Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

SINCE JESUS CAME INTO MY HEART                                     written in 1914

The Story

It might be hard to believe, but this joyful song was written after a father, Rufus McDaniel (1850-1940) had buried his youngest son. Rufus’ son, Herschel, was, of course, much loved by his parents, so when his life ended at an early age, it was heart-wrenching for both the father and mother.

But Rufus felt the best way to honor his son was to write a gospel song filled with joy and hope. Such a song would not only lift him and his wife out of their grief, but would also be a suitable remembrance of their son, Herschel.

Rufus often sent his poems out to be published as songs. He sent 6 poems (including the words that became this song) to song writer Charles Gabriel as many seemed to enjoy singing Gabriel’s songs. But Rufus never heard anything in return; as such, he just felt the poems were rejected. Until one day he read of the words to this poem in a publication… and then others… and then even more poems. Not only did Gabriel take the words to this song and put it to music, it was in fact sung at most revival meetings with Billy Sunday and folks were singing this song in the streets of Philadelphia… though most never knew the pain  that birthed this song.

So Rufus, a pastor and part-time poet in southern Ohio, wrote this gospel song that speaks of a hope that is steadfast and sure, as well as a light in the valley of death. The joy was there for Rufus because Jesus had come into his heart.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – find the joy… in whatever your circumstance might be… of having Jesus in your heart.

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart;
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought, since Jesus came into my heart.

Refrain:
Since Jesus came into my heart, since Jesus came into my heart;
floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll, since Jesus came into my heart.

I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray, since Jesus came into my heart;
and my sins which were many are all washed away, since Jesus came into my heart.(Refrain)

I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure, since Jesus came into my heart;
and no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure, since Jesus came into my heart.(Refrain)

There’s a light in the valley of death now for me, since Jesus came into my heart;
and the gates of the City beyond I can see, since Jesus came into my heart. (Refrain)

I shall go there to dwell in that City I know, since Jesus came into my heart;
and I’m happy, so happy as onward I go, since Jesus came into my heart. (Refrain)

In The Garden

IN THE GARDEN                                                                              written in 1913

The Story

Austin Miles (1868-1946) had a job as a pharmacist and a hobby as a photographer, but in his church he was known as the song-leader and an occasional songwriter. On his first songwriting effort, a publisher not only offered him a contract but also offered him a job as an editor.

It all went well for Austin in the music business, until one day his boss told him he needed a special kind of song for their next hymnal. It had to be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows in dying beds.”

It was a tall order, but Austin opened his Bible to his favorite chapter, John 20, and tried to recreate the scene with his photographer’s eye. He remembered it this way: “I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary.”

Then the words came to him, and he wrote down – as quickly as he could – the words we now have as this song, “In the Garden”.

The song was actually written in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it, let alone a view of a garden. But Austin saw something beyond the walls of that basement… and described the greatest morning in history!

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – imagine being in that Garden near the tomb… with Jesus.

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses
and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses.

Refrain

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing. (Refrain)

I’d stay in the garden with Him, though the night around me be falling,
but He bids me go; through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling. (Refrain)

The Old Rugged Cross

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS                                                          written in 1913

The Story

From 1925 to 1960 this hymn was ranked as America’s favorite gospel hymn!

The song came from the heart of George Bennard (1873-1958) when he was going through some personal spiritual struggles.

George was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1873 and spent his childhood in Iowa. His father was a tavern owner and, later, a coal miner. George’s conversion at the age of 22 through the evangelistic ministry of the Salvation Army in Canton, Iowa, led to his ordination and commissioning as a traveling evangelist in 1898. In 1910, stepping out in faith, George resigned and began his own itinerant ministry. He traveled throughout the Midwest, holding revivals until his retirement in Reed City, Michigan, more than 30 years later.

But in 1912, an evangelist traveling throughout the Midwest, was heckled incessantly by several youth at a revival meeting in Michigan. Troubled by their disregard for the gospel, he decided to reflect on the meaning of the Cross, what John 3:16 was all about, and what Paul meant when he spoke of entering into the fellowship of God’s sufferings. Then, one day in the course of his studying, he said, “I saw Christ on the Cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption.” He became convinced of something Baptists have known all along, the Cross is “the very heart of the Gospel”. Then, he said, “The words of the finished hymn were put into my heart in answer to my own need.”

