From Harry’s Desk… 2014

During 2014 we featured articles month by month focusing on hymns, together with the audio and words of the hymn.

The articles start with December and work back through the year. Scroll down the page to find the relevant month/hymn. They are as follows:

December – Christmas and family times + a meditation on “The Song of the Angels” with carol, Hark, the herald angels sing
November – Florida wildlife and All things bright and beautiful
October – A road trip + Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
September – Middle East Turmoil with Jesus shall reign
August – Sunday morning and Praise Gathering – How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear
July – U.S. Independence Day + Mine Eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord
June – Metrical Psalms and Psalm 34 – Through all the changing scenes of life…
May – The blessings of the Psalms + The Lord’s my Shepherd (Psalm 23) and Unto the Hills (Psalm 121)
March/April –  An Easter meditation – Jesus keep me near the cross + Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son
February – Sunday nights + How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds…
January – New Year meditation


December 2014

From Harry’s desk… this month is a joint article. June reminisces about some Christmas times with our family and Harry shares a message for the season.

Christmas is a time for sharing and for family, but when families are widely scattered as our family is, it is very special when we can have part of our family to share Christmas with us.

510 - 2004 - 12 Tim and Ann - golf 2We rarely venture outside of Florida in the winter, but over the years since we moved to Central Florida in 2003 different family units have visited us at Christmas. Not only do they come to see us, but they also have a brief escape from the cold and inclement weather of the UK and the northern US.
Christmas 2004 we enjoyed the company of Tim and Ann who took time out of their very busy corporate lives to come all the way to Florida. Golf was one of our activities that year when we were still able to play.
2008 Christmas 1

In 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 Nicola and Rod made the 1,300 mile journey south from the frigid winter of Wisconsin, driving through the night, to be with us, and for us to enjoy Christmas with our growing grandsons, RJ, 2008 Christmas 2Daniel and Reece. These pictures are from the 2008 visit.


One of the special highlights of each year was gathering together around the piano on Christmas Eve in the candlelight, singing carols and reading the Scriptures – the boys managing to contain their excitement knowing what was to follow!


Christmas 2010-8 - Family Group

In 2010 we ventured north to New York to be with Richard, Mary Beth, Madeline and Lucy and Mary Beth’s family. One of the joys was to be able to go to church on Christmas morning with Mary Beth’s parents.

Christmas 2010-12 - The day after the blizzard 3It was a great time. Not only were we able to share the family fun and festivities, but the next day we were given a vivid reminder of why we live in Florida! The snow was beautiful to look at but sooooo cold. We loved it – but just once!
Come back Florida – we forgive the hot, humid summers.


20121225_114019Most recently, we were blessed at Christmas in 2012 with a visit from Ali, Rick, Rob and Tabby. Even after 21 years in Florida it still seems a bit strange to put up the Christmas tree with all its decorations when the sun is streaming in and it is warm and balmy outside.
Lacking a church nearby with a Christmas morning service, Robert suggested that we have a service here at home and Grandpa could bring a message.
This we did, gathering around the piano, singing hymns and carols and reading the Scriptures. It was a very precious time and we will long remember it. Grandpa then brought a message which I will leave him to outline below.

The Song of the Angels

Angels are, among other duties, God’s choristers. What do angels sing about?

1. They sang at CREATION

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38: 4 & 7)

Perhaps they sing all the time as they view the things that God has made. So should we. The marvelous grandeur of mighty mountains – the wonder of the sun, moon, planets and stars – the intricate beauty of a tiny bird or a butterfly. Or, perhaps, most marvelous of all – the newborn baby.

2. They sang at the INCARNATION

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2: 13-14).

Angels figure quite prominently in the songs we sing at Christmas, “Angels from the realms of glory;” “Hark, the herald angels sing glory to the newborn King.” They sing not only because of the wonders of birth of a baby but WHO THIS BABY IS. The hymn writers tell us, “Lo within a manger lies He who built the starry skies…” “…Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail incarnate Deity;” “Let earth and heaven combine, angels and men agree, to praise in songs divine, the incarnate deity. Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.”

3. They sang at the CORONATION

When the Lord Jesus, having been crucified, rose from the dead and ascended in triumph to Heaven he was welcomed home by an innumerable throng of angels – “ten thousand times ten thousand”.

What a Homecoming that must have been. The Son of God, the Prince of Heaven, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords was returning in triumph. My, how the angels sang!

