Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

    Little is said about the man who wrote the hymn Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise. It is a lovely hymn, inspired by Paul’s first letter to Timothy, describing God’s greatness and praising him for it. The author, Walter Chalmers Smith, lived from 1824 to 1908. Born in Aberdeen December 5th he was educated at a Grammar School and University of the same city. He studied Theology at Edinburgh and was ordained Pastor of the Scottish Church in London on Christmas Day of 1850. He pastored several churches and wrote poetical literature. Smith wrote many hymns though I believe Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise is the only one still in use today.
A few of Smith’s other hymns are Lord, God, Omnipotent, Our Portion is not Here, There is no Wrath to be Appeased, Earth was waiting, Spent and restless, Faint and weary Jesus Stood, and To me to Live is Christ.
“Dr. Smith’s hymns are rich in thought and vigorous in expression. They deserve and probably will receive greater notice than hitherto at the hands of hymnal compilers.” ~Rev. W. Garrett Horder
Personally my favorite line in Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, is in the 3rd verse.
“We blossom and flourish as leave on a tree, and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.”
It is a beautiful reminder that the life we live is a life that changes and eventually ends, but that Christ is a rock on which we can find support for he never changes and will never end.
I will leave you with the passage that inspired Walter Smith to write this song.
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:17

The One Year book of Hymns

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursdays: How Firm A Foundation

How Firm a Foundation has been one of a favorite hymns for a while. But when I was getting ready to write about it I was surprised that no one really knows who the author is of this great hymn.
It was first published in 1787 by John Rippon in A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors which was intended to be an appendix to Dr. Watt’s Psalms and Hymns. The Hymn appeared in the collection with the author indicated merely as “K”. Both In Songs of Sublime Adoration and Praise and The Bible is Justly Esteemed, which were published in the same collection, bear the same “K” as their author. Rippon indicated in the preface that such attributions meant that either the author was unknown or that the hymn had undergone significant revisions for publication.
One reprint gave “Kn” as the author and another “Keen”. Because of this it is popularly believed that R. Keen, the music director in Rippon’s church, was the author of this hymn. Though many other theories of who possible authors could be.
I think what I like about this hymn most is that it is really a sermon in verse. In the first verse the sure foundation of the church is established as being the Word of God. The next four verse personalize promises from that word.
Verse 2
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
--Isaiah 40:10 “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God…”

Verse 3
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
–Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest though the waters, I will be with thee…”

Verse 4
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
–2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”

Verse 5
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake
–Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee…”

This hymn has been a favorite of many American leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt. Andrew Jackson requested it sung at his bedside shortly before he died and Robert E. Lee requested it for his funeral hymn to be “as an expression of his full trust in the ways of the Heavenly Father.” I was particularly excited to find out it was a favorite of Lee’s because I am a southern girl…and though I really do wish to, I will refrain from talking more about the War Between the States…. =D
I will leave you with Hebrews 13:6
“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Until next time!


Thanks so much, Maria! :) I love learning about these hymns and their backgrounds...

Until next time,

go change the world!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Isaac Watts

I was asked to play When I Survey the Wondrous Cross at our church in a few week while some friends sing it. And so I decided to start Throwback Thursdays with that song. I found it interesting to study the history of this song and the man who wrote it.
Isaac Watts was born on July 17, 1674, in Southampton England. He was the eldest of nine children. His father, (what is his name?), was in prison at the time of Isaac’s birth, and twice during his infancy, for his non-conformists beliefs.
In Watts’ youth he showed an aptitude for study and at the age of five had learned Latin, by nine Greek, French at eleven and Hebrew at thirteen. (0.o I have yet to learn Spanish well)
He began to write fairly good verses when he was young and when he was sixteen he entered a Nonconformist Academy at Stoke Newington under the care of Mr. Thomas Rowe, the pastor of an independent congregating, and of this congregation Watts became a member in 1693.
One year later, when he was twenty, he left the academy and spent two years at home. Watt grew concerned with the deplorable state to which the congregational singing had degenerated to in most English-speaking churches. They apparently would sing the psalms by having an appointed Deacon read a line or two, which was than followed by the rest of the congregation droning the same line. Watts wrote once, “The singing of God’s praise is the part of worship most closely related to heaven; but its performance among us is the worst on earth.”
One Sunday after his father listened to his rail against the congregational singing he said, “Why don’t you give us something better, young man!” And before the evening service began Watts had written his first Hymn. After that he wrote a new hymn every Sunday for two years.
It was during that time that When I Survey the Wondrous Cross and the bulk of the Hymns and Spiritual Songs was written. It is thought that Behold the glories of the Lamb was the first hymn he composed.
It seems there were five verses, but the fourth verse is commonly omitted in printed versions, a practice that began with George Whitefield in 1757
As an interesting note: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross original title was Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ.
The original title and the 2nd verse reference Galatians 6:14
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

And I will leave you with the 2nd verse of this lovely song.
“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God.
All the vain things that charm me most—I sacrifice them to his blood.”

101 Hymn Stories By Kenneth W. Osbeck
Thank you so, so much, Maria, for doing this amazing TBT post for us!!!! :) Didn't she do great? What is your favorite hymn by Isaac Watts? Who would you like to see featured in later TBT posts? 
 Be sure to check out Maria's blog, My Little Insignificant Life ,  for great book reviews and posts only she can write! :)
 Now go change the world!