Hymns as Prayers

When our feelings are deeply stirred by a crisis it is the most natural
thing to turn to God in prayer. Such an acknowledgment of the divine
resourcefulness in the face of human helplessness advertises the
inherent dignity of man, who finds that he is best able to overcome
difficulties by reliance upon God. Any person who is able to make such a
contact with the Source of Power through prayer is well equipped for the
tasks of life.

It is the filial spirit which inspires the tone and quality of prayer,
whereby we receive spiritual insight and moral strength for duty. It has
been well said that “prayer is the discipline of desire in the light of
the best consciousness of God that we can attain unto.” We must recover
this practice of prayer for right living. It will reinforce us with
virtue and vitality to keep true to our best selves and fit us to meet
every demand. It is in actual experience and not by mere theorizing that
we find out the real efficacy of prayer.

Bishop Edwin H. Hughes, in _The Pastor Looks at His Work_,[28] reports
some of his experiences to show that

Hymns Are Prayers

“A little while ago I was in a service where a minister of no little
eminence was suddenly called on to pray. His response was simply the
repeating of the entire hymn, whose first stanza reads:

‘My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Saviour Divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away,
Oh, let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!’

If one man’s experience was typical, that individual hymn with its ‘I’
and ‘My’ brought scores of people into a spiritual aggregate and made a
‘common supplication.’

“Much of the same thing happened in the bishops’ meeting not so long
ago. We were having a prayer service, only that, and it must have
continued for two and a half hours. One bishop’s prayer that night was
simply a repeating of Whittier’s hymn:

‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our feverish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.’

As we were all on our knees we were led to treat that hymn as a public
prayer; and it was at once an inspiring and exalting thing. Our services
would be enriched beyond measure if only this spirit of prayer could be
more definitely attached to the songs of our corporate worship.”

Here is a personal testimony from Fanny Crosby concerning

The Constant Companion of the Pilgrim Journey

“Toward the close of a day in the year 1874, I was sitting in my room
thinking of the nearness of God through Christ as the constant companion
of the pilgrim journey, when my heart burst out with the words:

‘Thou my everlasting portion,
More than friend or life to me,
All along my pilgrim journey,
Saviour, let me walk with Thee.’”

How prayer is the inevitable opening for guidance is finely illustrated
in the circumstances which resulted in the writing of

“Lead, Kindly Light”

This well-known hymn was written by John Henry Newman when, as a young
clergyman of the Anglican Church, he lay sick and troubled in a vessel
which was becalmed in the Gulf of Palermo. He was restless to return to
England and perplexed concerning the future. His feelings were expressed
on the afternoon of June 16, 1833, in this prayer for guidance. The
well-known tune, “Lux Benigna,” to which it is usually sung, was
composed in 1865 by Dr. J. B. Dykes as he walked through the crowded
Strand in London. It was done in ten minutes in what might seem to have
been an unfavorable place, and yet faith shows its power in overcoming
distractions and difficulties, as was done by this musician.

The author of this hymn later entered the Roman Catholic Church. He is
best known as Cardinal Newman but none of his writings, not even his
_Apologia Pro Vita Sua_, has exercised the influence of this prayer
hymn. To be sure, all who use it have not been guided as was the
cardinal. A friend recently remarked to me: “I was in the habit of
repeating these lines on board the ship which was bringing me a stranger
to the United States. The assurance that the Light still will lead me on
has remained with me during the years nor have I any reason to expect
that it will be different in the days to come.”

Here is an experience about

An Eventide Prayer

A minister of long service and extensive travel went into the church of
a denomination other than that to which he belonged when away from home,
for evening worship. He was deeply impressed when the pastor offered as
the evening prayer some stanzas from a hymn:

“At even, ere the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
O in what divers pain they met!
O with what joy they went away!

Once more ’tis eventide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills, draw near;
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou are here.

O Saviour Christ, our woes dispel;
For some are sick, and some are sad,
And some have never loved Thee well,
And some have lost the love they had.

. . . . . . . . .

Thy touch has still its ancient power,
No word from Thee can fruitless fall;
Hear in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.”

No words other than those of the hymn were spoken; but the visiting
minister affirmed that he never heard a more appropriate or appealing

How calmness and poise are obtained are related in an experience

“Through the Long Night Watches”

A minister was once confined to bed by sickness. When Sunday came he
could hear the hymns which the congregation sang, for the parsonage
adjoined the church. Evening found him feverish and restless, but with
soothing effect came the closing hymn. Through the open window came the
prayerful lines:

“Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh;
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky;

Jesus, grant the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing
May our eyelids close.

. . . . . . . . .

Through the long night watches
May Thine angels spread
Their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed.”

The next Sunday morning the minister was back in his pulpit, and with a
spirit of gratitude announced the hymn:

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity.”

How there was a change for the better during a sickness is revealed in
this account:

“Why, That’s For Me”

A minister’s wife with whom I am well acquainted has told of the time
when her only sister lay on a bed of pain in a hospital in one of the
suburbs of Chicago. Her father and mother, being sent for, reached the
bedside at nightfall. A brief interview was permitted. The father,
bending low above his girl, heard her faintly say, “Oh, Dad, I’ve lost
my grip.” Great anxiety, therefore, was on his mind as he left the room.

Fearing the answer he might receive, yet hungering for news, the father
telephoned as early the next morning as he dared. “How is the girl
today?” was his agonized question.

“Holding her own. In fact, she has made slight progress through the
night,” was the glad and astonishing answer. Father and mother,
therefore, soon hastened to the hospital. There they learned that the
daughter’s recovery was now a possibility.

Later the parents learned the cause of the happy change. A window had
been opened by a nurse, and there came through it to the accompaniment
of a piano a clear baritone voice singing: “What a Friend we have in

“Why, that’s for me,” whispered the sufferer, as she heard the words:

“Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Restful assurance was expressed in the closing lines:

“In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.”

Making the words her prayer, by asking Christ to take and shield her,
she turned her face to the wall and the first natural sleep for weeks
followed. From that hour her recovery began.

