Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is It Scriptural To Use Page Numbers or Book, Chapter, and Verses? by David R. Kenney

Is It Scriptural To Use Page Numbers or Book, Chapter, and Verses?
by David R. Kenney

Occasionally someone asks a question that the answer to should be shared for the benefit of all. Someone asks, “Why do we give page numbers during the Scripture Reading segment of the worship service?  Should we not know the books of the Bible?”  Some may be tempted to phrase the question in this fashion: “Is it scriptural to use page numbers?”

Without de-emphasizing the importance of book, chapter, and verse preaching (since this is the sole authority of the preacher’s message), and without de-emphasizing the good practice of knowing the books of the Bible and how they fit into the scheme of redemption, let us consider whether or not using page numbers is “scriptural”.  By the use of the term “scriptural” many mean whether it has Biblical authority.  In answer to this, let me suggest that it is no more “scriptural” to use page numbers than it is to announce chapters and verses.  Consider the following from Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia:

·         The entire Bible was divided into chapters by Hugo in 1240.
·         The Old Testament was divided into verses by Mordecai Nathan in 1445.
·         The New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Steven in 1551.

There were no chapters and verses in the original manuscripts; therefore, the tradition of using chapters and verses is just that—a tradition.  So the same authority exists for announcing chapter and verses as for announcing page numbers.  But why announce page numbers?

First of all, it must be made clear that this was the decision of the leadership of the congregation.  When the practice was first adopted it was when the men of the congregation decided there were distinct advantages to doing so.  This leadership has now been transferred to the eldership.  If the elders would deem that this practice was no longer beneficial, they would have the authority to change this incidental method of reading from the Bible.  At one time, the preacher was requested to announce the page numbers for all his scriptures during the lesson, but this became too impractical and awkward so it was discontinued. 

There are two basic reasons for announcing the page number for the Scripture Reading.  The first reason is to ensure that a reliable translation is read from the pulpit.  When new pew Bibles were ordered great care was exercised to have a translation that would be more up to date and reliable.  No translation is perfect but there are better translations than others.  So the practice of announcing the page number and reading from the pew Bible helps ensure that a reliable translation is consistently used and helps keep everyone on the same page during the reading.  That does not mean that the New King James is free from errors any more than the King James is free from errors.  All translations have errors since they are the works of men.  Only the original autographs were error free.

The main reason for this practice is to assist those who do not know the books of the Bible to participate in this part of the service.  Imagine if the reader just got up and read without announcing the book, chapter, and verse.  How would you feel?  You may say “They should announce the book, chapter, and verse so I can read along.”  Your point would be valid but why would it become invalid if one uses page numbers?  As a mature Christian, we should know the Bible enough to know where the reading is from.  Right!?  If that is unrealistic, then why is it more realistic to have everyone know the books of the Bible before they walk through our doors?  We need to give people the opportunity to grow.  I can scarcely remember the days that I did not know the books of the Bible since my parents taught them to me from my youth. Others have not had that blessed opportunity.  In Romans 12:10 we find these words “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”  Or as another translation puts it:  “Be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; in honor let each set his neighbor above himself.” (Conybeare & Howson).

Reprinted from The Edifier, Streetsboro, OH: Streetsboro Church of Christ, 14 May 2000.



Monday, November 27, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Near, My God to Thee


The hymn “Nearer, My God to Thee” also appears in some hymnals under the title of “The Christian Life.” The song has been a great source of comfort to many in their final hours. It was played as they laid President James A. Garfield’s body at Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio in 1890. It was also a song of comfort to William McKinley before his death in 1901. "Nearer, My God, to Thee" was reported sung by the crew of the SS Valencia as it sank off the Canadian coast in 1906. It has been reported that it was among the last songs played on the R.M.S. Titanic before it sank in 1912. It has been a much beloved hymn to many; although at first the hymn was not so well received.


Sarah Fuller Flower Adams 1805-1848), Lyricist

Sarah Fuller Flower Adams was born February 22, 1805 in Harlow, Essex, England. Her parents were Benjamin Flower and Eliza Gould. Her mother met Benjamin while he was imprisoned for writing criticisms of some political matters. Eliza Gould appreciated his stand, and she ended up marrying him. Some sources state Sarah’s middle name as “Fuller,” but others have the middle name of “Flower.” Fuller was her middle name, Flower was her maiden name, and Adams was her married name. They had two daughters.

