Nearer, My God, to Thee

Sarah Flower Adams was a British actress who received praise for her performance in an 1837 production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. After health problems disrupted her plans to continue with theatre, she found comfort in writing poems and hymns. Her most notable hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” came about in 1841 when Adam’s pastor was looking for a hymn for the following week’s sermon on Genesis 28:11-19, which is referred to by many as “Jacob’s ladder,” or “Jacob’s dream.” Adams offered to write the hymn and completed it within a week to go along with the pastor’s sermon. The hymn was originally set to music written by her sister, Eliza Flower, but another hymn-tune called “BETHANY,” written by Lowell Mason in 1856, has become most widely recognised and is most familiar to listeners today1. Enjoy!

Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer, my God, to thee;
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be
Nearer, my God, to thee;
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto heaven;
All that thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to thee;
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be
Nearer, my God, to thee;
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly,
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer, my God, to thee;
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Not Unto Us

This song is written by UK collective Joyful Noise, with the chorus of this song coming straight from Psalm 115:1. We can be so quick to seek glory for ourselves, but this song reminds us that God alone is our creator, He alone is our redeemer, and He alone gives us the grace to persevere all the way to heaven. He alone deserves all the glory. Enjoy!

All the glory, Lord to You!
For in the secret place
Each life you fashioned through and through
In fearful wonder made!
What have we but given by you?
To our God all honour due!
You who also made the stars
Yours the glory never ours

Not unto us, not unto us
But all the glory unto you!
For your great love and faithfulness
We give the glory all to you!

Though the world may praise our deeds
You search much deeper in
You see our pride you see our greed,
You see our darkest sin
You the seeker, we the lost
Ours the sin, and yours the cross
Yours the love that took our place
Yours the glory, ours the grace!


Hopeless lies the road ahead
If in our strength we go
Our only hope to run the course
Is in your strength alone
Every battle every race
Won by your empowering grace
When our fearful faith is small
God of grace you give us all!


Christ Our Hope In Life And Death

This song written by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker & Matt Papa, and was birthed out of Merker’s and Kauflin’s desire to write a song about hope, so that their local congregations they serve would be helped. The song then developed from the Heidelberg catechism question 1: “What is your only comfort in life and death?”1. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this 🙂

What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone.
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong.

Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand.

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal;
O sing hallelujah!
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death!

What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good.
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood.

Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us nigh
Unto the shore, the rock of Christ?


Unto the grave, what shall we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him.

There we will rise to meet the Lord,
Then sin and death will be destroyed,
And we will feast in endless joy,
When Christ is ours forevermore.


Look, Ye Saints, The Sight Is Glorious!

Thomas Kelly (d.1855) was an Irish-born Anglican priest and an energetic evangelical preacher of considerable learning who was prohibited from preaching by his archbishop. He founded an independent sect known as the Kellyites and, drawing on the wealth of his wife, founded chapels in several towns. He wrote more than 700 hymns, several in CH4. ‘Regent Square’ is by Henry Smart (d.1879) who was a leading 19th century Anglican organist famous for his skill in accompanying congregational singing. He was a staunch advocate of metrical psalms and this was shown in his four-square and well-structured hymn melodies. The United Presbyterian Church in Scotland appointed him as editor of their Presbyterian Psalter and Hymnal (1876)1. I love this version with an added verse.. enjoy!

Look you saints the sight is glorious
See the Man of Sorrows now
From the fight returned victorious
Every knee to Him will bow
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crowns become the Victors brow

Crown the Saviour! Angels, crown Him!
Rich the gospel Jesus brings
In the seat of power enthrone Him
While the choir of heaven sings
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown the Saviour King of Kings

Once with cruel thorns they crowned Him
Nailed Him to a wretched tree
There He died as soldiers mocked Him
Suff’ring on that cross for me
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Praise the King of Calvary!

Come repentant sinners crown Him
Humbled by His mighty claim
Saved by grace we bow before Him
All to Jesus! Praise His name!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Spread abroad the Victor’s fame!

Hear those bursts of acclamation
Hear those loud triumphant chords
Jesus takes the highest station
O what joy that sight affords
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Hymn of Promise

Natalie Sleeth (1939-1992) began piano lessons at the age of four, gaining a music degree from Wellesley College and an honourary doctorate from West Viriginia Wesleyan College. With over 180 published works, she is considered one of the 20th Century’s most loved composers for children, working for many years at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Texas. Natalie wrote about inspiration for this hymn by “pondering the death of a friend (life and death, death and re­sur­rec­tion), pon­der­ing win­ter and spring (seem­ing op­po­sites), and a T. S. Eliot poem which had the phrase ‘in our end is our be­gin­ning’. These seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry pairs led to the the­sis of the song and the hope­ful message that out of one will come the oth­er, when­ev­er God choos­es to bring that about”. Her husband first heard his wife’s hymn shortly before his death and asked it to be sung at his funeral1.

In the bulb there is a flower;
In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
Bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning;
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until it’s season,
Something God alone can see.

