what He’s done for us , personally, but also how He fulfilled his mission on earth 2,00 years ago.

Hymn 303, “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word” was written in 1663 by Tobias Clausnitzer. He was a German Lutheran pastor and hymn writer. Catherine Winkworth translated this into English in 1858. The hymn was design as a prayer for illumination, suitable for the opening of the service or just prior to the sermon.

A very familiar hymn will end our service, #672, “Trust and Obey”. This is the most well-known hymn by John Sammis, even though he wrote over 100 hymns. Born in America in 1846, he became a Presbyterian minister. He passed away in 1919. May this hymn be part of our meditating this week.

6/20/21 – How has your week gone? Are you planning anything to celebrate Father’s Day? Are you dreading the upcoming week? God has a message and command for just this very day! Exodus 31, the sermon text, is all about keeping the Sabbath holy. May we be refreshed, not only by God’s Word, but the music we sing.

The Getty’s wrote “May the People’s Praise You” . We have sung this before, but take a look at the 3rd,4th and 5th stanzas as they relate to our duties as believers. Stuart Townend comments:” …it begins by declaring our position in Christ…It goes on to describe the journey of living for Christ, his gifts to us. The chorus is a response in which we recognize and declare God’s centrality in our lives.”

CityAlight wrote, “Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me”. Be sure to look for all the phrases that speak of what Christ has and is doing for us, gift of grace, wholly bound to Him, He shows his power thru my need, my hope is only in Jesus.

Horatius Bonar wrote, “A Few More Years Shall Roll” in 1844. A minister of the Free Church of Scotland, he is well known as a prolific poem/hymn writer. Almost 100 can be found in various hymnals. The tune, LEOMINSTER, was composed by George William Martin in 1862. He was a choirboy at Westminster Abbey when Queen Victoria was coronated. This tune is his best known.

When we close with hymn #384 Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing be sure that you refer to hymn #193 for the tune. We will not be singing to listed tune (Sicilian Mariners), but the French tune, PICARDY. The lyrics are attributed to John Fawcett in 1773. He was a Baptist theologian in the U.K. It is said that George Whitefield was instrumental in converting him. Fawcett’s most familiar hymn is “Blest Be the Tie”. It originally only had 2 stanzas, but by 1880, Geoffrey Thring reordered a third stanza. “Lord Dismiss Us With Your Blessings”.

6/13/21 – This week, the sermon focuses on Exodus 30:17-21, the bronze basin.I can’t praise the music team enough for selecting music that fits so well with the sermon.

Only a Holy God”, by CityAlight, offers a beautiful tune of Irish flavor. I would like to encourage you to meditate on each line. It will help you remember what ‘Holy’ means. And our duty is written in the chorus. Did you notice the pattern? Two verses, 1 chorus,1 verse, 2 choruses, 1 verse, 3 choruses. I think CityAlight really wants to make us aware of our Holy God.

Keith and Kristyn Getty wrote, “The Power of the Cross”. But why was this song selected when the sermon is from Exodus? Not wanting to cut into Pastor David’s sermon points, but this basin was used by the priests before entering the tent of meeting. Question: Can anyone wash enough to truly be clean before “a Holy God”? Only the power of the Cross can do this. I can’t wait until Pastor puts everything together!

Hymn 253, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” was written by William Cowper ( tune by Lowell Mason ( 60 years later). Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. He was also an associate of John Newton. Both rallied against slavery. In fact, Cowper wrote a poem, “The Negro’s Complaint” that was quoted by Martin Luther King jr on many occasions.

Nothing but the Blood” , hymn 307, was written by Robert Lowery in 1876. He was a Baptist minister and preached during the Third Great Awakening ( 1855-1930). He also wrote, “Shall We Gather at the River” and “How Can I Keep From Singing”. In his lifetime, he composed over 500 hymn tunes.

If you have any comments to help me with this post, I would really appreciate it. Thanks

6/6/21 – As I sit here ready to share our week’s music choices, I’ve been listening to the ‘music of the heavens’ from the thunderstorms. We have been serenaded by the cicadas as well. Isn’t God wonderful?