Harriet Beecher Stowe awoke one morning to find herself famous as the
author of _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_. The excellent reception given this book
was gratifying, but more than anything else was

The Satisfying Consciousness of God’s Presence

She wrote her husband at this time, from the home of her brother, Henry
Ward Beecher, that she felt a wonderful consciousness of God’s presence,
which above all else quieted and comforted and satisfied her soul. Then
she wrote out this experience in the beautiful hymn, “Still, still with
Thee,” which first appeared in the Plymouth Hymnal. Set to Mendelssohn’s
music, it is one of the richest recent additions to hymnology. This
hymn-prayer was the response of her soul and voiced a deep experience of
the peace that passeth all understanding. It tells most impressively
what are some of the benefits of prayer:

“Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.

. . . . . . . . .

Still, still with Thee! As to each newborn morning
A fresh and solemn splendor still is given,
So does this blessed consciousness, awaking,
Breathe each day nearness unto Thee and heaven.”

What the divine presence means is strikingly seen where a man in danger
was able to pray and to realize that he was

Not Alone

Seven men were buried beneath thousands of tons of rocks which fell
without a moment’s warning in a Cornish tin mine early in the twentieth
century. Willing hands immediately began the work of rescue, though all
despaired of finding anyone alive. Their worst fears, however, were not
realized. One man was found a little distance from his comrades, and was
uninjured. The rocks had formed an arch over him.

Encouraged by finding this one miner, those who were engaged in the work
of rescue called loudly to ascertain if any others were alive and able
to speak. One man answered. He was an active Christian, and Sunday
School superintendent. “Are you alone?” he was asked. The questioner, of
course, was thinking of his fellow laborers. “No; Christ is with me,”
was the reply. “Are you injured?” was the next question. “Yes,” answered
the imprisoned man, “my legs are held fast by something.”

Those engaged in the conversation were then greatly surprised as they
heard this man, who often sang when descending to and ascending from his
daily task, now begin to sing in a feeble voice:

“Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens—Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”

They heard no more from him. Two days later he was found with his legs
crushed by a huge rock which rested on them. Both his life and his last
words of song, however, gave the assurance that he had gone to be
“forever with the Lord.”

Whatever else may be said about _The Green Pastures_ by Marc Connelly,
it obviously represents the naive and simple faith of thousands of
untutored black Christians in the South. They accept the wonders of the
Old Testament with crude literalness and they unhesitatingly believe
that these marvels can be reproduced in their own lives.

One of the chief values of this play is the discerning use made of the
unique spirituals which are a distinctive contribution of America to
music. No one who has ever heard them sung can forget the impression of
pathos at times rising to the heights of astonishing power. Without any
regard for rhyme, rhythm or meter, these dialect songs express the long
suppressed longings for freedom and happiness. The Negro furthermore
firmly believes that these benefits are to be realized by means of
religion alone. However sensuous may be some of the figures of speech,
the emphasis is always on the supremacy of spiritual values.

There are other features in Negro singing especially connected with
religious revivals which throw light on the characteristic traits of
this people. Aggrey of Africa was a remarkable representative of the
Negro race. His life, written by Edwin W. Smith, is one of the
outstanding biographies of recent times. He once said, “I believe that
the Negro has a great gift for the world; the gift of the idea of
meeting injustice and ostracism and oppression by sunny light-hearted
love and work. I believe he is going to teach that to Asia and the white
folk.” His attitude to life is best expressed in songs as indicated by a
few illustrations in this chapter.

Dr. Willis J. King, president of Samuel Houston College, Austin, Texas,
in a recent article in _The Christian Advocate_, pointed out

The Value of Negro Spirituals

“The peculiarity of both the melody and the dialect of the spirituals
tends to make them difficult for people other than American Negroes to
render. But these difficulties are being overcome. With increasing
frequency they are being rendered by white American choirs and
congregations. Some of them, like ‘Lord, I Want to be a Christian’ and
‘Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?’ are quite singable, after
brief rehearsals, by the ordinary church group of any race or
nationality. So it would seem not too much to expect that a number of
these spirituals will ultimately find their place among the great hymns
of the Church, and be sung down through the ages by Christians of every

The ability to sing the spirituals depends upon

Finding the Soul of the Song

Dr. Bruce S. Wright tells of a well-known American-Italian tenor who
said that he never sang a selection until he found out the soul of the
number. For that reason he refrained from singing Negro spirituals until
he had spent considerable time in the South living among the Negroes,
listening to them sing. So today he sings “Steal Away” as he heard it
sung at a Negro revival; and he sings “Goin’ Home” as he heard it sung
at the dying bed of an aged Negro in a Negro’s cabin.

Here is a vivid description by Annemarie Ewing in _The Christian

How the Negroes Sing

“In the huge stadium, dropped like a bowl beneath the starlit sky,
thousands of people sit waiting to hear the Hall Johnson Choir. Overhead
the sky is indigo, dotted with twinkling stars, glorious with the cool
silver of a full moon. A tender, capricious wind breathes softly over
the semicircle of the waiting crowd.

“Now they come—a handful of Negroes, perhaps a dozen men and a half
dozen women. So small a group looks lost on the big platform. At a
signal from their leader they begin.

‘Wade in de water, chillun,
God’s a’goin’ to trouble de water…’

“Challenging as the voice of a delivered soul, the strong, clear bass
gives out the words; others join in—a soprano acquiescence, a contralto
surge of content, the ecstatic agreement of the tenor. Joy throbs
through the singers’ throats, their cup of joy runneth over!

‘See dat band all dressed in white,
De leader looks like the Israelite…’

“How the leader draws them out—to send their message surging across the
summer night into the hearts of thousands!

‘Wade in de water,
God’s a-goin’ to trouble de water…’

“The last note swells and is still.

“In a moment they begin again. This time it is a joyous refrain, pulsing
with the firmness of blessed assurance—assurance that warms the heart
and moistens the eyes.

‘My God is so high you can’t get above Him,
My God is so low you can’t get below Him,
My God is so wide you can’t get around Him,
You must come in through de door…’

“Your soul thrills to the swinging certainty. Yes, He is so high, you
can’t get above Him, so low you can’t get below Him; so wide you can’t
get around Him! There is no way in but through the Gate!

“The music dies away, far above the stars gleam—detached, assured,
eternal. From your eyes, quite unashamed, you brush away the tears.

“Thus do they worship our Lord!”

