Origins of Songs

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by Joshua Rhodes, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes
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    The Lord Bless You and Keep You
    14th Century B. C.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls were, until recently, our oldest copies of biblical text. But in 1979, Villanova professor, Judith Hadley, was assisting archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, in excavating a site in Jerusalem's Hinnom Valley. In a buiral cave, she saw something resembling the metal cap of a pencil. It was a sensational find, a tiny silver scroll of great antiquity. Anoth was found nearby. These tiny ammulets, dating to the Hebrew monarchy seven centuries before Christ, were so small and fragile they took several years to painstakingly clear and open.

    Then scientists finally unrolled them, they found the world's oldest extant copy of a biblical text, the words of Numbers 6:24-26:
    While the amulets date from the seventh century B.C., the original words are far older, coming 1,400 years before Christ. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the Lord commanded the priests to bless the people with this three-fold blessing.

    These ancient lyrics have been set to music many times, but never more beautifully than by Peter Christian Lutkin in his classic tune "Benediction." During the Fanny Crosby/Ira Sankey era of gospel music, when so much was written for easy congregational singing, Lutkin wrote more elaborate melodies with a classical flare.

    Lutkin was born in Wisconsin in 1888, and devoted his life to church music, studying the masters in Europe, excelling on the organ, and founding the School of Music at Northwestern Illinois. He helped start the American Guild of Organists. He died in 1931 and was buried in Rosehill Cemetary in Chicago.

    In his Notes From My Bible , D.L. Moody said about the priestly blessing of Numbers 6: "Here is a benediction that can give all the time without being impoverished. Every heart may utter it, every letter may conclude with it, every day may beging with it, every night may be sanctified by it. Here is blessing--keeping--shining--the uplifting upon our poor life of all heaven's glad morning. It is the Lord Himself who (gives us) this bar of music from heaven's infinite anthem."
     
  2. DanielFive

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    Good story Joshua, one of my favourite texts. Thanks.
     
  3. Joshua Rhodes

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    Be Thou My Vision
    8th Century

    Only one missionary is honored with a global holiday, and only one is known by his own distinct color of green--St. Patrick, of course, missionary to Ireland.

    Patrick was bron in A.D. 373, along the banks of the River Clyde in what is now called Scotland. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather a priest. When Patrick was about 16, raiders descended on his little town and torched his home. When one of the pirates spotted him in the bushes, he was seized, hauled aboard ship, and taken to Ireland as a slave. There he gave his life to the Lord Jesus.

    "The Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief," he later wrote, "in order that I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God."

    Patrick eventually escaped and returned home. His overjoyed family begged him to never leave again. But one night, in a dream reminiscent of Paul's vision of the Macedonian Man in Acts 16, Patrick saw an Irishman pleading with him to come evangelize Ireland.

    It wasn't an easy decision, but Patrick, about 30, returned to his former captors with only one book, the Latin Bible, in his hand. As he evangelized the countryside, multitudes came to listen. The superstitious Druids opposed him and sought his death. But his preaching was powerful, and Patrick became one of the most fruitful evangelists of all time, planting about 200 churches and baptizing 100,000 converts.

    His work endured, and several centuries later, the Irish church was still producing hymns, prayers, sermons, and songs of worship. In the 8th Century, an unknown poet wrote a prayer asking God to be his Vision, his Wisdom, and his Best Thought by day or night.

    In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Byrne, a scholar in Dublin, Ireland, translated this ancient Irish poem into English. Another scholar, Eleanor Hull of Manchester, England, took Byrne's translation and crafted it into verses with rhyme and meter. Shortly thereafter, it was set to a traditional Irish folk song, "Slane," named for an area in Ireland where Patrick reportedly challenged local Druids with the gospel.

    It is one of our oldest and most moving hymns.

    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.
     
  4. Joshua Rhodes

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    All Glory, Laud and Honor
    820 A.D.

    The mighty Charlemagne (742-814), King of the Franks, united most of western Europe under his crown. He was a visionary who advanced education and reformed the laws, economy, and culture of Europe.

