PH&SS


Psalm 145:3 “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Yesterday our small town buried one of my neighbors. The man was widely respected and prominent in our community. One of my daughters had, in times past babysat for their children and was honored in being asked to provide the music for his service. Needless to say, she did her daddy proud. One of her selections was an all-time favorite: “How Great Thou Art” Hearing her sing it reminded me again of how much I love this classic.

This week’s Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs selection was translated from Swedish By Stuart K Hine and made popular by Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team during the latter part of the last century. An excerpt from suite101.com explains the origins of the original nine stanza poem.

The original Swedish text was a poem entitled “O Store Gud,” written in 1886 by a Swedish preacher Carl Boberg, a successful editor of the periodical Sanningsvittnet. Boberg’s inspiration for “How Great Thou Art” came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. “He got caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees.”

The experience prompted Boberg to “fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God.” A nine-stanza poem beginning with the Swedish words “O Store Gud, nar jag den varld beskader” captured his exaltation of how great God is.

Years later, while attending a gathering in the Province of Varmländ, Boberg was surprised to hear the congregation sing his poem to the tune of an old Swedish melody.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

“To ev’ry captive soul…A full deliverance…”

“For a long time people had been crying out for a deeper walk with God. Now it had come and people were so excited about it. They would sing for a while, and then those who had been filled with the Holy Ghost would get up and tell about it, and how wonderful it was. After some testimonies, someone would preach and tell what God had promised. Then it would start all over again, and go on almost all night. If anyone was hungry, they would leave for something to eat and then return as soon as possible.

They would meet early in the morning and start singing. They had no songbook and no piano. But, oh, what singing! One of their main songs was, ‘The Comforter Has Come.’

Excerpt of an eye witness account about the Azuza Street Revival of 1914 by S. Henry McGowan

This week’s Psalms Hymns and Spiritual Songs selection was written well over a century ago by Frank Bottomy and has recently been revived by the Jars Of Clay singing group.

‘The Comforter Has Come’ is another song that I had memorized in my youth and often sang loudly above the noise of the tractor as I worked out in the fields.

The Comforter Has Come

O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let ev’ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last,
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings,
To ev’ry captive soul a full deliverance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings;
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine
To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Frank Bottomy 1890

The song, “It Is Well With My Soul” Has throughout the years been especially meaningful to Marlene and myself. It is a song that has been born out of great adversity and has stood the test of time.
This hymn was written in 1873 by Horatio Spafford In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean near the place where his four daughters had previously died in a shipwreck. The Spafford’s later had three more children. Their daughter Bertha Spafford Vestor spent most of her adult life doing relief work in the city of Jerusalem.

click here to hear Wintley Phipps sing this week’s edition of Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

This week’s Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs edition is Lob Song, a translation of a sixteenth century Amish hymn. Lob Song (Praise Song) was traditionally sang as the second hymn at every Amish worship service. It was written by Leonard Clock, a Mennonite minister from southern Germany. An old song book claims that Clock wrote “over 400 worthwhile and edifying songs.”

 

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. As a tribute to him, I sang the last verse of Lob Song at his funeral. The Amish tune I used, although extremely slow by modern standards, was not, however, the ‘Slow’ tune. If I remember right, Dad used to claim that Lob Song, sang properly and using the ‘slow tune’ took twenty-two minutes. (Actually I’m second-guessing myself and wondering if he said “twenty-seven minutes.”) Amish hymns achieve this feat by singing each syllable as though it were the line of a song.

 

The following translation is from Songs Of The Ausbund Vol. I, Song 131.

 

O God Father we praise you

And your goodness exalt,

Which you, O Lord so graciously

Have manifested to us anew,

And have brought us together, Lord,

To admonish us through Your Word,

Grant us grace to this

 

Open the mouth, Lord, of your servants,

Moreover grant them wisdom

That they might rightly speak your word,

Which ministers to a godly life

And is useful to your glory,

Give us hunger for such nourishment,

That is our desire.

 

Give our hearts understanding as well

Enlightenment here on earth,

That your word be engrained in us,

That we may become godly

And live in righteousness,

Heeding Your Word at all times,

So man remains undeceived.

 

Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom alone,

And the power altogether.

We praise you in the assembly,

Giving thanks to your name,

And beseech you from the depths of our hearts

That you would be with us at this hour

Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

 I think I’ll call this series PH&SS for Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.

This all-time favorite was written by Johnson Oatman JR. and is based onMicah2:4 Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.

Higher Ground

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

Refrain

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

Refrain

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain