Day by Day

This hymn text has ministered to my heart many times over the years.

This is a lovely arrangement of this hymn, with a little bit about the background of it:

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

~ Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1865

As thy days, so shall thy strength be. Deuteronomy 33:25b

Just As I Am

I love this arrangement of “Just As I Am,” especially with the addition of these lines (which I believe were written by Travis Cottrell):

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am.

This is from the Galkin Evangelistic Team CD Each Day I Live. I’ve had it on when puttering around the kitchen the last few days.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some noteworthy reads from the last couple of weeks:

Shine Like Stars: Give and Rejoice {Philippians 2:17-18}. What it means for our lives to be poured like like a drink offering. Hit me right where and when I needed it.

10 Things We Don’t Want Our Kids to Learn From Church.

What these ladies did to turn a friend’s day around, and what they received in return. Loved this!

Why Can’t Christians Intelligently Discuss Current Events. “I suspect that by yelling so loudly about nearly everything, we’re obscuring the big thing (Matt. 12:36).”

Responding to the Increasingly Short Shelf-Life of Worship songs, HT to Challies. Songleaders/music pastors/worship leaders have an abundance of songs to choose from, and being able to project the words for all to see enables us to sing more than just what’s in the hymnbook. That’s good in many ways but complicates things in other ways. Though this was written to song leaders and such, it helped me to see what  big job it is to choose songs from the multitude we have available. I especially appreciated his caveat that some songs are for just a season. It used to bother me that we heard some songs often for a while and then not at all – kind of like a current “hit” – but then I realized that even the older hymn-writers wrote many songs that we know nothing about now, so that must have happened then, too.

This is a  neat overview of the Bible for kids, showing how it all points to Christ:

Have a good weekend!

“Special” Music in the Church

choir

Let me say at the outset that I know some people object to the term “special music” in church, meaning songs that are performed by instrumentalists or sung as solos or groups as opposed to congregational singing, because it sounds like we’re elevating that type of music above congregational singing. In the order of service in our own church bulletin, a “special” is listed as “Ministry in music,” and that’s perfect. But if I used that phrase as a blog title, it would sound like I was writing about the whole panorama of music in the life of a church, and I am not doing that. I just wanted to share a few thoughts on this particular aspect of church music.

These thoughts were spurred some time ago by an article I saw (which I can’t find now) which advised that one way to encourage more and better congregational singing was to deemphasize the special music. I don’t know how many people saw that particular article, but it seems like that is the current trend, and I think it is a sad one, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment. We always have such a tendency to be unbalanced in one direction or another, and I think to scrap or at least downplay personal ministry in music creates a loss for the church, a loss for the musicians and their gifts as well as for the hearers who would be ministered to.

The writer of the article in question suggested that one reason people weren’t singing as well as they could congregationally was that having worship leaders and a band on stage made it seem more like they were “the professionals” and everyone else was just there primarily to listen and maybe to sing along occasionally. I have never experienced a set-up like that personally; the churches we have attended have been more traditional, with a songleader behind the pulpit and a choir behind him, and a few instrumentalists to one side. I am not knocking the other style, but I can see the point that if it is set up more like a concert, the audience will be more likely to listen than to participate. However, I really don’t think that’s the problem in most churches.

Some think that when we listen to others “perform” a spiritual song, we’re more likely to enjoy the performance rather than be ministered to by the words. And I do admit that is a danger. But I don’t think it is a reason to deemphasize performed hymns and spiritual songs. I can get distracted by how well I like a song or its melody even in congregational singing, so I think that’s largely a matter of training our minds and taking “every thought captive.” I don’t think it is wrong to enjoy the music, the harmony, the performance aspect of it, but we need to let that enhance the message rather than become the main point.

Some want to downplay “special” music in church because they feel congregational singing is more participatory, whereas with special music we’re just listening. But I disagree: listening is participating if done right. (And besides that, we don’t apply the same logic to the preaching, which is done by one and listened to by everyone else.) I think we need to train our families and ourselves to concentrate, to pay attention to the words especially, not to talk or fidget or otherwise distract ourselves and others during the performance. Part of that is just consideration and respect for those performing, but another part of it is to enhance our own ability to receive the song’s message.

