Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

5 in nature (14)

lyrics by Henry J. van Dyke, 1907
tune by Ludwig van Beethoven
arr. by Edward Hodges, 1824

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day! Continue reading

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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

 

female-cardinal-singingby Joachim Neander, pub. 1680
transl. by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Psalm 42:11  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

This hymn sang to me as I participated in the congregational singing in church last Sunday. If I could write with half the eloquence of Joachim Neander, I would be blessed beyond measure. He has such a way with words.

But enough about the instrument. The focus of this hymn is on the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.

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Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Psalm 93:1  The LORD reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.

Ruth 2:12  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Psalm 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

This stanza is chock-full of truth. God reigns in the affairs of men, no doubt about it. We don’t always understand the purpose of suffering, but it is just as necessary to us as the times of ease, if not more so. Drought causes the tree’s roots to go deeper in search of water, which results in a stronger tree that is capable of resisting the winds of the storms. And in those storms, God offers protection so that we will not be overwhelmed. And the Father grants us our desires, particularly when we delight in Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Genesis 39:23  The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

God alone is the source of my strength and the author of my victories. I can do nothing at all without Him. His goodness and mercy surround me every day, giving me blessings I don’t deserve and withholding from me the punishment that should be mine. “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” God can do anything—anything but fail. And He has befriended me with His love. He loved me before I even knew Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Mark 4:35-41  And the same day, when evening was come, He saith unto them, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What else can I say? God is good all the time. He sends the storms to make us trust Him, to show us His power over them. Not just squalls on the sea, but spiritual storms as well. He is never surprised by what is happening, never alarmed, never out of control. What a comfort it is to know that God is watching over me, even in the storm.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The world does seem to be growing darker by the day with a spiritual darkness and oppression from the enemy of our souls. Right seems wrong and wrong seems right. People plummet to lower moral depths with each passing day, and they dare anyone to tell them they are in the wrong. This is not new. Luke 17:26 says, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” But God is neither blind nor deaf. He sees and hears the depravity of man. Why does He do nothing? My friend, He is not doing nothing. He is waiting for the perfect moment to make all things right. And He will, in His time. In the meantime, He is calling for all men everywhere to come to Him in repentance of their sins. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And He has not left us to stumble in the darkness. He has given us His light through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Psalm 106:48  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise ye the LORD.

We often use the word amen to conclude our prayers, but what does it mean? Consider this definition from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary: “As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. In English, after the oriental manner, it is used at the beginning, but more generally at the end of declarations and prayers, in the sense of, be it firm, be it established.” So in the context of this hymn, we are enjoined to confirm or verify the teachings of God’s Word. We are to trust God, placing our confidence in Him and Him alone. Our faith in Him should be firm, for He never changes. He is the solid rock upon which our faith is founded. Gladly forever [for aye] we adore Him.

Have you learned to trust Him? Do you rest beneath the shelter of God’s wings? Have you tasted the water of life? If so, then please join me in praising Him today. And if not, why not? Come to Jesus today and experience His great love for you.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let him that heareth say, “Come.” And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

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Lyrics from Timelesstruths.org

Photo taken in Milton, Florida, 2017.

 

All Creatures of Our God and King

 

 

High Contrast 06

 

by St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1225)
translated by William H. Draper (pub. 1919)

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

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This song of praise was already on my list of favorites, but then I found some stanzas that I’d never seen or heard before, and now I like it all the more. The first three stanzas refer to the elements of nature, while stanzas four and five speak directly to man. The Bible does tell us that nature praises God.

Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory.

Psalm 50:6 And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is judge Himself. Selah.

And perhaps the most often quoted of all the passages is Psalm 19.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them has He set a tabernacle for the sun.

It is fitting that so much of the hymn would be given to the praise that nature offers to God, for it is mentioned much in the Scriptures as well. Even Jesus Christ Himself said that if we who know Him were to hold our tongue, then the rocks would immediately cry out in praise to God.

Luke 19:37-40 And when He came near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, “Master, rebuke Your disciples.” And He answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

God will be praised. He will be magnified. Why? Because He alone is worthy.

But this stanza, which I had never seen before, was particularly meaningful to me. Look again at the words….