    When Charlemagne died, his son, Louis I, assumed the throne. At first, all went well. But in 817, he began dividing the empire among his nephew and his four sons, causing no end of problems. Twice he was deposed by his sons, and, though he regained his throne both times, he was never again able to rest securely.

    Caught in the middle of this epic family conflict was Theodulph, Bishop of Orleans, a city south of Paris. Theodulph, born in Spain about 750, had gone to France as a church leader at Charlemagne's request. He was a brilliant man who worked hard to reform the clergy. He established schools and advanced education. He advocated high morals, built churches, and composed hymns of praise to God.

    But during the political intrigues of Louis' reign, Theodulph was accused (falsely, it seems) of conspiring with King Bernard of Italy; and on Easter Sunday, 818, he was imprisoned in the monastery of Angers, a city southwest of Paris.

    There, as he meditated on our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to His Crucifixion and Resurrection, Theodulph wrote the great Palm Sunday hymn, "All Glory, Laud and Honor."

    According to a tradition that can neither be confirmed nor denied, when King Louis later visited Angers, he momentarily halted at the monastery where Theodulph was held, and the bishop appeared at the window, singing, "All Glory, Laud and Honor." The king was reportedly so moved that he ordered the bishop's release.

    For whatever the reason, we know Theodulph was released in 821, but he died on his way back to Orleans, or shortly after his return there.

    Originally there were 78 verses (39 couplets) to this hymn! Theodulph had lots of time in his prison-monastery. The first several are the ones we commonly sing today. One stanza that has fallen by the wayside is this quaint verse:

    Be Thou, O Lord, the Rider,
    And we the little ass,
    That to God's holy city
    Together we may pass.
     
  5. Aaron

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    Excellent, Joshua. Thanks!
     
  6. Joshua Rhodes

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    Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee
    12th Century

    When Bernard (c. 1090-1153), a sickly youth in Dijon, France, was unable to fulfill military service, he became a monk. So successful was he that he eventually founded the famous monastery in nearby Claiveaux; in time almost 170 other monasteries sprang from Bernard's leadership. He became the most powerful preacher of his era, and is remembered as a pious man, a deeply contemplative mystic, the "honey-tongued doctor." Martin Luther called Bernard "the best monk that ever lived, whom I admire beyond all the rest put together."

    He wasn't a perfect man, as seen in his support for the Second Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control. But for 800 years, his words have been read and sung, and his good work has continued.

    If you've never read Bernard, here are some excerpts from his writings and sermons:

    Several well-known hymns are attributed to St. Bernard: "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee," "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," and a lesser-known hymn entitled "Open Wide are Thine Hands," the second verse of which says:

    Lord, I am sad and poor, but boundless is Thy grace;
    Give me the soul transforming joy for which I seek Thy face.
     
  7. Joshua Rhodes

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    All Creatures of Our God and King
    1225 A.D.

    So many stories have arisen around St. Francis of Assisi that it's difficult to separate truth from fiction. We know he was born in 1182 in central Italy, son of a rich merchant. After a scanty education, Francis joined the army and was captured in war. He came to Christ shortly after his release, renounced his wealth, and began traveling about the countryside, preaching the gospel, living simply, seeking to make Christ real to everyone he met.

    Francis loved nature, and many stories spotlight his interaction with animals. Once as he hiked through Italy's Spoleto Valley, he came upon a flock of birds. When they didn't fly away, he decided to preach them a little sermon: "My brother and sister birds," he reportedly said, "you should praise your Creator and always love Him. He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and all other things you need. It is God who made your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God's guidance and protection."

    The flock, it is said, then flew off rejoicing.

    Their perspective is reflected in a hymn Francis composed just before his death in 1225, called "Cantico di fratre sole" -- "Song of Brother Sun." It exhorts all creation to worship God. The sun and moon. All the birds. All the clouds. Wind and fire. All men of tender heart. All creatures of our God and King.

    Though written in 1225, an English version didn't appear until 1919, when Rev. William H. Draper decided to use it for a children's worship festival in Leeds, England.