For me personally, the special music, whether an offertory, solo, or ensemble, is the most worshipful part of the church service. (By the way, I don’t believe the musical segment of a service is the only time where worship takes place: worship should be what we do in every part of the service.) I do enjoy congregational singing very much, but I do get more distracted by my own voice, by the voices of those around me, by wondering when we’re going to get to sit down because my knees are killing me, by what I need to do to start dinner, etc. That is my own problem, and I work on it constantly. Our church does display the words to the songs we’re singing, and that helps immensely, but that time is the hardest time in the whole service for me to keep my mind on what I am doing. During special music, however, I’m all in and focused without really trying to be.

Besides being able to focus better personally, I think special music has value in other ways as well. Some people are gifted vocally or in ways of expressing what they are singing so that we can get more of the nuance of a song than when we’re just barreling through it with everyone else. And though I have a wealth of recorded Christian music I can listen to any time, and do often, it means more to hear someone I know personally who is dealing with a chronic illness sing, “Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here,” or someone who recently lost her husband sing about the New Jerusalem, or a sweet couple who have walked with the Lord for decades together singing about Him whom their souls love, or someone undergoing a longstanding trial singing:

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

(“Blessings” by Laura Story)

I can and have been ministered to through music sung by someone I don’t know, but when I know the people and observe how they walk with the Lord, that adds a valuable layer of ministry to a church.

The article I mentioned also proposed that singers and musicians should take it down a notch and not sound so professional so as not to discourage those of us with more average voices to sing out. But Psalm 33:1-3 talks about playing music skilfully. Those who sing and play need to have some skill in doing so (and that is another reason I enjoy it: I can sing and praise in my own spirit vicariously through them, since I don’t have the skills they do.) I don’t think special music has to sound “professional”: it can be very simple. But it is not wrong for it to sound professional, either. Different people have different skill levels, and I can enjoy a variety of them just as I enjoy reading from writers at various levels of writing skill or listening to preaching from men whose style or gifts vary. A child’s first piano offertory or a simple solo with a guitar can minister just as much as a full scale performance of Handel’s Messiah, and I like them all in different ways.

Not long after I came across the article I mentioned, I came to Chronicles in my Bible reading. Among the many people with various specific functions in the temple were musicians and singers.

I Chronicles 16:4-7: Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

I Chronicles 16:41-42: With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever. Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song.

I Chronicles 25 gives great detail about David appointing different people for different musical functions. One of the most interesting verses to me is I Chronicles 25:1: “Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals.” A former pastor used to say that even instrumental music was a form of prophecy.

When the ark was brought into the temple,

all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,  so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. II Chronicles 5:12-14.

“Special” music was also performed at the dedication of the temple, before the army, at the crowning of a king, when Hezekiah reestablished worship in the temple, at the restoration of the Passover,  at the Passover in Josiah’s time, when the foundation for the temple was laid again in Ezra’s time. But special or performed music wasn’t just for special occasions:  II Chronicles 8:14 says  “According to the ruling of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry before the priests as the duty of each day required.” Singers are mentioned multiple times from Chronicles to Nehemiah: Ezra 2: 65 says they were male and female.

Then of course the Psalms are themselves songs and mention music throughout. Whether they were song congregationally or by the temple musicians, or both, I don’t know. Now I am in Isaiah: I am not sure whether I’ll find references to singing in the prophets, as their focus and purpose is different.

That is all Old Testament: what about the New? I’ll look for specific references when I come to it in my reading, but two passages there come to mind. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” I think that can apply to both congregational and performed music. I Corinthians 14:6 says, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” The ESV has “hymn” in place of “psalm.”

I think songleaders and preachers can enhance the performed music of a church by emphasizing the message of it just before or after the person or people sing. If there is one thing I could say to preachers everywhere on this topic: please don’t joke just after someone has ministered in song, especially about that person. I’m not against laughter, I love to laugh as much as the next person, I know the Lord loves a merry heart, but joking just after someone sings is one of the quickest ways to quench whatever ministry their testimony in song could have had.

