Archive for the ‘Hymn of the Month’ Category

All My Hope on God Is Founded
Words: Joachim Neander (1650-1680)
Music: Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

All my hope on God is founded;
He doth all my trust renew,
Me through change and chance He guideth,
Only good and only true.
God unknown, He alone
Calls my heart to be His own.

Pride of man and earthly glory,
Sword and crown betray his trust;
What with care and toil be buildeth
Tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
Is my temple and my tower.

God’s great goodness aye endureth,
Deep His wisdom, passing thought:
Splendor, light, and life attend Him,
Beauty springeth out of naught.
Love doth stand at His hand;
Joy doth wait on His command.

Still from man to God eternal
Sacrifice of praise be done,
High above all praises praising
For the gift of Christ His Son.
Christ doth call one and all:
Ye who follow shall not fall.

We sang this little-known-in-America hymn in church yesterday and it reminded me how much I love it – both the music and the text.  There is a grandeur in the sound and a passion in the words that are hard to match.  I wondered aloud to the senior pastor and one of our choir members: “what inspired this song?” None of us had heard of Joachim Neander or knew why his life was so tragically short: he died at only 30 years of age.

Neander, originally from the city of Bremen, is probably best known for the hymn Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation.  Like many upper-middle-class men of his time, Neander studied theology at university but wasn’t exactly on fire about his faith at first.  Hymnary.org writes: “German student life in the 17th century was anything but refined, and Neander seems to have been as riotous and as fond of questionable pleasures as most of his fellows…

“In July 1670, Theodore Under-Eyck came to Bremen as pastor of St. Martin’s Church… a Pietist and holder of conventicles. Not long after Neander, with two like-minded comrades, went to service there one Sunday, in order to criticize and find matter of amusement. But the earnest words of Under-Eyck touched his heart; and this, [and] subsequent conversations with Under-Eyck, proved the turning-point of his spiritual life.”

As for the inspiration behind this particular hymn text, history leaves us no specifics. But Hymnary.org writes: “Many [of his hymns] are of a decidedly subjective cast, but for this the circumstances of their origin, and the fact that the author did not expect them to be used in public worship, will sufficiently account. […] But the glow and sweetness of his better hymns, their firm faith, originality, Scripturalness, variety and mastery of rhythmical forms, and genuine lyric character fully entitle them to the high place they hold.”

There’s an interesting footnote to Neander’s family history: the family name was originally Neumann (“New man” in English) but Joachim’s grandfather changed it to the Greek Neander.  Before he was given his own church to lead, Joachim, who was a nature-lover, would hold gatherings and services and preach in the valley of the Dussel River.  The word in German for “valley” being “thal”, this area became known as Neander-thal or “Neander’s Valley”.  It was in this valley, in the 1800’s, that the remains of a man were found that became known as “Neanderthal Man”.




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As a church music director I’m always listening for new (and new-to-me) music, and every now and then I’ll come across a song that hits the sweet spot: a solid Christian message and good quality songwriting.  This is my latest discovery.  Give a listen to Not Guilty Anymore by Aaron Keyes.

It doesn’t matter what You’ve done; It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from
Doesn’t matter where you’ve been, Hear me tell you I forgive

You’re not guilty anymore, You’re not filthy anymore,
I love you, mercy is yours
You’re not broken anymore, You’re not captive anymore
I love you, mercy is yours

Can you believe that this is true, Grace abundant I am giving you
Cleansing deeper than you know, All was paid for long ago

There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Jesus

You are spotless; You are holy; You are faultless; You are whole
You are righteous; You are blameless; You are pardoned; You are mine


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The times of worship at New Wineskins included some great songs.  Here’s one that caught my ear by Graham Kendrick: O Lord the Clouds Are Gathering.  It summed up in many ways the messages we heard throughout the week.  The harvest is indeed plentiful and the workers are few.  [Note: the above link to YouTube is provided only so the song can be heard… it isn’t a live video.]

O Lord, the clouds are gathering
The fire of judgement burns
How we have fallen!
O Lord, You stand appalled to see
Your laws of love so scorned
And lives so broken

Have mercy, Lord
Forgive us, Lord
Restore us, Lord
Revive Your church again
Let justice flow
Like rivers
And righteousness like a
Never failing stream

O Lord, over the nations now
Where is the dove of peace?
Her wings are broken
O Lord, while precious children starve
The tools of war increase
Their bread is stolen

O Lord, dark powers are poised to flood
Our streets with hate and fear
We must awaken!
O Lord, let love reclaim the lives
That sin would sweep away
And let Your kingdom come

Yet, O Lord, Your glorious cross shall tower
Triumphant in this land
Evil confounding
Through the fire Your suffering church display
The glories of her Christ
Praises resounding!

