Hymn: Be Thou My Vision

“Be Thou My Vision” is a traditional Christian hymn of Irish origin. The words are based on a Middle Irish poem or prayer often attributed to a sixth-century Irish Christian, however it may have been written later than that. The text reflects aspects of life in Early Christian Ireland (c. 400-800 AD). The prayer is a prayer for protection and is best seen in a verse omitted from most modern hymnals:

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;

Be Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;

Be Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,

O raise Thou me heav’nward, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

The symbolic use of a battle-shield and a sword to invoke the power and protection of God draws on Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:16–17), which refers to “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit”. Such military symbolism was common in the poetry and hymnnology of Christian monasteries of the period due to the prevalence of clan warfare across Ireland. The poem makes reference to God as the “High King of Heaven”. This depiction of the Christian God as a chieftain or High King is a traditional representation in Irish literature; medieval Irish poetry typically used heroic imagery to portray God as a clan protector.

 

Be Thou My Vision

Translated by Mary Byrne; *

Versified by Eleanor Hull **

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night;

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father and I, Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;

Thou mine inheritance, now and always;

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;

O King of glory, my treasure Thou art.

O King of glory, my victory won;

Rule and reign in me ’til Thy will be done;

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall;

Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

(Sung by the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team)

 * Mary Byrne (1880 – 1931) was born in Ireland and first translated the old Irish hymn, “Bí Thusa ‘mo Shúile,” into English as “Be Thou My Vision” in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. A linguist, Byrne received her education from the National University of Ireland. She contributed to the Old and Mid-Irish Dictionary and Dictionary of the Irish Language.

** Eleanor Hull (1860 – 1935) was born in England, of a County Down family. She was educated at Alexandra College, Dublin and was a student of Irish Studies. She was a co-founder of the Irish Texts Society for the publication of early manuscripts and president of the Irish Literary Society. The best-known English version of “Be Thou My Vision”, with some minor variations, was translated by her and published in 1912. Since 1919 it has been commonly sung to an Irish folk tune and is one of the most popular hymns in the United Kingdom.

 

Hymn: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

 

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

by Henry W. Baker *

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never,

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul He leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow,

With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;

Thy unction grace bestoweth;

And O what transport of delight

From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise

Within Thy house forever.

* Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) was the eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker. He was educated at Trinity College and took Holy Orders in 1844. Sir Henry’s name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, “Oh! what if we are Christ’s,” which he contributed to Murray’s Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number 33 in all. The last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were the third stanza of his exquisite rendering of the 23rd Psalm, “The King of Love, my Shepherd is”:

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His Shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

This tender sadness, brightened by a soft calm peace, epitomized his poetical life. (This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Di­a­na, Prin­cess of Wales, in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Sep­tem­ber 6, 1997.)

 

Hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

This beloved hymn describes the experience of God’s people in their travel through the wilderness from their escape from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12–14), being guided by a cloud by day and a fire by night (Exodus 13:17–22) to their final arrival forty years later at the border of the Promised Land of Canaan (Joshua 3). During this time, their needs were supplied by God, including their daily supply of manna (Exodus 16).

The hymn text forms an allegory for the journey of a Christian through life on earth requiring the Redeemer’s guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and the end of time (death of death and hell’s destruction).

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah *

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,

pilgrim through this barren land.

I am weak, but thou art mighty;

hold me with thy powerful hand.

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,

feed me till I want no more;

feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,

whence the healing stream doth flow;

let the fire and cloudy pillar

lead me all my journey through.

Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,

be thou still my strength and shield;

be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,

bid my anxious fears subside;

death of death and hell’s destruction,

land me safe on Canaan’s side.

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to thee;

I will ever give to thee.

* Hymn background:

William Williams Pantycelyn is generally acknowledged as the greatest Welsh hymn writer. The lyrics for the Welsh original of this hymn were first published as Hymn 10 in the hymnal Mor o Wydr (Sea of Glass) in 1762. It comprised six verses. [See below for a literal translation from the Welsh of the original six verses.]

