Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 31

Freely adapted from Josiah Condor, 1789–1855
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:3)
As we reflect on the joys, failures, and blessings of the past year, we can rejoice in the truth that we are personally related to the Lord Jehovah, who is king of heaven and earth and will reign forever. Some day we shall see Him and begin to enjoy His eternal presence.
This vibrant hymn stirs us to praise and gratefulness for all of God’s leading in the past year. We will never “murmur at His wise decrees” if we remember His promises and reflect on how good and great He is. We are also reminded by this triumphant text that we must submit ourselves in humility to God’s will in our lives, trusting “His tender care” for us. Then we are to sing and shout His praise throughout each day! What a victorious life this suggests for us as believers as we approach another new year.
The text of this fine hymn is an adaptation of one written earlier by Josiah Condor, a respected non-conformist lay preacher in the Congregational church of England. The music for this text was arranged from a tune found in The Sacred Harp, a collection of early American sacred music.
The Lord is King! Lift up, lift up thy voice—sing His praise, sing His praise! All heav’n and earth before Him now rejoice—sing His praise, sing His praise! From world to world the joy shall ring, for He alone is God and King; from sky to sky His banner fling—sing His praise, sing His praise!
The Lord is King! Let all His worth declare—great is He, great is He! Bow to His will and trust His tender care—great is He, great is He! Nor murmur at His wise decrees, nor doubt His steadfast promises; in humble faith fall on thy knees—great is He!
The Lord is King! And bow to Him ye must—God is great, God is good! The judge of all to all is ever just—God is great, God is good! Holy and true are all His ways: Let ev’ry creature shout His praise; the Lord of Hosts, Ancient of Days—God is great, God is good!
The Lord is King! Throughout His vast domain He is all, all in all! The Lord Jehovah evermore shall reign—He is all, all in all! Through earth and heav’n one song shall ring, from grateful hearts this anthem spring: Arise, ye saints, salute thy King—all thy days, sing His praise!

    For Today: Psalm 10:16; 145:11–13; Luke 1:33; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 11:15

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 30

Isaac Watts, 1674–1748
The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. (Psalm 50:1)
The spread of Christianity has been phenomenal. In spite of cruel persecution of Christ’s followers in the first three centuries A.D. and from time to time through the years since, His kingdom has continued to spread to “realms and people of every tongue.” Periods of attack on believers have served only to increase their fervor and growth. Then in recent years, with the rapid development of technology—radio, television, gospel films, Bible translations and distributions—the preaching of the gospel has been heard by more people than ever before in the history of mankind.
When this stirring hymn was written in 1719, however, the evangelical missionary movement that we know in our time had scarcely begun. In 1779 William Carey was one of the first to try to persuade Christians to carry the gospel message to heathen countries of the world. Isaac Watts was certainly quite prophetic when he paraphrased this text from Psalm 72. It is still considered one of the finest missionary hymns ever written and has been sung in countless native tongues. In the South Sea Islands in 1862, 5,000 primitive people sang this hymn as the king abolished their native laws and established a Christian constitution.
It is thrilling for us to realize that the praise of Jesus, Bethlehem’s humble Babe, is continuing to spread and that some day soon His kingdom will “spread from shore to shore” and every tribe, language, people, and nation will bow down and exalt His name together.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does his successive journeys run, His kingdom spread from shore to shore till moons shall wax and wane no more.
From north to south the princes meet to pay their homage at His feet, while western empires own their Lord and savage tribes attend His word.
To Him shall endless prayer be made and endless praises crown His head: His name like sweet perfume shall rise with ev’ry morning sacrifice.
People and realms of ev’ry tongue dwell on His love with sweetest song, and infant voices shall proclaim their early blessings on His name.

    For Today: Psalm 10:16; 72; Isaiah 33:17; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15

Rejoice in the many endeavors in our day that work to spread the gospel around the world. Resolve to do more personally to assist through prayer and financial support. Reflect on the truth of this hymn—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 29

William O. Cushing, 1823–1902
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
There is a land of pure delight, where saints immortal reign;
Eternal day excludes the night, and pleasures banish pain.
—Isaac Watts
In every life there will be some “dark valleys.” Difficult days cannot be avoided. In fact, the lives of some believers seem to be filled with affliction and suffering. But for the child of God, there is glorious relief just ahead … the return of Christ and the promise of a land of endless delight. The prospect of Gods’ tomorrow also means a time of joyous reunion with loved ones who have preceded us. Truly “there’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes …”
William Orcutt Cushing knew the meaning of “dark valleys” in his life. After more than 20 years of successfully pastoring Disciples of Christ churches in the state of New York, he suddenly lost the ability to speak. Then his wife died at the age of 47. During this “valley period” Cushing became interested in hymn writing and wrote more than 300 hymn texts, including such other favorites as: “Under His Wings,” “When He Cometh,” and “Hiding in Thee.”
Ira David Sankey, the hymn’s composer, worked as a soloist and songleader with evangelist D. L. Moody for nearly 30 years in campaigns throughout the United States and the British Isles. “There’ll Be No Dark Valley” was widely used by Sankey in many of these meetings. The hymn’s simple repetitive message and singable melody still provide encouragement and comfort to God’s people.
There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes; there’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes; there’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes to gather His loved ones home.
There’ll be no more sorrow when Jesus comes; there’ll be no more sorrow when Jesus comes; but a glorious morrow when Jesus comes to gather His loved ones home.
There’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes; there’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes; and a joyful meeting when Jesus comes to gather His loved ones home.
Refrain: To gather His loved ones home, to gather His loved ones home; there’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes to gather His loved ones home.