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

Wow! Isn’t that beautiful? First forgive others, then come and worship the Lord. The precedent for this is in Matthew 5:23-24….

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you; Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

And as for those who long pain and sorrow bear, do not turn inward, do not focus on your troubles, but instead turn your eyes upon Jesus, casting all your care [worries] upon Him, because He cares [loves] for you.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.

If that isn’t reason enough to praise God, I don’t know what is.

Tell me, what do you have for which to give thanks to God?

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Sources:

Timelesstruths.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 10-11.

Photo taken in Chesapeake, Virginia, 2011.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

 

1833 SR 92

lyrics by Reginald Heber (1826)
music by John B. Dykes (pub. 1861)

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,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though 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!

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All this month, in honor of Thanksgiving, we will be featuring songs and hymns that give praise to God. This first one, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” is a great place to start. All this month, in honor of Thanksgiving, we will be featuring songs and hymns that give praise to God. This first one, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” is a great place to start.

Reginald Heber studied poetry at Oxford University and became good friends with Sir Walter Scott. After graduation, he returned to his birthplace, the English village of Hodnet, and assumed the role of vicar in succession to his father. His dream was to publish a collection of high-quality hymns corresponding to the church calendar to be sung in liturgical churches, but the Bishop of London rejected the idea. Undaunted, Reginald Heber wrote fifty-seven hymns during his time as vicar at Hodnet and used them in the worship of his own small congregation. In 1822, he was appointed to oversee the Church of England’s ministries in India. The hymns were set aside, and Heber devoted the remainder of his life to missionary work. After his death in 1826, Heber’s wife found the manuscripts to the hymns and had them published.

The inspiration for this particular hymn came from Revelation 4:8-11, which says,

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”

God alone is worthy of our praise and worship. The angels in heaven worship God, but not just the angels. All those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb will worship Him in heaven one day, but let’s not wait until then. Let’s give Him glory today!

Sources:

hymnary.org

timelesstruths.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 98-99.

Photo taken near Skyline Drive, Virginia, 2014.

 

Standing on the Promises

couple-mountain-overlook

by R. Kelso Carter

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Thro’ eternal ages let his praises ring,
Glory in the highest I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God

CHORUS:
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior,
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

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Russell Kelso Carter was born in 1849 to godly Christian parents and received Christ as Savior at the age of fifteen. However, as is the case with so many young people, Carter lived for the Lord in his own strength, desiring to enjoy the benefits of salvation without completely selling out for Christ. As a result, spiritually he was up and down quite a lot during these years. He had been athletic in his youth, but in the summer of his thirtieth year, he developed a heart condition that the doctors could not cure. He became weaker and weaker despite medical treatment and even the therapy of life as a rancher. Finally he became so weak that he thought death might be imminent.

Carter had heard of the prayer of faith that heals the sick, but he felt guilty asking God to heal him when he did not intend to serve Him whole-heartedly. His condition worsened still. Finally, Carter surrendered to the Lord, kneeling in his mother’s room in Baltimore. He says, “A quietness came over me and I found the Bible wonderfully open and marvelously satisfying, as it had never been before.” He asked a Boston preacher to anoint him with oil according to the teaching of the Bible, and in three days, he returned “walking by faith, and not by feeling,” resumed his college work that fall.

Carter lived 49 more years after that, and the Lord used him in many and varied ways: as a Methodist minister, professor, textbook publisher, and also as a practicing physician. He wrote several hymns in addition to “Standing on the Promises,” and he assisted in compiling a hymnal in 1891 entitled Hymns for the Christian Life for the Christian Missionary Alliance.

The phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times, enough for every day of the year! We can—and should—stand on the promises of God every single day of our lives. When we stand on our own strength, as Mr. Carter did in his early years, we will inevitably fall. But when we stand on the strength of the Lord, we cannot fall because they cannot fail.

1 Kings 8:56  Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise….

1 Corinthians 10:12  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Sources:

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 214-215.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990. p. 85.

Photo taken on Skyline Drive, Virginia, 2014.

 

The Solid Rock

standing-on-the-solid-rockby Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

CHORUS:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest in His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support in the ‘whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

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Deuteronomy 32:4  He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.

