Friday, May 31, 2024

That trial in New York City

I'm only going to make three observations:

1. It was trial by jury.
2. The defendant's lawyers had to consent to allow a juror to be on the jury.
3. The defendant chose not to testify

Now, an observation: Every time the defendant goes to court, he loses. Why? Because under oath, he can't lie or he will go to jail for perjury.

What does that tell you about his truthfulness?

Now, as a Christian, I ask: Does character count?

Jesus has a few words for you if you think it doesn't—and they aren't comforting.

That's all.

A contradiction

Our culture today, of course, resists that notion and protests that sex can be casual and neutral, that it need not be a big deal. The irony is, however, that just as our culture is affirming that sex can be casual and spiritually and psychologically neutral, it is recognizing for the first time the incredible devastation of soul that occurs when someone is sexually violated. This is progress. Unfortunately, this deepening of insight has not yet extended itself to the recognition of how destructive of true community, and often of the individual soul as well, casual sex can be.—The Holy Longing, 199

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Is God a violent god?

Ultimately, how we conceive of God will color how we conceive of everything else, especially justice and peace and the road that leads to them. If we conceive of God as somehow violent, however redemptive we imagine this violence to be, we will then conceive of the road to peace as also lying in violence.—The Holy Longing, 186

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Your actions are speaking so loud that I…

What we are coming more and more to realize, however, is that one of the reasons why the world is not responding more to our challenge to justice is that our actions for justice themselves often mimic the very violence, injustice, hardness, and egoism they are trying to challenge.

Our moral indignation very often leads to the replication of the behavior that aroused the indignation.—The Holy Longing, 179–80

oops! Tozer for Tuesday (Wednesday?)

Oops! I forgot that yesterday was Tuesday because of Memorial Day in the United States. Here you go:

Some people think of a spiritual Christian as being a rather tragic, anemic, mousey, soft-spoken, gentle and harmless person who walks about with a permanent smile and cannot be roused to any kind of spiritual indignation. I do not find this to be the scriptural definition of spirituality. If so, then Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and John and Peter could not be said to be spiritual men.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 119

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How do you treat them? It matters!

The quality of our faith depends upon the character of justice in the land and the character of justice is to be measured by how we treat three groups—widows, orphans, and foreigners (those with the least status in society). Thus, for the Jewish prophets, our standing with God depends upon where we stand with the poor and no private faith and piety, be they ever so pure and sincere, can soften that edict.—The Holy Longing, 175

Monday, May 27, 2024

Rolling coal and restorative justice

On Bicycling, a look at the “rolling coal” case in Texas three years later:

Basically, drivers can do whatever they want and it’s too bad for the pedestrian or cyclist. What a world!

I pulled off the road in 2020 after over twenty years of riding anywhere from 2000–4000 miles/year. We’ve modified where we walk (even in little Red Wing) because of the recklessness and inattentiveness of drivers. It seems like every week more and more drivers run stop signs, sometimes not even looking to see if anyone is coming—especially pedestrians.

Earlier this year, a driver, going over 60 mph by his own admission and without brakes (he knew it, too), no insurance or driver's license, crashed into our neighbor’s house, severing the gas line and requiring the entire neighborhood to evacuate their houses for forty-five minutes.

Our city had a traffic planning meeting earlier this month and they have federal funds to make the roads safer. I’m not terribly hopeful, but we gave our input as pedestrians and residents…

But, more importantly, what would restorative justice look like in these two cases?

I'm not terribly certain, but I can recall a situation when our son, Ryan, was in high school. One day at school, he had a knife pulled on him in class. I don't doubt, knowing Ryan, that he made some wise crack at which the other boy took offense. While Ryan probably shouldn't have said what he said, that certainly doesn't justify pulling a knife!

The other boy had a history of trouble and a case worker. The case worker brought the boy over to our house and had him apologize to Ryan and us for his actions. Not sure how much of an effect that had on the boy, but it had an affect on us. It transformed the way we looked at the kid. He became human rather than an abstract "kid with a troubled background." In other words, he was no longer an "other." He was a person.

So, in the case of the neighbor, perhaps the driver should be required to help the workers who are repairing the foundation. Perhaps he should be required to apologize to our neighbor for the mess he made of her house. I know the neighbor is struggling with bitterness toward the boy. Maybe if he was required to to do that, he might become human to her? I don't know, but I would like to think it would.

