Hymn Histories By Men & Women of Faith

 Once a month we look at one hymn and discover its impacts on

  our faith and the world, and the story behind its writing and use. We tie it to a character quality that we as Christians should be

   working toward since we are a reflection of Christ to the world. 

Editor's note:  The hymns are in alphabetical order by their titles, including the "little words" such as "A".

This list of most loved hymns was compiled by Renee Davis of ibelieve.com and is based on their use and popularity.  This list includes a brief description and a video of the hymn with its lyrics.   More extensive histories/discussions of these and other songs of the church are below.  

"Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive"  by Rosamond E. Herklots, born June 22, 1905, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India, to British parents. and missionaries.  She died on July 21, 1987, Bromley, Kent, England.

  Herklots had begun writing poetry as a child, but did not turn to hymn writing until around 1940. In 1968, two her hymns made it to the finals of the Hymns for Britain contest and were sung on television. Altogether, she wrote a total of around 70 hymns.   

   Born in India to missionary parents, she was educated in England at Leeds Girls’ High School and the University of Leeds. She worked as a teacher and later as a secretary.for over two decades as secretary for a neurologist, and then at the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus in London   In the early 1940s, she submitted entries for the ‘Hymns for Britain’ competition in 1968, of which two reached the finals and were sung on television. She wrote over seventy hymns, of which ‘“Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive” became widely known. 


"Forgive our sins as we forgive," You taught us, Lord, to pray ,But you alone can grant us grace To live the words we say.

How can your pardon reach and bless The unforgiving heart That broods on wrongs and will not let Old bitterness depart?

In blazing light your cross reveals The truth we dimly knew: What trivial debts are owed to us; How great our debt to you!

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls And bid resentment cease; Then, bound to all in bonds of love Our lives will spread your peace.

Forgiveness vs, Bitterness

choosing to respond to offenders so that the power of God’s love through me can heal them.

“And be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:32

"How Firm A Foundation"   The hymn first appeared in 1787 in a collection published by pastor John Rippon in London titled A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors. However, the attribution for this hymn only reads “K—.” Speculations of who “K” was have included Robert Keene, Kirkham, and George Keith, but no one knows for sure.

"How Firm A Foundation" ~ Faithful Promises for Modern Singers of a Beloved Hymn          History and A Thorough Look at the Theology of the Verses   by Alyssa Roat on Bible Tools 

"I have Decided To Follow Jesus"   The lyrics are based on the last words of  an anonymous martyr in Garo, Assam, India., &  attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh.

This Christian Hymn from India, is based on the last words of a former headhunter who converted to Christianity through the work of a Welsh missionary in the middle of the 19th century.In the 1880’s who himself had endured severe persecution finally saw his first converts in a particularly brutal village in the Indian province of Assam. A husband and wife, with their two children, professed faith in Christ and were baptized. Their village leaders decided to make an example out of the husband. Arresting the family, they demanded that the father renounce Christ, or see his wife and children murdered.  When called to renounce his faith by the village chief, he declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”  When he refused, his two children were executed by archers. Given another chance to recant, the man again refused, and his wife was similarly stuck down. Still refusing to recant, the man followed his family into glory, executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.The accounts of the family that had been martyred in Assam were so astonishing and widely circulated that most Indian believers were familiar with it. So Singh took the martyr’s last words, and put them to traditional Indian music in order to make one of the first uniquely Indian hymns.  The song immediately became popular in Indian churches, and it remains a mainstay of worship music there to this day.    Watch this YouTube skit by Borivelli Assembly about the story...


Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will & ways of God & choosing to do what is right based on accurate facts, wise counsel, & clearly defined goals.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, & upbraideth not; & it shall be given him.”

James 1:5


Listen & watch this version by Dave Williamson

Longfellow lost his wife to an accidental fire, during which he also suffered severe burns.  Those facial scars led him to wear a thick beard the rest of his life.  His grief was so terrible, there were thoughts of sending him to an asylum for rest.  Two years later, during the Civil War, he almost lost his son.  Charley was shot through the shoulder and almost paralyzed while in the Battle of the Mine Run Campaign, having defeated typhoid fever earlier.  Henry's deep grief sent him into deep prayer and from that he wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observed around him.  As he came to a place of difficult peace and a kind of humility that grants you the understanding and acceptance only God can give, he realized the eternal truth that became this hymn -

"And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong, 

And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”   

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep - “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 

The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”  

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the celebrated American poet and literary critic, who wrote this song after a series of family tragedies. 

