I am the song leader in my church. I am not very proficient as a musician or a choral director. I pray that, someday soon, God will send someone more capable, to take this ministry from me. But for the time being it is my responsibility to select the music and lead the congregation in the singing every week.

I take that responsibility seriously. The hymns and songs that I select must be doctrinally sound, they must be appropriate for worship with a God-centered worldview, and, withing those parameters, I try to select music that will reinforce and, support the text and subject of my pastor’s messages.

Some of us have been singing the hymns for years; the words roll off our lips but the messages often don't engage our minds or penetrate our hearts. With the apostle Paul, I want the congregation to "sing with understanding."

So for the past couple years, it has been my practice to select one hymn each week, research it, and then highlight it with a short introductory commentary so that the congregation will be more informed regarding the origin, the author's testimony, or the doctrinal significance of the hymns we sing.

It is my intention here with this blog, to archive these hymn commentaries for my reference and to make them freely available to other church song leaders. For ease of reference, all the hymn commentaries in this blog will be titled IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Other posts (which will be music ministry related opinion pieces) will be printed in lower case letters.

I know that some of the comments contain traces of my unique style, but please feel free to adapt them and use the content any way you can for the edification of your congregation and to the glory of God.

All I ask is that you leave a little comment should you find something helpful.

Ralph M. Petersen

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Friday, March 18, 2016


At the end of our deacon meeting last month, one of the men reminisced about the days we used to sing the DOXOLOGY in the church.  “We should sing that once in a while,” he said. 

That got my attention because I am the person who selects all the music and leads our congregational singing every Sunday.  We haven’t sung that for a long time; in fact, I don’t remember singing it at all for probably well over 30 years.

So what happened?  I don’t know.  When I was growing up, the DOXOLOGY was standard fare for the closing of our services.  We sang it often and without the aid of hymnbooks (you know, those dusty, antiquated things we used to read before Power Point projections) because we all had the words memorized.

Well, that has been on my mind since that meeting.  I realized then, that I have two middle-aged daughters who may not even know the song.  Furthermore, I have eight grandchildren who have never heard it. 

That is a shame, not just because of the song’s antiquity or tradition but because it truly is a great hymn of praise, which is appropriate whenever the people of God meet together.  I don't want to lose it; I want my grandchildren to learn and love the DOXOLOGY.

So I have been thinking about how to reintroduce it into our worship times.  One practical challenge is its brevity; one very short verse and it is over.  It seems awkward to weave that into a triad of purposefully selected songs to support the sermon.

This Sunday we will close our service with DOXOLOGY, but we will link it together with another brief song of thankful praise, “We Give Thee But Thine Own.”   The two songs are written in the same key and can move seamlessly, from one to the other without the need of a transitional interlude.  And the texts are complimentary:  

We give Thee but Thine own, 
Whate’er the gift may be.
All that we have is Thine Alone, 
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

May we Thy bounties thus, 
As stewards true, receive,
And gladly as Thou blessest us, 
To Thee our firstfruits give.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.   

(Please try this; I think you'll like it.)

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