This week we will again sing “At This Very Time” by Faithful. While the phrasing may be a little unfamiliar, be sure to focus on the lyrics. II Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not slow in keeping His promises. God has appointed what happens, and because of that truth, we can walk with assurance of His unchanging grace.

Phil Wickham wrote “Living Hope”. There is just something both calming and inspiring with his melody. He has worked in the past with pastor Greg Laurie. Phil says, “ I want to lead people to Jesus, to encounter Him, so they want more of Him”. May you be blessed by our music this week.

Hymn #347 “The Church’s One Foundation” was written by Samuel J. Stone in 1866. he was and English poet, hymnodist and priest of the Church of England. This is his most popular hymn. As I looked over the verses, I see the 2nd stanza as being almost like a creed. Verses 3 and 4, are encouraging, but lesser known. Stanzas 5 and 6 are very familiar. The music was written by Samuel Wesley. He was the grandson of Charles and Sarah Wesley.

Hymn 416, “Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd”, Was written by Jane E. Lesson in 1842. She wrote several books of hymns, mainly for children. Be sure to look at stanzas 3 and 4, I see these words to be very useful as a prayer for our Sunday School and our children. William L. Viner, wrote the tune known as Dismissal in 1845. He studied under Charles Wesley , Jr. He became an organist under the recommendation of Samuel S. Wesley ( small world , isn’t it? ).

5/30/21 – Memorial Day (communion to be rescheduled)

I wish I had more space, there are so many wonderful things I can say about the music for this week. If you have been attending our services, you know that pastor David is focusing on Exodus and the parts and items of the Tabernacle. This Sunday we are focusing on the Census Tax, in Ex. 30. I didn’t know that the tax was for anyone over the age of 20, and the RANSOM was for the service of the Tent of Meeting. The tax was 1/2 shekel, which is a weight equal to 5.5 grams of silver, or about half a day’s wage. My first thought was humbling- “is that all I’m worth?”, but also grateful that my sins didn’t cost me more!

The first praise song, is not familiar to me. “At This Very Time”, by Faithful. Please take time to look at the lyrics. The second verse mimics Hymn 30’s 1st and 7th stanzas. It focuses on God’s shelter, help and stay.

Our second praise song is, “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”. The lyrics make us look at the cost Jesus paid. Verse 3 even mentions the ‘price of our redemption”. Redemption and Ransom are both important factors in a Christian’s life…without them, we are lost.

Hymn #30, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” is from Psalm 90. As a child, I learned it as , “O God..”, but how much more personal is the word, ‘our’! We heard last week about Pastor reading up on Isaac Watts and his being called ‘The Godfather of English Hymnody’. Prior to him, most songs were from the Psalms, but he introduced summarizing the Christian experience into music.

Hymn #431, “A Parting Hymn We Sing”, is familiar to most churches. Aaron Wolfe was a Presbyterian minister, from New Jersey. This is his most familiar hymn of the 7 he submitted for publication. He established the Hillside Seminary for Young Ladies in 1851 in N.J.

5/23/21 – This Sunday we are singing 3 hymns as our Praise team is settling into their new home routines.

THE DAY OF RESURRECTION”, #267, is a familiar tune. We have 2 other hymns using that same melody. It is “an oldie but a goodie”, in that the lyrics were written by John of Damascus during the 8th Century. He was a monk who contributed to law, theology, philosophy and music. Some of his hymns are still sung by our Eastern Christian and Lutheran brothers and sisters. The lyrics were put to music be Henry Smart in 1836. This was a tune he wrote for a music festival in Lancaster, hence the tune name. He wrote this to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Reformation in England. When he became blind at 52, his skills on the organ were so good that he could continue to serve in that capacity.

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS”, #629,was written in 1855 by Joseph Scrivener. Born in Ireland, he moved to Canada at age 25. When he received word that his mother was gravely ill, he wrote her a poem, “Pray Without Ceasing”. In 1869 he published a collection of 115 hymns. He died at age 66 from drowning. Charles C.Converse was and American attorney who also composed many church songs. He had a copy of Scriven’s poem to his mother, put it to music and changed the title to the hymn we are singing today!

