Friday, May 31, 2019

Hymn of the Week: O Spirit, Come Like Gentle Rain

With the season of Pentecost approaching, I decided to write a hymn focusing on the Holy Spirit. It uses the old hymn tune from "Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun" (you can find sheet music here). The focus of the lyrics is on the Holy Spirit's ministry in growing the "fruits of the Spirit" in us. The first and last verses stand as a general introduction and conclusion to the theme, while the middle three verses each speak to the nine fruits (love, joy, and peace in verse 2; patience, kindness, and goodness in v.3; and faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in v.4).

O Spirit, Come Like Gentle Rain

O Spirit, come like gentle rain
Upon the garden of our hearts,
That we may bear the fruit that shows
The freedom that your grace imparts.

Grant us to be sons of your love
And daughters of your mighty joy;
Let the whole family of your church
Possess the peace none can destroy.

Bestow on us your patient grace
That holds fast in longsuffering;
The kindness of your mercy's depth,
The goodness of Creation's King.

Yes, let us be your faithful ones,
All gentle as a resting dove,
And fearless, wise, and self-controlled,
Like you in righteousness and love.

O Spirit, magnify yourself,
And may our lives your mirror be:
That we may shine in glory's bliss
With you throughout eternity!


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Photo of the Week

My song is love unknown, my Savior's love to me;
Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.

- from v.1 of the hymn "My Song Is Love Unknown," by Samuel Crossman

Monday, May 27, 2019

Quote of the Week

"Troubles are usually brooms and shovels that smooth the road to the good man's fortune; and many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away hunger."

- Basil the Great, early church father 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

O Jesus, fill me with thy love now, and I beseech thee, accept me, and use me a little for thy glory. O do, do, I beseech thee, accept me and my service, and take thou all the glory.

- David Livingstone, famous 19th-century missionary to Africa; picture shows his body being taken back to the coast after his death in the interior.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Have Mercy on Us

Among the many kinds of hymns and songs, there's one kind that I use in my daily life more than any other: a small set of songs that I call "prayer anthems." They're usually very short, fairly simple, and meant to be repeated over and over again. It's a long tradition that goes all the way back to the earliest chanted liturgies of the Christian faith. I find that when I'm in prayer--particularly if I'm prayerwalking, doing a longer session, or simply wanting to keep a prayerful attitude in the midst of a busy place--I can use these songs to keep my mind fixed on God and to allow the Spirit to pray through me "with groans that words cannot express" (Rom. 8:26). This week I've written a new prayer anthem and composed my own tune for it. The text is a combination of the classic "Jesus Prayer" of the Eastern Orthodox tradition (based on Matt. 20:30 and Luke 18:13), the Kyrie prayers of the medieval church, and a line from Psalm 100:3. The tune is fairly simple; I haven't even bothered to plot it out in musical notation--but if you'd like to use it yourself, here's the note sequence: CGGAGFG / EDCDE / CGGAGFG / EDCDC / CGAGFGC / CGAGFGC / EDCDE / EDCBC. (And if you're interested in hearing some of the other prayer anthems I regularly use, see the links below my song.)

Have Mercy on Us

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on us.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on us.              (Repeat stanza if desired)

For we are your people,
The sheep of your pasture,
Have mercy on us,
Have mercy on us.

Prayer Anthems I commonly use:
The Jesus Prayer, Angola Prayer, I'm Putting On the Love of the Lord, Prayers of the Saints, and the chorus sections of the following songs: Lord Have MercyVeni Sancte Spiritus, Christ Be All Around Me, Shema, Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Photo of the Week

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And your dominion endures through all generations.

- Psalm 145:13

Monday, May 20, 2019

Quote of the Week

"When faced with people making mistakes, one should not balk at constantly repeating to oneself Plato's saying: 'Am I really sure that I'm not like that too?'"

- Plutarch, from his essay "On Listening"

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

We ask you, Master, to be our helper and protector. Save those among us who are in distress; have mercy on the humble; raise up the fallen; show yourself to those in need; heal the sick; turn back those of your people who wander; feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; raise up the weak; comfort the discouraged.  Let all the nations know that you are the only God, that Jesus Christ is your servant, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

- Clement of Rome

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Not to Us, Lord (Psalm 115)

My new hymn this week is based loosely on Psalm 115, and is written to the old hymn tune "Hebron" by Lowell Mason, a great 19th-century composer of hymn music. "Hebron" has also been used in hymns like "Christ, in the Night He Was Betrayed" and "Thus Far the Lord Has Led Me On."

Not to Us, Lord

Not to us, Lord, no, not to us,
Shall be the glory or the praise;
We give all glory to your name,
From now unto eternal days!

God reigns above, enthroned on high,
All things to him their praises yield;
Oh, those who follow, trust in him,
For he will be your help and shield.

May God our Maker bless your ways
In all the places where you go,
And then may you, in praising him,
His glory to the world show.

Not to us, Lord, no, not to us,
Shall be the glory or the praise;
We give all glory to your name,
From now unto eternal days!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Photo of the Week

(Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee)

At thy feet, O Christ, we lay
Thine own gift of this new day;
All our selves to thee consign,
Fold up all our wills in thine;
So shall this and all our days,
Christ our God, show forth thy praise.

