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The Gospel Songs of Charles H. Gabriel

by Wayne S. Walker

     One of the most prolific composers of gospel songs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, who was born on Aug. 18, 1856, in a prairie shanty at Wilton, Iowa, and spent the first seventeen years of his life on an Iowa farm.  Expressing a keen interest in music as a lad and being basically self-taught, he began teaching singing schools in the surrounding area at age sixteen without ever having the benefit of a single formal music lesson.  In 1890, he moved to San Francisco, California, where he was music director of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.  However, after two years there, he settled in Chicago, Illinois, to work in music publishing, and from 1895 to 1912 he published a number of hymn collections, many of them in connection with Edwin O. Excell.

     In 1912 Gabriel became associated with the publishing firm of Homer A. Rodeheaver Co. of Winona Lake, Indiana.  Rodeheaver was the music director for revival evangelist Billy Sunday and used many of Gabriel's songs in the large Billy Sunday campaigns during the decade of 1910 to 1920.  As a result, Gabriel's fame as a successful hymn composer became widely known.  In all, Gabriel edited some 95 songbooks, including The New Christian Hymn Book in 1907 with T. B. Larimore for the Gospel Advocate Co. of Nashville, Tennesssee, plus other musical works and numerous books on musical instruction.  He remained with Rodeheaver until his death in Los Angeles, California, on Sept. 15, 1932.  For the large majority of his most popular hymns, Gabriel provided both words and music, often using the pseudonym Charlotte G. Homer for the author in such cases.

God Is Calling the Prodigal

     This song which is based on the parable of the son who was lost and then was found was copyrighted in 1889 by Edwin Othello Excell. By the time of its renewal in 1917 the copyright had passed into the possession of Homer Alvin Rodeheaver. It encourages those who have wandered away to come to Christ.

     Stanza 1 emphasizes God's call.

"God is calling the prodigal, come without delay;
Hear, O, hear Him calling, calling now for thee.
Though you've wandered so far from His presence, come today;
Hear His loving voice calling still."

God calls us, and does so through the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:14).  The "prodigal" refers to one who has wasted his life in, as represented by the actions of the young man of Jesus's parable (Luke 15:11-13).  And the fact is that all of us at one time or another have wandered away and gone astray (Isaiah 53:6).

     Stanza 2 emphasizes God's attitude.

"Patient, loving and tenderly, still the Father pleads;
Hear, O, hear Him calling, calling now for thee.
O, return while the Spirit in mercy intercedes;
Hear His loving voice calling still."

God is patient, loving, and tender even toward those in sin (Ephesians 2:4-8).  Therefore, He pleads with us, as He did with Israel of old: (Hebrews 4:1-7).  And He makes this plea known by the Spirit who in mercy intercedes with us to come (Revelation 22:17).

     Stanza 3 emphasizes God's blessings.

"Come, there's bread in the house of thy father, and to spare;
Hear, O, hear Him calling, calling now for thee.
Lo! the table is spread and the feast is waiting there;
Hear his loving voice calling still."

There is bread, universally the symbol of life (Isaiah 55:1-2).  The table is spread, symbolizing God's bounty for those who follow Him (Psalms 23:5).  And the feast symbolizes all the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ (I Corinthians 5:7-8, Ephesians 1:3).

     The chorus continues to stress the fact that God calls all who are weary and wayward to come to Him that they might find rest.

"Calling now for thee;
O, weary prodigal, come.
Calling now for thee;
O, weary prodigal, come."

This song is most often used for invitation. It is certainly an appropriate one to remind anyone, whether lost sinner or unfaithful Christian, that "God Is Calling The Prodigal."

I Will Not Forget Thee

     This hymn which emphasizes that God has promised not to forget His people was first published in the 1889 Triumphant Songs compiled by Edwin O. Excell. Originally owned by Excell, the copyright was renewed in 1917 by the Rodeheaver Co.  It reminds us that we can trust in God's promise never to forget His people.

     Stanza 1 centers on God's promise.

"Sweet is the promise, 'I will not forget thee;'
Nothing can molest or turn my soul away.
E'en though the night be dark within the valley,
Just beyond is shining an eternal day."

God has always promised never to leave or forsake His people (Deuteronomy 31:5-6, Hebrews 13:5-6).  Therefore, nothing that would try to molest us or turn our souls away should cause us to fear (Matthew 10:28).  Because of this promise, we can always be motivated to move forward because we know that just beyond is shining an eternal day (Proverbs 4:18).

     Stanza 2 centers on our trust of God's promise.

"Trusting the promise, 'I will not forget thee,'
Onward will I go with songs of joy and love;
Though earth despise me, though my friends forsake me,
I shall be remembered in my home above."

We must trust the promises that God has made to us (Psalms 37:3-5, Proverbs 3:5-6).  With such a trust, we can rejoice always in the Lord (Philippians 4:4). The reason is that because of our trust we can know that God will remember us, both here and in the home above (Malachi 3:16, Hebrews 6:10).

     Stanza 3 centers on our receiving the fulfilment of God's promise.

"When at the golden portals I am standing,
All my tribulations, all my sorrows past,
How sweet to hear the blessed proclamation,
'Enter, faithful servant, welcome home at last.'"

The hope of the Christians is at the end of the way to stand at the golden portals (gates) to the eternal city (Revelation 21:10-12).  Then all our tribulations and sorrows will be past, and God shall wipe away all tears (Revelation 21:1-4).  At that time, we shall receive the fulfilment of God's promise by hearing the Lord say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter in" (Matthew 25:21)

     The chorus continues to focus our attention on the promise of God not to forget or leave us.

"'I will not forget thee or leave thee;
In my hands I'll hold thee, in my arms I'll fold thee.
I will not forget thee or leave thee;
I am thy Redeemer, I will care for thee.'"

Personally, I have always found this a very comforting song. In this life, I have had times when things of this world molested me and tried to turn my soul away, when people of earth seemed to despise me and even friends forsook me, and when I experienced my share of tribulation and sorrow. But it helps me to know that I can put my trust in a God who says, "I Will Not Forget Thee."

Send the Light

     This song about world evangelism was produced in 1890 while Gabriel was song director of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in San Francisco, California, for the Sunday school there and first published in his 1891 Scripture Songs with the copyright owned by E. O. Excell. The song was also published that same year in The New Song for the Sunday School by George F. Rosche and Co. of Chicago, IL.  It is intended to motivate us to do whatever we can to see that the word of God is proclaimed.

     Stanza 1 emphasizes the need to save souls.

"There's a call come's ringing o'er the restless wave,
'Send the light! Send the light!'
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save;
Send the light! Send the light!"

The call that comes ringing is through the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:14).  This call reminds us that souls need to be rescued because they are precious (Matthew 16:26).  And because these precious souls have sinned, they need to be saved (Hebrews 10:39).

     Stanza 2 emphasizes the need to give.

"We have heard the Macedonian call today:
'Send the light! Send the light!'
And a golden offering at the cross we lay;
Send the light! Send the light!"

Just as Paul received a call from a man of Macedonia, so the gospel calls all Christians to shine the light out of darkness (II Corinthians 4:6).  While we should go where we can, no one individual can go everywhere, but all of us can give a "golden offering" so that those who can go to other places can be supported (Philippians 4:15-16).  To lay this golden offering at the cross symbolizes our desire to give bountifully and cheerfully for the work of the Lord (II Corinthains 9:6-7).

     Stanza 3 emphasizes the need to pray.

"Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound;
Send the light! Send the light!
And a Christ-like spirit everywhere be found;
Send the light! Send the light!"

God's people should pray, especially for those who are lost (Romans 10:1).  We should pray that through the preaching of the gospel grace may everywhere abound (Romans 5:15-20).  We should also pray that as the gospel is preached a Christ-like spirit will be found (Romans 8:9).

     Stanza 4 emphasizes the need to persevere.

"Let us not grow weary in the work of love;
Send the light! Send the light!
Let us gather jewels for a crown above;
Send the light! Send the light!"

In the work of sending the light, we must not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).   We shall not grow weary if we remember that we are gathering up God's jewels for Him (Malachi 3:17).  It will also help us to persevere to recall that the jewels which we gather will also be our joy and crown (Philippians 4:1).

     The chorus urges us onward to let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine everywhere.