FROM EVERY STORMY WIND THAT BLOWS”, #631, is a new tune for most of us. If you have not taken the time to listen to the links mentioned in our Tuesday E-Blast, I would strongly recommend you take 5 minutes to do so. The instrumental OPC version will help you get the tune in your head, but the other with the guitar, will help place the lyrics in with the melody. Hugh Stowell wrote the lyrics in 1828. He was a minister in the Church of England. He loved children and worked to be sure the Sunday School was of high caliber. He wrote this poem while he studied about the Mercy Seat: a place where God can meet his people. Thomas Hastings, and American composer, best remembered for the tune, TOPLADY. We know it as Rock of Ages (499). He wrote over 1,000 tunes.

5/16/21 – The sermon this week focuses on Mark 5:1-20. This is about the madman in the Gerasenes and the legion of demons.

Our praise hymns are, “Behold Him”, and , “His Mercy is More”. Both had been reviewed in March, so I won’t spend too muck ‘ink’ on them. “His Mercy is More” starts with the chorus and tells us His mercy is more, stronger than darkness, our sins though many but His mercy is more. Notice that the first verse mentions that our sins are thrown into a bottomless sea- interesting, right? “Behold Him” reminds us of the many things Christ has done for us. He became a baby, the least of us, yet he is the Lion and the Lamb. We are then told to be still, behold the Alpha and Omega, the Lord Almighty.

Rejoice, the Lord Is King”, hymn 310,was written by Charles Wesley in 1746. He was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley. He is said to have composed over 6,500 hymns. Most of them reflected events in his life. John Darwall wrote the music. He was born in England in 1731. This is his best known tune. Notice the majestic tone of the chorus. I think the only thing missing is a trumpet background.

Jesus, Keep Me near the Cross”, was reviewed previously in February. Fanny Crosby, in spite of being blind for most of her life wrote over 8,000 hymns. When someone commented that it was a shame that she was blind, she replied that she was GLAD- because when she arrived in heaven, Crist’s face would be the first face she would see! She definitely did NOT feel handicapped.

5/9/21 – Oh my! Another service filled with many godly blessings. Our verse for meditation takes in the event called Mother’s Day. The Call to Worship picks up with the sermon in Exodus 29 and the ordaining of Aaron and his sons. (did you notice that ‘saints’ is not just a New Testament word?). If Pastor David doesn’t point this out, then take a few minutes to count up how many animals are offered in sacrifice- but only Christ ‘s blood is truly sufficient. Okay, on to the 4 songs for the service:

  1. Christ is Mine Forevermore
  2. May the Peoples Praise You
  3. Hymn #100  “Holy, Holy, Holy!
  4. Hymn #520 “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness

1. “Christ Is Mine Forevermore”, by CityAlight, was reviewed 3/7/21. Please take a few minutes to look at the focus of each verse and chorus. Our purpose and sin- He paid for every sin; despite the sorrows and despairs of the world, real peace comes from heaven; while we are strangers and pilgrims, we are given armor and a Deliverer, and we have been given the keys to Zion City!

2. We learned ,”May The peoples Praise You”, last week. This is written by the Getty’s and focuses on Psalm 67. What a great comfort to know that He is with us and we can share His mercy with others. Notice the bridge as it repeats 2 main words: Holy and Worthy. This will carry us on to Hymn 100.

3. “Holy, Holy, Holy”, hymn 100 in our Hymnal, was #1 in my old Baptist Hymnal. Just saying… Reginald (1783-1826) was born to a wealthy and educated family in England, and could translated Classical Latin into English by the time he was 7. He entered Oxford at age 17. After serving as Rector for 16 years, he became Bishop of Calcutta. Due to the stress of traveling, he died suddenly of a stroke at 43. This hymn refers to Revelation 4:8 and Isaiah 6:3 with the use of ‘holy, holy, holy’. John B Dykes wrote the tune, NICEA, which was named after the Council of NICEA (325 AD) that formulated the doctrine of the. Trinity. By age 10, Dyes was the organist where his grandfather was the Vicar. He wrote over 300 hymn tunes.

4. “ Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”, was written by Nikolai. L. Von Zinzendorf and translated by John Wesley to English. While Zinzendorf wrote over 2,000 hymns, most were mediocre, but a few were valuable. He was associated with the United Brethren and the Moravians. There was not much of a biography on composer William Gardiner, except he was the first to promote Beethoven’s works in England.