Instead of downplaying ministry in musical performance, I think songleaders can enhance congregational singing in a number of other ways: reminding us to sing as unto the Lord and what the Bible says about singing or commenting on something the song teaches (not long: a little sermon before each song or each stanza can dull its effect). Please, however, don’t do what I have heard often through the years and say something like, “Are you a Christian? Do you love the Lord? Then please tell your face!” or “If you could see the view from here, you’d be really depressed. Smile!” That’s basically saying, “Paste a smile on so you look better,” an emphasis on the outer rather than the inner man and not conducive to worship. How much better to encourage better singing by encouraging worship of the one we’re singing about and thinking about the message of the song.

Please understand that I am not trying to exalt “special” or performed music above congregational singing because I have emphasized it here: I’m just asking that we don’t discourage or downplay special music in our efforts to encourage congregational singing. Both have vital places in our worship: both can be great tools the Lord can use to minister to our hearts.

To Behold Thee

From weariness of sin I turn at last, O Lord, to Thee
My eyes and heart grown dim from looking long on vanity.
I venture toward thy radiance then, compelled to come by grace
And in the pages of Thy word behold Thy lovely face.

(Refrain)
Face of glory, turned upon me
I cannot but Thee adore.
To behold Thee, O my Saviour,
Is to love Thee more and more.

Each grace in all its fullness on Thy countenance I see.
Great tenderness of mercy, blazing light of purity.
Thine eyes are wells and love and wisdom, s
ettled peace Thy brow,
Before the whole of perfect beauty I in worship bow.

(Refrain)

When someday I before Thee stand, a debtor to Thy grace,
And gaze with heaven’s eyes upon the brightness of Thy face,
Transformed into Thy likeness, all my sin thrust far away,
With millions of redeemed ones I will lift my voice and say:

Face of glory turned upon me
I cannot but Thee adore.
To behold Thee, O my Savior,
Is to love Thee more and more.
To behold Thee, O my Savior,
Is to love Thee more and more.

Words: Eileen Berry

Music: Dan Forrest

To hear this beautiful hymn, go here and click on “Listen

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18

I Could Not Do Without Thee

The first time I heard this hymn was from an ensemble visiting our church, and I was riveted. I thought it was a new hymn, but looking it up after I got home, I saw it was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in1873. I like the newer melody better, but I don’t know who wrote it.

I have usually only heard it sung with these four stanzas, but cyberhymnal.org lists several more.

I could not do without Thee
O Savior of the lost,
Whose precious blood redeemed me
At such tremendous cost.
Thy righteousness, thy pardon
Thy precious blood, must be
My only hope and comfort,
My glory and my plea.

I could not do without Thee,
I cannot stand alone,
I have no strength or goodness,
No wisdom of my own;
But Thou, beloved Savior,
Art all in all to me,
And weakness will be power
If leaning hard on Thee.

I could not do without Thee,
O Jesus, Savior dear;
E’en when my eyes are holden,
I know that Thou art near.
How dreary and how lonely
This changeful life would be,
Without the sweet communion,
The secret rest with Thee!

I could not do without Thee,
For years are fleeting fast,
And soon in solemn loneness
The river must be passed;
But Thou wilt never leave me,
And though the waves roll high,
I know Thou wilt be near me,
And whisper, “It is I.”

The first time I heard it I was struck with the repetition of “lone,” “alone,” and “loneness.” I was feeling very much alone at the time because Jim was traveling a lot, and I was reminded that I am never alone with Christ, and that’s not just a trite saying but a meaningful reality. And then the second stanza has been a help to me so many times. We truly have no strength, goodness, or wisdom of our own, but because of the redemption mentioned in the first stanza, we can experience the strength in the second stanza.

New lyrics to “So Send I You”

When I was a teenager, the hymn “So Send I You” was sung sometimes when a missionary was there to speak at a service or, more often, at a service when the emphasis was a call to “full-time” Christian ministry. I didn’t think the lyrics  were depressing at the time: they just seemed like a serious and sober look at a calling that would probably be hard. But they do seem to emphasis the hardships and neglect the joys:

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing-
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
O’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world aweary-
So send I you to suffer for My sake.

So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With heart ahung’ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one-
So send I you to know My love alone.

So send I you to leave your life’s ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you-
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, tho’ it be blood, to spend and spare not-
So send I you to taste of Calvary.

As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.

Evidently the author, Margaret Clarkson, eventually recognized the lack of balance in the hymn and penned new lyrics later in her life.

