Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 17

Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering … He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. (Isaiah 53:3)
A life of praise is not something that can be worked up. Rather, it is a remembrance and a response to Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf. As we reflect on who Christ is and what He has accomplished for us, what He provides in our daily lives as an advocate before God, and what He has promised for our future, our hearts are melted before Him. We bow at His feet in humble adoration and proclaim with all sincerity, “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”
It is said that the word Hallelujah is basically the same in all languages. It seems as though God has given this word as a preparation for the great celebration of heaven, when His children from every tribe, language, people and nation shall have been gathered home to sing their eternal “Hallelujah to the Lamb!”
Philip Bliss, along with Ira Sankey, was one of the truly important leaders and publishers of early gospel music. Before his tragic train accident death at the age of 38, he wrote hundreds of gospel songs, many of which are still widely sung today. “Hallelujah, What a Savior!” is one of the best and most enduring of the songs produced by Bliss. The first four stanzas present Christ’s atoning work simply and clearly. The last stanza, “When He comes, our glorious King,” is in an entirely different mood, joyful and triumphant in its anticipation of the praise that will continue throughout eternity—“Hallelujah, What a Savior!”
“Man of Sorrows!” what a name for the Son of God, who came ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood-—Sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Guilty, vile and helpless we, spotless Lamb of God was He; full atonement! can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die, “It is finished,” was His cry; now in heav’n exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

    For Today: Isaiah 53:3–6; Philippians 2:7–11; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:24

Carry your “Hallelujah, what a Savior!” with you into every situation. Reflect often on Christ’s atoning work on your behalf and the glorious promise of His return.

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 16

Samuel Medley, 1738–1799
Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:25)
The distinctiveness of the Christian faith is that it focuses all of its teachings and emphasis on a single person, Jesus Christ—the God-man. All that we really know about our heavenly Father is learned from this One who lived among us for 33 years.
Some people speak eloquently about the Fatherhood of God yet seldom extol the virtues of Christ. But without a biblical knowledge of Christ and a personal relationship with Him, our understanding of God the Father would be incomplete. The Scriptures teach that Christ was the visible representation of the invisible Godhead (John 14:9).
Samuel Medley served in the British Royal Navy until he was wounded in battle at the age of 21. While recuperating from his injury, he was converted to Christ as he was reading a sermon by Isaac Watts. Soon Medley felt the call of God to the ministry and pastored several Baptist churches, including one in Liverpool, where he was especially successful, particularly in work with young sailors.
This hymn text first appeared in Medley’s hymnal of 1789. It was originally titled “Praise of Jesus,” and it presents a rich picture of our Lord. It extols His matchless worth, unfathomable to the human mind; His redemptive work; His characters and many forms of love; His righteousness; and the fact that He will one day receive us to an eternal heavenly home.
O could I speak the matchless worth, O could I sound the glories forth which in my Savior shine, I’d soar and touch the heav’nly strings, and vie with Gabriel while he sings in notes almost divine, in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood He spilt, my ransom from the dreadful guilt of sin and wrath divine! I’d sing His glorious righteousness, in which all perfect heav’nly dress my soul shall ever shine, my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters He bears, and all the forms of love He wears, exalted on His throne: In loftiest songs of sweetest praise, I would to everlasting days make all His glories known, make all His glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come when my dear Lord will bring me home and I shall see His face; then with my Savior, Brother, Friend, a blest eternity I’ll spend, triumphant in His grace, triumphant in His grace.

    For Today: Psalm 73:21–28; Matthew 14:33; 27:54; 28:18; Philippians 2:9–11

Spend a few moments delighting yourself in Christ alone. Then sing as you go—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 15