Sarah wrote a series of columns for a paper called the Monthly Repository from 1832–1835, which led to her meeting John B. Adams who also wrote a column. They married in 1834.  Her husband encouraged her to the stage, and she appeared starring as “Lady Macbeth” in 1837. While she enjoyed the experience and was well received, she did not have the constitution for this work. So, she decided to devote more time to lyrics and dramatic poems.

The lyrics for this hymn were composed by Sarah Adams in November 1840. It appeared in Hymns and Anthems in 1841, along with a dozen or so other works by Sarah Adams. This poem was her highest achievement. She was a Unitarian, and the hymn was criticized for its lack of reference to Jesus. When Lowell Mason provided another tune for the words, the hymn was well received across denominational lines.

Sara Adams died August 14, 1848 of tuberculosis at the age of 43. Some theorize she contracted this through exposure to her sister, Eliza, who died of the disease two years prior. She was buried in Foster Street Burial Ground in Harlow, Essex England along with her parents and sister Eliza. John and Sarah Adams had no children.


Lowell Mason (1792-1872), Composer

Lowell Mason was born January 8, 1792 in Medfield, MA.  He became a music director at the age of 17.  He moved to Savannah, GA when he was 20 years of age. While there, he was known to educate black children, even establishing a Sunday school to educate them.  He would return to Boston, MA in 1827. 

He was married to Abigail Gregory Mason who died in 1889.  They had 4 sons: Daniel Gregory, (b. 1820 in Savannah, GA); Lowell, Jr. (b. 1823 in Westborough, MA,); William (b. 1829 in Boston, MA) and Henry, (b. 1831 in Boston, MA).

To say that Lowell Mason was a popular music composer would be to put it mildly when one considers the songs to his credit including “Joy to the World,” “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.” He was considered one of the greatest music educators of the United States.  He was the co-founder of the Boston Academy of Music in 1833.  He was a major educator of musicians, and his reputation only grew as time went on.  He is sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Music Education”.  He not only composed music, but he also published many musical compositions.  He loved the works of Handel and Mozart and published hymns with their musical works in 1822.

In 1851 he retired and moved to New York to work in the music industry with his sons, David and Lowell Mason, Jr.  He did a major tour of Europe which ignited his interest in congregational music.  He accepted the position of Music Director for the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1853.  He retired again in 1860 and moved to Orange, NJ.  Mason died August 11, 1872 and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.

The lyrics for this hymn were set to Mason’s tune called BETHANY which was created in 1856. The meter of the hymn is 6.4.6.4.6.6.6.4. The song first appeared with a different music of 6/8 time composed by Sarah’s sister Eliza, but it was deemed too difficult to master. There were other tunes used for this poem, but none were as popular as BETHANY. When Lowell set it to his tune of BETHANY of 4/4 time, then the hymn became extremely popular.

Nearer, My God To Thee

The basis for the hymn is reported to be Genesis 28:18–22, “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You’” (NKJV.) She was encouraged to write the lyrics based on this Biblical account by the preacher where she attended.

One can see the connection with reference to “my rest a stone.” The connection between the poem and the text is seen more clearly in the verse that appears in the original poem, but is often omitted from some printings of the hymn: “Then with my walking thoughts, Bright with thy praise, Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise: So by my woes to be Nearer, my God to thee—Nearer to Thee!” Some hymnals include an additional verse written by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.

Jacob was on the run from Esau. He was the child of promise, though he was an imperfect man. Still, he recognized the importance of being near to God even if under dire circumstances. Sometimes God has a way of allowing us to enter into circumstances that ought to make us want to draw nearer to Him, but sadly some rebel and go further away. The psalmist David expressed the same with his words “Draw near to my soul, and redeem it; deliver me because of my enemies” (Psalm 69:18, NKJV.)

The name “Bethel” means “house of God.” It should be every person’s desire to have God be nearer to them in life, not just in their final hours! Being nearer to God includes being with the Lord’s people, the household of God (cf. Ephesians 2:19.) The Preacher warned us to remember God since “the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NKJV) As we get older, we should want to draw even nearer to God.  Some may have failed to become Christians when they were younger, but they should never doubt that God seeks to have them come to Him (cf. 2 Peter 3:9).

If you are not a Christian, then we plead with you to follow the words of James: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7–8, NKJV.)

Draw nearer to God, so you can sing with confidence “Nearer, My God to Thee.”


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SOURCES:

Ernest K. Emurian. Living Stories of Famous Hymns. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955, 91–93.

John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.