    For Today: 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 2 Peter 3:13, 14; Revelation 22:5, 12.

Hear these words of encouragement “I will come back and take you to be with me …” (John 14:1–3). Carry this musical truth with you—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 28

H. L. Turner, 19th century
I will come again, and receive you unto Myself. (John 14:3 KJV)
The promise of Christ’s return has been a source of much comfort to God’s people through the centuries. However, it has also caused disagreement and even some divisions within the church. Not all Bible students and groups of Christians are agreed on the outline of future events. Even a casual acquaintance with the study of eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) will soon introduce such conflicting terms and interpretations as postmillennialism, amillennialism, premillennialism, posttribulation, midtribulation, and pretribulation.
Each of these positions has the support of excellent biblical scholarship and many sincere Christian followers. It is easy for believers to get confused with the many aspects of Christ’s return.
Although Christians may disagree on some of the specifics related to future prophecy, most will agree on these basics: Christ will return personally—Acts 1:11; His return will be visible—Revelation 1:7; He will come in power and glory—Mark 13:26; and His coming will consummate His salvation and judgment—John 5:21–29; Hebrews 9:27, 28. The anticipation of Christ’s coming places a responsibility upon believers both individually and corporately even now: To live lives of purity (1 John 3:3) and to be involved in getting the gospel to every nation before His return (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).
“Christ Returneth” first appeared in Ira D. Sankey’s Gospel Hymns, No. 3 in 1878. It has since been widely used to impress and challenge God’s people with the truth of the imminent return of their Lord.
It may be at morn, when the day is awaking, when sunlight thru darkness and shadow is breaking, that Jesus will come in the fullness of glory to receive from the world His own.
It may be at mid-day; it may be at twilight; it may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight will burst into light in the blaze of His glory, when Jesus receives His own.
O joy! O delight should we go without dying, no sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying, caught up thru the clouds with our Lord into glory, when Jesus receives His own.
Chorus: O Lord Jesus, how long, how long ere we shout the glad song—Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.

    For Today: Matthew 24:30, 31; 25:13; Mark 13:32–37; 14:62; Luke 12:35–40; 1 Thessalonians 2:19

Live in the simple enjoyment that Christ will fulfill His promise—He will return—perhaps even this day. Sing this musical prayer—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 27

Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
When Jesus made His first entrance to earth, He was seen by only a small group of people—a few lowly shepherds and later by some wandering wise men. Bethlehem’s stable birth attracted little attention and had limited immediate effect upon the rest of the world. It was nearly 30 years before Christ’s earthly ministry gained much notice.
What a contrast it will be when He returns for His second advent—every eye “shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Even those who crucified God’s Son will see and mourn, as will people from every tribe and nation because of their rejection of Him. But for those who have trusted in His redemptive work, the days of mourning will be over, not just beginning. For the Christian, the anticipation of Christ’s return is a joyous prospect—“O come quickly, Alleluia! come, Lord, come!”
In 1758 Charles Wesley published in his Hymns of Intercession for all Mankind a four stanza text, “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending.” Eight years earlier an associate of the Wesleys, John Cennick, had written a hymn with a similar text. This present version first appeared in 1760 and is really a combination of both Cennick’s and Wesley’s texts.
This is an excellent scriptural hymn and one that should be used much more frequently when believers contemplate and anticipate their Lord’s return.
Lo! He comes, with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain; thousand thousand saints attending, swell the triumph of His train: Alleluia! alleluia! God appears on earth to reign.
Ev’ry eye shall now behold Him, robed in dreadful majesty; those who set at naught and sold Him, pierced and nailed Him to the tree, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.
Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee high on Thine eternal throne; Savior, take the pow’r and glory, claim the kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly, O come quickly, Alleluia! come, Lord come!

    For Today: Matthew 16:27, 28; Mark 13:26, 27; Luke 21:27, 28; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 2 Peter 3:13, 14

Although you have enjoyed celebrating our Lord’s birth, reflect on what a dramatic event His second advent will be. Rejoice in the truth that you will have an important place in His eternal glory. Raise your alleluias even now—


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