5/2/21 – Hopefully we will find ourselves worshiping together in the beautiful outdoors. This is also a Sunday where we will commission those going onto our Boards. Pray for these people as they seek to glorify our Lord and savior, serve our congregation and the local community. As Pastor Milligan expounds further on Exodus and the parts of the Tabernacle, let’s look for truths in our hymns as they relate to his sermon.

May the People’s Praise You”, is taken from Psalm 67. This is another of the Getty hymns that we sing often. Stuart Townend states this song begins with declaring our position in Christ and what he’s won for us. Look for His gifts to us. God needs to be central in our life.

Turn Your Eyes“, by Sovereign grace is a familiar tune, although with some variation. We are asked to look to the hillside- of Christ’s crucifixion, look to the morning- of the resurrection. Sovereign Grace has been sharing music for over 30 years. Their purpose is to give the local church exalting songs.

Our next hymn, # 535, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”, is one of my favorite tunes. S. Trevor Francis ( 1834-1925) wrote the lyrics. While he earned a living being a merchant in England, he was also a lay preacher and hymn-writer. During the 1873-74 campaign of D.L. Moody and Ira sankey, Francis assisted them. The tune, Ebenezer ( means stone of help), was written by T. J. Williams in 1890. You may notice the additional tune name, Ton-Y-Botel. Williams was Welsh and the name means. ‘ Tune of the Bottle’. There are several conjuncture on why it was named that.

Hymn 585, “Take My Life and Let it Be” is perfect for commissioning our leaders today. The lyrics were written by Frances Havergal in 1874. We have mentioned her previously. She wrote over 55 hymns, many were published without tunes, but as poem cards for encouragement. Henri Cesar Malian was a Swiss minister. He broke away from the national church due to its Unitarian views, where his were more Calvinistic. When he wasn’t allowed to preach, he built a small chapel on his grounds and preached from there. As the French church became fore reformed, his hymns were, shall we say, instrumental to their services.

4/25/21 – Our Praise hymns are familiar and have been previously reviewed, so let me start with our hymns from the Hymnal. Our two Praise hymns, “Build My LIfe” and “In Christ Alone” are personal favorites.

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” page 420, is both old and new. The lyrics are from a 6th C. Latin hymn that was translated into English by Robert Campbell in 1849. Not much is known about him except he was a Roman Catholic from Edinburgh. The music was composed by George Elvey in 1859. By the time he was 17 , he was an expert organist(1843) and was Knighted in 1871. he was a prolific writer of Church music. We are familiar with the tune as we sing hymn 715 (Come Ye Thankful People Come).

Hymn 281, “I Know That My My Redeemer Lives-Glory, Hallelujah!” , is sung to an American folk tune from the 19th C. Samuel Medley ( I love his last name!) wrote the stanzas in 1775. Medley was a British naval officer, who was wounded in 1759 and forced to retire. He then heard a sermon that led to his conversion, joining the Baptist Church, and becoming a pastor himself. Hymns 177 and 183 are also written by him.

Build My Life”, by Matt Redman, offers 5 different stanzas. As we sing, they appear in this order: 1,2,3,1,2,3,4,4,3,3,4,5,4,4. I love #4 as the music reminds me of building blocks as the notes ascend and descend. While there IS repetition of lyrics, my feeling is that sometimes we really DO need to have things repeated so we don’t forget God’s love, grace and mercy.

In Christ Alone” by the Gettys, has 4 verses. Here we are calmly and melodiously reminded of hope, strength, love, peace. That on the cross, Christ satisfied God’s wrath. We are His and He is mine ( that is most wondrous), He commands our destiny ( His Providence and ordaining), and NOTHING satan or the world may do To us will ever TAKE us from our Heavenly Father.

4/18/21 – As pastor David continues his look at Exodus 27 and the courtyard of the Tabernacle, be sure to look for references to this in our songs.