“Nearer, My God, to Thee.” No Pages. Cited 25 November 2017. Online: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/n/m/nmgtthee.htm.

“Nearer, My God, to Thee.” No Pages. Cited 25 November 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nearer,_My_God,_to_Thee.

Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1937, 380–381.

Russell L. Dyer. “Nearer My God To Thee.”Hymns and Songs We Sing. Bedford, TX: Brown Trail School of Preaching, 2002, 145-155.

“Sarah Fuller Flower Adams 1805-1848.” No Pages. Cited 25 November 2017. Online: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/a/d/adams_sff.htm.

“Sarah Fuller Flower Adams.” No Pages. Cited 25 November 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Fuller_Flower_Adams.

V. E. Howard and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

William J. Fox. Hymns and Anthems. London: Charles Fox, 1841.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

This hymn of the reformation movement was written by Martin Luther sometime between 1527 and 1529, and it was published in 1531 in German. The work was originally translated into English by Miles Coverdale in 1539. In 1853, Frederick H. Hedge translated this German hymn into English as we commonly sing it. Some refer to this hymn as the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Others have said of this hymn: “the greatest hymn of the greatest man of the greatest period of German history.” The hymn certainly is a classic!

Martin Luther (1483-1546), Lyricist & Composer

Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Germany to Hans and Margarete Lindemann Luther. His father worked in the copper and smelting industry. His parents wanted Luther to study law, but a severe thunderstorm convinced Luther to become an Augustinian monk. He obtained the Bachelors of Arts (1502) and Masters of Arts (1505) from the University of Erfurt. In 1507 he was ordained a Catholic Priest. Luther decided to study theology at the University of Wittenberg. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in 1509, and then in 1512 Luther obtained the Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Wittenberg, and he became a teacher at the university. He could read Latin, but also Greek and Hebrew.

In 1517, Pope Leo X offered Indulgences in exchange for giving alms to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Dominican monk Johann Tetzel went about collecting funds for indulgences teaching that the temporal punishment of Purgatory could be lessened. The popular phrase—“As soon as money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory's fire springs.” October 31, 1517 is viewed by many as the start of the Protestant Reformation. It is the date on which Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of Castle Church (500 Years Ago!) Keep in mind that there were no denominations 500 years ago! Some scholars contest whether or not Luther nailed these to the door; however, it was not uncommon for such documents to be posted. These were written in Latin, but someone translated these into German and via the printing press they were circulated throughout the land. Before Luther realized it, a revolt was occurring that was not only religious but economical and political. At first, some thought it was an argument between the Augustinian Order (Martin Luther) and the Dominican Order (John Tetzel), but it would not be long until an international controversy emerged. There is no mistaking these words from Thesis 86: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" Pope Leo X issued a bull of excommunication against Luther on June 15, 1520, but Luther burned it in a public demonstration on December 10, 1520. Pope Leo X issued the bull of excommunication which declared Luther a heretic on January 3, 1521 which had carried the death sentence in other instances. Charles V of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor declared that no one would be convicted without a proper hearing which would occur at the Diet of Worms which began April 17, 1521.

We do not have time to examine all the events of Luther’s life or his writings; however, there are some early writings that are important to mention. In August 1520, Luther published Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation which was a major attack on the authority of the Pope over Germany’s economy. In October 1520, Luther published On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church which challenged the authority of the sacraments being exclusively from Rome. Luther was called to the Diet of Worms in 1521 to answer charges of heresy. This was a dangerous situation since 50 years prior the same situation led to the burning of John Huss who was deemed a heretic. When Luther arrived, he was asked two questions by John Eck: Are these your books on the table? Do you recant what you have written? Luther confirmed the books were his, but he had written others too. Luther requested 24 hours to respond to the second question. He wanted a discussion of the issues, but they wanted censure. When the trial reconvened the next day, Luther stated in his conclusion: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” Luther was deemed a heretic, made an outlaw, and there were calls for his execution. Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, had guaranteed Luther’s safety, so Luther was allowed to leave. He was kidnapped on the return by friends and sheltered at the Wartburg Castle where he worked on translating the New Testament into German. One of the great things Luther did was translate the New Testament into the language of the people (German) which allowed people to read and compare what they were taught from Rome versus what was taught in the Scriptures. The NT was completed in 1522, and the remainder of the “Lutheran Bible” would be completed in 1534.

