I have been using “Then Sings My Soul” by Robert J. Morgan to direct my scripture reading over the past few weeks and have been blessed to find new hymns and rediscover old favorites. If you aren’t familiar with the book, it is a compilation of the stories and scriptures behind 150 popular hymns. The book was given to me by a dear friend decades ago. Dorothy sang beautifully and helped me find my voice, so I’ve kept the book to remind me of her.
This morning, God took me to two very familiar hymns; at least I thought they were familiar until I looked a little deeper. I was shocked to learn that I only truly knew the first stanza of “Jesus Loves Me.” I know I sang all the verses over and over as a child, but I could only fully recall the first. I memorized the second stanza this morning and plan to take one a day until I have them all firmly in my heart.
I was even more surprised to read the history of “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,” better know as the Doxology.
According to Morgan, the hymn has thirteen stanzas; but I was only able to find these eleven:
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.
By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.
In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.
Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.
All praise to Thee, Who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.
Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.
I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
I love the Doxology and “Jesus Loves Me,” but I also love contemporary praise songs. I love that Thomas Ken, who wrote the hymn in 1674, was pushing beyond the accepted boundaries of praise music when he wrote what is considered by some as the first English hymn. Only Psalms were sung in public worship at the time; so he instructed the boys at Winchester College, where he served as chaplain, to sing the hymn privately in their rooms. The stanzas he penned were designed to be encouraging devotions for them; they certainly were for me this morning. Over three hundred years after these stanzas were written, they were brand new to me this morning.
The message God had for me this morning was not to think you know a familiar song, person, or place. A closer look may reveal a hidden treasure. Sometimes, you just need to hear a new stanza.