It was a memorable day in one man’s life when

Black Uncle’s Song Made a Minister

A well-known white minister in the Middle West owed his conversion and
his entrance into the ministry to an unexpected circumstance. He
belonged to a company that was playing in Louisville. After the
performance he left the theater at a late hour to take a turn around the
streets of the city. He passed through a little park and saw a bent old
Negro “uncle” sitting on a bench. As he approached the actor heard him
singing softly to himself. And the song was “Jesus, Lovah uv Mah Soul.”
The tenderness and feeling of the darky’s song and the clear tone of his
aged voice held the listener spellbound.

When the last verse was sung the youthful actor went up to the singer
and pulling out a big bill said: “Uncle, you’re an old man, and it’s
late for you to be out like this. If you have no home, this will help
you a bit. Take it and go and be comfortable for a few days, anyway.”

The Negro took off his hat and said, “Dat’s pow’ful kind uv you, boss.
Ah’s ol’, an’ Ah ain’t got no home, an’ ef hit’s jes’ de same to you
Ah’ll take jes’ a bit uv dat money—’case somehow or udder de good Lawd
he sen’s me a bit ev’y day. But Ah don’t need any mo’, ’case he allus
loks arter me, ev’y day. An’ hit don’t matter, boss, ef an ol’ man’s
ol’, an’ ain’t got no home, jes’ so’s he kin sing dat ’ere song uv mine.
Ah’d like to sing hit again to yo’, jes’ case you done gib me dis. Hit’s
a wunnerful song, boss. Hit’s called, ‘Jesus, Lovah uv Mah Soul!’”

He then sang it again softly. The actor heard him through and then
shaking hands with the Negro, to his surprise, said, “Good night, uncle.
You’ve done a good night’s work with that song—better than ever I’ve
done with my life. Because you’ve started me doing something—for I’m
going to learn to sing that song, too!”

That was the beginning of an experience which resulted in a gifted man
becoming a minister of Christ.

The characteristic gratitude of the dark race was illustrated when

A Negro Family Sang at John Brown’s Funeral

“John Brown’s Body Rests Amid the Mountains,” wrote Mary Lee in _The New
York Times_, October, 1929, as she vividly told the story of the life of
this dramatic figure in a fascinating manner. At that time, she
affirmed, there was still living at North Elba one man who could
remember John Brown. His name was Lyman Epps, “the son of one of those
Negroes whom John Brown came to North Elba to help.” This writer adds:
“The Epps family it was who sang as a quartet at John Brown’s funeral in
1859. Lyman Epps remembers it to this day—how he stood at the foot of
the open casket singing bass, his father at the head, singing tenor, and
his two sisters, Amelia and Evelyn, singing soprano and alto, at his
side.” The hymn they sang was John Brown’s favorite:

“Blow ye the trumpet, blow!
The gladly solemn sound
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound,
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.”

These two great festivals of the Christian year fittingly celebrate the
Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. Just as hope came with the
Saviour of the world, so hope was quickened when He won the signal
victory over death. He is indeed the unspeakable gift of God, and the
spirit of gratitude for this marvelous blessing is best celebrated in

The greatest hymns of the Church are inspired by these two events, which
have liberated the human spirit and filled it with faith, joy,
enthusiasm, loyalty. All the greatest poets, artists, musicians, were
illuminated by the Christmas and Easter messages, and excelled
themselves in setting forth the jubilant truths of redemption and
eternal life through Christ the Lord of love and light. These
productions have enriched the thought, excited the imagination and
ennobled the lives of multitudes through all the Christian centuries.
This they will continue to do to the end of time.

The fount of poetic and artistic inspiration still flows, and from time
to time there are added new contributions to swell the jubilation of
these two seasons and to spread peace and goodwill among men.

Bishop F. W. Warne recalls

An Incarnation Hymn that Fires the Imagination

“The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ for two thousand years, on the
anniversary of the sinless Incarnation, has sung hymns of joy and
praise. Here is a part of the hymn that, when a child, fired my heart
and imagination, when I heard it sung on such anniversaries, and it
fires them still:

‘Mortals, awake, with angels join,
And chant the solemn lay;
Joy, love, and gratitude combine,
To hail the auspicious day.

. . . . . . . . .

Hail, Prince of Life, forever hail!
Hail, Brother, Friend!
Though earth, and time, and life shall fail,
The praise shall never end.’”

Carols have invariably been sung on Christmas Eve, and the following
incident from the Syracuse _Post Standard_ illustrates

The Joy of Christmas

All members of the family were gathered in the cozy living room of a
south side home. The lights were out, but the mellow glow from a cheery
fireplace illuminated the room with the soft light which seems to
symbolize peace and quiet. Children romped on the floor; a playful puppy
bounded here and there, yipping joyously; the old cat blinked sleepily
and purred with contentment. Father was reading the paper and mother was
perusing a magazine.

In the windows hung red bells, and through the window the snow lay white
and sparkling under the street lamps. A playful wind whipped up little
swirling flurries of snow at intervals. Suddenly it came, clear through
the night. Soft music, then a burst of song—“It Came Upon the Midnight

All within listened to the music in the night—Christmas music, carols.
Then as it came nearer all rushed to the windows and saw a band of boys
and men marching bravely by, blowing trumpets, horns—what not? The
spirit of Christmas.

Carols are also a part of the celebration on Christmas Day, and how they
cheered the patients in a hospital is described when

Nurses Sang Carols

The nurses enjoyed a breakfast served by candle light at 6:30 on
Christmas morning at the Faxton Hospital in Utica, New York, and then
exchanged greetings. After this, clad in their uniforms, including their
blue capes, attractively red-lined, they formed in a procession and
marched from floor to floor of the building singing the familiar
Christmas songs. Young mothers and their little babies, in the maternity
building, were not forgotten. The nurses marched from the main building
in the cold morning and sang as they walked along the sidewalk until
they reached the maternity department, where they continued their

This self-appointed task conveyed pleasure beyond the power of words to
express to the patients, some of whom were far away from loved ones. The
act was one of those beautiful touches which unites the whole Christian
world in a kindred feeling on Christmas Day.