So, George’s personal struggles became the seed that planted one of the most popular hymns ever written!

The melody came easily, and the first verse was completed by George during a series of meetings in Albion, Michigan. Several months later, the remaining 3 verses were completed in Pokagon, Michigan, where George was leading meetings at a local church.

After completing the hymn, he performed the song in its entirety for the sponsoring pastor and his wife, Rev. Leroy and Ruby Bostwick, in the living room of the parsonage. The Bostwicks were moved to tears and incorporated the song in the revival service on June 7, 1913.

First, George sang his hymn with guitar accompaniment, and then a five-voice choir sang with organ and violin accompaniment.

The hymn quickly spread throughout the region and came to the attention of the evangelist Billy Sunday, who frequently utilized it in his meetings. 2 years later, George sold the copyright to the song for a payment of $500, forgoing future royalties. Upon the renewal of the copyright 28 years later, he received a final payment of $5,000.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – picture in your mind Christ on the Cross.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,

the emblem of suff’ring and shame;
and I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best

for a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary. (Refrain)

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me. (Refrain)

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
where His glory forever I’ll share. (Refrain)

Brighten The Corner Where You Are – written in 1913

BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE                                     written in 1913

The Story

For Ina Ogdon (1872-1964) it was the chance of a lifetime. She had been selected to travel on the prestigious Chautauqua speaking circuit, and on that tour she would be speaking all across the country to thousands of people.

She was packed and ready to go when she got word that her father had been seriously injured in an automobile accident. She wondered what she should do… but realized she had no choice. She had to cancel the speaking tour; she had to care for her father.

At first, she was bitter about it. A chance like that would never come again. Although Ina wondered why God had allowed it to happen, she finally decided God must have a reason even if she would never know it. Maybe one person, somewhere, would be helped if she would simply brighten that part of the world where she was.

So she wrote this song. It was set to music and became the theme song of the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns. More than 25 million copies of this song were printed! Every Billy Sunday campaign began with the singing of this song and, since more than 100 million people attended his meetings, you can be sure Ina brightened a lot of corners from where she was!

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – brighten the corner where you are!

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
do not wait to shed your light afar;
to the many duties ever near you now be true,
brighten the corner where you are.

Refrain:
Brighten the corner where you are! Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
brighten the corner where you are!

Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
let not narrow self your way debar;
though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
brighten the corner where you are. (Refrain)

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
brighten the corner where you are. (Refrain)

Love Lifted Me – written in 1912

LOVE LIFTED ME                                                                             written in 1912

The Story

Sometimes hymns are reborn. “Amazing Grace” seems to be rediscovered with every generation. “O Happy Day” was given new life in the 1970s. This hymn, “Love Lifted Me” was written by James Rowe (1865-1933) a century ago, but was given new life by singers such as Ray Stevens, B.J. Thomas, and Kenny Rogers; they all made successful recordings of this song in the 1970s. In fact, many people came to know and love the chorus of this song through secular radio… only later to learn it was actually a hymn!

James was born in England but came to America in 1890 – while he was in his mid-20s. He took a job with the railroad… and, later, the Hudson River Humane Society. He discovered he had a knack for writing both serious and humorous verses for greeting cards and eventually went into business working with his artist-daughter to produce material for greeting card publishers.

During his lifetime, James claimed to have written more than 19,000 song texts. James and Howard Smith created “Love Lifted Me” in Saugatuck, Connecticut, in 1912. The two huddled together, working line by line, bar by bar, composing this hymn in tandem. The words were jotted down by James, and the music was hammered out at the piano by his friend. Howard Smith, whose hands were so twisted from arthritis that his friends wondered how he could play the piano at all. When they finished, the world had “Love Lifted Me”. They sold the copyright to Charles Tillman, who transferred it to Robert Coleman in 1915 for one hundred dollars.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – compare the testimony of this song to your own.

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
from the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Chorus:
Love lifted me!  Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help, love lifted me!

