Tag Archives: hymns

Be Thou My Vision

7 Jan

Definitely in my top ten favorite hymns, this hymn will open our morning worship service on this first Sunday of 2018. Let these lyrics encourage you today . . .


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

My Favorite Hymns

6 Jan

Hymns are kind of outdated in the minds of many, but I still like them. I could take or leave the musical style in which they are presented, but the pattern of verses which build a story (often the story of the gospel) is a real encouragement to me. Here are a few of my favorites . . .

Be Thou My Vision — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/t/btmvison.htm

And Can it Be? — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/c/acanitbe.htm

My Song is Love Unknown — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/y/mysongis.htm

I Asked the Lord That I May Grow — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/a/iaskedtl.htm

Crown Him with Many Crowns — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/c/r/crownhim.htm

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/h/e/whenisur.htm

He Will Hold Me Fast — http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/w/hwilhold.htm

If you ask me next year, I’ll probably have a new set of favorites.

I am thankful for the musical and lyrical treasures we have in the Church. I am thankful for these songs that can lift our hearts or help us re-focus on Jesus.

What are your favorite hymns?




Be Thou My Vision

26 Jul

This was my hymn in devotions this morning. Had to share it with you today.

The Power of Missing Verses

7 Jun

The great Isaac Watts hymn, “We’re Marching to Zion” is great with just the verses in our hymnals. But this morning, I found the full hymn online and thought it was just remarkable. It fits so well with our Sunday night study in Romans 8. Here are the words. Some of our greatest hymns have wonderful verses that we have never seen because of the space limitations in the hymnal . . .

Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne.


We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.

The sorrows of the mind
Be banished from the place;
Religion never was designed
Religion never was designed,
To make our pleasures less,
To make our pleasures less.


Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But favorites of the heavenly King,
But favorites of the heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad,
May speak their joys abroad.


The God that rules on high,
And thunders when He please,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
And manages the seas,
And manages the seas.


This awful God is ours,
Our Father and our Love;
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
To carry us above,
To carry us above.


There we shall see His face,
And never, never sin!
There, from the rivers of His grace,
There, from the rivers of His grace,
Drink endless pleasures in,
Drink endless pleasures in.


Yea, and before we rise,
To that immortal state,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
Should constant joys create,
Should constant joys create.


The men of grace have found,
Glory begun below.
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow,
From faith and hope may grow.


The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets,
Or walk the golden streets.


Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high,
To fairer worlds on high.


And Can it Be?

5 Apr

One of my favorite hymns is “And Can it Be?” by Charles Wesley. My favorite version of the hymn is by the 80’s group Glad. Their version is beautiful and powerful as they use only their voices and no instruments to sing this great hymn of praise. Below is the link to the Glad version. The only drawback to their version of this song is that they don’t sing all the verses of the hymn. So I have included them below. I hope this song is an encouragement to you today as you reflect on the greatness and goodness of Jesus.

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?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

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!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out 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.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

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.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

The Solid Rock

14 Feb

This great old hymn has been rolling around in my mind all morning.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly trust in Jesus Name.

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

Verse 2
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.


Verse 3
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.


Verse 4
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.

Maybe the Worst Hymn Mash-Up Ever

26 Sep

While looking for a hymn for Sunday’s service, I came across a familiar song which has always thrilled me and bothered me. First, read these lyrics . . .

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—

And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Oh, what a wonderful hymn. It is theologically and lyrically rich. It has the classic gospel hymn progression from my sin to God’s work in Christ to my response of gratitude and devotion. It has lyrical flow and connection from one verse to another. In short, it tells the story of God’s grace beautifully. But whenever I get to the refrain, I am always a little disappointed.


At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Now this refrain is fine but it just does not connect to the rest of the song. I don’t have the chops to be a music snob, so that’s not where I’m coming from. And I am glad for the focus on the cross, which seems to be the focus of the rest of the hymn but the last lines of the refrain have always struck me as odd. The refrain’s statement about burdens rolling away and being happy all the day does not seem to mesh with the brokenhearted, humble joy of the last two verses of the hymn. It also strikes me as odd to sing this refrain after singing the weighty first verses about Christ’s death. I always thought, this is an Isaac Watts hymn, so many of his hymns are so good, what happened on this refrain? And this morning, I finally found out what happened . . . Isaac Watts didn’t write the refrain. It was written by a man named Ralph E. Hudson. This hymn, At the Cross, is in our hymnal. But thankfully, so is Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed, the original Watts hymn without the discordant refrain.

This hymn mash-up provides us with a fascinating contrast between two spiritual eras. Isaac Watts lived from 1674-1748, in England. He came up in the period of some of the great Puritan preachers and grew up in circles where the deep truths of God were taken very seriously. Watts was not primarily a musician or hymn-writer, but a pastor. He was pastor of Christ Church in London, a pastorate once held by the great Puritan John Owen. Watts wrote over 800 hymns (many still well-known) while pastoring and being involved in gospel ministry for 50 years.

Ralph Hudson lived from 1843-1901, mostly in Ohio. He served with the Union army in the Civil War and was a trained musician. He taught music, composed music and wrote hymns. He worked for social issues like the temperance movement and supported the work of the Salvation Army. Hudson was also a lay preacher. He wrote many hymns and songbooks, yet most of his hymns have not endured and none have reached the status of many of Watts’ hymns.

I think it is possible that the difference between Hudson and Watts may be attributed to their education or family background but I think it is also likely that their differences are due, at least in part, to the times in which they lived. I believe they were probably both Christians, but there is a depth and richness to Watts’ work that is not evident in Hudson’s hymns. And this is not limited to these two men alone. I have observed a stark contrast between the hymns of the 1600’s and early 1700’s and the hymns of the 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The earlier hymns seem to be consistently more God-centered and truth-based, whereas the later hymns are often emotion-driven and more man-centered. Perhaps the enlightenment and the scientific revolution moved many in the church to retreat away from claims to truth and toward a more feeling oriented approach. At the same time, Hudson lived in a time when revivals were emphasized and often emotional, heart-stirring songs were important elements in revival services. I don’t think I understand enough to really know why the hymns of these eras contrast so fully, but it is evident to me that the focus has really changed by the time we get to the late 1800’s.

Anyway, there is an easy way to avoid this problem for me; I’ll just sing #145 and leave the refrain to those who like it.



Amazing Grace: The Other Verses

8 Sep

Many people know the first verse of the great John Newton hymn Amazing Grace but fewer people know the other verses of the song. There are some great truths in these verses, so I wanted to share them with you today. As you meditate over these verses, I hope you will be encouraged.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

 And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!


Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come;

’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.


The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.


Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace.


The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below, Will be forever mine.


Rock of Ages

27 Aug

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Augustus Toplady, 1776

“My Song is Love Unknown”

24 Aug

This great hymn by Puritan Samuel Crossman is our opening hymn for our Wednesday night service this evening.  I know we won’t sound as good as the choir on this video, but I wanted to put it out before the service so that we could get familiar with the tune before tonight.