1page 91 – Leeman, D. and Leeman, B., 2022. Our Hymns, Our Heritage: A Student Guide to Songs of the Church

Children of the Heavenly Father

Karolina “Lina” Sandell was born on October 3, 1832 in a small town in Sweden. Her father was a Lutheran pastor sympathetic to the growing pietist movement and raised Lina in a faith that emphasised the grace and warmth of God. Throughout her life, she wrote over 2000 hymn texts and poems (earning her the title the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden”) and worked as an editor at the Evangelical National Foundation, a mission organisation within the Lutheran Church of Sweden. This hymn was written quite early in her life, perhaps as young as 17. An old tradition relates that she wrote the hymn while seated on the branch of a large ash tree that stood in the parsonage yard. From that spot on warm summer evenings she could listen to the content twitter of the birds as they hid in their nests among the green leaves, and from there she could watch the stars as they began to appear. Her impressions fortified the biblical concepts of the security of God’s children.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers,
Your Protector never slumbers;
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Though He giveth or he taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

All That Thrills My Soul

Thoro Harris, the author of today’s hymn, was born in Washington D.C. in 1874. He was a gifted songwriter and after graduation moved to Boston to enter the publishing business. In 1902 he produced the first of dozens of hymnals and song collections. As a result of his success, Harris was invited by Peter Bilhorn to move to Chicago who was active in Christian music, working with evangelists Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and George Stebbins1. Enjoy this accapalla version!

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!
All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Love of Christ so freely given,
Grace of God beyond degree,
Mercy higher than the heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea!
All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

What a wonderful redemption!
Never can a mortal know
How my sin, tho red like crimson,
Can be whiter than the snow.
All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Ev’ry need His hand supplying,
Ev’ry good in Him I see,
On His strength divine relying,
He is all in all to me.
All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing,
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King.
All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Glorious Things of You Are Spoken

One of Newton’s most well-known hymns, “Glorious things of thee are spoken,” was first published in 1779 in Olney Hymns, a collection of his and close friend William Cowper for public worship. Newton would later describe the publication as “a monument, to perpetuate the remembrance of an intimate and endeared friendship.”1 

Glorious things of you are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
formed you for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake your sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
You may smile at all your foes.

See, the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply your sons and daughters
And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
Ever will their thirst assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hov’ring,
See the cloud and fire appear
For a glory and a cov’ring,
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from their banner
Light by night and shade by day,
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which he gives them on their way.

Saviour, since of Zion’s city
I thro’ grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your name.
Fading are the world’s vain pleasures,
All their boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasures
None but Zion’s children know.

Sing Praise To God Who Reigns Above

By the time of Martin Luther’s death in 1546, the Lutheran Church in Germany was strong—strong and zealous.  However, as so often happens, that zeal cooled considerably over the next century.  By the mid-1600s, the Lutheran Church in Germany was still quite correct doctrinally but cool with regard to zeal. Philip Spener became the pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Frankfurt am Main in the mid-1600s, and effected a revival by fervent preaching that emphasised repentance, personal piety, and discipleship. Not only did the church that Spener was serving in Frankfurt prosper, but a pietistic movement swept across Germany through his influence. An enthusiastic member of Spener’s congregation was a young attorney, Johann Jakob Schutz, who not only encouraged Spener’s work but also wrote hymns.  He wrote “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above” in 1675, and published it in a collection of hymns that same year. An Oxford scholar, Frances Elizabeth Cox translated this and many other German hymns into English. It was first published in English in 1841 in a collection entitled, “Sacred Hymns from the German.”1.

Sing praise to God who reigns above, 
The God of all creation, 
The God of pow’r, the God of love, 
The God of our salvation. 
With healing balm my soul He fills, 
And ev’ry faithless murmur stills: 
To God all praise and glory

What God’s almighty pow’r hath made 
His gracious mercy keepeth. 
By morning glow or evening shade 
His watchful eye ne’er  sleepeth. 
Within the kingdom of His might, 
Lo! all is just and all is right: 
To God all praise and glory!

The Lord is never far away, 
But, thru all grief distressing, 
An ever-present help and stay, 
Our peace and joy and blessing. 
As with a mother’s tender hand 
He leads His own, His chosen band: 
To God all praise and glory!

Thus all my toilsome way along 
I sing aloud His praises, 
That men may hear the grateful song 
My voice unwearied raises. 
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart! 
Both soul and body bear your part: 
To God all praise and glory!

Sweet The Moments, Rich In Blessing

In its present form this hymn was wrought out of a bitter experience in the life of Walter Shirley, who was born in 1725 in Leicestershire, England. He was a friend of Whitefield and the Wesleys, often preaching in their chapels. His brother, the Earl of Ferrars, engaged in a quarrel with one of his servants, who had long been in his employ, and in the passion of his anger he murdered the old man. Shirley journeyed to his brother’s prison and remained near him during the distressing weeks that followed. The Earl was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. After the execution Shirley, worn out by his long vigil and humiliated in spirit, returned to his church, finding comfort only in the cross of Jesus Christ. Discovering an imperfect expression of his emotions at that time in a hymn, “O How Happy Are the Moments,” by James Allen, he adapted and revised the hymn so completely that it became practically a new composition1. This hymn falls under The Lord’s Supper in my hymnal, and would be a fitting poem for the occasion.

Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross we spend,
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying friend.

Here we rest in wonder, viewing
All our sins on Jesus laid;
Here we see redemption flowing
From the sacrifice he made.

Here we find the dawn of heaven
While upon the cross we gaze,
See our trespasses forgiven,
And our songs of triumph raise.

Oh, that, near the cross abiding,
We may to the Saviour cleave,
Naught with him our hearts dividing,
All for him content to leave!

Lord, in loving contemplation
Fix our hearts and eyes on you
Till we taste your full salvation
And your unveiled glory view.