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My Favorite Hymn – Part Two

Part Two
March 15, 2017

Now for the rest of the responses to our survey:

Nelma’s favorite hymn is “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Donald Thompson, from Carmichael, California, wrote:

My favorite hymn is : “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” The reason being that I love the tune and the message.

I have had many disappointments and failures in my life, and there have been times when I felt God had abandoned me. In times like these this great hymn has given me encouragement, and the assurance that He has not left me to serve alone. His love has never let me go. His own son thought He had forsaken Him, but was fully assured that this was not the case. Through my tears, and through my fears the words of the hymn: “I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.” Even though there may be some undesirable things in our life that will never change, the hymn points us to the time when these pains and disappointments in our life will be no more.”

Lois Rowell Karlsberger of Ohio, wrote:

I am responding to Blog #8, Series #8 of February 15. What a wonderful request for favorite hymns and why they are meaningful!

I’ll be interested to have news of the responses. I am sure this request will be a blessing to your readers.

My response is attached. I do enjoy the blog!

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“Under His Wings” was written in 1896 by William O Cushing—minister and poet—and set to music by Ira D. Sankey—gospel composer associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody. The verses of this hymn and its refrain include quotations from two well-known passages of Scripture: The Ninety-first Psalm and the closing verse of Romans, Chapter 8. Together with its flowing and lyrical tune, this precious hymn has brought me comfort, assurance, and peace—from the time I first heard it sung in the northern California church of my childhood.

Closely linked with “Under His Wings” is a memory picture from long ago. On a dark morning in January 1956 at our home in Angwin, California, my father is reclining in his chair. Gravely ill, he has only a few days to live. My mother stands close behind him, holding his hand. Together they are reciting the Ninety-first Psalm, each helping the other to recall every verse.

A few years before, Dad had encouraged me, then in my early teens, to memorize this wonderful Psalm. “On a wakeful night,” he gently told me, “the words will quiet your mind and let you rest.” Now, looking back over these many years, I can truly say that his counsel was wise and faithful. And as I grow older, I cling ever closer to the beloved Psalm and the cherished hymn—taken together, a blessed affirmation of the eternal, unfailing love of our heavenly Father.

“He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:4.
“[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39.

Traci Reust wrote:

Since receiving your email last week I have been pondering the question about my favorite hymn. My life has been surrounded by hymns as I grew up in the church and currently sing the hymns in corporate and personal worship times. Then, the thought struck me to share the hymns which the Lord has used to minister to my soul at various times in my life. So, if you allow me, I would like to submit three hymns as my favorites.

First of all, “Jesus Paid it All” was the hymn which launched me on this believer’s journey. The straight forward message of the chorus – “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow” – reflects my basic understanding of accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord. My gratefulness of the saving act of Jesus Christ is truly summed up in the words of this hymn.

Next, “The Solid Rock” has been the hymn aiding me into mature growth in my walk with Christ. I really love how this hymn tells the entire gospel story in a few short stanzas – our hope is built on Jesus’ righteousness, we can rest on His unchanging grace, standing faultless before the throne dressed in His righteousness! And, I really appreciate the analogy in the title and chorus of Christ being our solid rock because life can sometimes feel like sinking sand!

Finally, “It Is Well With My Soul” reflects, for me, the struggles and challenges of life we all experience and the choices we can make about those hard times. Will I persevere in my faith even though sorrows roll? I especially love the line “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul.” In God’s Word I believe we are taught that life will offer struggles and challenges, yet we do not carry those burdens alone for Jesus bears it with us. Praise the Lord, O my soul!

Thank you for sharing one of your readers’ questions! This was a delightful exercise to recall how the Lord has used hymns in my life to teach me of His providential love and grace for me!

And, in conclusion, since Peter and Jill Grenfell asked Connie and me to weigh in on our favorite hymns too, we’ll do so.

Connie categorically declares that “How Great Thou Art” is her favorite hymn. Reason being, “that it feeds my soul!”

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As for me, it would have to be an old hymn titled, “He Is Calling.” I first heard it sung out of that venerable horizontal hymn book titled Christ in Song. It was first copyrighted by F. E. Belden in London, in 1908. My edition was published by the Review & Herald Publishing Association. Containing almost a thousand hymns, it was subtitled “The Largest Gospel Song and Standard Tune Collection.”

If you ever wanted to acquire the most beloved hymns ever featured in one hymn book, this is the one for you. As a child, I loved, “Ring the Bells of Heaven,” “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life,” “Tell Me the Old, Old Story,” “Under His Wings,” “Seeking the Lost,” “Abide With Me,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Like a Little Candle.”

But, as I said earlier, I loved “He Is Calling” [sometimes referred to as “There’s a Wideness”]. Long before I was old enough to think about the meaning much, I was enthralled by the refrain, especially when I heard bassos tackle the deep descent.

It was considerably later, though, when I realized why I really loved it most: It was because it reveals why it is that we love Jesus so much. Not doctrine. Not creed. Just Jesus.

Written by Faber, it is also often sung as an alto solo.

The first stanza has always appealed to me because, even when I was a small child, I personally related to the wideness of the sea. It was later in life before I understood “the kindness in his justice” — or as Victor Hugo put it in Les Miserables: “The Tear in the Eye of the Law.” Here are the lines:

1. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
    Like the wideness of the sea;
    There’s a kindness in his justice,
    Which is more than liberty.

2.  There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour;
There is healing in his blood.

3. There’s no place where earthly sorrows,
    Are more felt than up in heav’n;
    There’s no place where earthly failings,
    Have such kindly judgment giv’n.

4. For the love of God is broader
    Than the measure of man’s mind;
    And the heart of the Eternal
    Is most wonderfully kind.

5. But we make his love too narrow,
    By false limits of our own;
    And we magnify his strictness
    With a zeal he will not own.

6. If our love were but more simple,
    We should take him at his word;
    And our lives would be all sunshine
    In the sweetness of our Lord.

(Sung after each stanza)

   He is calling, “Come to me”;
   Lord, I gladly follow thee!

Lines that create a mosaic of a God we can all relate to and love.

Now I ask of you: Read each line out loud, slowly,. All the while asking yourself: If this line captures the essence of our Lord . . . am I reflecting that kindness and love to all those I interact with each day? Kindness. Mercy. Wideness of His love and mercy. Do we make His love too narrow? Do we magnify [and distort] His strictness with a zeal our Lord would not condone?

If there was ever a hymn that internalizes the Didache (in Matthew 22:37-40), this would be it: The simplicity of the Gospel.