Humility vs. Pride

Recognizing and acknowledging my total dependence upon the Lord, seeking His will for every decision, while realizing all of my achievements were helped along the way by others in my life.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
James 4:6


"I Must Tell Jesus"  by Elisha A. Hoffman, an American Presbyterian preacher, evangelist, and hymnist.  Over 2,

"I Would Be True" based on the poem"My Creed", written by Howard A. Walter (1883-1918) , & published in 1906.  The tune was written by Joseph Y. Peek

   Howard Arnold Walter was an American Congregationalist assistant minister, hymn writer & author born on August 19, 1883 in New Britain, Connecticut.  After graduating with honors from Princeton University in 1905, Walter spent a year teaching the English language in Japan. It was during this time in Japan Howard sent the poem, My Creed, to his mother, reassuring her of his commitment to God and His call on the young man's life.  Returning to the United States, Walter entered Hartford Seminary & upon graduation served as an assistant minister at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. 

   Several years later Walter left for India to teach & minister to Mohammedan students at a college in Lahore, even though he knew he had a heart condition.   In 1918, a severe influenza epidemic there caused the death of this devoted young man. His credo lives on, however, in the numerous lives of those who have since sung this hymn and realized anew that God is more interested in what we are as a person than even what we may do for Him. In an environment today that can easily corrupt even the purest of minds, how important it is that we seek God's daily help to live a life that is true. - information from Osbeck, K. W. (1990). Amazing grace : 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions & from the First Congregational Church of Christ in Madison, WI.

                                                 Works by Walter

My Creed and Other Poems, 1912.

Handbook of Work with Student Enquirers in India, 1915.

The Ahmediya Movement (Religious Life of India Series), 1918.

The Fact and Meaning of Islam, 1918.

Compiler: Selections from the Confessions of Saint Augustine (Inner Shrine Series), 1918.

Soul-Surgery: Some Thoughts On Incisive Personal Work:


My Creed and other Poems, a book of poetry by

Howard Arnold Walter,

published 1912  

  Joseph Yates Peek (1843-1911) became acquainted with Howard Walker one summer while the young minister was substituting at Peek’s church in Brooklyn, New York. Although Peek was not a trained musician, he felt that Walter’s poem would be an inspiring hymn and composed this melody, now known as PEEK. As organist harmonized it from Peek’s whistled version.  

  Peek was born in Schenectady, New York, on February 28, 1843, and was a florist for over twenty years. He left this work to become a lay preacher in the Methodist-Episcopal Church. Peek’s dream of being ordained was realized only two months before his death, on March 17, 1911, in Brooklyn, New York.

Dependability vs. Inconsistency 

Reliably & faithfully honouring my commitments & purposing in my heart to do the will of God, even when difficult and may involve great personal sacrifice.   


“Be thou faithful unto death,

and I will give thee a crown of life.” 

~Revelation 2:10~

"In the Garden"  or "I Come to the Garden"  by C. Austin Miles

This beloved song was written in 1912 first as a poetic reaction to the reading of John 20 and Mary Magdalene's encounter with the Risen Jesus.  Pharmacist turned hymn writer Charles Austin Miles soon after wrote the music.  The hymn was published in 1912.  Thomas Fleming of Songs of Praises blogspot gives us this insight into the lyricist and his work: 

   " Such a moment is poignantly captured in the beloved hymn In the Garden. The text and music were composed and first published in 1912 by American pharmacist-turned-Christian music publisher C. Austin Miles (1868-1946). While the hymn presents a vision of perfect peace and contentment, it was inspired by the heart-rending experience of Mary Magdalene, related in John 19:41-42 and 20:11-18 when, while searching with broken heart for His body, she encounters Jesus at the garden sepulcher on the morning of His resurrection. Moreover, according to Miles' great-granddaughter, the song "was written on a cold, dreary day in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in New Jersey that didn't even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden."  Miles himself gave this account:   

One day in March, 1912, I was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20-whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power to charm.

As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary's life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, "Rabboni!"

My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she place her hand, she bent over to look in, and hurried away.

John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

As they departed, Mary reappeared; leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing, so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried "Rabboni!"

