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Featured Hymn for May 12: He leadeth me: O blessed thought!

On a Wednesday evening, Joseph Gilmore was preaching at a mid-week prayer service on the topic of Psalm 23. He wrote later, “I set out to give the people an exposition of the 23rd Psalm, but I got no further than the words ‘He leadeth me.’ Those words took hold of me as they had never done before.

Featured Hymn for April 28: And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?

The first three stanzas of this hymn explore both the contrast between the glory of heaven that Christ came from and the suffering He endured on earth, and the mystery of the love that motivated Him to make that journey. In stanza four we are reminded how God brings us to salvation in language that reminds us of Peter's experience in Acts 12:6-11, where God sent an angel to open the prison doors and loose Peter's chains. The final stanza is a jubilant celebration of our new state in Christ and the privilege of communion with God that we enjoy.

Featured Hymn for April 15: when Peace, Like a River

In November, 1873, Horatio Spafford sent his wife and four daughters on the French ship Ville du Havre from their home in Chicago to a vacation in France, planning to set out a few days later himself. Somewhere in the Atlantic, the Ville du Havre collided with a British ship coming the other way, and sank in just 12 minutes. Of his family, only Spafford’s wife survived.

Featured Hymn for March 28: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

There was a video that went viral a few years ago of a four-year-old girl looking in the mirror and exclaiming how much she loved everything in her life. I suspect it went viral because of its infectious positivity and the reminder that we could all use some child-like enthusiasm and gratitude. If we still need this message today, it means we have forgotten in part the beautiful story of Jesus welcoming the children unto him. Those children were able, more than the adults, to receive the Kingdom of Heaven like a gift, with unquestioning joy and gratitude.

Fearured Hymn: March 18

Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed

The first two stanzas of this hymn address the same paradox that Paul wrote about in Romans: “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8 ESV) Isaac Watts shows the contrast very powerfully:

“When Christ, the mighty Maker, died

For man, the creature's sin.”

Fearured Hymn: March 18

Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed

The first two stanzas of this hymn address the same paradox that Paul wrote about in Romans: “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8 ESV) Isaac Watts shows the contrast very powerfully:

“When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature's sin.”

Featured Hymn for February 16: In the Bleak Midwinter

Though we do not know the time of year when Jesus was actually born, we do know that Israel, at any time of year, was not the windy, frozen scene the opening stanza of this hymn depicts. Nevertheless, the world was not a friendly place for Jesus even though the thermometer was above freezing. The middle stanzas describe the contrast between the glory of heaven from which Jesus came and the poor reality of the earth He came to save. The final stanza is a commitment that, in recognition of that sacrifice, we will devote ourselves to God.

Featured Hymn for January 29: God Moves in a Mysterious Way

This hymn was written by William Cowper, a man who was afflicted with mental illness and depression for a large portion of his life. His illness got so severe that he tried to commit suicide three times. With treatment and the inspiration of his friend John Newton, he began to recover and write hymns. This hymn captures the mystery of God’s power, without questioning God’s goodness. The first line and title of the hymn, “God moves in a mysterious way,” has become a common saying to justify strange or tragic occurrences.

Featured Hymn for January 14: Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

The theme of the hymn is the significance of the Christ-child. In the first stanza, he is depicted as a lowly, unremarkable human baby; some doubts exist as to whether someone so apparently ordinary could be so special. After the second stanza recounts the spectacular appearance of angels and wise men glorifying the Christ, the third stanza describes how the picture changed with this new understanding – no longer is he a stranger of dubious ability, but the undefiled Son of God who has come to save the world.

Featured Hymn for January 3: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

This hymn by Charles Wesley was written within a year of Wesley’s conversion. Thus, as Albert Bailey writes, “the inspiration of his newly-made contact with God was still fresh” (The Gospel in Hymns, 100). Rather than simply tell the nativity story, Wesley pours theological truths into this text. The first verse tells the story of the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth, and the second and third verse go on to make it very clear why the angels sang. Simply by describing Christ, Wesley tells us the entire Gospel story.