In the Texas case, I would require the driver to meet with the six people, to hear the trials and troubles of their lives since getting hit. Maybe do some service work specifically for the victims—not some generic public service, but specifically for the victims. It would probably do both of them some good. They would become human to each other.

Further, I would require him to do public appearances, preferably with one of the disabled victims, warning those who want to "roll coal" about the dangers and the possible long-term ramifications.

Pipe dream? Maybe. But if we want to see a better world, we need to dream. And that dream needs to get beyond retributive justice and into restorative justice. That's the Christian way!

Just an
</idle musing>

A heart change…

To have a just world we need a new world order. Such an order, however, can never be imposed by force of any kind, but must win the world’s heart by its own intrinsic moral merit. Simply put, to change the world in such a way that people want justice and are willingly willing to live in a way that makes justice possible requires an appeal to the heart that is so deep, so universal, and so moral that no person of good conscience can walk away from it. No human ideology, no private crusade, and no cause that takes its origins in guilt or anger can ever provide that.—The Holy Longing, 173–74

Friday, May 24, 2024

The poor? Who cares...

It is no accident that laissez-faire democracy has rarely been kind to the poor.—The Holy Longing, 171

Thursday, May 23, 2024

It's bigger than you

Social justice has to do with changing the way the world is organized so as to make a level playing field for everyone. In simple terms this means that social justice is about trying to organize the economic, political, and social structure of the world in such a way so that it values equally each individual and more properly values the environment. Accomplishing this will take more than private charity. Present injustices exist not so much because simple individuals are acting in bad faith or lacking in charity but because huge, impersonal systems (that seem beyond the control of the individuals acting within them) disprivilege some even as they unduly privilege others. This is what social justice language terms systemic injustice and systemic violence.—The Holy Longing, 170

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

It's the system!

Social justice, therefore, tries to look at the system (political, economic, social, cultural, religious, and mythical) within which we live so as to name and change those structural things that account for the fact that some of us are unduly penalized even as others of us are unduly privileged. Thus, social justice has to do with issues such as poverty, inequality, war, racism, sexism, abortion, and lack of concern for ecology because what lies at the root of each of these is not so much someone’s private sin or some individual’s private inadequacy but rather a huge, blind system that is inherently unfair.—The Holy Longing, 169

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Resurrection or resuscitation?

There are also two kinds of life: There is resuscitated life and there is resurrected life. Resuscitated life is when one is restored to one’s former life and health, as is the case with someone who has been clinically dead and is brought back to life. Resurrected life is not this. It is not a restoration of one’s old life but the reception of a radically new life. We see this difference in scripture by comparing the resurrection of Jesus and the so-called resurrection (which is really a resuscitation) of Lazarus. Lazarus got his old life back, a life from which he had to die again. Jesus did not get his old life back. He received a new life—a richer life and one within which he would not have to die again.—The Holy Longing, 146

Tozer for Tuesday

Then the power of the Holy Spirit brings the magnetic power to draw us to Christ, exalting Him above all else and above all others. We must demand more than correct doctrine, though we dare not have less than correct doctrine. More than right living, though we dare not have less than right living; more than a friendly atmosphere, though we dare not have less than a friendly atmosphere. We must demand that the Word of God be preached in power, and that we hear it in power.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 115

Monday, May 20, 2024

We're doing it wrong!

There is a great irony here. If this woman had gone to Jesus’ grave with this outpouring of affection and perfume, it would have been accepted, even admired. You were allowed to anoint a dead body, but it was not acceptable to express similar love and affection to a live one. Nothing has changed in two thousand years. We still save our best compliments and flowers for the funeral. Jesus’ challenge here is for us to anoint each other while we are still alive: Shower those you love with affection and flowers while they are alive, not at their funerals.—The Holy Longing, 133

Saturday, May 18, 2024

And a second prayer for the country

Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O Thou eternal Source of peace. Bless our country that it may ever be a stronghold of peace, and the advocate of peace in the councils of nations. May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes. Strengthen the bonds of friendship and fellowship between all the inhabitants of our land. Plant virtue in every soul; and may the love of Thy Name hallow every home and every heart. Praised be Thou, O Lord, Giver of Peace. Amen.—The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition, 517

</idle musing>
This one also seems most appropriate as a prayer for today.
</idle musing>

Friday, May 17, 2024

There's plenty of room!