"Send the light! the blessed gospel light!
Let it shine from shore to shore.
Send the light! the blessed gospel light!
Let it shine forevermore."

As was pointed out previously, each individual Christian cannot go everywhere to take the gospel. We can go into our own personal world of friends and acquaintances to share the message of salvation, and where we cannot go, we should do whatever else we can to "Send the Light."

Only a Step

     This invitation song was produced in 1890 and first published in J. H. Kurzenknabe and W. W. Bentley's Fair as the Morning: Hymns and Tunes for Praise in the Sunday School, printed in 1891 at Harrisburg, PA, by J. H. Kurzenknabe and Sons.  Some of Gabriel's songs have remained in general popularity.  However, many of his lesser known songs such as "Only A Step" are still found only in books published by members of the Lord's church for use among churches of Christ.  This song suggests several things that we must do in obedience to Christ that we might have salvation.

     Stanza 1 says that we must listen to Christ.

"Hear the sweet voice of Jesus say,
'Come unto Me, I am the way;"
Hearken, the loving call obey;
Come, for He loves you so."

We should listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:5).  What He tells us is that He is the way (John 14:6).  The reason that we should listen to Him is that He loves us (Ephesians 5:2).

     Stanza 2 says that we must cast our heavy burden down.

"Casting your heavy burden down,
Come to the cross, the world may frown;
Yet you shall wear a glorious crown
When He makes up His own."

The Lord wants us to cast our burdens on Him (Psalms 55:22).  The way in which the sinner does this is to "come to the cross," which symbolizes our response of faith and obedience to the preaching of the cross (I Corinthians 1:18).  The reward for coming to the cross is the promise of a glorious crown (II Timothy 4:6-8).

     Stanza 3 says that we must come to Jesus.

"Open, for you, the pearly gate;
Loved ones for you now watch and wait;
Terrible thought to cry, 'Too late' --
'Jesus, I come to Thee.'"

By His death on the cross, Jesus has opened the pearly gate for all who come to Him (Revelation 21:21).  The phrase, "Loved ones for you now watch and wait," has raised a couple of objections. Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections changed it to "Saved ones" as he did in all such songs, and Hymns for Worship follows that change here, though not always in other songs. This first objection seems to be that since we all have physical "loved ones" who will not be in heaven, we should not sing as though our "loved ones" will be there.  However, when I sing this, I can sing it with the understanding that, first, I do have some "loved ones" in my family who were faithful Christians and whom I hope to see in heaven; and second, even though I may have some "loved ones" in my family who will not be in heaven, the "loved ones" whom I have among the saints are even more dear to me than they are, and I certainly hope to see those "loved ones" in heaven. The second objection is that we should not sing songs which picture anyone ("loved ones" or "saved ones") already in heaven watching and waiting for us. I am aware that there are some good brethren who take the position that the souls of the righteous now go directly to heaven to await the resurrection and judgement. While I think I understand their arguments, they have not convinced me and I still understand the scriptures to teach that the souls of the righteous go to the hadean realm. At the same time, the area of Hades in which they rest is called a place of comfort, which would be similar to heaven (Luke 12:25). It is undoubtedly part of "the heavenly places" or spiritual realm as opposed to this physical realm (Ephesians 1:20, 3:10, 6:12). Thus, there is some sense which they have gone to be "with Christ" (Philippians 1:23). It is from this exalted position of being with Christ waiting the resurrection and judgment that those who have gone on before watch and wait for us, and that is what I understand as I sing.  Given the hope that the faithful Christian has of being with the saints in eternity, it would be a terrible thing for one not to come to the Lord in this life and then to hear Him cry, "Too late" to enter in, as with the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

     The chorus then emphasizes how relatively easy it is for one to come to Christ for salvation:

"Only a step, only a step;
Come, for He bled for you and died;
He's the same loving Savior yet,
Jesus the Crucified."

This, of course, does not mean that it will not take effort any on our part to turn away from sin, to make the changes necessary in our lives to conform to His will, and to obey Him in all things. But if we are truly determined to make our lives right with Him, we can be assured that coming to Jesus is "Only A Step."

O That Will Be Glory

     This hymn which describes that time when we shall see the Lord as He is and be like Him was inspired by one of Gabriel's good friends, Ed Card, who was a minister with the Sunshine Rescue Mission in St. Louis, Missouri.  Card's ever smiling expression earned him the nickname, "Old Glory Face," and it was his custom to close his prayers with a reference to heaven, saying, "And that will be glory for me."  Also, during a sermon, he would often say, "Glory," instead of "Amen" to express his agreement.  It was this recurring statement of Card's faith, hope, and joy that moved Gabriel to produce this hymn.  It first appeared in a publication by Edwin O. Excell entitled Make His Praise Glorious which was compiled in 1900.  Having been translated into many languages and dialects, it was said to be the most popular hymn which Homer A. Rodeheaver ever led for a Billy Sunday meeting, and it tells us why heaven will be such a place of glory.

     Stanza 1 points out that in heaven all labors and trials will be over.

"When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages be glory for me."

All of our labors and trials will be over at death (Revelation 14:13).  Following death and the subsequent judgment, the righteous will continue their rest on the beautiful shore of the river of live (Revelation 22:1).  What will make that rest complete will be to be in the presence of the Lord Himself (Revelation 21:3).

     Stanza 2 indicates that in heaven we shall be with the Lord and look on His face.

"When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face
Will through the ages be glory for me."

It is only by the grace of God that we can be saved, both here and in eternity (Ephesians 2:8-9).  By God's grace, Jesus has gone to prepare for His people a place in heaven (John 14:1-2).  Then, we shall be there and look on His face, for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:1-2).

     Stanza 3 adds that in heaven saints from all ages will be there to share the joy.

"Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow.
Yet just a smile from my Savior I know
Will through the ages be glory for me."

At the second coming, the dead will be raised, the living changed, and the righteous together forever with the Lord (I Corinthians 15:51-52, I Thessalonians 4:16-17).  After the weeping of this life, eternal joy will flow around them like a river (Psalms 30:5).  And the Savior will smile upon His people as they dwell in His light and serve Him forever and ever (Revelation 22:3-4).

      The chorus then points out that, while we look forward to a home where we shall have freedom from trials and tribulations, will sing to God eternally, and will be reunited with loved ones in Christ, the central attraction of heaven will be Jesus Christ.

"O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me;
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me."

One moment of being with Christ in heaven will outweigh a lifetime of suffering, and we can even now begin to anticipate this heavenly joy awaiting us as we sing, "O That Will Be Glory."

He Lifted Me

     This hymn which extols the Lord because He has lifted us up was first published in the 1905 Revival Hymns edited by Daniel B. Towner and Charles M. Alexander. When the copyright was renewed in 1933, it was owned by Homer A. Rodeheaver, but there were sometimes questions about songs originally copyrighted by Alexander and they occasionally had to be recopyrighted to clear up any uncertainties, so some books show the copyright date of 1910 and renewal date of 1938 by Homer Rodeheaver.  The song mentions several items which make it possible for us to be lifted.

     Stanza 1 refers to God's grace.

"In lovingkindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me."

God's grace was manifested in an act of lovingkindness to offer salvation to mankind (Titus 3:4-5). That act of lovingkindness was that Jesus came to save sinners (I Timothy 1.15). Therefore, if we humble ourselves, God will give grace and lift us up (James 4:6-10).

     Stanza 2 refers to God's forgiveness.

"He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiven He lifted me."

Even before we heard, God called us through the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:13-14). The reason why all of this was necessary is that all had sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). However, God gave us the word of the truth of the gospel, by which we can learn what to do to be forgiven (Colossians 1:5, 14).

     Stanza 3 refers to God's love.

"His brow was pierced with many a thorn,
His hands by cruel nails were torn,
When from my guilt and grief, forlorn,
In love He lifted me."

We know that God loved us because He gave His only begotten Son to have His brow pierced with many a thorn (Matthew 27:29).  He was also willing to have His hands torn by cruel nails (John 20:25).  All of this was done because God so loved the world that He gave His Son for our salvation (John 3:16).

     Stanza 4 refers to God's highness

"Now on a higher plane I dwell,
And with my soul I know 'tis well;
Yet how or why, I cannot tell,
He should have lifted me."