We do not read of the angels singing at the crucifixion. Oh, they were there. Over seventy-two thousand of them were watching and waiting. Their hands were on their swords and but one glance from his eye would have brought them swooping down to rescue him. The glance never came for love kept him on the cross. The cross was his destiny.

One of the thieves dying beside him said, “If you are the Christ, come down from the cross and save yourself, and us.” But he knew not what he said, for if Jesus had gone down from the cross to save himself then he could never have saved anybody else.

Perhaps at the cross even the angels did not fully understand what was taking place. The Apostle Peter, discussing the wonder of the cross and our salvation states, “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).

Why, O why, they must have wondered, does the Prince of Glory have to die?

No, they did not sing AT the cross, but after his Coronation they sang ABOUT the cross and rejoiced in it. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…” In fact, the Coronation song of Heaven is called “the Song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3).

The Apostle John was privileged to be given a glimpse into Heaven in a vision. This is how he reports it:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! …To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”(Revelation 5:11-13).

We join in with the angels and all the redeemed in Heaven in many of our hymns and songs of worship, such as, “Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne; hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own…” or “‘Tis the church triumphant singing, ‘Worthy the Lamb!’ Heaven throughout with praises ringing, ‘Worthy the Lamb!'”

4. They sing at SALVATION

“In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

May I ask my reader – as I asked my little family on that precious Christmas Day two Christmases ago – “Have the angels ever sung at YOUR salvation?” If you are not sure, make sure, and trust in Jesus right now as your Lord and SAVIOR.

Pray in your heart, “Lord Jesus, thank you for coming from Heaven to earth to share our humanity and show us God. Thank you that you died for me on the cross to bear away all my sins. Please come and live within my heart, and take my life, and let me serve you from this moment on.”

5. They will sing at the CONSUMMATION.

What is that? Well, it is when Jesus comes again. You know that Jesus is coming again? In Scripture there are as many, if not more, references to his second coming as to his first coming. Over three hundred prophecies and statements, many of them by our Lord himself, declare that he will return in power and great glory. He is coming with all his holy angels… “when the heavens shall ring and the angels sing at thy coming for victory.”
He is coming, the Bible says, personally, physically, visibly, and gloriously.

Acts 1:11, “This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Matthew 24:30, “Jesus said, ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky.'”

Revelation 1:7, “Look! He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him.”

God has a plan for history. The ‘mystery of history’ is no mystery to him. Some people believe that history just repeats itself, going round in circles. No, history is not cyclic, it is linear. All the time we are headed for the climax of history. Do you not sense that? The Bible teaches that when God has brought all his elect into the church; when the last stone is in place in the great edifice the Lord Jesus is building God’s Son will return.

He is coming to judge and to reign. And he will put an end to all suffering and sin and wipe away every tear from every eye forever and forever. He will come and abolish war.

My friends, Jesus never fails in anything he sets out to do. And when he comes again it will be then that nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, or if you like, their cannons into combines, and their bombs into bread.

He will have a redeemed people with redeemed bodies in a redeemed universe to dwell with their Redeemer and enjoy him forever.

Are you ready if the Lord should come tomorrow to sing with the angels and welcome him in his glory?
He said, “So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Hark! the herald angels singAudio

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies:
With the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb!
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Please as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.


November 2014

This month’s hymn choice and reflections are – from June’s computer

We have been blessed to live in Florida for the past 20 years, and, in our present location in Central Florida since 2003. Florida is known as “The Sunshine State”.

It is stiflingly hot and humid in the summer, when only the most resilient can exist without air-conditioning, and mild and balmy in the winter. Every year sees a migration of seniors from the frigid north of the United States and Canada to bask in the sunshine and warmth of Florida. These seasonal visitors are known locally as the “snowbirds.” They arrive sometime between September and Christmas and return north in March and April. Many churches in Florida are full during the winter and half-empty during the summer. Some churches even offer dual membership for their northern visitors.  Year-round residents, like ourselves, look forward to welcoming our returning friends each winter.

Painted Buntings

Painted Buntings

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes


Because of the climate and vegetation Florida is the habitat of a wonderful variety of wildlife. Alligators reside in almost every pond. Beautiful birds, both small – like the painted buntings – and large – like the sandhill cranes, visit our front lawn and bird-feeders regularly.

With all the abundance of wildlife I am constantly reminded of the hymn I have sung since I was a small child, all through my school days, and in churches large and small through the years.