    But is it sound theology to exhort birds and billowing clouds to lift their voices in praise? Yes! "All Creatures of Our God and King" simply restates an older hymn - Psalm 148 - which says:

    Praise Him, sun and moon; / Praise Him, all you satrs of light.../
    You great sea creatures and all the depths; / Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
    Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; / Mountains and all hills; /
    Fruitful trees and all cedars; / Beasts and all cattle; /
    Creeping things and flying fowl... / Let them praise the name of the LORD, /
    For His name alone is exalted... / Praise the LORD!
     
  8. Joshua Rhodes

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    For Yod... Thanks for voicing the Messianic side of things around here!

    The God of Abraham Praise
    1404/1770 A.D.

    "The God of Abraham Praise" is perhaps the most Jewish of all Christian hymns, and its writing covers many centuries. Its roots go back to the medieval Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), who wrote a confession of faith containing thirteen creeds.

    Centuries later, in 1404, another Jewish scholar, Daniel ben Judah, a judge and liturgical poet in Rome, deeply impressed with Maimonides' creed, composed the Yigdal, a doxology of thirteen stanzas widely sung in Jewish synagogues to this day.

    Centuries later, in 1770, an opera vocalist named Meyer Lyon sang the Yigdal in London's Great Synagogue, Duke's Palace. In the audience that night was Thomas Olivers.

    Thomas (1725-1799) had been born in Tregynon, Wales, and orphaned about age four. He studied the craft of shoemaking, but he learned the art of sinning better, "the worst boy known in Tregynon for thirty years."

    When he was eighteen, Thomas was thrown out of town, and he wandered down to Bristol, England, where evangelist George Whitefield happened to be preaching from Zechariah 3:2: "Is not this brand plucked out of the fire?"

    "When the sermon began," Thomas recalled, "I was one of the most abandoned and profligate young men living; before it ended I was a new creature. The world had changed for Tom Olivers." He became a traveling evangelist and passionate Christian worker.

    On that Sabbath evening in 1770, when Thomas heard Meyer Lyon sing the Yigdal, he was so moved that he later approached Lyon, acquired the music, and adapted the Jewish Doxology into a Christian hymn of thirteen stanzas, beginning, "The God of Abraham Praise."

    "Look at this," he told a friend, "I have rendered it from the Hebrew, giving it, as far as I could, a Christian character." Thomas annotated hi hymn with footnotes, citing Scripture references for almost every line, the first being Exodus 3:6: "I am the God of thy Father, the God of Abraham." It appeared in 1785 in John Wesley's Pocket Hymnbook.

    Modern congregations rarely sing all thirteen stanzas, so here is one of the lesser-known verses for you to ponder:

    The God Who reigns on high the great archangels sing,
    And "Holy, Holy, Holy!" cry, "Almighty King!"
    Who was, and is, the same, and evermore shall be:
    Jehovah, Lord, the great I AM, we worship Thee!
     
  9. John Gilmore

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    "Iesu dulcis memoria," a poem attributed to Bernard, contains 50 stanzas. The first five stanzas are usually published in hymnals as Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee and the next five as O Jesus, King Most Wonderful. However, sometimes the first 14 stanzas are included together as in this link: (http://www.acronet.net/~robokopp/english/jesustve.htm)
     
  10. John Gilmore

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  11. Joshua Rhodes

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    Thanks John! I'll add those to my notes!
     
  12. Joshua Rhodes

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    A Mighty Fortress is Our God
    1529 A.D.

    We think of Martin Luther as a great reformer, Bible translator, political leader, fiery preacher, and theologian. But he was also a musician, having been born in an area of Germany known for its music. There in his little Thuringian village, young Martin grew up listening to his mother sing. He joined a boys' choir that sang at weddings and funerals. He became proficient with the flute (recorder), and his volcanic emotions often erupted in song.

    When the Protestant Reformation began, Luther dtermined to restore worship to the German Church. He worked with skilled musicians to create new music for Christians, to be sung in the vernacular. He helped revive congregational singing and wrote a number of hymns.

