O For a Heart to Praise My God

Hymnology: O For a Heart to Praise My God

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
~ Galatians 2:20

Hymn Story

As one of the most prolific hymn writers of all time (with well over 6000 hymns to his credit!), it will be the rare Christian who has never sung a hymn written by Charles Wesley. Most people know him as the author of such greats as And Can It Be and Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, or as one of the founders of Methodism. What may be less commonly known is that, like his brother John, Charles was ordained as a minister in the Anglican church before his conversion. Continue reading

Come, Ye Sinners

Hymnology: Come, Ye Sinners

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~Mark 2:17

Hymn Story

The 18th Century was an exciting, yet turbulent time in the history of the church. While God was saving countless sinners through the preaching of some spiritual giants, Christian unity was fracturing along doctrinal lines. At times the vitriol was so potent that it seemed the divide between Calvinists and Arminians was greater than that between Christians and Pagans. The story of hymnist Joseph Hart and his hymn “Come, Ye Sinners” gives us a fascinating glimpse into this period, demonstrating the serious consequences of ideas. Continue reading

There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood

There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood

On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
~ Zechariah 13:1

Hymn Story

The story of William Cowper (pronounced “Cooper”) is a heartwarming tale of transformation from depression and insanity to salvation and poetic acclaim. Born near London in 1731 to a family on the periphery of the British court (his father was chaplain to King George II), Cowper’s life was constantly marked with tragedy. His three older siblings died as children, and  his mother died giving birth to her fifth child when William was six years old.

He never recovered from the loss of his mother, who even at a young age had instilled in him a love of poetry. Eventually, after a mental breakdown and attempted suicide, Cowper was placed in an insane asylum. It was there, at the age of 33, that he came to Christ while reading in Romans 3:25 of the forgiveness and healing available through the blood of Jesus.

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Jesus Paid It All

Jesus Paid It All

Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

~Isaiah 1:18

Hymn Story

The lyrics for this hymn were written in 1865 by a woman named Elvina Hall. While reflecting on a sermon she’d just heard, these words came to her during the pastor’s closing prayer. She scribbled them down on a blank sheet in the back of a hymnal, and then showed it to the pastor. He asked the church organist, John Grape, if he could find a tune to match the text. Mr. Grape had previously composed a melody which happened to fit these lyrics, and the hymn “Jesus Paid It All” was born. It first appeared in hymnals in 1868, and has been a staple ever since.

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