April 10, 2012

The Christian Life in Hymns

Note: during college, one of my dorm-mate's dad wrote this, and gave us permission to share it and use it. I don't know his name, but want to give him the credit for this neat piece!

How to get a Soul Stirring from Songs and Hymns
Since Jesus Came into My Heart, I Love to tell the Story how I read in My Mother's Bible that Christ Receiveth Sinful Men.  

One Day, Love Lifted Me to Higher Ground and now I Know Whom I Believed and I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. I Surrender All, so I'll keep Living For Jesus and Follow On Where He Leads Me.

Since Now I Belong to Jesus, He is All I Need and I am Resolved to Bring Them In so that they also can kneel Beneath the Cross of Jesus and be Saved by the Blood, then experience what it's like to be Never Alone.

So together, let's Only Trust Him, have A Passion for Souls, and stay in The Service of the King. What a Day that Will Be when I will Praise Him, along with you, then He the Pearly Gates will Open and He Will Lead Me while we're Face to Face.

If I reach The Haven of Rest before you, Stand Up Stand up for Jesus, Look to the Lamb of God, keep Resting in His Promises, and Fight the Good Fight until Some Golden Daybreak We Gather Together Under His Wings, where we'll Praise the Savior while Dwelling in Beulah Land. Oh, What a Day That will Be!!

April 3, 2012

Hymn History: Have I Done My Best For Jesus?

Edward Spencer was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He was a budding Olympic swimmer, the first to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics. He had the strength and potential to do much more as an Olympic swimmer, if it hadn’t been for that one fateful day.

Northwestern University sat on the banks of Lake Michigan, which is known for its sudden storms. Ed was studying in the library one day when he heard the news that a boat, the Lady Elgin had collided with another boat and was sinking. People were drowning, and nothing could be done because of the strong currents.

Ed ran from the library to the shores of the lake. He saw that the situation was indeed serious...people were floating in the icy waters, close enough to shore for their cries of help to be heard, but unable to swim to safety because of severe undertow.

Without a hesitation, Ed stripped himself of excess clothing and dove into the icy, rolling waves. He was able, with his olympic strength, to reach the first person and bring them to shore. He repeated this heroic act several more times before onlookers and friends began to say, “Ed, you’ve got to stop. You’ve done all you can. You’ll kill yourself if you keep going!” Ed did not hesitate. He replied, “I’ve got to do my best,” and plunged again into the water.

Ed rescued 17 people in 16 trips in that pitching, rolling storm. After the 16th trip he collapsed unconscious on the shore, unable to go on. He lay there repeating, “Have I done my best fellows? Have I done my best?” All night he battled for his life in the infirmary, continually repeating, “Have I done my best fellows? Have I done my best?”

Ed Spencer had done his best - but it cost him his health and his future as a champion swimmer. He lived the rest of his life as a semi-invalid in Phoenix, Arizona. It was there in a humble cottage that Ensign Edwin Young found him. Mr. Young had heard his story and heard that he could be found in Arizona, and so went looking for this hero. He found a man no longer a robust athlete, but a shadow of the strong man he once was.

During the course of their visit, Mr. Young commended him for his heroic action and asked how he had been recognized during his life by the people who’s lives he had saved that day. With tears streaming down the invalid’s cheeks, he replied, “Not one ever came back to even say thank you.”
It was the retelling of this story that led Ensign Edwin Young to write, “Have I Done My Best for Jesus?”

Despite the fact that none of the survivors recognized Ed Spencer’s heroic act, the students of the Northwestern University did not forget him. A large plaque in his honor hangs on a campus wall with this inscription:

To commemorate the heroic endeavors of Edward W. Spencer, 1st Northwestern student life saver. This tablet is erected by the class of 1898. At the wreck of the Lady Elgin, off Winnetka, Sept 8, 1860. Spencer swam through the heavy surf 16 times, rescuing 17 persons in all. In the delirium of exhaustion which followed, his oft-repeated question was: Did I do my best?”

I wonder have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calvary!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.

How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?

The hours that I have wasted are so many
The hours I’ve spent for Christ so few;
Because of all my lack of love for Jesus,
I wonder if His heart is breaking too.