God makes it possible for us to dwell on a higher plane by raising us up to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  Therefore, we can know that things are well with our souls because we have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).  The idea of "how or why I cannot tell" simply means that there is much about what God has done for us that we cannot fully understand because it passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:19).

     The chorus reminds us of what God has done for us in Christ:

"From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me;
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise His name, He lifted me."

I was once lost in sin, condemned to eternal punishment in hell because of my transgression, so I should be extremely thankful that God loved me enough to send Jesus to die for my sins and that because of His grace and mercy "He Lifted Me."

I Stand Amazed

     This song, also known as "My Savior's Love," which emphasizes the love that Christ has shown for us by giving Himself as an offering and a sacrifice for us was first published at Chicago in E. O. Excell's little 1905 hymnbook Praises.  It mentions the many expressions of Christ's love for us.

     Stanza 1 says that He was "Jesus the Nazarene."

"I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean."

A "Nazarene" was an inhabitant of Nazareth, so this immediately implies His leaving heaven and coming to earth as a human being (John 1:1, 14; Philippians 2.5-8). That Jesus was a Nazarene is identified as the subject of prophecy (Matthew 2.23); however, no specific prophecy of this nature is found in the Old Testament (note--it has nothing to do with being a Nazirite; cf. Judges 13:5). Some suggest that the root of the name "Nazareth" is branch and that this has reference to the prophecies which call the Messiah "the branch" (Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 6:12). Others suggest that it may have reference to the fact that the Messiah was to be despised and rejected in that people would say, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:46).  In any event, this Nazarene certainly did love us (I John 3:16).  And it is amazing love because He loved us even while we were yet sinners, condemned and unclean (Romans 5:8).

     Stanza 2 says that He agonized in the garden for us.

"For me it was in the garden
He prayed, 'Not My will, but Thine;'
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat-drops of blood for mine."

It was for us in the garden of Gethsemane that He prayed, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" or "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done" (Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:42).  Sacred Selections omits this stanza completely and Hymns for Worship changes it to, "He cried with tears in His sorrow." Apparently Shepard and Stevens felt that He did have tears for His own griefs or sorrows based on Hebrews 5:7. However, through the years that I sang the song in its original version, I always thought that this meant simply that His suffering, which included the agonizing in the garden, was not for any griefs brought about by sin on His part but that all His tears and crying were the result of our sins, the just suffering for the unjust (I Peter 3:18).  The last line of this stanza might be changed to "But sweat-drops AS blood for mine" (sweat here is not a verb but an adjective describing drops which is a second object of the verb had). While I am not sure that the change of the previous line by Shepard and Stevens was necessary, I do believe that this change is warranted based on what the scriptures actually say, "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22.44; KJV--"And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood"). Some people teach that Jesus actually sweat blood in the garden, thus making atonement for our sins there. But the scriptures do not say that. Sometimes this passage is explained by pointing to a phenomenon known as "bloody sweat," that under extreme pressures, sometimes little blood vessels break so that some blood gets into the sweat and tinges it red or pink. That may be true, but the text does not even demand that. It is not talking about color but manner and size, saying simply that Jesus was sweating so profusely that it was pouring off Him in great drops in the same way that blood would pour off a person in great drops who was cut severely. In any event, I understand the statement to mean that all of His suffering was for us, on account of our sin (I Peter 4:1).

     Stanza 3 says that He had sorrows for us.

"In pity angels beheld Him,
And came from the world of light
To comfort Him in the sorrows
He bore for my soul that night."

The agony of Jesus in the garden was not the end, but in fact the beginning of His sorrows, so an angel appeared from heaven, strengthening Him not only during the agony of the garden but undoubtedly for the rest of His tribulations as well (Luke 22:43).  And certainly Jesus did experience many sorrows for us (Isaiah 53:4-9).  And these sorrows included that very same night the unjust trial that He underwent, with all the cruel mocking (Matthew 26:47-69).

     Stanza 4 says that He died for our sins.

"He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered, and died alone."

He took our sins and made them as though they were His very own (II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24). Thus, He bore the burden to Calvary, which is the Latin name of the place Golgotha, where Jesus died for us (Luke 23:33; John 19:17-18; I Corinthains 15:3). There He suffered and died alone. The statement that He died alone is undoubtedly occasioned by His cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" in Matthew 27:46 (Mark 15:34). Theologians and even brethren have debated the precise meaning and application of this phrase for years, but the usual explanation is that because Jesus was bearing our sins, it was necessary for God to turn away from Him at that time and let Him die alone.

     Stanza 5 says that He makes possible the hope of glory.

"When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
'Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me."

"Glory" here refers to being in the very presence of God Himself (Psalms 73:24, Colossians 1:27).  When we stand in glory with the ransomed, then at last His face we shall see, for when He comes we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:1-2).  And at that time, we can join with the redeemed of all ages to sing of His love for us eternally (Revelation 5:8-14).

     The chorus concludes by remarking how marvellous and wonderful is Christ's love for us.

"How marvelous! how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! how wonderful
Is my Savior's love for me!"

The whole song is filled with joyful praise for the suffering and sacrifice that Jesus was willing to undergo so that we might have
salvation and the hope of heaven. We often use this song to prepare our minds for partaking of the Lord's supper, and it is a good one for that purpose. But I can sing the song anytime, and should sing it often, to remind myself that in the presence of Him who loved me and gave Himself for me, "I Stand Amazed."

More Like the Master

     Copyrighted in 1906, this song of dedication and commitment to Christ first appeared in Gabriel's 1907 compilation for the American Baptist Publication Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, entitled Praise and Service. When the copyright was renewed in 1934, it was owned by Homer A. Rodeheaver.  The song reminds us of the importance of trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

     Stanza 1 says that we need to be like Him in meekness.

"More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility,
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do."

Jesus was meek and lowly on earth, and we need to treat others with meekness also (Matthew 11:28-30; Galatians 6:1). Meekness does not, however, mean weakness, because those who follow Christ's example of meekness must also be zealous of His good works (Titus 2:11-14). Thus, they will seek more consecration to be abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).

     Stanza 2 says that we need to be like Him in strength.

"More like the Master is my daily prayer,
More strength to carry crosses I must bear,
More earnest effort to bring His kingdom in,
More of His Spirit, the wanderer to win."

Just as Jesus had to carry His cross, we need strength to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24; cf. John 19:17).  Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections changed "to bring His kingdom in" to "His kingdom to increase," which, unfortunately, does not rhyme with "the wanderer to win." All of our other books which have the song follow this alteration. I supposed the reason for it is something like what I was always taught when growing up -- if we were to say the "Lord's prayer," we could use every phrase of it except, "Thy kingdom come," because the kingdom has already come. Of course, it is true that God's kingdom on earth today, the church, has come, but, aside from the fact that the Lord never intended his model prayer to be recited word for word anyway but simply to be an example of how to pray, even if we did pray, "Thy kingdom come," might we not mean that we are praying for the kingdom to come to the hearts of those who are lost through the preaching of the gospel? In like manner, when we sing "To bring His kingdom in," might we not mean that we want His kingdom to come IN to the hearts of those wanderers whom we seek to win? After all, the word "kingdom" basically means "rule," and God's kingdom or rule is in our hearts (Luke 17:21). We must then use the strength that He supplies to win souls to Him (Proverbs 11:30).

     Stanza 3 says that we need to be like Him in love.

"More like the Master I would live and grow,
More of His love to others I would show,
More self-denial, like His in Galilee;
More like the Master I long to ever be."

Just as Jesus loved us enough to die for us, we should love others as well (I John 3:16; 4:7,12). Our love for Christ and for others should then lead us to practice self-denial or temperance (I Corinthians 9:24-26). The more like the Master that we are in these qualities, the more we become partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4).

     The chorus asks the Lord to do those things for us that will help us be more like Him.

"Take Thou my heart, I would be Thine alone;
Take Thou my heart and make it all Thine own.
Purge me from sin, O Lord, I now implore,
Wash me and keep me Thine forevemore."

God did not intend for His people to try and make it through this life on their own. He revealed His word that we might have guidance. He established the church that we might have brothers and sisters to encourage us. And He gave us the example of His Son that by following Him we might be "More Like the Master."