In April 1523, Luther married a former nun, Katharina von Bora Luther (1499–1552) which was another protest against the Catholic doctrine of celibacy, plus they had five children. Luther died February 18, 1546 in Eisleben, Germany and was buried in Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”), Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s teachings are sometimes controversial even among Lutherans themselves. For example: “I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone one. St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christian. How then should I, poor foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of God a name derived from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after Him Whose doctrine we have.” (Luther, “An Earnest Exhortation for All Christians, Warning Them Against Insurrection and Rebellion,” Works of Martin Luther, Vol. 3, p. 218.)


A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Martin Luther made valuable contributions to hymnody, including congregational singing, in his day as one writer noted: “This man, who had given back the Bible to his countrymen in their own tongue, had also restored the practice of congregational singing, writing hymns in his own language and composing tunes that he felt his people would love to sing. He made music once more the joy of the entire congregation rather than the sole duty of the choir, and gave it the spontaneity which has always characterized Christian hymnody at its best; he even allowed the women to sing with the others in public, a privilege that had been withheld from them for a thousand years.” (Ernest K. Emurian. Living Stories of Famous Hymns, 12)

The hymn is commonly believed to be based on Psalm 46. It is reported that Martin Luther would say “Come, let us sing the 46th Psalm and let the devil do his worst.” Luther had certainly put the words to the test!

With this historical background, perhaps the best way to complement this hymn is with a reading of the Psalm that inspired it:

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

   Psalm 46 New King James Version

Come! Let us sing the 46th Psalm, and let Satan do his worst.

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SOURCES:

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mighty_Fortress_Is_Our_God.

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/i/g/mightyfo.htm.

Cecil May. “God Gives Me Refuge (Psalm 46).” "When I Study the Psalms..." Enlarging My Faith - Eliminating Fears. Moundsville, WV: West Virginia School of Preaching, 2015.

Ernest K. Emurian. Living Stories of Famous Hymns. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955, 11–13.

John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.

“Martin Luther.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: https://hymnary.org/person/Luther_Martin.

“Martin Luther.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther.

“Martin Luther.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5894.

“Martin Luther.” No Pages. Cited 19 October 2017. Online: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/l/u/t/luther_m.htm.

Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1937, 96–98.

Steve Ellis. “A Mighty Fortress.” Lessons in Lyrics. Memphis, TN: Memphis School of Preaching, 1998, 23–31.


V. E. Howard and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: How Great Thou Art

In 1855, Carl Boberg produced a poem in Swedish that would be translated into German, then Russian, then English. It would be set to music by Stuart Hine in 1886. The tune for the song was a Swedish melody. The hymn first appeared in a Covenant hymnbook called Sanningvitnet and dates to 1891. Hine took the poem and tune, added some lines of his own, and arranged it into the hymn we know as “How Great Thou Art.”

Carl Gustav Boberg (1859–1940) Lyricist

Carl Boberg’s poem was called "O Store Gud" (O Great God) and had nine verses. The inspiration for the song was an approaching storm with wind, thunder, and lightning. The storm was followed by a rainbow and the beautiful sounds of birds singing and church bells ringing. The sights and sounds of this day moved Boberg to write his poem. The poem was based partly on Psalm 8. The poem was published March 13, 1886. The first literal English translation of “O Store Gud” was by E. Gustav Johnson (1893–1974).

Here is a translation of the original poem:

O Great God

1. O great God, when I see that world as you have created with your authority, how your wisdom guides the threads of life, and all beings are saturated at your table;
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


2. Then I consider the highs of heaven, the golden worldship plows the easter blue, and the sun and moon measure the times of time and change as double watches go;
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


3. When I hear the thunder's voice in the storm, the blast and lightning blows running out of the clouds, when the cold of the rain, healthy winds shine and the bow of the promise shines for my sight;
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


4. When the west winds over the fields, When flowers dull around the beach of the source, when treks drill in the green tents, From the pine forest's silent, dark edge; Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


5. When I see in the Bible all of them, as the Lord then made the first time of Adam, how merciful he has been all the while, and helped his people from the sin and battle of life; 
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


6. When I hear fools in the foolishness of their folly deny God, and mock what He said, but yet, they see His help, and be held by His grace and power;
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


7. And when I see his image to the ground float and do good and help in general, when I see Satan fly and death beautify to the Lord in a deciphered crucifixion:
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


8. When printed by the guilt of sin I fall down at the faith of grace and pray for mercy and peace and he will guide my soul on the right path and deliver me from all my sin and battle;
Refrain : |: Then the soul burst into praise song: O great god! O great God! : |


