Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

November 11

Johann J. Schutz, 1640–1690
Translated by Frances E. Cox, 1812–1897
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. (Psalm 97:1)
Following the Protestant Reformation, which was climaxed by Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses at the Cathedral of Wittenberg in 1517, Lutheranism became the dominant religious force in Germany and throughout much of Europe. In the 17th century, there was an important renewal movement within the Lutheran Church known as Pietism. The leader of this spiritual movement was a Lutheran pastor in Frankfort, Germany, Philip J. Spener (1635–1705). Mainly through small cell prayer and Bible study groups, he sought to influence nominal church people who had become accustomed to the dead orthodoxy that had overtaken the church. Spener taught them the meaning of inner personal faith in Christ and the demands that such faith makes upon the believer for holy Christian living.
One of the important characteristics of the 17th century Pietistic Movement was the involvement of laymen in the church. Many of the hymn writers and important voices in the church at this time were the lay people from all walks of life. Such was the case with Johann J. Schutz, an authority in civil and canon law, living in Frankfort, Germany. He was closely allied with Philip Spener and the practice of the Pietists in establishing small cell groups within the church. Schutz wrote a number of religious publications as well as five hymns. This is his only hymn still in use.
As is true with any spiritual renewal, the Pietist Movement give birth to a great revival of hymnody throughout Germany.
Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation, the God of pow’r, the God of love, the God of our salvation; with healing balm my soul He fills, and ev’ry faithless murmur stills: To God all praise and glory!
The Lord is never far away, but, thru all grief distressing, an ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing; as with a mother’s tender hand He leads His own, His chosen band: To God all praise and glory!
Thus all my toilsome way along I sing aloud Thy praises, that men may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises; be joyful in the Lord, my heart! Both soul and body bear your part: To God all praise and glory!

    For Today: 1 Chronicles 16:25–36; Psalm 97:1, 6; 139:7; Isaiah 12:2–5; Hebrews 13:15

Raise your voice in praise to the omnipotent God of all creation; yet He is the One who has promised never to be far away and to be your “ever present help and stay.” Allow this musical expression to help—

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