Where the Gates Swing Outward Never

     This song which talks about the gates of the city which shall not be shut at all by day was first published in Victory Songs compiled in 1920 by Rodeheaver and Gabriel.  It focuses our attention on the gates of the heavenly city which is our hope.

     Stanza 1 pictures the heavenly city as a place of glory.

"Just a few more days to be filled with praise,
And to tell the old, old story;
Then, when twilight falls, and my Savior calls,
I shall go to Him in glory."

As long as our lives continue here on earth, and short they are, they should be filled with praise (Hebrews 13:15). Then the fact that day begins to end as twilight falls is used as a picture to say in like manner life begins to end as the Savior calls us to leave this life in death (Hebrews 9:27). But it is then that we can begin to realize the hope of going to be with Him in glory (Psalms 73:24).

     Stanza 2 pictures the heavenly city as the end of the journey.

"Just a few more years with their toils and tears,
And the journey will be ended;
Then I'll be with Him, where the tide of time
With eternity is blended."

As our lives continue here on earth, while filled with praise, they will also have their share of toils and tears, but soon the journey will be ended (Psalms 90:10). Then, after that, we shall be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). And it will be "where the tide of time with eternity is blended" because we shall eventually be granted eternal life (Matthew 25:46).

     Stanza 3 pictures the heavenly city as a place of joy.

"Though the hills be steep and the valleys deep,
With no flowers my way adorning;
Though the night be lone and my rest a stone,
Joy awaits me in the morning."

The toil and tears of this life are pictured as a journey through steep hills and deep valleys often with little to bring pleasant feelings (Job 14:1). The lack of spiritual comfort in this life is likened to the time when Jacob was fleeing and had to use a stone for his pillow (Genesis 28:10-11). But all of the unpleasantness and lack of comfort that we may experience in this life will be worth it because joy awaits us in the morning (Psalms 30:5).

     Stanza 4 pictures the heavenly city as the place where we shall see Christ

"What a joy 'twill be when I wake to see
Him for whom my heart is burning!
Nevermore to sigh, nevermore to die --
For that day my heart is yearning."

When we wake to see Him for whom our hearts are burning will be the final resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). And in that eternal home which we shall inhabit following the resurrection, there will be nothing to cause sighing or dying (Revelation 21:4). Therefore, throughout our lives on earth our hearts should be yearning for that day (II Peter 3:10-13).

     The chorus then reminds us of that time when we shall exchange our cross for a starry crown and reign forever with Jesus.

"I'll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I'll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever."

Ellis J. Crum in Sacred Selections made some alterations in the chorus which Shepard and Stevens have followed in Hymns for Worship but which I believe are totally unnecessary. "Starry crown" is replaced by "shining crown." Crum changed any mention of stars in our crowns for all hymns, but I do not know exactly why. I did hear someone else object to the hymn, "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown," on the basis that he had heard a denominational preacher use the hymn to teach the impossibility of apostasy, saying that once people are saved, even if they go back into sin they will still receive a crown but just not have any stars in it.  However, the idea of "stars" in our crown has traditionally been a poetic way of referring to people whom we teach and lead to Christ. Furthermore, my dictionary lists "shining" as a synonym for "starry," so it appears that Crum really accomplished nothing by his change. Also, "reign forever" is replaced by "live forever." Again, Crum eliminated any mention of our reigning with Christ in heaven for all hymns. I assume that this concept was somehow likely thought to teach premillennialism.  However, Revelation 22:1-5 plainly shows that in the new heaven and new earth, where the pure river of water of life flows and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, His servants shall serve Him, "And they shall reign forever and ever." Was John promoting premillennialism? I think not. Some have even questioned the very idea that "the gates swing outward never," saying that this phrase is never found in the Bible and asking what it means. It appears merely to be the poet's way of expressing the idea that the gates will never be shut by day because there will be no night in that city. We can discuss and even debate the words and phrases that we have to use in our finite language to describe the infinite beauty of the eternal home, and certainly we should reject any false concepts. But we would better spend our time centering our thoughts and preparing our lives for that great city "Where The Gates Swing Outward Never."

Sometime, Somehow, Somewhere

     This song which points our minds forward toward that time when we may be received into everlasting habitations was copyrighted in 1926 by the Gospel Advocate Co. and first published in their 1927 Sweeter than All Songs, edited by C. M. Pullias. In that book, the song appears as a soprano solo with accompaniment. The arrangement for four part harmony may be the work of Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1901-1992).  The song brings to our minds the blessings that the Christian can find in death and the hereafter.

     Stanza 1 says that our toil shall cease.

"Sometime, somewhere my toil shall cease,
And I from care shall find release
In everlasting joy and peace --
Sometime, somehow, somewhere."

Sometime, those who die in the Lord will find rest from their labors (Revelation 14:13). At that same time, they will find release from the cares of this life that we have cast on the Lord (I Peter 5:7). Thus, they die in the hope of the everlasting joy and peace of eternal life (Colossians 1:3).

     Stanza 2 says that we'll waken nevermore to weep.

"Sometime, somewhere, I'll fall asleep,
And from a dreamless slumber deep
I'll waken nevermore to weep --
Sometime, somehow, somewhere."

The scriptures often use the figure of sleeping to describe those who are dead (John 11.11-14). Hence, the resurrection can be thought of as awakening from this dreamless slumber deep (Psalms 17:15). The dead in Christ will be raised nevermore to weep because God will wipe away all tears (Revelation 21:4).

     Stanza 3 says that we can see our Savior's face.

"Sometime, somewhere, some blessed place,
Through wonders of amazing grace,
I'll see my Savior face to face --
Sometime, somehow, somewhere."

Jesus has gone to prepare a blessed place for His people (John 14:2-3).  Even though we have all sinned, the reason that it is possible for us to go to that place is because of God's amazing grace by which we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Therefore, we can have the expectation of seeing our Savior face to face when He comes again (I John 3:1-3).

     Stanza 4 says that He will unlock the gate for us.

"Sometime, somewhere, I'll trust and wait,
Through early morn or evening late,
Till He unlocks for me the gate --
Sometime, somehow, somewhere."

If we truly hope for a home in this place, then we must with patience wait for it (Romans 8:24-25). This means that whether in early morning or late evening we must be ready for His return (Matthew 24:36-44). And finally, we can look forward to His opening the gates into the city (Revelation 22:14).

     Gabriel was the author and/or composer of literally hundreds of gospel songs. Therefore, while many of his songs are still quite famous and much used, it is understandable that others of them have fallen somewhat by the wayside. This one is one of his lesser known.  However, a couple of the books in which it appeared were used by the congregation where my family and I worshipped when I was growing up, and I recall occasionally, though perhaps not often, singing this song. Yes, we must live our lives here on this earth, but we also need to spend some time thinking about what God has planned for us "Sometime, Somehow, Somewhere."

     Gabriel not only produced songs for which he wrote both words and music but also provided tunes for texts written by others, such as "The Way of the Cross Leads Home," with lyrics by Jessie H. Brown Pounds.  Many of these have become well known and beloved.

Higher Ground

     This text which encourages us to press on to what the New King James version calls the "upward call" was written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922).  The tune was composed by Gabriel.  According to Gabriel's own account, "Higher Ground" was finished in 1892, but he sold it for five dollars to a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, songbook compiler, J. Howard Entwisle. It was then first published in the 1898 Songs of Love and Praise, No. 5, which Entwisle compiled with John R. Sweney and Frank M. Davis.  The song gives several reasons why we should seek "a higher plane."

     Stanza one suggests that we are on "the upward way."

"I'm pressing on the upward way;
New heights I'm gaining every day,
Still praying as I onward bound,
'Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

The upward way is the strait and narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). To travel this upward way, we must work to gain new heights every day as we go on unto perfection (Hebrews 6:1). And to help us in this goal, we should keep praying (Philippians 4:6-7).

     Stanza two suggests that we are no longer of the world.

"My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim is higher ground."

Our heart should have no desire to stay a part of this world (Romans 12:1-2).  Because this world is a place where doubts arise and fears dismay, we should keep ourselves unspotted from it (James 1:25, 4:4).  Even though some may dwell where these abound, our aim should be not to love the world nor the things in the world (I John 2:15-17).

     Stanza three suggests that we are fighting the devil.

"I want to live above the world,
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground."

