Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A. N. Whitten and the United Association

I have previously posted a good bit about Archibald Newton Whitten, and compiled a booklet of some of his life history. But it has been a while. Recently, Jesse P. Karlsberg, Sacred Harp singer, composer & vice president of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, found a connection of Whitten to the United Sacred Harp Musical Association – at least for 1921. That year the association met in the Auditorium-Armory in Atlanta, Georgia, September 9-11, 1921. Whitten is listed as an “Assistant” on the Executive Board of Council of the United Association. So 100 years ago (and a few days) A. N. Whitten was one of four Texans on this Council.[i]


 Minutes of the United Sacred Harp Musical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, September 9-11, 1921, page 2
(Picture furnished by Jesse P. Karlsberg)

[i] Perusal of the minutes suggested Whitten was not in attendance of the Association in Atlanta. Jesse also said that Whitten’s name does not appear in the Executive Council members in 1925, the next oldest minute that he has.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Shall suffer persecution

2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

As Christians, perhaps most especially preachers, we can sometimes suffer from a “disease” which creates its own “self-fulfilling prophecy.” One may act like an arrogant jerk, insufferable know-it-all, or total idiot – then claim to be persecuted because of being a Christian when others react negatively and coarsely. It is a glory to suffer as a Christian. There is nothing commendatory in suffering for own sinful and stupid acts and omissions.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (1 Peter 4:15-17).

Monday, September 13, 2021

Holy and reverend is his name

[Psalm 111] Verse 9. He sent redemption unto his people. When they were in Egypt he sent not only a deliverer, but an actual deliverance; not only a redeemer, but complete redemption. He has done the like spiritually for all his people, having first by blood purchased them out of the hand of the enemy, and then by power rescued them from the bondage of their sins. Redemption we can sing of as an accomplished act: it has been wrought for us, sent to us, and enjoyed by us, and we are in very deed the Lord's redeemed. He hath commanded his covenant for ever. His divine decree has made the covenant of his grace a settled and eternal institution: redemption by blood proves that the covenant cannot be altered, for it ratifies and establishes it beyond all recall. This, too, is reason for the loudest praise. Redemption is a fit theme for the heartiest music, and when it is seen to be connected with gracious engagements from which the Lord's truth cannot swerve, it becomes a subject fitted to arouse the soul to an ecstasy of gratitude. Redemption and the covenant are enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing. Holy and reverend is his name. Well may he say this. The whole name or character of God is worthy of profoundest awe, for it is perfect and complete, whole or holy. It ought not to be spoken without solemn thought, and never heard without profound homage. His name is to be trembled at, it is something terrible; even those who know him best rejoice with trembling before him. How good men can endure to be called “reverend” we know not. Being unable to discover any reason why our fellow men should reverence us, we half suspect that in other men there is not very much which can entitle them to be called reverend, very reverend, right reverend, and so on. It may seem a trifling matter, but for that very reason we would urge that the foolish custom should be allowed to fall into disuse.

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 5a, Psalm 107-119

Sunday, September 12, 2021

My Soul Thirsteth for God

“Thirsting for God” or “My Soul Thirsteth for God” was written by William Cowper (1731-1800). It was published the Olney Hymns (1779, Book 3, Hymn 61). It contains 5 stanzas of 4 lines in Long Meter. There may not be one tune that is particularly associated with this hymn. In the Hymn and Tune Book for Use in Old School or Primitive Baptist Churches, Durand and Lester printed it under Lowell Mason’s Rockingham.
1. I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share:
Thy wounds, Emmanuel, all forbid
That I should seek my pleasure there.
2. It was the sight of thy dear cross
First wean’d my soul from earthly things;
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings.
3. I want that grace that springs from thee,
That quickens all things where it flows,
And makes a wretched thorn, like me,
Bloom as the myrtle, or the rose.
4. Dear fountain of delight unknown!
No longer sink below the brim;
But overflow, and pour me down
A living, and life-giving stream!
5. For sure, of all the plants that share
The notice of thy Father’s eye,
None proves less grateful to his care,
Or yields him meaner fruit than I.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The world out there, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“The world out there is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity; it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.” -- Leonard Ravenhill

“When you look this way and that way to see who is watching (Exodus 2:12), don’t forget to look up!”

“Knowing who you are comes down to knowing Whose you are.” -- Amy Boucher Pye

“The secret to success is not to do as everyone. Success is often measured by what others haven’t done.” -- Charles Ghigna

“The evil that men do lives after them: The good is oft interred with their bones.” -- Mark Anthony, from Shakespeare

“The same water that softens the potato, hardens the egg.” -- Proverb

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” -- G. K. Chesterton

“Every child should have an occasional pat on the back as long as it is applied low enough and hard enough.” -- Fulton J. Sheen

“Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” -- John Stark, American Revolutionary War General

Friday, September 10, 2021

Are Christian Ministers, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The Singers and the Songs

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

In the text we have five remarkable[i] parts, namely:

1. The singers. “Speaking to themselves.” Christians, especially those who dwelt in the city of Ephesus. Christians understand how to rejoice in God; their hearts can so set the tune that God shall hear the music. Zanchius well observes that the apostle does here make the comparison between the mirth which is made “from the abundance of wine,” and that which is made “from the abundance of the Spirit.” The drunkard’s song, how toyish! But the saint’s singing, how triumphal! How confused the one! How sweet the other! How empty the one, even to the very companions of their cups and mirth! But how melodious the other, even to the Lord Himself! And he gravely takes notice that, “saints rejoice, but intemperate persons drivel in their chat.”