What does it mean to be catholic? Jesus gave the best definition of the term when he said: “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” This is not a description of a certain geography in heaven but a revelation of the breadth of God’s heart. The bosom of God is not a ghetto. God has a catholic heart—in that catholic means universal, wide, all-encompassing. The opposite of a catholic is a fundamentalist, a person who has a heart with one room.—The Holy Longing, 130

A prayer for the country


Almighty God, who in the former time didst lead our fathers forth into a wealthy place; give Thy grace, we humbly beseech Thee, to us, their children, that we may alway approve ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor, and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure religion. Defend our liberties, preserve our unity. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Fashion into one happy people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit oi wisdom those whom we intrust in Thy Name with the authority of governance, to the end that there be peace at home, and that we keep a place among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness; and in the day of trouble suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.—The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition, 516-17

<idle musing>
Seems an appropriate prayer for our times, does it not?
</idle musing>

Thursday, May 16, 2024

We're not there yet

Whenever I meet the presence of God within Community I will not meet it in its pure form. All communities of faith mediate the grace of God in a very mixed way. Sin, pettiness, and betrayal are always found alongside grace, sanctity, and fidelity.—The Holy Longing, 127

O Splendor of God's glory bright

638 St. Venantius. L.M.

1 O Splendor of God's glory bright,
   From light eternal bringing light;
   Thou Light of life, light's living Spring,
   True Day, all days illumining.

O Thou true Sun, on us Thy glance
   Let fall in royal radiance,
   The Spirit's sanctifying beam
   Upon our earthly senses stream.

The Father, too, our prayers implore
   Father of glory evermmore;
   The Father of all grace and might,
   To banish sin from our delight;

To guide whate'er we nobly do,
   With love all envy to subdue,
   To make illfortune turn to fair,
   And give us grace our wrongs to bear.
                        Ambrose of Milan
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This hymn by Ambrose only occurs in about 45 hymnals, but it seems to have about that many variations. None of the versions at has the version here. Most of them also contain more verses. Follow the link and compare to your heart's content!

That's the final hymn in this hymnal; what follows now is responsive readings, orders of service, communion services, etc. I may or may not post on those. Expect a gap here and there for a week or two. Next I think I'll go through the United Methodist hymnal that replaced this one. By necessity there will be overlap, but I won't post the duplicates (but I think I've already said that).
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Look around—then look at Jesus

Outside of a focus on his person [Jesus] and what we are drawn to spontaneously live when we sense his presence, we have angry fireworks and constant dissipation, as the state of our families, communities, nations, and world gives ample testimony to. Nothing else, ultimately, holds us together.

Hence the basis for Christian ecclesial community, church, is a gathering around the person of Jesus Christ and a living in his Spirit. And that Spirit too is not some vague bird or abstract tonality. The spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, is defined in scripture as charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long—suffering, fidelity, mildness, and chastity.—The Holy Longing, 120

<idle musing>
Oh my. He has us pegged here, doesn't he? Nothing outside of the power of the Holy Spirit can hold us together (see today's Tozer for Tuesday).
</idle musing>

A word for today

Apostolic community is not had by joining others who share our fears and, with them, barricading ourselves against what threatens us. It is had when, on the basis of something more powerful than our fears, we emerge from our locked rooms and begin to take down walls. 116

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire

636 Veni Creator. L. M. with refrain (Veni, Creator Spiritus)

1 Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
   And lighten with celestial fire;
   Thou the anointed Spirit art,
   Who dost Thy sevenfold gifts impart.

2 Thy blessed unction from above
   Is comfort, life, and fire of love.
   Enable with perpetual light
   The dullness of our blinded sight.

3 Anoint and cheer our soiled face
   With the abundance of Thy grace.
   Keep far our foes, give peace at home,
   Where Thou art guide, no ill can come.

