Songs for Sunday: Who You Say I Am

I love this song!

I have to tell you that it’s one of those that makes me want to throw my hands in the air, in praise and thanksgiving, every time I hear it. Yes, I restrain myself if I’m driving.

My oldest son (who is in prison, but part of the worship team there), told me they are learning it too.  Think about that for a minute as you read the lyrics.

VERSE 1:

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost, but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

CHORUS:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God Yes I am

VERSE 2:

Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me Yes
He died for me

CHORUS 2:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

BRIDGE:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am who You say I am

CHORUS 2:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Can you imagine physical prisoners singing about being “free indeed”?  I just pray for all of them that the message takes permanent root in their hearts!

Who You Say I Am was written by Hillsong worship pastors, Ben Fielding, and Reuben Morgan. They have written several worship songs, including Mighty to Save and God Is Able. 

Who You Say I Am is based on John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

and John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who You Say I Am was released on the Hillsong Worship album There Is More in 2018

Here is a live video, uploaded to Youtube, by Hillsong Worship.

See you in church!

Connie

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: Clean

The first time I heard this song, I bawled like a baby.  I knew exactly what it was about before I ever heard Natalie Grant explain that she had written this song after a friend had spoken to her about being sexually molested as a child.  God really spoke through Natalie with this one, and it is a powerful reminder to anyone who has experienced His supernatural cleansing.

Clean

I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You’re helping me
To believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean

What was dead now
Lives again
My heart’s beating
Beating inside my chest
Oh I’m coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.

Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean, I’m clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I’m clean
Oh I’m clean
I’m clean
Oh you make me
You wash me
Clean

The song was released on Natalie’s album entitled “Be One” in  2015.

Isn’t that beautiful?

See you in church!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: If We’re Honest

I love this song. It struck a cord with me the first time I heard it a few years ago.  It is very important to me that people are open and honest, particularly if they are part of the body of Christ.

If We’re Honest

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
Our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

So bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

The song was written by Francesca Battistelli, Jeff Pardo and Molly E. Reed and released on Francesca Battistelli’s album of the same name in 2014. Wikipedia has more about the album and the writers.

Here is a YouTube Video of Francesca telling the story behind the song. I had not seen this video before I wrote my last post, but right now, I’m kind of feeling like God is telling me I’m on the right track.

 

And here is a YouTube video of If We’re Honest uploaded by Francesca’s YouTube channel.

See you in Church! Come over and sit with me!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Something Beautiful

If you are a born again child of God, you probably have an intimate understanding of this song’s lyrics written by Gloria Gaither. The song (with music written by her husband, Bill) first appeared on the album, “The Bill Gaither Trio: Because He Lives”, which was also the first appearance for the title track.  Both songs now appear in church hymnals.

“Something Beautiful”

If there ever were dreams
that were lofty and noble,
They were my dreams at the start;
And the hopes for life’s best
Were the hopes that I harbored
Down deep in my heart;
But my dreams turned to ashes,
My castles all crumbled,
My fortune turned to loss,
So I wrapped it all
In the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross!

Something beautiful, something good —
All my confusion He understood;
All I had to offer Him
Was brokenness and strife,
But He made something beautiful of my life

Gloria tells the story behind the song here

Here is a YouTube video, published by Gaither Music TV, of a performance from 1990 of Bill, Gloria and Michael English singing “Something Beautiful”.

 

He made “something beautiful” of my life too! How about you?

See you in Church!

Connie

Songs for Sunday: I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me

 

This is going to be a short post.
Sometimes a song pops in my head and just runs around in there all day.

That’s what happened with this one, so I thought maybe the Lord wants me to share it with you.

I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me
I don’t know why Jesus loved me
I don’t know why He cared
I don’t know why He sacrificed His life
Oh, but I’m glad, so glad He did

Where would I be if Jesus didn’t love me?
Where would I be if Jesus didn’t care?
Where would I be if He hadn’t sacrificed His
life
Oh, but I’m glad, so glad He did

He left His mighty throne in glory
To bring to us redemption story
And then He died but He rose again
Just for you and me
Oh, but I’m glad, I’m glad He did.

I don’t know why Jesus loved me (Oh I don’t
know why)
I don’t know why He cared (Oh I don’t know
why)
I don’t know why He sacrificed His life
Oh, but I’m glad (so glad), so glad He did
Oh, but I’m glad (so glad), so glad He did

I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me was written by Grammy Award winning songwriter and composer Andre Crouch (1942-2015), and first appeared on the album “Keep on Singing” recorded by Andrae Crouch and the Disciples in 1971.

Although Andrae went to be with the Lord in 2015, a website containing his biography and information about all his music is still up and running. You can find it here.

This video of a reunion of The Disciples in 2011 was uploaded by YouTube by Boyd Matson.  Andrae is at the piano, of course, and his twin sister Saundra is the singer on the far left.

See you in church.

Connie

Songs for Sunday: Statue of Liberty

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Photo by Ximena Torres Rodríguez on Unsplash

For many people, the Statue of Liberty is the symbol of American freedom. In the early 1970’s a Gospel singer/songwriter named Neil Enloe was on a cruise ship in New York, when he got a close up look at the statue. According to an article at St Augustine.com, the sight had a profound effect on him.

“Because I was raised in the Midwest, suddenly everything patriotic in me rose to the surface. I had never seen the Statue of Liberty so closely. It was so very, very close. In my own mind and heart I realized, anew and afresh, the liberty I have as an American citizen.”

“I turned to the gentleman with me and said, ‘There must be a counterpart to my American freedom. It is liberty in Christ. There is surely a monument to this freedom! There is no greater symbol to Christian liberty than the CROSS!’ I also said, ‘There should be a song somewhere in this.’”

And there was. You can read the rest of the article  here.

Statue of Liberty

In New York Harbor stands a lady
with a torch raised to the sky
And all who see her knows she stands for
Liberty for you and me.

I’m so proud to be called an American
To be named with the brave and the free.
I will honor our flag and our trust in God
And the  Statue of  Liberty.

On lonely Golgotha stood a cross
With my Lord raised to the sky.
And all who kneel there live forever
As all the saved can testify.

I’m so glad to be called a Christian.
To be named with the ransomed and whole.
As the statue liberates the citizen
So the cross liberates the soul.

Oh the Cross is my Statue of Liberty
It was there that my soul was set free.
Unashamed I’ll proclaim that old rugged cross
Is my Statue of Liberty.

Neil Enloe belonged to a Gospel group called The Couriers, and they recorded his song, which won a Dove Award in 1974.

I don’t know how many artists have recorded the song, but the first time I heard it was when Merrill Womach sang it a few years later. His book, Tested by Fire, had just come out, and it seems like he may have actually come to my home church. When I started thinking about this post, I tried to find a recording of Merrill singing this song, but couldn’t.

I did however, find a recording of The Couriers in what was supposed to be their final appearance together. I believe Neil Enloe is the speaker in the video. The YouTube video was uploaded by Tim Enloe

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