Awake, My Soul, in Joyful Lays

Sometimes I just don’t feel like singing. But first, let me explain…

I grew up in a family that sang often. We sang in church. We sang in the car. We sang outside. We sang around the piano. We sang at school. We all had just ordinary voices, but we sang anyway.

Then I grew up.

Life was hard.

It became harder to sing.

When my Dad got sick with a brain tumor we watched him put his violin aside, and soon his voice was gone too.

It didn’t seem right to sing without him.

After he died it took me a year before I could sing without crying.

Many years later, as my Mother lay dying, the only thing that would make her stop whimpering was if we sang to her. So I found a hymn book and sang softly until my own tears prevented me from continuing. When she would start whimpering again I would sing until she calmed down… until tears choked my voice.

Again and again the cycle repeated itself. Those were hard days, but my sisters and I were glad we could be with her.

There have been other hard days, when singing seemed impossible. Yet, singing should not be dependent on how we feel, but because we owe our God praise.

Below is a song I find myself singing when I don’t feel like singing.

Notice the words in the first verse...”He justly claims a song from me…”

We sing, not because our life is free from trouble. We sing, because we have a Great Redeemer who has rescued our souls from hell.

There will be trouble here. But this isn’t all there is. We have eternity to look forward to. This trouble will seem little when we are face to face with our Savior. In the meantime we remember His care of us in the here and now. We remember that He asks us to sing, to remember, to cling to this God who day by day covers us with His lovingkindness.

David wrote the following words when he had to flee to the wilderness of Judah, when his son, Absalom, took over the throne. (See II Samuel 15:23-30; 17:16)

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise Thee.

So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name…

For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.” Psalm 63:3,4 & 9

David wept when he was in trouble, but he also didn’t stop singing. Neither should we.

Samuel Medley 1738-1799

Awake, my soul in joyful lays, And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise; He justly claims a song from me, His lovingkindness, oh, how free! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how free!

He saw me ruined by the fall, Yet loved me not-with-standing all; He saved me from my lost estate, His lovingkindness, oh, how great! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how great!

Tho’ numerous hosts of mighty foes, Tho’ earth and hell my way oppose, He safely leads my soul along, His lovingkindness, oh, how strong! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how strong!

When trouble, like a gloomy cloud, Has gathered thick and thundered loud, He near my soul has always stood, His lovingkindness, oh, how good! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how good!

Soon shall we mount and soar away to the bright realms of endless day, And sing, with rapture and surprise, His lovingkindness, in the skies. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, in the skies.

He is Calling for You!

He spent his days begging on the road that led from Jericho to Jerusalem, unable to make a living any other way. His name was Bartimaeus and he was blind. 

A cloak was his only possession. It shaded him from the sun, protected him from rain, became his only comfort and blanket at night.

He had heard of a man named Jesus who heals. Miracle of miracles today he was passing right by him. Being tired of barely surviving he cried out to the one who could change his life.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!”, they scolded. Leave the Master alone!

He cried out even louder. “Have mercy on me!”

He knew his situation was hopeless. Sooner or later he would die from lack of food or exposure to the elements. He would not be quiet. In desperation, he shouted again. “Have mercy on me!!!”

And then the unbelievable news…”Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside, jumped to his feet and ran to Jesus.

“What do you want?”, Jesus asked.

“I want to see.” Was Bartimaeus’ reply.

“Go your way your faith has made you well.”

But as Bartimaeus looked at Jesus, he couldn’t go his way. He followed Jesus on the road, wherever that road would take him. He left it all. His cloak, his future, his dreams of a seeing life. All he wanted was to follow Jesus.

This would be Jesus last trip into Jerusalem. He was on his way to the cross.

William MacDonald sums it up “It was a good thing that Bartimaeus sought the Lord that day because the Savior never passed that way again.”

Are you like Bartimaeus? Do you see your need? Do you see your hopeless situation?

If so, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”

For further study: Mark 10:46-52; II Corinthians 6:2b

Rise, My Soul, and Stretch Thy Wings

Robert Seagrave 1693-1759? (England) / James Nares (1715-1783)

Rise, My Soul, and Stretch Thy Wings

Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings; Thy better portion trace;

Rise from transitory things toward heaven, thy native place;

Sun and moon and stars decay, Time shall soon this earth remove;

Rise, my soul and haste away to seats prepared above.

Rivers to the ocean run, nor stay in all their course;

Fire ascending seeks the sun; both speed them to their source:

So a soul that’s born of God pants to view His glorious face,

Upward tends to His abode to rest in His embrace.

Cease, my soul, then cease to mourn, press onward to the prize;

Soon the Saviour will return triumphant in the skies.

Yet a season, and you know Happy entrance will be given;

All our sorrows left below, and earth exchanged for heaven.

Sometimes a Light Surprises

Photo by Elias Tigiser on Pexels.com

William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) was born in 1731. He is considered one of England’s finest poets.

His life was filled with melancholy and sometimes despair, which may have had its roots in his mother’s death when he was only six. He was hospitalized on more than one occasion for “madness”. He wrote many hymns that were full of hope instead of the despair he was so familiar with. (God Moves in a Mysterious Way; There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.)

The following hymn is especially hopeful. The encouragement that comes from singing is in the first line. The original tune is one by Hayden – Petition 76.76D. The words also fit nicely with the tune – Sally Garden. There is a modern version by Sweetwaters Music. (I am unable to find the name of the composer.) The version I recorded below is the new version.

Sometimes a light surprises the child of God who sings; the light of one who rises with gentle, healing wings.

When comforts are declining, God grants the soul again A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation with joy we shall pursue the theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.

Set free from present sorrow we cheerfully can say, let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing but God will bear us through. Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe the people, too.

Beneath the spreading heavens no creature but is fed: the one who feeds the ravens will give the children bread

Though vine and fig tree neither their yearly fruit should bear, though all the fields should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there,

yet God, the same abiding, through praise shall tune my voice, for while in love confiding I cannot but rejoice.

For Further Study: “And he shall be as the light or the morning, like the rising of the sun, A morning without clouds; When from the sunshine, after rain, the green grass springeth after rain.” II Samuel 23:4

Sources:

http://www.hymnary.org;

The Story of the Hymns and Tunes – Theron Brown and Hezekiah Butterworth – copyright 1906 American Tract Society