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 25, 2016


One late afternoon my dad and I decided to take two different routes home, from the job site, in order to take care of some business matters.  As I was giving him directions to where he needed to go, I pointed down the street and said, “Go west…”
He interrupted me and said, “That’s east.”  Somehow he had gotten turned around and was totally disoriented.  
It was late in the afternoon so I pointed to the sun that was setting in the west but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t convince him of the truth.  Finally, I referred to the ultimate authority; the book; the travelers “bible.” I opened my Thomas Brothers Guide and showed him where we were, where he wanted to go, and how to get there.

He took the book, silently studied the map for a few moments, closed the book, and said, “I don’t care what the map says; that’s east.”

When it comes to matters of faith and practice, we don’t need to try to find our own way; we need God to show us, to guide us, to teach us His way;
That’s the title of this song, and that prayer appears two times in Scripture.  One of them is in Ps. 86:11 where David prays, “TEACH ME THY WAY, O LORD;” and then he adds, “I will walk in Thy Truth.”
So according to David, God’s way is found in God’s Truth.   In Ps. 25, He made a similar petition but with more details.  He prayed, “Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.  Lead me in Thy Truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation.
I read a shocking statement, this week, by a pastor who said, “The Bible is NOT the Word of God; Jesus is.” 
In at least two other hymn commentaries, I have emphasized the inseverable relationship between the written Word of God and the Incarnate Word of God.  Both are called THE WORD of GOD.  We can’t just claim to follow God’s leading and ignore His Word.  It’s not possible for us to know His Way without knowing His Truth.
Jesus said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the Life; No man comes to the Father but BY Me.”  We usually think of that verse in reference to salvation, but in the context, Jesus is declaring that He doesn’t only know the way and the truth; He IS the way and the Truth.  Jesus and God’s Truth, are One.
Similarly, when Jesus was praying for His disciples, He said to His Father, “I have given them Thy Word; Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth.” 
If the Lord knows the way we should take, then we should seek His guidance to find it.  He hasn’t left us to discover our own way or rely on our own senses.  Prov. 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to destruction.”
God’s direction for our lives, is found in knowing Him and His guidebook – The Word of God.


Teach me Thy way, O Lord,
Teach me Thy way;
Thy gracious aid afford,
Teach me Thy way.
Help me to walk aright;
More by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light,
Teach me Thy way.

When doubts and fears arise,
Teach me Thy way;
When storms o’erspread the skies,
Teach me Thy way.
Shine through the cloud and rain,
Through sorrow, toil, and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain,
Teach me Thy way.

Long as my life shall last,
Teach me Thy way;
Where’er my lot be cast,
Teach me Thy way.
Until the race is run,
Until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won,
Teach me Thy way.


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