Peter Williams (1722–1796) translated part of the hymn into the familiar three stanzas of the English version, with the title Prayer for Strength. It was published in Hymns on Various Subjects, 1771. This translation is the only Welsh hymn to have gained widespread circulation in the English-speaking world.

John Hughes wrote the present version of the tune, which he called “Rhondda”, for the Cymanfa Ganu (hymn festival) in Pontypridd in 1905, when enthusiasm of the great 1904–1905 Welsh Revival still remained. The form was developed further and published for the inauguration of the organ at Capel Rhondda, in Hopkinstown in the Welsh Rhondda Valley, in 1907. (The hymn is usually pitched in A-flat major and has the 8.7.8.7.4.7 measure which is common in Welsh hymns.)

 The hymn was featured prominently in the soundtrack to the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford and starring a young Roddy McDowall. The soundtrack, by Alfred Newman, won that year’s Academy Award for Original Music Score. It is also featured at the beginning of The African Queen (film), with Katharine Hepburn singing and playing the organ in her part as a missionary’s daughter.  The hymn was also the informal anthem of Wales in the “Green and Pleasant Land” section of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Translation of the lyrics for the hymn originally titled in Welsh

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch.

(“Lord, lead me through the wilderness”)

Lord, guide me through the wilderness,

A pilgrim weak of aspect,

There is neither strength nor life in me,

As though lying in the grave,

Almighty,

It is Thou who shalt take me to that shore.

I wandered for long years,

And saw not the break of dawn;

I despaired, without Thy strength,

Ever to leave the desert land;

Do Thou grant,

The occasion to escape.

Give Thou a pillar of fire to lead me in the night,

And a pillar of mist in the day,

Hold me when I travel places

Which are rough on the way,

Give me manna,

Thus shall I not despair.

Open the sweet springs

Which gush forth from the rock,

All across the great wilderness

May a river of healing grace follow:

Give this to me

Not for me but for Thy sake.

When I go through Jordan –

Cruel death in its force –

Thou Thyself suffered this before,

Why shall I fear further?

Victory!

Let me cry out in the torrent.

I shall trust in Thy power,

Great is the work that Thou hast always done,

Thou conquered death, Thou conquered hell,

Thou hast crushed Satan beneath Thy feet,

Hill of Calvary,

This shall never escape from my memory.

Hymn: Complete in Thee

One of the keys to learning spiritual contentment is knowing that we have all that we need for life and godliness. (II Peter 1:3) The second thing is that we are eternally settled in our position in Christ through faith in His shed blood on the cross. We are complete in Him and thus have every reason to be content in Him!

Complete in Thee

by Aaron Robarts Wolfe *

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Refrain

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee! no more shall sin,

Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;

Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,

And I shall stand complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Complete in Thee–each want supplied,

And no good thing to me denied;

Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,

I ask no more, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Dear Saviour! when before Thy bar

All tribes and tongues assembled are,

Among Thy chosen will I be,

At Thy right hand, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

* Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821–1902) was born at Mendham, New Jersey and educated at Williams College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York. In 1851, he was licensed by the Third Presbytery of New York. For some time he had charge of a school for young ladies at Tallahassee, Florida; and in 1859 he established “The Hillside Seminary for Young Ladies” at Montclair, New Jersey.

      He gave his friends this account of an in­ci­dent which seriously shaped his later life and made “Complete in Thee” a personal hymn: When he left Flo­ri­da in the sum­mer of 1855 he put all his ef­fects—lib­ra­ry, notes, and things of that sort—on board a sail­ing-ves­sel, and with a sim­ple grip­sack re­turned North by way of Nash­ville and Chi­ca­go. Reaching New York af­ter some two weeks spent in jour­ney­ing, he sought his goods at the com­mis­sion house to which they had been con­signed. There he learned that, on the day ap­point­ed for sail­ing, the ves­sel with his goods had been struck by light­ning, the mate killed at the foot of the mast, and the ves­sel, la­den with tur­pen­tine, burned to the wa­ter’s edge. Books, papers, notes, ev­ery­thing of past trea­sure had gone up in smoke.

     Aaron Wolfe looked up­on this event as a spe­cial pro­vi­dence of God, shap­ing his life, and fix­ing his home. For it made him a teach­er of the young ra­ther than a pas­tor of a church; and soon the way was op­ened for the be­gin­ning of one of the most use­ful en­gage­ments with Dr. Ab­bott, and so his life was fa­shioned…Thus the Lord made up his pet­ty loss­es by a rich re­ward.

 

(Personal note: When I was a teenager, and not saved, a tragic house fire resulted in loss of most of our family’s possessions and shaped the lives of each member of my family. My father worked for Pan American Airways in Jamaica when our family house was burned to the ground by an arsonist and we lost almost everything. Some photos, papers, and valuables stored in a metal box to preserve them from the tropical humidity were the only possessions that survived. Now that I have been saved for more than forty years, I look back and see how much this loss shaped my early life. Worldly goods may have less of a grip on my life today because of that incident years ago even before I came to Christ. God has been faithful in everything and I know that I am complete in Him.)

 

Hymn: Jesus Is All The World To Me

This hymn came to me a few days ago when I was awake in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. The words of the first two lines repeated in my mind until I fell asleep later. When I got up in the morning I immediately had to look up the tune and the other verses in a hymnal. It was such a blessing to hum the words (I don’t actually sing, you understand) and fragments of the hymn stuck with me during the day. I may not remember many of the words today, but I can attest that having the tune and words of a hymn going through your mind during the day does wonders for your thinking and attitude!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” Ephesians 5:19

Jesus Is All The World To Me

by Will L. Thompson

Jesus is all the world to me:

  My life, my joy, my all.

He is my strength from day to day;

  Without Him I would fall.

When I am sad, to Him I go;

No other one can cheer me so.

When I am sad, He makes me glad;

  He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,

  My Friend in trials sore.

I go to Him for blessings, and

  He gives them o’er and o’er.

He sends the sunshine and the rain;

He sends the harvest’s golden grain:

Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain—

  He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,

  And true to Him I’ll be.

Oh, how could I this Friend deny

  When He’s so true to me?

Following Him I know I’m right;

He watches o’er me day and night.

Following Him by day and night,

  He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,

  I want no better friend.

I trust Him now; I’ll trust Him when

  Life’s fleeting days shall end.

Beautiful life with such a Friend;

Beautiful life that has no end!

Eternal life, eternal joy,

  He’s my Friend.

Will L. Thompson, (1847-1909) was a noted American composer. Thompson graduated from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1870. In 1873, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and later continued his musical studies in Leipzig, Germany. Rebuffed in an ear­ly at­tempt to sell his secular songs to a com­mer­cial pub­lish­er, Thomp­son start­ed his own pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He founded the W. L. Thompson Music Company and tried his hand with some success at secular compositions before finding his forte in hymns and gospel songs.

Both a lyr­i­cist and com­pos­er, he would al­ways record words or mel­o­dies that came to him at odd times:  “No mat­ter where I am, at home or ho­tel, at the store or tra­vel­ing, if an idea or theme comes to me that I deem wor­thy of a song, I jot it down in verse. In this way I ne­ver lose it.” Thompson took ill dur­ing a tour of Eur­ope and his fam­i­ly cut short their tra­vels to re­turn home. He died a few weeks lat­er in New York City.

His most well-known work is the classic and enduring gospel song, “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling” which has been translated into countless languages. The Thompsons built a large hilltop mansion on Park Boulevard in East Liverpool, Ohio. The house still stands and is known locally as “the Softly and Tenderly House.”

 

Hymn: Is Your All on the Altar?

Elisha Hoffman’s hymns hold a special place in our evangelical hymnals alongside the uplifting melodies and edifying words written by well-known hymnists like Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Ira Sankey, Robert Lowry, and others. “Is Your All on the Altar?” is a congregational singing favorite at Salem Bible Church because it reminds us of the Biblical identification truths in Romans chapter 6, John chapter 15 and elsewhere that teach the way to sanctification through the believer’s death to self and complete surrender to God’s will.

