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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Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Her mother died when she was only six years old and shortly after that, her father died. She was then adopted by a childless Christian couple and the Lord saved her at the age of eight.  

She loved composing music and playing the piano but after she graduated from college, she contracted rheumatoid arthritis in one of its most aggressive and crippling forms and playing the piano became difficult.  

So she began writing poetry, much of which was later set to music.  As she grew older and her hands became even more crippled, she found that she could type with her knuckles on an old typewriter.

As a result of the disease, she lost control of her internal organs and had to live with severe incontinence.  She was bound to her bed for decades, she began to lose her eyesight, and she developed cancer.   According to an acquaintance, she had to use seven pillows to cushion her body just to ease the agonizing pain from her sores.

In the midst of all that, Annie Johnson Flint wrote the poem, “He Giveth More Grace,” based on 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. 

In that passage, the apostle Paul said, “…a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.   Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”   

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’

“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I don’t know what Paul’s thorn was but I think it was much more than just poor eyesight.  He called it a “messenger of Satan” sent to buffet him.  Nevertheless, he was certainly familiar with afflictions.

Just a few chapters earlier, in Second Corinthians 4:8-11, as he was defending his ministry, he wrote:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Image result for tortured rhinoceros cartoon
So what, then, if God is not inclined to heal your disease or deliver you out of persecution?  What if it is His plan for you to suffer for His glory?  Will you be content with His grace?  

In this hymn, Annie presents the inexhaustible and boundless grace of God that He gives His children for any hardship or difficulty He brings them through.  His all-sufficient grace exceeds all our needs.


He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, He multiplies peace
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

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