    Often he "borrowed" popular secular melodies for his hymns, though occasionally, a tune brought criticism and he was "compelled to let the devil have it back again" because it was too closely associated with bars and taverns.

    In the forward of a book, Luther once wrote: "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits.... A person who... does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God... does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs."

    Luther's most famous hymn is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott," - "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Based on Psalm 46, it reflects Luther's awareness of our intense struggle with Satan. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song, saying to his associate, "Come, Philipp, let us sing the 46th Psalm."

    This is a difficult hymn to translate because the original German is so vivid. At least 80 English versions are available. The most popular in America was done by Frederic Henry Hodge. But an older version appeared in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book of 1868:

    A mighty fortress is our God, / A trusty Shield and Weapon; /
    He helps us free from every need, / That hath us now o'ertaken.


    The British version of "A Mighty Fortress" is Thomas Carlyle's translation:

    A safe stronghold our God is still, / A trusty shield and weapon; /
    He'll help us clear from all the ill / That hath us now o'ertaken.
     
  13. Joshua Rhodes

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    Now Thank We All Our God
    1636 A.D.

    An old English preacher once said, "A grateful mind is a great mind," and the Bible agrees. There are 138 passages of Scripture on the subject of thanksgiving, and some of them are powerfully worded. Colossians 3:17 says: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 adds, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

    Unfortunately, few hymns are devoted exclusively to thanking God. Among the small, rich handful we do have is "Now Thank We All Our God." The German Christians sing this hymn like American believers sing "The Doxology," yet it's loved on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world.

    It was written by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), a Lutheran pastor in the littlevillage of Eilenberg, Saxony. He grew up as the son of a poor coppersmith, felt called to the ministry, and after his theological training began his pastoral work just as the Thirty Years' War was raging through Germany.

    Floods of refugees streamed into the walled city of Eilenberg. It was the most desperate of times. THe Swedish army encompassed the city gates, and inside the walls there was nothing but plague, famine, and fear. 800 homes were destroyed, and people began dying in increasing numbers. There was a tremendous strain on the pastors, who expended all their strength in preaching the Gospel, caring for the sick and dying, and burying the dead. One after another, the pastors themselves took ill and perished until at last only Martin Rinkart was left. Some days he conducted as many as 50 funerals.

    Finally the Swedes demanded a huge ransom. It was Martin Rinkart who left the safety of the city walls to negotiate with the enemy, and he did it with such courage and faith that there was soon a conclusion of hostilities, and the period of suffering ended.

    Rinkart, knowing there is no healing without thanksgiving, composed this hymn for the survivors of Elienberg. It has been sung around the world ever since.

    Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
    Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices!
     
  14. Joshua Rhodes

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    The Lord's My Shepherd
    1650 A.D.

    Our oldest hymnal is the Book of Psalms, and Christians throughout history have wanted to obey the biblical injunction to praise the Lord using " psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). John Calvin, quoting Augustine, wrote, "We shall not find better songs nor more fitting for the purpose than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit spoke....And moreover, when we sing them, we are certain that God puts in our mouths these, as if He Himself were singing in us to exalt His glory."

    But the Psalms were originally written in Hebrew, and, when translated, they don't typically have the rhyme or rhythm for easy singing.

    In the early 1640's, Francis Rouse, an English Puritan, rendered all 150 Psalms from the Hebrew into metrical English. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, meeting in Edinburgh, took Rouse's translation and submitted it to revivsion committees. These committees spent six years comparing the meterd Psalms with the original Hebrew, seeking to develop a singable translation that was accurate to the original Hebrew. They worked as painstakingly as if creating a new translation of the Bible.

    Finally in 1650, the Scottish Psalter was released and approved for congregations onthe Church of Scotland. Its full title was: The Psalms of David in Meeter: Newly translated, and diligently compared with the original Text, and former Translations: More plain, smooth, and agreeable to the Text, than any heretofore.

