Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another Hymn for the Day

On Sunday a 91-year-old aunt telephoned.  A few weeks prior she had reminded me of a hymn sung by the congregation at her church.  Prior to the service, a woman said something very upsetting and rude to her.  She was shaken.  

The offending woman sat two pews ahead of her throughout the service, but another woman who my aunt has mentioned as a great prayer warrior, sat in the pew between them.  I commented that the woman of prayer was God's way of reminding my aunt of the power of His grace and those He places in our lives as buffers in the storms that sometimes others precipitate.

When the final hymn, "How Firm a Foundation" was sung, my aunt was deeply moved by the last couple of lines.  She could not recall exactly but said it was something like:  those that are shaken, will not be forsaken.  She felt God was reminding her He was with her despite the nastiness of the one woman.  My aunt gave the title of the hymn as "The Church's One Foundation".  I said I would look it up, for it seemed a line very good for me, too.  But the line she mentioned was not in that particular hymn.

So with joy we discussed, this past Sunday, the correct title of the particular hymn and the final verse, as my aunt had asked her minister who said it was in a hymn that included "foundation" in the title.  Praise God for "Google."  We found the hymn, "How Firm a Foundation," the verses and the final lines that spoke to my aunt powerfully that Sunday morning several weeks ago.  The hymn is indeed empowering and uplifting.  

I suggested to my aunt she may like to pray for God to give her a hymn each day.  I have done so, and daily I receive a hymn or a song that has words (even if a secular song) from God, that can be Jesus singing to me or me singing to Jesus:  words of love or encouragement.

In fact, my aunt's mentioning again the hymn that meant so much to her that one Sunday in her church, became obvious as the hymn God wished for me this past Sunday.  God does provide in various means and ways.  The lyrics were penned in 1787 by a man thought to be a Mr. John Keith, or Keene. 

No one knows for  sure, now, the man's exact identity--but this hymn was a favorite of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and sung at their funerals. General Robert E. Lee called for it to be sung to him on his deathbed and was also used at his funeral.  Deborah (Rachel) Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson, also loved this hymn, and it was sung at her husband's funeral, as well.  In the Spanish American War of 1898, an entire corps of the U.S. Army took up this words and tune on a hill overlooking Havana, Cuba, on Christmas Eve.

I will embolden the final lines of the last verse, sharing now with you.  (They hymn is in several versions on YouTube, including the tune--written by Joseph Funk.)

[Today's hymn came through early on:  Let There Be Peace on Earth...and let it begin with me.... The tune flows in the mind, heart and soul; the first line of words repeat.  I have, as many of us, been praying for the on-going and uncivilized conflict in Ferguson, MO.]

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health; 
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

...God bless His Real Presence in us!

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