I wonder have I cared enough for others,
Or have I let them die alone?
I might have helped a wand’rer to the Saviour,
The seed of precious Life I might have sown.

No longer will I stay within the valley
I’ll climb to mountain heights above;
The world is dying now for want of someone
To tell them of the Saviour’s matchless love.

How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?


March 27, 2012

Hymn History: He Lives!

Alfred H. Ackley was born on January 21, 1887. His father, a Methodist preacher and musically gifted man, gave Alfred his foundation in music at an early age. Alfred went on to study harmony and composition in New York and London. His specialty was cello. Over time, he felt a call to preach and pastored for many years, but never stopped writing music and hymns.

One particular morning, Easter Sunday in 1932, Rev. Ackley was preparing for his services of the day. As he was shaving, he tuned in to the radio in time to hear a special Easter broadcast.

“Good morning!” The well-known liberal preacher began. “It’s Easter! You know folks, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The man thing is, His truth goes marching on!”

Rev. Ackley was furious. “It’s a lie!” he shouted at the radio set, forgetting that the speaker could not hear him.

Mrs. Ackley did hear him, however, and questioned, “Why are you shouting so early in the morning?”

“Didn’t you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?” he replied. “He said it didn’t matter whether Christ be risen or not!”

Rev. Ackley knew that the truth of the resurrection DID matter, as evidenced by a conversation he had had with a young Jewish man just a few weeks prior. “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” the young man asked; to which Rev. Ackley had replied, “That’s the whole point. He isn’t dead; He’s alive!”

Rev. Ackley, in telling the story later, said that he preached that Easter Sunday quite differently than he had ever preached before, but at the end of the day, still felt that he had not yet said everything he wanted to say!

His wife sized up the situation and said, “Listen here, Alfred Ackley, it’s time you did that which you can do best. Why don’t you write a song about it and then maybe you’ll feel better. You’ll have something that will go on telling the story.”

That very night, Rev. Alfred Ackley wrote out the words, and then composed the melody just as it appears in our hymnals today.

I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho’ my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

He lives, he lives Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!

Adapted from Music in the Air, Mark Ward Sr. and Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories

March 23, 2012

The Best Of: Easter Activities Edition

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

Susan Paradis has a  new worksheet Bunny Basics (as well as a whole host of other Easter activities...which you should be able to see if you go here.)

Melody at The Plucky Pianista has several Easter activities: an Easter Egg Scramble, Easter Egg Scavenger hunt in Middle C position, Easter Egg Scavenger hunt Elementary,  and Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt Early Elementary

Pianoanne says Hooray for Eggs! =)

I am sure there will be more links as Easter draws closer. For now, does anyone know of any I've missed?

Have some great online musical content that you don't see featured? Perhaps I don't know about it! Leave me a comment so I can check it out! =)

March 20, 2012

Hymn History: His Name Is Wonderful

Audrey Mieir was used by God to write this chorus that has become a favourite in the gospel field, and she tells the story of its writing this way:

“Christmas came on Sunday that year and for once His birth seemed more important to everyone than toys and presents. Fragrant pine boughs perfumed the air in our little Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California. A kind of hushed expectancy filled the place as ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ swelled from the organ. All heads were bowed, eyes were closed, and an occasional tear rolled down a wrinkled cheek - remembering 50, 60, even 70 other Christmases, thankful for the love of God and family, their presents and His presence! Little children sat impatiently anticipating the re-creation of the old, old story - their eyes sparkling, reflecting Christmas tree lights, not wanting to miss anything including the Christmas play, afterward the dinner and presents which were stacked and waiting.

The curtain opened. There it was as it would be depicted countless times that day, the humble manger scene. Mary was a shy teenager, cheeks flushed with excitement, holding someone’s baby doll close in her arms. A young Joseph hovered over her, his smooth face discreetly hidden in old drapery. A beautiful angel glittered and shone, out-brillianced only by the flashing smile for mom and dad in aisle two. Her halo had slipped precariously to one side. Eleven-year-old shepherds shuffled down the aisle with unmistakable reticence, their jeans peeking out form under dad’s old robe.

