After the great “Hall of Faith” passage in Hebrews 11, the writer to the Hebrews calls the saints who are still on earth to emulate those who have gone before: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV).
The first two lines of this hymn refer to the bread, representing Jesus' broken body, and to the wine, representing Jesus' shed blood. Later, the parallel structure of the lines referring to the broken heart and shed tears of repentant sinners emphasizes the sorrow of the believer over the sin that necessitated Christ's suffering. Through our confession of sin and participation in Communion, we remind ourselves that it is only “by Thy grace our souls are fed.”
Bulletin Blurb: Perhaps the reason this song has been so universally included in hymnals is that it reminds discouraged Christians of the grace they have been given. It is often easy to take a negative view of life, but when we remember the things we have been given, we cannot deny that we are blessed. The hymn proclaims that all power belongs to God, and that he desires to bless us. The lyrics for this hymn are related to several scripture passages: Psalm 40:5-6; Psalm 107:31; Ephesians 1:3; and 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
One theme of this hymn is the contrast between the message “peace on earth, good will toward men” proclaimed by the host of angels at Christ's birth (Luke 2:14) and the war and oppression that dominate the earth. As this hymn is sung, think about the coming time when God will make all things new and bring His peace.
This hymn is suitable for the Christmas season. Such a well-known hymn can be used in a variety of ways.
Also known as "The Birthday of a King"
This Christmas song contrasts the humble little village of Bethlehem with the glory and greatness of Jesus Christ, who was born there. The refrain focuses on the wonderful appearance of the host of angels, and how that was a fitting celebration for the birthday of a King.
In the Old Testament, Gilead was the name of the mountainous region east of the Jordan River. This region was known for having skillful physicians and an ointment made from the gum of a tree particular to that area. Many believed that this balm had miraculous powers to heal the body. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells the people of Israel that though many believe in the mysterious healing power of this balm, they can’t trust in those powers for spiritual healing or as a relief of their oppression. He reminds them that He is ultimately in control, and only He can relieve their suffering.
This hymn was written in rural England in the mid-nineteenth century, when the life of the village during the winter depended on the bounty of the autumn harvest. While the first stanza of this hymn rejoices over the harvest, the last three stanzas expound on the reminder this image gives of the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds in Matthew 13.
Scriven’s text has remained largely unchanged since it was first published in 1857. The verses build on one another, carrying the same theme throughout: first raising the questions we have about our pain and sorrow, and then answering those questions with assurance of God’s power and love.
We are very pleased to announce the launch of "The United Methodist Hymnal" (UMH) iPad app. The app features razor-sharp music, powerful search capabilities (by title, first line, author, composer, topic or scripture reference), with links to background information about the hymns and their authors. The free app includes 281 public domain hymns in the UMH. Through an in-app purchase, users have access to copyrighted materials, large print edition, FlexScores, and several difference editions for B-flat, E-flat instruments or the C Clef edition, etc.
In the year 1225, completely blind and nearing death, St. Francis of Assisi arrived at the Convent of St. Damian to bid goodbye to his dear friend, Sister Clara, the first woman to follow the call of St. Francis and take vows of the Order. Clara built him a small reed hut in the garden of her little monastery. It’s said that at times St. Francis could be heard singing faint melodies from within the hut.