She was born into an unhappy home, was bed-bound with juvenile arthritis when she was three, and suffered migraines and vomiting. Pain was a constant companion, but she was able to attend school and become a teacher. She couldn’t find a position until she accepted one at an isolated mining camp, where general loneliness was a factor, but spiritual loneliness especially overshadowed her as she said she had no real Christian fellowship for about seven years. “So Send I You” was written at this time, colored by her loneliness and pain, and probably pretty accurate for her circumstances at the time.

Some years later, though still battling pain, she found other teaching positions and began having her writing published. She came to believe “So Send I You” was one-sided, and wrote new lyrics that she felt were more biblically balanced between the trials and joys of the Christian life under-girded by God’s grace:

So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph
O’er hosts of hell, o’er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer-
So send I you, my victory to win.

So send I you-to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death’s fetters-
So send I you, to bring the lost to me.

So send I you-my strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence-
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you-to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, “well done, My faithful servant-
Come, share My throne, My kingdom, and My crown!”

“As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”

It does make a difference where our focus is.

There is a nice slideshow of Margaret’s life here.

I found a simple but nice rendition of the new lyrics here:

I had wanted to include this in the 31 Days of Missionary Stories, but ran out of days. 🙂 I hope it’s a blessing to you.

Face the Cross

Upon the cross of Jesus my eye at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me.

Face the cross, He hangs there in your place.
See the Lamb upon the killing tree.
Stand and look into the Savior’s face
As on the cross, He dies for you and me.

Face the cross and see the dying Son.
See the Lamb upon the killing tree.
See His anguish and His tears of love.
Face the cross, He dies to set us free.

Turn not away, turn not away.
His nail-pierced hands are reaching out to you, to you.

Look upon the One without a sin,.
Spotless Lamb upon the killing tree.
Feel His pain and love from deep within,
So great a price, yet paid so willingly.

Turn not away, turn not away,
Face the cross, face the cross.

Face the One who suffers in your place,
See the Lamb, upon the killing tree.
Light of the world, now clothed in darkness grim
As on the cross, He hangs in agony.

Face the cross and turn not away, turn not away.
His nail-pierced hands are reaching out to you.

Turn not away, behold His wounded side.
Turn not away, behold the crucified.
Face the cross, He hangs there in your place.
Face the cross, and see the King of Grace.
Face the cross, face the cross.

– Words by Herb Fromach, music by David Lantz

“Jehovah Findeth None”

What Though th’ Accuser Roar

What though th’ accuser roar,
Of ills that I have done;
I know them well, and thousands more;
Jehovah findeth none.

Sin, Satan, Death, press near,
To harass and to appall;
Let but my risen Lord appear,
Backward they go and fall.

Before, behind, around,
They set their fierce array,
To fight and force me from my ground
Along Immanuel’s way.

I meet them face to face,
Through Jesus’ conquest blest;
March in the triumph of His grace,
Right onward to my rest.

There, in His book I bear
A more than conq’ror’s name,
A soldier, son, and fellow-heir,
Who fought and overcame.

His be the Victor’s name
Who fought our fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honor claim,
Their conquest was His own.

By weakness and defeat
He won the meed and crown
Trod all our foes beneath His feet,
By being trodden down.

He hell in hell laid low;
Made sin, he sin o’erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death, by dying, slew.

Bless, bless the Conq’ror slain!
Slain in His victory!
Who lived, who died, who lives again,
For thee, His Church, for Thee!

~ Samuel Whitelock Gandy

When Love Came Down to Earth

When love came down to earth
And made His home with men,
The hopeless found a hope,
The sinner found a friend.
Not to the powerful
But to the poor He came,
And humble, hungry hearts
Were satisfied again.

What joy, what peace has come to us!
What hope, what help, what love!

When every unclean thought,
And every sinful deed
Was scourged upon His back
And hammered through His feet.
The Innocent is cursed,
The guilty are released;
The punishment of God
On God has brought me peace.

Come lay your heavy load
Down at the Master’s feet;
Your shame will be removed,
Your joy will be complete.
Come crucify your pride,
And enter as a child;
For those who bow down low
He’ll lift up to His side.

What joy, what peace has come to us!
What hope, what help, what love!

~ Stuart Townend