The thoughtful hospitality of the Maier family in the village of
Oberndorf, Germany, led one of the guests, the young priest Joseph Mohr,
to write the well-known Christmas song,

“Silent Night”

At this party a festival play was performed in view of the approaching
Christmas. It so stirred the young priest that instead of returning home
he climbed the Totenberg, Mountain of the Dead, overlooking the village.
He stood there in quiet meditation. The silence of the night, the
blinking of the stars, the murmur of the Salzach River, all inspired
him. Quickly he returned to his parish house and late that night the
words of “Stille Nacht” were written. The next day he hastened to his
organist, Franz Gruber, and requested that he write the music for this
song. He composed the well-known tune. On Christmas Eve of 1818 the
priest and organist were ready to offer their contribution for the first
time. The organ proved to be out of commission but Gruber was ingenious.
He hurried home and brought his guitar and to its accompaniment he and
the priest sang “Stille Nacht” as a duet. It touched the congregation
deeply and after the service the two friends, with tears of joy in their
eyes, embraced on the steps of the church in gratitude for this
impressive rendition. Since that evening the song has become one of the
Christmas favorites all over the world.

Bishop Phillips Brooks was the friend of children as well as adults. His
popularity as rector of the Church of the Advent in Philadelphia was
unbounded and it continued when he went to Trinity Church, Boston. It
was during a year’s vacation that he had an experience which later
resulted in his writing the well-known hymn,

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

In the course of his travels during this vacation he went to the Holy
Land. On Christmas Eve he was in Bethlehem. He walked in the fields
where the shepherds had heard the angelic chorus. He listened to the
hymns of praise that kept ringing out upon the clear air. He saw the
children of Bethlehem getting ready for Christmas. Two years later when
he was back home his mind went back to his experiences in Bethlehem. He
recalled the dark streets, the clear blue sky with stars, the quiet
shepherds’ fields; and under the spell of these memories, in 1868, he
wrote this Christmas hymn especially for the children of his Sunday
School. His organist, Lewis H. Render, wrote the music for this much
beloved song.

This graphic description by Annemarie Ewing in _The Christian Herald_
tells of

Carols Sung by Children

“I can’t think of any holier sound for Christmas Eve than that of young
voices, clear and sweet in the cold, singing the simple, tuneful
melodies that can’t grow old. Last year it was my pleasure and privilege
to know a small group of youngsters who wanted to go caroling Christmas
Eve. They didn’t mind the cold or the long walk or the wind and snow.
They wanted to sing!

“I can see those bobbing little heads now, all sizes and shapes—from
Rose Marie’s tall, smartly hatted elegance to Babe’s roly-poly woolen
cap, just under my arm. How eager they were, and what stories I had to
tell them to keep them quiet till we got to each place! We planned to
sing under the windows of all our special friends.

“And how we did sing! I do not know whether it was sweeter to stand
there holding my hand before Babe’s candle while her big blue eyes were
lifted up to see the book (she had to stand on her very tip-toes!), or
whether it would have been more exquisite pleasure to have been sitting
in my warm living-room, when the shrilly sweet voices of the children
began with their own enthusiasm:

‘Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heav’n and Nature sing.
And Heav’n and Nature sing,
And Heav’n and Heav’n and Nature sing.’

“I know that there were tears in my own eyes when we reached ‘Silent
Night,’ and that from the tight closed window of old Mr. Simmons,
crotchety and bad-tempered, there fell a shower of walnuts and pecans!
In the big house across the way where a little child lay ill the windows
were softly raised, and I could not help but stoop and kiss chubby Babe,
who pulled my arm to whisper that ‘she hoped Margaret-who-was-sick

“Christmas Carols! Whether they are sung aloud or whether they buzz and
chime through your heart—it is the same. Let them ring out!”

One of the well-known celebrations is that on

Easter Morning in America’s Bethlehem

The Moravians celebrate Easter with impressive ceremonies in Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania. Early in the morning the trombonists walk through the
quiet streets of the city and awaken the people with their inspiring
anthem. Soon lights appear in the windows of the homes and the people
join the procession towards the old church, greeting each other with
gladsome salutations. The Easter service in the church continues till
sunrise when the congregation march out, led by the trombonists, to the
ancient burying-ground.

At this place of sacred memories the people stand in a large semicircle
looking towards the eastern hill, as a symbol of their devout faith. The
ministers and trombone choir stand apart, and the service proceeds with
song and responsive readings. The atmosphere of reverence and hope
pervades this company on the chilly morning of early spring, as they
confess their faith in the glorious resurrection and celebrate the
triumph of their loved ones in Christ. The appearance of the sun over
the hill is the signal for the outburst of a hymn of adoration and
praise, to the accompaniment of the trombones. This Easter service,
begun in the church and concluded in the cemetery, is a memorable
occasion, attended by thousands from all parts of the country, as has
been done for many years. It is a testimony to a virile and victorious
Christianity which sings, “Christ the Lord is risen today, Hallelujah!”

Here is a fine Easter anthology from a sermon by Dr. George Elliott in
_The Methodist Review_, which reminds us of what

Hymn Writers Tell of Heaven

“Listen to Cardinal Newman, the Roman Catholic, as in the delicately
beautiful poem, ‘Lead, Kindly Light,’ he dreams and speaks about the
time when:

‘The night is gone
And in the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.’

“And then Isaac Watts, the Nonconformist, has no gloomy view when he

‘Give me the wings of faith to rise
Within the veil and see
The saints above, how great their joys,
How bright their glories be.’

“And John Fawcett, the Baptist, who has written the very finest hymn of
Christian fellowship, ‘Blest Be the Tie That Binds,’ sings for us:

‘When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin we shall be free;
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.’

“And Muhlenberg, the Episcopalian, joins in the chorus that the
poet-choir are singing, and lifts his gaze to that heavenly country, and
exultantly sings:

‘Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet,
Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet;
While the anthems of rapture unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul.’

“And Bonar, the Presbyterian, will not be left behind as he sings of the

‘Where none shall beckon us away,
Nor bid our festival be done;
Our meeting time the eternal day,
Our meeting place the eternal throne.

Then, hand in hand, firm linked at last,
And heart to heart enfolded all,
We’ll smile upon the troubled past
And wonder why we wept at all.’

“And best of all, Charles Wesley, who doubtless has been appointed to
lead the choirs of heaven when the angel chorister is tired, sings for
us, and with us:

‘Come, let us join our friends above
That have obtained the prize,
And on the eagle wings of love
To joys celestial rise:

. . . . . . . . .

One family we dwell in Him,
One church, above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream, of death:
One army of the living God,
To His command we bow;
Part of His host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now.

