Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Photo of the Week

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, 
and the turmoil of the nations.
- Psalm 65:5-7

Monday, July 29, 2019

Quote of the Week

"In the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theater, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines, indeed, in all creatures, but never more brightly than in the cross, in which there was a wonderful change of things... In short, the whole world was renewed and all things restored to order."

- John Calvin, 16th-century Protestant Reformer

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

O God, immortal, eternal, invisible, 
I remember with gladness and thanksgiving 
All that Thou has been to this world of men: 
Companion of the brave: 
Upholder of the loyal: 
Light of the wanderer: 
Joy of the pilgrim: 
Guide of the pioneer: 
Helper of laboring men: 
Refuge of the broken-hearted: 
Deliverer of the oppressed: 
Succour of the tempted: 
Strength of the victorious: 
Ruler of rulers: 
Friend of the poor: 
Rescuer of the perishing: 
Hope of the dying.
 Give me faith now to believe
That Thou can be all in all to me, 
According to my need, 
If only I renounce all proud self-dependence 
And put my trust in Thee. 

- John Baillie

Friday, July 26, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Behold Our End (St Augustine's Hymn)

This week's song is a simple one. It's not really my creation; I only served as the matchmaker to introduce a marvelous poem to a lovely tune. I've long loved an old poetic saying by Saint Augustine, in which he reflected on the nature of heaven:

All shall be Amen and Alleluia.
We shall rest and we shall see;
We shall see and we shall know;
We shall know and we shall love;
We shall love and we shall praise:
Behold our end which is no end! 

I've often admired the simple power of African-American spirituals, and it occurred to me that the old tune of the familiar "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" was a nearly perfect match for Augustine's old poem. So with just a little bit of rearranging, here's a crossover mashup of Saint Augustine and the emancipated slaves.

Behold Our End (St Augustine's Hymn) 

All shall be the great Amen, alleluia!
Behold our end, which is no end, alleluia!

We shall rest and we shall see, alleluia! (x2)

We shall see and we shall know, alleluia! (x2)

We shall know and we shall love, alleluia! (x2)

We shall love and we shall praise, alleluia! (x2)

All shall be the great Amen, alleluia!
Behold our end, which is no end, alleluia! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Photo of the Week

Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.

- Verse 2 of the hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past"

Monday, July 22, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The beginning of divine wisdom is the serenity acquired from generosity of soul and forbearance with human infirmities."

- Isaac of Nineveh, 7th-century Christian writer

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
Have mercy on me,
A sinner.

- the "Jesus Prayer," held for centuries by eastern Christianity as the standard prayer for daily devotional use

Friday, July 19, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Ascension Hymn

This week's new hymn is the result of a few weeks of work I've been putting into theological research for my Sunday evening sermons: an exploration of what the ascension means for us as Christians. This hymn gives voice to some of the main scriptural themes of Jesus' ascension: the vindication of the suffering Son of Man, the triumphal procession of the conquering king, the atoning ministry of the great High Priest, the continual work of intercession on our behalf, and the active reign of Christ over all things. The tune is a traditional one, associated with the thematically similar hymn "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name."

Ascension Hymn

Lord Jesus triumphed o'er the grave,
Ascended to the sky:
The suffering Son of Man rose up
And now he reigns on high!

The risen King makes his ascent
As conqueror over hell;
And as he claims his crown on high
Triumphal anthems swell.

Our great High Priest has gone into
The heavenly Temple-courts,
And there presents his sacrifice
To cleanse us evermore.

The Son of God, both priest and king,
Is at his Father's side;
And there he intercedes for us,
Whom he has sanctified.

Now Christ is reigning over all,
Our Lord, the great I Am!
Bow down, ye nations, and adore:
His Kingdom never ends!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Photo of the Week

Lord of ages, mighty Friend, Alpha and eternal End,
What in love Thou hast begun, through the centuries shall run;
O be Thou a friend to me, now and through eternity.

- from #288 of the Augustine Hymn Book, 19th cent.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The Father who waits for us is not ashamed of us. On the contrary, he is a cheerful and indiscriminate host. He offers invitations to everyone, particularly those whom society deems most unclean, unworthy, and perverse. What should make us most uncomfortable about sin is not our failures but how loose God is in his table invitations. Can we really be that loved and desired at the depths of our failures? Sin is an opportunity to be loved abundantly."