It is the hymn by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander entitled, “All things bright and beautiful…”

Mrs. Alexander was born Cecil Frances Humphreys in Dublin, Ireland, in 1818. She began writing verse in her childhood and by 1840 she was known as a hymn writer and her hymns were included in the Church of Ireland hymnbook.

She produced a book, “Hymns for Little Children” that was very popular and ran to many editions in the late 1800s. In 1850 she married an Anglican clergyman, William Alexander, who later became Archbishop of Armagh.

Other well-known hymns written by Mrs. Alexander include, “There is a green hill far away…”, “Jesus calls us, O’er the tumult…”, and the Christmas carol, “Once in royal David’s city…”

The version of the hymn below was recorded in the Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, in 1982.

All things bright and beautifulAudio

510 - 2005 - 07 Bouganvillia in full bloom - 2All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings-
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

510 - 2003 - 10-28 Dawn 4- reflectionsThe purple -headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden-
He made them every one.

510 - 2007 - 10 Evening clouds


He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.


How thankful I am to the Lord that I have “eyes to see them,” especially with the new clarity of vision following cataract surgery some years ago.  We regard our website as our opportunity, in our advanced years, to continue to “tell how great is God Almighty Who has made all things well.”

There are two tunes commonly associated with this hymn. The bright, featured tune, titled “All things bright and beautiful” was composed by William Henry Monk, a 19th century organist and hymnwriter, who also composed the tune, “Eventide”, usually associated with the hymn “Abide with me”.

If you are blessed by our website, please recommend it to your friends.


October 2014

FAMILY…a road trip…and Music

We have recently returned from a four-thousand mile road trip. Some readers may remember that June and I live near Orlando in Central Florida. Sadly, all of our family members are many, many miles away. Some are in the U.S. and some across an ocean in the U.K.

Over the years we have been very grateful that our four children and their families have visited us regularly. Our grandchildren have enjoyed the proximity of Disney and the other attractions of the Orlando area. In addition we have had three memorable visits to the U.K., 2003, 2010, and 2013, as well as annual visits north to Wisconsin and New York, usually by air to the nearest airport. But – we have missed the long road trips we used to do. Our old Mazda 626, which we had owned for 15-years, was no longer reliable for long journeys. In addition, with our advancing years and some mobility challenges, it was increasingly difficult to get in and out of the car – sometimes I had to be pulled out!

So, with the encouragement of our family we have acquired a good used SUV. It seems to have lots of “bells and whistles” that we have never had before. Loud beeps followed by a whistle warn us if we are about to reverse into our neighbor’s wall, or forget to open the door of our garage. We also have a SatNav from which a lady’s voice tells me what to do. Mind you, I am not unfamiliar with that! (just joking)

Lucy's first day at school

Lucy’s first day at school

All this has meant that for the first time in several years we possessed a vehicle that we were confident would carry us for a long journey without breakdown so that we could visit family by road – 1,400 miles to Rod and Nicola in Wisconsin; 1,200 miles cross country from Wisconsin to Richard, Mary Beth and Lucy, our 5-year old granddaughter just starting school, in New York; and 1,200 miles home.

First Baptist Church, Darlington, Wisconsin

First Baptist Church, Darlington, Wisconsin

One of the highlights of our visit to Wisconsin was to worship with Nicola and family at First Baptist Church, Darlington, where our son-in-law, Rod, serves as Moderator of the Leadership Board.

We love making the journey by road – one of the advantages being the beautiful changing scenery as we travel through different States. We also love our music cds. We have wide ranging tastes from Beethoven to Beatles! But best of all are our hymn records. Seven cds, recorded at Lansdowne in the early 1980s, of our great congregation singing hymns and worship songs. We also listen to choirs and other music festivals.

In August we featured a Glasgow choir, Praise Gathering. This month we feature them again singing one of the great hymns of worship, “Holy, Holy, Holy”.

Rev. Reginald Heber was a scholar and Anglican/Episcopal pastor. He wrote this hymn to be sung on “Trinity Sunday”. Of course it is most acceptable at any time and is sung by Christians of all traditions. The great truths affirming the thrice holiness of God reflects the teaching of Isaiah’s vision of God recorded in Isaiah, chapter 6, and elsewhere in the Bible.

Rev. Heber was made Bishop of Calcutta, India. Sadly, he became ill and died aged only 42, but he left us this great legacy of his poetic skill.

