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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Tuesday, April 26, 2016


“…Do not yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” 
Romans 6:13

YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION was written shortly after the Civil War by Horatio Palmer who was a professional musician.

One day while he was at work on the subject of Music Theory, the idea for this song suddenly came to him in a flash.  He immediately laid aside his theoretical work and started writing both the words and the music.

And the song he wrote that day is exactly the song we have now with the exception of some minor alterations in verse three.

In Palmer's own account of that incident (where he laid aside his theoretical work) he said, “I see hints of a larger reality: our Christian faith will never "be music" to anyone's ears if we do not get beyond theories—the details of doctrines or traditions. There is more. We need to get beyond the momentary ‘flash’ of insight or feeling, and test our faith in the real world.  A life of faith involves more than just hearing or singing sweet words of love for God."

This song is a musical sermon.

Palmer starts his challenging commands with a very sharp tone: YIELD NOT!  FIGHT ONWARD!  SHUN EVIL!  DISDAIN THE BAD!  BE EARNEST!
Ultimately we all have to make choices. Do we really want to resist temptation?  Do we really want to be holy?

Palmer doesn’t just leave us with a command to “man up.” He ends his sermon with the reassurance that we are not left alone in our resistance to temptation. 1 Cor. 10:13 says, "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."

The repeated last line of each stanza leads us right into the chorus- “Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.”  “Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen, and keep you; He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.”

1.    Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen, and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.

2.    Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

3.    To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown,
Through faith we will conquer, though often cast down;
He who is our Savior, our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.


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