I awakened in full light, gripping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music. (as related in 25 Most Treasured Gospel Hymn Stories, by Kenneth W. Osbeck) "


Attentiveness vs Distraction

 Giving a “hearing ear” to the people or projects that need our concentration & showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his or her words & emotions.  

 “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”   Hebrews 2:1

C Austin Miles 1868-1946.jpg

Charles Austin Miles


John 20 1-2, 11-18  I Have Seen The Lord

"It Is Well With My Soul"  was written by  Horatio Spafford with the tune written by Philip P. Bliss

   "Just As I Am"  was written by English poetess Charlotte Elliot.

        Out of her anger and bitterness came one of modern Christendom's most beloved and impactful hymns. Her self-hatred and intolerance of her situation turned around when she finally confronted her own sin, thanks to a loving family and a kind but straightforward preacher who would not 'tolerate' her rants.  


If you wish to see a video of her life and story, press here.  If you wish to also view a PPT and a lesson you can share with youngsters, press here

Tolerance vs Condemnation

Making allowances for those who lack wisdom or maturity & praying that they will see & follow God’s ways.


 ”He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” ~ Psalm 103:10 ~

"LIving for Jesus"  was published in 1917 after changing the lyrics of what was originally written as a children's song with a poem written by Thomas O. Chisholm.  The tune was written by C. H. Lowden in 1915.       

     Carl Harold Lowden [1883-1963] composed the tune about 1915.  It was first published under the title ‘Sunshine Song’ in a Children’s Day Service that he wrote.  For 28 years, Lowden was song leader at the Linden Avenue Baptist Church, in Camden, New Jersey. He also served for a number of years as a music teacher at the Bible Institute of Pennsylvania (now known as the Philadelphia College of the Bible). In the early 20th C, Lowden produced this melody, publishing it with his own words, as a children’s song. Later, he decided the tune needed some better lyrics, & wrote to Thomas Chisholm, asking him to provide some. Mr. Chisholm responded that he’d never produced a text “to order,” & didn’t think he could, but  Lowden persisted, & the result is a song by the author second in popularity only to his renowned “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  It has since been translated into more than a dozen languages. 

     A native of a small Kentucky town, Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960) lacked formal education. Nevertheless, he became a teacher at age 16 & associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, The Franklin Advocate, at age 21.  In 1893 Chisholm became a Christian through the ministry of Henry Clay Morrison, the founder of Asbury College & Seminary, Wilmore, Ky. Morrison persuaded Chisholm to move to Louisville where he became editor of the Pentecostal Herald. Though he was ordained a Methodist minister in 1903, he served only a single, brief appointment at Scottsville, Ky., due to ill health.

     Chisholm relocated his family to Winona Lake, Ind., to recover, & then in 1916 to Vineland, N.J., where he sold insurance. His favorite endeavor had always been the writing of poetry, & he continued to do this all through his 94 years. "I have greatly desired," he said, "that each hymn or poem might send some definite message to the hearts for whom it was written." Though humble in spirit & frail in health, Chisholm found that writing encouraging words such as these for God's people to sing was his "pathway of blessing." - Osbeck, K. W. (1990). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions.  By the time of his retirement he had written over 1,200 poems, 800 of which were published in a number of periodicals such as The Sunday School Times, Moody Monthly, & Alliance Weekly. Many of these were set to music.   information from  https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-living-for-jesus-pledges-full-commitment-to-christ , https://wordwisehymns.com/2011/08/19/living-for-jesus/, & other sources.  editor

     Carl Lowden came from a musical family—his father is said to have played the trumpet while rocking his cradle, & his mother played the organ. By age 12, Harold was selling compositions to the Hall-Mack Company.  He was conducting the church orchestra by the time he was a teenager.

     Lowden was associated both with Hall-Mack & with music publisher John J. Hood. In 1913, he became music editor for the Reformed Church in America & later went into business for himself (though he failed during the Great Depression of the 1930s). He then taught at the Bible Institute of Pennsylvania & was the minister of music at the Linden Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey. 

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Sincerity vs Hypocrisy

Eagerness to be genuine in all things and do what is right with transparent motives.

 ”Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”

~ 1 Peter 1:22  ~

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960) .jpg

Thomas O. Chisholm 

in his later years


Carl Harold Lowdon 


Carl Harold Lowdon, 1883-1963.jpg

"Lord, Speak to Me"  written by Frances Havergal in 1872 was a hymn of prayer asking her Father in Heaven to guide her as to what to say or do next as she went about her daily work and as she witnessed to others and encouraged them to trust in the God of heaven. 


