Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nearer My God To Thee

This hymn was written by Sarah Flower Adams who was born at Harlow, England on February 22, 1805 and is considered to be one of the finest hymn written by a woman songwriter.  She died at an early age of forty three in 1848. The text for this hymn is based on Jacob's dream when he was fleeing from his home and from his brother Esau. Sarah's sister, Eliza, was a talented musician and composed music for a number of Sarah's songs. One day the two sisters were busy involved in a project of compiling a hymnal when their pastor, Rev. William Johnson Fox remarked that he wished he had a hymn for the sermon he was writing based on Jacob's dream depicted in Genesis 28:10-22. Eliza enthusiastically asked her sister Sarah to write a song based on the dream and the song "Nearer My God To Thee" was born.
The hymn was initially published in 1841 in the "Hymns and Anthems" but it did not become popular till the present tune for the hymn was composed by Lowell Mason twelve years after it was introduced in America in 1844.
A lot of interesting stories have been associated with this hymn one of them being the playing of this hymn during the sinking of the ship The Titanic as depicted in the film. It was so reported by a survivor of the sinking in 1912.
It has also been the favorite hymn of many great world leaders, notable among them being {resident William McKinley and it is said that he whispered these words while drawing his last breath.
The lyrics of the hymn are as follows.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee,
 Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear steps unto heav'n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee, 
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee, 
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

A sixth verse was later added to the hymn by Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr. as follows:

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Count Your Blessings

This hymn is, of course, one of the best loved songs of all. It is without doubt one of the songs that we san as children in out Sunday schools and have heard numerous times during our life. The song was written by Reverend Johnson Oatman Jr. who was born near Medford, New Jersey on April 21, 1856 and who was a prolific writer of gospel songs during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries having lived fro 1856 to 1922. This song is considered to be the finest of Oatman's many songs, some 5,000 in all. The composer of the music for this hymn is Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921) being born in Stark County, Ohio, on December 13, 1851.
It is also a hymn that received a lot of popularity in the U.K., where, the London Daily reported a meeting presided over by Gypsy Smith. In it, it was stated that Mr. Smith said "In South London men sing it, the boys whistle it and the women rock their babies to sleep on this hymn".

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Blessed Assurance

This another popular hymn that was written by the blind hymn writer Frances Jane Crosby in the year 1873. The music for this song was composed by Phoebe P. Knapp, also in 1873. Frances Crosby was visiting Mrs. Knapp at her home where a pipe organ was being installed and Mrs. Knapp played a tune on the piano and asked her friend Fanny Crosby, who was visiting, and asked her what the tune said. France Crosby immediately responded, "Why, that says: 'Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine.'". The hymn draws its inspiration from Hebrews 10:22. The hymn appeared in the July issue of Palmer's Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany, a magazine printed by Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Palmer of 14 Bible House, New York City.
Frances Jane Crosby has more than 8,000 gospel songs to her credit and Mrs. Knapp has composed more than 500 songs.
The complete lyrics are as follows.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;  
This is my story, this is my song,  
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.

Amazing Grace

This is another well known and favorite hymns that has bee sung be a number of singers. The author of the hymn is John Newton (1725-1807). John Newton lost his mother at a tender age of seven and after some years in school joined his father to live the life of a seaman. He spent his early years in a life of debauchery and rebellion. It was on March 10, 1748 that during a journey from Africa to England that they were overtaken by a violent storm and it seemed inevitable that everything would be lost. It was then that John Newton began reading Thomas a Kempis' book "The Imitation of Christ", a book that is considered to be a religious classic and is even published now. He then spent a part of his seaman's life fighting against slavery.
John Newton was ordained as a priest by the Anglican Church and was a parish priest in the village of Olney, near Cambridge in England in 1764. He spent the next fifteen years in a most fruitful and influential ministry.
The song "Amazing Grace" was first published in 1779 and is inspired from the Bible verses from Chronicles 17:16, 17. The exact date when the hymn was written dose not seem to be known.
The lyrics of the hymn are as follows.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

Thro' 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 promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, 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 call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Abide With Me

Henry F. Lyte (1793 - 1847) who is the author of this hymn was born in Scotland on June 1, 1793 and is almost always sung to the tune of "Eventide" set by William Henry Monk(1823-1889). The song was written in 1847 just before he died from tuberculosis in about three weeks on November 20, 1847 in Nice, France. The text for this hymn was inspired by the verse in Luke 24:29 - "Abide with us: for it is toward evening and the day is far spent." It was not widely used in England till 1850 when it was published in a book Lyte's Remains. It first appeared in the U.S. in 1885 in Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Collection and it was noted to be read and not sung. It was later discovered by Monk and was included in the first edition of the famous hymnal "Hymns Ancient and Modern" in 1861.
The hymn is a prayer for God to remain present with the speaker throughout life, through trials, and through death. The complete hymn is given below.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Rock Of Ages

The lyrics for this hymn was written by Augustus M. Toplady in the year 1763 and who lived during the period from 1740-1778. He was born at Farnham, England on November 4, 1740. Toplady was a priest in the village of Blagdon. The hymn was published in 1775 in the publication "The Gospel Magazine". Tradition has it that the Reverend was traveling along a gorge of Burrington Combe in the hills of Mendip in England when he was overtaken by a storm and he took shelter in a fissure in the gorge.  It seems that he scribbled the initial lyrics on a playing card. This fissure is now marked as the "Rock of Ages", both on some maps and on the rock itself.
The tune for the lyrics was set by a Thomas Hastings who was born on October 15, 1784 at Washington, Connecticut and he composed the tune in 1830.
The hymn was a favorite of Prince Albert who requested that it be played on his deathbed as did the Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. The hymn was also played during the funeral of William E. Gladstone.
Traditionally, this hymn has been ranked as one of the most popular hymns ever written.
The lyrics are given below.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the Water and the Blood,
From thy riven Side which flow'd,
Be of Sin the double Cure,
Cleanse me from its Guilt and Pow'r.

Not the labors 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 thy Cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for Dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly :
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

Whilst I draw this fleeting breath—
When my eye-strings break in death—
When I soar through tracts unknown—
See Thee on thy Judgment-Throne—
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee !

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Softly And Tenderly

The author of the song is Will L. Thompson who was born in East Liverpool, Ohio on 07/11/1847 and died in 1909. The music for the song was also composed by him. He was also known as the "Bard of Ohio". He was a personal friend of the Evangelist D.L. Moody and it seems that when Moody was dying he was visited by Thompson. “Will,” said Moody, “I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life!”
The lyrics for the complete song follows.

  1. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
    Calling for you and for me;
    See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
    Watching for you and for me.
    • Refrain:
      Come home, come home,
      You who are weary, come home;
      Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
      Calling, O sinner, come home!
  2. Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
    Pleading for you and for me?
    Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
    Mercies for you and for me?
  3. Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
    Passing from you and from me;
    Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
    Coming for you and for me.
  4. Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
    Promised for you and for me!
    Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
    Pardon for you and for me.