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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Saturday, March 19, 2016


(A Commentary for the opening song on Father's Day.)

A pastor once asked some children in a Sunday school class to draw pictures of God. He intended to use them to illustrate his Father’s Day sermon.  At the end of class, the children were excited to show off their typical pictures of white-robed old men with long white hair, and big, outstretched hands surrounded by rainbows, bluebirds, unicorns, and fluffy clouds.

Finally, one shy little girl hesitantly revealed her picture.  It was a simple drawing of a man dressed in a suit and tie. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."

I don’t remember my father ever telling me that he loved me yet I NEVER doubted his love; he proved his love for us in so many practical ways.
He was a hard worker.  It was important to him that his children saw him working for a living.  Even when times were hard and we didn’t have everything we wanted, he was our provider and, with great sacrifice, he did whatever was necessary to make sure that we had everything we needed.

He was faithful to my mom and that gave us a great sense of security.

He was fair and just; he was swift with appropriate punishment when it was warranted and he was forgiving when we disappointed him.

And he was honest in his business dealings; he valued his good reputation.

Someone has said, "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."

Much of my understanding of the character and attributes of God, I learned, by experience, from my father who was seldom present, but he was always there.

HE KNOWS MY NAME, is a contemporary praise song, written by Tommy Walker, that was very popular for a short time about twenty years ago.  It seemed like every church used it regularly for a few months and then it just sort of disappeared into worship song oblivion.

God knows us, and His knowledge is infinitely more than just a superficial ability to recall our names; it is a personal and intimate knowledge.  And that kind of knowledge is wonderful and terrible at the same time.  The song reminds me of another song, “When He Was On The Cross (I Was On His Mind).   Think about this – “He knew me, YET He loved me.”  The thought that, even though God knew me in all my sorry, sinful state, He still chose to love me and die for my sin is incredible and wonderful.

That’s the kind of love Tommy Walker was describing in his song.  God calls us “His children” and every phrase in this song emphasizes a different aspect of His knowledge of each one of us.

He made us -- He planned us -- He knows us -- He forgives us – He understands us – He comforts us -- He listens to us -- He fathers us – He wants us -- He’ll never leave us – He’ll never forget us – He’ll never give up on us -- He cheers for us -- And He prepares a place for us.

I have a Maker;
He formed my heart.
Before even time began,
My life was in his hands.

I have a Father;
He calls me His own.
He'll never leave me,
No matter where I go.

He knows my name!
He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls,

And He hears me when I call.

(This song could also be used for a Pro-life or Right to Life service.  Here it is for your listening pleasure)

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