I memorized this verse when I was in grade school, my children memorized it in home school, and I hope you will memorize it as well. You will certainly see it often enough, if you keep reading my posts, for I use it almost as often as I talk about rocks. For some reason this verse never left me after I first learned it in school. Perhaps it’s because the truth is stated so dogmatically, so assuredly, so emphatically that I cannot help but embrace it, especially when so much of life seems so uncertain.

Yes, dear reader, friends and family members will let you down, money will fail you, health will not last, nor can religion save you. Only faith in Christ has any merit, for as the songwriter said, all other ground is sinking sand. But when you place your faith in Jesus Christ, you have every assurance that He will keep you safe and secure.

Many of us have trusted Jesus for salvation, but the day-to-day life is another matter altogether. When the storms of life send the waves crashing around you, what do you need to make you feel secure? Consider the next three verses….

Psalm 27:1  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 18:2  The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Hebrews 6:19  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast….

In the midst of my storm, Jesus Christ is the light shining out into the darkness, He is the lighthouse from which I see the light, He is the rock on which the lighthouse stands, and He is the anchor that holds onto the rock. In other words, Jesus Christ is all I need.

Are you standing on the solid rock of Jesus Christ?

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Credits:

Information from hymnary.org and TimelessTruths.org

Photo taken at Stone Mountain, North Carolina, 2008.

 

Grace Greater Than Our Sin

skyline-drive-in-autumn

by Julia H. Johnston (1911)

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today. [Refrain]

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive? [Refrain] Continue reading

Be Thou My Vision

 

 

4x6 04 Cascade 04translated by Mary E. Byrne
versified by Eleanor H. Hull

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;
Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,
Raise me to heaven, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun,
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

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Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931) was born in Ireland. She translated this 8th-Century Gaelic poem in 1905 while working as a researcher and writer for the Board of Intermediate Education in Dublin. Years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, put Ms. Byrne’s prose translation into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael. The melody is a traditional Irish tune.

Are you as thankful as I am for the work that these women did to make this beautiful hymn accessible to us? It has also been translated into other languages as well as English. The truths taught about our great God in these few lines are timeless.

The older I get, the more I realize the Christ is all. He literally fills more and more of my vision, just as the songwriter spoke of. This is not something that happens automatically, but is a consequence of daily walking with Him, getting to know Him, letting Him change me and conform me into His image. Every morning I must die to self so that I may live for Him. I’m not talking about some strange ritual or morbid habit, but just a denying of my own stubborn will. Am I always successful? No. But God is always forgiving. When I fall, He picks me up, brushes the dirt off my knees, and helps me start again.

Christ is all. He is sufficient for everything, for every need in every situation. Period.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

Credits:

Information from hymnary.org

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990. p. 90.

Photo taken at Narrows Falls, Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, 2013

 

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Flowers (23)

by E. A. Hoffman (1887)

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

REFRAIN:
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

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Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929) was an ordained minister who served many years in various churches and chapels in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He also edited fifty hymnals and wrote more than 2,000 gospel songs in his lifetime, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

The story behind this song is a rather interesting one, and it actually starts with Anthony Showalter, the composer. He was well known for his singing schools in local churches in Georgia, and he was fond of keeping in touch with his students as the years passed. One particular evening he received two letters from former students, both of whom had recently lost their wives. Mr. Showalter immediately sat down and searched for a verse of Scripture to send to comfort them. He chose Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” As he meditated on the verse, the following words came to mind:

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Mr. Showalter sent his replies to each of his former students, then he took out an additional piece of paper and wrote a letter to his hymnwriter friend Elisha Hoffman, telling him of the chorus he had just come up with, but saying that he did not have the stanzas to go along with it. Mr. Hoffman promptly wrote three stanzas and sent them back to Mr. Showalter, who then supplied the music, and a new hymn of comfort was born.

God, the eternal God, is our support at all times, especially when we are sinking into deep trouble. There are seasons when we sink quite low…. Dear child of God, even when you are at your lowest, underneath are the everlasting arms. —Charles Spurgeon

Credits:
Information from hymnary.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 218-219.

Photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017