Monthly Archives: June 2010

1000 Blessings Today — 983 To Go!

It is almost inarguable to say that the world is filled with wonderful things. It is arguable that remembering the ones that make you happiest — your blessings, if you prefer (or if you dare) — encourages a feeling of thankfulness beneficial to your mood. It will make your day a little brighter. Reverend Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, explained his thankfulness with an encouraging song:

I’ve got too much to be thankful for:
How can I worry about anything else?

I’ve got too much to be thankful for:
How can I worry about anything else?

    The Lord’s blessed me a thousand times today;
    How can I feel any other way?

He would tell you to try thinking of three of your blessings in the morning; this will help you to have a G.R.E.A.T. day.

  • That stretching you do that feels so good right after you wake up.
  • Sleeping well & waking up & feeling like you want to stretch.
  • Waking up again at all.
  • The cool side of the pillow.
  • The morning light & the lily white
  • Sweet corn & watermelon.
  • Nectarines.
  • Over 30 years together & she is still the light of my eyes.
  • Hot black coffee & Welbutrin.
  • Memory — like a World Wide Web in your head, it links everything to everything else. For instance, “sweet basil”, that default herb for pesto, links up to “Toni Basil”, 1980s performer of hit song “Hey, Mickey”. Then, “Hey, Mickey” might link you to another song — “Hey, Willie” and into pro baseball, or to Mickey Mouse, Mickey Spillane, or Mickey Rooney. “Rooney” links to the 1990s band of the same name, whose CD my daughter lent to me…
  • Daughters. Apples of eye, lights of life. An heritage from the Lord. Amen. Again I say, “Amen”!
  • Love. Trouble, but worth it. Much better than ice cream, or knowing how to eat a lobster.
  • The privilege to spend 10 minutes, an hour, or a day making music.
  • The Doxology, sung to an old setting of the 100th Psalm.
  • Things that blow my mind — that tune is so old that even Isaac Watts (1674 — 1748), the man who wrote “Joy to the World”, called it “The Old 100th”.
  • Growing old. (Consider the available alternatives before you disagree!)

Come Back Quickly to the Lord

343 Come Back Quickly to the Lord

Section: Invitation
Words:  Young Taik Chun, 1943; translated by Sang E. & Ivy G. Chun, 1988
Music:  Jae Hoon Park
Tune Name:  Korea
Reference:  Luke 15:11-32 (@

Click here to hear tune! (opens new window)

This hymn has that message common to all of these I’ve been writing about lately — that if you truly repented of your sins and turned to Jesus, no sin or crime or brokenness is too much for him to forgive you and save you. He waits for you by his open-door. Even when you’re far away, he sees you — he will run to you, embrace you and replace your filthy rags with clothing befitting the heirs of his kingdom — clothing such as to make glorious Solomon seem drab. The Lord will throw you a welcome-home party. Please don’t waste another moment.

The Problem of Translation

I like hymns that come from languages other than English, from distant places and different cultures. Reasonably, the tune that comes from such a place has to be written to match the natural rhythms of that country’s language. This means that you must have a good translation — a singable translation — in order to make the hymn meaningful and accessible in English. Some other translators, while competently extracting the meaning, unfortunately do not have much of a feel for the rhythms of the new language. This means that the final result sounds stilted — stressing words and syllables it is not natural to stress. This sort of torture, while not actually killing the English lyric, does make it lame. I think it’s a good idea to expose people in our country to expressions of faith from other countries, but if they are put off by this feeling of lameness and don’t wish to sing it, it defeats the purpose of having translated the hymn in the first place.

“Come Back Quickly to the Lord” was translated from its original Korean in 1988, by Sang E. & Ivy G. Chun. By the standard of accessibility and natural rhythms, this hymn is a raging success. I pray the Lord bless them both for their masterful work.

I am Your Hymnbook

Next to the Bible, I should be your most treasured book.

Hold me in your hand on Sunday as you prepare to sing.  Let your heart listen to what has been enshrined within me.

Hear the songs and the triumphant words of the martyrs dying for a faith the same as yours.

Give heed to the prayers of devout men who found the heart of God.

Follow the missionaries of the cross on their way to the ends of the earth.

Listen to the great minds of the Church as they share with you the deep mysteries of the plan and purpose of the eternal God.

Sit at the feet of the musicians and poets, of the saints and the redeemed in all lands and times, of all those who have seen the hunger in the heart unsatisfied except through song.

All of these have I treasured…
for you.

I am your hymnbook

This statement is printed opposite the first hymn in:

Tabernacle Hymns #5, © 1953
Tabernacle Publishing Co.
Corner Lake St. and Waller Ave.
Chicago 44 Illinois

Gently Ringing Like Bells

365 Grace Greater Than All Our Sin

Words: Julia H. Johnston, 1911 (Romans 5:20)
Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1910
Tune Name: Moody
Hymnal Section: Pardon

Click here to refer to the text, and hear the tune of this hymn!

You may already have seen an altar call — in a church, or maybe watching Billy Graham or another evangelist on TV. Taking Dr. Graham as an example, after he would deliver his message, music would start — the congregation might have sung a hymn — perhaps a hymn of invitation, calling all to make the decision to become one of Jesus’ own. Dr. Graham would invite people to come forward to the altar right then to commit their lives to Jesus. Although “Grace Greater Than All Our Sin” is not labeled “Altar-Call Hymn”, it would be a perfect choice for one. It’s gentle. It helps one imagine how enormous is Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and God’s grace “freely bestowed on all who believe”. I can imagine my fellow sin-sick souls and I responding to the final line of the last verse:

“You that are longing to see his face, will you this moment His grace receive?”

If one has ever felt the world-weary burden of regret for the bad things he did do and for the good things he neglected, wishing for that impossible way to firmly reject his brokenness and to start over, this hymn offers at the end of every verse, in soft, lullaby tones, gently ringing like bells the beautiful sound of grace and pardon, gentle encouragement that “with men, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”:

“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.”

It is grace more potent than even the worst, most damnable sin or failing.

If you wanted to choose a hymn that could help someone to make that crucial, soul-deep, heart-felt decision to become one of Jesus’ people — in the soul, in the heart — daring to come forward in front of God and everyone to say “Yes! I want your gift of salvation, whatever happens!” — this is the hymn for you.