  • Mighty to Save is a Hillsongs worship song from 2008. Look at the correlation of our needs to what God supplies to us. We need compassion, He gives mercy; we need forgiveness, He offers kindness. We humbly tell Him to take us as we are with our fears and failures- we surrender!
  • Only a Holy God is from CityAlight. As you sing this song, be sure to see all that God does and will do for His children. God: commands His angels and earthly leaders, whispers and the darkness trembles, rules with justice, consumes like fire, raises the dead, rescues us and offers his Son who invites us to call God “Father”.
  • #363 – We Gather Together  is a Netherlands folk hymn. The tune was composed by Adrianus Valerius ( 1575-1625). He is best known for his poems dealing with the Dutch Wars (1555-1625). This hymn was brought to America by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam- now New York City.
  • While hymn #371 – O Lord of Hosts, How Lovely  is new for us, its melody is not. This is based on Hymn 84 and is of Welsh origin. Sunday our call to worship is Psalm 84 ( interesting how that all worked out). This hymn follows almost word for word of the Psalm.

4/11/21 – Hope you all had a blessed Easter. My research on our hymns and praise hymns has been rather interesting.

Our two praise hymns are not new and have been reviewed previously. But for those who didn’t read about them the 1st time around…

Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me” is by CityAlight from Australia. It’s their aim to write Biblically rich lyrics with simple melodies. They want for every church, large or small, to have music to sing.

I Will Wait For You(Psalm 130)” is from Keith Getty, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker and Stuart Townsend. Stuart gives us the backstory on the hymn:“Based on Psalm 130, a psalm of distress and longing for God’s intervention in our live….It is a powerful thing to look to God with trust and patience through the hard times we will all face at some point in our lives.”

Hymn #308 Jesus Paid It All, was written in 1865 on the fly leaf of the New Lute of Zion Hymnal by Elvira Hall. She showed the lyrics to her pastor, who had a hymn melody previously handed to him by their organist. Interestingly, the lyrics and tune matched up nicely! This ‘chance’ I counter took place at the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Md. Elvira is buried in the Green Mount Cemetery.

Lastly, hymn 501, “Just As I Am, without One Plea” was composed by Charlotte Elliott. She lived in England from 1789 to 1871. Because she had many bouts with illness, she spent much of her time writing hymns and poems. Billy Graham used this song in most of his Crusades because of its simplicity. The composer, Wm B. Bradbury , cofounder of the Bradbury Piano Company, also wrote the tunes to, “Jesus Loves Me”, “He Leadeth Me”, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” and many more. I am always amazed at how God blesses us with a wide variety of songs that carry us through our lives.

4/4/21 – Easter Sunday

I have been saying for a few years now, that when I die, I want to be sung into heaven! Our Easter music selections are a beautiful foretaste.

Our two Praise hymns, “ Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” and “The Power of the Cross” were both written by Keith Getty and his co-contributors. They are wonderful songs that help us realize the pain, suffering, sacrifice and blessing of our Risen Lord. Be sure to pay attention to some of the phrases. Pay attention to the questions and answers in “Christ Our hope in Life and Death”. Put yourself in the Good Friday scene in “The Power of the Cross”. Be assured that if you are one of His children, real life is yours because of Christ.

Hymn 286, “Worship Christ the Risen King”, is a ‘new’ hymn written in 1986 by Jack Hanford. He has written over 600 hymns and choruses, the most famous is “Majesty”, made famous by Sandi Patti. The tune is 120 years older, ‘Regent Square’ by Henry Smart. This tune was originally written for Horatius Bonar for a doxology. This is a very familiar tune for most people. In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote “Christ the Lord is Risen today” as an offer a Tory response. It originally had 11 stanzas. Be sure to see that the hymn is written in the present tense- IS.

Edmund Budry wrote “Thine Be the Glory” in 1884. He was a Swiss Protestant minister. The tune is derived from George F. Handel’s oratorio, “Judas Maccabaeus”. Interestingly, this hymn is sung at weddings, funerals, and in Ireland, at Christmas.

Alleluia (Latin) or Hallelujah (Anglican) is widely used in today’s songs. Translated it means, ‘God Be Praised’ or , ‘Praise the Lord’. And all the people said, AMEN!

4/2/21 – Good Friday – If you are joining us for our Good Friday service, the hymns we are singing are :” Beneath the Cross of Jesus “, “ Stricken ,Smitten and Afflicted “, “ O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” and “Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call “.

