Category Archives: Songs on Monthly Theme

Showers of Blessing

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I think this song and especially the comments in the post about revival are significant for me and for my church at this time. I’m hoping other readers will find it meaningful as well. It is certainly a beautiful and uplifting hymn.

Wordwise Hymns

Words: Daniel Webster Whittle (b. Nov. 22, 1840; d. Mar. 4, 1901)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; July 9, 1907)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Daniel Whittle born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This song is sometimes given the longer title There Shall Be Showers of Blessing. For some reason, many hymn books fail to include the fifth stanza of the song. It is significant, as it makes a practical and personal application. You might consider including it in the church bulletin, if you hymnal doesn’t have it. Or projecting it for all to see, when the time comes to sing the song.

The partnership of “Major” Whittle (his rank in the Civil War) and James McGranahan was a rich and productive one for eleven years. But it began at a scene of terrible tragedy. When hymn writer Philip Bliss and his wife were killed in a…

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A Song of Blessing

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Omer Westendorf (1916-1997) published this hymn under the pseudonym J. Clifford Evers in the People’s Mass Book (1964).  It was the first vernacular hymnbook to implement the changes in Roman Catholic liturgy ordered by the Second Vatican Council.

Omer was born on February 24, 1916, at Cincinnati, Ohio.  He became a church organist at the age of twenty and served at St. Bonaventure Church, Cincinnati, for over forty years.  The church’s choir has recorded religious music and performed on television, radio, and in live concerts.

Leland Bernhard Sateren (1913-2007) harmonized this tune in 1972 when it was included in the Lutheran supplement Contemporary Worship – 4: Hymns for Baptism and Holy Communion.  It is often used as a recessional at the end of the service.

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

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I’ve been to several funerals already this year, no doubt an indication of my age and being the wife of a Pastor.  Of course, Psalm 23 is a familiar and comforting reading that is often used.  Meditating on Jesus as my shepherd has reminded me of this lovely hymn that expresses God’s agape love for us.

Funeral Songs

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Last night I received an email from my good friend, Nancy, who is also one of our faithful readers.  She mentioned that she had been at a funeral and the music was just lovely.  In her words:

In keeping with the blog, I went to the funeral yesterday of a dear friend from church. It was the most singing at a funeral that I have ever experienced, and it was perfect. One of the songs we sang was the “Hymn of Promise” that I had sent to you. And we sang a medley of last verses of six old hymns that all spoke of heaven and Jesus coming to “take us home.” There were more hymns- all were affirmations of faith and hope.

This made me think about the songs that uplift me in times of grief.  One of my favorites is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  It’s an Easter song, based upon Job 19:25-26

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

I can’t imagine anything more comforting and hopeful than that word  picture.  Here’s the whole hymn, in case you don’t know it:

 

Confirmation Songs

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Confirmation is a special day for most Lutherans;  the day when, as an adult (or someone close to adulthood) you reconfirm the baptismal promises made for you by others.  When our daughters were confirmed, they had to write and read a speech to the congregation on the topic, “what my faith means to me.”  They also got to choose a Bible verse and a song.  Since my daughter, Kate, is one of our authors, I thought I’d share her confirmation song — we’ll see if she remembers it, and maybe will post about why she chose it.  It’s called “On Eagle’s Wings” and is based on Psalm 91. Maybe some other authors would like to share their confirmation song, if they chose one or one that was chosen for them.

 

Kids Today

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Anyone that has teenagers or younger kids probably knows that phones (as it were) are a big part of life. Back in my day . . . our phones were just that, phones. And they weren’t very portable. In fact a lot of them still mounted to the wall. And then there were those that sat on the counter. Still you were limited to the distance of the cord.

But I acquiesce, now its different. There is a world of information at your fingertips. Some good, some bad. Lately I’ve noticed a good trend, a musical one. Many of the games are based on a music. And the music that plays is largely classical. As they tap on the screen in time with the tune they’re immersed in wordless melodies. I think its a wonderful way to re-introduce our next generation to something besides glamour based hip hop. (Not that I haven’t indulged myself on  occasion.) But there is study after study that shows how classical music in particular, has various benefits to our human brains.

Do I know the science of it? Absolutely not. But I know that when I listen to music, something happens. There’s always at least an emotional reaction, and often if it hits home, I get literal chills. Y’all know what I mean right? Everybody has felt it. Everybody has that one song. That has to be God given.