9. Finally, all the envelopes of the time are falling, and in view, my faith changes, and the clear watches of eternity call my saved spirit to the sabbaths;
Refrain : |: So the soul breaks  out in praise song Thanks, good God! Thank God! : |

Stuart Wesley Keene Hine (1899-1989), Lyricist, Translator, Arranger & Composer

Hine was born July 25, 1899 in Derbyshire, England. His wife’s name was Edith Salmon.  Hine was heavily influenced by Charles Spurgeon. He first heard this hymn while in the Ukraine. It was the Russian version of the German translation of the Swedish poem. He wrote verses 3 & 4. The Hines had to leave Ukraine during the Famine-Genocide perpetrated on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin during the winter of 1932–33, and they also left Eastern Europe at the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939. They returned to Britain and lived in Somerset. He would continue to work and aid Polish refugees displaced by the war which served as the inspiration for verse 4. He first published his song in his Russian magazine Grace and Peace in 1949. The song’s popularity would grow from there. It would be translated into other languages and be recorded numerous times by recording artists. Some sources stated this song is only surpassed in popularity by “Amazing Grace”.  He had others hymns, but none as popular as “How Great Thou Art”. Stuart Hine died March 14, 1989, in Essex, England.

He also wrote the following supplemental verses in 1953:

O when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,
Bowed down with grief, to Him I lift my face;
And then in love He brings me sweet assurance:
'My child! for thee sufficient is my grace'.


How Great Thou Art

I can recall my parents seeing the Grand Canyon for the very first time. I was not there, but I heard that they began singing “How Great Thou Art”. I heard dad tell someone it was their first impulse at the majesty they saw with their own eyes. It is not the first time this song has come bursting forth from the heart of man in praise to God for such demonstration!

We have seen so many wonderful acts of creation and demonstrations of God’s power. It is sad that there are those who still deny. There are even those who come so close to believing in God, but they refuse to acknowledge the God of the Bible. Take this quote for example:

“I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the language in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves constellations.” (Albert Einstein, as quoted by Antony Flew, There Is A God, 99)

Recall the words of the apostle Paul to the Christians at Rome—“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23 NKJV)

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SOURCES:

“How Great Thou Art. No Pages. Cited 27 August 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Great_Thou_Art.

“How Great Thou Art.” No Pages. Cited 27 August 2017. Online: http://ingeb.org/spiritua/howgreat.html.

V. E. Howard and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“O Store Gud.” No Pages. Cited 27 August 2017. Online: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/non/sv/ostoregu.htm.

“Stuart K. Hine.” No Pages. Cited 27 August 2017. Online: http://hof.doveawards.com/speaker-lineup/stuart-k-hine/.

“Stuart Wesley Keen Hine.” No Pages. Cited 27 August 2017. Online: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=130700515.
  
John P. Wiegand, Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.


Monday, October 30, 2017

PREPARED REMARKS AT WVSOP BIBLE LECTURESHIP ON OCCASION OF LECTURESHIP BOOK DEDICATION DINNER


The Kenney family with Don R. Cooper

The plaque presented to David & Annette Kenney in
dedication of the 2017 WVSOP Lectureship Book

Andy Robison, Director of West Virginia School of Preaching,
Annette & David Kenney, and Donald R. Cooper
 PREPARED REMARKS AT WVSOP BIBLE LECTURESHIP ON OCCASION OF LECTURESHIP BOOK DEDICATION DINNER
October 24, 2017, at 4:30 PM
Moundsville, West Virginia

I want to express my appreciation to Andy Robison, Scott Judge, the faculty, lectureship committee, and eldership for this honor.  When Andy Robison became the director of the school, I did not know him very well, and the same is true of Scott Judge.  I have come to get to know, respect, admire and love these two men. I also want to express my appreciation to the elders at Hillview Terrace for their support and guidance for the school.  It certainly is an honor to be in charge of a school of preaching; however, some elderships would rather not do so.  I salute this eldership and the congregation in this noble and vital work!  I see a very bright future for the West Virginia School of Preaching. 

When Andy Robison told me that they planned to honor Annette and me with this wonderful dinner and lectureship book dedication, I was stunned. In fact, my first reaction was to decline, but then I thought:  “Annette certainly deserves to be honored.” Andy was correct when he likened Annette to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.  As I reflect on the words: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” (Proverbs 31:23 NKJV), I cannot help but praise her because I would not have been able to do the things I do, as well as I do them if it were not for Annette.  Truly, I am known in “these gates” and among you “elders of the land” because of her love, support, and encouragement. I am very blessed to have two wonderful children, James & Deborah, and they are truly a joy to us both!

