Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another Favorite Hymn

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the Indiana Holiness Pastor's Day sponsored by the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, and since this hymn was sung there, I thought it would be a good time to share a third favorite hymn.  In fact, I have said that I would likely like these three (viz., And Can It Be?; The Love of God; and the one, below) to be included in my funeral . . . sometime, way, way off in the future(!).

This hymn has been called the "unofficial anthem" of the Church of the Nazarene (and my guess is that it is so for a number of holiness groups).  It is sung at every Nazarene ordination service (to my knowledge, anyway).  -  In fact, I would kind of like to see the next general assembly make this the "official" anthem for the denomination.

It was written (words and music) by Lelia N. Morris in 1900.  Mrs. Morris was a Methodist who wrote more than 1,000 gospel songs.  She was a friend to the camp meeting, and she wrote a number of holiness hymns.  Among them was this one.

Holiness unto the Lord

1. "Called unto holiness," Church of our God,
Purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood;
Called from the world and its idols to flee,
Called from the bondage of sin to be free.

(Refrain) "Holiness unto the Lord" is our watch-word and song;
"Holiness unto the Lord" as we're marching along.
Sing it, shout it, loud and long:
"Holiness unto the Lord" now and forever.

2. "Called unto holiness," children of light,
Walking with Jesus in garments of white;
Raiment unsullied, nor tarnished with sin;
God's Holy Spirit abiding within.

3. "Called unto holiness," praise His dear name!
This blessed secret to faith now made plain:
Not our own righteousness, but Christ within,
Living and reigning, and saving from sin.

4. "Called unto holiness," bride of the Lamb,
Waiting the Bride-groom's returning again!
Lift up your heads, for the day draweth near
When in His beauty the King shall appear!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Busic New NTS President

Nazarene Communications Network has just announced that the Rev'd. Dr. David Busic has accepted the position of President of Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Some will recall that Dr. Busic recently declined this election, but, apparently, God had other plans!

The story of Dr. Busic's acceptance can be read, here.

If one wants to read "the whole story," you can do so by clicking on the following headlines:

NTS elects new president; board asks individual to delay response

Oklahoma pastor considering NTS president position

Busic declines NTS presidency

Dr. Busic graduated from NTS one year prior to my graduating, so I am excited to see someone that I went to school with in this position.

Congratulations on to David on his election, and may God's richest blessings and anointing be upon him in this new area of ministry!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Favorite Non-Wesley Hymn

It is true.  I do sing hymns (and other spiritual songs) not penned by Charles or John Wesley!  When I was to first arrive as pastor at Centenary UMC, last year, I was asked some of my favorite hymns.  Of course, the one in my previous post was at the top of the list, but I also included as my favorite non-Wesley hymn a hymn by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917 (actually, the third stanza comes from Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, 1050).  - They title of the hymn: The Love of God.

Unfortunately, this hymn does not appear in The United Methodist Hymnal!  Yet, the good folks at Centenary got hold of a Nazarene hymnal, and the choir sang this hymn on my first Sunday!

May God bless you through the words to this hymn.

The Love of God

1. The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

(Refrain) O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song!

2. When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God's love so sure shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race
The saints' and angels' song.

3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were ev'ry stalk on earth a quill,
And ev'ry man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perhaps the Greatest Hymn Ever Penned

It is, at least, one of the greatest hymns ever penned, and it is my absolute favorite.  And, yes, it is a Wesley hymn:

And Can It Be?

And can it be, that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
For me? Who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

'Tis myst'ry all: th'Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore!
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Father's throne above
(So free, so infinite his grace!),
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray;
I woke; the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus, and all in him, is mine.
Alive in him, my living head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
(Charles Wesley, 1738)

Comments listed in The Works of John Wesley, Vol. 7, A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists, indicate that the hymn was originally entitled "Free Grace."  It is said that this hymn was written immediately following Charles' conversion on May 21, 1738.  They surmise that it is probable that this hymn was sung when John came late in the evening of the 24th to announce his own conversion (322).

Also in the notes, it is mentioned that Dr. Bett was of the opinion that John had authored this hymn, rather than Charles (though, it seems, that the vast majority of people have assumed Charles' authorship).  And, it is stated that the opening question is decisive for the whole of Wesley's theology (323).

What is your favorite hymn?