Fairest Lord Jesus – written by 1842

FAIREST LORD JESUS                                                                  written by 1842

The Story

            This hymn is sometimes called the “Crusader’s Hymn” because, according to some, it was sung by German Crusaders as they made their way to the Holy Land. But no evidence of the tune exists prior to 1842.

This song contains no reference to persecution or to a crusade.  And it is not really the type of hymn that would mentally prepare one for a crusade! Instead, it speaks of praise to a wonderful Savior. Whoever wrote this hymn – and no one knows for sure – was close to nature and loved God’s creation… but loved the Creator even more!

The tune, originally a Silesian folk song, and the German text were printed for the first time in 1842 by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben and Ernst Richter under the name Most beautiful Lord Jesus.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and, today, use it to praise God!

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature…

O Thou of God and man the Son,

Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,

Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

 

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,

robed in the blooming garb of spring;

Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,

Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

 

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,

and all the twinkling starry host;

Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer

than all the angels heaven can boast.

 

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,

wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;

none can be nearer, fairer or dearer,

than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

 

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!

Son of God and Son of Man!

Glory and honor, praise, adoration,

now and forever more be Thine.

Nearer, My God, to Thee – written in 1841

NEARER, MY GOD, TO THEE                                                                 written in 1841

The Story

Sarah Adams had to say goodbye too often… and it was always hard. Her mother died when Sarah was only 5 – that was her first goodbye. At age 32, while playing the role of Lady Macbeth in London’s Richmond Theater, she said goodbye to the stage. She wanted to continue acting, but her health would not allow her to. Her sister’s health was poor, too, and Sarah feared the day she would have to say goodbye to her, as well.

Sarah began to question her faith. Why did God seem so far away?

When Sarah’s pastor asked her and her sister to help him put a hymnal together, the two were eager to help. They wrote 13 texts and 62 new tunes. As they were finishing their work, the pastor mentioned he was preparing a sermon about Jacob’s dream of a ladder ascending to Heaven – Genesis 28:11-19. He wanted an appropriate hymn to be sung along with it.

Sarah quickly wrote the 5 verses of “Nearer, My God, to Thee”.

In her own life, she had learned that each step we take – even those that result in difficult and painful goodbyes – only draws us nearer to God.

By the way, according to those who survived the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic, this song was the song the orchestra was playing as it sank!

The Song

            Read this song, and, today, make it your own prayer to God.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;       still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus: Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down, darkness be over me, my rest a stone;     yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee,…

There let the way appear steps unto heav’n; all that Thou sendest me in mercy giv’n;

angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,…

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise, out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;

so by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,…

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky, sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,

still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,…

Just As I Am – written in 1840

JUST AS I AM                                                                                    written in 1840 

The Story

            Charlotte Elliott seemed to have everything going for her as a young woman. She was gifted as a portrait artist and also as a writer of humorous poems. Then, in her early thirties, she suffered a serious illness that left her weak and depressed.

During her illness, a noted minister, Dr. Caesar Malan of Switzerland, came to visit her. Noticing her depression, he asked her if she had peace with God. She resented the question, and told him she did not want to talk about it.

But, a few days later, she had the opportunity to apologize to Dr. Malan. After that, she told him she wanted to clean up some things in her life before she became a Christian. Malan answered, “Come just as you are.” That was enough for Charlotte Elliott, and she gave her life to Jesus Christ that day.

14 years later, remembering those words spoken to her by Dr. Malan in Brighton, England, she wrote this hymn. It really is a simple hymn, possibly the most basic hymn we sing in our churches. But, it has been used to touch millions who have responded to Christ’s invitation to come just as they are.

By the way, Billy Graham says he was converted in 1934 in a revival meeting in Charlotte, NC, led by the evangelist Mordecai Ham while hearing this song sung during the invitation. This song became associated with him years later as he used it during his own invitations throughout his many crusades.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and make it your own hymn of confession and surrender.

Just as I am – without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidst me come to Thee – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – though toss’d about with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need, in Thee to find – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because Thy promise I believe – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thy love unknown has broken every barrier down;
now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone – O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – of that free love the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove;
here for a season, then above – O Lamb of God, I come!

Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us

SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US                                     written in 1836

The Story

Of all the titles given to Jesus in Scripture, maybe the most beloved is Shepherd… a title Jesus gave to Himself in John 10. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, guards His sheep, and even gives His life for His sheep.

We do not know for sure who wrote “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” It was originally written for children, and was unsigned when it first appeared in Dorothy Thrupp’s collection, Hymns for the Young, in 1836. It was the custom of Miss Thrupp to not sign her hymns or poems; usually initialing them D.A.T. or using a pseudonym, Iota. But, this one had neither. She may have forgotten to initial it, or it may have been written by someone else.

The year 1836 may be remembered by most as the year of the Battle at the Alamo, or the year Arkansas was admitted into the United States. But, this song – and the prayer it represents – would be more important than even those.

While we may never know who wrote the hymn, it sounds like a prayer we should all claim as our own.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and make it your own prayer of request.

Saviour, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
in Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine; do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful tho’ we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse, and pow’r to free:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, early let us turn to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor; early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Saviour, with Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still.

The Solid Rock – written in 1834

THE SOLID ROCK                                                                           written in 1834

The Story

            Many of the British hymnwriters were children of ministers or were from middle- or upper-class families. Not Edward Mote.

Edward’s parents managed a pub in London. Edward said of his childhood, “My Sundays were spent in the streets; so ignorant was I that I did not know there was a God.” He was eventually apprenticed to a cabinetmaker who took him to church, where he heard the gospel message for the first time. Edward was converted and baptized at 18 years old, became a successful cabinetmaker in a London suburb (the job he worked for 37 years) and was active in his local church.

Edward wrote this hymn – based on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders – while he was working as a cabinetmaker. The chorus came to his mind as he was walking to work, and later in the day the verses came to him. The following Sunday afternoon, he visited the dying wife of a close friend. Edward didn’t know what to say to her, so he quoted the 4 verses of the hymn he’d just written. At the end of each verse, he quoted these words, “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

2 years later he published the hymn and titled it, “The Immutable Basis of a Sinner’s Hope”. That title would eventually be shortened – sometimes called “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”, but it would still be a hymn that combines deep theology and personal experience.

In his 50s, Edward became pastor of the Rehoboth Baptist Church in West Sussex, where he pastored for 26 years. When he died, in 1874, he was buried in the church yard of that church.

The Song

Read this song and, today, make it your own song of testimony in tough times!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood support me in the whelming flood;
when every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found,
clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

O Worship The King – written in 1833

O WORSHIP THE KING                                                                  written in 1833

The Story

Sir Robert Grant was acquainted with kings. His father was a member of the British Parliament and, later, became chairman of the East India Company. Following in his father’s footsteps, young Robert was elected to Parliament and led the fight for civil rights for Jewish people. Then, he, too, became the director of the East India Company. In 1834, he was appointed Governor of Bombay, and was a favorite of the people. A medical college in India was named in his honor.

This hymn, written by Robert Grant, is based on Psalm 104, a psalm of praise.

Robert Grant, who died while Governor of Bombay in 1838, was familiar with kings, but he treasured most of all his relationship with the King of kings! This hymn is SUCH a fun song to sing!!

The Song

            Read this song, and make it your own hymn of praise today!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
the humbler creation, though feeble there lays,
with true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded – written in 1830

O SACRED HEAD, NOW WOUNDED                                                    written in 1830

The Story

In his own day, Bernard of Clairvaux was known as a preacher and a churchman; today, he is known most for his hymns of devotion to Christ.

Though he disliked many of the medieval theologians, this hymn is a poem of theology… with each verse focusing on a wounded part of the crucified Savior’s body; His feet, knees, hands, side, chest, heart, and head.  The words compel us to look at the cross until the depth of God’s love overwhelms us.

It was originally written as a Christian Passion hymn based on a Latin text written during the Middle AgesPaul Gerhardt wrote a German version in 1656.  It was first translated into English in 1752 by John Gambold.  But, in 1830, a new translation of the hymn was made by an American Presbyterian minister, James Waddel Alexander.  It is Alexander’s translation which became one of the most widely used hymns in 19th & 20th

century hymnals.