Don Cooper, thank you for such a wonderful tribute. I have described Don with the phrase: “If you cannot run with the big dogs, then you had better stay on the porch.” Well, Don is a “big dog” to me, but he has never been satisfied to allow me to sit on the porch! Not everyone is a good mentor. Some do not have the temperament. Don has been a mentor to me for several years. Some time ago, dad was re-telling a story where he pranked his wife Jan by calling her stating he was from the Wadsworth Police Department. He said he was following up on a domestic disturbance call. He really had Jan going! All in the group laughed at the re-telling (at Jan’s request), and I overheard Jan say to someone “I want him to tell that story at my funeral.” Well, my beloved father was unable to fulfill that request, but I am thankful I was able to fulfill that request for Don and his beloved wife Jan.  I am truly grateful that Don is able to be with us tonight!

I am thankful to the congregation of Wadsworth for giving me the opportunity to be a preacher of the gospel! They needed a preacher, and I needed a place to preach. The work that we do together is also financially supported by others for which I am thankful too! The congregation at Streetsboro has also been a great blessing to our lives. They were among our first financial supporters for the work! 

I am truly honored and humbled by your tribute.  I would much rather be in attendance to see others honored whom I have admired.  Such as the previous directors of WVSOP: Emanuel Daugherty or Denver Cooper; or faithful preachers of the gospel who have been doing it for many more years—those who have “have borne the burden and the heat of the day.” (Matthew 20:12 NKJV)  My first preference would be to see my father and mother honored, Warren and Kay Kenney; however, that is no longer possible. All that I am able to accomplish, I truly owe to my parents.  I wish they could be here tonight to share this evening with us.  To quote President Lyndon Johnson, “My father would have enjoyed what you have so generously said of me, and my mother would have believed it.” Dad once asked Mom what he should say in introducing me for a lectureship. She said, “Make sure you let them know that he is my son too!”
                                                                                       
I would like to express appreciation to some others. Probably most of you know me through the pages of The West Virginia Christian edited by Albert Farley.  My dad suggested to Albert that I would make a good writer of book reviews.  Brother Farley agreed and insisted I send him some of my book reviews.  He also sent me the “Writer’s Guidelines” and some work in revising to do!  Albert has honored me with printing numerous of my book reviews and other articles. Albert and Nancy Farley are among the kindest and generous people I know. I am also thankful to the late Basil Overton for printing my first article and encouraging me for additional writings.

The idea of interviewing a preaching student and allowing them to present their own lesson was not mine, but I enthusiastically embraced it.  The idea came from Mark Weaver, one of this school’s alumni.  He called me and wanted me to do this with Dale Babinsky.  He was persistently convincing.  Now, Mark Weaver is a great preacher, but he is also a bit camera adverse.  So, I told him I would do this on one condition—that I interview him and he does a lesson too!  Mark Weaver has been a great encouragement to me for which I am thankful to him and the Weaver family.  I am thankful to Andy Robison, Scott Judge, and all the students who have worked to make this happen each year.

I prefer to consider myself more of a student than a scholar.  Another person I would like to mention and express appreciation for is E. Claude Gardner who was responsible for getting me to come to Freed-Hardeman College back in 1987.  I am in the Masters of Divinity program at the FHU School of Theology because of his awarding me the “E. Claude & Delorese Gardner Scholarship.”  Many of my successes are because of Freed-Hardeman University!

To the graduates, students, and prospective students of the West Virginia School of Preaching, let me say a few words. My father is known by many for his sense of humor, but be sure to know he viewed preaching as serious business. He emphasized on more than one occasion that being a preacher of the gospel of Christ required the most serious mind, deepest commitment, and a pursuit of excellence. While others may minimize, criticize, or marginalize your work, remember you work for the Lord and He deserves the very best! You have chosen this noble profession, and I salute your efforts!

I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul–“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NKJV) May all that we say and do bring glory to Him! Because without Him we would be of all men the most pitiful!


May God richly bless you all!

David R. Kenney



Book Dedication

David & Annette Kenney


David and Annette Kenney are tireless laborers for the Lord.  First, they take with great seriousness coupled with joy the responsibility of raising their good children, James and Deborah.  They are careful to make sure they receive instruction and guidance in nurturing love. 

