THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG

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, August 15, 2016

*LOVE DIVINE (He, The Pearly Gates, Will Open)

Fred Blom was an immigrant from Sweden early in the 1890s and he served as an officer in the Salvation Army in the city of Chicago.     Later, he went on to pastor a church.

But his life took a radical downward turn around 1915.  Through circumstances that are not quite clear, he had fallen into sin and a life of crime and was eventually sentenced to prison. It was there, sick in soul and body, that he turned to Christ.  That’s when he wrote the words of this song.  It was his expression of joy in the fact that God had “healed his backsliding” and forgiven all his sin.

LOVE DIVINE (HE THE PEARLY GATES WILL OPEN)
         
         Love divine, so great and wondrous,   
                 Deep and mighty, pure, sublime,
         Coming from the heart of Jesus.   
                 Just the same through tests of time!

         Like a dove when hunted, frightened.    
                As a wounded fawn was I;
         Brokenhearted, yet He healed me.    
                He will heed the sinner's cry.

         Love divine, so great and wondrous,    
                All my sins He then forgave;
         I will sing His praise forever,    
                For His blood, His power to save.  

         In life's eventide at twilight,    
               At His door, I'll knock and wait;
         By the precious love of Jesus,   
               I shall enter heaven's gate.

         {Chorus:}
         He the pearly gates will open,    
               So that I may enter in;
         For He purchased my redemption  
               And forgave me all my sin.

The message of this song is simple. It is about God’s saving GRACE in the life of one who has gone astray.  Because of the love of God expressed in Christ, our sins are forgiven, our lives are changed and we look forward to the day we make a joyful entrance into heaven.

It is said that Fred Blom was never released from prison; he died in the custody of the law.  While the gates of prison did not open for him, he knew that Heaven's pearly gates would be swung wide for him by his Redeemer.

Was Fred Blom really saved before his fall or did God save him while he was in prison?  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing; I am no better than Fred Blom.

I am thankful that God is strong enough to destroy my will, my desires, and even my miserable life because left to myself, I would never have chosen Him. 

When I was running away, He sought me.  He bought me; He owns me; He keeps me, and He cleanses me.   He does whatever is necessary or to bring me to repentance and make me fit for heaven. 

It was all His doing.  I had nothing to do with the transaction.  I am saved by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and not by any effort or merit of my own.  


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