Again, we should strive to live above this world because it is the realm where Satan is in control (Ephesians 2:1-3).  Of course, as we seek to live above the world, Satan will try to bring us back down to his level by hurling his darts at us (Ephesians 6:10-16).  But a faith which catches the joyful sound of salvation will help us to resist him (James 4:4, I Peter 5:8-9).

     Stanza four suggests that we are hoping for heaven.

"I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray till heaven I've found,
'Lord, lead me on to higher ground."

Our goal is that someday we will scale that utmost height which will take us home to be with the Lord (II Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1-7). Then, we shall catch a gleam of glory bright in that inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away (I Peter 1:3-5).  However, until then, we must simply keep on running the race with our eyes on Jesus, looking upward to Him to help us continue on to higher ground (I Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).

     Several years ago I read an objection to this song by a well-known denominational hymn writer, saying that Christians should want to be engaged as salt and light in this world, not run away from it to "live above the world" as though we are better than others. However, I have been singing this song since I was a little child, and I never have thought that it was telling us to hide from this world as monks or hermits and have a "holier than thou" attitude. Yes, we realize that as Jesus sent the apostles into the world to reveal His will, He has sent us into the world to proclaim His will; yet while in the world, we are not to be of the world (John 17:16,18). That is all I have ever thought the song is indicating that we should do. And that is what I understand the chorus to be saying, as it makes the request:

"Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven's table-land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Indeed, in the sense of being transformed or different from this world, we surely should want to live on "Higher Ground."

Harvest Time

     This text which encourages us to look on the fields that are white to harvest was written by Mary Brown (1856-1918). No further information about her is available, but she may well be the same Mary Brown who is thought to have lived in Jewett City, Connecticut, during the last decades of the nineteenth century and to whom credit is given for the first stanza of the 1894 song "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go," beginning, "It may not be on the mountain's height, Or over the stormy sea...."  The tune was composed by Gabriel.  The earliest date given for the song is 1892.  Many older books say that it was copyrighted by the Gospel Advocate Co. in 1931, which might perhaps be a transfer date, and some newer books say that it was renewed by the Gospel Advocate Co. in 1959.  The song urges each Christian to help out in reaping the Lord's harvest.

     Stanza 1 emphasizes the call.

"Arise! The Master calls for thee,
The harvest days are here!
No longer sit with folded hands,
But gather far and near.
The noble ranks of volunteers
Are daily growing everywhere,
But still there's work for millions more!
Then for the fields prepare."

Jesus calls us to participate in the harvest, which here refers to the reaping of souls (Matthews 9:37-38). Therefore, we should not sit or stand idle but go to work in his harvest (Matthew 20:1-7). The field in which He has called us to labor is the world (Matthew 10:38).

     Stanza 2 emphasizes the need.

"Go seek the lost and erring ones
Who never knew the Lord;
Go lead them from the ways of sin,
And thou shalt have reward.
Go out into the hedges where
The careless drift upon the tide,
And from the highways bring them in --
Let no one be denied."

We need to be involved in this work because many are lost, like the sheep who went astray, and need to be sought (Luke 15:4-7).  We also need to be involved in this work because the Lord has a reward for us if we thus serve Him by serving others (Matthew 25:34-40). Hence, we should go out into the hedges and the highways and bring the lost in to the Lord (Luke 14:16-23).

     Stanza 3 emphasizes the means.

"The message bear to distant lands
Beyond the rolling sea;
Go tell them of a Savior's love --
The Lamb of Calvary.
Arise! The Master calls for thee!
Salvation full and free proclaim,
'Til every kindred, tribe, and tongue
Exalt the Savior's name!"

We have the message of the gospel that is to be preached to all nations under heaven (Mark 16:15-16). This message tells of the Savior's love shown by His death on Calvary (Romans 5:8). As a result, the gospel message can bring about salvation to everyone who accepts it (Romans 1:16-17).

     The chorus continues the thought of the stanzas about the importance of working for the Lord and getting busy as soon as possible:

"Arise! Arise! The Master calls for thee;
Arise! Arise! A faithful reaper be. Arise!
The field is white, and days are going by;
Awake, awake, And answer, 'Here am I.'"

This is not the easiest song to sing because it requires alto, tenor, and bass singers who know what they are doing. But it has been in most hymnbooks published by members of the Lord's church for use among churches of Christ during the twentieth century, and thus is reasonably well known. It serves a very useful purpose in waking each of us up to the fact that we need to be laboring diligently for the Lord in His "Harvest Time."

Only in Thee

     This text which exalts Christ as the only one in whom all spiritual blessings, including our hope, are found  was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960). A native of Franklin, Kentucky, who became a Methodist minister and then, due to health problems, an insurance agent, he produced many hymn poems which were set to music by a number of composers, including this one with the tune composed by Gabriel.  It was first published in the 1905 collection Revival Hymns, compiled in Chicago, Illinois, by Daniel B. Towner and Charles M. Alexander, and was renewed in 1933 by Homer A. Rodeheaver.  The song mentions several of the blessings that are found only in Christ.

     Stanza one says that we have peace.

"Only in Thee, O Savior mine,
Dwelleth my soul in peace divine,
Peace that the world, though all combine,
Never can take from me.
Pleasures of earth, so seemingly sweet,
Fail at the last my longings to meet,
Only in Thee my bliss is complete,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!"

Jesus Christ is our Savior because He came into this world to save mankind from sin (Matthew 1:21, Luke 19:10, I Timothy 1:15).  Because Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, we can dwell in a peace divine that even though the whole world combine can never be taken from us (Philippians 4:6-7). The pleasures of this world, so seemingly sweet, can never offer such a peace because they are but for a season (Hebrews 11:24-26).

     Stanza two says that we have guidance through this world.

"Only in Thee a radiance bright
Shines like a beacon in the night,
Guiding my pilgrim bark aright,
Over life's trackless sea.
Only in Thee, when troubles molest,
When with temptation I am oppressed,
There is a sweet pavilion of rest,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!"

Jesus Christ is a radiance bright that shines like a beacon in the night because He is the light of the world (John 8:12). This light, shed through His revealed word, will guide our pilgrim barks aright over life's trackless sea (Psalms 119:105). Therefore, when troubles molest and with temptations we are oppressed, that light will guide us toward the sweet pavilion of rest where we can anchor (Hebrews 6:17-20).

     Stanza 3 says that we have help in time of trouble.

"Only in Thee, when days are drear,
When neither sun nor stars appear,
Still I can trust and feel no fear,
Sing when I cannot see.
Only in Thee, whatever betide,
All of my need is freely supplied;
There is no hope nor helper beside,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!"

Jesus is a Helper because when days are drear, and neither sun or stars appear, we can go to the throne of grace through Him who is our High Priest that we may find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).  As a result of this help, we can trust and feel no fear as we face the trials and tribulations of this life (Hebrews 13:5-6). Therefore, whatever betide, we can be assured that all of our need is freely supplied and therefore cast all our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:6-7).

     Stanza 4 says that we have hope for a better future.

"Only in Thee, dear Savior slain,
Losing Thy life my own to gain,
Trusting, I'm cleansed from every stain,
Thou art my only plea.
Only in Thee, my heart will delight,
Till in that land where cometh no night,
Faith will be lost in heavenly sight,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!"

Jesus Christ is our hope because He was slain that through losing His life we can gain life (Romans 5:6-8).  Because He died for us, we can be cleansed from every stain (Ephesians 1:7).  And we can look forward to that time when "in that land where cometh no night, Faith will be lost in glorious sight" (Revelation 21:22-27).

     There are many voices which call for my attention in this life. There are many things which offer all kinds of advantages, pleasures, and benefits. Some of these are sinful, while others are not wrong in and of themselves, but I need to be careful to put my priorities in the right place. Therefore, dear Lord, when it comes to my soul, help me to remember that everything which I need I will find "Only In Thee."

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

     This text which pictures Jesus as One who watches over us just as He watches over the sparrows was written by Civilla Durfee Holden Martin (1866-1947). The wife of a preacher, Walter Stillman Martin, she penned many lyrics for which her husband provided music, such as "God Will Take Care of You" and "Heaven For Me." In 1905, the Martins were staying in Elmira, New York, where Walter was involved in evangelistic meetings. They visited in the home of a devout couple, both of whom had experienced much physical difficulty. When asked how she could remain so cheerful and radiant, the woman replied, "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The line struck Mrs. Martin, and before the day was over she had set down the words of a poem. The tune (Sparrow) was composed by Gabriel.

