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, September 26, 2016


About three years ago, I listened to a disturbing Huffington Post interview with one of America’s most popular, false teachers.   In the context of his heretical drivel about how God loves and accepts those who practice homosexuality because that’s the way He made them, he made this shocking statement:
“It doesn’t matter who likes you or doesn’t like you; all that matters is that God likes you.  He accepts you; He approves of you.”  Joel Osteen
Well, I’m pretty certain that God does NOT like me, period.   I know a few people whom I think might like me but if they really knew me like I know me, they probably wouldn't like me at all.  I think I know myself well enough to know that there is nothing about me that God could like.  In fact, if I thought for a moment, that God really likes me, accepts me, and approves of me, unconditionally, I would think that He either doesn’t know me at all or maybe He is easily deceived and not a very wise discerner of character.  

But God is wise and He does know all about me.  Therefore, I would have to say, He does NOT like me.

It is true that God loves me; that has been demonstrated, by His mercy and grace, in the fact that He sent His Son to suffer, and bleed, and die for the penalty of ALL my sin against Him, thereby satisfying His righteous justice. 

Sure, it is true that the Scripture says I am accepted.  But that acceptance is followed by the prepositional phrase, “in the Beloved.”  The basis for His acceptance of me is that I am in Christ and He is in me.  That is the only way The Holy and Righteous God of creation can even stand the sight of me.  Jesus Christ is my righteousness; He is my covering.  Without my covering, I am a just another dirty, depraved sinner capable of thievery, homosexuality, murder or any other kind of evil or perversion, and deserving of His terrible and righteous wrath.

When God saves a repentant sinner, He doesn’t just let him continue in his sin; He cleans him up, turns him around, changes his behavior, and He begins the process of making the sinner a creature fit to live with Him forever.  Furthermore, should any of us, who are saved, ever think too highly of ourselves, we have the constant, eternal reminder that our sin nailed the Son of God to the cross.  Jesus Christ redeemed us with His own blood.     What we need is GRACE GREATER THAN OUR SIN.

This is one of the several hymns, about God’s grace, that I really love.  Julia Johnston, a writer of Sunday school curriculum and about 500 hymn texts, is best known for this hymn which is all about God’s great grace and its amazing work in the salvation of the believer.

In four stanzas, this song builds the story of the Gospel of grace:  

  1. It is because of God’s grace that He sent Son to atone for our sin. 
  2. It is God’s grace that points us to the Cross of Calvary. 
  3. By God’s grace, we can be washed white as snow. 
  4. And by God’s amazing grace, we will someday see Him face to face.

1 comment:

  1. What a coincidence. I just recently transcribed this tune to pipe music and have it almost memorized. It's a great song.