. . . . . . . . .

O that we now might grasp our Guide!
O that the word were given!
Come, Lord of hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven!’”

It was a great open-air service when we were favored with

Salvation Army Music on Easter Morning

Brooklyn’s Easter Dawn Service in 1930 found ten thousand people
assembled at Prospect Park Plaza for a community gathering under the
auspices of the Brooklyn Federation of Churches. The first in the order
of worship was a selection by the Salvation Army Band.

“Low in the grave He lay—
Jesus, my Saviour!
Waiting the coming day—
Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign:
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

It was so appealingly appropriate that every listener seemed to be
touched, and men quietly lifted their hats even though the morning was

The band led the various hymns, the closing one of which was—

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.”

What proved to be the climax of this exhilarating service was reached
when the Salvation Army band left the scene playing their favorite
marching song of conquest, “Onward, Christian Soldiers!”

How the good we do comes back to us is seen in a familiar hymn,

Sung by and for Sankey

When lying in weakness and the darkness of blindness the musical genius
of the evangelistic world, Ira D. Sankey, was visited by Dr. F. B.
Meyer, of London, a long-time friend. “Would you like me to sing
something for you?” asked Sankey as Meyer was about to leave. Then he
began: “There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes.”

Though weak, he continued through all four stanzas, ending with

“There’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes,
There’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes;
And a joyful meeting when Jesus comes
To gather His loved ones home.”

On an Easter morning a group of young people went to the home of Sankey
in Brooklyn, when he was in his last illness, and outside the window
amid the morning sunshine sang the hymn which he had sung to thousands
of others, and which he greatly cherished: “There’ll Be No Dark Valley
When Jesus Comes.”

The thoughtfulness of these young people was greatly appreciated by the
great evangelistic singer. It was an inspiringly appropriate message for
a sunrise song service on an Easter morning.[29]

The Christian assurance of immortality brings its message of consolation
most appropriately in life’s darkest hours when death invades the family
circle. No one has pierced the veil between the present and the future
life, but there is a sense of the fitness of things which has convinced
men of divers creeds that a life beyond is a reality. It is the desire
for completion and not merely for continuance which quickens in our
breast the hope of life everlasting. It is moreover certified to us by
the fact of the living Christ through whom we commune with God. This
experience convinces us that our earthly pilgrimage is the prelude to
the heavenly life of spiritual attainment and satisfaction.

Thus when the physical remains of our loved ones are consigned to the
earth, we have the assured confidence of a reunion in the land that is
fairer than day. Since Jesus Christ has brought life and immortality to
light through the Gospel, we know that death does not sever the ties
which bind us to those who have crossed the flood. We shall meet again
when the day dawns and these shadows flee away. This is the outlook of
faith which comforts and cheers us.

“For what e’er befalls, Love conquers all,
And Death shall not prevail.”

The thought deepest in the soul often finds expression at a crisis. This
fact is what led to the

Hymn of Martyred President Sung by the Nation

“Good-bye, good-bye, all,” said President William McKinley as he lay
dying in Buffalo, a few days after he was shot on September 6, 1901. “It
is God’s way. His will, not ours, be done,” he added soon afterwards.
Toward the end in the presence of his wife and intimate friends, his
lips moved again and with a light on his worn face, his inner soul
expressed itself in the lines of his favorite hymn:

“Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross—”

A moment of silence followed and then in a whisper he said, “That has
been my inextinguishable prayer.”

The funeral services at the Capitol began with “Lead, Kindly Light,”
sung by the choir, and concluded with “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The
final service was held in the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Canton,
Ohio, of which he was a member.

During those days of sadness the nation sang this familiar hymn which
profoundly moved the popular heart. Possibly in all the history of the
United States, the nation has never so unitedly joined in singing a
particular hymn as during those days. It was a national tribute to a
fallen leader.

In the City of Utica, New York, the home of Vice-President James S.
Sherman, as soon as word was received of his death, October 30, 1912,
the leader of the orchestra in the chief hotel asked the company in the
dining room to stand, while “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was played. Thus
the song which was sung for a fallen President was likewise rendered in
his home town when a Vice-President passed thence.

It is a hallowed custom to sing a person’s favorite hymn at his funeral.
Thus it was that there was sung at his funeral,

President Wilson’s Favorite Hymn

Visitors at the Chautauqua Assembly, especially in the days of its
founder, Bishop J. H. Vincent, can never forget the Sunday evening
vesper services. One hymn in particular was always sung: “Day is Dying
in the West,” written by Mary A. Lathbury, at Bishop Vincent’s request.

This happened to be President Wilson’s favorite hymn. His remains were
carried to Bethlehem Chapel on the cathedral grounds in Washington, D.
C. Over the outer door of this chapel the inscription in the stone work
is “The Way of Peace.” During the service the men’s voices of the choir
led by a clear tenor gave the favorite hymn an infinitely sweet appeal,
especially the lines:

“Gather us who seek Thy face
To the fold of Thy embrace,
For Thou art nigh.”

It has been well said that some tunes and hymns are so closely united
that one recalls the other. Thus it was that

Bells Played Hymns When Taft Was Buried

The service was held in the quaint little Unitarian Church in
Washington, D. C. Floral wreaths and sprays abounded, representing the
deep affection and high respect for a former President of the United
States and later the Chief Justice. The dirge notes of Chopin’s Funeral
March, a flourish of trumpets saluting a President, and the tolling of
the great bell of All Souls’ Church, as has been the practice since 1822
at the passing of Presidents, constituted parts of this impressive
service. No hymns were sung but there was the soft music of the bells
which pealed forth the strains of “Abide With Me.” The words were not
spoken but the familiar verses ran through the minds of the

“Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide,
The darkness deepens—Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.”