4 Teach us to know the Father, Son,
   And Thee, of both, to be but one;
   That through the ages, all along,
   This may be our endless song:

Refrain (after the last stanza):
   Praise to Thy eternal merit,
   Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
                         Anonymous (9th or 10th century)
                         Tr. by John Cosin
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not to be confused with a hymn by Charles Wesley that has the same first line. This one is far less popular, only occurring in a little over 100 hymnals. I don't recall ever singing it. According to, it should be attributed to a Rabanus Maurus, who lived fron 776 to 856, although his birth date is disputed.
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday (a day late)

The Holy Spirit is not something we can argue about or somebody about whom we can say, “Well, you believe your way and I’ll believe mine.” The Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity in the Church. There is a power in the Spirit, which can expose sin and revolutionize and convert and create holy men and women, and nothing else can do it. Words will not do it. Instructions will not do it. Line upon line and precept upon precept will not do it; it takes power to do it. This power is a persuasive power to convince, persuade and break down resistance. It is also a worship power creating reverence and ecstasy.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 114

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

To God the only wise

618 Old 134th (St. Michael). S. M.

1 To God the only wise,
   our Savior and our King,
   let all the saints below the skies
   their humble praises bring.

2 To our Redeemer God
   wisdom and pow'r belongs,
   immortal crowns of majesty,
   and everlasting songs.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not one of Isaac Watts better know hymns. It occurs in about 350 hymnals. This hymn isn't in the regular part of the Methodist hymnal, but in the Responses section, which is probably why it only has the first and last verse. adds three verses:

2 ’Tis His almighty love,
   His counsel and His care,
   preserves us safe from sin and death,
   and ev'ry hurtful snare.

3 He will present our souls
   unblemished and complete,
   before the glory of His face,
   with joys divinely great.

4 Then all the chosen seed
   shall meet around the throne,
   shall bless the conduct of His grace,
   And make His wonders known.

</idle musing>

Monday, May 13, 2024

You look like what you believe

What is important about all of this is what, in the end, forms our faces. Up until age forty, genetic endowment is dominant and that is why, up until that age, we can be selfish and still look beautiful. From then onward, though, we look like what we believe in. If I am anxious, petty, selfish, bitter, narrow, and self-centered, my face will show it. Conversely, if I am warm, gracious, humble, and other-centered, my face will also show it. A scary thought; there can be no poker faces after forty.—The Holy Longing, 103

<idle musing>
I'm not sure I entirely believe him, but it does tend to be true—and is definitely something to think about.
</idle musing>

Jesus, stand among us

593 Vesper (Mann). 6. 5. 6. 5.

1 Jesus, stand among us
   In Thy risen power;
   Let this time of worship
   Be a hallowed hour.

2 Breathe the Holy Spirit
   Into every heart;
   Bid the fears and sorrows
   From each soul depart.

3 Thus with quickened footsteps
   We pursue our way,
   Watching for the dawning
   Of eternal day.
                         William Pennefather
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Lord and Savior, true and kind

560 Boyce (Sharon). 7. 7. 7. 7.

1. Lord and Savior, true and kind,
   Be the Master of my mind;
   Bless, and guide, and strengthen still
   All my powers of thought and will.

2. While I ply the scholar’s task,
   Jesus Christ, be near, I ask;
   Help the memory, clear the brain,
   Knowledge still to seek and gain.

3. Here I train for life’s swift race;
   Let me do it in Thy grace;
   Here I arm me for life’s fight;
   Let me do it in Thy might.

4. Thou hast made me mind and soul;
   I for Thee would use the whole;
   Thou hast died that I might live;
   All my powers to Thee I give.

5. Striving, thinking, learning, still,
   Let me follow thus Thy will,
   Till my whole glad nature be
   Trained for duty and for Thee.
                         Handley C. G. Moule
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No, not that Moule! This is his great uncle, also an important scholar and bishop of Durham. I wasn't aware that he had written any hymns, but it appears he wrote several, none of which are in more than eight hymnals.

I don't recall ever singing—or even noticing—this hymn before, but I really like the sentiments it expresses.

