Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music

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Charles Wesley

{reblogged from: http://www.challies.com/}

Charles Wesley

  • Charles WesleyYesterday, Thursday 29MARCH was the  224th anniversary of the death of Charles Wesley, one of history’s most well-known and best-loved hymn writers. His contributions to the English-speaking church are remarkable, which becomes apparent when you read the introduction to his brief biography at ChristianHistory.net:

He was said to have averaged 10 poetic lines a day for 50 years. He wrote 8,989 hymns, 10 times the volume composed by the only other candidate (Isaac Watts) who could conceivably claim to be the world’s greatest hymn writer.

Of these nearly 9,000 hymns, you’ll likely recognize “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” and “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” along with many others.

Duke Divinity School has done the hard work of putting together an organized collection that provides a “standard for scholarly study and citation.” The collection is organized by date of publication in PDFs that seek to match the original published resources. Each PDF also includes an editorial introduction about the resource.

Another online source for Charles Wesley hymns is, of course, CyberHymnal.org. Though this site only lists 265 of his hymns, each page gives you the option of playing a MIDI file of the tune, which is nice if you’ve forgotten (or want to learn) the melody. Once you’ve done that, you may want to search iTunes or Amazon to find a better version of the song.

If you’d like to learn more about his life and work, last year I read (and would recommend) the biography by John Tyson, entitled Assist Me to Proclaim. One thing that struck me in particular was the account of Charles’ humility, which is remarkable considering how talented and prolific his writing was.

I’ve also written a review of a video dramatization of his life and hymns, performed by John Jackman, which I enjoyed and benefited from.

And finally, let me list my favorite Wesley hymns. I find it remarkable and interesting that though Wesley wrote nearly 9,000 hymns, there are only a few that I know and love today. The march of time sifts through the multitude of hymns and allows the very best of them to float to the top. Here are my favorites (in order, even):

  1. And Can It Be
  2. O for a Thousand Tongues
  3. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
  4. Jesus, the Name High Over All
  5. Rejoice, the Lord Is King
  6. Jesus, Lover of My Soul
  7. Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies
  8. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
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Silence – one form of worship.

With all the noise in some churches, it’s a wonder anyone can hear from God…

“My dear Wormwood: Music and silence–how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell–though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express, no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress.”

– From C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, which purports to be the correspondence between Screwtape, under-secretary to the devil, and his   nephew, Wormwood, instructing him in the best ways to tempt the followers of the Enemy, God.

C.S. Lewis died in 1963. Research in noise-making has made considerable progress since then, don’t you think? To learn stillness we must resist our ancient foe, whose craft and power are great, and who is armed with cruel hate. There is One far greater who is on our side. His voice brought stillness to fierce winds and wild waves, and He will surely help us if we put ourselves firmly and determinedly in His presence–“I’m here, Lord. I’m listening.” If no word seems to be forthcoming, remember “it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,” and “when He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Lamentations 3:26; Job 34:29, KJV).

Silence is one form of worship. When the seventh seal was opened (in St. John’s Revelation), there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. What would happen in our homes if we should try to prepare ourselves for those heavenly silences by having just one half-hour when there is no door slamming, no TV, no stereo or video, and a minimum of talk, in quiet voices? Wouldn’t it also be a calming thing just to practice the stillness which is the absence of motion? My father used to have us try this every now and then. Why not try a Quiet Day or even a Quiet Week without the usual noises? It might open vistas of the spiritual life hitherto closed, a depth of communion with the Lord impossible where there is nothing but noise. Does God seem absent? Yes, for most of us He sometimes does. Even at such a time may we not simply be still before Him, trusting that He reads the perplexity we cannot put into words?

Stillness. Perfect stillness. It is a very great gift, not always available to those who would most appreciate it and would find joy in it, and often not appreciated by those who have it but are uncomfortable with it. External noise is inescapable in many places–traffic on land and in the air, sirens, horns, chain saws, loud voices and, perhaps worst of all, screaming rock music with thundering amplification which makes the very ground shudder.

 
I think it is possible to learn stillness–but only if it is seriously sought. God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

 
The stillness in which we find God is not superficial, a mere absence of fidgeting or talking. It is a deliberate and quiet attentiveness–receptive, alert, ready. I think of what Jim Elliot wrote in his Journal: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

– Author: Elisabeth Elliot | Source: Keep A Quiet Heart

the Devil’s music

[This is an excerpt from the article 
If the Devil Were a Musician...by Curtis Hollembeak  
co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. - DM]

In our present culture great derision is attached to the idea that a certain type of music could be labeled the Devil’s music, but let’s consider what kind of music the Devil would produce if he were a musician. His music would be characterized by:

  1. Rebellion against authority, specifically God’s authority (Gen. 3:1, Is. 14:14, Matt. 4:9, Luke 4:6, 7)
  2. Questioning God’s love (Gen. 3:4, 5; Job 1:9-11)
  3. Emphasis on the material and physical instead of the spiritual (Matt. 4:3, Luke 4:3)
  4. Emphasis on man instead of God (Mark 8:33, Matt. 16:23)
  5. Violence (Ez. 28:16)
  6. Promotion of the breaking of God’s moral law (1 Cor. 7:5)
  7. Selfishness and pride (Isa. 14:13, 14; Ez. 28:17)

So, the Devil’s music would be characterized by rebellion against authority, loud and violent sounds that appeal to the physical (the element of music that appeals to the body is the rhythm, or beat), immoral behaviors, selfishness and pride.