And we may never know why exactly, but God seems to have given us this beautiful gift not solely for entertainment, but in part at least to inspire, and heal. In fact music is so important to God, He created Psalms. A large collection of music mostly written by a beloved warrior king. (I’d love to be able to go back in time to hear how they were originally meant to be heard.)

So while kids today have it pretty good, and technology is scary, God will always want to share His wonders with His children. And that’s pretty cool.

The Case for Christ – Book Review

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I just finished reading the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and I felt I should mention this book to others.  I love reading articles and books that confirm the Bible in history, and Lee Strobel’s book fits that description perfectly.

A movie has been made from this book and I have to tell you that I haven’t seen the movie, yet.  I’m more a book person and will read the book, if available, before I see the movie.  I’m always asked how the movie compared to the book and usually I have to say that there is always more details in the book.

Now, this book is wonderful for anyone who is wanting to include historic facts to their evangelism.  Lee Strobel, who was once an atheist, goes on a quest to prove Jesus didn’t exist.  His wife came home one day and told him she was now a Christian and he had to prove how wrong she was.   Lee, who is a well known investigative reporter, starts interviewing the experts from all over the country, bringing all the questions and doubts that he and others have raised.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions for deliberation or for group study.  Lee gives a full list of citations and a topical index at the end for further study.

The book is in three parts: Examining the Record, Analyzing Jesus and Researching the Resurrection.  In each part is the transcripts of his conversations with each expert.  It’s not what I would call an easy read.  While you are reading you need to pay attention to what is being said.  However, the book flows and pulls you into Lee’s quest up to the part where he makes his own decision to follow Christ.

For any skeptics that are reading this I would encourage you to pick up the book or, at least, see the movie.  For the Christians reading this, I would encourage you to read the book so that you can add some of the references to expand your knowledge of Biblical history.

“Ancient Words” a song by Michael W. Smith kept playing in my head once I got about halfway through this book.  Here are the lyrics and a link to hear the song.

“Ancient Words”
Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope, Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam, Ancient words will guide us home

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith, Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice, Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh let the ancient words impart

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Here is a youtube video of the  song.  I apologize if there are ads; you can’t get away from them these days:

 

12 Days of Christmas Carols- Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

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This is my favorite Christmas song, and I thought our readers would enjoy reading about its’ origins I did!. In our hymnal, The Ambassador, it is reworded and titled, “Behold a Branch is Growing” in order to emphasize Jesus rather than Mary.   Still waiting for others to send the Lutheran Ladies some Christmas carols that touch their hearts!

Wedgewords

rosa“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” is a German hymn first printed in 1582.  Written anonymously under the title “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” this song originally had about 19 stanzas.  As we’ve seen, those Germans really love their long songs.  In 1599 they even bumped it up to 23, but these days it’s usually trimmed down to 5 or 6.  A lot of hands have been involved in the transmission and translation of the words to the hymn.  In the 19th cent., Theodore Baker gave us the first two stanzas in English, translating from the German original.  Friedrich Layritz wrote two more stanzas around the same time, and these have been translated by Harriett R. Spaeth.  John C Mattes added another stanza in 1914.  Catherine Winkworth even got involved by translating a variant version of the hymn.  There were so many different options because of all those earlier stanzas…

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The Musical Holiday

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Christmas seems to me, at least, to be the most musical of all the church holidays.  Many Lutherans, like my granddaughter Katelyn, love to hear “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” every Sunday in Advent.  Others like my friend, Becky, especially enjoy our congregation’s tradition of singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve as the church is darkened and we pass the light of Christ down each pew, lighting individual candles one by one. One year some members played “Silent Night” on guitars, as it was originally done.  Often on the Sunday after Christmas, our church has a time during the service when members call our their favorite carols and we sing a verse or two of each one.

I’ve mentioned some musical traditions my immediate family developed over the years — playing “The Nutcracker” as we trimmed the tree, going to a yearly performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at a local church, and to hear “The Messiah” at a nearby college.

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Maybe it’s the joy of the season that makes us want to sing and listen to special Christmas music and carols. Music lifts up our hearts.  It connects us to our past and our childhood.  It teaches us. Everyone has a favorite.  What’s yours?  Why do you love it?  I’d like to hear from other readers and authors about the musical traditions of their churches and families.