Is Your All on the Altar?

by Elisha Hoffman *

You have longed for sweet peace,

And for faith to increase,

And have earnestly, fervently prayed.

But you cannot have rest,

Or be perfectly blest,

Until all on the altar is laid.

Refrain:

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?

Your heart does the Spirit control?

You can only be blest,

And have peace and sweet rest,

As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord

In the light of His Word,

And have peace and contentment alway?

You must do His sweet will

To be free from all ill–

On the altar your all you must lay. [Refrain]

Oh, we never can know

What the Lord will bestow

Of the blessings for which we have prayed,

Till our body and soul

He doth fully control,

And our all on the altar is laid. [Refrain]

Who can tell all the love

He will send from above,

And how happy our hearts will be made,

Of the fellowship sweet

We shall share at His feet

When our all on the altar is laid! [Refrain]

* Elisha Hoffman (1839-1929) was the son of an Evangelical minister and grew up singing sacred hymns both in church and in the home with his parents. Hoffman furthered his education at Union Seminary in New Berlin, Pennsylvania, and was subsequently ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1873. Following his seminary education, Hoffman began work with the publishing branch of the Evangelical Association in Cleveland, Ohio. After serving in this position for eleven years, he held several pastoral positions in the Midwest. He pastored churches in both Cleveland and Grafton, Ohio, in the 1880s; moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan and the First Presbyterian Church in the mid-1890s; and finished his ministry in Cabery, Illinois from 1911-22. He died in 1929 in Chicago, Illinois.

During the course of his life, Hoffman composed over 2,000 hymns, and edited over 50 song books, including: Spiritual Songs for Gospel Meetings and the Sunday School, 1878; Temperance Jewels, 1879); Bells of Victory, 1888; Favorite Gospel Songs: A Tune Book, 1894; and Jubilant Voices, 1907.

You will recognize the following as some of his most popular hymns:

    • “Are You Washed in the Blood?” words

    • “Christ Has for Sin Atonement Made,” words & music

    • “Down at the Cross,” words

    • “Glory to His Name,” words

    • “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” words

    • “I Must Tell Jesus,” words and music

    • “Is Your All on the Altar?” words and music

    • “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” words

    • “What a Fellowship,” words

    • “What a Wonderful Savior,” words and music

Self-denial and Contentment

Jeremiah Burrough’s thoughts on self-denial as the path to contentment needs some explanation. The Biblical concept that he termed self-denial at the turn of the 17th century is the theological term we would today call co-crucifixion from verses in Romans Chapter six and Galatians 2:20.

To be very clear, Biblical self-denial is NOT the practice of the ancient Greek philosophers – asceticism, cynicism, or stoicism. It is NOT abstinence from material objects or denial of worldly pleasures in order to achieve some spiritual goal or benefit. It is not the payment of some indulgence or performance of an outward penance as taught by religion. Paul taught in Romans 14:5-6, Colossians 2:20-23. and elsewhere that not eating or drinking things has no spiritual value. A painful ritual or elaborate religious ceremony will never gain favor with God. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7)

The Biblical principle of spiritual self-denial IS surrendering ourselves completely to God and His will. Self (the flesh) and the world (Galatians 5:24; 6:14) are reckoned dead on the cross and alive unto God. (Romans 6:6-18)

With that in mind, Jeremiah Burroughs offers us these gems on how self-denial brings us closer to spiritual contentment:

“Just as no one can be a scholar unless he learns his ABCs, so you must learn the lesson of self-denial or you can never become a scholar in Christ’s school, and be learned in this mystery of contentment. The lesson of self-denial is the first lesson that Jesus Christ teaches those who are seeking contentment.”

