What are you doing this Sunday at 8am? Hopefully joining us to sing some of the great hymns written over history! As time goes on and hymns are not as well known, we hope to take this time to not only embrace our heritage, but to also appreciate why some of these hymns were written. We will be singing many hymns, but below, we have shared stories to a couple of them. Please read and then consider the questions after each story!
For the Beauty of the Earth
Since Roman times the town of Bath, on the banks of the Avon River in England, has been considered one of the most beautiful spots on the British Isles. Enclosed by an amphitheater of hills and blessed with warm springs, it has been both a pleasure resort and a health spa for the ailing.
Folliot Pierpoint was born in Bath but went away to attend Cambridge University, where he became a classical scholar and taught. But when he was twenty-nine years old he returned to his hometown of Bath. The beauty of the countryside in the late spring caused his heart to well up with emotion and inspired this hymn.
Each stanza thanks God for a different kind of beauty. In its original form it was a Communion hymn of eight stanzas. Each stanza concluded with the words “Christ our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise” alluding to Hebrews 13:15.
Do you praise God for the creation that surrounds you? Take some time this week to be outside and thank Him for the beauty of the earth.
The gift of forgiveness is often best appreciated by those who need it the most. The Revered John Newton experienced this truth firsthand. His tombstone tells the story: “John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had so long labored to destroy.” These words were written by Newton himself, a testimony to God’s transforming power. After years as a hardened slave trader, that “wretch” met Jesus Christ and abruptly turned to defend the gospel he had so long despised.
Throughout Newton’s years of ministry, God’s amazing grace remained central to Newton’s thinking. When it was suggested he retire (at age eighty-two!) due to poor health and a failing memory, he responded, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior!”
And God raised us up with Christ.. in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:6-9
Is there a sin in your life that you think is too big for God to forgive for? One of the most famous hymns was written by a man who called himself an infidel before God transformed his life. Don’t hold back something that God is more than able to forgive and restore!