     Mrs. Martin gave her poem to Gabriel who provided the musical setting then mailed a copy of the manuscript to Charles M. Alexander who was then leading singing in an evangelistic campaign with evangelist Reuben A. Torrey in London, England. During these services at Royal Albert Hall, the song was first sung publicly. It was published in 1906, and the copyright was renewed in 1934 by Homer A. Rodeheaver.  Famous gospel singer Ethel Waters sang the song in Billy Graham crusades and even at the White House for Richard Nixon. She entitled her autobiography His Eye Is On The Sparrow because of her love for the song.  The original was for solo voice with accompaniment in the stanzas but various arrangements have been made for four-part harmony.  The song identifies several situations in which we can be assured that Jesus watches us.

     Stanza 1 tells that Jesus watches us when we are discouraged and lonely.

"Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant Friend is He;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

Sometimes when the shadows come we do feel discouraged and cast down (Psalms 42:5).   We may even feel so lonely that we just want to get away from it all (Jeremiah 9:1-2). However, Jesus is our portion and a Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Psalms 16:5; Proverbs 18:24).

     Stanza 2 tells us that Jesus watches us when we are troubled and uncertain.

"'Let not your heart be troubled,'
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubt and fear,
Though by the path He leadeth,
But one step I may see.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

Jesus knows that sometimes our hearts are troubled and He speaks to us (John 14:1). By listening to what He tells us in His word, we can lose our doubt and fear (Hebrews 13:5-6). The future is always uncertain, but we can see the steps by which He left us an example and follow Him (I Peter 2:21).

     Stanza 3 tells us that Jesus watches us when we are tempted and hopeless.

"Whenever I am tempted,
Whenever clouds arise,
When song gives place to sighing,
When hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him;
From care He sets me free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

As long as we live upon this earth, we shall be tempted (James 1:13-15).  Because of all the sin in the world, our own and others, sometimes things seem hopeless and we see no way to turn, just as Elijah (I Kings 19:14).  Yet, we can draw close to the Lord and cast all our cares upon Him, and He promises that He will draw close to us and sustain us (James 4:8; I Peter 5:7).

     The chorus expresses the joy of one who puts all of His trust in the Lord.

"I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

Life will have its ups and downs, and there are times when the downs seem deeper than the ups seem higher. However, regardless of what happens in this life, if we put our full trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can have the assurance that He will watch over us just as "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

     This text which likens death to an empty place at the family circle and reminds us that the dead are still alive with God was written by Ada Ruth Habershon, who was born on Jan. 8, 1861, in London, England, the youngest daughter of Dr. S. O. Habershon. Brought up in a religious home by believing, praying parents, she devoted her whole life to God's service. In 1901, while ill, she began writing poems and one of her first was "Apart with Him."  When evangelist Dwight L. Moody and his song director Ira D. Sankey visited London in 1884, she met them and afterwards visited America at their invitation to deliver lectures on the Old Testament, which were later published. Also she is credited with some five other books on biblical studies.

During the 1905 campaign of evangelist Reuben A. Torrey and his song director Charles M. Alexander in England, Alexander asked her to provide him some gospel songs, and within a year she had supplied him with 200.  "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" has been one of the most popular of sentimental favorites and must have been produced in or before 1907. The tune was composed by Gabriel. The song was copyrighted in 1907 by Alexander, though it may not have actually been published until the following year. Miss Habershon died on Feb. 1, 1918, probably in London. The copyright to what is undoubtedly her best known song was renewed in 1935 by The Rodeheaver Co. The song, often used at funerals, encourages us to make sure that we are prepared to join those who have died in Christ.

     Stanza 1 asks if we shall join our loved ones in Christ who are in glory.

"There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?"

Some object to singing about loved ones in glory, apparently because all of us undoubtedly have loved ones here who may not be faithful Christians and thus will not be saved eternally; however, many saints do have loved ones who have died in Christ, and furthermore many departed brethren, even though no earthly relation to us, are among our "beloved" ones (Romans 1:7). Someday we, too, will close our earthly story in death (Hebrews 9:27). The question "Will you join them in their bliss?" is designed to make us examine our lives and remember that nothing which defiles will enter the eternal city (Revelation 21:27).

     Stanza 2 reminds us of the good that our loved ones in Christ have done for us.

"In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love;
Pointed to the dying Savior,
Now they dwell with Him above."

What a blessing it is to have had parents who, in the days of our childhood, encouraged us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  It is an even greater blessing to have had parents who were faithful Christians and told us of the dying Savior's love so that the faith that dwelt in them might dwell in us (II Timothy 1:3-5).  Such godly parents now dwell with the Lord above in the sense that they have departed to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23).

     Stanza 3 asks if we continue to love the songs of heaven that our loved ones in Christ taught us.

"You remember songs of heaven,
Which you sang with childish voice;
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice?"

It is good to sing hymns which remind us of the inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for us (I Peter 1:3-5). Such songs, often learned in childhood, help to teach and admonish us (Colossians 3:16). However, as we grow older, we have to choose whether to continue setting our affections on things above or on things of the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

     Stanza 4 reminds us of the both the happy gatherings and the tearful partings concerning our loved ones in Christ.

"You can picture happy gatherings,
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings,
When they left you here below."

God intended the family to be a place of happy gatherings in this life (Genesis 2:24; Colossians 3:18-21). When death enters such a loving family circle, the partings are very tearful (Luke 8:11-13). Again, as we think about when they left us, we need to consider the fact that when the Lord returns the wicked will be separated from the just and make our preparations accordingly to be among the just (Matthew 13:49).

     Stanza 5 asks if on our part the family circle will be complete.

"One by one their seats were emptied;
One by one they went away.
Now the family is parted;
Will it be complete one day?"

The longer we live, the more our loved ones and beloved brethren in Christ go away one by one to be carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22-26).  Now, the family is parted; the thought is designed to help focus our minds on that time when the Lord will eternally separate the wicked from the righteous (Matthew 25:31-32).  As we examine our own lives, we must determine which number we intend to be among so that the family circle will no longer be parted then but complete, because one aspect of the hope that Christians have is to be reunited with those in Christ who have gone on before (II Thessalonians 4:13-17).

     The chorus continues to center our thoughts on being reunited with loved ones in Christ.

"Will the circle be unbroken,
By and by, by and by,
In a better home awaiting,
In the sky, in the sky?"

Some might not care for this song because they feel that it is too sentimental. I agree that sheer "sanctified nostalgia" is really not singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. However, I believe that this song has more to it than that. It encourages us to reflect back on our loved ones who have died in Christ, not just in a sentimental way, but to consider their faith and their example, that we might be motivated to live in such a way as to join them, by asking "Will The Circle Be Unbroken?"

An Evening Prayer

     This test which is a request asking the Lord to cleanse us from our faults was written by C. Maude Battersby. Almost nothing is known about her except that it is believed that she penned these words sometime around 1895. Their arrangement as a hymn was made and the tune was composed both by Gabriel.  The song was published in 1911 by Homer A. Rodeheaver, with the 1939 copyright renewal made by The Rodeheaver Co. The song mentions several ways that we can sin for which we need forgiveness.

     Stanza one says that we can sin against others.

"If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive."

It is possible for us to act in such a way that we wound the souls of others (I Corinthains 8:12).  When we so act, we often put a stumbling block in the way of others that might cause their feet to go astray (Matthew 18:6-7).  And the usual reason why we end up doing this is because we have determined to live in our own selfish way rather than considering the needs of others (Romans 15:1-3; Philippians 2:3-4).

     Stanza two says that we can sin with our mouth.

"If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself shall suffer through the strain,
Dear Lord, forgive."

It is true that almost all of us at one time or another have uttered idle words or vain (Matthew 12:36-37).  Often the reason why we do this is to turn aside from want or pain, to avoid what we see as the unpleasant consequences of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14, 25).  And our motivation for doing this is lest we ourselves should suffer through the strain, when the Bible makes it plain that Christians may often have to suffer for their faith (II Timothy 3:12; I Peter 4:16).

     Stanza three says that we can sin against our very purpose as Christians.

"If I have been perverse or hard or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in the fold,
When Thou hast given me some fort to hold,
Dear Lord, forgive."