The first three are from our hymnal, and I reviewed them on March 7th and 14th. In the first hymn I pointed out that “fain” meant something pleasant, willing, glad. Are we willing to stand and be counted as a Cristian? Jesus’ own disciples were not sure at that point. Our second hymn uses ancient words from the 15th-17th centuries. all three words relate to real, deep sorrow. Are we just singing the words , or do we also imagine His agony? The third hymn, in its original form had up to 10 stanzas- each focusing on a different aspect of Christ’s agony- for us! Our last hymn, though modern, takes its wording from the 42nd Psalm. Matt Boswell said,” Sing not around our sorrows but through them. We are the only religion that has the answers for the world’s pain.” Sing as if you mean it!

3/28/21 – Palm Sunday

3/21/21 – This week’s praise hymns are familiar to most of us, and I have covered their ‘back stories’ earlier, so I won’t waste time repeating it again. The two songs are, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”; and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus ”.

     Our hymns from the hymnal were both written by Isaac Watts in 1709. I realized that these were composed before America had even declared independence from Britain. King George II was on the throne, the 1st Great awakening had not occurred and our 1st President had not even been born.

     Watts was a minister, theologian (yes there is a difference) and a logician. he wrote about 750 hymns during his 74 year lifetime. You can check out the Banner of Truth’s website for more background on Isaac Watts.

      In looking for fresh information about each hymn, I came across the website for Stuart Townsend, the writer of “How Deep”.  You can check out what he said at While he has written many songs, this time he knew he must write a hymn. The hymn wants us to focus on what it Cost the Father to give up his beloved Son to such a heinous death. And secondly, to realize that if we had been there, we would have probably been shouting, “Crucify him!”.

      Thought: The hymn, “Not All the Blood of Beasts” made me ask;” just How many animals were sacrificed at any time?”.  2 Chronicles 7 says that at the Temple Dedication, Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep! And when you think of all  the other sacrifices ( certainly on a smaller scale), yet these were still not suffice to to cover yours and my sins! 

 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Last thought: just what was ‘wondrous’ about the cross? The word means a feeling of delight or wonder; amazing and marvelous.

3/14/21 – The music for the week is very sober and meaningful. (hope you remembered to set your clocks). As we near Palm Sunday and Easter in just 2 or 3 weeks, our Worship team is choosing wonderfully appropriate music. Thank you.

Only A Holy God” by CityAlight and Dustin Smith of Here Be Lions have truly grasped what it was that Christ did for us. All three stanzas focus on His. Greatness. Verses 1 and 3 show the power of Christ in different ways, while the second tells of His beauty.
What does ‘holy’ mean to you? Omnipotence, yes, but it means to be ‘cut off’, or ‘set apart’. Let us strive to be holy as he is holy. (Notes were taken from an article of Faith Bible Church (Spokane, Wa)).

In Christ Alone”, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend. Look at the focus of each verse. In the first, He is our hope and Comfort. The second verse tells of his love and righteousness in becoming a man…yet coming to die to satisfy God’s wrath. Third verse speaks of his death and resurrection and the promise that sin will not grip the faithful. Finally, due to Christ’s providence that guides our destiny- we are without guilt and fear of death.

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted “ is written in B-flat major, helping our ears to ‘feel’ the sober ness of this hymn. It was written by Thomas Kelly in 1804, an Irish evangelist. He wrote over 765 hymns. At age 85, while preaching, he suffered a stroke and died the next year. His last words were,”Not my will but thine be done”.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” – was taken from a poem attributed to Ber­nard of Clair­vaux and translated by Paul Ger­hardt. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) was called by Martin Luther, the monk of all monks. This hymn originally had about 10 verses, each one focusing on different aspects of Christ’s suffering and death. Our hymnal only has 3. The tune was arranged by Johann S. Bach for a chorale, “The Passion of St. Matthew”.

3/7/21 – This week’s sermon focuses on John 19: 26,27. But, while timely to the sermon, each song brings to light the two questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q19-20 and makes them relevant. 

His Mercy is More, written by Keith Getty, Matt Papa, focuses on Lamentations 3:23,24. Please take a moment to look at these verses this week. What should be our “take away” in this song? We need to focus on the fact that our sins are many, but God’s mercies are more. Observe the first lines of each verse: What love?, what patience?, what richness of kindness? Thank God that His mercy IS more!

