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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Sunday, March 20, 2016


Has God ever spoken to you?  Has He ever revealed any new truth to you?

Not long ago the subject of my pastor’s sermon was the Reformation principle of “Sola Scriptura” which has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our only and supreme authority in all spiritual matters.  One of the Hymns, I selected for our congregational singing, was GOD HAS SPOKEN BY HIS PROPHETS.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds."

That passage inspired the theme and forms the outline for this great hymn; “God Has Spoken.”

Verse one starts with the declaration that God spoke His “unchanging Word,” in times past, through His prophets.

Then, in verse two, the author takes us to “These last days.”  God’s revelation today is “By His Son,” who is far superior to and more excellent than all the ancient patriarchs and prophets.  He is the Living Word of God.

In verse three the writer tells us that God is still speaking today through the Spirit BUT then he quickly points us to the vehicle the Spirit of God uses when He speaks.  It is by “the ageless Word” of God.

Notice the recurring emphasis on the unchanging or ageless Word of God in all three verses.  Everything God intended to reveal to us, in this world, about Him, and our faith and practice in our relationship to Him, has been revealed in His complete, unchanging Word.  

It has been said, "If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible.   If you want to hear Him audibly, read it out loud."  

It’s not that God can’t speak directly or reveal something different to us; it’s just that He doesn’t.   In that divinely inspired Hebrews passage we are told that GOD HAS SPOKEN. Furthermore, in Revelation, we are warned that we are not to add anything to or take anything from God’s Word because He is unchanging and His Word is established forever.  There is no new revelation.


1.  God has spoken by His prophets,
 Spoken His unchanging Word.
Each from age to age proclaiming 
God, the One, the righteous Lord.
In the world’s despair and turmoil,
 One firm anchor holds us fast.
God is King, His throne eternal, 
God the First and God the Last.

2.  God has spoken by Christ Jesus.  
Christ the everlasting Son.
Brightness of the Father’s glory, 
With the Father ever one.
Spoken by the Word incarnate,
 God of God ere time was born.
Light of Light, to earth, descending, 
Christ as God in human form.

3.  God is speaking by His Spirit, 
Speaking to our hearts again;
In the ageless Word expounding 
God’s own message, now as then.
Through the rise and fall of nations 
One sure faith yet standing fast;
God abides, His Word unchanging, 
God the First and God the Last.

(This hymn can also be sung to the tune of, Ode To Joy {Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee})

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