Monthly Archives: September 2014

Journeys of Paul


This week I’m diverging from my usual music topic to tell you a little about my upcoming “Journeys of Paul” trip.  I’ll return to the “How Sweet the Sound!” hymn series in two weeks.


Several years ago I was Coordinator of Christian Education and Minister of Music at another church.  There were many opportunities to teach both children and adults about Paul’s ministry.  One of the members of that church took this trip, and I convinced her to share a photo journal about her journey.  Ever since, it has been my hope to enjoy that experience.  So when my sister said her church was going and had openings, I eagerly signed up for this trip of a lifetime!

Here are some highlights of our journey.

Paul traveled over 10,000 miles proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His journeys on land and sea took him primarily through present day Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Rome.


Istanbul, Ephesus, Miletus

Paul’s first journey as a Christian missionary began when members of the congregation at Antioch selected Paul and Barnabas to take the gospel to new places. Setting out from Antioch, they sailed to Cyprus, then to regions in what today is Turkey.  Paul’s third journey involved a long ministry at Ephesus.


Corinth and Athens, Greece

Paul’s second journey took him to western Asia Minor and Greece. He traveled from Athens to Corinth where he stayed with Aquila and Priscilla. At Corinth, Paul made his living by making tents.



In Rome, Paul was kept under house arrest for two years. He was guarded by a soldier and had to provide his own financial support. He was able to receive visitors and met with members of the local Jewish community and many others.


Follow us!  You can follow our adventures on Facebook by going to “PHUMC Journeys of Paul Tour 2014” and click “Like.”


Sing in our Christmas cantata, “Nativity Suites” on December 14!

Rehearsals begin tomorrow night at 7:30.  All are welcome.


Wednesdays, Oct 1, 8, 15 ————7:30 – 8:30

Wednesdays, Oct 22 thru Nov 19—8:00 – 8:45

NO rehearsal Nov 26

Wednesday, Dec 4 ———————8:00 – 8:45

Wednesday, Dec 11——————–7:30 – 9:00 (withorchestra)


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How Sweet the Sound! Part 3: Children’s Hymns

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 Here’s an interesting and provocative comment I ran across recently: “…it is our responsibility to teach the children ALL the hymns the congregation sings. We are quite possibly the only source of their sung heritage that they might see in the course of a week. Any hymn you love will work with kids. Don’t underestimate their intelligence or sophistication. Give them good stuff so their minds and souls will grow strong! Give them the entire hymnal, for heaven’s sake!!”  (Sandra LaBarge-Neumann)


Can a parallel be made for adults singing children’s hymns?  Aren’t we all children of God?


Come, Christians, Join to Sing (1843) was first published as children’s hymn: the original opening line was “Come, children, join to sing.” Though changed in the Presbyterian hymnal to include all age groups, Christian Bateman’s text contains direct, uncomplicated language  that makes it easy for children to learn and sing.


Children of the heavenly father (1855) Lina Sandell was a Swedish writer of Gospel hymns.  At the age of 26, she went with her father on a boat trip during which he fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. The tragedy affected Lina, inspiring her to write hymns, pouring out her broken heart in an endless stream of beautiful songs.  This  poem was set to a charming Swedish folk tune.

All things bright and beautiful (1848) Cecil Francis Alexander’s hymns and poems number nearly 400; though she wrote more elaborate hymns, it is as a writer for children that she excelled.  The light, bright, and energetic English folk tune is well suited to the colorful text.


Jesus loves me (1859) Anna Bartlett Warner wrote one of the most popular hymns for young people ever written in America.  It has been published in over 500 hymnals!  The tune was composed by William Bradbury.  Many of us began our musical experiences by singing his songs, and will long remember his melodies (He Leadeth Me, Just As I Am, Without One Plea, Sweet Hour of Prayer).

Tell me the stories of Jesus (1885) William Henry Parker, a British author began to write poetry early in life.  He became interested in Sunday schools was led to compose hymns, later included in The School Hymnal and The Children’s Book of Praise.  The tune, Stories of Jesus, was composed by Fred Challinor.



Next week: Great New Hymns for Today


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How Sweet the Sound! Part 2

download (1)More Great Hymns

I think I’ve unleashed a monster!  As I looked through my hymnal collection for more favorite hymns, I found so many that it would take years to write about all of them!  So I’ll list a few more here, and try to limit myself to 2 more weeks.  Tell me your favorite so I don’t miss it.


Thomas Ken was born in 1637 and became an Oxford scholar, chaplain to members of royalty, and eventually a bishop in the Anglican church. He wrote a manual of prayers in 1674, including a three-verse one simply named Morning Hymn. The doxology – which is a combination of two Greek words to mean ‘word of glory’ – as we know today is the final verse of this poem.



Isaac Watts started studying Latin at age 4, and writing poetry at age seven. Though he became a minister in adulthood, it is as a writer of psalms and hymns (more than 800!) that he is most known.   There is no special story that surrounds the writing of this hymn; what makes it unique is the beauty of its language and imagery, and the power with which it highlights the most significant event in Christian history — the cross of Jesus Christ.  Watts is widely recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is considered his greatest hymn.