As a side note, it is interesting that in Exodus 32:16, 17, when Moses and Joshua came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Law, they mistook the sound of idolatrous music coming from the Israelite camp for the “noise of war.” The music was, presumably, loud, percussive and violent. You will, of course, remember the great rebellion and immorality that also accompanied the idolatry.

Do you know of any musical forms or styles that fit the description of the Devil’s music? You make the call.

Trust And Obey – The Token of Integrity

The Token of Integrity

 

  

“With a servant, a warrior, a child, a subject,” writes Andrew Murray in The New Life, “obedience is indispensable, the first token of integrity.” 

God is my Master, my Captain, my Father, my King. I am servant, warrior, child, subject. What have I to do in any of these cases but obey? 

Integrity means wholeness, unbroken condition, the quality of being unimpaired and sound. An integer is something which is complete in itself, an entity. No one can serve two masters. Divided loyalty will mean impaired obedience. “A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs; he must be wholly at his commanding officer’s disposal” (2 Tm 2:4 NEB). 

O Christ, be Master and Captain of my life. Give me a whole heart united to do your bidding and to do nothing else. Let me hear your voice and no other. Make my life an integer for your glory. Amen. 

 

Trust and Obey

Hymn Writer ~ John H. Sammis, 1846-1919  |  Hymn Music ~ Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Refrain

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Refrain

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Refrain

 

 

 

 

 

Praise Him!

 

Glory in the Highest

Stop, Look, Listen

 by Chris Tomlin

 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord

Psalm 111:2-4, New Living Translation

 

See This Verse In Context

 

ll the earth together declares/ Glory in the highest to You, Lord/ All the earth will sing Your praise/ The moon and stars, the sun and rain

God’s presence is everywhere. Evidence of His greatness is all around you. All you have to do is look and see it. It’s possible to go through everyday and miss it, but if you open your eyes and your heart, you will recognize His majesty everywhere.

• In the sunrise and sunset. How He has timed everything to be perfect, and made it beautiful.

• In rain and snow. How he provides for us in such simple ways.

• In fields of crops and flowers. Giving us beauty and fulfilling our needs.

• In dogs, cats and other pets. Providing unquestionable companionship when we feel like people let us down.

• In friends and family who are our support and speak truth to us.

• In the moon and stars. He placed each one in their place and knows how many there are, and that tells about God’s greatness. But yet He still knows who you are and cares for you.

Take a look around and see how many things in your life show how great and loving God is. And praise Him.

How Great Thou Art 

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!

The Birds Sing!

Although we have no claim on God’s mercies, and although they are altogether undeserved, nonetheless they never cease. We have done much to provoke God and give Him cause to cut off His mercy in our behalf. We have abused His mercy, ignored His mercy, even at times ungratefully accepted His mercy. Still, while God’s mercies may not always be visible, they are always present. The mercies of God may change their form, as the morning light varies from the evening light, but the mercies of God will never cease to give their light. Even chastisement is mercy in disguise; and frequently, under the circumstances which make chastisement necessary, it proves to be more merciful than if God had not chastised us at all.
 
In the ray of sunlight presented by Lamentations 3:22-23 we learn that not only are the mercies of God not consumed, “They are new every morning,” proving the great faithfulness of God.
 
There is great novelty in human life. Each day brings to us new and difficult problems, new and exciting challenges. God’s mercy is ever-present, but the form it takes is ever-changing. God adapts His mercy to our immediate needs of each day. His mercies are not chiseled in stone but are vital and vibrant. We need not exhume the antique mercies which God showered on Moses, Jeremiah, or John. God’s mercies on our behalf are fresh and alive today. As God renews His world by greening it every spring, so too He refreshes and invigorates His people by renewing His mercies to them every morning.
 
With every new morning nature offers a tribute of praise to God’s mercy. The sun rises; the birds sing; the trees sway in the breeze. Shall we alone be silent and ungrateful? Shall the Christian, who has the most reasons to praise God for His mercy, be slow to acknowledge that God’s mercy is renewed to him each day? Will we allow the natural creation of God alone to praise its Creator?
No matter how dark our day may appear to be, let us remember this with Jeremiah, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

~Hymn~

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! 

God Leads Us Along

 

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in a terrible automobile accident. Rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he did not regain consciousness until the next day. When he asked the nurse what he was doing there, she replied, “Don’t try to talk now, just rest. You have been in an accident.”

“Accident? Accident?” exclaimed Dr. Bingham. “There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. This is just an incident in God’s perfect leading.” Our attitude toward the Lord’s leading our steps ought to be the same. When we live righteously before Him, free from known sin, there are no accidents in our lives, only incidents in His perfect leading. Let Him lead you today.

~~

GOD LEADS US ALONG
(G.A. Young, public domain)

In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along.
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads his dear children along.

CHORUS:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the Blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season, and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along.
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along.
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

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