That brings us to the end of the regular part of this hymnal. The next section is entitled "Music for the Holy Communion, Response, Doxologies, Ancient Hymns and Canticles." Not sure how much of that I'll be posting. After this hymnal, I'll probably go through the hymnal that superseded it, The Book of Hymns. There will undoubtably be duplicates, which I won't be posting. I do recall the excitement when the church bought these new hymnals. It included "How Great Thou Art," which was always a popular solo choice because it wasn't in the previous hymnal.
</idle musing>

Saturday, May 11, 2024

O Thou Whose feet have climbed life's hill

559 St. Magnus. C. M.

1 O Thou Whose feet have climbed life's hill,
   And trod the path of youth,
   Our Saviour and our Brother still,
   Now lead us into truth.

2 The call is Thine: be Thou the Way,
   And give us men, to guide;
   Let wisdom broaden with the day,
   Let human faith abide.

3 Who learn of Thee the truth shall find,
   Who follow, gain the goal:
   With reverence crown the earnest mind,
   And speak within the soul.

4 Awake the purpose high which strives,
   And, falling, stands again;
   Confirm the will of eager lives
   To quit themselves like men.

5 Thy life the bond of fellowship,
   Thy love the law that rules,
   Thy Name, proclaimed by every lip,
   The Master of our schools.
                         Louis F. Benson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, May 10, 2024

Really? You gotta be kidding!

Both as liberals and conservatives we too easily write off this third prong of the spiritual life, rationalizing that our causes are so urgent, we are so wounded, and our world is so bad, that, in our situation, anger and bitterness are justified. But we are wrong and, as the American poet William Stafford warns, “following the wrong God home we may miss our star.” The wrong God is the God of both the contemporary right and the contemporary left, that is, the God who is as wired, bitter, anxious, workaholic, neurotic, and unhappy as we are. But that is not the God who lies at the end of the spiritual quest, who, as Julian of Norwich assures us, sits in heaven, smiling, completely relaxed, looking like a marvelous sympathy” and who agrees with Albert Camus that the real revenge on our enemies, both to the right and to the left, and on the deepest demons that haunt us, is to be madly happy.—The Holy Longing, 67–68

Almighty Lord, with one accord

558 Patten. C. M.

1. Almighty Lord, with one accord
   We offer Thee our youth,
   And pray that Thou would’st give us
   The warfare of the truth.

2. Thy cause doth claim our souls by name,
   Because that we are strong;
   In all the land, one steadfast band,
   May we to Christ belong.

3. Let fall on every college hall
   The luster of Thy cross,
   That love may dare Thy work to share
   And count all else as loss.

4. Our hearts be ruled, our spirits schooled
   Alone Thy will to seek;
   And when we find Thy blessed mind,
   Instruct our lips to speak.
                         M. Woolsey Stryker
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this one (it only occurs in 23 hymnals), but that's true of many of the hymns in this section of the hymnal, which is labeled "Special Seasons and Services." In other words, songs that are basically sung once at a building dedication or the like. But, this one could be sung before every term—or even every day, for that matter!
</idle musing>

Thursday, May 09, 2024

What is a saint, anyway?

Sanctity has to do with gratitude. To be a saint is to be fueled by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less.—The Holy Longing, 66

God be with you till we meet again

227 God be with you. 9. 8. 9. 8. with Refrain.

1 God be with you till we meet again;
   By God's counsels guide, uphold you,
   With God's sheep securely fold you:
   God be with you till we meet again.

   Till we meet, till we meet,
   Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
   Till we meet, till we meet,
   God be with you till we meet again.

2 God be with you till we meet again;
   ’Neath God's wings protecting hide you,
   Daily manna still provide you:
   God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]

3 God be with you till we meet again;
   When life’s perils thick confound you,
   Put God's arms unfailing round you:
   God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]

4 God be with you till we meet again;
   Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
   Smite death’s threat'ning wave before you:
   God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]
                         Jeremiah E. Rankin
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
There's a note in the Methodist hymnal that this can be sung without the refrain, and indeed, that's the only way I ever remember singing it. In fact, when I saw the refrain in the hymnal today, I thought it was a different song!

It was a commonly sung benediction when I was growing up, so much so that I don't think I ever even looked it up before. I just learned it by singing it.

