Posts Tagged ‘traditional hymns’

Bicentenary Celebration of the Birth of Joseph Scriven – Author of “What a Friend we have in Jesus”

August 28, 2019

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On 10th September next it will be 200 years since the birth of hymn writer Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1819-1886) and I hope to use the occasion to distribute tracts, based on the title of his beautiful hymn. On Saturday 14th September free hourly bus tours of sites connected with the hymn writer will take place in Banbridge, County Down and these can be booked through the Visitor Information centre in the town. I have a lovely early memory of discovering Corbett Lake; near Banbridge and pictured in the old photograph above, it reminds me that Joseph Scriven’s formative years were spent in this area. Joseph did write other hymns and poetry but I believe that “What a Friend we have in Jesus” is sung universally and has been translated into multiple languages.
I have one very personal and poignant memory of the singing of this hymn. One hot Sabbath summer morning far away on the Greek island of Crete, I was feeling downcast as we tried to find an International Evangelical church in a certain town there. Then somewhere on that street, carried on the warm breeze I heard the sweet strains of music and singing in my own language… “What a Friend we have in Jesus…” In that instant I felt the singing of that familiar hymn and the beautiful name “Jesus” touching my very soul and it brought tears to my eyes; I felt the Lord’s Presence very strongly at that moment.
Indeed the singing of the hymn has touched many a troubled heart over the centuries. Little did Joseph Scriven know when he sat down in his little room to pen a few comforting words to his mother who was going through a time of great sorrow, that in years to come those words would touch hearts all across the world. When a Christian neighbour (who helped Joseph in his later years) discovered the manuscript, he asked him who had written these beautiful words, to which Joseph replied… “I wrote it. The Lord and I did it between us.”
Life’s journey, along with happy times, inevitably also brings trials, temptations, grief and trouble but praise God, Jesus our Saviour is a certain Refuge for all who put their trust in Him. Not everyone wants to know about our sorrows but there is “a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) Unlike earthly friends and acquaintances who may indeed “despise, forsake thee,” this Friend is faithful, loving and caring throughout life’s most troubled and sorrowful moments – and He is but a prayer away.
The Bible tells us that “there is One God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5) Do you know this Friend today? He gave His life for you, so that you may have abundant life now – and eternal life in His Presence in the next.
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v11&12) It is better, surely, to repent of your sin now and ask Him into your heart, while on this side of eternity – than to face Him as Judge on that Day when the small and great stand before Him.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7v21) His will is that you repent, commit your life to Him today, obey His Word and trust Him for all your tomorrows.
What a Friend you will have in Him as Saviour – a Friend and Confidant who will all “your sorrows share,” and a Friend who will “take and shield thee” throughout life. Only in His arms will you find the great “solace” for which you seek.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Sing Praises to thy Lord and King: Thoughts on Traditional Hymns

April 25, 2019

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Having returned from more hospital treatment we heard our robin friend singing his little heart out behind our home – and my daughter got a lovely photograph of him! If there is anything I love to hear… it is birdsong. How they love to praise their Creator – and how their song can cheer the weary soul! Around here we have chaffinches, bullfinches, blue tits, great tits, wrens, greenfinches, goldfinches, blackbirds, gold crests, sparrows, swallows, swifts, robins and of course birds of prey like buzzards and long-eared owls. Starlings, curlews, pheasants, crows, jackdaws, pigeons and magpies, although sometimes noisy or with their own peculiar plaintive call, have their songs too!

The Lord wants mankind to praise Him too and it is true that many beautiful hymns have been written to His glory and for the extension of His Kingdom over the centuries. However, for a number of years now I have noted a departure from the traditional hymn, with all its depth and sincere exaltation of the risen Saviour. Not everyone is aware of this, as they may worship in a fellowship or church where traditional hymns are always sung – but these are rare nowadays.

Unfortunately the traditional hymn, rich in doctrine and divine truth, has been discarded in many places, in favour of modern choruses with little depth. What is worse, sometimes their words are far from the truth…

“You’re the Lord of every man…” “Really?” I thought, as I heard these words sung recently. Someone told me once that he felt that some modern choruses were like “the vain repetition of the heathen” and sadly I was inclined to agree with him.

Of course mankind can only truly praise the Lord in song when he owns Him as Lord and Saviour. How many have sat in congregations over the years singing words which did not at all apply to their own spiritual state? Only those who have true communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ can sing out the beautiful words of hymn writers like Frances J. Crosby. Somehow, I feel that only those who know Him as Saviour can truly appreciate and are especially touched by something as simple as a little member of His creation singing sweetly to his heart’s content.

Rich are the moments of blessing

Jesus my Saviour bestows;

Pure is the well of salvation

Fresh from His mercy that flows.

 

Ev…er He walketh beside me,

Bright…ly His sunshine appears,

Spreading a beautiful rainbow

Over the valley of tears.

 

Rich are the moments of blessing,

Lovely, and hallow’d, and sweet,

When from my labour at noon-tide

Calmly I rest at His feet.

 

Why should I ever grow weary?

Why should I faint by the way?

Has He not promised to give me

Strength for the toils of the day?

 

Tho’ by the mist and the shadow

Sometimes my sky may be dim,

Rich are the moments of blessing

Spent in communion with Him.

(F. J. Crosby)