Does Jesus Care | Frank E. Graeff

Frank E. Graeff was a minister in the Methodist denomination and served some of its leading churches, in the Philadelphia Conference. Throughout the district, he was known as the sunshine minister.

In spite of his outwardly-cheery disposition and winsome personality, Graeff was often called upon to go through severe testing experiences in his life.

It was while passing through such a test and experiencing severe despondency, doubt and physical agony, that Mr. Graeff wrote this hymn, Does Jesus Care?

Rev. Graeff turned to the Scriptures for solace and strength. First Peter 5:7 became especially meaningful to him during this particular struggle: “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

The phrase, “He careth for you,” spoke deeply to his need. To experience times of questions and even doubts regarding the nearness of God, as Frank Graeff did in the verses of this hymn, is only human and normal.

But it is only as a believer comes through such a struggle, with the firm conviction in the chorus of this hymn— O yes He cares, I know He cares—that a child of God can be truly victorious.
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Be Thou My Vision | Mary Bryne | Eleanor Hull

This ancient 8th century hymn text from Ireland is still meaningful for us today with its expression of a yearning for the presence and leading of God in our lives.

The earnest prayer is enhanced by such quaint but tender phrases as “Lord of my heart, Thy presence my light, and heart of my heart.”

The text states that when we allow God to have first place in our lives, He becomes our treasure.  And we no longer care for the pursuit of riches or man’s praise.

The entire Irish poem was first translated into English in 1905 by Mary Bryne, in Dublin, Ireland.

Several years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, [penned the prose into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael.

The melody for this hymn is a traditional Irish tune.

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Great is Thy Faithfulness | Thomas Obadiah Chisholm

While many hymns are born out of a particular dramatic experience, this hymn was simply the result of the author’s morning by morning realization of God’s personal faithfulness.

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. Without the benefit of high school or advanced training, he began his career as a school teacher at the age of sixteen, in the same country schoolhouse where he had received his elementary training.

When he was twenty-one, he became the associate editor of his home town weekly newspaper, The Franklin Favorite. Six years later he accepted Christ as his personal Savior during a revival meeting.

Later Chisholm was ordained to the Methodist ministry but was forced to resign after a brief pastorate because of poor health. Chisholm retired in 1953 and spent his remaining years at the Methodist Home for the Aged, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

In a letter dated 1941, Mr. Chisholm wrote; “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me until now, although I must not fail to record the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

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A Mighty Fortress is Our God | Martin Luther

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany. That date was sometimes called the “4th of July of Protestantism.” It symbolized the start of the Protestant Reformation.

And the single most powerful hymn of the Protestant Reformation Movement was Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” based on Psalm 46.

This hymn became the battle cry of the people, a great source of strength and inspiration even for those who were martyred for their convictions. Its majestic and thunderous proclamation of our faith is a singing symbol of the reformation.

Inspired by Psalm 46, Luther caught up in the hymn the very essence of faith, and the fervor and flavor of patriotism which he found in the Psalm.

This hymn has been translated into practically every known language and is regarded as one of the noblest and most classic examples of Christian hymnody.

The first line of this national hymn of Protestant Germany is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of the great reformer at Wittenberg,

Luther had strong convictions about the use and power of sacred music.  Once he wrote, “I would allow no man to preach or teach God’s people without a proper knowledge of the use and power of sacred song.”

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The Story Behind the Hymn | Charles Wesley


William Barclay once wrote that a person needs to have three conversions: first, to God; second, to other Christians; and third, to the world. Certainly there are these three crucial aspects to our faith—worship, fellowship, and ministry.

Charles Wesley, the prolific Methodist hymnwriter, wrote widely on all three sides of this sacred triangle. Many churches emphasize one of these aspects and neglect one or two of the others.

Some focus on personal growth or outreach but never develop a “body life” in which Christians get to know and love one another.

Others are so absorbed in Christian fellowship that they never do anything to reach out to others. As usual, Wesley’s words are rooted in Scripture.

The New Testament continually weaves these three threads of Christian life together.

Scriptures: Acts 4:23-24; Ephesians 4:7, 11-13; Hebrews 10:25

Themes: Redemption, Fellowship, Church

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The Story behind The Hymn | William Kethe


This is often called “The Old Hundredth” because it is based on Psalm 100. It is probably the oldest hymn of praise in the English language. William Kethe, a Scotsman, was a minister of the Church of England.

But during the reign of Queen Mary, which was a reign of terror for many English Protestants, Kethe fled to Germany and then to Geneva, Switzerland. In Geneva he was influenced by John Calvin.

There he assisted in the translation of the Geneva Bible and helped to produce a complete English version of the metrical psalms. From this Psalter, now more than four hundred years old, “The Old Hundredth” is taken.

The hymn was first published in London in 1561, shortly after Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne.

The music was written by John Calvin’s choir director, and the hymn has never been set to any other but the original tune.

Scriptures: Psalm 100:1-4; John 10:11; Hebrews 13:15

Themes: Praise, Worship, Joy

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The Story Behind The Hymn |Henry Ware


All nature continuously praises God—only humans require reminders to do so. When Henry Ware’s church in Boston prepared to dedicate its new organ, they asked Henry to write a dedicatory hymn.

As he wrote, he made sure that he did not speak of the greatness of the instrument. Instead, he emphasized the organ’s purpose: to assist Christians in the praise of God.

In a way, the hymn is reminiscent of Psalm 150, which speaks of seven or eight different musical instruments, united in the praise of God.

Thirteen times that psalm urges us to join in praise. We, too, are created for this purpose, to sing of God’s glory.

We can thank God for our church organs and the other instruments that lead us in worship.

But how often during the week do we lift our souls to God in the unaccompanied exaltation of our glorious Lord?

Scriptures: Psalm 19:1-4; Psalm 150, Romans 1:20

Themes: Creation, Nature, Praise

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