Tag Archive | Hymns

God of this City – Heaven

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”  Hebrews 11:16

To appropriately conclude this little series on the God of this City, we turn our focus to the Eternal City that God has promised to us.  The magnitude of verses, songs, hymns, and spiritual songs that focus on heaven is almost innumerable.  The following hymns from Spurgeon’s hymnal express all that I could ever long to say about heaven:

We’ve no abiding city here;
This may distress the worldling’s mind
But should not cost the saint a tear,
Who hopes a better rest to find.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Sad truth, were this to be our home;
But let this thought our spirits cheer,
We seek a city yet to come.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Then let us live as pilgrims do:
Let not the world our rest appear,
But let us haste from all below.

We’ve no abiding city here;
We seek a city out of sight:
Zion its name–the Lord is there:
It shines with everlasting light.

O sweet abode of peace and love,
Where pilgrims freed from toil are blest!
Had I the pinions of the dove,
I’d fly to thee, and be at rest.

But hush, my soul, nor dare repine!
The time my God appoints is best:
While here, to do His will be mine,
And His to fix my time of rest.

Thomas Kelly, 1804

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I’ve shared the hymn below before, here, but it bears repeating!  May we never lose our awe of God’s grace and the wonder of being invited to His bountiful, heavenly table:

How sweet and awesome is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart, and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace
!!

Issac Watts, 1709

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re still with me (I don’t make a habit of writing such lengthy posts), our Hope of a City to come is woven throughout the Word!  Here’s just a taste:  

“But you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant… ”  Hebrews 12; 22-24

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Revelation 21:2

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down of heaven from God, having the glory of God….”  vs. 10,11

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it!”  vs 23, 24

“And their shall no longer be any curse (!); and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bondservants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face…”  Rev. 22:3, 4

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 “Therefore comfort one another with these words!”  I Thess. 4:18

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe!”    Hebrews 12:28  

 

My Hope

“My Hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Hope is….to cherish a desire with anticipation.  That defines My Hope…Jesus.

“Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life!”  Titus 3:7

In memory of Todd’s recent passing from death to eternal life, I needed a reminder of  hope and encouragement, since I find myself on this side of eternity, seeing a bit darkly, and walking, sometimes hobbling, by faith.

C. H. Spurgeon writes:

‘The voice of weeping shall be no more heard.’  (Isaiah 65:19)   The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone.  There are no broken friendships, or blighted prospects in heaven.  Poverty, famine, peril, persecution and slander are unknown there.  No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens.

  They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified.  They are without fault before His throne and are fully conformed to His image.  Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin. 

They weep no more, because all fear of change is past.  They know that they are eternally secure.  Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They live in a city that will never be stormed..bask in a sun that will never set…drink from a river that will never run dry…and pick fruit from a tree that will never wither.

They weep no more because every desire is fulfilled.  They cannot wish for anything that they do not already have in their possession.  Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, and all the faculties are completely satisfied.

The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them…and that same joyful rest remains for us.  It may not be far distant.  ‘Wherefore, comfort one another with these words!’ (I Thess. 4:18) 

John Newton wrote this hymn about a loved one’s death:

In vain, my fancy strives to paint
The moment after death,
The glories that surround the saint,
Then yielding up his breath.

One gentle sigh the fetter breaks:
We scarce can say,”They’re gone!”
Before the willing spirit takes
Her mansion near the throne.

Faith strives, but all its efforts fail,
To trace her in the flight;
No eye can pierce within the veil
Which hides that world of light.

Thus much (and this is all) we know,
They are completely blest:
Have done with sin, and care, and woe,
And with their Saviour rest!

Before our Lord, they praise His name,
His face they always view;
Then let us followers be of them,
That we may praise Him too.

 

This is an encouraging quote from Bunyan’s Pilgrim:

There also you shall serve Him continually with praise, shouting, and thanksgiving, Him whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the mighty One.

 

And from Jesus:

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”  John 11:25

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hell.” Revelation 1:17, 18 

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17

 

What is your Hope? 

 

His Passion, His Love

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah  53:3-6

 

 
I shared this hymn last year, and thought it fitting to share again: 

 

His Passion
by Joseph Hart, 1759

See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood
Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A prodigy of injured love!

Hark! how His doleful cries affright
Affected angels, while they view;
His friends forsook Him in the night,
And now His God forsakes Him too!

Behold that pale, that languid face,
That drooping head, those languid eyes!
Behold in sorrow and disgrace
Our conquering Hero hangs, and dies!

