Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Grace Alone

Here's my latest hymn, written to express the truths in the five classic "solas" derived from the tradition of the Protestant Reformation: sola gratia (salvation is by grace alone), sola fidei (through faith alone), solus Christus (only through Christ), soli Deo gloria (all for the glory of God alone), sola Scriptura (as revealed authoritatively in Scripture alone). As you'll see, the verses of the hymn correspond to these movements, and the refrain attempts to sum up all five in its anthem of praise. The hymn is written in Double meter, so there are a number of tunes it might fit (including the setting to John Newton's famous hymn, "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken"), but here I've chosen to set it to the American traditional tune "Holy Manna."

Grace Alone

What can gain our souls salvation,
Sinners sentenced to the grave?
Only grace, not works nor labors;
God alone, by grace can save! 

     Grace alone has saved and freed us,
     All through faith in Christ our Lord!
     Glory be to God our Father,
     Who has taught us by his Word!

Can we earn this grace from heaven
By the things we do or say?
Faith alone, through Christ our Savior;
Grace flows out with only faith!


Let your faith cling to our Savior;
Trust and follow all his ways;
He is faithful; by his merit
We receive the grace that saves!


God's salvation pours out mercy,
Hope and joy and peace for all!
Let these blessings fill the anthem
Of God's glory over all!


Praise be to our gracious Father;
Praise be to his faithful Son!
Praise the Spirit, who through Scripture
Tells us what our God has done!


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Photo of the Week

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength."

- Isaiah 30:15

Monday, January 28, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The future is as bright as the promises of God."

- Adoniram Judson, early 19th-century missionary to Burma

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

O Lord, the author and persuader of peace, love, and goodwill, soften our hard and steely hearts, warm our frozen and icy hearts, that we may wish well to one another, and may be the true disciples of Jesus Christ. And give us grace even now to begin to show forth that heavenly life wherein there is no hatred, but peace and love on all hands, one toward another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Juan Luis Vives

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Hymn for the Weak and Weary

This week's hymn is called "Hymn for the Weak and Weary." I wrote it to fit a Common Meter Double format (, so it could potentially fit any number of tunes. I've presented it below in a slow, thoughtful setting of the famous tune used for "Amazing Grace."

Hymn for the Weak and Weary

From darkened depths I cry to you,
O God of glory bright:
Amid your dazzling, shining host,
Accept my failing light.

“O come, ye weary,” says the Lord,
“Weak and heavy-laden,
O come and rest beneath my yoke,
For all your sins I’ve taken.”

This restful burden of the Lord
I on my shoulders take;
For though I walk a toilsome road,
He’s with me on the way.


The one who offers rest to me
Is he on bended knee,
Who knew the sorrows of this world
In dark Gethsemane.


He knows my pain and walks with me
The road to Calvary;
Yes, I will bear my cross for him,
For he has died for me!


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Photo of the Week

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, 
God of glory, Lord of love; 
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, 
Opening to the sun above.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Quote of the Week

"Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man's ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this: that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small."

- G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Where cross the crowded ways of life,
Where sound the cries of race and clan,
Above the noise of selfish strife
We hear thy voice, O Son of Man.
In haunts of wretchedness and need,
On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lure of greed,
We catch the vision of thy tears.
O Master from the mountain-side,
Make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
Among the restless throngs abide,
O tread the city's streets again;
Till sons of men shall learn thy love,
And follow where thy feet have trod;
Till glorious from thy heav'n above
Shall come the city of our God.

- Frank Mason North

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Lord, Your Love

Here's my newest hymn: "Lord, Your Love," inspired by several verses from 1 John. It's written to a Double meter, and I've set it to the tune "St. George's Windsor," most commonly associated with the Thanksgiving hymn "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come." Below you'll find the text of the verses, sheet music, and a recorded demo of the hymn.

Lord, Your Love

This is how we know of love,
And the way its joys abound:
Jesus Christ was sent for us,
Reconciling us to God.

Lord, Your love fills up our lives!
We, with gladdened hearts, outpour
All our worship, and we cry:
"You are love, and we are Yours!" 

This is love, poured out for us:
Not that we, by works or will
Ever could inherit grace;
Simply that He loves us still!


Rest, my soul, beneath the thought:
Love has ransomed you away
From your failings and your sins
By His sacrificial grace!



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Photo of the Week

Ever lift Thy face upon me,
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus
Earth's dark shadows flee.
- from Jean S. Pigott's hymn "Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting"

Monday, January 14, 2019

Quote of the Week

"Do not merely speak with pleasure about the deeds of the [great heroes of the faith], but demand of yourself also the accomplishment of the same."

- Evagrius of Pontus, early church father

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Blessed Jesus, Lord of the harvest, send forth, we beseech thee, laborers into thy harvest, and by thy Holy Spirit, stir up the hearts of many, that they may be ready to spend and be spent in thy service, and if it please thee, so to lose their life in this world, that they may gather fruit unto life eternal; Lord Jesus, lover of souls. Amen.

- Robert Milman

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Hymn: In the Light of Our Lord's Coming

(Scheduling note: This year I've given myself an "Isaac Watts Challenge," to write one new hymn per week. During the month of January, I'll be posting these in the Thursday slot on my blog rotation, in place of my Pilgrimage Memoir. The memoir will resume on Thursday, Feb. 7, at which time the Hymn of the Week will shift to the Friday slot vacated by the conclusion of my "Quest for the King" novel project.)

This hymn, written for Epiphany (but certainly also usable anytime in the Christmas season), takes the example of the Magi's humble obedience to the star's leading and applies it to God's call on our lives. It's written to the old tune "Tranquility" by James Mountain (most often associated with the hymn "Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting"), with the only alteration being that the refrain repeats the tune of the second half of the hymn. I've included the text below, then an image of the hymn set to musical notation, and finally a music file where you can hear me sing it. (See the bottom of the post for usage permissions.)

In the Light of Our Lord's Coming 

When our Lord was born of Mary
In a stable long ago,
God displayed it to the nations
With a bright star’s glow.
Like the Wise Men on their journey,
We behold the star of grace,
And it calls us out to follow
After all His ways.

In the light of our Lord’s coming
We will follow where He leads,
As with joy we seek the glory
Of the Prince of Peace.

Laying down our old ambitions,
We pursue the wondrous star
Of Your leading, for it calls us
Right to where You are.
Let us find You on our journey,
In the peace Your presence gives;
Then shall we in humble worship
Offer You our gifts.

In the light of our Lord’s coming
We will follow where He leads,
As with joy we seek the glory
Of the Prince of Peace.

Oh, dispel the fears we cling to
When You bid us venture forth;
Break our pride, that we may freely
March out with our Lord.
Call us out to every nation
With the Gospel of Your grace;
Lead us till the end, when we will
Crown You with our praise.

In the light of our Lord’s coming
We will follow where He leads,
As with joy we seek the glory
Of the Prince of Peace.

(Usage permissions: Any readers/users are permitted to use or perform this hymn for personal or church use, provided that (1) the hymn's authorship is cited; (2) the text is unaltered; and (3) it is not marketed for commercial purposes. To access the rough-draft sheet music, simply click on the image file to enlarge it, then right click and "Save As" to download a copy. Please contact Matthew Burden for any other uses.)