Songs for Sunday: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This is one of my favorite hymns. I love the music (especially the harmony), and I love the message. If you read my last post, you probably noticed that parts of this song come directly from some of the scriptures I shared with you then. Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960), who wrote the words, felt he should include “as much scripture as possible” in his songs (Hymnary.org).

Chisholm was born in Kentucky and raised on a farm. He came to the Lord when he was 26 years old. He became a Methodist minister, but his health prevented him from keeping up with those demands.

He wrote 1200 poems and songs, including Great is Thy Faithfulness, which he wrote in 1923. He sent it to his friend and fellow minister William Runyan (1870-1957), who set it to music. The song was published that year. An interesting side note is that according to Songfacts.com, it became popular for Christian weddings. That is not one I would think of as a wedding song, would you?

William Runyan, the man who wrote that beautiful music, was born in New York, but graduated high school in Kansas. As I already said, he was also a Methodist minister, and served in that capacity in Kansas for about 20 years. Eventually, he went to Chicago, working with the Moody Bible institute as well as Hope Publishing Company, which is the company that published Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Runyan retired from Hope in 1948. He spent some time as a professor at Baker University in Baldwin City Kansas, and his family endowed a scholarship at the university in his name with the royalties from Great is Thy Faithfulness. (Hymnary.org) Of the song, Runyan said “This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry over its message in a worthy way.”(Lifeway.com)I think God granted that request.

As for Chisholm, in 1941 he said,

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.” (Lifeway.com)

The song has been recorded many times, by many different artists including Michael W. Smith and Josh Turner. Billy Graham used to include it in his crusades. In 2015 Jordan Smith performed it on “The Voice”.

For me, I just love to hear a choir, or even better, a congregation of believers singing this hymn of praise. Here is a video of something like that uploaded by Dutchforward. I’m not sure who the singers are, but I liked their performance.

 

See you in church!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Joy to the World

Today, the Sunday for before Christmas, this song will be sung in many churches. It is an extremely popular “Christmas Song”, but if you look at the lyrics, they seem to more closely depict the second coming of Christ rather than the first.

Joy to the Word

Joy to the world, the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

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

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

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

The lyrics, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), were  mostly based on Psalm 98.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
    and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
    and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.

Isaac Watts wrote over 800 hymns as well as many other works.  Many of his hymns are still found in hymnals today, including of course, Joy to the World. You can read more about him here. 

The tune used for Joy to the World  here in the United States is called  Antioch and while it was arranged by Lowell Mason (1792-1882), it includes at least some parts of George Frideric Handel’s (1685-1769) Messiah. You can read more about that here.

My YouTube search for videos of this song told me that just about everyone seems to have recorded it at one time or another.  However, I wanted to find a choral version. This is a nice one by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers. It was uploaded by Kate Price in 2009.

See you in church!

Merry Christmas!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Where He Leads Me

This hymn has been running around in my head for a couple of weeks now, and I catch myself humming the melody. We often sang it as an “Invitation Hymn” at church when I was a kid.

Where He Leads Me

  1. I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    “Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”

    • Refrain:
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  2. I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  3. I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  4. I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  5. I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  6. He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    And go with me, with me all the way.

My usual hymn research sites didn’t offer much information about E. W. Blandy (also spelled “Blandly” ) other than a brief statement in Hymnary.org, saying  he was a Salvation Army officer and had written the lyrics after given the choice between “a comfortable post at an established church, and an alternate assignment to the New York City waterfront and slum called Hell’s Kitchen.” He went to Hell’s Kitchen.

John S. Norris (1844-1907) composed the beautiful melody.  He was a Methodist pastor who changed to the Congregationalist denomination, and continued ministering there. He pastored several churches over about a thirty year timespan. According to Hymn Time, he wrote several hymns,

Hymn Time also says that the hymn was written in 1890, but gave no information how the two men might have collaborated.

When I started surfing YouTube looking for recordings of this song, I really didn’t find much that I wanted to use. I wanted to find something that was arranged as closely to the original as I could get. At first I thought the only one what was really close was a recording by Willie Nelson. If you know anything about Willie’s style, particularly his musical phrasing, you know why that is strange. However, Willie does a great job with this one. If you want to (I know Ed will), you can hear it here.

Finally, I found this really nice recording by Lynda Randle.  It was “provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America”.

What about you?
Are you following Him?
See you in church!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Almost Persuaded

IMG_2138
This hymnal is the one used in my home church up until I was about 15 years old. I don’t know how long they used it before that, but the copyright is dated 1937 with Roman numerals. IMG_2142

Since I am trying to alternate between old hymns and contemporary music, I decided to look through it to see if anything jumped out at me. Well, that worked. Everything jumped out at me!  Unfortunately, when I tried to get a picture of the hymn I wanted to use, the camera did it’s thing again. Looks like it’s time for a new one.