The tune is called, “Nicea” – the name perhaps inspired by the decision of the famous “Council of Nicea” in 325 A.D., chaired by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. After more than two centuries of discussion, and sometimes disagreement, the doctrine of the church was defined as “God is One – but Three, a Trinity”. This, it was agreed, is a deep mystery, but clearly revealed in Holy Scripture.

The featured recording of the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” uses the familiar tune but in a more modern style that may not be to the taste of everyone. Taste is a personal matter. As for June and me, this particular recording is one of our favorites. We turn up the volume and usually hit the repeat button when it ends. We are truly lifted up by both the words and the music.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God AlmightyAudio

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

This recording was originally produced by Kingsway Music in 1992. So far as we have been able to ascertain it is no longer available.


September 2014


Middle East Turmoil

As I write these words from my desk in peaceful Central Florida I reflect upon the daily news of atrocities, massacres, and wars upon wars in the Middle East, Central Africa, eastern Ukraine, and elsewhere.

A radical, terror army – referred to as ISIS – is declaring itself a new rulership over vast amounts of conquered territory. Their base is in Syria but they threaten everywhere. They have powerful weapons captured from the Iraqi army supplied originally, ironically, by America!
As these murderers advance they offer Christians and other minorities who have lived in the region for generations, “Convert to Islam or die.”

My sister lived and worked in Jordan for many years and has a great love for the country and its people. Jordan is our ally and is threatened by ISIS. Israel is our ally whose very existence is threatened (yet again).

Perhaps, most alarming of all – many of the terrorist fighters hold passports and originate from western countries. Technically they could legally return “home” to the U.S., U.K., France, and other European countries, with secret intent to commit mass murder such as the Twin Tower massacres of 9/11, the London bombings of 7/7, and the Boston marathon bombings of 2013.

Some Christians fear that in the developing world the Lord Jesus and His Gospel is losing out to radical Islam and Sharia Law. In the meantime, in the West atheism and indifference watch as our culture, founded on Christian principles, is eroded away.

So, let us remind ourselves again what our Lord Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18); and, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The onward march of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ continues and He will prevail. His weapons are not bombs, tanks and poison gas. He does not threaten “convert or be murdered.” His message is a message of love and forgiveness. I am a Gospel optimist. While terrorists threaten mayhem, we have resources to reach the world undreamed of in previous generations. Just as the invention of the printing press sparked the Reformation, the growth of the internet and modern communications provide unlimited opportunities to reach with the Gospel places where missionaries cannot venture.

Take our own website, for example. Only recently we heard of two persons listening to one of the messages featured on our site while waiting for a flight at Nairobi airport!

I invite you to listen to my message in the Foundations series  FO 21 The Great Commission for your further encouragement. Here is a transcripted excerpt from it:

Following some centuries, often (mistakenly) called “The Dark Ages” great things…

“began to happen as a result of the eighteenth century “Great Awakening” when God raised up preachers like Whitefield and Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards in this country, and others; and as a result of that tremendous revival, or awakening, the modern missionary movement was born.
I do not know if some of you will realize that two-hundred-and-fifty years ago Christianity was only to be found in northern Europe, in the colonies on the eastern seaboard of the United States, some parts of the Caribbean, a few isolated places in South Africa, and not much anywhere else. Africa was dark. David Livingstone had not been born. Lottie Moon would not go to China for over a hundred years. South America was dark. Christianity was banned from Japan and Korea. India was dark – just a few colonials. Two-hundred-and-fifty years ago. And then God began to work…”

Why not also listen to one of the great hymns of Isaac Watts (1674-1748) based on Psalm 72 and sung by my former congregation in Bournemouth, England. The hymn speaks of our great hope of the coming reign of the Lord Jesus when, “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17).

Jesus shall reignAudio

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run:
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

For Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head:
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With ev’ry morning sacrifice.

People and realms of ev’ry tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song,
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

Blessings abound where’er He reigns:
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King:
Angels, descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud Amen!

Finally: let us support missions, missionaries, and evangelists. Jesus told His disciples, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16 KJV).
That is what the Lord Jesus is doing. He is bringing to Himself His sheep from every corner of the world – millions upon millions. Remember: each one is of infinite worth. Remember: not one of them will be lost.


 August 2014

Early one Sunday morning some years ago, when we lived in South Florida, I decided to start the day with some recorded hymn singing. We had been given some demo CDs by a friend and one of them was hymn-singing recorded by a Scottish Youth Choir at a Praise Gathering. I opened the CD and to my intense delight it started with, “How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear…” Soon I was deeply moved and sank into a chair to listen and to worship.

