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, within those parameters, I try to select music that will reinforce and support the text and the 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 few 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 these commentaries 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.

A complete list of hymns is located on the right side panel.

Ralph M. Petersen

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Sunday, June 11, 2017


I don’t usually look for doctrinal fights on purpose but, occasionally, they just come and find me.
I bumped into a man one day who had been a regular attender at my church but then, he just stopped coming.  When I asked where he had been and he said, “Oh, I’m not into church.  I love God and I talk to Jesus every day.  But you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

I couldn’t ignore that; I tried to convince him of the importance of the regular gathering of believers for worship and fellowship.   But after a quite lengthy exchange, His response was, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

I reminded him that my arguments were not my own opinions but they were, in fact, scriptural and that his disagreement was not with me but with God.

That’s when he got a little uppity and said, “SHOW ME IN THE BIBLE WHERE IT SAYS I HAVE TO…” (Now you can fill in the blank on this one; it doesn’t really matter how people end that sentence.  Usually, when a person deflects to that kind of “show me” demand, his real problem is a rejection of the Word of God.  It’s a classic, foolish, non-argument that began in the garden when the serpent tempted Eve with her own words; he asked, “Did God really say 'don’t touch that fruit?'”  But I digress.)

I continued to try to convince my friend with scripture.   My arguments were biblical and true but I lost the debate when he stripped me of nearly 70% of my authoritative ammunition and set a boundary around the debate with one idiotic statement.  He said, “…and don’t give me any of that Old Testament stuff either; we are in New Testament times.”

When someone rejects God’s revelation, any supporting arguments we may have, on any subject, are reduced to just personal opinions.  He had me right where he wanted me - on an equal playing field in an emotional arena of subjectivity and personal preferences.   That’s when I knew there was no more point in continuing; the fight was over.

There is an inseverable relationship between the Living Word of God and the written Word of God; you cannot love Jesus and hate His Word.  

This person, who claimed to love God, had just revealed his real problem; he was unwilling to recognize or submit to the authority of God’s Word. 

Jesus once scolded His disciples when He asked them, “… why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  (Lk. 6:46)

Then He compared a person who hears His Words and does not listen, to a fool whose faith is built on a shaky foundation. 

In the hymn, NAME OF ALL MAJESTY, our God is identified as the Immortal, Eternal King of the Ages.  He is attributed with incomparable Splendor and Dignity.  He is our Sovereign Master and our Savior.  And, in the midst of all those superlative titles, attributes, and descriptors, is this stunning reminder; He has all Power and Authority; Jesus is Lord! 

This hymn was partially inspired by David’s prayer of praise to God, “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty;

“For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all.  Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all.   In Your hand is power and might;  In Your hand, it is to make great and to give strength to all.
“Now, therefore, our God, we thank You And praise Your glorious Name.”  (1 Chron. 29:11-13)


Name of all majesty, fathomless mystery,
King of the ages by angels adored;
Pow'r and authority, splendor and dignity,
Bow to His mastery, Jesus Is Lord!

Child of our destiny, God from eternity,
Love of the Father on sinners outpoured;
See now what God has done sending His only Son,
Christ the beloved One, Jesus is Lord.

Saviour of Calvary, costliest victory,
Darkness defeated and Eden restored;
Born as a man to die, nailed to a cross on high,
Cold in the grave to lie, Jesus is Lord!

Source of all sovereignty, light, immortality,
Life everlasting and heaven assured;
So, with the ransomed, we praise Him eternally,
Christ in His majesty, Jesus is Lord!

Timothy Dudley-Smith
Words © 1984 Hope Publishing Company

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