Written by P.P. Bliss, in 1871,  Almost Persuaded was often used as the Invitation Hymn; the song after the sermon, when the preacher invited anyone who was not already a Christian to come forward, make his or her confession of faith, and get baptized.

Almost Persuaded

“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”

“Almost persuaded”, come, come today;
Almost persuaded”, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!

“Almost persuaded”, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded”, doom comes at last!
Almost” cannot avail;
Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
Almost”, but lost!

While the song does issue an invitation in the second verse, the theme of the song is that some one had an opportunity to come to the Lord, missed it, and was forever lost. It’s heartbreaking.

Phillip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) wrote both the words and music to Almost Persuaded.  Bliss was one of several 19th century hymn composers, including  Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley and Ira Sankey, whose hymns make up much of our hymnals today.  He was a friend of evangelist D.L. Moody and sometimes took part in Moody’s revival meetings.  Wholesome Words.org has links to several biographical sketches on Bliss as well as Moody’s sermon on the day after Bliss and his wife were killed in a train wreck.

Hymntime.com says this of his death
“December 29, 1876, Ashtabula, Ohio. Bliss and his wife died in a tragic train wreck caused by a bridge collapse. He survived the initial impact, but went back into the flames in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his wife.”

On the same page, there is a quote from Fanny Crosby’s autobiography.
“The night before that terrible railroad accident at Ashtabula…he said to his audience, ‘I may not pass this way again’; then he sang a solo, ‘I’m Going Home Tomorrow’. This indeed proved prophetic of his own home going.”

Bliss was 38 years old when he died. His wife Lucy was 35. They left two small children. A list of the known songs of P.P. Bliss is found here. The list is a long one. Only God knows how many he would have written had he lived.

In another biography listed on the Wholesome Words site, author Ed Reese says this about Almost Persuaded.

Outside of Just as I Am, this has been the most successful gospel invitation song ever written. In the early 1870’s, Mr. Bliss was listening to a sermon by Rev. Brundage, a friend of his, in a little church in the east. The preacher closed his appeal with, “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved. But, to be almost saved is to be eternally lost!” These words impressed Bliss so deeply that it led him to write this great hymn.”

Other sources suggest the scripture reference for that sermon was Acts 26:27-29.

King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Here is a nice recording of Almost Persuaded uploaded  to YouTube by ihatetoro in 2010.

If you have a decision to make for the Lord, make it now!  Don’t wait! You may not have another chance.

See you in church.

Connie

Songs For Sunday: Tell Me The Old Old Story – I Love To Tell the Story

I am always amazed when I research old hymns. I always find something interesting. I started looking for Tell Me the Old Old Story, which is similar to I Love To Tell The Story.

Researching this morning, I discovered that both hymns are based on one lengthy poem, written in 1866 by an English woman named A. Katherine Hankey (1834-1911). The poem called “The Old Old Story” is written in two parts; the first dated in January of 1866, and the second in November of the same year. You can read the whole poem here. It is said that she wrote the poem while convalescing after a serious illness.

A. Katherine Hankey, or Kate as she was called, was the daughter of a banker, and a member of the Clapham sect, which was both anti slavery and pro missionary. She taught Sunday school for girls as a teenager and later worked as a nurse in South Africa, while helping her invalid brother.

Tell Me the Old Old Story was taken from the first part of the poem. The music was written by William Doane, (1832-1915), who according to Cyber Hymnal.Org, heard the poem recited in 1867 by a Major General Russel at a men’s fellowship in Montreal. He wrote the music on a “hot afternoon while on the stage-coach between the Glen Falls House and the Crawford House in the White Mountains.”

Noting the years of Doane’s life, curiousity got the better of me. I wondered if he might have written music for any of Fanny Crosby’s lyrics. He did. Both “Near the Cross”, and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” were collaborations between Doane and Crosby. All told, Doane composed over 2000 songs.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Refrain

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

Refrain

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

Refrain

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

Refrain

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Gandalf1948, of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s recording of Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

William G. Fischer (1835-1912) took from the second part of the poem and wrote “I Love To Tell The Story” Fischer was an interesting character in that he began singing with the church choir as a child, where he learned to read music. He learned piano and organ as well . While learning book binding during the day, he practiced music in the evening. He directed choirs, taught singing and music theory. He finally opened a piano business which became extremely prosperous.

I Love To Tell The Story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

Refrain

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Here is another Tennessee Ernie Ford recording uploaded by Gandalf1948. This time, Ernie is singing I Love To Tell The Story

See you in church!

Connie