A few minutes later June came downstairs. She said, “This is wonderful. Who are they?”
I could only reply, “They are angels!”

Ever since then we have referred to that CD and its two sequels as “the angels.”

In my February 2014 article I referred to this hymn as being one of my favorites. It was written by John Newton, the converted slave-trader, who became a powerful preacher in London nearly 250 years ago.

May I ask you again, “Do the simple words of this hymn express who the Lord Jesus is to you?” If not, why don’t you commit your life to the Lord Jesus right now and come to know Him as your Savior, Lord, and Friend?

How sweet the name of Jesus soundsAudio

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

Dear name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! My Shepherd, Savior, Friend;
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End:
Accept the praise I bring

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

The tune to the hymn is “Lloyd”, written by C. Howard. It is well-known in the UK although not always associated with this particular hymn. The CD was originally produced by Kingsway Music (UK) in 1991. So far as I am able to ascertain it is no longer available.


July 2014

Here in America where June and I make our home, July 4 is a holiday of great significance. It marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Many communities have parties with fireworks, the most famous of which is in Washington, DC.

Churches have services with a strong patriotic flavor on the Sunday prior to July 4. In these services appropriate patriotic hymns are sung. One such is called, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

It might surprise some of my readers to know that it is also sung in the UK, and indeed we used to sing it at Lansdowne Baptist Church, and below you have a recording of the congregation singing it in 1982 when I was the pastor of the church. The hymn is known in England as: “Mine eyes have seen the glory.”

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the LordAudio

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on

He hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
O be swift, my soul to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

The tune of the hymn dates back to the so-called Camp Meetings which were held in frontier areas from around 1800 onwards. There was such a movement of the Holy Spirit in the Camp Meetings that the time became known as the Second Great Awakening. In those days the words were very simple starting with, “Oh! Brothers will you meet me on Canaan’s happy shore…” followed by the familiar refrain, “Glory, glory Hallelujah.”

The tune was taken up by some Union soldiers after the start of the American Civil War and was known as the “John Brown’s Body” song. Among the abolitionists who felt the soldiers’ marching song needed better words was a minister, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. He suggested, in November 1861, to Julia Ward Howe that she write a more appropriate poem. She herself gave this account:

I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’ So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.

The first verse refers to the judgment of Christ which is poetically portrayed in the book of Revelation, chapter 19, verses 11 to 16. A final verse which is not always sung is:

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave
He is wisdom to the mighty; He is succor to the brave
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of time His slave
Our God is marching on.

The hymn is usually sung with gusto as is fitting for a hymn so full of determination and hope. Yet Mrs. Howe’s words are very solemn.

This hymn was a favorite of Sir Winston Churchill and he requested that it be sung at his funeral. And so it was – at his State Funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London on January 30, 1965. This hymn was also included at Memorial Services for the fallen of the 9/11 attacks in New York, both in the National Cathedral, Washington, DC and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. It was sung at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan on June 9, 2004; and at the Second Inaugural of President Barack Obama in January 2012.

Since “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is so associated with the abolition movement of the 19th century it is worth noting the following statements:

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

• The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776, states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”
• On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the “Emancipation Proclamation” giving freedom to all slaves. It cost him his life.
• On December 6, 1865 the U.S. Congress passed the following 13th Amendment to the Constitution, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States.”

One final note:Sadly human trafficking still exists in our troubled world today. I urge readers of this website to pray for the day when ALL slavery will be banished, and to be supportive of those who work towards that end.


June 2014

Our hymn this month is a metrical version of parts of Psalm 34. Remember that the Scripture says that when a Christian has the Holy Spirit he, or she, will sing to the Lord in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. So will a gathering of Christians meeting for worship. Sadly, today some churches have forgotten the psalms and the hymns. We have plenty of hymns available. Charles Wesley wrote six thousand, one of which can be heard at the end of this month’s second article about ‘The Great Awakening.’
Psalm 34, which is our focus, is one of my favorites. Why don’t you read it for yourself and then read the hymn and see if you can match Nahum Tate’s verses with the psalm. I have these verses underlined in my Bible:

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips…Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (vs 1,3).
“This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (vs 6-10).

newversionofpsal1698brad_0011Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady were poets. They were both born in Ireland, but they lived, worked, and died, in London. They published a “New Version of the Psalms of David in English Metre” in 1696 and presented it to His Majesty King William with “A Humble Petition…” The petition requested that the king would allow the new version of the Psalms “to be permitted to be used in all churches, chapels and congregations.” This King William was “William of Orange” who came to the throne after the English people ejected James II and sent him into exile. They thought him too Catholic. (This was known as “The Glorious Revolution”.) William came from Protestant Holland. He shared the throne with his English Protestant wife, Mary, daughter of James II.

