Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Some biographical information on Paul Baloche:
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
See the following link for information about William Kirkpatrick: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/k/i/r/kirkpatrick_wj.htm
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The ‘we’ Scott Wesley Brown sings may include a swath of missions and activities that he has been supporting. He’s worked with nine different ministries listed on his website (see its link below), including the US Center for World Mission, in order to spread not just music and free musical instruments, but also food, health care, and the Word. He’s been active in ministry in the United States, as a pastor in churches in southern California and in Arizona. No one is an island, someone has noted, a perspective that Brown has adopted as a basic tenet in this song and more broadly in his life of worship. He notes in his biography that he’s visited more than 50 countries and every state in the U.S. His songs are about this journey, and are his confessions too, he says. ‘There is none beside You’, he confesses to God in the refrain of this song, quite a statement for a guy who’s been around the globe and seen so much. Maybe if we all saw as much as Scott Brown has, more of us would sing, and radiate these words. Time to get off the couch, and outta the pew, and worship.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the above was a familiar verse to Henry Smith, especially in 1978 when he wrote “Give Thanks”. Had he just been hired to his dream-job? How about a healing, so that he overcame a dreaded disease? No, neither of those was true. Indeed, the opposite was Henry’s reality. Nevertheless, he had several reasons to assume an upbeat emotional posture, despite some of the melancholy circumstances that plagued his life. Perhaps when Henry Smith read the Apostle Paul’s admonition, the key word for him was the tiny three-letter adjective, ‘all’. What equation do you use when evaluating the sum of life?
Henry Smith must have seen life this way: God’s side of the equation outweighs whatever is on the opposite side. At least, that’s what the words he wrote indicate. God is the ‘all’ of existence, so that I am called to ‘give thanks’ six times in the song’s opening words. When I’m done here on planet Earth, all that will matter is what lies ahead – in God’s presence. That must have been alluring for Henry Smith, who was struggling to find steady work, despite having just earned his college degree. When he says ‘the poor’ are rich in “Give Thanks”, that’s an echo from his difficulty in finding work. His eyesight was also failing because of a degenerative condition that would eventually leave him legally blind, certainly a ‘weakness’ that he expressed in the song as his eyesight faded. Thankfully, theological training informed him that God’s side of the equals sign was what mattered. And other parts of his life further motivated the song that leapt from his heart. He’d found someone to love, his future wife. And, he was grateful to be through school, which his deteriorating vision had made difficult, and to be back home in a church he loved in Williamsburg, Virginia. If God was all Henry Smith had in 1978, He could be praised, and yet He provided even more. It’s no surprise that Smith’s heart overflowed in a song. And, the song resounds still in Henry Smith’s hometown and around the globe today.
On the opposite side of the globe, it’s said that “Give Thanks”, when hummed by strangers from the West, is recognized by Chinese Christians who are otherwise reluctant to reveal their faith. And, Henry Smith is able to play a bass guitar or the keyboard to offer songs at a church in the U.S. today, despite being blind. These two facts say physical circumstances may challenge me, but I’m the image-offspring of an unbounded God. Fasten your mind and spirit to this seminal fact, and give thanks.
The source for Henry Smith’s “Give Thanks” song story is the book “Our God Reigns: The Stories behind Your Favorite Praise and Worship Songs”, by Phil Christensen and Shari MacDonald, Kregel Publications, 2000. Also see “The Complete Book of Hymns-Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J. and Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. ,2006.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thomas Ken was a rebel. At least, some of his contemporaries probably thought so. He was fired from jobs in the pulpit twice, and even thrown in prison (the Tower of London, see the picture) for his penchant to say exactly what he was thinking. What would you think of a preacher today who had that kind of reputation? What would a rebel do today, something that pushes the envelope, making people squirm? Some of the counter-culturalists might actually cheer to hear someone blast away at perceived corruption of leaders, or of others in positions of authority. But, eventually, a person’s adversaries catch up to him. In Ken’s life, this might be one perspective, but not the only one.
Imagine living among people who thought that songs could only come from scripture, nowhere else. Now, the Psalms are great, and many of our contemporary songs emanate from them, so in one way this thinking makes some sense. But, take it further. Don’t be an independent creative worshipper, and don’t mess with the Lord’s music that He’s given us to sing, or we’ll call you a heretic! This was Thomas Ken’s world, in the 17th Century. So, being who he was, as Anglican Bishop Ken, but definitely with his own opinions, this fellow decided he would compose hymns on his own anyway. In 1673, he wanted to create something that his students to use at Winchester College, so he put together a prayer manual that they could sing to themselves every morning in their rooms. The hymns in it, from which the song Doxology comes, were for morning, evening, and midnight, and the song was originally named “Awake My Soul and with the Sun”. It’s a measure of Ken’s devotion, the background to this song, that he created not just for himself, but for those he was mentoring. The song itself was rather like Ken telling them, as they sang something extra-scriptural, intentionally, ‘your devotion to the Lord is your own business’.
Ken could have written a revolutionary song, one with a verse or two. This song when he wrote it had 11 verses! Still, he did seem to instruct his students to sing it only outside of the formal worship services, so Bishop Ken wasn’t completely out of touch with his culture. In a turn that even in his own death may have made him smile, Thomas Ken’s song, this one he instructed his students to keep to themselves, was sung at his funeral. Thomas Ken was in good company, in being a critic of the establishment, and yet in it. There was another, a long time ago, who also got in trouble with the religious elite. You’ve probably guessed who it is already. Jesus. That’s food for thought when you sing to Him. It’s between you and Him when you sing.
Information on the song was obtained from the books “101 Hymn Stories”, by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, 1982; and “Amazing Grace – 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions”, by Kenneth W. Osbeck, 1990. See also the following links for historical information on the song and its many verses: