Tag Archives: story behind the song

Scripture at Sunrise 5.21.2010

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us even when we were dead  through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  -Ephesians 2:4-7

Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Story Behind the Song
In 1917, young pastor Haldor Lillenas and his wife were settlinginto a ministry at the Nazarene church of Auburn, Illinois.  After buing a house in nearby Olivet, they had little money left to furnish it.  Though they were both hymnwriters, they had no money for a piano.  Then Haldor found a “wheezy little organ” in the home of a neighbor and paid five dollars for it.  Lillenas wrote a number of songs on that instrument, including this one. 

This song, with its rolling melody and climbing chorus, became very popular at evangelistic meetings.  Lillenas used it in his own evangelistic crusades, and others, such as the famous songleader Charles Alexander, used it often. 

The message of Scripture comes through clearly here—you cannot outsin God’s grace.  No matter how great your guilt, God’s forgiveness is greater.  Praise His Name! 

[from The One Year Book of Hymns, April 22 entry]

Scripture at Sunrise 4.16.2010

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

I posted this one sometime last year, but it’s so short and sweet, it’s worth posting again!  Hopefully, you will be as blessed by it as I have been!

The Gospel Song
Holy God, in love, became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again

Lyrics by Drew Jones / Music by Bob Kauflin / Sovereign Grace Music

Sheet Music ~ on Songs for the Cross Centered Life ~ MP3 ~ Watch this adorable little girl sing it!

Scripture at Sunrise 4.9.2010

“When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’; and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  -John 19:30

Beneath the Cross of Jesus by Elizabeth Cecelia Clephane (1830-1869)
Beneath the cross of jesus
I fain would take my stand—
The shadow of a mighty Rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me;
And from my smitten heart with tears
Two wonders I confess—
The wonders of redeeming love
And my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.

Story Behind the Song
Compliments of Hymntime/Click for linkElizabeth Cecelia Clephane spent her whole life in Scotland. Daughter of a county sheriff, she grew up in the village of Melrose.  She suffered from poor health most of her life, but that didn’tkeep her from serving others.  She regularly helped the poor and those with disabilities, even selling a horse and carriage to give mroe money.  Her cheery attitude and selfless spirit earned her the nickname, “The Sunbeam of Melrose.” 

She wrote eight hymns in her lifetime, including “The Ninety and Nine.” A Presbyterian, Clephane filled her hymns with biblical images. In this hymn, she gathers various biblical examples of restoration and protection, uniting them with the benefits of the Cross.  Thus the Cross becomes a rock that offers shade to the desert traveler.  It’s a home in the wilderness, a rest stop for the exhausted wanderer. 

The “two wonders” that the author confesses in this hymn are Christ’s love and her own unworthiness.  These are common themes for Christian writers.  Even the apostle Paul suggested that someone might give his life for a good person, but marveled that God showed His love to us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

[From The One Year Book of Hymns, April 12 entry]

Scripture at Sunrise 3.26.2010

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-2

In the Cross of Christ I Glory | by John Bowring (1825)

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Story Behind the Song

“Tradition has it that John Bowring — linguist, author, and British governor of Hong Kong — was inspired to write this hymn by the sight of a huge cross on the ruins of a cathedral at Macao on the south Chinese coast.  Apparently the cathedral, built by Portuguese colonists, had been leveled by a typhoon, but the wall with this bronze cross remained standing.  The story is unverified, but the image is a strong one–the cross “towering o’er the wrecks of time” above the shore at Macao.
[from “The One Year Book of Hymns” / March 26 entry]

Scripture at Sunrise 3.12.2010

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  -Isaiah 9:6

After taking a brief break from our Friday Scripture at Sunrise, we’re baaaack!  To keep it going, be sure to leave a comment with your suggestions for a song we haven’t done for next week.

    His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful,
    His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord;
    He is the mighty King, master of everything,
    His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.He’s the great Shepherd, the Rock of all ages,
    Almighty God is He;
    Bow down before Him, love and adore Him,
    His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.

Words & Music by Audrey Mieir  |  Story Behind The Song

This 88-year-old woman plays a stunning rendition of this cherished piece on the piano!  

Scripture at Sunrise 10.16.09

“We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”  -Isaiah 64:8

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Story Behind the Song
At forty, Adelaide Pollard was trying unsuccessfully to raise support to go to Africa as a missionary.  She wondered why the Lord could so burden her with the needs of Africa, but not make it possible for her to go.  During this time of discouragement, she attended a small prayer meeting where an elderly woman prayed, “Lord, it doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives, just have Your way with us.”

That night Pollard went home and read the story of Jeremiah’s visit to the potter’s house, and later that evening she wrote this hymn.  She said that she had always felt the Lord was molding her and preparing her for His service.  Then all of a sudden, He seemed to have deserted her.

“Perhaps,” she reasoned, “my questioning of God’s will shows a flaw in my life.  So God decided to break me, as the potter broke the defective vessel, and then to mold my life again in His own pattern.”

[from The One Year Book of Hymns, October 16 entry]

Scripture at Sunrise 9.4.09

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”  -Psalm 62:5-8

Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.
[by Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778]

Story Behind the Song
It may seem strange that such a sedate hymn as “Rock of Ages” was written by a feisty, pugnacious man named Toplady.  Converted under a Methodist evangelist while attending the University of Dublin, Toplady decided to prepare for the ministry.  Though impressed with the spirit of Methodism, he strongly disagreed with the Wesleys’ Arminian theoloty and waged a running battle with them through tracts, sermons, and even hymns.  “Wesley,” said Toplady, “is guilty of Satan’s shamelessness.”  Wesley retorted, “I do not fight with chimney sweeps!” 

Toplady wrote “Rock of Ages” to conclude a magazine article in which he emphasized that, just as England could never repay its national debt, so humans through their own efforts could never satisfy the eternal justice of God.  He died of tuberculosis and overwork at the age of thirty-eight, two years after he published his own hymnal, in which “Rock of Ages” and Charles Wesley’s “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” were placed side by side.  (Read More)
[from The One Year Book of Hymns, July 19 entry]

Listen to Chris Rice’s version of this timeless hymn. 

Scripture at Sunrise 8.21.09

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and 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 2:16-17

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

[by Joseph Hart 1712-1768]

Story Behind the Song
London-born Joseph Hart struggled against God for years.  When he attended church, he went to find fault.  He responded to a sermon by John Wesley by writing a tract, “The Unreasonableness of Religion.”  He was a language teacher by profession, but spiritually he was (in his own words) a “loose backslider, an audacious apostle, and a bold-faced rebel.”  Then he came under conviction.  At times he was afraid to sleep, fearing he would “awake in hell.”  He went from church to church, but as he said, “everything served only to condemn me.”
Finally at the age of forty-five he wandered into a Moravian chapel in London and heard words of hope.  On returning home he knelt in prayer.
Three years later he became a minister and began writing hymns to touch the hearts of others who had experienced similar struggles.  The words of his hymns come from the heart of someone who has been there.
[from The One Year Book of Hymns, August 20 entry]

Scripture at Sunrise 8.14.09

“But God shows His love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  -Romans 5:8

Read the remarkable story behind “Jesus Loves Me.”

Jesus Loves Me
Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! loves me still,
When I’m very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He will stay,
Close beside me all the way;
He’s prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I’ll see.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

[Words by Anna Bartlett Warner; Music by William Batchelder Bradbury]

Listen to the Gaither Vocal Band sing this timeless hymn.