The hymn was sung by the congregation at Lansdowne Baptist church, Bournemouth, England, when I was Pastor of the church in the early 1980s. It is sung to the tune, “Wiltshire.”

Through all the changing scenes of life Audio

Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt His name;
When in distress to Him I called,
He to my rescue came.

The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succor trust.

O make but trial of His love;
Experience will decide
How blest they are, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.

Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
Your wants shall be His care.

Perhaps someone reading or listening is going through a time of trouble. Perhaps you are distressed and fearful. Of what? Fear only to displease God and, “you will then have nothing else to fear.” June and I have been there at times through our long lives and ministries together. We can testify to the truth of God’s promises of deliverance.
Would you like us to pray for you? Just write to us through the “Contact” page. You do not need to say what is your trouble or what are your fears. Just ask us to pray. We will. We promise.

Tom Wedlock

Tom Wedlock

June and I have another very personal reason for loving this hymn. June’s father died suddenly in 1980. This hymn was chosen by June’s Mum to be sung at the funeral. They, too, had known trials at times – including the loss of their first child shortly after birth, loss of employment during the Great Depression, and loss of a family member in World War II – but they would be the first to testify to the love and provision of their Heavenly Father.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (v 18).
Do you relate to the last verse of Nahum Tate’s hymn? We always ask the Lord that our ministry – for example this website – will be “our delight.” Do you serve Him? May such service bring you delight too.

Two final comments about this 17th century hymnwriter, Nahum Tate: King William appointed him “Poet Laureate”; and his Christmas carol, “While shepherds watched their flocks by night…” is very well-known.

May 2014

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus he urged them, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:19). God’s people of old composed and sang psalms. You can read of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15), or Hannah (1 Samuel 2).  You know, of course, that the Bible has an entire book called Psalms.  The word in the original Hebrew means “praise poems”.  About half of the one hundred and fifty psalms are attributed to King David. He was a poet and a musician.  Luther called the book of Psalms, “the Bible in miniature”.

The Lord Jesus loved this book. He and his disciples “sang a psalm” after the last supper. He quoted from it on the cross and He died with the words of Psalm 31:5 on His lips, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”  He said the Psalms speak of him (Luke 24:44).

Do you want a song of praise?  Psalms is full of them.

Are you passing through a trial, depression, near despair?  So did the psalmist.

The deepest depths of human suffering are found in this book. Yet, no book is more designed to life our spirits from despondency and depression to gratitude, faith, and joy.

I have chosen two for you to read and listen to.  The first is probably the most famous: Psalm 23. David had been a shepherd.  We can read John chapter 10 where the Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd. So we can put Him in the very first verse, “The Lord Jesus is my shepherd.”

There have been many hymns composed based on this great psalm. This one is taken from the Scottish Psalter (they sing a lot of psalms in Scotland).  The tune is “Crimond”, written by Jesse Seymour Irvine in the mid-19th century.  Jesse was the daughter of a Church of Scotland minister and she was but a teenager when she wrote this famous tune.  “Crimond” is the name of the village where her father was the minister.  It is near Aberdeen.

The Lord’s my Shepherd –   Audio

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green, He leadeth me
The quiet waters by

My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of blessedness,
E’en for His own name’s sake

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale
Yet will I fear none ill:
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

Scottish Psalter 1650

The second hymn is not so well known. It is based on Psalm 121. The psalm is described as a “Song of Ascents”, probably because it was sung by the worshipers as they made their procession up the hill of Zion to the Temple, and gazed at the hills which surround Jerusalem.

The metrical version you will hear was composed by J. Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Duke of Argyll – also in Scotland. Before he inherited the dukedom he was known as Lord Lorne. He married a daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise. They were appointed to be “Governor General of Canada” and did much to encourage the arts, and also founded the Canadian Pacific Railway.
At the beginning of the recording you will hear my short introduction to the congregation.