You might enjoy the biography of the author; just follow the link.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

How will we be judged? You'd be surprised

He identifies his own presence with the poor and tells us that, ultimately, we will be judged on how we treat the poor. Bluntly put, we will go to heaven or hell on the basis of giving or not giving food, water, clothing, shelter, and justice to the poor. How we treat the poor is how we treat God. For this reason, Jesus asks us to make a preferential option for the poor: “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your family or your relations or rich neighbors, in case they invite you back and repay you. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind; then you will be blessed.” Reaching out, preferentially, to the poor is an essential component of the spiritual life.—The Holy Longing, 65

How naive!

555 Byrd. C. M.

O God Creator, in whose hand
   The rolling planets lie,
   Give skill to those who now command
   The ships that brave the sky.

Strong Spirit, burning with mankind
   On mission high to dare
   Safe pilot all who seek to find
   Their haven through the air.

Enfolding Life, bear on Thy wing
   Through storm, and dark, and sun,
   The men in air who closer bring
   The nations into one.
                         Harry Webb Farrington
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This hymn was written in 1928, when flying was still a dangerous and novel thing. The author lived in Dayton, OH, which was right in the center of most of the excitement over aviation. It only occurs in seven hymnals.

You can sense the same kind of excitement and optimism that some of us felt at the beginning of the microcomputer age, or the rise of the internet, or the hope that maybe blogging or social media might actually improve social interaction. All that seems naive in retrospect. The same for author of this hymn, who thought that aviation would "closer bring the nations into one." The massive destruction of firebombing in WWII laid that notion to rest...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Not so optional after all

More than a few Christians might be surprised to learn that the call to be involved in creating justice for the poor is just as essential and nonnegotiable within the spiritual life as is Jesus’ commandment to pray and keep our private lives in order. Jesus’ teaching on this is very strong, consistent throughout all the Gospels, and leaves no room for equivocation. In the Christian scriptures, one out of every ten lines deals directly with the physically poor and the call from God for us to respond to them. In the gospel of Luke, that becomes every sixth line, and in the epistle of James, that commission is there, in one form or another, ever fifth line.—The Holy Longing, 64

Tozer for Tuesday

Paul’s appeal was to the power of the risen Christ. If the evangelical church and the people who compose it are not living in a constant miracle, they are not Christians at all, because the Christian life is a miracle. It is what the Ark of Noah was in the day of the Flood. It was completely separated from the flood and yet floating upon it. It was what Jesus was when He walked among men, right in the middle of them yet separate from sinners. There operates within the true Body of Christ a continual energizing of the Spirit that makes a continual miracle. The Christian is not somebody who believes only; a Christian is somebody who has believed in power.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 112–13

All nature's works His praise declare

552 Bethlehem. C. M. D.

1. All nature’s works His praise declare, to whom they all belong;
   There is a voice in every star, in every breeze a song.
   Sweet music fills the world abroad with strains of love and power;
   The stormy sea sings praise to God, the thunder and the shower.

2. To God the tribes of ocean cry, and birds upon the wing;
   To God the powers that dwell on high their tuneful tribute bring.
   Like them, let us the throne surround, with them loud chorus raise,
   While instruments of loftier sound assist our feeble praise.

3. Great God, to Thee we consecrate our voices and our skill;
   We bid the pealing organ wait to speak alone Thy will.
   Lord, while the music round us floats may earth born passions die;
   O grant its rich and swelling notes may lift our souls on high!
                         Henry Ware Jr.
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not exactly a popular hymn; it only occurs in 39 hymnals.
</idle musing>

Monday, May 06, 2024

It's a relationship!

The danger in not having the proper interiority (intimacy with God) and the personal moral fidelity to back up our faith preaching is that we end up turning Christianity into a philosophy, an ideology, and a moral code, but ultimately missing what Christianity is all about, a relationship with a real person.—The Holy Longing, 63

For all the blessings of the year

546 Oldbridge. 8. 8. 8. 4.

1 For all the blessings of the year,
   For all the friends we hold so dear,
   For peace on earth, both far and near,
   We thank Thee, Lord.

2 For life and health, those common things,
   Which every day and hour brings,
   For home, where our affection clings,
   We thank Thee, Lord.