    Though the Scottish Psalter of 1650 is one of the great treasures of hymnody, the only portion widely sung beyond Scotland is its beautiful rendition of Psalm 23, set to the tune "Crimond," which begins:

    The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want.
    He makes me down to lie
    In Pastures green; He leadeth me
    The quiet waters by.


    The melody, "Crimond," was composed about 1870 by a woman named Jessie Seymour Irvine. She was the daughter of the parish minister in the little Scottish town of Crimond, which is also famous for its unusual clock in the church tower. The clockmaker accidentally put six marks into one of the five minute sections on the clock face. As a result, each hour in Crimond is 61 minutes, making a day there 24 minutes longer than anywhere else on earth.

    Well, it just gives a little extra time for singing "The Lord's My Shepherd," I guess. [​IMG]
     
  15. Joshua Rhodes

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    Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
    1674 A.D.

    Before Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts, there was Thomas Ken who has been called "England's first hymnist." He was born in 1637 in Little Berkhampstead on the fringes of greater London. When his parents died, he was raised by his half-sister and her husband who enrolled him in Winchester College, an historic boys' school. Thomas was later ordained to the ministry and returned to Winchester as a chaplain.

    To encourage the devotional habits of the boys, Thomas wrote three hymns in 1674. This was revolutionary because English hymns had not yet appeared. Only the Psalms were sung in public worship. Ken suggested the boys use the hymns privately in their rooms.

    One hymn was to be sung upon waking, another at bedtime, and a third at midnight if sleep didn't come. His morning hymn had 13 stanzas, beginning with:

    Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run;
    Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise, to pay thy morning sacrifice.


    His evening hymn, equally meaningful, included this verse:

    All praise to Thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light!
    Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, beneath Thine own almighty wings.


    All three hymns ended with a common stanza, which has since become the most widely-sung verse in the world.

    Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; / Praise Him, all creatures here below; /
    Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; / Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


    In 1680, Thomas was appointed chaplain to England's King Charles II. It was a thankless job, as Charles kept a variety of mistresses. Once the king asked to lodge a mistress in the chaplain's residence. Thomas rebuked him, saying, "Not for the King's Kingdom!" Afterward the king referred to him as "that little man who refused lodging to poor Nellie."

    During the reign of the next king, James II, Thomas, by now a bishop, was sent to the Tower of London for his Protestant convictions. After his release, Thomas retired to the home of a wealthy friend where he died on March 11, 1711. He was buried at sunrise, and the Doxology was sung at his funeral.
     
  16. Joshua Rhodes

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    I'll post this origin story for tomorrow, as I will be leaving early to lead worship at a youth event in Pampa, TX, on Saturday. Please be in prayer for the kids, and for us as we worship and share the gospel with these youth. In His Grip, joshua

    Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above
    1675 A.D.

    Evangelist Vance Havner once quipped, "When I was a boy, preachers used to talk about 'holding a revival.' What we really need is somebody who will turn a revival loose." Well, that's what Philip Spener did in Germany, spurred on by his friend and attorney, Johann Jakob Schutz.

    Years before, Martin Luther had been all aflame as he established the Protestant Reformation, and the early Lutherans were firebrands of holy zeal. But a generation later, Lutheranism had lost its steam. By the 1600's church life tended to be formal and shallow. The doctrine was correct, but cold. That's when Philip Spener accepted the call to pastor the Lutheran Church in Frankfort am Main. Rather than preaching from the prescribed texts, he began preaching through the entire Bible, calling for repentance and serious discipleship. In 1669, as he preached from the Sermon on the Mount, revival broke out in the church. People were converted, lives changed, families transformed.

    No one was more excited that Johann Schutz, a lifelong resident of Frankfort and prominent city attorney. He suggested Spener take some of these converts and disciple them in small, home prayer and Bible study groups. Spener did so, and it became the talk of the town. These people were called "Pietists" in derision, but the revival spread throughout Germany and is known to history as the "Pietistic Movement."

    Out of his joy for what was happening, Johann Schutz wrote a hymn in 1675:

    Sing praise to God Who reigns above, the God of all creation,
    The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.
    With healing balm my soul is filled and every faithless murmur stilled:
    To God all praise and glory.