Ye that assume His sacred name,
Now tell me, what can all this mean?
What was it bruised God’s harmless Lamb,
What was it pierced His soul but sin?  

Blush, Christian, blush: let shame abound:
If sin affects thee not with woe,
Whatever life is in thee found,
The life of Christ thou doest not know.  [1]

 

“For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”  Isaiah 53:12

 

[1]  Our Own Hymns: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social, and Private Worship. Compiled by C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892). Pilgrim Publications, TX. 2002.  Hymn 274

Beneath the Cross

 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”   Galatians 6:14

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.”     Philippians 2:8

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God .”  Hebrews 12:2

Today I wish to let these verses and songs speak for themselves.  The first song is by Keith and Kristyn Getty, with their recording available in the Blue music box; the other is an older, cherished hymn from the 19th century.  Both glory in the Cross and reveal the priceless Grace of our Lord Jesus.

Beneath the Cross

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, “Come
.”
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?

Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty,  Thankyou Music

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Beneath The Cross Of Jesus
Elizabeth Clephane

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty Rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest along the way
From the burning of the noonday heat and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus, mine eye can sometimes see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
And from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess –
The wonders of His glorious love and my own worthlessness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place –
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

How Can it Be?

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  Ephesians 3:8 ESV

The unsearchable riches of Christ!    To the very least, grace is given to preach of these riches.  To the least of the least, grace is given to learn and receive such riches, as to be called “unsearchable.”   How can it be?

In one of my favourite “Easter” hymns (which is certainly appropriate on any given day of the year), Charles Wesley struggles with this paradox.  Why should I gain from Christ’s death?  Me, who by my nature, caused His pain?  How can it be?

Sometimes, the intensity and theology of the older songs are overlooked with a glance.  So, I spaced the verses apart for easier viewing.  Take your time and read each verse.   Meditate on the magnificent riches we’ve gained through Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself.

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And Can it Be?

 by Charles Wesley

 

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain-
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Love, mercy, freedom, righteousness, eternal life.  These are ours in abundance because Jesus emptied Himself of all but Love, for Adam’s helpless race….Us…Me. 

A beautiful version of this song is uploaded in the Blue Music Box to the right, from Together For the Gospel, an album recorded and produced by Sovereign Grace Music.    Worship in awe, and wonder…how can it be?

Complain or Pray?

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.”  Psalm 94:19

 

We awake everyday to anxious thoughts. And, in much greater degrees, the Lord’s consolations and mercies, await us as well.  But, to which do our minds take us most–anxiety or prayer?  That’s what hymnist William Cowper asks in the 18th century song, called Hindrances to Prayer:

 

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy-seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there?

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above
.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me
!”

 

Imagine singing this in church?  Maybe we should consider singing it to ourselves, or at least agree with Paul, to

“Pray at all times.” Ephesians 6:18

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving!”
Colossians 4:2

O Holy Night!

Today’s title hymn took on special meaning for me last week when I heard my sister-in-law, Becky, sing it in her church.  I’ve referred to Becky in past posts as she’s struggled with cancer and its difficult ramifications.  It was a little over 6 months ago when she underwent surgery following a diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer.  Presently she’s going through a routine of chemotherapy and wondered if she’d even have the breath to sing .

Her concerns were quickly put rest;  beginning with a whisper, her strength and volumn escalated as she reached the first chorus!  Her voice of praise reverberated through the sanctuary and we “heard the angel’s voices!”  As she continued and we tearfully listened, the Lord was glorified for His birth, His redemption, His faithfulness and healing!!   We couldn’t record her vibrant singing,  but the moment was etched on our minds, and echoes still in Heaven.

Listen to a couple of beautiful renditions of this hymn on the blue Music Box [1] and worship with us–and Becky!!

 

O Holy Night!
Written by Placide Cappeau
Music by Adolfe Adam

 

1. O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Chorus

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine

 

2. Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend.

Chorus

Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

 

3. Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Chorus
 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

 

 

[1]  Mercy Me, The Christmas Sessions, and Mark Harris, Christmas Is CD

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This wasn’t always one of my favourite tunes of the season.  What I perceived as a plodding pace and dark minor key, didn’t express Christmas exuberance as I once preferred.

However..

That all changed when I listened to Johnny Cash’s recording of this song, and heard bright hopefulness through deep pain.

And so goes the history of this original poem by American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow’s fairly pleasant life turned upside down in 1861 when the Civil War began.  Only one day later, his wife died tragically in a home fire.  Then in 1863, he learned that his oldest son, Charles, was critically wounded in battle.   Longfellow’s journalings reveal a broken heart and despair, stating that his holidays were ‘inexpressibly sad.’