Few hymns have had so many remarkable associations as, “Peace, Perfect
Peace,” written by Bishop Edward H. Bickersteth. It has brought comfort
to many and on one occasion, as stated below, the author himself was

Comforted by His Own Hymn

An informed contributor to _The Churchman_ writes as follows of this
hymn’s vogue: “It has been sung at the obsequies of princes and
statesmen as well as at the funerals of the poor. It has afforded
consolation to the mourner in the palace as well as to the
grief-stricken peasant in the cottage. It was a favorite hymn with the
good old Queen of England, and it was sung in her death chamber at
Osborne. It has sustained the lonely soul of Bishop Hannington when he
was a caged prisoner in Central Africa awaiting execution from the hand
of a heathen king. They were the sweet stanzas that bound up the broken
heart of General Roberts when his only son was placed in a soldier’s
grave in South Africa. It has been sung at the interment of authors,
actors and statesmen in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. When in the
cemetery of the village of Chislebon, Wiltshire, England, the early
harvest was being gathered and shepherds were folding their flocks, the
venerable prelate stood at the head of his eldest son’s open grave as
this hymn, so often quoted in the hour of death and sung on the day of
burial, struck a note of Christian hope to the bereaved spirit of its
author. On this side of the Atlantic the hymn is sung at almost every
funeral service conducted in church, and Mr. Coldbeck’s appropriate
tune, ‘Pax Tecum,’ is singularly adapted to its soothing and inspiring

“A good hymn is the most difficult thing to write,” said Alfred, Lord
Tennyson. It was not until his eighty-first year that he succeeded in
writing his single great hymn, “Crossing the Bar,” although stanzas from
his _In Memoriam_ are sung as hymns. It was, therefore, most fitting
that its first public use was as an anthem at the poet’s funeral in
Westminster Abbey on October 12, 1892. The description of the scene,
written by the daughter of the Dean of Westminster, is here quoted in
part of the singing of

Tennyson’s Hymn at His Funeral

“In the intense and solemn silence which followed the reading of the
lesson were heard the voices of the choir singing in subdued and tender
tones Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’—those beautiful words in which the
poet, as it were, prophetically foretold his calm and peaceful deathbed.
In the second line the clear, thrilling notes of a boy’s voice sounded
like a silver trumpet call amongst the arches, and it was only at
intervals that one distinguished Dr. Bridge’s beautiful organ
accompaniment, which swelled gradually from a subdued murmur as of the
morning tide into a triumphant burst from the voices, so blended
together were words and music.”

One of the best hymns of fervent devotion is

“Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”

Illness and suffering had been the lot of its author. She worked under
difficulties and might well have said with the Apostle Paul, “Most
gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power
of Christ may rest upon me.” Her characteristic confidence was, however,
expressed in the

Text Selected by Miss Havergal for Her Tombstone

Her last days found her at Caswell Bay, Swansea, Wales, where she had
gone for a rest. When informed that she was approaching the end of her
sufferings, she is said to have answered, “If I am going, it is too good
to be true.” Death came on June 3, 1879, in the forty-third year of her
age; and she was laid to rest in the Astley churchyard beside her
father, and close to the church and home of her childhood. By her own
desire her favorite text was carved on her tombstone: “The Blood of
Jesus Christ His Son Cleanseth Us From All Sin.”

It was an unusual scene, according to _The Standard_, that comforted the
bereaved mother as well as the few persons present

When Parepa Sang at Annie’s Funeral

This famous singer, through a friend, attended the funeral of Annie, the
only daughter of a poor widowed mother, in the East End of London. This
friend’s description is worth quoting:

“The undertaker came and bustled about. He looked at myself and Parepa,
as if to say, ‘It’s time to go. The wretched funeral service is over.’

“Without a word, Parepa rose and walked to the head of the coffin. She
laid her white scarf on an empty chair, threw her cloak back from her
shoulders, where it fell in long, soft, black lines from her noble
figure like the drapery of mourning. She laid her soft, fair hand on the
cold forehead, passed it tenderly over the wasted, delicate face, looked
down at the dead girl a moment, and moved my flowers from the stained
box to the thin fingers, then lifted up her head, and, with illumined
eyes, sang the glorious melody:

“‘Angels ever bright and fair,
Take, oh, take me to thy care.’

“Her magnificent voice rose and fell in all its richness and power and
pity and beauty. She looked above the dingy room and the tired faces of
the men and women, the hard hands and the struggling hearts. She threw
back her head and sang till the choirs of paradise must have paused to
listen to the music of that day. She passed her hand caressingly over
the girl’s soft, dark hair, sang on and on; ‘Take, oh, _take her_ to Thy

“The mother’s face grew rapt and white. I held her hands and watched her
eyes. Suddenly she threw my hands off and knelt at Parepa’s feet, close
to the wooden trestles. She locked her fingers together, tears and sobs
breaking forth. She prayed aloud that God would bless the angel singing
for Annie. A patient smile settled about her lips, and the light came
back into her poor, dulled eyes, and she kissed her daughter’s face with
a love beyond all interpretation of human speech. I led her back to her
seat as the last glorious notes of Parepa’s voice rose triumphant over
all earthly pain and sorrow.

“And I thought that no queen ever went to her grave with a greater
ceremony than this young daughter of poverty and toil, committed to the
care of angels.”

An unusual funeral service was held when, instead of the family sitting
in silence,

Each Member of the Family Sang a Verse

The description must be quoted in full as it appeared in _The Christian

“When I was in Rome a friend came to me asking if I would be a
pallbearer at the funeral of a young American girl. Her family wished
only Americans present at the little service. I went to the room where
the casket stood and presently the family entered—a noble lady,
evidently the mother, a daughter and two sons, the eldest leading a
little girl. They surrounded the casket and softly repeated the
Apostles’ Creed. Then the mother’s voice, uncertain and trembling,

“‘Shall we gather at the river
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?’

“All joined her in the chorus. Then the eldest son, a grown man, sang:

‘On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.’

“After the chorus there was silence—a choking silence that benumbed me.
Then my friend whispered, ‘It is their family prayer service and it is
her verse.’ Then the little girl was lifted in her father’s arms, and
sweet and clear and wonderingly came:

‘Ere we reach the shining river
Lay we every burden down,
Grace our spirits will deliver
And provide a robe and crown.’

“I do not know how I endured it, the emotion of that moment. In a broken
manner they sobbed through the chorus and then the younger brother, a
lad of fourteen, sang:

‘At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Saviour’s face
Saints whom death will never sever
Lift their songs of saving grace.’

“His voice was so confident that it steadied all present and the chorus
rang out clearly. Then all together they sang:

‘Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease,
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.’