Sometimes we allow our hearts to become perverse and hard so that we become cold to our duties as children of God (Hebrews 3:12-15; Revelation 3:15). There may be occasions when we are especially weak or vulnerable that we may seek for shelter in the fold, but in general God has not called us to live in ease behind the battle lines but to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ and be willing to suffer hardship whenever necessary (II Timothy 2:3-4).  Therefore, we should take whatever fort the Lord has given us to hold and determine that we will wage a good warfare and fight the good fight of the faith (I Timothy 1:18; 6:12).

     The final stanza says that above all, when we sin, we sin against God.

"Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee;
Forgive the secret sins I do not see;
O guide me, love me, and my keeper be,
In Jesus' Name."

Therefore, we should confess our sins unto God that we might have forgiveness (I John 1:8). We should even ask forgiveness for "the secret sins." There has been much debate on what the Bible means by "secret sins," whether these are sins unknown to the person who has committed them or simply sins that are hidden from the eyes of others. The song refers to "the secret sins I do not see." Of course it is possible for one to have committed specific acts of sin of which he may be unaware. While he may not recall each specific instance, he still needs to repent of all his sins and ask God's forgiveness, as did the publican in Jesus' parable (Luke 18:13-14).  And after asking God's forgiveness, we must pray that He will guide us and be our keeper so that we will do better in the future than we have in the past (Jude 21-24).

     Some have ridiculed the idea that we need to repent of each sin and confess it to God in prayer to be forgiven; they may ask, what if we sin some time during the day and die before we can get home to say our evening prayers? The fact is that whenever we sin, at any time during the day, we can silently, in our own minds, go to God in prayer, express our repentance, make our confession to Him, and ask His forgiveness that very moment -- and we should. We do not have to wait until some pre-arranged time. However, when I do lay my head down to go to sleep, it is a good time to review the events of the day with the Lord, asking His forgiveness for any sins that may still be against me and seeking His help, in "An Evening Prayer."

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

     This text which is designed to motivate us to be faithful in that which is least is was written by Ina Mae Duley Ogdon, who was born on April 3, 1872 (some sources say 1877), at Rossville, Illinois, to William and Laetitia Wilson Duley. According to the Lincoln Christian College website, the family was associated with Christian Churches. After attending Greer College in Hoopeston, Illinois, Ina taught in Illinois schools, including Cherryville, from 1892 to 1900. Her first hymn,"Open Wide the Windows," was published in 1892. Four years later, in 1896, she married fellow teacher James Weston Ogden, and in 1900, the couple moved to Toledo, Ohio, where their only child, William Duley Ogdon, was born in 1901.

     Early in life, Mrs. Ogdon, who was a gifted speaker, had hoped to join the Chautauqua Circuit and was finally selected to go. However, her father's illness as a result of an automobile accident in 1912, just before she was to leave on tour, forced her to abandon her plans in order to care for him at home. Overcoming anger and resentment from this tragedy, in 1913 she completed an encouraging poem entitled "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" to show how one can serve the Lord in many different circumstances, or, in other words, to make the best of where you find yourself. The tune was composed by her frequent and long-term collaborator, Charles H. Gabriel. It was first introduced in a crusade at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, later that year.

     The song became the popular theme song of the Billy Sunday-Homer Rodeheaver campaigns and was originally copyrighted by Gabriel and owned by Rodeheaver. The copyright was renewed in 1941 by The Rodeheaver Co., now a division of Word Music Inc. Mrs. Ogdon died in Toledo at the age of 92 on May 18, 1964.  The song helps us to appreciate even the small things that we can do for the Lord.

     Stanza 1 encourages us to be lights in the world.

"Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do;
Do not wait to shed your light afar.
To the many duties ever near you now be true;
Brighten the corner where you are."

Those who wait to serve the Lord until they can do some deed of greatness are despising the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10).  Rather than waiting, we should let our lights so shine by good works under all circumstances (Matthew 5:14-16).  In order to accomplish this, we must be true to the many duties that are ever near us (Luke 17:10).

     Stanza 2 encourages us to rise above self-centeredness.

"Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear;
Let not narrow self your way debar.
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are."

There will always be those whose clouded skies we may help to cheer by bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2).  But doing this requires that we not let self debar our way by causing us to look out only for our own interests (Philippians 2:4). Even if we give a cup of water to only one person, Jesus promises that we shall not lose our reward (Matthew 10:42).

     Stanza 3 encourages us to reflect the influence of Christ in our lives.

"Here for all your talent you may surely find a need;
Here reflect the Bright and Morning Star.
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed;
Brighten the corner where you are."

Just as the servants in Jesus's parable were to use their talents (money) in their master's service, we should use our talent (abilities) in the Lord's service (Matthew 25:14-30). Only in this way can we reflect the Bright and Morning Star, who is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (Revelation 22:16). Therefore, it should be our desire in whatever way we can with whatever abilities we have using whatever opportunities are available to us to reach out with the Bread of Life (John 6:48).

     The chorus re-emphasizes the main thought of the song.

"Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!"

William J. Reynolds in Songs of Glory notes that this song which reached such a pinnacle of popularity in the 1920's and 30's began to diminish in the 1940's and 50's until today it is rarely found in hymnbooks used in American churches. My piano instructor in college said that she can remember singing this song at summer camp but wondered if it is appropriate for worship services. Of course, different people have varying ideas about what kinds of songs are appropriate for formal worship, and there are still some who do not like the brighter, bouncier gospel songs. But whatever your views may be, you should be able to agree that there ought to be some place for a song like this which exhorts you to "Brighten the Corner Where You Are."

Since Jesus Came into My Heart 

     This text which points out that when Jesus comes into our hearts we become new creatures was written by Rufus Henry McDaniel, who was born on Jan. 29, 1850, near Ripley in Brown County, Ohio. After being educated in the public schools of Bentonville, Ohio, and at Parker's Academy in nearby Clermont County, Ohio, he started preaching at age nineteen and then became a minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1873. His wife was the former Margaret Dragoo, and they had three children. One son, Clarence also became a minister. A daughter Minnie married Frank R. Liesenhoff of Dayton, Ohio.  Another son Herschel died in 1913.  In 1914, following the untimely death of his son, Rufus penned these words as an expression of his faith and hope.

     The tune was composed by Gabriel. Copyrighted by Gabriel in 1914, the song was introduced in pamphlet form at Billy Sunday campaigns at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1915 and was first published later that year in Songs for Service edited by Homer A. Rodeheaver, who purchased the copyright and then renewed it in 1942.  After serving various local churches in southern Ohio, including Hamersville, Higginsport, Centerburg, Sugar Creek, and Cincinnati, McDaniel retired in Dayton, Ohio. During his life, he produced more than one hundred songs, many of which were found in the collections published by the Rodeheaver Co., before his death on Feb. 13, 1940, in Dayton. This is the only one which has survived in common usage. The song mentions many blessings which occur when we allow Jesus to dwell in our hearts.

     Stanza 1 talks about light.

"What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart!"

Becoming a Christian is all about being changed or converted (Acts 3:19). Turning to Jesus from this world enables us to walk in the light (I John 1:5-7). This light is something that every good and honest heart seeks because we know that this world is filled with darkness (Romans 13:12)

     Stanza 2 talks about salvation.

"I have ceased from my wandering and going astray,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And my sins, which were many, are all washed away,
Since Jesus came into my heart!"

It is Jesus who has made it possible for us to cease from our wanderings and goings astray, as did the prodigal son in returning to his father (Luke 15:17-21). What causes us to wander and go astray is sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But because Jesus died to save us from our sins, we can have them all washed away (Acts 22.16).

     Stanza 3 talks about assurance.

"I'm possessed of a hope that's steadfast and sure,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure,
Since Jesus came into my heart!"

Jesus Christ give us a hope by which we can be saved: Romans 8:24-25. This hope is steadfast and sure because Jesus Himself secured it: Hebrews 6:19-20. Therefore, we do not have to live in doubt but can know that we have eternal life in Christ: I John 5:11-13

     Stanza 4 talks about the hope of heaven.

"There's a light in the valley of death now for me,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And the gates of the city beyond I can see,
Since Jesus came into my heart!"