Born in 1836, she lost her mother to illness when she was 11.  Already a prodigious writer and reader, she kept her mother's last words as her lifelong prayer.  "Fanny, dear, pray God to prepare you fo all He is preparing for you."  Later, she and Fanny Crosby became long-distance friends, often writing to each other sharing in their hope of heaven and their mutual trust in the Lord.  Both women lived with difficult disabilities and illnesses, but rather than focusing on themselves, they focused on growing in their relationship with God.  Frances loved to write and produced poetry and hymns, many of which we still sing today.  She once shared, "Writing hymns is like praying, for I never seem to write even a verse by myself.  I feel like a child writing...A child will look up at every sentence and ask, 'What shall I say next?' That is what I do.  Every line and word and rhyme comes from God."

Frances Ridley Havergal


Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

The tune often used to go with Miss Havergal's hymn was derived from the fourth piano piece in Robert A. Schumann's Nachtstücke, Opus 23 (1839).  CANONBURY first appeared as a hymn tune in J. Ireland Tucker's Hymnal with Tunes, Old and New (1872). The tune, whose title refers to a street and square in Islington, London, England, is often matched to Havergal's text. CANONBURY has a simple binary form, which consists of two versions of the same long melody. Sing in parts, ideally with a sense of two long lines rather than four choppy phrases, possibly with a fermata at the end of the first long line.

     Robert Schumann (b. Zwickau, Saxony, Germany, 1810; d. Endenich, near Bonn, Germany, 1856) wrote no hymn tunes himself, though a few of his lyrical melodies were adapted into hymn tunes by hymnal editors.  He was a German composer, aesthete, and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing. Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera, ... see more on this man's troubled life at https://hymnary.org/person/Schumann_Robert

Discretion vs Simple-mindedness  

Choosing to avoid damaging words, actions, and attitudes and praying for and giving insightful counsel.

“A prudent man forseeth evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on, and are punished.”  Proverbs 22:3

"May the MInd of Christ, My Savior"   is the only hymn we currently have written by a young English woman, Kate B. Wilkinson.   (August 27, 1859, Woodlands Bank, Timperley, Cheshire, England-December 28, 1928, Kensington, London, England)

  Relatively little is known of English hymn writer Kate Barclay Wilkinson. She was the daughter of a mechanical engineer, and married in 1891. She ministered to young women in west London, and was apparently associated with the Keswick “deeper life” movement. We have only one hymn from her pen, but it’s a fine one.

  May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour was written in the early twentieth century. It is based on the words of the Apostle Paul in Phil. 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” There follows a description of the way the Lord Jesus surrendered His rights and took the place of humble service, even unto death (vs. 6-8). It is a theme the Bible addresses a number of times, perhaps because the tendency of our sinful nature is to do just the opposite, to cling to what we see as our rights, and expect others to serve us!

   (note: this information is from WordWise Hymns.)

Arthur Cyril Barham-Gould, composed the hymn tune ST. LEONARDS. He was born in England in 1891 and educated at Ridley Hall at Cambridge. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1927. He served from that time at various churches until his death. He died on February 14, 1953, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.

Deference vs. Offensiveness 

Limiting my freedom & putting the welfare of others ahead of my personal pleasures so as to not to offend those whom God has called me to serve.

“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”  ~  Romans 14:21

"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was written after or during a very dark time suffered by Martin Luther, and his family. Considering that “A Mighty Fortress” is Luther’s most famous hymn, we know remarkably little about it. Nor are we even sure when Luther wrote it. The earliest existing hymnal in which it appears is from 1533. (From the records of 19th-century hymnologists we know that there were a few hymnals that contained “A Mighty Fortress” before 1533, but these hymnals were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during World War II.)  Most scholars think Luther wrote the hymn between 1521 and 1529, with the majority of scholars settling on 1527–28.  Called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation," it was actually probably written some 11-12 years after his famed "95 Theses" and trials, and was most likely the result of his making his way through a time of great trials and depression.  This hymn presents an exception in its tune in the fact that it is sung pretty much as Luther wrote it. It has been translated, with some variation, into some 80 languages, and is one of the most popular stirring hymns of comfort in the Christian church. 