“And the chorus was strong, clear and almost exultant. After repeating
the Lord’s Prayer, the minister read the service and we went to the
grave. On the way my friend told me of the many times he had been
present at this same little family service in the Michigan home when
each sang his verse in the old hymn. ‘The last verse was father’s, and
after his death they all sang it for him, and now the little
granddaughter had picked up the broken thread of song for her sweet
young auntie.’

‘What a wonderful glorification of a poor little hymn!’

“‘Truly so,’ he agreed. ‘I never before had much respect for that

The faith and loyalty of a noble Christian were remembered when his

Played Her Father’s Favorite Hymn at a Memorial Service

This service conducted by the North Dakota Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church for Judge Charles S. Pollock was impressively
beautiful. Held for a layman, it yet followed the ordination of young
men for the ministry. Judge Pollock, a faithful follower of Jesus Christ
and a courageous advocate of civic righteousness, had dutifully carried
heavy responsibilities at the session of the General Conference in May,
1928, and not long thereafter was summoned into the courts of heaven. On
that autumn day at this service the judge’s daughter played on the organ
her father’s favorite hymn:

“O Master, let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

. . . . . . . . .

In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way;
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.”

The assurance of reunion was well advertised by

Songs at a Missionary’s Grave

The great missionary, James Gilmour, of Mongolia, lost his beloved wife
at Peking. In a letter to his children’s uncle in Scotland, to whom Mr.
Gilmour had decided to entrust the two boys after their mother’s death,
he wrote: “Oh, it is hard to think of them going off over the world in
that motherless fashion! We were at mamma’s grave yesterday for the
first time since September 21. We sang ‘There’s a Land That Is Fairer
Than Day,’ in Chinese, and also a Chinese hymn we have here with a
chorus, which says, ‘We’ll soon go and see them in our heavenly home,’
and in English, ‘There is a happy land.’ The children and I have no
reluctance in speaking of mamma, and we don’t think of her as here or
buried, but as in a fine place, happy and well.”

As the Rev. Mark Guy Pearse approached the end of his great career as
minister and author he said to a brother minister concerning his funeral
service: “There must be no mourning, no tears, no misery, no gloom. I go
not into the gloom but into the dawn. Start the service with ‘Praise
God.’ Take all the stops out of the organ and let everybody thunder it
out.” Thus it was that there were sung the

Hallelujah Chorus and Doxology at the Funeral Service

His wishes were met, and the memorial service at Kingsway Hall, the
headquarters of the West London Mission, was unusual. The organist
played “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” as the people assembled. Then
came, “Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow.” The triumphant
“Hallelujah Chorus” pealed forth at the close.

The hymns were:

“Come let us join our cheerful songs
With angels around the throne.”

“Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.”

“For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”

“Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blest.”

The last lines of the fourth hymn were a powerful wish which the saint
had realized:

“Jesus, in mercy bring us
To that dear land of rest;
Who art, with God the Father,
And Spirit, ever blest.”

The impelling motives of patriotism are best expressed in the national
anthems of the nations and in songs which breathe the spirit of loyalty
to country. Devotion to the ideals and institutions of the land of one’s
birth or adoption is the indispensable qualification for the intelligent
appreciation of what other peoples hold sacred among their national
possessions. Such patriotism is neither of the hoot owl or spread eagle
type. It faces all the facts without evasion and frankly acknowledges
errors and omissions, with the determination to improve conditions. The
patriot thus has no occasion to apologize or defend because he shows
reason for his faith in the nation to which he has consecrated his best

The greatness of any nation is evidenced in the quality of its
citizenship. So judged, we have cause for gratitude because the hymns
which voice our sentiment impressively advertise the idealism which has
inspired our activities. The same test can be satisfactorily met by
other nations. It is, therefore, quite fitting that reference should be
made to their use of hymns on those special occasions when the heart is
stirred with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Indeed, the incidents related in this volume are taken from the annals
of different nations. The chief interest is their testimony from
experience to what hymns have meant to them in the varied crises of
life. Such a consideration disregards racial barriers and denominational
differences. Hymns speak the universal language of the heart, which
penetrates deeper and travels farther than the formalities of customs
peculiar to various peoples.

In these days of international appreciation and co-operation it is well
to remind ourselves that the higher unity of all peoples is practicable
only through Jesus Christ. There is truly no stronger reminder than
hymns of the unity of faith, the stability of hope, the harmony of love.

“For all are one in Thee
And all are Thine.”

Since it was first published on July 4, 1895, in _The
Congregationalist_,[30] multitudes of people have sung

America, the Beautiful

One hundred thousand persons, it has been estimated, each day sing the
patriotic poem of Miss Katherine Lee Bates, who was a teacher of English
literature in Wellesley College. Some schools make it a practice to have
the children sing it daily. At the commencement of Syracuse University
in 1930, a strange thrill swept the company of over one thousand young
men and women who were assembled to receive their degrees, and the four
thousand persons who were present to witness the graduation exercises,
as they sang this hymn. Mighty was the volume of song as the words were

“America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.”

The source of the inspiration of this poem was related by Beatrice York
Houghton. In an interview Miss Bates said that she and some friends had
gone up Pike’s Peak and the vision from that great height exalted her
soul into poetic fervor. The wide reaches of country—her country—the
dizzy height which set her above it all, gave her a god-like
inspiration, and the lines which came into her mind were remembered,
afterwards to be set down.

The origin of a nation’s life was strikingly evidenced in

A Praise Service

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, is “the Parish Church of the British
Empire.” When the repairs were completed after seventeen years in 1930,
a memorable thanksgiving service was held under the renovated dome which
was Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. This famous architect was the
son of a clergyman and such was his consuming devotion to his work that
he could have said with Michael Angelo: “It is enough to have bread and
to live in the faith of Christ.”

The Thanksgiving service was attended by one hundred and sixty bishops
of the Anglican Church, assembled from all parts of the Empire. It was
broadcast to New York, Melbourne, Calcutta, Toronto and other cities.
Dean Inge, of St. Paul’s, standing on the chancel steps, exhorted
everyone to “give praise to God that he hath called us to take part in
the joy and adventure of his glorious Kingdom.” The feelings of the
occasion were voiced by seven thousand people through Henry Lyte’s hymn:

“Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven!
To His feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, His Praise should sing?
Praise Him! praise Him! praise Him! praise Him!
Praise the Everlasting King!”

