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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Friday, March 18, 2016


Sunday morning I introduced a new worship song in our church service; WE ARE AN OFFERING."  Actually, it isn't new; it has been around for about 40 years, but it is new to me and most of our congregation. 

Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
The word, "worship" (in one of its most commonly used forms), means to bow down and obey.  Or to rephrase that, it means to submit to the lordship of God and do what He commands.

An offering is a sacrifice and throughout the pages of Old Testament Scripture, sacrificial blood offerings were regular and continuous acts of the worship that God required from His people.
How do YOU define worship?  Well, this might come as a surprise but It's really not about your Sunday morning, pre-message, entertainment. 

We’re all familiar with the Genesis account of Cain and Abel, and that story is instructive for us.  Abel’s worship was in submission to God’s
 lordship and obedience to His command.  And God was pleased with his offering.

But Cain offered a strange sacrifice; the first fruits of his produce.  I’m sure that Cain was proud and he thought it was a generous sacrifice.  It was pleasing to look at and good to eat.  But it wasn’t what God required.  He required blood; something had to die.

And that’s the way it was until the crucifixion of Christ.  He was the perfect sacrifice; the spotless Lamb of God and His shed blood was all-sufficient to atone for our sin.   From the cross, He cried, "It is finished!"  His sacrifice was once for all. 

So now, on this side of the cross, God requires living sacrifices.   But there are still lots of people like Cain, who think they can please God with their own strange fire and well-intended sacrifices.  They try to worship Him with things that are beautiful in their own eyes or pleasing in their own ears.  They have an appearance of godliness but their worship lacks what God requires; submission to His lordship and obedience to His commands.

God wants us to submit ourselves to Him in love.  He wants us to serve Him willingly, with the kind of obedience that comes from our hearts.  He wants our lives because Christ gave His life for us.

So, as the song goes;    
    “We lift our voices, we lift our hands, 
     We lift our lives up to Him; we are an offering.   
     All that we have, all that we are, 
    All that we hope to be, we give to Him.”

(Listen to it here and then try it  -  I'm sure you will find this a beautiful and appropriate tool for your worship service)

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