    Schutz died in Frankfort at age 49, on May 22, 1690. But his hymn lives on. It was first published in the United States in 1879, where it appeared in Hymnbook for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Schools and Congregations. It is sung to a traditional Bohemian melody name "Kirchengesange."

    The story of Spener and Schutz reminds us we should never give up on revival. If you don't see a revival starting around you, let it begin in your own heart, then let it overflow to others.
     
  17. Joshua Rhodes

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    Fairest Lord Jesus
    1677 A.D.

    This hymn came from Roman Catholic Jesuits in Germany and originally had six verses. It first appeared in 1677 in a Jesuit hymnbook titled Munster Gesangbuch, but the text of the hymn was in existence at least 15 years earlier, for it has been found in a manuscript dating back to 1662. Yet the origin of the words remains a mystery.

    Who translated it into English? That, too, is largely a mystery. The first three stanzas are the work of an anonymous translator. The fourth stanza was by Joseph A. Seiss, and it first appeared in a Lutheran Sunday School book in 1873.

    How appropriate that no human auther draws attention from the great theme of this song. There's no source to distract from the subject, no story to detract from the Savior.

    This hymn emphasizes the beauty and wonder of Christ, and it alludes to His dual nature, that He was both human and divine, God made flesh, the God-Man: O Thou of God and man the Son.... Son of God and Son of Man....

    It brings to mind one of the greatest observations ever made about Christ, uttered by the "Golden-mouthed" preacher of Antioch, John Chrysostom, in a fourth-century sermon: "I do not think of Christ as God alone, or man alone, but both together. For I know He was hungry, and I know that with five loaves He fed 5000. I know He was thirsty, and I know that He turned water into wine. I know He was carried in a ship, and I know that He walked on the sea. I know that He died, and I know that He raised the dead. I know that He was set before Pilate, and I know that He sits with the Father on His throne. I know that He was worshiped by angels, and I know that He was stoned by the Jews. And truly some of these I ascribe to the human, and others to the divine nature. For by reason of this He is said to have been both God and man."

    Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
    Son of God and Son of Man!
    Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
    Now and forevermore be thine.
     
  18. Joshua Rhodes

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    Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty
    1680 A.D.

    This hymn was written by Joachim Neander, born in 1650, whose father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather - all Joachim Neanders - had been preachers of the gospel. But as a student, Joachim was wild and rebellious. At 20, he joined a group of students who descended on St. Martin's Church in Bremen to ridicule and scoff the worshippers. But the sermon that day by Rev. Theodore Under-Eyck arrested him and led to his conversion. A few years later, he was the assistant preacher at that very church.

    Joachim often took long walks near his home in Hochdal, Germany. They were worship walks, and he frequently composed hymns as he strolled, singing them to the Lord. He was the first hymnwriter from the Calvinist branch of Protestantism. When he was 30 - the year he died - he wrote this while battling tuberculosis:

    Praise Ye the Lord, The Alimighty, the King of Creation.
    O my soul praise Him, for He is Thy health and Salvation.


    One of Joachim's favorite walking spots was a beautiful gorge a few miles from Dusseldorf. The Dussel River flowed through the valley, and Joachim Neander so loved this spot that it eventually was named for him - Neander Valley. The Old German word for "Valley" was "tal" or "thal" with a silent "h."

    Two hundred years later Herr von Beckersdorf owned the valley, which was a source for limestone, used to manufacture cement. In 1856, miners discovered caves which contained human bones. Beckersdorf took the bones to a local science teacher who speculated they belonged to one who died in the Flood.

    But when William King, an Irish professor of anatomy, saw the bones, he claimed they were proof of evolution's famous "Missing Link." Other Neanderthal fossils were found, and for many years they were used to "prove" Darwin's theory of evolution. Today we know the Neanderthal was fully human, an extinct people group of great strength.

    But, as one expert put it, "when Joachim Neander walked in his beautiful valley so many years ago, he could not know that hungreds of years later his name would become world famous, not for his hymns celebrating creation, but for a concept that he would have totally rejected: human evolution."
     