Virtue vs Weakness

Growing in the power of a life that is in harmony with the holy standards of God knowing that Virtue is the moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiates from my
life as I obey God’s Word.

“That he would grant you, according
to the riches of his glory, to
be strengthened with might by his
Spirit in the inner man.”
—Ephesians 3:16

   "Must I Go and Empty Handed?" was the result of hymn writer

   Charles Carroll Luther hearing the sad story of a young man who

   regretted his former life's choices as he laid on his deathbed

   facing his soon appointment to be with the Lord.  


Charles Luther (1847-1924) was a journalist and lay evangelist before being ordained as a Baptist minister in 1886. He wrote about 25 hymn texts. In 1877, he heard Rev. A.G. Upham relate the story of a young man who was about to die. He'd only been a Christian for a month, and sorrowed because he'd had so little time to serve the Lord. He said, "I am not afraid to die; Jesus saves me now. But must I go empty handed?" This incident prompted the writing of the hymn; Stebbins wrote the music when Luther gave him the words. The complete hymn was first published in Gospel Hymns No. 3, 1878  Just a note of interest ~ Reverend Luther, was a lineal descendant of Martin Luther and of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  

Initiative vs. Idleness ~

 recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.  

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” ~ Romans 12:21

Charles C. Luther (1847-1924) 

George C.  Stebbins 


George Coles Stebbins was born February 26, 1846, in Orleans County, New York,  where he spent the first twenty-three years of his life on a farm. In 1869 he moved to Chicago, which marked the beginning of his musical career. He became the musical director of the First Baptist Church in 1870, a position he held till the autumn of 1874, when he resigned to take up residence in Boston. During his residence in Chicago he became acquainted with Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey; and also with P.P. Bliss and Major D.W. Whittle, both of whom early joined the great evangelistic movement inaugurated by Mr. Moody.  Among his hymns that are most widely known, and which, it would seem, are most likely to endure, are "Saviour, Breathe an Evening Blessing," "There is a Green Hill Far Away," "Saved by Grace," "In the Secret of His Presence," "Take Time to be Holy," "The Homeland," and "O, House of Many Mansions."

"Praise To The Lord, The Almighty", based on Psalms 103 & 150, was written in the last year of German lyricist & hymn writer Joachim Neander's life.  (1650-1680)

Only 30 years old, his poetry and leadership of faith had so affected the lives of those he knew and those who followed his works, by the time he died, his favorite place of solitude and prayer, the Dussel River Valley, was renamed in his honor- and became the Neander Valley.  Joachim came from a long line of believers but was rebellious and raucous in his youth until God opened his eyes and captured his heart.  "Praise To The Lord, The Almighty" is quite literally his testimony in song.  Watch this short video to fully understand the power of his short life.

Reverence (Honor) vs. Disrespect ~

awareness of how God is working through the people & events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me.   

“Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; & thine expectation shall not be cut off.”  ~ Proverbs 23:17-18

Without Catherine Winkworth , a dedicated translator and lover of hymns in 19th C. England, we may never have heard of this much-loved hymn.  Almost 180 years after Neander's death, she discovered, translated and published most if not all of his works.  She remained unmarried her entire life and spent it in work for the Lord and the church to bring to life the important and moving songs of praise that were part of the church world wide, especially the German hymns such as this.  Click on her picture to hear a short biography of this loved translator.

"Precious Lord, Take My Hand"  was written by Thomas A. Dorsey.  Known as the Father of Gospel music, Mr. Dorsey, a choir leader and hymnist, wrote this sad but knowing song when he was hit with the sudden difficult news through a telegram that his wife was giving birth and there were severe complications.  Before he managed to arrive home, his wife had died in childbirth and his infant son died just a few days later.  He was devastated.  His faith was tested, and his grief overwhelming.  His only solace was in crying out to the Lord.  In doing so, he gave the world one of its most loved Christian hymns.   Dr. Dorsey's work is often confused with the white jazz musician of a similar name, Tommy Dorsey.  Both men were contemporaries and both were jazz/blues musicians, but Dr. Dorsey's talent was used primarily in the promoting the black/gospel tradition.  He went on to write many,many well-known hymns sung in lively black churches and in traditional services throughout the world.   

 Endurance vs. Discouragement

the inward strength to withstand stress and do my best. 