- Jay Stringer, contemporary pastor and psychologist, from his book Unwanted

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Gracious Father,
I humbly beseech Thee for Thy holy church.
Fill it with all truth, in all truth, with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purge it.
Where it is in error, direct it.
Where it is superstitious, rectify it.
Where anything is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen and confirm it.
Where it is in want, furnish it.
Where it is divided and rent asunder,
Make up the breaches of it,
O Thou holy one of Israel.

- William Laud

Friday, July 12, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Lord, We're Longing for Your Kingdom Come

This week's hymn picks up one of the great passions of my Christian experience: the call of God to go and preach the Gospel to all nations. We happen to be standing at one of the most exciting moments in all of history right now, with the prospect of reaching, within less than a decade, the first time ever when the Gospel will be planted and available in at least some portion of every tribe, language, people, and nation on earth. This song reflects the joy, hope, and expectation of that moment. It's set to the tune of a late 19th-century hymn about heaven, "Unclouded Day."

Lord, We're Longing for Your Kingdom Come

Lord, the harvest is ripe for the reapers' work,
With the multitudes waiting to believe;
Bring us close to the day when your glory fills
All the earth, like the waves o'er the sea!

     Every tribe and nation comes,
     'Round the throne they raise their song!
     Lord, we're longing for the day when the task is done;
     Lord, we're longing for your Kingdom come!

Lord, you spoke in your promises to Abraham
That through faith all the nations would believe;
And you told the disciples when you left this earth:
"Go, the Gospel to the nations preach!"


Lord, the nations are waiting to hear your call;
They're longing just to know of your love;
So send out your church to bring in the sheaves
'Til the harvest-feast is met above!



Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Photo of the Week

O Love unseen, we know Thee nigh when ocean rages most;
Thou bidd'st us come to Thee and cry, "Lord save us; we are lost!"

- from #362 of the Augustine Hymn Book, 19th cent.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Quote of the Week

"All my hope comes from being united in one love with all my fellow Christians. For on this unity the life of all that shall be saved depends."

- Julian of Norwich

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

O Jesus, Savior of the lost,
My Rock and Hiding-place,
By storms of sin and sorrow tossed,
I seek Thy sheltering grace.

- from #355 of The Augustine Hymn Book, 19th cent.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Hymn of the Week: O God, Who Watches All Our Ways (Patriotic Hymn)

Old North Church, Boston, made famous by "Paul Revere's Ride"
Since this is the week of Independence Day (and, for my cross-border neighbors, Canada Day), I chose to write a patriotic hymn. It seeks to give words to all the ways that Scripture tells us to uplift our homeland: verse 1 expresses gratitude for our nation; verse 2 offers prayers for leaders and other servants of our society; verse 3 is a plea for national revival and healthy churches; verse 4 is an intercession for other countries in the brotherhood of nations; and verse 5 expresses the longing for "our true homeland," the Kingdom of God. I set the lyrics to the tune of the old patriotic/naval hymn "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," but it could potentially be sung to any tune with an meter.

O God, Who Watches All Our Ways

O God, who watches all our ways,
Our nation lifts its grateful praise.
For this our home, where safe we live,
Unending gratitude we give.
Lord, be the guard of its true peace,
Thou author of its liberties!

In humble thanks we intercede
For those who serve and those who lead:
Grant wisdom to authorities,
That they might guide us righteously.
Protect those who serve faithfully
To build and bless society.

Revive us, Lord, and grant your church
Pow'r to proclaim your holy Word;
Breathe life into our hearts of stone,
That they may beat for you alone.
Lord, flood this nation with your grace
Till we return unceasing praise.

Lord, we give thanks upon this day
For all the nations you have made.
For both our friends and enemies,
In Christian love we intercede.
And may you draw all nations to
The blessedness of knowing you.

Oh, let your holy Kingdom come,
Here and abroad, your will be done!
As trav'lers in this pilgrim land,
We long to see our true homeland;

Until that day, let this place be
A mirror of your Kingdom's peace.


Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Photo of the Week

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

- Psalm 63:2-3

Monday, July 01, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

- G. K. Chesterton, prominent Christian writer and thinker in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commenting on the political culture of a hundred years ago.