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
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
Perhaps you’ve seen the video titled “Good-o-Meter.” It was created to combat the idea that our good works “earn” us a place in heaven. I’ve linked to it to save you my written description, but notice particularly what happens starting around 2:15. Jesus takes the place of the man in line, and His being “good enough” gets the other person into heaven. Continue reading
James Montgomery (1771–1854) is considered by many to have been one of the foremost hymnists of the first half of the 19th century. He was both a lyricist and an editor of hymnals, perhaps best known on the latter front for The Christian Psalmist (1825), wherein he penned an essay that offered a commentary on quality in the writing of sacred verse. He is generally credited for some 400 texts; some sources list more than 650, but in scanning the list, many appear to be variations of the same base text.
There are several of Montgomery’s texts which endured in the repertoire of God’s people. One such is the hymn, “In the Hour of Trial.” The title itself comes from Revelation 3.10, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (NKJV). The focus of the text, especially in the first verse, is Peter’s denial of Jesus at the latter’s trial. Thus, the title takes on a double meaning. On one hand, it can refer to the literal hour in which Jesus was being tried by the Jews. On the other, the primary meaning is our own “hour of trial,” when we face temptation. Continue reading
One of the greatest hymns of all time for meditating on the sacrifice of the Savior on the cross is “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed.” The text was written by Isaac Watts, regarded in many circles to be one of the greatest hymn lyricists—if not the greatest—of all time. According to the website hymnary.org, this is Watts’ most frequently published text, and the seventh such among all writers. The tune commonly associated with this text in more recent years (HUDSON), was composed by Ralph E. Hudson, who also (infamously, among many) wrote a chorus from which this text derives its other name, “At the Cross.” Continue reading