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Featured Hymn for March 28: "I Surrender All"

It is human nature to seek power and accomplishment through conflict, hence the popularity of athletic contests. Defeat in a championship game is humiliating, and giving up is even more so. Nevertheless, Christ calls His followers to totally surrender themselves to Him. He described it this way: “Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Featured Hymn for March 18: Come, Ye Sinners Poor and Wretched

In 1757, after living a life he described as “carnal and spiritual wickedness, irreligious and profane,” Joseph Hart turned to Christ (Psalter Hymnal Handbook). Two years later, he wrote this famous hymn. Now, having undergone numerous text and tune changes, it still remains a classic hymn of invitation to turn from our sinful ways by the grace of God into the waiting arms of our Savior. The added refrain hearkens back to the story of the prodigal son, who, like Hart, turned from a life of waywardness and folly back to his father’s waiting arms.

March 3 Featured Hymn: "How Firm a Foundation"

“How Firm a Foundation” is a hymn that for over two centuries has assured believers of the faithfulness of Christ and the certainty of hope. The first verse acts almost as an introduction to the rest of the text, giving us cause to stop and ponder the Word of assurance that God has given us, described in greater detail in the next four verses. Those four verses are in fact paraphrases of Scripture passages: Isaiah 41:10, 43:2, Romans 8:3-39, Hebrews 13:5, and Deuteronomy 31:6. In the words of this hymn then, we carry with us the Word from God, and the call to trust in that Word.

Featured Hymn for February 18: All Glory, Laud and Honor

This hymn text was written by St. Theodulph of Orleans in 820 while he was imprisoned in Angers, France, for conspiring against the King, with whom he had fallen out of favor. The text acts as a retelling of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The medieval church actually re-enacted this story on Palm Sunday using a standard liturgy that featured this hymn. The priests and inhabitants of a city would process from the fields to the gate of the city, following a living representation of Jesus seated on a donkey.

Featured Hymn: Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

Text:

This song is an African-American spiritual, probably from the nineteenth century. Like many spirituals, very little definite information is available about its origins. This text has two stanzas and a refrain. The stanzas are in the form of call and response, with identical second and fourth lines. While the text of the stanzas is not biblically accurate (the wise men – not the shepherds – followed the star), the message “Rise up, and follow” echoes other New Testament themes.

Featured Hymn: Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

Text:

This song is an African-American spiritual, probably from the nineteenth century. Like many spirituals, very little definite information is available about its origins. This text has two stanzas and a refrain. The stanzas are in the form of call and response, with identical second and fourth lines. While the text of the stanzas is not biblically accurate (the wise men – not the shepherds – followed the star), the message “Rise up, and follow” echoes other New Testament themes.

Featured Hymn: Angels From the Realms of Glory

This hymn focuses on each of the key players in the Christmas story, calling them from wherever they are to “Come and worship Christ, the newborn King.” The angels were called from all over the earth, and the wise men from afar, while the shepherds were almost next door. As the hymn is sung, think about where you are coming from as you come to worship.

See the hymn materials at http://www.hymnary.org/text/angels_from_the_realms_of_glory.

Featured Hymn: "Silent Night, Holy Night"

In the small, quiet town of Oberndorf, Austria, on a snowy Christmas Eve, a priest and an organist wrote what is now the most beloved Christmas carol world-wide. Stories abound as to the exact circumstances of the hymns origin, and there are societies dedicated to the task of protecting the authentic hymn text and story. If you ever visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, you can visit a replica of the Silent Night Chapel. Movies and operas revolve around the hymn, and almost every recording artist that has ever made a Christmas album has recorded it.

Featured Hymn: "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken"

The opening line of this hymn quotes Psalm 87:3 “Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God” (ESV). The theme of these stanzas is the universal church, and its story. The text begins with a vision of the new city of God (Hebrews 12:22) in the first two stanzas, and then looks back to the early journey of the Israelites, with references in the third stanza to cloud, fire, and manna (Exodus 13:21, 16:31). We are reminded through this of the long history God has with His people, and of the wonderful future awaiting those who are, through grace, members of God's family.

Featured Hymn: "God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand"

Many American patriotic hymns extol the beauty and worth of the United States first, and treat God almost as an afterthought, which makes it difficult for some Christians to be comfortable singing them in the context of a worship service. This hymn puts God first, and is constantly addressed to Him as a prayer for the nation, without reference to American superiority. The second and third stanzas allude to a nation's need for God's law and guidance to maintain peace.