Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 12

O WORSHIP THE KING
Robert Grant, 1779–1838
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:6, 7)
The word worship is a contraction of an old expression in the English language, woerth-scipe, denoting the giving of reverent praise to an object of superlative worth. True worship, then, is an act by a redeemed man, the creature, toward God, his Creator, whereby his will, intellect, and emotions gratefully respond to the revelation of God’s person expressed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit illuminates the written word to his heart.
The author of this text, Robert Grant, described himself and all of us as “frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,” even though he was a member of a distinguished British political family, a member of the Parliament of Scotland, and governor of Bombay, India, for a time. Throughout his entire life, Grant was a devoutly evangelical Christian who strongly supported the missionary outreach of his church and endeared himself to the people of India by establishing a medical college in Bombay.
Although this is the only hymn by Sir Robert Grant in common usage today, it is considered to be a model for worship. Its descriptive names used in exalting the Almighty are significant: Shield, Defender, Ancient of Days, Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. Also the vivid imagery—“pavilioned in splendor,” “girded with praise,” “whose robe is the light,” “whose canopy space,” “chariots of wrath,” “wings of the storm”—aids us in the worthy praise and adoration of our heavenly King.
O worship the King, all-glorious above, and gratefully sing His pow’r and His love; our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
O tell of His might, O sing of His grace, whose robe is the light, whose canopy space; His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air; it shines in the light. It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, in thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail; Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end! Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.

    For Today: Psalm 104; 22:28–31; 145:1–13; 1 Timothy 6:15, 16

Identify activities in a church service that are often substituted for the worship of God. Reflect again on the message of this hymn—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 11

O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)
Soon after their graduation from Oxford University, John and Charles Wesley decided to sail to America, the new world, to try to minister to the rough colonists under General Oglethorpe in Georgia and to evangelize the Indians. The Wesleys soon became disillusioned with the situation there, however, and after a short time returned to England.
As they crossed the Atlantic, John and Charles were much impressed by a group of devout Moravians, who seemed to have such spiritual depth and vitality as well as genuine missionary zeal. After returning to London, the Wesleys met with a group of Moravians in the Aldersgate Hall. Here in May, 1738, both brothers had a spiritual “heart-warming experience,” realizing that even though they had been so zealous in religious activity, neither had ever personally known God’s forgiveness or real joy. From that time on their ministry displayed a new dimension of spiritual power.
“O for a Thousand Tongues” was written by Charles in 1749 on the 11th anniversary of his Aldersgate conversion experience. It was inspired by a chance remark of an influential Moravian leader named Peter Bohler, who expressed his spiritual joy in this way: “Oh, Brother Wesley, the Lord has done so much for my life. Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with every one of them!”
These words of personal testimony by Charles Wesley have provided a moving vehicle of worship for God’s people for more than two centuries:
O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread thru all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease, ’tis music in the sinner’s ears; ’tis life and health and peace.
He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin; He sets the pris’ner free. His blood can make the foulest clean … His blood availed for me.
Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come and leap ye lame, for joy.
Glory to God and praise and love be ever, ever giv’n by saints below and saints above … the Church in earth and heav’n.

    For Today: Psalm 96:1–4; 103:1–4; 145:2, 3; Romans 14:17

Let this hymn be the desire of your heart as you sing this message—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 10

MAJESTY
Words and Music by Jack Hayford, 1934–
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1)
There are many attributes of the Lord that should prompt our response of adoration and worship: His holiness, His power, His love … A very popular contemporary song by the Rev. Jack Hayford, senior pastor of the Church of the Way in Van Nuys, California, also teaches that the very regal majesty of Christ deserves our praise. This text further reminds us that Christ’s dominion over principalities, His power, and His absolute majesty in heaven are for the benefit of those who trust and follow Him here and now.
Pastor Hayford relates the following account for the writing of “Majesty:”
In 1977, my wife Anna and I spent our vacation in Great Britain, traveling throughout the land from the south country and Wales to the northern parts of Scotland. It was the same year as Queen Elizabeth’s 25th Anniversary of her coronation, and symbols of royalty were abundantly present beyond the usual.
While viewing many of the ancient castles throughout the land, Pastor Hayford began to reflect on the truth that the provisions of Christ for the believer not only include our forgiveness for sin but provide a restoration to a royal relationship with God as sons and daughters born into the heavenly family through His Majesty.
As Anna and I drove along together, at once the opening lyrics and melody of “Majesty” simply came to my heart, I seemed to feel something new of what it meant to be His—to be raised to a partnership with Him in His throne. Upon returning to our home in California, I was finally able to complete the song.
Pastor Jack Hayford provides this interpretation for his song:
“Majesty” describes the kingly, lordly, gloriously regal nature of our Savior—but not simply as an objective statement in worship of which He is fully worthy. “Majesty” is also a statement of the fact that our worship, when begotten in spirit and in truth, can align us with His throne in such a way that His Kingdom authority flows to us—to overflow us, to free us and channel through us. We are rescued from death, restored to the inheritance of sons and daughters, qualified for victory in battle against the adversary, and destined for the Throne forever in His presence.