3 For love of Thine, which never tires,
   Which all our better thought inspires,
   And warms our lives with heavenly fires,
   We thank Thee, Lord.
                         Albert H. Hutchinson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, this is a definite first. I can't find any information about the author of this hymn. It appears to be the only hymn he wrote and appears in only 34 hymnals.
</idle musing>

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Come, ye thankful people, come

545 St. George's Windsor. 7. 7. 7. 7. D.

1 Come, ye thankful people, come,
   raise the song of harvest home;
   all is safely gathered in,
   ere the winter storms begin.
   God our Maker doth provide
   for our wants to be supplied;
   come to God's own temple, come,
   raise the song of harvest home.

2 All the world is God's own field,
   fruit as praise to God we yield;
   wheat and tares together sown
   are to joy or sorrow grown;
   first the blade and then the ear,
   then the full corn shall appear;
   Lord of harvest, grant that we
   wholesome grain and pure may be.

3 For the Lord our God shall come,
   and shall take the harvest home;
   from the field shall in that day
   all offenses purge away,
   giving angels charge at last
   in the fire the tares to cast;
   but the fruitful ears to store
   in the garner evermore.

4 Even so, Lord, quickly come,
   bring thy final harvest home;
   gather thou thy people in,
   free from sorrow, free from sin,
   there, forever purified,
   in thy presence to abide;
   come, with all thine angels, come,
   raise the glorious harvest home.
                         Henry Alford
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Alford published a Greek New Testament, for which is he better known than for his hymns. The biography linked to above says this, rather accurately, about Alford as a hymnwriter:

As a hymn-writer he added little to his literary reputation. The rhythm of his hymns is musical, but the poetry is neither striking, nor the thought original. They are evangelical in their teaching, but somewhat cold and conventional. They vary greatly in merit.
</idle musing>

Saturday, May 04, 2024

We plow the fields and scatter

544 St. Anselm. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 We plow the fields and scatter
   The good seed on the land,
   But it is fed and watered
   By God's almighty hand.
   He sends the snow in winter,
   The warmth to swell the grain,
   The breezes and the sunshine,
   And soft, refreshing rain.

2 He only is the Maker
   Of all things near and far;
   He paints the wayside flower,
   He lights the evening star.
   The winds and waves obey Him,
   By Him the birds are fed;
   Much more, to us His children,
   He gives our daily bread.

3 We thank Thee then, O Father,
   For all things bright and good:
   The seed-time and the harvest,
   Our life, our health our food.
   No gifts have we to offer
   For all Thy love imparts,
   But that which Thou desirest,
   Our humble, thankful hearts.
                         Matthias Claudius
                         Tr. by Jane M. Campbell
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Some add a refrain:

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above;
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
</idle musing>

Friday, May 03, 2024

Distracting ourselves to death

Thomas Merton once said that the biggest spiritual problem of our time is efficiency, work, pragmatism; by the time we keep the plant running there is little time and energy for anything else. Neil Postman suggests that, as a culture, we are amusing ourselves to death, that is, distracting ourselves into a bland, witless superficiality.” Henri Nouwen has written eloquently on how our greed for experience and the restlessness, hostility, and fantasy it generates, block solitude, hospitality, and prayer in our lives. They are right. What each of these authors, and countless others, are saying is that we, for every kind of reason, good and bad, are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion. It is not that we have anything against God, depth, and spirit, we would like these, it is just that we are habitually too preoccupied to have any of these show up on our radar screens. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than nonspiritual, and more interested in the movie theater, the sports stadium, and the shopping mall and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives.—The Holy Longing, 32–33

<idle musing>
"We are more busy than bad, more distracted than nonspiritual, and more interested in the movie theater, the sports stadium, and the shopping mall and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives."

That sums up our lives only too well, doesn't it? And, if he had written it today, he would have added our phones…
</idle musing>

O Lord of heaven and earth and sea

541 Oldbridge. 8. 8. 8. 4.

1 O Lord of heaven and earth and sea,
   to thee all praise and glory be.
   How shall we show our love to thee
   who givest all?

2 The golden sunshine, vernal air,
   sweet flowers and fruit, thy love declare;
   when harvests ripen, thou art there,
   who givest all.

3 For peaceful homes, and healthful days,
   for all the blessings earth displays,
   we owe thee thankfulness and praise,
   who givest all.

4 For souls redeemed, for sins forgiven,
   for means of grace and hopes of heaven,
   Father, what can to thee be given,
   who givest all?

