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

I Am Your Hymn Book


Back in the 1950s and 60s, I remember seeing these printed articles, pasted inside the flyleaves of all the hymn books in many of our churches.  The hymn book was a treasured implement, in our worship services.  They contained much more than just songs and hymns.  They also included prayers, responsive readings, calls to worship, and doxologies.



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

Hold me in your hand on Sunday
when 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
have 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 these I have treasured…for you.

I am your hymn book.

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