Majesty, worship His majesty—Unto Jesus be all glory, power and praise—Majesty, kingdom authority flow from His throne unto His own, His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus—Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King. Majesty, worship His majesty—Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.

    For Today: Psalm 29:4; 93:1; Hebrews 1:3; 2:9; Revelation 4:11

Allow your mind to think about the glory and majesty of Christ as the reigning King of Heaven. Worship Him with these words—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 9

IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE
Walter Chalmers Smith, 1824–1908
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
In our enjoyment of a personal relationship with God, we sometimes lose sight of the awe and reverence that should also be part of our worship of Him. Often we tend to forget the supreme holiness and greatness of who God really is. In our hymnody and theology we can carelessly treat our Lord as merely “the friend upstairs.”
Consider this ancient advice from a father to his son:
First of all, my child, think magnificently of God. Magnify His providence; adore His power, pray to Him frequently and incessantly. Bear Him always in your mind. Teach your thoughts to reverence Him in every place for there is no place where He is not. Therefore, my child, fear and worship and love God; first and last, think magnificently of Him!
Paternus, Advice to a Son
The author of the fine worshipful text of “Immortal, Invisible” was Walter Chalmers Smith, a pastor and an important leader of the Free churches of Scotland. He had various volumes of his poetry published, including several hymnals. “Immortal, Invisible” was first published in Smith’s 1867 hymnal, Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life.
One can reflect at length on the greatness of God as described by these words:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious—Thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might; Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all, life Thou givest—to both great and small; in all life Thou livest—the true life of all; we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light, Thine angels adore Thee all veiling their sight; all praise we would render—O help us to see ’tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!

    For Today: Job 37:21–24; Psalm 36:5, 6; 104:1–5; Colossians 1:15–17, 19; Revelation 21:23

J. P. Phillips, in his book Your God Is Too Small, reminds us that our concept of God is generally too limited. Reflect on this truth as you sing—

Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 8

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
Reginald Heber, 1783–1826
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. (Psalm 95:6, 7)
“O Lord, grant that I may desire Thee, and desiring Thee, seek Thee, and seeking Thee, find Thee, and finding Thee, be satisfied with Thee forever.”
—Augustine
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). These are the words of worship that believers will proclaim in heaven one day. This majestic text based on these words was written approximately 150 years ago by an Anglican minister, Reginald Heber, and it is still one of the hymns most frequently used in our corporate worship.
Worship is the cornerstone of a believer’s spiritual life. The bedrock of the local church is its worship service, and all aspects of the church’s ministry are founded here. It is only as a Christian truly worships that he begins to grow spiritually. Learning to worship and praise God, then, should be a believer’s lifetime pursuit. Our worship reflects the depth of our relationship with God. We must learn to worship God not only for what He is doing in our personal lives, but above all for who He is—His being, character, and deeds.
Reginald Heber was a highly respected minister, writer, and church leader, serving for a time as the Bishop of Calcutta. His early death at the age of 43 was widely mourned throughout the Christian world. One year after his death, a collection of 57 of his hymns was published by his widow and many friends as a tribute to his memory and faithful ministry. It is from this collection of 1827 that these words were taken:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, which wert and art and evermore shalt be.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Tho the darkness hide Thee, tho the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see. Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

    For Today: Psalm 145:8–21; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:5–11; 5:13

What does the term worship mean to you? How could your life of worship be improved? Use this hymn to help—

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