© 1987 Make Way Music


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Just tonight on the drive home from work I discovered this gem of a song on the 12th track of a CD I haven’t listened to in years.  The video quality is awful (sorry I couldn’t find a better one) but the song needs to be shared.  This is pure worship, in lyrics that paraphrase the Shepherd’s Psalm… Mark Tedder’s There Is a Place… enjoy…

There is a Place

There is a place where water flows
And runs into the sea
And I want to go
I want to go
Where the river flows

There is a place where mercy flows
And runs into my heart
And I want to be
I want to be
Where Your mercy flows

So lay me down in Your green pastures
Let me rest beside Your streams
When I walk, guide my footsteps
I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid

And there is a place where glory falls
And covers the earth
And I want to be
Oh I want to be
Where Your glory falls

I want to be  (I won’t be afraid)
I want to be  (I won’t be afraid)
Where Your glory falls


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This gorgeous and little-known song was written by Ray Charles, arranged by Peter Knight (of “Nights in White Satin” fame) and recorded by Karen and Richard Carpenter back in the 1970s.  I’m amazed and pleased to find it in video form!  In the middle of the holiday hustle, enjoy a moment of peace and serenity…

It is he, Christ who is born today
Hear him crying in the manger
King of Heaven, Son of God
Alleluia, Alleluia

There he lies, there with the lambkin
Only swaddle for his garment
With his Holy Mother Mary
Alleluia, Alleluia

Glory, Glory to almighty God
And on earth peace to all men
Hear the joyful angels singing
Alleluia, Alleluia

He is born, let us adore him
Christ the Lord, King of Kings
Prince of Peace for all the universe
Alleluia, Alleluia


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George Handel would have loved it.  Listen to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.


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I have a friend whose favorite hymn is Wesley’s “And Can It Be”.  As good as the text is, I have never quite understood his fascination with the song… until today.

Today it was the closing hymn of a three-hour Good Friday service, following a sermon on the words “It is finished”.  Done.  Paid in full.

Good Friday is a dark day, but it ends with a victory shout.  The procession of the nations might well enter the celestial throne room singing this song to our King…

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Here’s a moment of serenity and peace to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.  From Celtic Woman, the Wexford Carol.  God’s joy to you this day.



Good people all, this Christmas time
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending His beloved Son.

With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born!

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.

“Arise and go”, the angels said
“To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born”.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went that babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold.

Within a manger He was laid
And by His side the virgin maid
As long foretold upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born

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There’s something about observing Advent that makes Christmas all the more special.  Maybe it’s the lack of focus on commercialism.  Maybe it’s the quiet, reflective nature of the season.  Maybe it’s because a good thing is even better when we have to *wait for it* just a little!  And to be sure keeping the focus on Jesus brings great joy.

Here’s a little something to help us all get into the spirit of Advent… a beautiful YouTube find…  “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.

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Stuart Townend takes the prize again with yet another beautiful contemporary hymn.

I love the lyrics to this song because they focus on two concepts that resonate deeply with me: ‘Hope’ and ‘Home’.  For me one of the most memorable expressions of Hope is the last line of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, when Red says simply “I hope”.  And for me Home is wherever love abounds — a place Stu describes in verse three.

Recorded live in Ireland ~ Stuart Townend ~ “There Is a Hope”

There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for every passing day;
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
And Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
To make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.

There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.

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I’ve been reading Karl Barth this week, about what he had to say about how people are always trying to reason their way to God, or to prove God, or to figure God out… when it is actually entirely God’s initiative, His self-revelation, that Christianity is about.  God is totally Other and breaks into our world by bringing his Word of love — Jesus Christ — into the world.  As I was thinking about this the words from an old song popped into my mind: “like waking up from the longest dream / how real it seemed / until your love broke through.”  I wonder if Keith Green ever read Barth?  At any rate, it’s a beautiful song, and one worth sharing… Karl Barth in a nutshell…

Your Love Broke Through

Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
Until today, when you pulled away the clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes
Well I’ve been blind all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise
But then you took me by surprise

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through

All my life I’ve been searching for that crazy missing part
And with one touch, you just rolled away the stone that held my heart
And now I see that the answer was as easy, as just asking you in
And I am so sure I could never doubt your gentle touch again
It’s like the power of the wind

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love, until your love, broke through

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Stuart Townend does it again!  Hot off the presses and straight from the UK… this time he has teamed up with his friend, drummer Andrew Small, to create a song that is sure to be played by many praise bands in the years to come.  A little bit Celtic, a little bit Gospel, lots of great theology and praise.  Have a listen:



Loved before the dawn of time,
Chosen by my Maker,
Hidden in my Saviour:
I am His and He is mine,
Cherished for eternity.

When I’m stained with guilt and sin,
He is there to lift me,
Heal me and forgive me;
Gives me strength to stand again,
Stronger than I was before.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing salvation’s song;
And I’ll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

All the chains of Satan’s curse
Lifted through His offering,
Satisfied through suffering;
All the blessings He deserves
Poured on my unworthy soul.

Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
To the Lamb upon the throne.
I will lift Him high.
Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
To the Lamb upon the throne.

Hallelujah, I will sing
with every breath that I am given,
I will sing salvation’s song;
And I’ll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

Stars will fade and mountains fall;
Christ will shine forever,
Love’s unfading splendour.
Earth and heaven will bow in awe,
Joining in salvation’s song.

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A couple friends and I attended the Pittsburgh Symphony’s final concert series of the season last night, and it was spectacular. Faure’s Requiem, and the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony. Absolutely gorgeous, lengthy standing ovation at the end of the night.

To give you a taste, here’s the Sanctus from the Faure Requiem, this version recorded at Kings College Cambridge. Enjoy!




Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, dominus deus sabbaoth
Holy, holy holy Lord God of hosts

Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua
All of heaven and earth gives glory to you

Hosanna in excelsis
Hosanna in the highest



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I’ve been listening to this CD, Phatfish: Purple Through the Fishtank, in the car for the past couple weeks and just can’t get enough of it:

Purple Through the Fishtank

Mid-album is a song — my pick for song of the week — called What Would I Do? that starts out dark and melancholy and then breaks into a rocking cry of freedom. Click here to hear a clip. The whole song isn’t available anywhere on the ‘net, but this will give a small taste. Here are the lyrics:

What would I do?
Where would I go?
Who would I be
if it wasn’t for Your mercy?

Who would help?
Who could save?
Who would care
if it wasn’t for Your saving grace?

Now the old is gone
Now a new day dawns
Now the old is gone
Now a new day

Now the old is gone
Now a new day dawns
Now the old is gone
Now a new day

Side note: For those readers who (like me) love Stuart Townend’s music, Phatfish has worked extensively in live performances as his “backup band” — but don’t let that sway you one way or the other, they’re a force to be reckoned with in their own right. Here’s a bonus clip called Kingdom Coming which shows a little more of what the band can do.

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I don’t know how the release of this song over 10 years ago sneaked by me! Beautiful song and lyrics. This goes out to all the pastors and teachers who have influenced my life for Christ and kept me alive and growing…

\”Faithful Friend\” by Twila Paris and Steven Curtis Chapman

Everyone knows you as a man of honor;
I am glad to know you simply as a friend.
You have always taken time to be my brother,
And I’ll be standing by you in the end.
But I would never put you on a pedestal.
I thank the Lord for everything you do.
I’ll be there to pray for you and for the ones you love
I believe that he will finish all he started in you.

I will be an open door that you can count on
Anywhere you are, anywhere you’ve been.
I will be an honest heart you can depend on.
I will be a faithful friend.

I am one of many whose path has been made clearer
By the light you’ve carried faithfully
As a warrior and a child.
God has used you greatly to encourage and inspire,
And you’ve remained a true friend all the while.
But I would never put you on a pedestal,
Cause we both know all the glory is the Lord’s
And I’ll be there to pray that he will keep you by his grace,
And I always will remind you to be seeking his face.

I will be an open door that you can count on
Anywhere you are, anywhere you’ve been.
I will be an honest heart you can depend on.
I will be a faithful friend.

Should it ever come your time to mourn,
I will weep with you.
And every single time you win,
I’m celebrating too.

I will be an open door that you can count on
Anywhere you are, anywhere you’ve been.
I will be an honest heart you can depend on.
I will be a faithful friend.


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