In _The War Romance of the Salvation Army_, by Hill and Booth,[31] there
is a reference to what was

Sung on Memorial Day in France

“The girls went down to decorate the two hundred American graves at
Mandres, and even while they bent over the flaming blossoms and laid
them on the mounds, an air battle was going on over their heads. Close
at hand was the American artillery being moved to the front on a little
narrow-gauge railroad that ran near to the graveyard, and the Germans
were firing and trying to get them. But the girls went steadily on with
their work, scattering flowers and setting flags until their service of
love was over. Then they stood aside for the prayer and a song. One of
the Salvation Army captains with a fine voice began to sing:

‘For loved ones in the Homeland
Are waiting me to come
Where neither death nor sorrow
Invades their holy home:
O dear, dear native country!
O rest and peace above!
Christ, bring us all to the Homeland
Of His eternal love.’

“Into the midst of the song came the engine on the little narrow track
straight toward where he stood, and he had to step aside on to a pile of
dirt to finish his song. The same captain went on ahead to the Homeland
not long after when the epidemic of influenza swept over the world; and
he was given the honor of a military funeral.”

Edward Marshall had an article in _Scribner’s Magazine_ in 1898 which is
here abbreviated, about the unique conditions under which the boys sang

“America” After the Battle

“There is one incident of the day which shines out in my memory above
all others now as I lie in a New York hospital writing. It occurred at
the field hospital. About a dozen of us were lying there. The surgeons,
with hands and bared arms dripping, and clothes literally saturated with
blood, were straining every nerve to prepare the wounded for the journey
down to Siboney. It was a doleful group. Amputation and death stared its
members in their gloomy faces. Suddenly a voice started softly,

‘My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.’

“Other voices took it up:

‘Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride—’

“The quivering, quavering chorus, punctuated by groans and made
spasmodic by pain, trembled up from that little group of wounded
Americans in the midst of the Cuban solitude—the pluckiest, most
heartfelt song that human beings ever sang. There was one voice that did
not quite keep up with the others. It was so weak that I did not hear it
until all the rest had finished with the line, ‘Let freedom ring.’ Then
halting, struggling, faint, it repeated slowly:


“The last word was a woeful cry. One more son had died as died the

Under different circumstances but in the same spirit of loyalty the tune
of “America” was played in France as “our boys” promptly obeyed the

“Salute America!”

Exercises were held on Memorial Day at Menil-la-Tour when the World War
was raging in France. Two regimental bands took up their positions in
opposite corners of the cemetery. The commanding general placed a flag
on each of the eighty-one graves. He and the soldiers then saluted the
large flag, while battle was still being waged about a mile away.

The general then faced the west, and pointed in that direction as he
addressed the soldiers. He said: “Out there are Washington and the
President, and all the people of the United States, who are looking to
you…. Over there are the mothers who bade you good-bye with tears and
sent you forth, and are waiting at home and praying for you, trusting in
you. Out there are the fathers and the sisters and the sweethearts you
have left behind, all depending on you to do your best. Now,” said he in
a clear ringing voice, “turn and salute America!” All turned and saluted
toward the west, while the flags fluttered on the breeze and the band
played softly,

“My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring.”

A distinction with a difference was clearly evidenced when Britishers
sang a German’s hymn,

“Now Thank We All Our God”

I quote from _The Christian Advocate_:

“At the dedication of the British War memorial at the Menin Gate of
Ypres, where its arch spans the main street, three great hymns were
sung: ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past,’ by Isaac Watts; ‘For All the
Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,’ by Bishop How, and ‘Now Thank We All
Our God,’ which is a translation by Catherine Winkworth from the German
of Martin Rinkart! Time heals wounds. Who would have believed it, had he
been told soon after the Armistice that this hymn—noble and beautiful as
it is—would be selected and sung by British soldiers at the dedication
of a monument erected to the memory of those who fell in a war against
Germans? Yet no one raised a word of protest or remarked upon any
incongruity, for the instincts of the human heart are deeper than the
traditional and conventional differences which separate nations.”

_The New York Times_ for August 18, 1929, had an article, “Georgia Lower
House Opens Day with Song.”[32] It is interesting to note this reference

A Singing Legislature

“The Rev. W. D. Hammack, ‘Uncle Billie,’ has been the chaplain of the
Lower House for several years. He is a great believer in the power of
song. He likes to ‘raise a tune,’ and he doesn’t care whether the
Governor of Georgia and the Legislature are at loggerheads or at peace;
he thinks a legislator should be made to sing whether he can sing or
not. So every morning for ten minutes he lines up the early arrivals
just before the House opens for the day and starts on some of the
old-time religious vocal numbers.

“Richard Russell Jr., Speaker of the House, gives Mr. Hammack carte
blanche to lead his flock of lawmakers just as far in the harmony line
as he can, and ‘Uncle Billie’ has made good. He pitches the tune every
morning and the House sings. Sometimes it is ‘Jesus, Lover of My Soul’
and the next morning it is ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ Another favorite
is ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.’ Once or twice they have tackled
‘Gimme the Old-Time Religion’ with much success.

“Many years ago a philosopher said, ‘Let me but write the songs of a
nation and I care not who makes its laws.’ And the Rev. Mr. Hammack,
although he had written none of them, has done a lot with his songs
during the dog days of the legislative session. Georgia has probably the
only singing legislature in captivity.”

No better song could have expressed the feelings of our nation, and so
it was that we sang

The Doxology on Armistice Day

New York City, in common with other parts of the United States, was wild
with excitement on Armistice Day, 1918. The fighting was over, and men,
women and children gave expression to their happiness in various ways.
City, village and hamlet alike had some kind of wild demonstration.
Seeing the excited crowd, a young woman, an officer of the Salvation
Army, as reported in the newspapers at that time, stood on the steps of
the great Public Library in New York and began to sing the old Doxology.
Instantly the crowd took up the strain, and in a moment, as though by
magic, thousands of voices blended in the noble words of thanksgiving:

“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.”

Men reverently removed their hats, and the eyes of women filled with
tears. The words of Thomas Ken that day expressed the gratitude of a
great multitude. Among the many things done through that entire day,
perhaps there was none more appropriate or beautiful than that which the
Salvation Army lassie did.

And with this reference to the Doxology we conclude our story of the
influence of hymns in the experience of “all peoples that on earth do