Fanny Crosby’s great hymn God of Our Strength expresses the Christian’s confidence in divine inspiration and hope for daily living. God’s strength comes to us as the source of life and the fount of love.
In the assurance of God’s love and infilling Holy Spirit, we can draw strength for the living of our lives. God’s power is enthroned above yet available to humans as the very source of our living.
For this strength, we wait on God, our sure defense in whatever life brings our way. God is our fount of love, and may our devotion’s sacred flame awaken our souls to praise God’s name.
God of our strength, on thee we call, God of our hope, our light our all; thy name we praise, they love adore, our rock, our shield, forevermore. This hope in God’s strength is the Christian’s prayer, hope, inspiration, and bedrock assurance.
We are One in the Spirit reminds us that as Christians work together in love, they can change and positively impact the world. Written in the 1960s, I first learned the song in the early 1970s. I chose to lead this wonderful song as a congregational response song following the sermon yesterday.
The new Voices Together hymnal editors decided to publish this favorite tune, which is not included in many songbooks. The refrain is the strong part of the melody, in which we express that in our love, others will know Christ.
These are days of continual discernment. At the church where I lead music occasionally, we meet outside for worship during the pandemic. We are deliberating on when and in what ways we can use our sanctuary again for worship. And I noticed that the new hymnal editors used inclusive language in the third verse, an appropriate exercise of updating terminology for a different era than when Peter Scholtes wrote the lyrics in 1966.
Not only in matters of discernment, which are ongoing in every generation for the church, but in our outreach must Christ be known in our love. The verses of this song are in a minor key, but the transition to the refrain flashes a major chord, indicative of the strength in this song’s assertion that the world will know Christ through our love.
Charles Wesley wrote a grand hymn of praise that expresses Christian affirmation for the love that comes from Christ. “Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down; fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.”
In the last phrase of the first verse, Wesley identifies the source of Christian love as being in Christ. “Visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.” In the second verse, Wesley penned an invitation that Christ would breathe His Holy Spirit into every troubled breast.
When Charles Wesley wrote the text for this great church hymn in 1747, my Yoder ancestors had just arrived in colonial Pennsylvania five years earlier. With the promise of Christ’s Spirit in our hearts, Wesley’s hymn conveys hope and courage to travelers and immigrants, like the Yoders and many other immigrants who sailed for Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century.
At my wedding in a small church over forty years ago, my wife and I chose “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” as one of the congregational hymns to be sung by everyone in attendance. We sang in Charles Wesley’s English language, though many of the ancestors of those who attended our wedding spoke German when their ships arrived in the 1700s. In a flourish with the last verse, Wesley invites Love Divine to finish his new creation, true and spotless, changed from glory into glory, lost in wonder, love, and praise.
One of the lasting songs from the Jesus Music era of the 1970s is Cast Down Your Cares, written in 1977 by John Michael Talbot. This song is a simple guitar tune from the 1970s decade of musical change for the church and contemporary Christian music. Cast Down Your Cares continues to inspire and speak today.
Talbot’s lyrics encourage us to lay down our cares, to cast all our cares upon Him who loves us. Talbot encouraged us to take up the cross and so bring light to the nations. We must go, the refrain soars, as a light to the nations, take up the cross and follow where he leads. We must go as a light to the nations, prepared to wear a crown of thorns to bring his peace.
Several years after Talbot wrote Cast Down Your Cares, my wife and I recorded the song in a small studio located in a friend’s home. During the Covid era, I moved the music from a CD to the digital realm and made it more accessible. May we go as a light to the nations and follow where He leads. I hope the tune inspires you as it has me.