5 We lose what on ourselves we spend,
   we have as treasure without end
   whatever, Lord, to thee we lend,
   who givest all.

6 To thee, from whom we all derive
   our life, our gifts, our power to give:
   O may we ever with thee live,
   who givest all.
                         Christopher Wordsworth
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No, not that Wordworth! He's this one's uncle! Some hymnals insert two verses:

4 Thou didst not spare thine only Son,
   but gav'st him for a world undone,
   and freely with that blessèd One
   thou givest all.

5 Thou giv'st the Holy Spirit's dower,
   Spirit of life and love and power,
   and dost his sevenfold graces shower
   upon us all.

And others insert a chorus:
We'll sing thy praise in songs of holy joy!
Thy work, O Lord, shall all our pow'rs employ!
Souls redeemed and sins forgiv'n,
For means of grace and hopes of heav'n,
Thou didst not spare thine only Son,
But freely gave that blessed One
To save us all.
</idle musing>

Thursday, May 02, 2024

It's a powerful fire!

Spirituality is about properly handling the fires, those powerful energies, that flow through us. We struggle because we are naive and underestimate both the origins and the power of this fire. We think that energy is ours, and it is not. We think we can, all on our own, control it, and we cannot. There is a madness in us that comes from the god and unless we respect and relate it precisely to its divine source we will forever be either too restless or too depressed to ever fully enjoy life or we will be some mini-version of David Koresh, convinced that we are God.—The Holy Longing, 31

<idle musing>
That reference dates the book a bit, doesn't it? I linked to the Wiki version of who David Koresh was for those who don't recall. That aside, he's making a very valid point here. Augustine said the same thing 1600 years before, too. We were created for a relationship with our maker, and nothing else will suffice.
</idle musing>

Great God, we sing that mighty hand

539 Federal Street. L. M.

1 Great God, we sing that mighty hand,
   By which supported still we stand:
   The opening year thy mercy shews.
   Let mercy crown it till it close.

2 By day, by night, at home, abroad,
   Still we are guarded by our God;
   By thine incessant bounty fed,
   By thine unerring counsel led.

3 With grateful hearts the past we own;
   The future, all to us unknown,
   We to thy guardian care commit,
   And peaceful leave before thy feet.

4 In scenes exalted or depress'd,
   Be thou our joy, and thou our rest;
   Thy goodness all our hopes shall raise,
   Adored thro' all our changing days.
                         Philip Doddridge
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
A fairly popular hymn, occurring in over 480 hymnals. has a fifth verse:

5 When death shall interrupt these songs,
   And seal in silence mortal tongues,
   Our helper God, in whom we trust,
   In better words our souls shall boast.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Don't interrupt my depression!

In Western culture, the joyous shouting of children often irritates us because it interferes with our depression. That is why we have invented a term, hyperactivity, so that we can, in good conscience, sedate the spontaneous joy in many of our children.—The Holy Longing, 27

<idle musing>
Ouch! I think he hit on something there. Our society on the whole strongly dislikes children. Perhaps because they remind us that there is more to life than acting busy and trying to "get ahead" or make more money. Or maybe, as he says, they interrupt our depression.

Either way, we need to celebrate children!
</idle musing>

Sing to the great Jehovah’s praise!

538 Evangelist. C. M.

1. Sing to the great Jehovah’s praise!
   All praise to Him belongs:
   Who kindly lengthens out our days
   Demands our choicest songs.

2. His providence hath brought us through
   Another various year:
   We all with vows and anthems new
   Before our God appear.

3. Father, Thy mercies past we own;
   Thy still continued care;
   To Thee presenting, through Thy Son,
   Whate’er we have or own.

4. Our lips and lives shall gladly show
   The wonders of Thy love,
   While on in Jesu’s steps we go
   To see Thy face above.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Again, as is usual for Wesley's hymns, there are more verses. Cyberhymnal has them:

5. Our residue of days or hours
   Thine, wholly Thine, shall be;
   And all our consecrated powers
   A sacrifice to be:

6. Till Jesus in the clouds appear
   To saints on earth forgiven,
   And bring the grand Sabbatic year,
   The jubilee of Heaven.

</idle musing>