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Notes on the Notes – March 30, 2014

Lent 4 – The Coptic Orthodox Cross

Theme – “Christi-anachy”

This week’s scripture reading: John 9:1-41

This week’s music:


“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (VU #149)

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God:  all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,  sorrow and love flow mingled down!  Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,  that were a present far too small:  love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. 

When teenaged Isaac Watts (1707-1748) complained to his father about the monotonous way Christians in England sang the Old Testament Psalms, his father, a leading deacon, snapped back ‘All right young man, you give us something better.’  To Isaac Watts, the singing of God’s praise was the form of worship nearest to Heaven.  Young Isaac accepted his father’s challenge and eventually wrote a total of more than 600 hymns, earning him the title ‘The father of English hymnody’ and bring us hymns such as “Oh God Our Help In Ages Past”  and “Joy To The World.”  As a child, Isaac Watts was sickly and unattractive, yet, even by today’s standards he was clever beyond his years. He began the study of Latin at the age of four, and added Greek when he was nine, French at eleven and Hebrew at thirteen.  At fifteen the young poet turned his talents to the service of the church and the great career in hymn-writing began.

In his hymns Isaac Watts takes the Word of God, of which he must have been a diligent student, and distills it so that all is wisdom, beauty and comfort are set before us with plainness and power. No wonder, then, that C.H. Spurgeon’s grandfather, himself a great preacher, and in the line of the Puritans, would have nothing else but the hymns of Isaac Watts sung in his services.
Isaac Watt’s greatest composition must surely be “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”  It has been called ‘The very best hymn in the English language’ and in it Watts, using only 16 lines, paints a soul-stirring picture of the Saviour’s death on the cross coupled with the whole-hearted response of the believer to such amazing love.  As Tedd Smith says ‘It seems to me that Isaac Watts wrote this text as if he were standing at the foot of Christ’s cross.’   (Source:  SermonAudio.com)  Edward Miller adapted ROCKINGHAM from a Scottish tune called TUNBRIDGE in 1780.

Hear the Choir of King’s College at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDkuxEIcpdI

“Open My Eyes” (VU #371)

“Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me, place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.  Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear; and while the wavenotes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear…

Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth everywhere; open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share….” 

Clara H. Scott was an American composer of songs, anthems and piano music.  C. Michael Hawn says,  “Clara H. Scott (1841-1897) provides us with a hymn of consecration that has been sung for over 100 years. A Midwesterner, she was born in Illinois and died in Iowa…She married Henry Clay Scott in 1861, and published in 1882 the Royal Anthem Book, the first volume of choir anthems published by a woman… Three collections were issued before her untimely death, when a runaway horse caused a buggy accident in Dubuque, Iowa.  The text of “Open My Eyes” was written in 1895 shortly before Scott’s death. Each stanza reveals an increasing receptiveness to the “Spirit divine.” Open eyes lead to “glimpses of truth.” Open ears lead to “voices of truth.” An open mouth leads to sharing the “warm truth everywhere.” An open heart leads to sharing “love to thy children.”

Hear a piano rendition of the hymn at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODDfaAybNKk

“Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”

“Amazing grace!  how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed! 

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood, his mercy reigns;  unending love, amazing grace.

The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures. 

My chains are gone…”

  Today’s anthem “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” is a choral setting by Joel Raney of Chris Tomlin’s Praise and Worship Song from 2006.  The original “Amazing Grace” was written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725-1807), published in 1779.  Containing a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (forced into service involuntarily) into the  Royal Navy, and after leaving the service became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion.  However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have simply been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns, but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.

“Amazing Grace” is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,” and it is estimated that it is sung 10 million times a year.

Hear Chris Tomlin sing the song at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I

“We Sing the Praise of Him Who Died”

“We sing the praise of Him who died, of Him who died upon the Cross;  the sinner’s hope let men deride, for this we count the world but loss. 

Inscribed upon the Cross we see, in shining letters ‘God is love’;  He bears our sins upon the Tree; He brings us mercy from above.

The Cross!   it takes our guilt away; it holds the fainting spirit up;  it cheers with hope the gloomy day, and sweetens every bitter cup;

It makes the coward spirit brave, and nerves the feeble arm for fight; it takes the terror from the grave, and gilds the bed of death with light;

The balm of life, the cure of woe, the measure and the pledge of love, the sinner’s refuge here below, the angels’ theme in heaven above.”

This hymn was written by Thomas Kelly, and was inspired by Galatians 6:14.

These notes are taken from “Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory” by E.E. Cornwall:

“Thomas Kelly was born in Ireland on July 13th. 1769 and died in Dublin on the 14th. 1855. He was the only son of Judge Kelly of Kellyville, near Cathy, Queen’s County. He was educated for the Bar at Trinity College, Dublin. While completing his studies in London, he was convicted of sin through the writings of William Romaine. Finding that all his efforts to reform were useless, he at last obtained “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”…and forthwith abandoned the study of law for the preaching of the Gospel and at the early age of 23 became a clergyman of the Church of Ireland.

His evangelical preaching led to the Archbishop of Dublin (Dr. Fowler) prohibition; and forbidden any longer to preach in the established church, he left it and (with others like-minded) taught in various chapels in Ireland those glorious truths that find expression in his hymns. At the age of 30, Thomas Kelly married Miss Tighe of Rosanna, Co. Wicklow, whose family, besides having wealth and position, were revered for their piety. Three years later he began to publish his hymns, and during the next fifty years, 765 hymns came from his pen…

In the last preface to his hymn book, Thomas Kelly observes; “It will be perceived by those who read these hymns, that though there is an interval between the first and the last of near sixty years, both speak of the same great truths, and in the same way. In the course of that long period, the author has seen much and heard much; but nothing that he has seen or heard has made the least change in his mind that he is conscious of, as to the grand truths of the Gospel. What pacifies the conscience then, does so now. ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ'”.

Hymns by Thomas Kelly are to be found in all the principal hymn‑books of Great Britain and America, and have been freely used in Church of England hymnals that are evangelical, but probably none have drawn more upon them than those known as “Brethren”, many of whom were themselves Irish, and well acquainted with his hymns, so widely known in Ireland in the early part of the 19th. century… (We Sing the Praise of Him Who Died can be found at #102 in The Hymnary of the United Church of Canada – the “Old Hymn Book”)

While preaching at the advanced age of 85, Mr. Kelly had a stroke and died the year following. His last words were, “Not my will but Thine be done”.”






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