These are the words that I needed from Rock of Ages Cleft for Me.
That is verses 2 and 3…
“Not the labour of my hands Can fulfil Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All could never sin erase, Thou must save, and save by grace.
Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace: Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
If you look at Church Hymnary 4 CH4 hymn 554 you will find it is set to the tune Petra. I must say not one of my favourite tunes – but the Late Rev. Bob White always reminded me that these tunes were the pop songs of the day. Sadly one of a set of tunes that I struggle to look at as a pop song. For me, it sounds like a dirge. Other people may well enjoy, but it is not in my top 10.
As usual, I sent an email to our choir members. I mentioned that words also fit the tune for the carol ‘As with Gladness men of old’. Secretly, I was hoping this would be ok.
Quickly, I received an email back – we know the tune. ‘Oh dear’, I thought. Nothing for it, but I will try and rearrange Petra, perhaps break the chords or add a variation in the bass.
Today I arrived at church for the choir practice. Played the tune Petra, it was not recognised, by anyone. Nothing to do with the arrangement! I then checked the CH3 hymnary and the tune was Petra. – it was there again! Only, one more source was left… Mission Praise. There I found the tune Toplady and that was a perfect match. Do have a look at Mission Praise MP 582 (ii). To my mind much superior to Petra. Had to transpose by two semitones – but the organ magically did all that for me!
I am preparing for a prayer meeting tonight and looking for something to read before prayer. On that note, Hebrews 11 comes to mind. So here goes…
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper (comely – pleasant to look at) child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again:
If you are observant you will notice that I have missed something. And yes you are right. It is a final couple of verses in Hebrews 11. These should be here to provide balance and the full story about faith.
and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect).
Abridged version Come, ye faithful, raise the strain (7,6,7,6, D) Tune Ellacombe Hosanna Loud Hosanna CH4 367 … Translated by John Mason Neale, born in Conduit Street, London, on Jan. 24, 1818. Written by John of Damascus, St. The last but one of the Fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets. Words set to Ellacombe by Charles Litster April 2019.
Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness; God has– brought his Israel in-to.. joy from sadness; loosed from Pharaoh’s bit-ter.. yoke Jacob’s sons and dau-ght-ers; He let them pass with feet not wet through th-e Red Sea waters.
“Alleluia!” now we do cry to ou-r King immortal, who, tri-umph-antl-y did burst the bars of the to-mb’s dark portal; “Alleluia!” with the So-on…, (Son) We praise God the Father now, “Alleluia!” yet aga-in to the Spirit raising.
I had a slight challenge, the organ I play on at church as a lovely feature. That is at a flick of a switch the key for any piece of music can be moved up or down. In this case, it needed to go down. This feature is really great and it does the job fantastically.
There I was very happy that the issue had been resolved and then I realised, I may have missed something. Therefore, I asked the question. where are we singing this hymn? And I had forgotten!
It was not in our church. Of course, our church organ is not portable.
Therefore, earlier today I set about transposing the sheet music, in this case to the key of C from E flat. This makes it easier to play and sing. In this case, I have not re-arranged, but have made some minor changes for ease of reading. Fairest Lord Jesus in the key of C
The answer, of course, is Crimond. That is a village in the northeast of Scotland. It is nine miles northwest of Peterhead and just over two miles from the coast.
The challenge I have is not with the time but the tune.
Not many people know that the tunes to hymns (songs) are named after the community and/or Kirk (Church) that they were written in.
The Late Rev Bob White did say in his sermons that these tunes were pop songs of the day. Ever since the age of ten, I have wanted to make Crimond a pop song. I must admit that this was much to the annoyance of my classically trained music teacher. From memory, I think her reaction was…
“If you really must Charles, but that is not as it is written and you have an exam to pass”
So what is all the fuss about one tune? Simply it was written by Jessie Seymour Irvine (born 1836 – died 1887). She was the daughter of a Church of Scotland minister who served at Dunottar, Peterhead, and Crimond, Scotland. Jessie is referred to by Ian Campbell Bradley in his 1997 book Abide with Me.
The crunch is that the song ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ is set to that tune. As such it is well known and often sung at funerals and weddings. Words were written by Francis Rous, who was born at Halton, Cornwall, in 1579, and educated at Oxford. His career the legal profession, and M.P. He took the words from the Bible – Psalm 23 and set it to verse. Here are the lyrics…
Is a beautiful hymn written by hymnodist William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800). Not only did he write hymns – he studied them too – hence the term hymnodist as opposed to hymn writer. As a writer of hymns, he had another talent, he was a well-known poet. One of his poems being “The Negro’s Complaint” which was often quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior as part of the 20th Century Civil Rights movement.
At the age of six years William’s mum Ann died giving birth to his brother, John. This was the start of a lifetime of challenges and woes. His mental health being poor at times to the extent he was institutionalized. At one point it is said he tried to commit suicide. Born a son of an Anglican clergyman, he studied for the law. The prospect of a law exam (I must say any law exam is difficult – it is the exceptions to the rule and the volume of laws that is the issue) that he was so intimidated that he attempted suicide.
It is rumoured that he attempted to do so by drowning in the River Ouse. He hired a horse-drawn coach/taxi driver to take him to his favourite part of River. The driver just could not find it. William returned home – his suicide attempt dashed by the unwitting actions of a poor driver. It was if God had a hand in returning William safely to his home.
However, he did become a member of the Bar and in 1763 he was offered a Clerkship of Journals in the House of Lords. Sadly, that became a challenge for him.
As it happens he met Mrs. Mary Unwin at some point between 1763 and 1779 and they both became life long friends. After moving to Olney Mary became seriously ill. So serious that William was worried that she might die. Cowper began to experience severe depression again. During that crisis, he was inspired to write the verse for “O for a Closer Walk with God”. That action of creation comforted him in his hour of distress.
A day after he wrote to his Aunt about the hymn verses…
‘I began to compose them yesterday morning before daybreak, but I fell asleep at the end of the first two lines. When I awaked again, the third and fourth verses were whispered to my heart in a way I have often experienced.”
Fortunately, Mary recovered from her illness, which if she had not experienced – the words of this great hymn may never have been penned…
1 Oh for a closer walk with God, a calm and heav’nly frame, a light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb!
2 Where is the blessedness I knew when first I sought the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word?
3 What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their mem’ry still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill.
4 Return, O holy Dove, return, sweet messenger of rest; I hate the sins that made Thee mourn, and drove Thee from my breast.
5 The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.
6 So shall my walk be close with God, calm and serene my frame; so purer light shall mark the road that leads me to the Lamb.