Unto the hillsAudio

Unto the hills around do I lift up
My longing eyes,
O whence for me shall my salvation come!
From whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
From God the Lord, Who heaven and earth hath made

He will not suffer that thy foot be moved;
Safe shalt thou be.
No careless slumber shall His eyelids close,
Who keepeth thee.
Behold our God, the Lord, He slumbereth ne’er,
Who keepeth Israel in His holy care.

Jehovah is Himself thy keeper true,
Thy changeless shade;
Jehovah thy defence on thy right hand
Himself hath made
And thee no sun by day shall ever smite,
No moon shall harm thee in the silent night.

From every evil shall He keep thy soul,
From every sin;
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,
Thy coming in.
Above thee watching, He, whom we adore,
Shall keep thee henceforth, yea, for evermore.

John Douglas Sutherland Campbell

I have just celebrated my 80th birthday, surrounded by my loving wife and caring family (see picture on About page. How comforting to be able to testify, “Surely goodness and mercy has followed us all the days of our life together, and we both know we shall dwell with our Savior for ever.”

April 2014 – Easter

Easter time is traditionally when we think of the cross of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. These truths are central to Christianity and should be central all through the year, not only at Easter.

REMEMBER: Jesus came to do two very vital and important things.



Always have those two truths as your foundation.

1.  Prophets had told ABOUT God. They gave us a helpful but inadequate picture.  Hebrews 1 begins, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets…but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son…(who) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”  When the disciples asked Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). So – Jesus is God in human form. He came to show us God.

2.   The priestly rituals of the Old Testament illustrated the need for sacrifice to atone for sin, but those sacrifices could never actually take sins away.  Only Jesus, the Lamb of God, could do that by His perfect sacrifice.

I invite you to listen to the two messages on the Centrality of the Cross (FO 7 and 8) that June has put on the Foundations of the Faith page together with one message on the Resurrection of Jesus (FO 10).

The Lord Jesus gave us the sacrament of Holy Communion so we would never forget the cross.  Alas, today many churches preach a message that seems to say, “Come to Jesus.  He will make you well, solve all your problems, grant you prosperity, and fulfill your desires.” There is no mention of sin and judgment, repentance and forgiveness.  Yes – Jesus did have great compassion for the sick, the lonely, and the sad. He still does for, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  Nevertheless, His main purpose was to die.  No other sacrifice could take away our sins.  The central message we should be proclaiming from every pulpit in America, Britain, and throughout the world is: repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone for salvation. The apostle Paul said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Praise God, having accomplished His mission, God raised Him from the dead.


We have two hymns for you.

Toward the close of my ministry at the Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, England in 1982, our recording team recorded some of our congregational singing.  It seems a long time ago, but the great hymns and songs of the faith should be timeless.  June and I have always believed in using Christian music both old and new as part of our worship services: some with simple poetry, some with longer and theologically instructive contents.

The first one this month is a simple Gospel hymn from the Victorian era, written by an American, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915).  Fanny was blind from just a few days old.  She wrote over eight thousand hymns and was known as the “Queen of Gospel Song-writers.”  Most of her life she lived in or near New York City.  Wikipedia has a long and detailed account of her life and work which also included many secular songs and poems.

She was the first woman ever to speak in the U.S. Senate where she recited one of her poems in support of education for the blind.

Jesus keep me near the CrossAudio

Jesus keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all – a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star
Sheds it beams around me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

When Ms. Crosby speaks of her “raptured soul” going “just beyond the river”, she is using the image of flying upward at death and arriving in heaven – the Christian’s “promised land.” She wrote elsewhere that when she arrives in heaven she will have eyes to see, and the first person she wants to see is her Savior, Jesus.

Our second hymn is also from the same era but of a different style.  Edmund Louis Budry (1854-1932) from Switzerland wrote this classic hymn.  It is usually sung to a tune by George Frederick Handel from his oratorio, “Judas Maccabeus”.  Apparently it is customary for the Dutch royal family to sing this hymn at special occasions – such as weddings or funerals.

The hymn speaks of Christ’s triumph over death and that as a consequence we need not fear death because it has “lost its sting.”  We, too, will “cross the Jordan” and will enter heaven immediately we die if our faith is in Christ.

Thine be the glory Audio

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
Endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won;
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave-clothes where Thy body lay

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
Endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb!
Lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
Let the church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
For her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life;
Life is nought without Thee: aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors, through Thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.


