Each stanza of this hymn combines appreciation of America's beauty with prayers to God for His blessings on and aid for the nation. In petitioning God to “mend [America's] every flaw,” we acknowledge our imperfection as a country. In praying for the unity of brotherhood “from sea to shining sea,” we acknowledge that the disunity that exists is undesirable.
“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” by Cyril Alington (1931)
The story of this hymn has always been about accessibility to the Christmas story. In the late medieval period, there was a tradition of using folk songs to teach illiterate church-goers the Gospel story. This hymn is a good example of that practice. Written in a combination of Latin and German, it would be familiar in both the vernacular and the language of the Church. When set to a familiar folk tune, the people would be able to sing along with ease, and would understand the story.
The opening stanza is about the journey of the Magi to Bethlehem. The middle three stanzas explain a meaning for each of the three gifts. Gold signified royalty, and frankincense, deity. Myrrh foretold that the Christ child was born to die. The last stanza summarizes the song, calling Jesus the “King and God and Sacrifice,” and ending in a peal of alleluias.
“Comfort, Comfort Now My People” by Johann Olearius
Jesus said “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:6,7 ESV) He also said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 ESV) In 1880, the husband of Louisa Stead, author of “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” drowned. Two years later, this hymn was published. It is widely believed that she wrote this hymn in response to the peace she found in trusting Jesus despite her sorrow. Mrs.
This hymnal was added to our site in September:
"Living Gospel Songs and Choruses" published 1925 by Tabernacle Publishing Company (Chicago)
Volunteers completed the editing of the following hymnals:
"Hymns for Creative Living" published 1935 by Judson Press (Philadelphia)
"New Songs of Pentecost" published 1916 by Hall Mack Co. (Philadelphia)
"Himnos de la Iglesia" published, 1995 by Publicadora Lámpara y Luz (Farmington, NM)
In ancient times, people believed that as the planets revolved in the universe, they made music or harmony. This is the belief Maltbie Babcock referred to in the line, “and round me rings the music of the spheres.” Though this belief has since been disproven, we know that objects in space do in fact emit sounds. Even more amazing, the ocean is also making noices at its very lowest and darkest depths - sounds which scientists are still unable to identify. The whole universe is singing a song of its creation, revealing something to us about He who created it.