31 Days of Song: “Stranger on the Shore”

Yeah, I know; the title probably makes you think of an Acker Bilk tune.  It does me too, but this is a different one.

First an update and a thank-you for your prayers.  Compassion have heard nothing so far about any centres being affected by the earthquake (what good news), and Compassion Philippines will keep them posted over the next few weeks.

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Now, do you remember I said I had two favourite songwriters and one was Don Francisco?  Well, Michael Card is the other.  He’s another whose voice you’d hear on the radio and instantly recognise.  It was hard to pick just one of his songs.  He’s written a whole album on the book of Revelation called “Unveiled Hope”, made lullabies, rehashed old hymns, put Bible-stories to music, and I’ve recently discovered he’s also written books.  He seems devoted to studying his Bible, so I expect they’re really good.  The one I’d love to read is “A Fragile Stone:  The Emotional Life of Simon Peter”.  Talking about the book, Michael says one of the best ways of getting to know somebody is to get to know their best friend.

Michael’s first album was called “A Fragile Stone”, so I’m guessing those songs are also about Simon Peter.  I haven’t heard all of them, but one I have heard is “Stranger on the Shore”, which is John 21 put to music – the story of Jesus calling Peter again after Peter’s denials.  The song is on YouTube, but I haven’t included the link because it’s not the best version, it’s in a different key, and you can’t hear the words very well.

Great Honour

Do you remember back in the summer, I wrote a couple of posts about “The Unquenchable Worshipper”?  If you like, you can read them here and here.  I said I might not blog about every chapter – well, I put it down for a while and have just gone back to it, so thought I’d write about chapter 6.

 

Matt talks about unstoppable worshippers, and some of his examples, I hadn’t heard before.  I’d like to read more about them, so I’m going to look in the notes to see what books they came out of, but here are 3 that impressed me.

 

1.  Rachel.  With the recent tragedy in Connecticut, this story touched me particularly.  It happened back in 1999, in a US high school, that 2 students went in with guns.  Knowing Rachel was a Christian, they shot her 3 times, then they asked whether she believed in God.  She said yes; they told her to ‘Go be with Him’; another shot was fired.  She put God’s honour before her own survival.  Would we do the same?

 

2.  Stephen:  He was the first Christian killed for his faith.  Before he died, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).  Every other time we hear about Jesus at God’s right hand, He’s sitting, but this time, He’s standing.  Matt points us to Smith Wigglesworth’s explanation of this – that Jesus is on His feet cheering Stephen on, for honouring Him in his difficulty.

 

3.  Jesus Himself, when He shared that Passover meal with His disciples, just before His arrest.  Apparently several hymns are sung at a Jewish Passover, the last of which is Psalm 136.  So when the Bible tells us that after they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26), it’s very likely they were singing Psalm 136.  Knowing that Judas’ betrayal and His death on the cross were imminent, Jesus could still sing a Psalm all about giving thanks to God, who is good, and whose love endures forever.  Wow!

 

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

A Sunday Singsong

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the

Lord” – Colossians 3:16 (KJV)

This verse really surprised me when I read it just now in the old King James Version.  The word-order is different from what I’m used to, and it seems to change the emphasis.  If I was reading a modern version, it would tell me to let Christ’s Word live in me richly as I sang, keeping the Word and the singing separate, as people tend to in lots of churches, but this older version talks about teaching in songs and hymns.  It also talks about singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.  I wrote a post recently about what makes grace so amazing, but I was talking there about God’s grace towards us.  I’d never thought that we could have grace towards God!  But we can, so sing with feelings of pleasure in your heart towards Him.

As well as being a way of expressing our hearts to God, songs and hymns can teach us a lot.  I must confess I don’t much like singing hymns.  All you tend to hear is the organ belting out the tune, and I prefer to be able to hear the people next to me singing the words.  Plus, lots of hymns have so many verses!  I like the ones that remind me of the church where I became a Christian:

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace

“To me has been made known” (that’s a nice cheery one), or:

“I serve a risen Saviour,

“He’s in the world today”, but the hymns I like best are those where the hymn-writers have managed to put to music the good news of what Jesus did for us.  “Rejoice, the Lord is King” is a good-news hymn.  (I sang that for the first time in a communion service at the hospital and loved the words so much that when it finished, I turned to the person next to me and commented on it.)  There are many others – “To God be the Glory”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Amazing Grace” etc … not forgetting my favourites – “There is a Fountain” and “Man of Sorrows”.

 

Did any of those have you singing along?  I had fun finding them on YouTube.

 

Have any hymns or songs taught you something about God?  Which ones are special to you?