Then, Annette supports David in ways that are behind the scenes and sometimes unnoticeable to the outside observer.  She is the definition of a virtuous wife and helper to him.  She is a godly mother and a constantly busy worker.  I’m pretty sure David would say she is the glue of the household. 

David is the son of Warren and Kay Kenney; Warren preached the Gospel for over forty-five  years.  Both David and Annette are alumni of Freed-Hardeman University.  While laboring at the Wadsworth (Ohio) church of Christ, the work has borne fruits in perhaps non-conventional areas.  David has done a great service to the brotherhood with his technological and video work.  He has edited and produced a highly regarded documentary on the life of Alexander Campbell.  He produces a weekly television show, Light from Above, that airs locally in the Wadsworth area, and globally on the Gospel Broadcasting Network.  He has produced videos of Bible Readings and Hymns for GBN and for anyone who would like to just listen to the text of the Bible and enjoy some good singing.  David is active in blogging in The Bully Pulpit and in much writing, including frequent book reviews published in West Virginia Christian.  He is called upon to speak on lectureships near and far.  Frankly, the amount of work he accomplishes is amazing. 

David has always been and continues to be a big help to West Virginia School of Preaching.  Each year, our second year students have the opportunity to be introduced to television work through David’s assistance.  He interviews each student for one Light from Above show, and has them preach a sermon for another.  David frequently helps with our Future Preacher Training Camp.  He is a supporter of us in many ways. 

To David and Annette, we lovingly and gratefully dedicate this 2017 volume of the WVSOP Victory Lectures.  We appreciate you both so very, very deeply.

Andy Robison
9 Aug. 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus by David R. Kenney

The lyrics to “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” according to Praise for the Lord, was written by Louisa M. R. Stead c. 1880, and was set to music by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1882.  The song first appeared in Songs of Triumph in 1882.  The song has been recorded by several popular recording artists such as Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Alan Jackson, and Amy Grant to name a few. 

Louisa M. R. Stead (c. 1850-1917), Lyricist

Louisa Stead was born in Dover, England around 1850.  She migrated to America at the age of 21.   She was married and had a daughter named Lilly.  Her family was out picnicking on Long Island when a young boy screamed that he was drowning.  Stead’s husband drowned trying to save the young boy.  Life was difficult for them, but others helped them along the way.  It is believed that the lyrics to this song came out of her experiences at this time.  The two would go on to serve as missionaries to South Africa.  She remarried Robert Wodehouse while overseas, but she returned to America in 1895.  She then went to Zimbabwe in 1901.  She died January 18, 1917 in Penkridge, Zimbabwe and is buried there. 

William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921), Composer

William James Kirkpatrick (February 27, 1838 – September 20, 1921) was born in Keerogue, County Tyrone, Ireland.   His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Storey Kirkpatrick.  The family migrated to the United States settling in Philadelphia in 1840, but William did not immediately come with the family.  They wanted to get settled in the New World, and then they planned to send for William.  Incidentally, the mother had another child, a daughter, on the journey to America.  William’s parents were schoolmaster and musician, so he received musical training at a very young age.  He traveled to America in 1854 where he learned to play the cello, flute, organ, violin, and other instruments.  In 1855 he used a lot of his talents and education with the Methodist Episcopal Church, plus he joined Hayden Sacred Music Society that broadened his exposure to composers.  He also wrote under a pseudonym of Annie F. Bourne.

He helped publish his first work, Devotional Melodies, in 1859.  He married Sara Lankford Kellog in 1861.  He enlisted in the 91st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers as a Fife-Major shortly after his marriage, but the position was terminated in 1862.  He continued his work with the Episcopal Methodist Church.  He would eventually go into the music business with John R. Sweeney and they published over 49 major works together.  When Kirkpatrick’s wife died in 1878, he devoted his time to music composition.  He re-married in 1893 and traveled the world.  He continued to publish compositions, over a hundred.  One night, he had a tune he wanted to write down, so his wife went onto bed.  She found him dead the next morning, September 20, 1921. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

He left us some wonderful music we often sing:  “A Wonderful Savior Is Jesus My Lord,” “Lead Me To Calvary,” Lord, I’m Coming Home,” “He Hideth My Soul,” “O To Be Like Thee,” “We Have An Anchor,” “Stepping in the Light,” “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” and others. 

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Jesus and Joshua are the same name.  Joshua is the Hebrew form and Jesus is the Greek form.  Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Brown-Drivers-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Jesus’ name means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.  Recall the words of the angel to Joseph:  “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)  The salvation of souls is the reason that Jesus came to this world.  His coming was planned before the foundation of the world, prophesied in the Old Testament, confirmed in the New Testament, and He continues to be the Savior of the world to those who obey Him.