There are times when we must walk in the valley of death with loved ones, and ultimately for ourselves as well (Psalms 23:4). However, for the Christian, there are gates which he can see by faith beckoning him onward (Revelation 21:10-13). These are the gates to the city beyond which God has prepared as a home for the faithful (Revelation 21:1-4).

     Stanza 5 talks about joy.

"I shall go there to dwell in that city, I know,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And I'm happy, so happy, as onward I go,
Since Jesus came into my heart."

Because God has prepared this city for us and sent Jesus to die for us that we might be saved from sin, we can have the hope of going to dwell in that city (I Peter 1:3-5).  With this kind of hope, we can also have great joy in our lives regardless of what happens to us (Philippians 4:4). And this joy will enable us to press onward toward that prize (Philippians 3:13-14).

     The chorus continues the thought of the joy that results from having Jesus in our hearts.

"Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Floods of joy o'er my soul like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart."

Christians will face times of trial and tragedy in their lives. We shall undoubtedly lose many loved ones along the way. However, while we sorrow, we do not do so as those without hope. God has promised that no temptation will overtake me but He will make a way of escape. Therefore, I can look to Him and draw strength from Him to face whatever comes my way in life "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart."

Jesus, Rose of Sharon

     A text which describes the love with which Christ dwells in our hearts was written by Ida A. Guirey (early 20th century).  No information is available on this author.  There is the possibility that the name is a pseudonym for another gospel song writer, but Guirey is credited with one other hymn entitled "Under the Blood," written in 1920 with music by  C. S. Brown.  The tune for "Jesus, Rose of Sharon" was composed by Gabriel, probably in 1921, and the song was copyrighted in 1922 when it was first published by in Rodeheaver's Gospel Songs edited by Homer Alvin Rodeheaver.  It pictures Jesus figuratively as the rose of Sharon whom we love and adore.

     Stanza 1 says that Jesus is like a flower who fills our lives with beautiful fragrance.

"Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart;
Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart,
That where’er I go my life may shed abroad
Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God."

The rose of Sharon was obviously a much-loved and highly prized flower in the land of Palestine (Song of Solomon 2:1-2).  The reason that Jesus is so much to be prized is that the beauties of grace and truth come through Him (John 1:17).  When the "fragrance" of these things permeate our lives, we may shed abroad the knowledge of God's love from our hearts (Romans 5:5).

     Stanza 2 says that Jesus is like a flower which is sweeter and fairer than any on earth.

"Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to see
Than the fairest flow’rs of earth could ever be,
Fill my life completely, adding more each day
Of Thy grace divine and purity, I pray."

Jesus, like His word, is sweeter even than honey and the honeycomb (Psalms 19:10).  Therefore, we should want Him to fill our lives completely, dwelling in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17).  When He thus dwells in us, He will be the sweetest and the fairest to us because He brings us salvation by the grace of God (Titus 2:11-12).

     Stanza 3 says that Jesus is like a flower whose balm can heal us.

"Jesus, Rose of Sharon, balm for every ill,
May Thy tender mercy’s healing power distil
For afflicted souls of weary burdened men,
Giving needy mortals health and hope again."

In Jesus Christ, sinful mankind can find that "balm of Gilead" which God prescribes for our souls (Jeremiah 8:22).  He came with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).  Therefore, He offers health and hope for the afflicted souls of weary, burdened men (Matthew 11:28-30).

     Stanza 4 says that Jesus is like a flower that will bloom forevermore.

"Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom forevermore;
Be Thy glory seen on earth from shore to shore,
Till the nations own Thy sovereignty complete,
Lay their honors down and worship at Thy feet."

Jesus will be the brightest and most wonderful flower in that eternal garden of heaven where the redeemed will live forever (Revelation 22:1-2).  Even on earth, our prayer should be that His glory would be seen from shore to shore (Isaiah 11:9).  Then, it should be our desire to be among that number who lay their honors down and worship at His feet in heaven (Revelation 5:13-14).

     The refrain expresses the desire that this flower would bloom in us.

Jesus, (Blessed Jesus),
Rose of Sharon,
Bloom in radiance
And in love within my heart.

Of all the lovely flowers on earth, none could be more precious than "Jesus, Rose of Sharon."

     In addition to producing songs for which he wrote both words and music and also composing tunes for the texts of other hymnwriters, Gabriel provided at least one text for another composer.

Come to the Feast

     This text which extends the invitation to come for salvation in Christ using the language of the parable of the wedding feast was written, under the pseudonym Charlotte G. Homer, by Gabriel (1856-1932). The tune was composed by William Augustine Ogden (1841-1897). The song, often entitled by its opening line "All Things Are Ready," was first published in 1895 (some older books wrongfully give the date as 1896). In 1921 it was owned by William E. M. Hackleman, but by 1935 it had passed to the Standard Publishing Co.  It has been a very popular invitation song.

     Stanza 1 emphasizes bounty.

"'All things are ready,'" come to the feast!
Come, for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary, come,
And thou shalt be richly fed."

The table now spread represents God's bounty in providing for our spiritual needs in Christ (Psalms 23:5). The sinner needing salvation is often pictured as famishing and weary (Isaiah 55:1-2).  But those who come to Christ, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, shall be fed (Matthew 5:6).

     Stanza 2 emphasizes invitation.

"'All things are ready,' come to the feast!
Come, for the door is open wide;
A place of honor is reserved
For you at the Master's side."

The door open wide represents Christ's invitation to come to Him while time remains (Matthew 25:10). This invitation is to receive a place of honor (Luke 14:8-10). This place of honor is at the Master's side, because those who come to Him are made to sit together with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-6).

     Stanza 3 emphasizes readiness

"'All things are ready,' come to the feast!
Come, while He waits to welcome thee;
Delay not while this day is thine,
Tomorrow may never be."

Christ stands in readiness to welcome us into His feast (Matthew 11:28-30). We should not delay, because now is the accepted time (II Corinthians 6:2). The fact is, we do not know what will be on the morrow, and tomorrow may never be (James 4:13-17).

     Stanza 4 emphasizes motivation.

"'All things are ready,' come to the feast!
Leave every care and worldly strife;
Come, feast upon the love of God,
And drink everlasting life."

To come to Christ, we must leave every care and worldly strife behind (Philippians 3:13-14). To motivate us to do so, we have the love of God upon which we can feast and be saved (Titus 3:4-5).  And we have the promise that we can drink everlasting life (John 4:14).

     The chorus sounds out the call for "whosoever will" to come to Christ (Revelation 22:17):

"Hear the invitation.
Come, 'whosoever will;'
Praise God for full salvation
For 'whosoever will.'"

Those who are lost in sin need to be told that if they want to be saved and are willing to turn to the Lord and meet His revealed conditions, then all things are ready for them to "Come To The Feast."


     Gabriel produced many other hymns, some with both words and music, others with tunes for lyrics by others.  One which I especially like is "He Is So Precious to Me" because it offers praise to Jesus Christ because of His preciousness to us.  Written in 1902, it was first published in Joyful Praise which Gabriel edited for Jennings and Pye of Chicago, IL.  It suggests several reasons why Jesus should be considered precious by every one of us.

     In stanza 1 Jesus is said to be our Savior and King.

"So precious is Jesus, my Savior, my King;
His praise all the day long with rapture I sing.
To Him in my weakness for strength I can cling,
For He is so precious to me."

     In stanza 2 Jesus is said to be standing and pleading for entrance into our hearts.

"He stood at my heart’s door ’mid sunshine and rain,
And patiently waited an entrance to gain.
What shame that so long He entreated in vain,
For He is so precious to me."

     In stanza 3 Jesus is said to be the source of all our blessings.

"I stand on the mountain of blessing at last,
No cloud in the heavens a shadow to cast,
His smile is upon me; the valley is past,
For He is so precious to me."

     In Stanza 4 Jesus is said to be preparing a place for us in heaven.

"I praise Him because He appointed a place
Where some day, through faith in His wonderful grace,
I know I shall see Him, shall look on His face,
For He is so precious to me."

     The refrain reminds us again of how precious Jesus is to His people.

"For He is so precious, so precious to me;
For He is so precious, so precious to me.
’Tis heaven below, my Redeemer to know,
For He is so precious to me."

Gabriel is still considered to be one of the premier composers of sacred music in the first part of the twentieth century, and as we have seen, many of his hymns live on.