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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Monday, April 4, 2016


Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29

I once spent an evening with a friend who had lots of questions about my assurance of salvation.  I knew that he wasn’t a Christian, but he thought he was because he often attended church and considered himself to be a pretty good guy.  He just didn’t understand how I could be so sure that I was saved.

Eventually, I got around to explaining how he could know for sure if he was right with God.   I pointed out that, according to the Bible, salvation is not something we earn or deserve but It is an unmerited gift of God’s grace.  And I explained that it cannot be obtained by being or doing good or by engaging in religious rituals.

I told him that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.  Our only response is to confess, to God, that we have sinned against Him, repent, and then just trust in Jesus Christ alone.

At that point, he stumbled and I don’t think he was any different from a lot of people; he had been deceived for years by the false teachings of his church.  By the end of the evening, he concluded that it just couldn’t be that simple.  “You have to DO something!” he argued, and he was going to continue to trust in his own religious works of rituals, sacraments, and self-righteousness.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he warns about those in the church who “have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it.”  About them, he says they are “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

This hymn is one of my favorites and it is possibly one of the best statements of faith ever written in a hymn format.

The writer, Eliza Hewitt, starts with this concept of resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, in the very first line of the first stanza:

Not in device nor creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

(refrain) I need no other argument;
I need no other plea.
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

In those short lines (including the refrain), the writer captures the essentials of the Gospel; that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions; He died for our sins, He rose from the dead, and now He lives forever, making intercession for us.

“There remains, therefore, a rest to people of God.” Those of us who believe, enter into God’s rest and cease from our own works. Heb. 4

The rest of the hymn is equally rich in doctrine.


1.    My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

2.    Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I came to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

3.    My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

4.    My great physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood, He shed,
For me His life He gave.

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