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
in His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs.  (Chorus)

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.  (Chorus)

Jesus Is Coming To Earth Again – written in 1912

JESUS IS COMING TO EARTH AGAIN                                       written in 1912

The Story

Until she turned 30 years old, Lelia Naylor Morris (1862-1929) thought she would be spending the rest of her life sitting behind a sewing machine making dresses for women in the river town of McConnellsville, Ohio. Lelia was quite young when her father died, so her mother had started a millinery shop to support the 5 children. It was there that Lelia learned to knit, sew, crochet, and darn; and, since a church was nearby, she also learned to play the little church organ.

Then one day, when she was 30 years old, Lelia said she “opened her heart and let the Holy Spirit come in”. Soon she was writing songs and music. And during the next 4 decades, she wrote more than 1,000 hymns!

In many of her hymns, Lelia used the words “now” or “today”. There is an immediacy to many of her songs. So, this gospel song on the Second Coming does more than affirm Jesus is coming back sometime in the future; Lelia Morris asks us to consider, “What if it were today?”

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – ask yourself what Christ might find you doing if He came back today.

Jesus is coming to earth again – What if it were today?
Coming in power and love to reign – What if it were today?
Coming to claim His chosen Bride, all the redeemed and purified,
over this whole earth scattered wide – What if it were today?

Chorus:
Glory, glory! Joy to my heart ’twill bring;
glory, glory! When we shall crown Him King.
Glory, glory! Haste to prepare the way;
glory, glory! Jesus will come someday.

Satan’s dominion will then be o’er – O that it were today!
Sorrow and sighing shall be no more – O that it were today!
Then shall the dead in Christ arise, caught up to meet Him in the skies;
when shall these glories meet our eyes? What if it were today? (Chorus)

Faithful and true would He find us here if He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear, if He should come today?
Signs of His coming multiply, morning light breaks in eastern sky;
watch, for the time is drawing nigh – What if it were today? (Chorus)

Sweeter As The Years Go By – written in 1912

SWEETER AS THE YEARS GO BY                                             written in 1912

The Story

            Lelia Naylor (1862-1929) moved with her parents and siblings to the small town of Malta, Ohio, when she was 4 years old. That was where she grew up, went to school, fell in love, and got married. When she got married, she moved across the Ohio River to McConnelsville, where she lived with her husband for the next 47 years.

Now known as Lelia Naylor Morris, she didn’t discover her gift for writing hymns until she was 30 years old. But, once she started, she couldn’t stop. She started going blind in her early 50s, but even that didn’t stop her from writing hymns. She used a 28’-long blackboard with large musical staffs on it to help her with her hymn-writing. By the time she died at age 67, she had written more than a thousand hymns.

Her handicap never deterred her from being effective and productive for God. Even in blindness she found her Lord sweeter as the years went by.

This is an odd hymn to sing… maybe that is why I remember it. It changes timing from verse to chorus… and then changes timing again even within the chorus!

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – rejoice in the love of Jesus that seems to grow sweeter each year… even each day!

Of Jesus’ love that sought me, when I was lost in sin;
of wondrous grace that brought me back to His fold again;
of heights and depths of mercy, far deeper than the sea,
and higher than the heavens, my theme shall ever be.

Refrain:
Sweeter as the years go by, sweeter as the years go by,
richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, sweeter as the years go by.

He trod in old Judea life’s pathway long ago;
the people thronged about Him, His saving grace to know;
He healed the brokenhearted, and caused the blind to see;
and still His great heart yearneth in love for even me.  (Refrain)

’Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss,
to bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross;
with saints redeemed in glory, let us our voices raise,
till Heav’n and earth re-echo with our Redeemer’s praise.  (Refrain)

Saved, Saved, Saved – written in 1911

SAVED, SAVED, SAVED                                                                written in 1911

The Story

J.P. Scholfield wrote this song after one of Mordecai Ham’s meetings in Gonzales, Texas. Ham was preaching on the subject, “Christ our Refuge.” In the audience was a man that had killed 4 men. He listened to Ham explain that Christ is a refuge for sinners, of any and every stripe, and that the Cities of Refuge in the Old Testament are a type of Christ, who is a haven of hope and eternal forgiveness for all who will flee to Him.