Christ is Mine Forevermore, is done by CityAlight, whom we mentioned in earlier weeks. There is a website, that critiques many contemporary songs to test for Biblical accuracy. This one (as well as many, if not all, that we sing) passes with flying colors. All lines of the song agree with scripture. Look at the key words of each verse: numbered days, tears in sorrow, days here as a stranger. Now look at the answers in each of the choruses: hope, peace, armor and finally, the keys to Zion city! How reassuring.

Hymn 251 Beneath the Cross of Jesus, was written by Elizabeth Clephane, a Scottish songwriter. I  know this hymn very well, but I never looked up the meaning of ‘fain’. Do you know its meaning? If you said ‘pleased’, ‘willing’, or ‘gladly’- you get the prize! A sobering thought is the last line of verse 2, two wonders — [His] redeeming love and my unworthiness.

 Lastly, hymn 261 What Wondrous Love Is This, is from the Second Great Awakening ( I’m ready for a 3rd…you too?). It is a camp meeting song. The tune is derived from a popular English ballad (ROUD # 5089). Did you know that the hymn words were only handed out, so there could be any number of tunes sung to it? Even a tune called ‘The Ballad of Captain Kidd’ .

2/28/21 – As we consider the season of lent, we need to look for all references to Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Be sure to search for the significance of Luke 23:42-43. One way is to see how the various songs help to bring this out.

      “Arise, My_Soul,_Arise” is both old and new. It was penned by Charles Wesley, the 18th son of Samuel and Susanna Wesley. You can find the original version on page 305 in our hymnal. Charles was born in 1707 and died in 1788. He and his brother, Charles led Bible studies at their college, in spite of being chided for their detailed and METHODICAL methods to studying the scriptures. He published between 6,500-10,000 hymns. The words carry a strong doctrinal (albeit Armenian) content.

      The lyricist is Kevin Twit. He is a former member of Timonium Presbyterian, now residing in Nashville. Christ Community College Ministry, under the group, Indelible Grace, performs this song on their 2000 album. The group is well known for their scripture-grounded songs.

      CityAlight is a group out of Sydney, Australia. Their song, “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me”, follows their format of offering rich lyrics with simple tunes. They are not trying to be groundbreaking, unique or fashionable- but only to aid all churches of all sizes and abilities to lift their voices in praise to our triune God.

        Hymn 307, “Nothing but the Blood”, was written and composed by Robert Lowry. he was born in Philadelphia in 1826. This is a very familiar hymn. Please take time to read the two scriptures that make this so significant. Hebrews 9:22 and 1 John 1:7.

         Lastly, “Not What My Hands Have Done”, hymn 461, was written by Horatius Bonar in 1861. Born in 1808, he lived most of his life in the Edinburgh area of Scotland. He has such a rich family history- so many men in his family served in the ministry. The total years they served in Church of Scotland totals 364 years!. Bonar also wrote “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” and 140 more. Titus 3:5- “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy,”

2/21/21 – Our scripture is Luke 23:34

     This week  we are learning an “old but new” praise hymn.  By this I mean that part of the song is the familiar tune of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel. Here, it’s been adapted by Sovereign Grace Music.  The new version, by Sovereign Grace, focuses on many scripture nuggets of both the Old and new Testaments. S.G. Music has been around for over 30 years. Their mission is to produce Christ-exalting music, which they call, “Sound + Doctrine”.

     The next praise hymn, The Power of the Cross, is by Keith & Kristyn Getty with Stuart Townsend. It is on their , In Christ Alone, album of 2005. Stuart states:” it’s one of a number of story songs we’ve written together. I feel it is important to understand that…our faith is rooted in history…and backed up by evidence.” This song paints a picture of Good Friday, and the last verse includes us because our names are written into His wounds.

     Looking at the two selections from our hymnal, (#264) “Jesus , Keep Me Near the Cross” is a wonderful hymn by Fanny Crosby. She wrote over 8,500 gospel songs, even though blind at 6 weeks of age. She employed “hypotyposis” or the ability to paint vivid scenes with her lyrics, even though blind. 