 

The Song

            Read this hymn, and focus, today, on the Christ of the Cross!

 

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
from Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
for it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

 

 

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
when soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
when in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
but take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell;
my heart by faith enfolds Thee, Who dieth thus dies well.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy – written in 1826

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY                                                                        written in 1826

The Story

Reginald Heber was constantly trying to improve the music at the Anglican Church he served at in Hodnet, England.  His superiors frowned on anything but the use of metrical psalms, but Heber introduced hymns by Newton and Cowper, and even wrote hymns of his own.  Many modern-day hymnals still carry 3 or 4 of Heber’s hymns; his most popular is “Holy, Holy, Holy”.  The poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, called this the world’s greatest hymns.  And it probably ranks in my own top 5; I certainly am glad he wrote a song that was outside “traditional” way of singing hymns!

After serving 16 years as a parish priest in England, Heber accepted the call to become the bishop of Calcutta, India.  What a culture shift!  He served in Calcutta for only 3 years before he died at the age of 43.  On April 3, 1826, after attending an early-morning service at which he gave a blessing in the Tamil language, Heber returned to his bungalow for a cold bath.  Immediately after plunging into the water he died, possibly from the shock of the cold water in the intense heat.

Whether in England, where he was able to see all kinds of sin… or in India, where he was surrounded by the worship of all kinds of gods, Heber held to the holiness of God.

Heber wrote this hymn shortly before he died, and it was published just after his death.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and let it impress upon you the holiness of God!

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy!  All the saints adore Thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Though the darkness hide Thee,
though the eye of sinful man, Thy glory may not see:
only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky, and sea;
holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship – written in 1819

BRETHREN, WE HAVE MET TO WORSHIP                                       written in 1819

The Story

“Brethren, We Have Met Together” is one of the oldest published American folk hymns. The lyrics were written by George Atkins and first published in 1819. The traditional tune, Holy Manna, is a pentatonic melody in Ionian mode originally published by William Moore in Columbian Harmony, a four-note shape-note tunebook, in 1829. Like most shape-note songs from that century, it is usually written in three parts.

It is commonly sung as the opening song at shape-note singing events.

This is one of America’s revival hymns. It was authored during the middle years of America’s Second Great Awakening.

Why is it important to gather together with other believers for worship? One part of worship includes adoring the Lord our God, which includes the idea of gazing lovingly at Him. We come before our God and consider how wonderful He is. Our worship also includes preaching and prayer. This hymn presents all of these aspects of worship, working together… and is filled with biblical references of God meeting man.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and make it your own call to worship!

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
pray, oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

Holy Bible, Book Divine – written in 1803

HOLY BIBLE, BOOK DIVINE                                                         written in 1803

The Story

            Sunday Schools were introduced to England by Robert Raikes in 1780, and they quickly spread across the country. There was no public school system, and most children could not read. Many had never even seen a Bible.

One of the first questions the founders of Sunday Schools had to answer was, “What shall we teach?” Some thought it best to have the children memorize catechisms (principles of Christian doctrine in the form of questions and answers). But, Raikes and a young Sunday School teacher named John Burton simply taught the Bible. And, if they needed to teach children to read, they used the Bible to do that, too.

In 1803, when John Burton was 30, he published this hymn for children in his little book, Youth’s Monitor in Verse, A series of Tales, Emblems, Poems, and Songs (whew! that’s quite a title!). 3 years later, he also included it in his second book, Hymns for Sunday Schools.

You can almost picture a boy, on his one day off from a rough factory job, proudly holding his Bible to his chest and singing, “Holy Bible, book divine; precious treasure, thou art mine.”

That should convict us for the many times we take God’s Word for granted.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and then read a portion of God’s Word!

Holy Bible, book Divine; precious treasure, thou art mine;
mine to tell me whence I came; mine to teach me what I am.

Mine to chide me when I rove; mine to show a Saviour’s love;
mine art thou to guide my feet; mine to judge, condemn, acquit.

Mine to comfort in distress; if the Holy Spirit bless;
mine to show, by living faith, man can triumph over death.

Mine to tell of joys to come, and the rebel sinner’s doom.
Holy Bible, book Divine; precious treasure, thou art mine.