Halfway through the sermon, the man jumped up from his seat and shouted, “Saved! Saved! Saved!” Sitting there in his seat, he found Christ as his refuge.

J.P. (“Jack”) was so inspired that the next afternoon he composed both the words and music for this song. Not much is known of Jack, other than the fact he was born in 1882.

This is a unique hymn; it has an odd timing, but is a great example of waltz music!

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – ask God whether or not you are saved.

I’ve found a Friend, who is all to me, His love is ever true;
I love to tell how He lifted me and what His grace can do for you.

Refrain

Saved by His power divine, saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete, for I’m saved, saved, saved!

He saves me from every sin and harm, secures my soul each day;
I’m leaning strong on His mighty arm; I know He’ll guide me all the way. (Refrain)

When poor and needy and all alone, in love He said to me,
“Come unto Me and I’ll lead you home, to live with Me eternally.” (Refrain)

Farther Along

FARTHER ALONG                                                                         written in 1911

The Story

At least 4 different men have been credited as being the author of this hymn… so any definitive hymn story would be sketchy at best. But, the most solid story points to W.B. Stevens, a preacher in the little cross-roads village of Queen City, Missouri.

In the late 19th-century, W.B. was struggling. His young son had died suddenly, and he was devastated. He had counseled many people who had lost loved ones. He had given them several Bible verses to read… he had prayed with them and comforted them… but this sorrow struck home… and he was struggling.

He wondered if he could even continue preaching. His sermons sounded hollow to him. How could a loving God allow such a horrible thing to happen? Why do good people suffer and bad people seem to prosper? Why me, O God? Why me?

W.B. wrote down his thoughts in a poem. He had no easy answers – only the assurance that “we’ll understand it better by and by”. Little did he know that his simple poem expressing a father’s heartache would become one of the best-known gospel songs to comfort others with heavy hearts.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – rejoice that God could allow such a moment of tragedy to produce such words of comfort.

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder why it should be thus all the day long;
while there are others living about us, never molested, though in the wrong.

Refrain:
Farther along we’ll know more about it, farther along we’ll understand why;
cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine, we’ll understand it all by and by.

Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer, go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
when there are many living in comfort, giving no heed to all I can do. (Refrain)

Tempted and tried, how often we question why we must suffer year after year,
being accused by those of our loved ones, e’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.(Refrain)

Often when death has taken our loved ones, leaving our home so lone and so drear,
then do we wonder why others prosper, living so wicked year after year. (Refrain)

“Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master; short is our time to labor and wait;
then will our toiling seem to be nothing, when we shall pass the heavenly gate. (Refrain)

Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior, hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
then we will meet those gone on before us, then we shall know and understand why.(Refrain)

Rise Up, O Men Of God – written in 1911

RISE UP, O MEN OF GOD                                                               written in 1911

The Story

Maybe you don’t think this hymn applies to you if you are a woman. In fact, many hymnals have changed the words to “saints of God” or “church of God”. But it was never the intent of William Merrill (1867-1954) to discriminate against or exclude anybody; instead, it was his intent to challenge men in the church. Women in his day had numerous church organizations and groups (much like today), but there was not much for men.

William, a pastor, had been trying to strengthen the men in his Presbyterian denomination when a magazine editor suggested he write a special hymn for the brotherhood. It was an interesting idea, William thought, but he didn’t know what to write.

A short time later, as William was returning to his church in Chicago on board a Lake Michigan steamer, he was reading a Christian magazine. In it he noticed an article entitled, “the Church of the Strong Men”… that gave him the inspiration. Before the steamer was tied up to the dock in Chicago, he had written this brotherhood hymn.

This hymn is full of exclamation points and military-sounding commands. The Christian message still comes to us – both men and women – with exclamations and definite commands. Followers of Christ are called to be soldiers, not merely passive recipients of God’s blessings.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – if you are a man, rise up! If you are a woman, encourage the man closest to you to do so!

Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things;
give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O Church of God! His kingdom tarries long;
bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O sons of God! The Church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task, rise up, and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where His feet have trod;
as foll’wers of the Son of Man, rise up, O Church of God!