Posts Tagged "Hymn Festival"

Sermon September 4: Hymn Stories

Posted by on Sep 8, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon September 4: Hymn Stories Faith United Methodist Church September 4, 2016 Hymn Festival Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Just a Closer Walk with Thee Prayer of Illumination: Lord, put a song on our hearts. May we dance to the melody of your love all the days of our lives. Amen. Sermon:                                          Hymn Stories On Hymn Festival Sunday I tell a story about the history or background of a hymn. Dennis mentioned to me a couple of times that “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” is his favorite hymn. He suggested it for today and we sang it as part of our praise songs. “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” is also a hymn we often sing on Jazz Sunday, as the musicians lead us out of the Sanctuary. It’s a well known hymn, but one that didn’t make it into our original UM Hymnal. It was included in our hymnal supplement, The Faith We Sing, published in 2000 and, since then, several people I’ve worked with have requested it at the funerals of their loved ones. Our United Methodist Discipleship Ministries published an article on “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” which can be found on Michael Hawn tells us that the origins of this spiritual are unknown. Other sources I found suggest it originated in southern African American churches in the 19th century, possibly before the Civil War.   It became known in the 1930’s when African American churches introduced Gospel to the world. In his article Michael Hawn suggests, “As is the case with many hymns, knowing where a song came from, while interesting and helpful at times, is not as important as the witness of the hymn itself in the lives of those who sing it. Such is the case of this venerable song.” In his book How Sweet The Sound, Horace Clarence Boyer tells of how the song was “discovered.” While traveling between Kansas City and Chicago in 1940, songwriter Kenneth Morris got off the train to stretch his legs. While standing on the platform, he overheard a porter singing some of the words to “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. Not thinking much about it, Morris boarded the train and went on his way. The words and melody of the song kept repeating in his head and he knew he had to hear the rest of it. At the next stop, Morris got off the train and took the next train back to the previous stop. There he managed to find the porter and Morris persuaded him to sing the song while he copied down the words. Hawn, from Discipleship Ministries, named some of the notable features of this hymn: The first witness may be found in the testimonial nature of the text. The anonymous composer feels “weak” and lives in a world of “wrong.” The only way to be “satisfied” is by invoking Jesus who is “strong” and by walking closely beside him. It is the daily close walk with Christ that leads one to become more Christ-like. …In the second stanza, the singer seems to be despondent in a “world of toil and snares.” The first rhetorical question posed is, “If I falter, Lord, who cares?” A second question—“Who with me my burden bears?”—receives a welcome response, “None but thee.”… The second witness is the wide range of recording artists who have sung this song. While not exclusively used in the African-American community, it is a song strongly identified with African Americans. The Selah Jubilee Singers, a black gospel quartet, made the first known recording of the song in 1941…. Following this recording are many...

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Sermon August 31: Hymn Stories

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 31: Hymn Stories Faith United Methodist Church August 31, 2014 Hymn Festival Rev. Krista Beth Atwood Scripture: Psalm 105:1-6 Prayer of Illumination:  Lord, put a song on our hearts.  May we dance to the melody of your love all the days of our lives.  Amen. Sermon:  Hymn Stories Pass It On # 572 Sometimes songs allow us to time-travel.  It only takes a spark to get a fire going.  Those words, along with that tune, bring me back to my church camp days.  And soon all those around will warm up in it’s glowing.  The smell of the campfire and the taste of toasted marshmallows. The information I found about this hymn comes from The General Board of Discipleship History of Hymns (as well as other sources).  I learned that Kurt Kaiser, born in 1934 in Chicago, wrote this hymn ~ so it’s relatively new compared to some of the other hymns in our hymnal.  Kaiser made is career in music as a composer and author and composed more than 60 hymn texts and tunes.  In 2001 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of fame. His intent with Pass it On was to create a modern Just As I Am for a Christian youth musical he was composing in 1969 called Tell It Like It Is.  In his own words he describes the writing of this hymn saying, “On a Sunday night I was sitting in our den by the fireplace where there were remnants of a fire, and it occurred to me that it only takes a spark to get a fire going . . . and the rest came very quickly. My wife suggested that I should say something about shouting it from mountaintops, and that ended up in the third verse. It only took about 20 minutes to write the lyrics. Afterwards my wife and I went for a walk, letting the song ruminate in our minds.” After that, the song took on a life of it’s own.  Kaiser continues, “I am always amazed how the Lord can take a little song and use it to reach so many people. It has been sung at countless weddings and funerals, at ordination services, by the Sea of Galilee, in Rhodesia, on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, and lots of camps.”  It’s a simple song with a powerful message, reminding us of Jesus Great Commission in Matthew 28, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”  Whether we first heard it at church or around a campfire or at a youth gathering, this song reminds us of what is most important in the life of faith.  The Lord of Love has come to me, I want to pass it on. What a Friend We Have in Jesus #526 (vs. 1,2) I have to be honest.  What a Friend We Have in Jesus has never been one of my favorites.  My time-travel with this song brings me back to my childhood church where we sang it painfully slow what seemed like every Sunday.   We certainly sing it much better, but the memory still remains.  Yet, learning the story behind this hymn helps me to like it a little better.  The information I share here comes from along with other sources. Joseph M. Scriven was born in Ireland in 1819.  When he was 25 years old he found himself in love and engaged to be married.  The day before his wedding his fiancé died in a tragic drowning accident.  Heartbroken, Scriven sailed to Canada to start a new life.  While in Canada he fell in love again and became engaged...

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