Rise Up, O Men of God!

In 1 Corinthians 16.13, the apostle Paul told the Corinthian brethren, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” These four admonitions would have been calls to the Corinthians to get about the things they needed to be doing. This would have been received much like a military commander marshaling his troops. My Bible cross-references this verse to 1 Samuel 4.9, where the Philistines rallied themselves by calling out, “Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” The idea is for the Corinthians (and us) not to shrink back from the battle before them.

There is always a need for God’s people to step forward and take action. This starts with men of God doing what they need to be doing. The hymn, “Rise Up, O Men of God” (PHASS #516) was written by William P. Merrill, a Presbyterian pastor who ran a men’s program at his church. This hymn was intended to act as a rallying call for men to fill the voids in leadership that Merrill saw in his day, and that we frequently see in ours. Continue reading

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Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

One of our older expressions of praise (particularly in English) is Thomas Ken’s text, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.” It is also referred to as the Doxology (literally, words of glory). It was a final verse for each in a sequence of hymns for devotion throughout the day, but has since become a hymn in its own right. Continue reading

Holy, Holy, Holy!

There are some songs/hymns which are iconic in their purpose. That is, they are fairly universally-recognized for filling a certain role in the assembly. There’s “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” for the Communion. There’s “Give Me the Bible” for a song before a sermon or about the word of God. One of the iconic praise hymns is Reginald Heber’s “Holy, Holy, Holy!” (the hymn is so iconic that it has appeared as #1 in numerous hymnals). It was written in connection with Trinity Sunday (in the liturgical year, the first Sunday after Pentecost) and the tune written for it is named NICAEA after the city where the Nicene Creed was agreed to. The Nicene Creed was the first major credal statement about the three-in-one nature of the Godhead. Revelation 4, one of the source texts, is a prescribed reading for Trinity Sunday in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.

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Thou Art the Way

George W. Doane’s “Thou Art the Way” (PHASS #70) is a hymn based on the statement made by Jesus in John 14.6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” Each of the verses focuses on one part of that statement, and is expressed as a response addressed to Jesus. While not in PHASS, other hymnals include a fourth verse that summarizes the three. Continue reading

I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord

In Matthew 10.32–33, Jesus said, “Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Isaac Watts’ hymn, “I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord” (PHASS #530), is a declaration that we are not ashamed to make such a confession before men. Continue reading

Higher Ground

There are many songs in our repertoire that are favorites of individuals and congregations because they contain the magic combination of an upbeat tempo, a positive message and generally memorable lyrics. “Higher Ground” is one such song. In fact, it is so well-liked that we have two versions in circulation, the original version and a more recent version that changes the musical time signature from 3/4 to 4/4 and has the male voices singing a counter-melody. The original is a staple of hymnals, while the variation appears in Hymns for Worship (Supplement) and some “home-made” church supplements. The overall message of the song is the Christian’s desire to continue to move toward the goal of heaven. Continue reading

In the Hour of Trial (4)

So far, we have looked at the first three verses of James Montgomery’s “In the Hour of Trial.” To recap:

  • In verse 1, we were taken to the scene of Peter’s denial; we implored that when we face temptation, Jesus would keep us from falling because of it.
  • In verse 2, we used Jesus’ willingness to turn aside from the pleasures and treasures of the world in obedience to the Father as encouragement and an example to do the same.
  • In verse 3, we resolved to face life’s struggles in the proper way, understanding that they are for our ultimate benefit.

Now, as we arrive at the final verse, we look at the hope we have as we face the end of life. Continue reading