“When you strike something soft it makes no noise, but if you strike a hard thing it makes a noise. So it is with the hearts of men who are full of themselves and hardened with self-love. A self-denying Christian yields to God’s hand and makes no noise. That is the first lesson that Christ teaches any soul—self-denial—which brings contentment, which brings down and softens a man’s heart.”

  1. A person must learn that he is nothing—“He comes to this, to be able to say, ‘Well, I see I am nothing in myself.’”

  2. I deserve nothing—“I am nothing and I deserve nothing. We deserve nothing and therefore why should we be impatient if we do not get what we desire?”

  3. I can do nothing—“Christ said, ‘Without me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5) Consider of what use you are in the world and if you consider what little need God has of you, and what little use you are, and you will not be much discontented.”

  4. I cannot receive any good—“I am so vile that I cannot of myself receive any good. I am not only an empty vessel, but a corrupt and unclean vessel that would spoil anything good that comes into it.”

  5. We are worse than nothing—“Sin makes us more vile than nothing and contrary to all good. We are not empty pitchers in respect of good, but we are like pitchers filled with poison and is it much for such as we are to be cut short of our outward comforts?”

  6. Any good I do is nothing without God—If God cleans our vessel and puts in something good, some grace of His Spirit, we can do nothing with it without God.”

  7. If we perish, we will be no loss—If God should annihilate me, what loss would it be to His purposes? God can raise up someone else in my place to serve Him in a different way.” [See Esther 4:14]

“I beseech you to notice this: If a man is selfish and self-love prevails in his heart, he will be glad of those things that suit with his own ends, but a godly man who has denied himself will suit with and be glad of all things that shall suit with God’s ends. When a man is selfish, he cannot but have a great deal of trouble and vexation of spirit, for if I regard myself, my ends are so narrow that a hundred things will come and jostle me and I cannot have room in those narrow ends of my own. Those whose hearts are enlarged and make public things their ends, and can deny themselves, have room to walk and never jostle with one another as others do.”

 

Hymn: At Calvary

“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.” Galatians 6:14

At Calvary

by William R. Newell *

Years I spent in vanity and pride,

Caring not my Lord was crucified,

Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

Refrain

Mercy there was great and grace was free,

Pardon there was multiplied to me,

There my burdened soul found liberty – At Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned–

Then I trembled at the Law I’d spurned,

Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

[Refrain]

Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus ev’rything,

Now I gladly own Him as my King,

Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary.

[Refrain]

O the love that drew salvation’s plan!

O the grace that brought it down to man!

O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.

[Refrain]

 

* William R. Newell (1868-1956) was born in Savannah, OH. He earned degrees from Wooster College, Princeton and Oberlin Theological Seminary. He served as Assistant Superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. The words for his hymn “At Calvary” came to him on his way to teach a class at the Bible Institute. He slipped into an empty classroom and wrote them quickly on the back of an envelope.

Holocaust Remembrance Day – 2021

More days of trouble will surely come, but God has promised that He will never forsake His people, Israel. The Apostle Paul stated in his epistle to the Romans, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” Likewise, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah,

“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.”  Jeremiah 31:35

The Hebrew name of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance DayYom Hashoah (יום השואה), comes from Zephaniah 1:15. When describing the devastating destruction of YerushalayimTzefanya refers to that day as yom shoah umishoah (יום שואה ומשואה), ‘A day of calamity and desolation’. Yom Hashoah was established by the Israeli Knesset in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II. It coincides with the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, remembering not only the destruction of European Jewry, but also the heroic revolt which serves as a symbol of defiance against oppression. Yom Hashoah is commemorated in Israel with a siren that is sounded in the morning, bringing everyone, even highway traffic, to a standstill for a minute of silence in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. Memorial ceremonies are held throughout Israel, and entertainment establishments are closed in the evening, to focus on the solemness of the day.  Source: http://theisraelbible.com

There is a wonderful future hope for Israel and its people in the Messiah’s new covenant. Like all of God’s promises, this too will surely come to pass:

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,

that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers

in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;

which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;

After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts,

and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother,

saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me,

from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD:

for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34