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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Sunday, July 2, 2017

BREAK THOU, THE BREAD OF LIFE (2)

Sally was a resident in our assisted living home.  She wasn’t a Christian but she had a curiosity about God and she had a bizarre story.

She claimed that she had died and was carried by angels to heaven.  Her story had all the familiar parts; the white light, the image of “Jesus” waiting at the gate as she was approaching, the sense of peace and overwhelming love, and so on.

But her story had a new twist that I had not heard before. Sally claimed that God stopped her at the gate and said, “You think you know me but you really don’t.”  

So, He turned her around and sent her back until she learned who He is.

OK, so I was (and still am) skeptical about her experiences.  But ever since that alleged event, Sally was on a quest to “know God.”  She spent lots of time in her room reading her Bible.  And when she came out, she often claimed to have some special new insights or revelations from God.

I found myself wanting to refute the inaccurate or nonsensical ideas that she was forming about God but, because she was attending all our Sunday services and listening intently to all our sermons, I decided to hold my tongue.  I knew that arguing would not be productive.   I just listened politely, smiled, and encouraged her to keep reading the Bible.

I take a great deal of consolation in God’s promise in Isaiah 55:11, regarding His Word.  “So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The Bread of Life is an allegory; it is a picture of Jesus Christ.  We see that in several places in Scripture where the Word of God is described as bread that is to be eaten for our Spiritual sustenance.

The Hymn, BREAK THOU, THE BREAD OF LIFE, is a prayer petitioning God to feed us with His Word.   It was written by Mary Lathbury and there is no question about her intended use of this allegory; This Bread of Life can be found “within the sacred page.” 

That’s where we all start.  Do you want to find God?  He is revealed in His Word.  Do you want to know Him?  Know His Word.
 
And the last stanza tells us how God accomplishes His work of salvation in the lives of sinners and His work of sanctification in the lives of those He has saved.  It is by the ministry of the Spirit of God who opens our eyes to see Him and leads us into all Truth through the pages of His revealed Word.

 Sally needed what we all need; the life-giving Bread from heaven that nourishes us and keeps us spiritually healthy.   So, we just continued to do for her, what we did for all our residents; we answered their questions from the Scriptures, we preached the Gospel, and we prayed that God would reveal Himself to them.



(Further commentary on this hymn can be found here.)


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