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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.

Featured Hymn for December 13: Angels We Have Heard on High

It’s a simply beautiful image: the shepherds in a great field, staring up in wonder at a sky full of the heavenly hosts, singing out their praise and joy, the echoes of their song of reverberating off the mountains to add to the cacophony. It isn’t hard to imagine the shepherds’ response. This group of young boys must have looked at each other wide-eyed, then whooped and cheered and run as fast as they could into the village, a stampede of sheep following them. Giddy with excitement and out of breath, did they burst into the stable and crowd around the manger?

Featured Hymn for November 14: To God Be the Glory

This text is unique from Crosby’s other hymns because, rather than focus on our experience of God, the words are wholly about God and His perfect glory. In a sense, the hymn perfectly displaces us, removing us from the pedestal on which we so often place ourselves. This displacement is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. It feels very natural for us to seek attention, approval, and our own glory. We like to be in control and present our own image to the world, an image we seek to improve through any means possible.

Featured Hymn for October 30: Just a Closer Walk with Thee (I am weak but thou art strong)

In this song, we acknowledge our human inability to live righteously, but we also express awareness of the grace and strength that God gives us in our daily walk. Even such an esteemed saint as the apostle Paul acknowledged his need for this grace: “But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, 10b ESV)