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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Thursday, March 31, 2016


"Hope,” is a word we tend to use as a synonym for a wish or a desire.  But in Scripture, the word is better defined as the joyful certainty of a future reality.  It is a “know so” confidence in the faithfulness of a reliable and never-changing God and His never-changing Word.

MY HOPE IS IN THE LORD, a hymn written by Norman Clayton, gives us, in four short verses, a clear, biblical declaration of the Gospel of grace.  As a general rule, I try to avoid most Christian songs that have an abundance of, first person, personal pronouns when selecting music for our Sunday worship services.  This one is different.
It is significant to note that this song is personal; and although it is full of the personal pronouns MY, and ME, there is not one single occurrence of the word, I.  This song is really NOT about ME.  The subject of the song is my hope, who is my Lord and my Savior.  

The first verse properly affirms that MY hope rests in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He willingly gave His life on the cross to pay MY debt of sin.  And then, because He rose from the dead, MY hope is a “living hope” in a “living Savior.”

The second verse makes it very clear that the saving work of Christ is not just any hope in the modern, wishful thinking sense; it’s MY ONLY hope.  I can never be good enough to earn my salvation and there is nothing I can do to secure it.  It is ONLY by God’s grace that MY sin has been laid on Him and the righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to my account.

The third verse describes the present, intercessory work of Christ.  He is MY great High Priest in heaven.  He is seated there at the right hand of the Father, eternally proclaiming that MY debt has been paid.

Verse four declares that all this is a work of God’s amazing grace.  He planned it all and He did it freely.  His grace in saving me renders any of my effort worthless and completely irrelevant.  It is only for me to believe and receive His unearned and unmerited favor.

1.    My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

2.    No merit of my own
His anger to suppress.
My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.

3.    And now, for me, He stands
Before the Father’s throne.
He shows His wounded hands and names me as His own.

4.    His grace has planned it all,
’Tis mine but to believe,
And recognize His work of love and Christ receive.

For me, He died,
For me, He lives,
And everlasting life and light He freely gives.

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