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1

"The Solid Rock"  The “Solid Rock” text was written in 1834 and was originally titled “The Gracious Experience of a Christian” and was written after a morning walk to work by a successful English business owner and cabinet maker.  On that walk early that morning, Edward Mote felt "impressed to write a hymn" and before he arrived at his business, the chorus was already set in his thoughts.   Born into poverty in London on 21 January 1797, his parents ran a local pub. Raised by unbelieving parents, he had often been left to play with other boys and do as he pleased. His teachers did not tell him about God. Mr. Mote’s youth was empty and aimless. When he was a sixteen-year-old woodworking apprentice, his instructor took him to hear the famous preacher, John Hyatt. Two years later, the apprentice gave his life to Jesus and planted his feet on the Solid Rock forever. Sixteen years after his conversion, Mr. Mote wrote the hymn that testified of the security he experienced in Christ.  Now a successful adult, at 34, Edward was able to sequester himself alone in his office. By the day’s end, he had written four verses of his new hymn! Soon afterward, he was invited to a friend’s home. The host shared how he and his wife usually sang a hymn, read Scripture, and then prayed together. However, the hymnal had been misplaced, so Mr. Mote volunteered, “I have some verses in my pocket; if you like, we could sing them.”  The verses were the new hymn crafted earlier that week in his work office. The host’s ill wife enjoyed the words of the hymn so much that the man requested Mr. Mote to leave a copy for her. Greatly encouraged, he went home, “and by the fireside [I] composed the last two verses . . . and sent them to [her].” The completed hymn text originally consisted of six stanzas.  He worked in London for 37 years. Only in his 50's, he entered the ministry and was pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church in HorshamWest Sussex for 26 years. He was well liked by the congregation in Horsham and they offered him the church building as a gift. Mote replied, "I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that." He died on 13 November 1874 and is buried in the churchyard at Rehoboth Church.

      The music for Mote’s text was composed, in 1863, by William Batchelder Bradbury, one of the foremost composers of early, American gospel music. It first appeared in his collection, The Devotional Hymn and Tune Book, published in 1864, by the American Baptist Publication Society. This was the only new Baptist hymnal to appear during the Civil War years.

      William Bradbury is also the composer for these hymns: “Depth of Mercy”, “Even Me”, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”, as well as “He Leadeth Me”, “Jesus Loves Me”, and “Just As I Am”. Other well-known gospel hymns for which Bradbury has contributed the music include: “Tis Midnight–and on Olive’s Brow,” “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” and “There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth.”   Some song leaders today prefer to use the “Melita” tune (generally used with the Navy hymn text, “Eternal (Almighty) Father, Strong to Save) with the “Solid Rock” text, rather than Bradbury’s more rhythmic music, feeling that the intensity of the “Melita” melodic line is more compatible with the strength of the lyrics.  

He died on January 7, 1868, in Bloomfield, New Jersey (now Montclair, New Jersey) at age 51. He was buried in Bloomfield Cemetery in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Edward Mote Jan 21,1797-Nov 13,1874

   Security vs. Anxiety 

Structuring my life around that which is eternal & cannot be destroyed or taken away because I know that God will never leave nor forsake me.    

 “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”      -- John 6:27 --

"Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus"  by George Duffield, Jr. Duffield, the son of the Rev. Dr. Duffield, a Presbyterian Minister, was born at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Sept. 12, 1818, and graduated at Yale College, and at the Union Theological Seminary, New York.

   The hymn was written by Reverend Duffield after the loss of a friend and fellow preacher who often in his sermons supported abolition and preached for the rights of all men. Although only 30 years old, Dudley Tyng was already known as a bold, uncompromising preacher. He would seek out those who needed Christ and boldly preach to them the Gospel. This young man also boldly spoke against the evils of slavery despite knowing that such an abolitionist stance could cost him his pastorate. Just days before a terrible accident that would cut his life short, Pastor Tyng preached to a packed auditorium of 5,000 men. His message was from Exodus 10:11, “Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord.”

    Placing his left hand on his right arm at the shoulder, he fervently avowed, “I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk, than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s  message.”   Of that assembly, an estimated 1,000 men came to Christ that day! As Pastor Tyng left the meeting, he had no idea what would soon happen.