Blind from the six weeks from maltreatment of her eyes during an illness, Fanny Crosby was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp.  Mrs. Knapp played a new melody she had just composed. When Knapp asked Crosby, “What do you think the tune says?”, Crosby replied, “Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine.” The hymn became one of the most beloved hymns of all time.  It is based on an interpretation of Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”



In 1885, Carl Bobert, a Swede, was walking home from church and listening to the church’s bells. A sudden storm came up, and as suddenly as it arrived, it subsided. After watching this display of nature, he went home and wrote this poem. It was matched to a Swedish folk tune in 1888,  translated into German in 1907, Russian in 1912, and English in 1925.



Thomas Chisolm was sick much of his life.  In a rare bout of good health, he went on a mission trip. While traveling, he corresponded with William Runyan, a good friend with whom he often exchanged poems. Runyan found this poem of Thomas’ so moving that he composed music for it. It wasn’t noticed until several years later by a Moody Bible Institute professor, who requested it be sung in their chapel services.


Next week: Great Hymns Written for Children

What is your memory from childhood?


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How Sweet the Sound!

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When I’m asked to name my favorite hymn, I’m stymied.  There are so many wonderful hymns  throughout the history of the Church. But there are some that have stood the test of time and are with us today because they have changed us as members of the body of Christ. Here are some of my favorites.



BE THOU MY VISION (8th century)

This humble prayer began as a medieval Celtic poem, but it wasn’t translated into English and put to music until 1905, by Mary Byrne.



St. Francis of Assisi was known as a lover of nature and animals, and he also loved music. He wrote over 60 hymns, including this one reflecting the power and significance of creation.



Robert Robinson was a rather difficult, headstrong boy, so when he turned 14, he was sent to London for an apprenticeship. He got into even more trouble in London, and when he was 17, went with some of his friends to a meeting to make fun of Christians. George Whitfield’s preaching moved him deeply, and began his search for God.  He became a Christian three years later and then a pastor.  At age 23, he wrote this poem to accompany one of his sermons. It was set to music in 1813.



“Amazing Grace” was written for a New Year’s Day sermon by John Newton, an English poet. Its focus is on the redemption found only in Jesus—a simple but profound truth during a lot of Church division.  It wasn’t too popular until the early 19th century, and is now considered a folk hymn.


JUST AS I AM (1835)

When poet Charlotte Elliott was at a dinner party in the early 19th century, an elderly man asked her if she was a Christian. She considered his question inappropriate, but later asked him what he meant. After speaking with him, Charlotte decided to follow Christ. She wrote “Just As I Am” remembering the man’s words that she could come to Jesus “just as she was.”  It became a popular song during Billy Graham’s crusades in the 20th century.



After his death, Reginald Heber’s widow found the words to this poem, but it was years later when a publisher found it and asked John Dykes to set it to music. Dykes wrote the tune in 30 minutes and named it Nicea in honor of the 325 Council of Nicea, the first effort to attain unity in the Church.


More great hymns next week.  What is your favorite?





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Our Worship Music this Sunday


Picture1Prelude: “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”

Sujin John, jazz piano

(Note: Sujin and his family are moving to Richmond next week.)


“Just a Closer Walk with Thee” is a traditional gospel song that has been performed by many artists.    As an instrumental or vocal, “A Closer Walk” is one of the most frequently-played hymns at traditional New Orleans jazz funerals. The title and lyrics of the song allude to the Biblical passage from 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  Though it’s origins are difficult to trace, most writers agree that the hymn originated as a black spiritual sometime before the Civil War. It has been translated into eleven languages and has appeared on over 600 albums.


Sujin John, a gifted musician, was born and raised in Mumbai, India, where he learned to play electric organ and guitar. By age 11, he was playing the organ for church services at St. Stephen’s Church, where he went on to form the church’s first Praise & Worship band. During that time, he was also part of the local music community and played bass guitar and keyboards for several local bands.  Sujin now plays bass guitar for Arlington-based alternative progressive rock band, Stealing Genius, and is currently lead music composer for a Bollywood film.  Sujin is a senior manager with a global learning development organization.


Offertory: “When Jesus Walked on Gallilee”Picture2

by Clara Edwards · Jillian Tate, soprano


Clara Edwards, born in 1880, was an American singer, pianist, and composer of art songs. Edwards composed over 100 works and published over 60 songs.  Her songs were performed by many famous singers, including soprano Lily Pons and baritones John Charles Thomas and Ezio Pinza. They are distinguished for their lovely melodies, and considered some of the best of the ballad style concert songs.

Jillian Tate is one of those rare students who combines athletics and music.  A sophomore at Oakton High School, she runs winter and spring track, and has recently become one of the youngest members of the madrigal group, the most advanced musical ensemble at the school.  She has taken voice lessons since 8th grade with Danielle Talamantes, but has been in chorus since 4th grade.  Jillian says, “singing is one of my favorite things to do.”  She also enjoys acting, cooking/baking and playing the piano.


Adult choir starts tomorrow, September 3 at 7:30.

Handbell choir begins next Tuesday, September 9 at 7:30.

Children’s choir  begins Sunday, September 14 at 9:35.

Chime choir rehearses two Sundays each month after the 11am worship starting September 21.

Make a joyful noise!  Join one of our choirs!



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