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

Please follow this blog to keep notified of new entries.

Monday, March 28, 2016


“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the Lord, the King” (Ps. 98:4-6).

All God’s people have great reasons for rejoicing because He has blessed us in so many ways.

But not just in good times; God expects us to rejoice even in times when troubles seem to overwhelm us.  After all, most of us will never experience troubles like Job, who said, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!" 

The prophet Habakkuk expressed it this way:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls–yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation”

Our God is Great.  We have full assurance that He does all things right and He will resolve ALL things; We have great confidence that He will deliver His people.  So then, we can rejoice in difficult times knowing that it is “…God who works ALL things together for good to those who love God; those who are called according to His purpose.”

Jesus was a perfect example for us.  During this time of year (Christmas) we are often reminded of the humility of His incarnation; how He set aside His glory and became a man.  We are all familiar with the story of His lowly birth in a dirty feeding trough.   The events around His birth were not comfortable.  In fact, it was difficult; He was a man of sorrows; He came to die.  But Hebrews 12:2 says, “He endured the cross for the JOY that was set before Him.”

Even if our circumstances aren’t especially happy or pleasant for the moment, it is always appropriate to sing great songs of Praise to the God of our salvation.


Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
 Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou, our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
 Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
 In the triumph song of life.

1 comment:

  1. When we sing this song, we sing it to "Love Divine, All Love Excelling." You can also sing it to "Our Great Saviour" and many others. It has an 8787D meter.