    Shortly thereafter, Pastor Tyng was spending a day in his study. Outside in the Pennsylvania farmyard an old mule plodded in a giant circle, powering the corn sheller. Ready for a break, the preacher strolled outside to check on the corn shelling. Entering the shed, the young man reached to scratch the mule’s head. Suddenly, Pastor Tyng’s long, loose sleeve caught in the corn shelling gears! Swiftly his arm was yanked into the giant wheel, up to his shoulder. The main artery in his arm was severely damaged, and the doctor had no choice except amputation.

    In the days following the accident, infection set in, forcing the doctor to determine, “He cannot get well.” Yet, the injured man boldly asked, “Doctor, are you a Christian? If not, come to Jesus.” Pastor Tyng led the doctor to Christ! Still, the young man was dying. His father, also a pastor, tearfully and gently asked his son, “Do you have a farewell message for your friends?” The bold preacher whispered his final words in response: “Tell them to stand up for Jesus.”  Within weeks, Rev. Duffield penned the poem that would become the hymn set to the music written by George Webb, an English musician and songwriter.  

    Webb,1803-1887, began his career as an organist in Falmouth, England. In 1830, he emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where he played the organ at the Old South Church for almost 40 years. He also played the organ and belonged to the Boston Church of the New Jerusalem. He and Lowell Mason founded the Boston Academy of Music, as well as collaborating on their Musical Library. Webb also composed several choral and organ works, including Prelude in E♭ and Postlude in A.  His best known tune, Webb, came from his secular song "'Tis Dawn, the Lark is Singing." This song was performed at a musical show on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean and is the tune used for this favorite hymn.

George Duffield Jr., 1818-1888

12 Jan 1825-20 Apr 1858

George James Webb,  1830-1887

William Batchelder Bradbury

 Oct 6, 1816-Jan 7, 1868

Boldness vs. Fearfulness

 Confidence that what I have to say or do is true, right, & just in the sight of God & welcoming any suffering that comes from doing what is right, because it will produce a greater power of love.

“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” ACTS 4:29

"The Son of God Goes Forth to War"  by Bishop Reginald Heber (21 April 1783 – 3 April 1826) wrote the lyrics of this hymn to commemorate Stephen's martyrdom and to be sung on 26 December, a day recognized as St. Stephen's Day.   Verses 3 and 4 of the hymn refers specifically to Stephen's stoning & the grace and endurance he showed when yet witnessing to his killers he professed his deep faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.  The tune commonly sung in church services and one might find in hymnals is Henry Stephen Cutler's 1872 tune "All Saints New", written specifically for these lyrics. 

Reginald Heber  was an English Anglican bishop, man of letters and hymn-writer. After 16 years as a country parson, he served as Bishop of Calcutta until his death at the age of 42. The son of a rich landowner and cleric, Heber gained fame at the University of Oxford as a poet. After graduation he made an extended tour of Scandinavia, Russia and Central Europe. Ordained in 1807, he took over his father's old parish, Hodnet, Shropshire. He also wrote hymns and general literature, including a study of the works of the 17th-century cleric Jeremy Taylor. He was consecrated Bishop of Calcutta in October 1823. He travelled widely and worked to improve the spiritual and general living conditions of his flock. Arduous duties, a hostile climate and poor health led to his collapse and death after less than three years in India. Memorials were erected there and in St Paul's Cathedral, London. A collection of his hymns appeared soon after his death. One, "Holy, Holy, Holy", remains popular for Trinity Sunday (https://www.revolvy.com/page/Reginald-Heber)

Endurance vs. Discouragement 

The inward strength to withstand stress so as to accomplish God's best while experiencing the power of God’s love by rejoicing in the trials and tribulations God allows.   

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."     Hebrews 10:36

   "The Star Spangled Banner"  was written by poet and lawyer Francis Scott Key in the aftermath of the intensive British shelling of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812.       Though opposed to the war due to his religious beliefs and believing that the disagreement could be settled without armed conflict, Key nonetheless served in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery.

     British forces captured Washington, D.C., in 1814. After one of Key’s friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren’t allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.

     Key immediately wrote down the words for a poem that he would continue composing at an inn the next day. The work, which relied heavily on visualizations of what he witnessed, would come to be known as the "Defence of Fort M'Henry".  It was printed in handbills and newspapers, including The Baltimore Patriot. The poem was later set to the tune of a drinking song by John Stafford Smith, "To Anacreon in Heaven," and came to be called "The Star-Spangled Banner."