When Jesus was preparing to ascend back to Heaven, He encouraged His followers with these words:  “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18–20 NKJV) The word for age (αἰών aiṓn) can refer to the end of the world but also include into eternity.  In other words, Jesus promises to be with us forever.

We can trust Jesus!  He has made the way of salvation and provided an abundant entrance into Heaven–“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10–12 NKJV)  It is sweet to trust in Jesus, and we can have confidence in His word because of His divine demonstration and compassion!

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SOURCES:

Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“”Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Tis_So_Sweet_to_Trust_in_Jesus.

“William J. Kirkpatrick,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Kirkpatrick.

“Louisa M. R. Stead,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/s/t/e/a/stead_lmr.htm.

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Work For The Night Is Coming by David R. Kenney

The song “Work, For the Night Is Coming,” according to Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, was written by Annie Walker Coghill 1854, and the tune by Lowell Mason called WORK SONG was composed in 1864.  The meter is 7.6.7.5 D, where D means “doubled” so this pattern repeats.


Annie Louisa Walker Coghill (1836-1907), Lyricist

Annie Louisa Walker Coghill was born at Kiddermore, Staffordshire, England in 1836.  She married Harry Coghill in January 29, 1884 who was a widower.  He passed away in 1897.  They had no children.  She passed away in Bath, England on July 7, 1907.

She moved with her family to Canada as her father worked for the Grand Trunk Railway.  She and her sisters, Isabella and Frances, opened a girl’s school that operated until the deaths of her sisters.  She spent time writing while in Canada and published some of her writings there in 1861 under the title of Leaves from the Blackwoods.  After this, her family returned to England where her parents shortly passed away.

She was a prolific writer of novels, children plays, and magazines.  The words for this hymn were published in the Canadian paper in 1854 as a poem entitled “The Night Cometh.”  The text that she wrote also appeared in her Oak and Maple: English and Canadian Verses which was published in 1890.  It appeared in Ira D. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos; however, her name is not listed in the acknowledgements which she mentioned in Oak and Maple.  The poem would be set to the music of Lowell Mason.


Lowell Mason (1792-1872), Composer

Lowell Mason was born January 8, 1792 in Medfield, MA.  He became a music director at the age of 17.  He moved to Savannah, GA when he was 20 years of age; although the reason is uncertain.  While there, he was known to educate black children, even establishing a Sunday school to educate them.  He would return to Boston, MA in 1827. 

He was married to Abigail Gregory Mason who died in 1889.  They had 4 sons: Daniel Gregory, (b. 1820 in Savannah, GA); Lowell, Jr. (b. 1823 in Westborough, MA,); William (b. 1829 in Boston, MA) and Henry, (b. 1831 in Boston, MA).

To say that Lowell Mason was a popular music composer would be to put it mildly when one considers the songs to his credit including “Joy to the World,” “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.” He was considered one of the greatest music educators of the United States.  He was the co-founder of the Boston Academy of Music in 1833.  He was a major educator of musicians, and his reputation only grew as time went on.  He is sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Music Education”.  He not only composed music, but he also published many musical compositions.  He loved the works of Handel and Mozart and published hymns with their musical works in 1822.

In 1851 he retired and moved to New York to work in the music industry with his sons, David and Lowell Mason, Jr.  He did a major tour of Europe which ignited his interest in congregational music.  He accepted the position of Music Director for the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1853.  He retired again in 1860 and moved to Orange, NJ.  Mason died August 11, 1872 and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.


Work, For The Night Is Coming

Jesus stated before he healed the blind man–“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 6:4–5 NKJV).  Jesus cared for the lost of this world. He cared then, and He cares now.  Notice this account from Matthew:  “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35–38 NKJV).  He made the following statement at the sending out of seventy:  “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:2–3 NKJV) 

Clearly, the work will not be easy; however, the work remains to be done!  It is still light and work can still be done, but will we do it!

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SOURCES:

Cook, Ramsay and Hamelin, Jean, Editors, McMullen, Lorraine. “Walker, Anna Louisa (Coghill).” Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1901 – 1910, 13, Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1994, 1068.

Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“Lowell Mason,” No pages. Cited 25 June 2017. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Mason.

“Lowell Mason,” No pages. Cited 25 June 2017. Online: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3999.

Sankey, Ira D. Sacred Songs and Solos. London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1921.


Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.