Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No, I haven't gone corporate

But I am pretty excited about this nifty thing called RefTagger I just installed. It's from that one company I've spent some time with. Now, instead of having to link each Bible verse I cite to, you, dear reader, can simply hover your mouse over the verse and the text will appear. If you install it on your own blog, you can customize your preferred Bible translation as well as a host of other options. Behold!

1 Peter 2:9
Acts 20:24
Micah 6:8

I've been meaning to install this for awhile, but just got around to it today. More info is available on the Logos blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hymn of the Week: There is a Fountain

There is a Fountain
by William Cowper

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy power to save
I'll sing Thy power to save, I'll sing Thy power to save
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy power to save.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No, I haven't forgotten about my blog...

...I've just been busy with friends who came to visit (from the other side of the country, no less!). A post shall (hopefully) soon appear detailing our wonderful weekend. It really was a fabulous time full of laughter, memories, inside jokes and more laughter. I'm thankful God has blessed me with such great friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

by Henry Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Confessions of a Hymn Nerd

I’m a hymn nerd. I’ll admit it; give me “Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee” or “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” over “Everlasting God” and others like it any day. While I didn’t grow up primarily with hymns, I did have some exposure to them throughout my childhood, and for that I am grateful. College deepened my love of these songs (more on that later), and now, a year after graduation, I’m an all-out nerd. :)

If this was a college paper, I’d be defining my terms right about now, but since it’s not, I’m going to assume that “hymn” is a fairly well-known term to anyone reading this. In general, I mean older songs with several verses, not a lot of repetition, etc. Also, I don’t think that all contemporary praise and worship songs are horrible—there are a few I like (albeit very few), such as “In Christ Alone” and “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” (which some would consider modern hymns).

What I appreciate the most about hymns is their depth—you won’t find anything like it in most modern praise and worship songs. They focus on a variety of topics, from confession (“O Thou That Hearst When Sinners Cry”) to praise (“Great is Thy Faithfulness”) to celebrating what God has done in the past (“For All the Saints”). I could go on and on citing favorite lines and hymns, but I won’t. ;) Additionally, hymns have an eternal perspective—take for example these last verses of a few hymns…

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then a new this song we’ll sing,
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Man of Sorrows

When clothed in His brightness,
transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation,
His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
He Hideth My Soul

And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.
With Broken Heart and Contrite Sigh

It’s something I’ve noticed over and over again, especially in the last verses of hymns—they focus on the eternal. This world is not the forever home of Christians, and it does us good to think in way.

Another thing I appreciate about hymns is that you won’t see a lot of lines starting with “I” or “me,” especially when compared with most modern praise and worship songs. Here are some more examples…

Mighty God! while angels bless thee,
May a mortal sing thy name?
Lord of men, as well as angels!
Thou art every creature’s theme:
Ancient of eternal days!
Sounded through the wide creation,
Be thy just and endless praise.
Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee

Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King
Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice:
Alleluia! Amen!
Come, Christians Join to Sing

All praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of wonder, power and love,
The God of our salvation;
With healing balm my soul he fills,
The God who every sorrow stills:
To God all praise and Glory
All Praise to God Who Reigns Above

I used to think I was pretty well versed in hymns. They certainly weren’t rare in the churches we attended growing up, and our college chapel sung them frequently. Then I started attending a church that sings primarily (though not exclusively) hymns where my repertoire expanded astronomically and I’m so glad it has. From the more common hymns I either sung growing up (such as “Be Thou My Vision” or “My Jesus, I Love Thee”) to ones I didn’t know but probably should have (“He Hideth My Soul,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”) to others I’d never heard before (“O Thou That Hear'st When Sinners Cry,” “All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord”), I love the depth and tradition to the songs we sing. I love knowing that I sing songs Christians have for hundreds of years…seriously, how many of the popular church songs that were around 10 years ago are still being sung now? Songs such as “Shout to the Lord,” and “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” weren’t necessarily bad, but I can’t remember the last time I heard them sung in church. In Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon, he occasionally quotes hymns, and I love it when I recognize them—how cool is it that my church sings some of the same songs as Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, etc.?

I’m even convinced that hymns are more intellectually stimulating. Let me explain—as a part of my interpreting classes, we interpreted our school’s thrice weekly chapel, including the songs. While songs are (usually) more fun than speaking, they are often really boring or really hard. As I would go through my songs and prepare my interpretation, I began to realize just how repetitive modern praise songs are. They either say the same thing over and over, only using different words, or simply repeat the same phrases over and over. Hymns, while much more challenging to interpret (what, exactly, is the “potentate of time*”?) they were much more interesting and thought-provoking. 1 Corinthians 14:15 says “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” As someone who grew up in the church, I (along with several others I know) find the richness and depth of hymns more challenging and intellectually stimulating.


Flipping through hymnbooks is fun, but for those who don’t have one, go online. Thanks to public domain, most hymns are old enough that they can be shared without worrying about copyright issues. The best online resource is CyberHymnal. I use this site primarily for the lyrics as their MIDI files aren’t the highest quality (and I tend to know different melodies for the hymns). Another good resource is Indelible Grace’s Online Hymnal. Meant to be used in churches/group gatherings, it has samples of songs, overheads, chord charts and sheet music all free of charge. You can also order cds of the songs, done by various and sundry artists such as Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Andrew Osenga, Matthew Perryman Jones and others.

*po•ten•tate \ˈpō-tən-ˌtāt\ n
15c : ruler, sovereign broadly : one who wields great power or sway

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave, and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish ev’ry fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heav’n are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Saviour, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends may shun me;
Show thy face, and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”;
I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
all must work for good to me

Soul then know thy full salvation;
rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station
something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee;
Think what Father’s smile is thine;
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
child of heaven, canst thou repine?

Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by pray’r;
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee,
God’s own hand will guide thee there.
Soon shall close they earthly mission,
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and pray’r to praise.