However, on Christmas Day, 1864, Longfellow truly Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and penned this poem.   Several stanzas of his original writing aren’t included in modern day hymnals, probably because of their specific references to the Civil War.   That’s regrettable, because each verse is part of a complete story.  What begins with obvious despair and grief, continues with a thread of hope, and concludes with the triumphant message of God’s faithfulness–He is NOT dead!–and only in Him is found peace on earth, good will to men.

I’ve included all the original verses, and uploaded two terrific versions of this song in the blue Music Box; one by Johnny Cash from his CD, The Christmas Spirit,  the other, by Casting Crowns on their Peace on Earth CD.

 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

There aren’t enough days in December to post all the wonderful Christmas music we’re privileged to hear and sing!  How our Lord’s birth inspires worship and praise!!  Many of these songs proclaim a wide range of Scripture references from both the Old and New Testaments.  Today’s selection is no exception.

O, Come, O Come Emmanuel’s very ti­tle refers to Isai­ah 7:14: “Be­hold, a vir­gin shall con­ceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im­man­u­el.”  Rod of Jesse comes from the prophecy in Isai­ah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.”  Dayspring  is from Za­cha­ri­as’ proclamation and prophecy in Luke 1:78: “The day­spring from on high has vis­it­ed us!”  Thou Key of Da­vid is found in Isai­ah 22:22: “The key of the house of Da­vid will I lay up­on his shoul­der,” which also re­fers to Isai­ah 9:6 “The gov­ern­ment shall be up­on His shoul­der.”   Amen!!

I uploaded two versions of this hymn in the blue Music Box, so you can listen as you read.  I might even put up more!   At present, you’ll find Bebo Norman’s rich and thoughtful version, from his CD, Christmas…From the Realms of Glory, and Enya’s celtic melody from their And Winter Came CD. 

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
12th French hymn, translated by John M. Neale 

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

(Refrain)
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go. 

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times did’st give the Law
In cloud, and majesty and awe

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel!!

Rejoice in Him

Bless the Lord, O my soul!”  Psalm 103:1

“Let us rejoice in Him.”  Psalm 149:2

“Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

[Part 2 of a discussion beginning with Rejoice in This! ]  

Somedays are full of things to rejoice in!   And then there’s those other days, often stretching into months or seasons, when we don’t rejoice at all.  Difficulties, suffering, financial woes, illness, or any other number of things, overtake us.  Seasons, inherent with change, all part of life, become a training ground where we struggle to rejoice in HIM, rather than in….whatever.  But what does that mean, exactly??

I return to my favourite, Spurgeon, to paint a picture of what rejoicing in Him looks like:

Be glad that the Lord reigns, that Jehovah is King!  Rejoice that He sits on the throne and rules all things!

Knowing that He is wise should makes us glad, as we look at our own foolishness.

Knowing that He is mighty should cause us to rejoice, as we tremble at our weakness.

Knowing that He is everlasting should always be a theme of joy, as we consider that we wither as the grass.

Knowing that He is unchanging should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour!

Knowing that He is full of grace, the He is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant He has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory–all this should tend to make us glad in the Lord.”

Spurgeon concludes with the exhortation for Christians to never “cease to sing”, for new mercies flow to them day by day!” 

The lesson is not always easy. The classroom is difficult.  But no matter what season we’re going through, there is a song to sing.   We can begin our song search in the Psalms, where David and others expressed the same emotions as we, yet always interspersed with praise in our never-changing, always loving Heavenly Father.  

The familiar hymn below is a poetic expression of Psalm 104, and gives us a starting point for rejoicing in our Lord, in spite of storms that seek to shake us from the inside-out!

 Oh Worship the King

Oh worship the King all glorious above,
Oh gratefully sing His power and His love!
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty! Thy power is founded of old;
Hath stablished 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 hymn Thee above,
The humbler creation through feeble their ways,
With true adoration shall lisp to Thy Praise!

Sir Robert Grant, 1839 and William Kethe, 1561

 

Please worship along with Chris Tomlin’s version of this beautiful hymn in the blue Music Box to the right.  Tomlin’s recording is found on the CD, Hymns Ancient and Modern, by Passion Band. 

If you have  a favourite Psalm, hymn, or spiritual song that encourages you to rejoice in the Lord in spite of everything else, please share it with us!  We will all be encouraged!!