  19. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes
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    Behold the Savior of Mankind
    1700 A.D.

    Samuel Wesley, Sr. was a penniless and unpopular Anglican pastor in tiny Epworth, England, and it riled him that his wife's kitchen Bible studies were more popular than his own sermons. Though they truly loved each other, Susanna once exclaimed, "It is a misfortune peculiar to our family that he and I seldom think alike."

    Epworth's citizens, too, found Samuel dogmatic and often severe, and some expressed their disapproval in appalling ways. His crops were burned, his livestock maimed, and on February 9, 1709, his house was torched. Susanna was awakened by sparks falling onto the bed. Samuel cried, "Fire! Fire!" The thatched roof exploded, and the flames spread like a sheet of lightning. The parents, flying to rescue their children, were almost trapped. But everyone finally managed to escape through windows and the garden door. Or so they thought.

    Peering back, they saw five-year-old John's terrified face pressed against an upstairs window. Instantly a human ladder wsa formed; and just as the house caved in, John was snatched to safety. He never forgot the rescue: "I remember the circumstances as distinctly as though it were but yesterday. Seeing the room was very light, I put my head out and saw streaks of fire on top of the room. I... ran to the door, but could get no further, the floor beyond it being in a blaze. I climbed up a chest that stood near a window."

    Among the things that perished that night was the manuscript of Samuel's compositions. He had often found relief in penning devotional poetry and hymns. He had hoped in this way to meet his family's financial needs - and to be remembered by posterity. That night, all was lost.

    Well, almost all. Somehow one hymn was rescued. Appropriately, it was about another preacher with Whom Samuel identified, One Who was likewise disdained and attacked.

    This is the only known surviving hymn from the father of the famous Wesley brothers, but it became the forerunner for the many wonderful hymns that later flowed from the pen of Samuel's hymn-writing son, Charles:

    Behold the Savior of mankind
    Nailed to the shameful tree!
    How vast the love that Him inclined
    To bleed and die for thee!
     
  20. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes
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    Behold the Glories of the Lamb
    1707 A.D.

    Isaac Watts, Sr. was a clothier and a deacon in Above Bar Congregational Church in Southampton, England. He and his wife, Sarah were "Dissenters" - Non-Anglicans - a treasonous offense in those days. About the time Isaac, Jr. prematurely arrived, July 17, 1674, the elder Watts was arrested. Sarah reportedly nursed her newborn while seated on a stone outside the prison.

    In time Watts was released, and the young couple soon discovered they had a precocious child. Young Isaac took to books almost from infancy. He learned Latin at age four, Greek at nine, and Hebrew at thirteen. He loved rhyme and verse. At age seven, he wrote this poem in childish script. Notice the acrostic - ISAAC:

    I am a vile polluted lump of earth
    So I've continued ever since my birth
    Although Jehovah grace does give me
    As sure this monster Satan will deceive me
    Come, therefore, Lord, from Satan's claws relieve me.

    After Isaac graduated from grammer school in Southampton, a wealthy benefactor offered to send him to Oxford. But that would have required his becoming Anglican. Politely declining, Isaac enrolled in a college-level school for Dissenters in Stoke Newington, London, where he excelled.

    After graduation from college, Isaac, about 19, returned to Southampton. He complained to his father about the dismal singing at church. Only versified arrangements of the Psalms were used. Martin Luther taught his followers to sing hymns, but John Calvin allowed only the singing of Scriptures. After a heated discussion, his father challenged Isaac to write a hymn.

    Centering his thought on Revelation 5, he did so. This was the first of Isaac's 600+ hymns, and has been called the first English hymn designed for congregational use. (It was published in 1707.) Above Bar Congregational Church liked Isaac's hymn so much, they requested a new one each week. Isaac, about 20, gladly complied. Those two years in Southampton became the richest hymn-writing period in Isaac Watts' life. Though barely out of school, he composed hymns that are still sung nearly three centuries later, earning him the title, "Father of English Hymnody."
     

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