Category Archives: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς

“Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven” by Jonathan Gibson

“The story of human history, from beginning to end, is the story of worship. This is because God has so structured His world that every person will worship through one of two men—Adam or Jesus Christ.

The first man Adam was made homo liturgicus, and everyone bearing his image has inherited his fallen liturgical orientation toward idolatry. We are born worshiping the creature, not the Creator; we live our lives seeking salvation and satisfaction in pseudo-redeemers, not the Redeemer.

We are a restless race, wandering ‘east,’ away from the divine sanctuary. But, through the Second Man Jesus Christ, we have the invitation to return and worship God aright in spirit and truth, in His presence.

Through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the true Homo Liturgicus—God has opened a way back into His presence.

Since the first son of God, Adam, through the national (typical) son of God, Israel, and the royal (typical) son of God, Solomon, to the final (last-days) Son of God, Jesus, and now the (redeemed) sons of God, the Church—God has been seeking a people to worship Him.

We are called to worship, and our hearts are restless until we respond to that call by faith and obedience, and come and feast on Christ: ‘[W]hoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35).

The consummate experience of this truth must await the final day when we will feast on, and with, the glorified Son of God Himself, at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

For now, it is right, fitting, and delightful to worship as God’s redeemed people; then, it will be right, fitting, and delightful to do so as God’s glorified people. It is why worship matters now—because it will matter then, forever.

And so, as we gather each Lord’s Day, between the now and not yet of God’s kingdom, let us worship God for who is He, as one eternal God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and for what He has done in creation and redemption, and for what He will do in the coming consummation.

Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven.”

–Jonathan Gibson, “Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven,” Reformation Worship, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 20-21.

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“The neglect of Scripture by spiritual leaders is one of the greatest evils in the world” by Martin Luther

To the venerable lord, Fredrick, Abbot of Saint Giles of Nuremberg, my gracious lord and patron. Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Savior!

My venerable and dear lord and patron:

While I should like to show my gratitude to you for your love and favor to me, I am, by earthly standards, a beggar. Besides, even if I had much, there is nothing special I could do for you in your position.

And so I turned to my wealth, which I treasure so much, and took up my beloved Psalm, the beautiful Confitemini (i.e. Psalm 118), putting down on paper the thoughts which came to me.

I am quite idle here in the wilderness. And yet, in order to spare my head, I need to pause and rest occasionally in the hard work that I hope to complete soon, the translation of the Old Testament prophets into German.

These thoughts of mine I decided to send you as a gift. I have nothing better. Though some may consider this a lot of useless drivel, I know it contains nothing evil or unchristian.

This is my own beloved Psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially.

Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this Psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles.

As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the Pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this Psalm for all of it.

But lest anyone, knowing that this Psalm belongs to the whole world, raise his eyebrow at my claim that this Psalm is mine, may he be assured that no one is being robbed. After all, Christ is mine, and yet He belongs to all believers.

I will not be jealous but will gladly share what is mine. Would to God all the world would claim this Psalm for its own, as I do! Peace and love could not compare with such a friendly quarrel.

Sad to say, there are few, even among those who should do better, who honestly say even once in their lifetime to Scripture or to one of the Psalms: ‘You are my beloved Book! You must be my very own Psalm!’

The neglect of Scripture, even by spiritual leaders, is one of the greatest evils in the world. Everything else, arts or literature, is pursued and practiced day and night, and there is no end of labor and effort.

But Holy Scripture is neglected as though there were no need of it. Those who condescend to read it want to absorb everything at once.

There has never been an art or a book on earth that everyone has so quickly mastered as the Holy Scriptures!? But its words are not, as some think, mere literature. They are words of life, intended not for speculation and fantasy but for life and action.

But why complain? No one pays any attention to our lament.

May Christ our Lord help us by His Spirit to love and honor His holy Word with all our hearts. Amen.

I commit myself to your prayer.

Out of the desert,
July 1, 1530
Martin Luther”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 45–46. This passage is from the preface to Luther’s exposition of Psalm 118, his “beloved Psalm.”

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“While immortality endures we shall not be done giving thanks” by William Plumer

“While life lasts, we shall not be done praying. But while immortality endures, we shall not be done giving thanks (Ps. 136:1, 2, 3, 26). The cause for this delightful branch of worship will continue forever. And the heart of the pious will always be actuated by love. They will carry on this blessed service in the finest style long after the sun shall cease to rise and set.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 1152. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 136.

