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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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

*OH SPIRIT, NOW WE THANK YOU

Our hymn book contains about 800 songs and hymns.  Many of them are rich with sound teachings about our God, Jesus Christ, Truth, salvation, Christian living, the Word of God, praise, worship, and the Church. 

But, when it comes to the subject of the Holy Spirit, so much of the available music borders on blasphemy or, at least, heresy, which is defined as “an unbiblical doctrine or belief; a teaching that does not come from God or His Word.”   

We often find phrases like “Come Holy Spirit, fill this place, fall afresh on me, or, I want to feel your presence or your power or your joy.”

The problem with lyrics like those is that they teach us very little, or no truth.  And a lot of them appeal to our physical senses rather than our minds.  Feelings and emotions are not evidence of the Spirit’s presence or His work. 
 
Paul instructed the Church at Ephesus to “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19)

His letter to the Colossians was a little more intentional.  He said, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16)

Those instructions define our purpose for corporate singing in the Church; it is to teach and reinforce biblical truth for our edification and for God’s glory.  So, what SHOULD appropriate lyrics look like when we sing about the Holy Spirit?

I think Jesus answered that before He left, when He said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth; It is necessary for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  I have many things, yet, to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all Truth: for He will not speak of Himself.  He will glorify Me.” (John 16)

The Spirit uses the Word of God to accomplish the Work of God.  If we are going to celebrate and honor the Holy Spirit in our singing, we need the Truth of God’s Word to fill our minds and to permeate our worship. 

O SPIRIT, NOW WE THANK YOU is a contemporary hymn written and arranged by Ken Puls. In my opinion, this one of the most doctrinally correct hymns ever written about the Holy Spirit. In every phrase, it teaches several, biblically accurate aspects of the Spirit’s work.  It is by Him, that we have the written Word of God.  With the Word of God, He convicts us of sin.   He conforms us to righteousness by the application of His Word.  And with the Word of God, He equips and empowers us for service.  He illumines the Word of God so that we can understand it, and by His Word, He guides us and teaches us all Truth. 

And, just like Jesus told His disciples, The Holy Spirit never brings attention to Himself.  With the written Word of God, He always and only glorifies Jesus Christ, who is the Living Word of God.


O SPIRIT, NOW WE THANK YOU

1.   O Spirit, now we thank You,
For giving us Your Word.
Please bless its proclamation,
The truths that we have heard.
Indwell us and empow'r us,
And cause us to obey;
Shine now the light of Scripture,
On all we do and say.

2.   Great Artist of the Scriptures,
In beauty, You have made,
God's Word to shine in glory,
That cannot fail or fade.
In poetry and proverbs,
Through narrative and line;
In prophecy and hist'ry,
God's truth in splendor shines.

3.   You, down through many ages,
Inspired men to write,
Progressively revealing,
You brought God's truth to light.
O Spirit, come illumine,
This truth for us today;
And guide us in sound doctrine,
The straight and narrow way.

4.   Wield now Your Sword, O Spirit,
The quick and living Word,
And rend our hearts asunder,
With truths that we have heard.
O search us now and know us,
Expose iniquity;
Conform us to our Savior,
And holy we shall be.


(Final notes) 

This is an excellent hymn of thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit, that shines the Light of Truth on our Savior. 

The musical score flows nicely with the lyrics and is simple enough for most congregational singing.

The hymn is metrically adaptable to the music of several other familiar hymns including, “The Church’s One Foundation,” “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” and “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.”








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