 - from William Bright's hymn "At Thy Feet, O Christ, We Lay," (verses 1, 4, and 5), 19th cent.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Quote of the Week

"Most glorious Lord of life! that, on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin;
And having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win...
[Grant] that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again;
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain:
So let us love, dear Love, like as we ought;
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught."

- Edmund Spenser, from Amoretti (16th century)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Lord God, heavenly Father, I ask and would be assured that my petitions shall and must be nothing less than yea and amen.  Otherwise I will not pray nor have intercession made for me.  Not that I am righteous or worthy, for I know very well and confess that I am unworthy... But in this that Thou dost command and constrain me to pray in the Name of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I am still somewhat obedient.  Upon this challenge and consolation of Thine infinite goodness, not on account of my own righteousness, do I kneel or stand before Thee, and pray what is upon my heart concerning those who are in need of Thy help... I will not cease to knock but will continue to cry aloud and to plead to the end of my life.  

- Martin Luther

Friday, May 10, 2019

Hymn of the Week: I Give My All to Jesus

I grew up in a town that was settled by Swedes in the late 1800s, and we worked hard to preserve and practice elements of our Swedish heritage. One of those traditions was a celebration of St. Lucia's day in December (Lucia, though Italian herself, had long been a beloved figure in Sweden), and on that day the eighth graders of our school would dress up as the saintly lady and her attendants, and a singer would perform the lovely Italian folk song "Santa Lucia." I've used the tune of that old folk song, familiar from my childhood, to write this week's new hymn.

I Give My All to Jesus

Jesus gave everything
For our salvation;
Calling the ransomed out
From every nation.

     All of my deepest thanks,
     All of my highest praise,
     All of my worship
     I give to Jesus.

Jesus calls out to us
To come and follow,
Entrusting to his care
All our tomorrows.

     All of my life and wealth,
     All of my strength and health,
     All of the days I live
     I give to Jesus.

Jesus has taught us truth,
Truth that has freed us,
So we give all we are
Over to Jesus.

     All of my intellect,
     All my accomplishments,
     All of my talents
     I give to Jesus.

Jesus took up the cross
For our atonement,
So we embrace the cross
In every moment.

     All of my fondest hopes,
     All of my dearest dreams,
     All my ambitions,
     I give to Jesus.

     (Repeat Chorus #1)


Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Photo of the Week

Let us consider how gentle He is toward all His creation...
Even the smallest of animals abide in peace and harmony.
All these things the great Maker and Master has appointed
To be in peace and harmony, doing good unto all things, 
But more especially unto us, 
Who have fled for refuge to his mercies, 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
To whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. 

- 1 Clement 19:3, 20:10-12 (Apostolic Fathers)

Monday, May 06, 2019

Quote of the Week

O mighty sea! thy message
In clanging spray is cast;
Within God's plan of progress
It matters not at last
How wide the shores of evil,
How strong the reefs of sin,
The wave may be defeated,
But the tide is sure to win!

- Priscilla Leonard

Sunday, May 05, 2019

New Editions of the Hidden Kings Trilogy

I'm happy to announce that my three fantasy novels, which comprise the Hidden Kings Trilogy, are now available for purchase again. My old publisher, OakTara Fiction, ended their print run last year, so I've been plugging away at the work of a light edit for each volume so that I could re-issue them on These new editions are my own work entirely (so several editorial decisions from the previous release have been removed), the map for Book 1 has been upgraded, and appendices and bonus content added at the end of each volume. I'm also very pleased that they're all a good deal more affordable than their previous editions were (you can buy the whole set for $30, which before would have barely gotten you Book 1). Kindle E-book versions are also available at a very reasonable price. I'm hoping to make it as widely accessible as possible, so feel free to check it out yourselves if you haven't already, and to recommend it to others if you like. (Leaving reviews on each book's Amazon page really helps in this regard.) Below are the links to take you to each book's page. And if you'd like to read some authorial insight into the themes I dealt with in the trilogy, you can click here.


Saturday, May 04, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Eternal God, deep beyond our understanding and high above our imagining, we worship thee. We thank thee that we cannot comprehend thee, for if thou couldst be caught in our nets, if we could run the lines of our weak thought around thy being and thy ways, then thou wert too small a God. We glory in thy greatness and thy depth beyond our comprehension.

- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Friday, May 03, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Let Us Declare

This week's hymn is set to the classic tune of "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus," and I've written it to encapsulate one of the traditional proclamations of Christian truth: "Let us declare the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!" The refrain follows this liturgical theme, and the verses focus on the events of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and second coming. Enjoy!

Let Us Declare

Praise him who on the mountain
Of crucifixion died,
Who for our sins has suffered:
Praise Christ the crucified!

     Let us declare the myst'ry
     Of God's triumphant plan:
     Our Lord has died, is risen,
     And he will come again!

Praise him who in death rested
Upon the Sabbath-day,
Who took our curse upon him
As in the grave he lay.


Praise him who rose victorious,
Whom death could not hold down;
Praise Christ, who crushed the serpent
And won the victor's crown!


Praise him who in his glory
Ascended through the sky
And intercedes in heaven:
Praise Christ, who reigns on high!


Praise him who comes returning
One day upon the clouds;
And at the name of Jesus,
All nations will bow down!