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“Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136” by James Montgomery Boice

“The word that is used for ‘love’ in this refrain is the powerful Hebrew term hesed, which means ‘covenant love’ or the favor God shows to those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. Sometimes it is translated ‘steadfast (or ‘enduring’) love.’ It is enduring because God is a God of His word. He is forever good, and He does not break His covenant.

One night in February 358 A.D. the church father Athanasius held an all-night service at his church in Alexandria, Egypt. He had been leading the fight for the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ, knowing that the survival of Christianity depended on it. He had many enemies—for political even more than theological reasons—and they moved the power of the Roman government against him. That night the church was surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords. People were frightened.

With calm presence of mind Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136. The vast congregation responded, thundering forth twenty-six times, ‘His love endures forever.’ When the soldiers burst through the doors they were staggered by the singing. Athanasius kept his place until the congregation was dispersed. Then he too disappeared in the darkness and found refuge with his friends.

Many citizens of Alexandria were killed that night, but the people of Athanasius’s congregation never forgot that although man is evil, God is good. He is superlatively good, and ‘His love endures forever.'”

–James Montgomery Boice, Psalms: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 3: 1185. Boice is commenting on Psalm 136.

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“Until the Day Break” by Horatius Bonar

“For the vision of the Bridegroom
Waits the well-beloved Bride,
Severed only for a season
From her Well-beloved’s side.
For the hour when morn ascendeth,
And the shadows disappear,
For the signs of heavenly glory,
She is waiting, waiting here!
Morn of morns, it comes at last,
All the gloom of ages past.
For the day of days the brightest
She is waiting, waiting here!

For the coming of the Bridegroom,
Whom, though yet unseen, we love;
For the King of saints, returning
In His glory from above;
For the shout that shakes the prison,
For the trumpet loud and clear,
For the voice of the archangel,
She is waiting, waiting here!
Morn of morns, it comes at last,
All the gloom of ages past.
For the day of days the brightest
She is waiting, waiting here!

For the light beyond the darkness,
When the reign of sin is done,
When the storm has ceased its raging,
And the haven has been won;
For the joy beyond the sorrow,
Joy of the eternal year,
For the resurrection splendour,
She is waiting, waiting here!
Morn of morns, it comes at last,
All the gloom of ages past.
For the day of days the brightest
She is waiting, waiting here!

For the day of ended battle,
For the victor’s palm and crown,
For the day of recognition,
When the King shall claim His own;
For the day when He who loved her
Shall in glory reappear,
For the day of revelation,
She is waiting, waiting here!
Morn of morns, it comes at last,
All the gloom of ages past.
For the day of days the brightest
She is waiting, waiting here!”

–Horatius Bonar, “Until the Day Break,” in “Until the Day Break,” and Other Hymns and Poems Left Behind (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1890), 3-5.

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“Meditating day and night” by William Plumer

“Another positive sign of a renewed man is that he meditates in the law of the LORD day and night. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’

Vain thoughts lodge in all ungodly men. But the righteous hate sinful imaginings. What the wicked would be ashamed to act or speak out, the righteous is ashamed to think or desire.

Yet the mind of the righteous is full of activity. He meditates. The power of reflection chiefly distinguishes a man from a brute.

The habit of reflection chiefly distinguishes a wise man from a fool. Pious reflection on God’s word greatly distinguishes a saint from a sinner.

Without meditation grace never thrives, prayer is languid, praise dull, and religious duties unprofitable.

Yet to flesh and blood without divine grace this is an impossible duty.

It is easier to take a journey of a thousand miles than to spend an hour in close, devout, profitable thought on divine things.

Like prayer (Luke 18:7), meditation is to be pursued day and night, not reluctantly, but joyously, not merely in God’s house, or on the Lord’s day, but whenever other duties do not forbid.

Nor does the true child of God slight part of divine truth. He loves it all.

A saint is therefore described by his ‘meditating in the law of God day and night,’ which is the natural and necessary effect of his delight in it.”

–William Plumer, Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, originally published in 1867; reprinted 2016), 28.

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“God holds us with an omnipotent grasp” by William Plumer

“By faith we have hold on God, but our grip is often feeble. Our great safety lies in this: that God holds us with an omnipotent grasp, and never entirely lets us go.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 714. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 74:23.

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