My Life Hymn

This is in response to Michele’s  challenge to post the song or hymn that moves us most.  It’s hard to choose, and I’m sure this month I’ll be posting others, but this one has been a favorite for a long time, and it speaks to me and calls me to Christian action. At times it brings tears to my eyes.  It actually has a very similar them to “Here I Am” which was Michele’s pick.  I’ve talked before about my life verse, so I guess I’d say this is my life hymn.

Send Me

This has always been one of my favorite hymns, and it certainly assures us that we can all do something to reach the lost.  Here are it’s story and words:

This hymn was written…while the author(Daniel March) was a pastor in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. On the 18th of October he was to preach, by request, to the Christian Association of that city. At a late hour he learned that one of the hymns selected was not suitable…In great haste, he says, he wrote the hymn, and it was sung from the manuscript.

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?

Long and loud the Master calls us,
Rich reward He offers free;
Who will answer, gladly saying,
Here am I, send me, send me?

If you cannot cross the ocean,
And the distant lands explore,
You can find the lost around you,
You can help them at your door;
If you cannot give your thousands,
You can give the widow’s mite;
What you truly give for Jesus,
Will be precious in His sight.

If you cannot speak like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
You can say He died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked,
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Savior’s waiting arms.

If you cannot be the watchman,
Standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what heaven demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophet’s hands.

If among the older people,
You may not be apt to teach,
Feed My lambs, said Christ, our Shepherd,
Place the food within their reach.
And it may be that the children
You have led with trembling hand,
Will be found among your jewels,
When you reach the better land.

Let none hear you idly saying,
There is nothing I can do.
While the lost of earth are dying,
And the Master calls for you;
Take the task He gives you gladly;
Let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calls you,
Here am I, send me, send me.

 

Why We Sing

This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador

Lutherans are known as “the singing church” and Martin Luther has been called “the father of congregational singing.” But why do we sing? Is it simply our tradition? Is it an appropriate way to express our emotions of gratitude and love toward God? Is it a biblically sanctioned part of worship (Psalm 66:1-2)? Does it help bind us together as a community? The answer is yes to all these questions about communal Christian singing in the Church. However, there is another excellent reason Lutherans sing: hymn singing is an important part of our Christian education.

Maybe you thought the children were just having fun singing all those Sunday School songs. They are having fun, but they are also learning about important people in the Bible (Father Abraham), the essentials of the faith (Jesus Loves Me), the proper response to God’s love (Praise Him, Praise Him, All You Little Children) and what it means to be part of the church (We Are the Church).

Setting words to music is an aid to memorization. Young people often learn the books of the Bible (in order no less) by singing a song. Adults who participate in a Lutheran liturgy discover they’ve memorized many Psalms and other portions of scripture by taking part in the worship service. Well chosen hymns also serve to reinforce the theme of the sermon and the readings of the day. And in times of crisis in our lives the comforting words of hymns bring the reminder of God’s eternal concern for His people to our minds and hearts.

Good hymns teach. They help us understand the different church seasons (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel). They prepare us for communion (Let Us Break Bread Together). They tell us about the attributes of God (A Mighty Fortress). They convict us of our sin (Amazing Grace). They explain theological concepts (The Church’s One Foundation) and give lessons in how to serve (Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling) and be more generous (We Give Thee But Thine Own). Some hymns are almost a sermon in themselves (Salvation Unto Us Has Come)!

Church music can touch our hearts and sink into our souls in a way that is hard to explain or understand. Church music can lift us up into the very realm of God’s presence. No wonder Luther called it “a fair and glorious gift of God.”