John Newton, 1725–1807
Unto you therefore which believe He is precious. (1 Peter 2:7 KJV)
One of the important activities we need for our spiritual growth and maturity is to spend time daily in quiet meditation and communion with our Lord. Although Bible reading and prayer are absolutely necessary, it is still possible to engage in these pursuits without ever experiencing real communion with Christ Himself. We must learn to say—
Once His gifts I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for blessing, now Himself alone!
—A. B. Simpson
John Newton has given believers an excellent text for extolling and meditating upon Christ. This worship of our Lord reaches its crescendo in the fourth stanza when Newton lists ten consecutive titles for Jesus: Shepherd, Brother, Friend, Prophet, Priest, King, Lord, Life, Way, End. In the fifth and sixth stanzas, Newton realizes that a Christian’s praise of Christ’s names will always be inadequate until He is finally viewed in heaven. But we must never cease trying.
The story is told of this converted slave ship captain preaching one of his final sermons before his home-going at the age of 82. His eyesight was nearly gone and his memory had become faulty. It was necessary for an assistant to stand in the pulpit to help him with his sermon. One Sunday Newton had twice read the words, “Jesus Christ is precious.” “You have already said that twice,” whispered his helper; “go on.” “I said that twice, and I am going to say it again,” replied Newton. Then the rafters rang as the old preacher shouted, “JESUS CHRIST IS PRECIOUS!”
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast; ’tis manna to the hungry soul and to the weary rest.
Dear name! the Rock on which I build, my Shield and Hiding place, my never failing Treasury filled with boundless stores of grace.
Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; but when I see Thee as Thou art I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim with ev’ry fleeting breath; and may the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death.

    For Today: Psalm 8:9; 104:34; Song of Solomon 1:3; Matthew 11:28

Ask this question: “How often do I spend time in worship and adoration of Christ simply for who He is?” Begin now by singing this musical message—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 14

J. Wilbur Chapman, 1859–1918
Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:13, 14)
To the artist, Christ is the one altogether lovely.
To the builder, He is the sure foundation.
To the doctor, He is the great physician.
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God who cleanses and forgives sin.
To the Christian, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, our great Savior.
Through the centuries, artists and poets who have been impressed with Christ have tried valiantly to present His portrait both with brush and pen. Yet even the noblest efforts of these dedicated men and women seem feeble and inadequate.
Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman has provided a worthy text extolling various attributes of Christ as they relate to our personal lives: “Friend of sinners,” “Lover of my soul,” “Strength in weakness,” “My victory, help in sorrow, comfort, guide, keeper, pilot.” Finally, after reviewing everything that Christ means to a believer, we can do no better than to respond with Chapman’s refrain: “Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend!”
“Our Great Savior” first appeared in its present form in the hymnal Alexander’s Gospel Songs, No. 2, published in 1910.
Jesus! what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul. Friends may fail me, foes assail me; He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Jesus! what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him; tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He, my strength, my vict’ry wins.
Jesus! what a help in sorrow! While the billows o’er me roll, even when my heart is breaking, He, my comfort, helps my soul.
Jesus! what a guide and Keeper! While the tempest still is high, storms about me, night o’er-takes me, He, my Pilot, hears my cry.
Jesus! I do now receive Him; more than all in Him I find; He hath granted me forgiveness; I am His, and He is mine.
Chorus: Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.

    For Today: Luke 7:34; Romans 3:24, 25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:18; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 5:9

Give Christ the praise of your heart for all that He really means in life—in your vocation, pursuits, personal relationships … Use this musical expression to carry your praise—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 13

Edward Perronet, 1726–1792
Altered by John Rippon, 1751–1836
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)
Sometimes called the “National Anthem of Christendom,” this is one of the truly great worship hymns of the church. Written by a young English minister, it was published in 1779 and has been translated into almost every language where Christianity is known. The strong exuberant lines lead us to heartfelt worship of God each time we sing them. But what does it mean to worship?
It is a quickening of the conscience by the holiness of God; a feeding of the mind with the truth of God; an opening of the heart to the love of God; and a devoting of the will to the purpose of God.
We can be thankful that God moved an 18th century pastor to write this stirring hymn text that reminds us so forcibly that the angels in heaven and ransomed souls from “every kindred, every tribe” on earth are worshiping with us even now. And we will one day all join together in singing “the everlasting song”—when Christ is crowned “Lord of all.”
Edward Perronet came from a family of distinguished French Huguenots who had fled to Switzerland and then England to escape religious persecution. He was ordained to the ministry of the Anglican church but was always more sympathetic to the evangelical movement led by John and Charles Wesley. Soon Edward left the state church to join the Wesleys in their evangelistic endeavors. Although he wrote a number of other hymns, this is the only one for which he will be remembered.
All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race, ye ransomed from the fall, hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all!
Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe, on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all!
O that with yonder sacred throng ye at His feet may fall! We’ll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!

    For Today: Colossians 1:15–19; Philippians 2:9–11; Hebrews 2:7, 8

Reflect with joyous anticipation upon that time in heaven when our “everlasting song” will be shared throughout eternity with those from “every kindred and every tribe.” Prepare even now by singing this hymn—

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