In the following video, actor Tom Bosley narrates the little-known history of Key's time aboard the British warship and the cost the American Patriots paid to keep Old Glory flying in the face of a determined enemy. "The Star Spangled Banner"

If you wish to see a further history of Key's story of our anthem, press here.   The historical facts are a bit different from Bosley's narration. 

Determination vs. Faintheartedness 

looking at insurmountable obstacles as opportunities to cry out for God's supernatural intervention

 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Ps. 121:2

This Is My Father's World

Maltbie D. Babcock


with music by 

Franklin L. Sheppard


Maltbie was born in Syracuse, New York to a prominent family. He attended Syracuse University where he excelled as a student, an athlete, and a musician. According to Hymn Time:

“Tall, broad shouldered, and muscular, he was president of the baseball team, an expert pitcher, and a good swimmer. He played several musical instruments, directed the school orchestra, and played and composed for the organ. He was a singer and leader of the glee club. He could do impersonations, was clever at drawing, and had a knack with tools. He was also an avid fisherman. He might have become a professional musician had he not chosen the ministry.”1

After graduation, Maltbie attended Auburn Theological Seminary. He was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church and took his first job as a pastor in Lockport, New York. Maltbie often began his days with an early morning walk and would say that he was going out “to see my Father’s world.” These walks are thought to have inspired his poem.

In 1886, Maltbie was called to a church in Baltimore, Maryland. He became a particular favorite of local college students, and with time, was asked to preach at colleges across the country.

Hymn Time notes:    “[Maltbie] had a talent for presenting spiritual and ethical truths with freshness and effect. In doing this, he was aided by his agile mind, wide range of knowledge, dramatic ability, speech fluency, and magnetic personality.”  http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/b/a/b/babcock_md.htm

After almost 14 years in Baltimore, Maltbie was asked to assume the pastorate of Henry Van Dyke at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Henry, a popular pastor and author (who wrote the hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”), was retiring.

After serving for 18 months in his new position, Maltbie took a trip to the Holy Land. Sadly, he fell ill while traveling and died of brucellosis (a bacterial infection usually caused by ingesting unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat) in Naples, Italy.

During his lifetime, Maltbie did not publish any of his writing. However, after his death, his wife Catherine collected and published many of his works. “This Is My Father’s World” was contained in a small book titled, Thoughts for Everyday Living, 1901. http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/b/a/b/babcock_md.htm

 This information was taken from Celebrating Holidays http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=12146

Tune “Terra Beata” (A Traditional English Melody) was arranged by Franklin Lawrence Sheppard (1852-1930),  and the hymn was published in 1915.

    Franklin Sheppard, a friend of Maltbie, arranged the tune “Terra Beata” (Latin for “Blessed Earth”) for Maltbie’s poem. Franklin said the tune was inspired by a traditional English melody that he learned from his mother as a boy.4 It was published in the Presbyterian Sunday school songbook Alleluia, 1915.

     Franklin was born in Philadelphia in 1852. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with the highest honors before taking charge of his father’s manufacturing business. Despite his career obligations, Franklin managed to dedicate a good deal of time to ministry. Since he was a talented musician, Franklin served as a church organist and a music director. Eventually, he became President of the Presbyterian Board of Publications and helped to develop the Presbyterian Hymnal, 1911, as well as to edit the Sunday school songbook that included “This Is My Father’s World.”

Orderliness vs. Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency. including knowing what to remove from my life and surroundings and having the courage to do it.  

 Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

Trust and Obey by John Henry Sammis  born 1846 in Brooklyn, New York; died 1919, Los Angeles, California

One night at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting in Brockton, Massachusetts, a young man stood up to testify about his confidence of salvation.  He said, “I am not quite sure,” meaning that he wasn’t really certain that God would save him from his sins—and then he continued, “But I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey”—meaning that he planned to trust God for his salvation and to do what he could to obey God’s will.

“I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.”  Daniel Towner was the song leader for that meeting.  He was so impressed by the young man’s testimony that he wrote down those words and stuck them in his pocket.  Later, he wrote a friend, John Sammis.  In his letter, he told about the young man’s testimony and included the young man’s words:  “I am not quite sure, but I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.”

Sammis quickly transformed those words into a hymn chorus:  “Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.” Soon he had five stanzas to go with the chorus, and he sent them to Towner, who composed the tune that we still sing today.  (author: , Richard Niell Donovan— Copyright 2007