The procession halted and the choir sang, “Sleep in heavenly peace.” Dr. Luther Mieir’s voice filled the small church - ‘His name is wonderful,’ he said with his hands lifted heavenward. And I - I heard the familiar rustling of angel wings. I did not know at that strangely moving moment that a once-in-a-lifetime experience was about to happen. As I grabbed my old Bible and wrote in it, more than with any other of my songs, I felt as if I were only a channel, as if I were not otherwise involved

God blessed ‘His Name Is Wonderful’ and it seemed to capture people’s hearts but one day I met Tim Spencer who said to me, ‘Audrey, it’s a good song but there just isn’t enough of it. Maybe you could write a bridge for it.’ he explained the word to me and showed me how I could extended the song and enlarge the blessing of its message. I was just on my way to lunch. After I had ordered my hamburger, I began to think of Tim’s suggestion and so I opened my Bible there in the booth to the concordance and began to run my finger down the list of names given to Jesus in the Scripture. I wrote them down on my napkin. After I had returned to the office, I went to the piano and finished the song.

At that moment, I did not foresee the ministry one little song of praise could have and that I would hear it sung all around the world. I heard it in Sweden, all through Korea, and the Philippines. Never shall I forget the thousands of students in Hong Kong lifting it heavenward from their roof top schools; nor hearing it sung in the Garden of Gethsemane - and experience that was truly ‘joy unspeakable!’”

God bless you, Audrey Mieir, and thank you for the immortal “His Name Is Wonderful!”

Adapted from Al Smith's Treasury of Hymn Histories

His Name is Wonderful,
His Name is Wonderful,
His Name is Wonderful,
Jesus my Lord.

He is the Mighty King
Master of everything,
His Name is Wonderful
Jesus my Lord.

He's the Great Shepherd
The Rock of all ages
Almighty God is He!

Bow down before Him
Love and adore Him
His Name is Wonderful,
Jesus my Lord.

March 16, 2012

Best Of: Little Things Edition

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

A Little Thought: "Thought for the week"

A Little Truth: "This Quote Should Be on Every Wall of my Studio"

A Little Note: "You Know You Are Doing Ok When"

A Little Game: "The Amazing Keyboard Race"

A Little Arrangement (just released!): "How Great Thou Art"

A Little Humor: Cocktails? During piano lessons?

Hope everyone had a fabulous March break!!

Have some great musical blog content that you don't see featured? Perhaps I don't know about it! Leave me a comment so I can check it out! =)

March 13, 2012

Hymn History: Onward Christian Soldiers

The Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1864. He must have been an interesting man, for he was not content to merely propose to his future bride, but he also performed the ceremony! It must have been quite an experience to hear the officiating minister ask himself, “Will you, Sabine, take this woman, Grace, to be your lawful wedded wife?” and then reply to himself, “I will.” Anyway, when the bride kissed the groom she was kissing the minister at the same time. Whether he took the fee out of his left pocket and deposited it in his right after the ceremony has never been determined.

Pentecost, the Sunday that comes fifty days after Easter, is knowing in England as Whitsunday, an abbreviation of White-Sunday, from the custom of wearing white on that occasion. The day following, Whitmonday, is a legal as well as a Church holiday. On Whitmonday, 1865, Rev. Baring-Gould had arranged an outing for the children of his parish, including a hike from his own Church to a nearby village. Knowing that children like to march, and also how difficult it is for their elders to keep them together unless they are marching, he asked his helpers to find a good marching hymn to help them keep order during the hike.

The helpers could find no such hymn. Since Rev. Baring-Gould had already written other hymns, several of the parishioners suggested that he write his own marching hymn.

Unperturbed, this thiry-one-year-old pastor did just that. With no thought of writing a hymn for a nation at war, little dreaming that his stanzas would ever be so misconstrued, and taking a theme from Haydn’s “Symphony in D” for his music, he dashed off five stanzas of this thrilling hymn.

Rev. Baring-Gould lived to the age of ninety and wrote over eighty-five books, but he is more often remembered for one of the most militant marching hymns in all Christendom.

An interesting note: both this hymn and another of Sabine Baring-Gould’s hymns are written in the same metrical pattern: The first and third lines have six syllables; the second and fourth contain 5 syllables, with the whole pattern being doubled into a poem of eight lines.
Adapted from "Living Stories of Famous Hymns," Ernest K. Emurian