“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”

Make a stand (idiom) definition – Adopt a firm position about an issue. Hold firm, as in hold the ground against an enemy. -Merriam-Webster In 1858, Dudley Atkins Tyng was a 29-year-old Episcopalian pastor and abolitionist. Not everyone in his Philadelphia church agreed with his straightforward doctrinal preaching and position against slavery and he resigned…

"Let the Lower Lights Be Burning"

Philip Bliss, who wrote both the text and tune for this hymn, and his 19th century contemporary, Ira Sankey, are credited with founding the gospel song movement.  Both were part of the Dwight L. Moody evangelistic team, and both sang, led crusade singing, and authored many gospel songs.  Bliss was inspired to write this hymn…

"The Light of the World Is Jesus"

Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876) was one of the five children born to John and Lydia Bliss.  Their log home, typical of the early settlers of northern Pennsylvania, was filled with love and Christian teaching, but formal education was scarce.  Early in life, Philip developed a passion for learning and for music, and took advantage of…

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"

In 1923, Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960) wrote a poem about God’s faithfulness to us,  based on the scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm’s life began in a Kentucky log cabin…

"Called As Partners in Christ's Service"

There are things in my life that remind me of the people in my life.  It could be a recipe, a style of shoes, a particular color, most anything really.  Often, it is a song. In some of the churches I have served, the pastor selects the hymns to be sung by the congregation.  Pastors,…

"When Morning Gilds the Skies"

In Psalm 34:1, David proclaims, ” I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (NIV)  To praise God morning, noon and night, and by everyone, everywhere, is exactly what the author of When Morning Gilds the Skies had in mind.  The original German text of fourteen stanzas first…

"Agnus Dei" (Georges Bizet)

Talk of recycling or repurposing often includes tires, newspapers, pallets, books (shudder!), cooking oil and plastic bottles.  What does that have to do with music?  Of all man-made things, music is surely towards the top of the list of things that have been recycled.  A few notes, a phrase, a theme or entire song may show…

"Precious Lord, Take My Hand"

Have you ever had one of those seasons when it seems everything you touch crumbles and everything you try to do fails?  Me, too.  Have you had the kind of tragedy in your life that took your breath away, shook you to your core and you couldn’t imagine how to go on? I have, and if…

"Trumpet Voluntary" Henry Heron

Imagine what the keyboard of a piano looks like.  Whether an upright or grand, a piano has one set of keys.  Now imagine what an organ looks like.  Most people visualize multiple rows of keys (called manuals) which are played by the hands, and one big set of keys on the floor (called pedals)  which are…

"People, Look East"

As a church musician, I’ve heard the complaint that the songs of Advent don’t seem as joyful as Christmas songs.  I’ll agree that some of them can feel a little heavy.  After all, Advent is a time of reflection and preparation, and reflections and preparations don’t always come easily or lightly.  Then along comes People,…

"Comfort, Comfort Ye My People"

The hymn, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People, has been around for hundreds of years, but it may not be as familiar as some hymns of the same age.  Why?  Maybe because we only sing it once a year, during Advent.  Maybe because some congregations do not observe Advent.  Maybe, sadly, because some congregations no longer sing hymns. French…

"We Gather Together"

Think of the main dish on the menu for Thanksgiving.  You probably thought of turkey.  Think of a hymn about Thanksgiving.  You probably thought of We Gather Together.  Did you know that the words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” do not appear in the hymn?  Although it is a song of praise for the blessings God gives, it…