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.

Friday, March 18, 2016



Galatians 4:4  But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,

Image result for rhino timeThat phrase literally means “at the appointed time.”  God is sovereign, even in every detail of history because He is the author of history.

From that verse, most of us understand that Jesus came at just the exact point in time, and place in history that God had fore-ordained before He created the world.

But beyond just the details of His birth, I think that phrase also implies significant geopolitical conditions one of which is language.

When we communicate with each other, we use words.  Words mean things. And when God communicates with us, He uses spoken words.   Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has, in these last days, spoken to us by His Son…”

God didn't wait to communicate with us in today’s English language; that would have been chaotic and confusing because our language is so malleable; words are constantly being re-defined to mean so many different things.  In some cases, the same word can have opposite meanings.  We are like Humpty Dumpty, in the story by Lewis Caroll, who said, “When I use a word, it means whatever I choose it to mean.” 

We’ve all been in Bible study groups or discussions where someone will proffer, “Well this is what I think that verse means to me.”  To which someone else might say, “No, I like to think that God is telling us…”

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what you or I think the Scripture is saying; the important question is, What did God mean when He said it?  With a  language like ours, precise communication is impossible.

But that was not so when God’s written Word was conveyed.  “In the fullness of time,” the dominating world power was the Roman Empire and the predominant language, Greek, was precise.  Words meant what they meant.

And the Holy Spirit directed the writing of His words through human beings so that their letters were precisely what God wanted to communicate.  The Bible is the trustworthy Word of the Living God.

In his Gospel, John opens with this amazing revelation:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....”

God’s communication also came in the form of the man, Christ Jesus, God’s perfect Word.

In this hymn, THANKS TO GOD WHOSE WORD WAS SPOKEN, the author points our attention to both the written Word of God AND the Living Word of God. There is an inseverable relationship between the two.  Scripture is the Word of God AND Jesus is the Word of God.

Do you want to know God?  When we read His Word, we see Jesus.  And when we look at Jesus, we see who God is.   For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

1.    Thanks to God whose Word was spoken
In the deed that made the earth.
His the voice that called a nation;
His the fires that tried her worth.
God has spoken: God has spoken
Praise Him for His open Word.

2. Thanks to God whose Word Incarnate
Glorified the flesh of man.
Deeds and words and death and rising,
Tell the grace in Heaven's plan.
God has spoken: God has spoken
Praise Him for His open Word.

3. Thanks to God whose Word was written
In the Bible's sacred page,
Record of the revelation
Showing God to every age.
God has spoken: God has spoken
Praise Him for His open Word.

4. Thanks to God whose Word is answered
By the Spirit's voice within.
Here we drink of joy unmeasured,
Life redeemed from death and sin.
God is speaking: God is speaking
Praise Him for His living Word.

(NOTE) This is a great Hymn for Sunday Worship.  It is set to the tune of the Christmas carol, "Angels From The Realms Of Glory" so it is familiar enough for easy congregational singing.

1 comment:

  1. Or even better.... "This is what I FEEL this verse means to me."