This week’s hymn is called “Wonderful Words of Life”. It’s a familiar hymn to some of us, but if you don’t know it, play this arrangement a couple times; It might become a favorite of yours too!
As we are in the time of Lent, would suggest we all mediate on the words within scripture more diligently and over the hymn texts we sing every week we pass by so quickly. I believe the church year is beautiful, yet if all we do in the time of lent is give up a worldly possession or vice; I think we missed the big idea and we are only going skin deep. Christ gave up everything, not chocolate or TV, and took all of our sin upon himself on the cross. Let us think of the enormity of this claim! Lent is a time of sorrow and celebration. Think of the sins you had died to through the strength that God has given to you, think of the sins you still commit. This is a time to be sorrowful for the sins we hold dear, yet celebrate what God has done in our lives already!
This week’s Hymn text is below. With the season of lent in mind, mediate over these words.
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.
Philip Bliss wrote both the words and music to this wonderful hymn. He grew up in Pennsylvania in the 1840’s and left home at the young age of ten to make a living for himself. Although he worked in the lumber yards and the pay was small, he also was a regular at Methodist camp meetings and revivals because of his strong Christian upbringing. Education was very important to him, so in-between the time he was at church or work, he found time to study and attend school. When he was about eighteen years of age he had already completed the requirements for being a certified teacher and he took a job as a schoolmaster.
“From that point, Bliss' path began to cross with many of the best known Christian evangelists, hymn writers, and composers of his time. He received voice instruction from J.G. Towner and guidance from William B. Bradbury. He met D.L. Moody during a revival in Chicago, and was invited by Moody to become his music director. Bliss turned the offer down, and Moody teamed up with Ira Sankey instead. In the years that followed, Bliss would combine with Sankey to prepare many hymns and hymn collections. A month before his untimely death at the age of 38, Bliss was approached by Horatio Spafford, the writer of It Is Well With My Soul. At Spafford's request, Bliss composed the tune for that famous hymn.” (http://www.hymnsite.com/lection/cep5.htm)
Philip Bliss achieved so much in his lifetime yet it was by the grace of God that he was able to do what he did. I like to always find stories like this in my own generation, because God works in so many lives and through them He impacts so many other lives. I hope you enjoy this week’s arrangement. If you have any hymn requests for future weeks please tell me! I’ll see you all next week.