A Personal Word:

I do not fear death. In fact, I am looking forward to it.  I, too, will see my Savior and loved ones who have gone on ahead.  I can’t say I am looking forward to the dying process (whatever it might be) but I know it is inevitable.  But God – Who has called me Home – will give me grace to make that journey.  Until then, I am grateful for every day because it is a gift from God to serve Him here below.  Hence this website.

God willing, my family will soon be arriving to celebrate with us my 80th birthday.  We will have a great reunion – but for the grandchildren there will be other delights.  We live near the Disney attractions, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Sea World.  I can imagine that some of them may have been looking forward to these delights for months, with growing anticipation.  They may not care for the long journey.  Flights from England and New York; a drive from Wisconsin – but that will pass.  Then they are HERE.

My reader: are you ready for the most important journey you will ever make?  Oh, if not, believe in the Lord Jesus right now.  Put all your trust in Him.  He died for you and rose triumphant.  He will carry you safely “over Jordan” into His heavenly home.


February 2014

On Sunday evenings it is our practice to spend some time singing hymns together here at home – even though it probably frightens the birds and – on summer evenings – the golfers on a nearby golf course.

June at the piano

June at the piano

June trained as a professional musician and I am blessed to hear her play the piano as she has always done.  We sing old hymns, metrical psalms, and the best of the new worship songs.

When we sing one of my favorites I will say to June, “If you have a memorial service to remember me after I have gone to Heaven, please include this hymn.”

To which, June usually replies, “If we have all the hymns that you would like us to have the service will last all night – if not all week!  Anyway – how do you know that I won’t be called Home first?”

Ephesians 5:18-19 says, “…be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…”  Now that I am retired from the pastorate I miss leading the congregation in Christian worship almost as much as I miss preaching.  I love to hear a great congregation sing well, praising the Lord Jesus Christ, whether the song be old or new.  We think it is very sad that some of the churches we have visited in recent years only ever sing the new songs, and have abandoned the rich heritage of hymns and songs that have come down to us through the Christian era.

Near the top of my favorites list is a hymn written by John Newton, the converted slave-trader, who became a powerful preacher in London, England, nearly 250 years ago.  All the verses of this hymn are precious to me:

How sweet the Name of Jesus soundsAudio

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear_

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.

 Dear name, the rock on which I build
My shield and hiding-place,
My never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my Shepherd, Savior, Friend;
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End:
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

May I ask you, “Do these simple words in verse express who the Lord Jesus is to you?”  If so, why not read them aloud and make them your prayer, as I used to do though all alone in my study.

If you cannot truthfully acknowledge them, won’t you do so right now and come to know and to trust Jesus as your Savior, your Friend, and your Lord?

Next month I have a story about another of my favorite hymns…


 January 2014

As we have said on the home page we wish all our readers a most God-blessed, happy and healthy 2014. Perhaps, however, some will view the new year with apprehension, even fear. You wonder what 2014 will bring to you.

If you look in the Bible at Acts 4, verses 1 t0 21, and especially verse 18, you will read how two leading apostles were forbidden by the Jerusalem authorities from preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ. In some countries today it is just the same.

When Peter and John were released they called together their fellow believers to pray. How did they begin their prayer? Well, not with their fears and begging God’s help. This is how they began: “Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them…”  That is the way to pray when you face worry, or trouble, or threats. Begin with the great deeds of God.

Praise before petition helps to get our perspective right. The Apostles’ Creed begins: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”  Do you really believe that? Your very next heartbeat is in the Hands of an omnipotent God.  Nothing is too hard for Him – and His love is as great as His power.

We used to sing a hymn in our church:

God holds the key of all unknown, and I am glad
If other hands should hold the key
Or if He trusted it to me, I might be sad. 

Lift up your eyes and commit each new day to Him who loves you and sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you.


A note from history:

I grew up in England during World War II. In September 1939 Germany attacked Poland, and Britain declared war on Germany in response. The Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, had done his utmost in meeting with dictator, Adolf Hitler, to find a peace settlement – but this was the last straw.

As King George VI gave his customary Christmas message to the British Nation and Commonwealth he knew that many of his subjects were frightened of what 1940 would bring to their families. They were seeing their sons and husbands going off yet again to face death in war.

In his message the King quoted a poem:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”

“The Gate of the Year”, Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908

To access our studies on the subject of Revival click on the relevant subject: What is Revival?; The Great Awakening; or Frontier Frenzy…and Silent Tears