Volume. XXVI, No. 38
Sunday, 18 March 2012

Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord: Life and Ministry of The Christian Hymn Writers 1

(With biographical excerpts from Christian Biography Resources, Wholesome Words)

“Ye worship ye know not what... the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."  John 4:22-24

One of the accompanying elements most commonly identified with Christian worship is music, and in particular the composition & public singing of great traditional hymns such as “Amazing Grace, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Great Thou Art.” The position of Christian music as one of the primary expression modes of our love for the Lord as well as for mutual/corporate edification of His Church and People is an aspect of a healthy, thriving Christian life that is well-recognised. Indeed, the singing of “spiritual songs” has been described in the Bible as being an integral part of a holistic and thriving Christian worship, as written in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Also, Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

The growth of the Christian Church over the years can therefore be represented not only by the work of notable Christian theologians/ministers/missionaries such John Calvin, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, William Carey, Henry Townsend, Hudson Taylor and Jim Elliot, but can also be illustrated by the creative work of renowned hymn writers such as Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, William Cowper, Frances Ridley Havergal, Sarah Flower Adams and John Newton, amongst others.  It is perhaps appropriate that in order to best appreciate the majestic hymns that we offer as our “sacrifice of praise” every Sunday worship, it would be useful for us to briefly understand the life story and ministry of some of these hymn writers in the following brief biographies.
Isaac Watts  (1674 - 1748)

Isaac Watts was an English hymnwriter, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymnwriter, he was recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody," credited with some 750 hymns including favourites such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” “Alas! And did my Saviour bleed” and “Joy to the World.”

Isaac Watts grew up in Southampton, England and his taste for verse showed itself in early childhood, and his promise caused a local doctor and other friends to offer him a university education, assuming he would be ordained in the Church of England. However, Isaac declined and instead entered a Nonconformist Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690, under the care of Thomas Rowe, pastor of the Independent congregation at Girdlers\' Hall; Isaac joined this congregation in 1693.

Watts left the Academy at age twenty and spent two years at home; it was during this period that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spiritual Songs. They were sung from manuscripts in the Southampton Chapel, and published 1707-1709.

Watts preached his first sermon at age twenty-four. In the next three years, he preached frequently, and in 1702 was ordained as pastor of the Independent congregation in Mark Lane. At that time he moved into the house of a Mr. Hollis in the Minories. His health began to fail the next year, and Samuel Price was appointed as his assistant in the ministry. In 1712, a fever shattered his constitution, and Price became co-pastor of the congregation, which had moved to a new chapel in Bury Street. It was at this time that Isaac became the guest of Sir Thomas Abney. He lived with Abney (and later Abney\'s widow) the rest of his life, mainly at Theobalds in Herts, then for thirteen years at Stoke Newington.

Perhaps one of Watts’ best-loved hymns is “Alas! And did my Saviour bleed’ which is one of the classic hymns which best expresses God’s love for humanity in offering His Son as a living sacrifice at Calvary:

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed
And did my sov\'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred Head
For sinners such as I?
Was it for sins that I have done
He suffered on the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Charles Wesley   (1707 - 1788)

Charles Wesley was born at Epworth Rectory in England in December 18, 1707, the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley. Wesley together with his brother John Wesley is largely credited as the founders of the Methodist denomination.  Charles is probably the most prolific English hymn writer, having been said to have written no less than 6500 hymns, including favourites such as “And Can It Be that I Should Gain”, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” and “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

In 1716 Charles Wesley went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King\'s Scholar. While he was at Westminster, his father received a letter from a wealthy Irish man, asking him if he had a son named Charles, and if so offering to adopt him and make him his heir. The acceptance of the offer was left to Charles himself, who declined the proposition.

In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepened, and he became one of the first band of "Oxford Methodists."

For the rest of his life, Charles devoted himself to the care of the Societies in London and Bristol. He died in London, March 29, 1788.

Charles Wesley is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on 2 March with his brother John. The Wesley brothers are also commemorated on 3 March in the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church and on 24 May in the Anglican calendar.  The date of 24 May is also known to Methodists as "Wesley Day" and commemorates the spiritual awakening of first Charles and then John Wesley in 1738. In particular, in the Village of Epworth, North Lincolnshire, at the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, there was a flower festival, on 26 and 28 May, with flower arrangements representing some of Wesley’s hymns, such as “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “And Can It Be,” and “O For a Trumpet Voice.”

…… to be continued.

Dn Wai Kin Wong

(Next week - Fanny Crosby and John Newton)

More Lively Hope



Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Sis Suzane Lim. Next Lord’s Day: Sis Grace Gan.
*Warm Welcome back to Hope: Ps Okman & Sis Myung Ki.
*Hope Bookstore - Open from 12:30 - 1:45pm.
*Easter Family Bible Camp - Please submit your Camp Registration & Special Diet Request forms, & camp fees to Sis Shu Ai Cho.
*No Adult Sunday School on today & next week.
*Next Lord’s Day Fellowship Lunch is catered. Adult $5. Child under 5 years old FREE.
*For our first monthly Evening Worship Service at 6:45 pm, next Lord’s day, there will be dinner at 5 pm.
*Basic Bible Knowledge (BBK) Class starts on Sun, 15 April. Anyone interested in the Christian faith, baptism, or reaffirmation of faith, please register with Ps Weng.
*Adult RPG Apr-Jun QTR & Junior RPG Jan-Mar available.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Ps Okman & Sis Myung Ki (Adl); Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (HK); Bro Tony & Sis May Zhang (Adl); Bro Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl); Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam (Syd); & others who have arrived at their destinations.
Church Activities - over the past week.
Healing & discharge from ICU: Sis May Zhang’s sister.
Ladies’ Fellowship/Family picnic on Mon, 12 Mar
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Visitors & new worshippers.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Cathy Carpenter, Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Myung Ki, Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), & Susan Varadi; Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs. Chuilin Yap (Malacca); & others in affliction.
Sis Nary Li’s pregnancy -  for normal foetal development. (Wife of Bro Alex Li, S’pore).
Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh).
Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki.
Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.
God’s Comfort - Sis Clara Sim & family; & others who are grieving.
iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry - Pr HS Lim (Melb).
IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman, Board & missionaries in India, South America & USA.
Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC.
Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.
Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
House of Hope, Cebu, The Philippines - Ministry to drug addicts.
Journey mercies: Bro Chilton & Sis Emily Chong & family (Per/Gold Coast); Bro Joseph (Chicago) & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family; Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan (Adl); Bro Raphael Ng (Adl/Goolwa); & others who are travelling.
Logos International School (Phnom Penh) - Bro Peter Koo.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin & Korean.
Believers under persecution in Islamic countries.
Health in pregnancy: Sis Bernadette Ng.
OT Placement - Sis Felicia Tan.
Full-time Jobs - Sisters Michelle Lee & Corinne Teng.
Easter Family Bible Camp - Speaker: Rev Chee Boon Lim; Children’s programme: Mrs Onn Nah Lim; & Camp committee.
Next Lord’s Day - Baptism: Sis Natalie Cheng; & Membership transfer: Sis Yashu Qin.



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