     Finally, the last hymn (#473), ”Jesus Sinners Doth Receive” was written by Erdmann Neumeister, a German Lutheran minister. He lived from 1598 until 1662. Johann S. Bach was a contemporary and used 5 of Neumeister’s cantatas for his own compositions. This hymn  tune is listed as Jesus, Meine Zuversicht. Johann Cruger is also noted, but he lived before Bach, but is credited with influencing this particular melody.

     Please study the lyrics to each hymn as they should serve to lift us up to look at the cross and be assured of Christ’s love.

2/14/21 – This week, our scripture is Romans 12: 9-21. Some Bibles use a heading of “Marks of a True Christian “.  Let’s see if the songs and hymns fit this grouping.

Mighty to Save, written by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan, was published in 2006. It was sung by the Hillsongs group in Australia. It received the Dove Award for Best Worship Song in 2008. This song looks toward others, looks at our own personal needs through Christ’s salvation. It is done with a typical worship style and tempo.

Lord, From Sorrows Deep I Call, was written by Keith Getty.  This praise hymn is based on Psalm 42. Most Bibles use a heading of: a Maskil of the Sons of Korah. A maskil usually means to impart wisdom, enlightenment. Korah was Moses’ cousin (Numbers 16) and his sons were responsible for singing in the temple.

This song is in hymn format, using verse and chorus, but it varies in that it has 2 stanzas, chorus, 1 stanza, then 2 repeats of the chorus. Listen for the Irish overtones, as the Getty’s are from Ireland.

 We Are God’s People, hymn #355. Stanzas 2 and 3 focus on what Christians should seek to imitate. This hymn was written in 1976. The arrangement was by Fred Bock using a portion of Brahm’s Symphony #1 in C minor.

Take My Life, and Let It Be, hymn #585, was written in 1874, by Miss Frances Havergal. Many of her poems were printed on leaflets and ornamental cards. The composer, Henri Malan, a Swiss minister, wrote this tune many years before being paired with the lyrics.

 2/7/21 – Women were invited to meet at 9:30 am for discussions about the weekly praise and hymn music. Since we erred on the side of caution, due to expected snow, the meeting didn’t occur. While the praise tunes are familiar enough, the hymns may have not been so.  So in hindsight, let’s review these songs and see how they fit in with Pastor David’s Message that focused on Romans 12:1-8.

Build My Life ( was written by 5  collaborators, including Matt Redman. The lyrics are based on the following verses: James 5:13; Col. 3:16; Ps119:18,23:1-4; 2Tim. 2:19; and Matt. 7:24-25. The lyrics give glory to the solid foundation upon God. Listen to the note sequence of the chorus- it sounds like one building steps!

  Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery was written by Matt Boswell and others, and is published by the Getty’s. As you look at each verse, the second line details the major mysteries of God’s plan for man and Christ’s purpose in coming as man. David is preaching on the meaning of Communion and the Lenten season. See how well this praise hymn fits. 

Both hymns, 427 & 429, are from the 1800’s. Amidst Us Our Beloved, was written by Charles Spurgeon. The composer, Lowell Mason, is considered to be the father of Christian music, and was a Presbyterian. The flow of the tune is based on Gregorian chant.

Amidst Us Our Beloved

 Hymn 429, Let the Blood in Mercy Poured, was based on a Greek hymn, translated by John Brownlee. He was a Scottish hymnist who avidly translated both Greek and Latin hymns into English. John Cruger was the editor of the most widely used Lutheran hymnal. While he never wrote any hymns, he is a recognized composer of 71 chorales.

Music Summary

Modern hymns and praise songs must meet three criteria in order to be used in our worship services. They must: 

  • be theologically-sound. 
  • not be difficult for the congregation to sing. 
  • point to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord (for example, we avoid songs that focus more on the worshipper than the One worthy of all worship). 

We use The Trinity Hymnal (1990), that includes 742 Scripture-based hymns rooted in the Reformed tradition, responsive readings of the Psalms, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene Creed.

Resources Browse Hymns from the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet.

The Berean Test is a website that critiques and applies critical thinking skills to compare lyrical content from popular Christian artists against the Bible for accuracy.

Our Worship | Praise Team