2. The song itself. And here the apostle runs division, diversifying songs into three species, which according to the descants of learned men, may be thus understood:

(1) And here Jerome gives us a dexterous interpretation.

(i) “Psalms,” says he, “may belong to moral things, what we ought to put in use and practice.”

(ii) “Hymns may belong to sacred things, what we ought to meditate on and to contemplate, as the power, wisdom, goodness, and majesty of God.”

(iii) “Odes, or spiritual songs, may belong to natural things, what we ought to debate, discuss; namely, the race, order, harmony, and continuance of the world, and God’s infinite wisdom manifested in it!”

(2) Some distinguish these according to the authors of them.

(i) Psalms. They are the composures of holy David.

(ii) Hymns. They are the songs of some other excellent men recorded in scripture, as Moses, Heman, Asaph, etc.

(iii) Spiritual songs. They are odes of some other holy and good men not mentioned in Scripture, as the song of Ambrose, Nepos, and others.

(3) Some aver that these several speeches mentioned in the text, answer the Hebrew distinction of psalms. Among them were:

(i) Mizmorim, which treated of various and different subjects.

(ii) Tehillim, which only mentioned the praises of the Most High.

(iii) Shirim, which were songs more artificially and musically composed, and, some divines observe, were sung with the help of a musical instrument.

But I may add: Are not all these several species mentioned to prefigure the plenty and the joy which is reserved for the saints within the veil, when they shall join in concert with the glorious angels in singing their perpetual hallelujahs to their glorious Creator?

3. The manner of singing. Our text says, “making melody” with inward joy and trepidation of soul: if the tongue make the pause, the heart must make the elevation. The apostle says to the Colossians: “We must sing with grace” (Col. 3:16) which is, as some expound it:

(1) With giving of thanks. And, indeed, thankfulness is the very Selah of this duty, that which puts an accent upon the music and sweetness of the voice; and then we sing melodiously when we warble out the praises of the Lord.

(2) With gracefulness. With a becoming and graceful dexterity. And this “brings both profit and pleasure” to the hearers as Davenant observes. Psalms are not the comedies of Venus, or the jocular celebrations of a wanton Adonis; but they are the spiritual ebullitions of a composed soul to the incomprehensible Jehovah, with real grace. God’s Spirit must breathe in this service; here we must act our joy, our confidence, our delight. Singing is the triumph of a gracious soul, the child joying in the praises of his Father. In singing of psalms, the gracious heart takes wings, and mounts up to God, to join with the celestial choir. It is grace which fits the heart for, and sweetens the heart in, this duty. And where this qualification is wanting, this service is rather a hurry than a duty; it is rather a disturbance than any obedience.

4. The master of the choir, the preceptor. That is: the “heart.” We must look to the heart in singing, that it be purged by the Spirit and that it be replete with spiritual affection. He plays the hypocrite who brings not the heart to this duty. One observes, “There is no tune without the heart.” Singing takes its proper rise from the heart; the voice is only the further progress. And, indeed, God is the Creator of the whole man; and therefore He will be praised not only with our tongues, but with our hearts. The apostle tells us, he “will sing with the spirit.” (1 Cor. 14:15) And David informs us, his heart was ready to “sing and give praise.” (Ps. 57:7,8; 108:1) Augustine admonishes us, “It is not a musical string, but a working heart, [that] is harmonious.” The virgin Mary sings her Magnificat with her heart. (Lk. 1:46-47) And Bernard tells us in a tract of his, that “when we sing psalms, let us take heed that we have the same thing in our mind that we warble forth in our tongue, and that our song and our heart do not run several ways.” If we in singing only offer the calves of our lips, it will too much resemble a carnal and a Jewish service.

5. The end of the duty. “To the Lord” So says the text; namely, to Jesus Christ, who is here principally meant. Our singing must not serve our gain, or our luxury, or our fancy; but our Christ, our Lord, and dear Redeemer. In this duty it is his praises we must mainly and chiefly celebrate. And most deservedly we magnify the true God by psalms and singing, when the heathens celebrate their false and dunghill gods, Jupiter, Neptune, and Apollo, with songs and hymns. One well observes: “Singing of psalms is part of divine worship, and of our homage and service due to the great Jehovah.” Bodius takes notice that, “God is the true and only scope of all our singing.” And truly if the Spirit of God be in us. He will be steadily aimed at by us. Thus Deborah and Barak sang their triumphal song “to the Lord.” (Judg. 5:3)

John Wells, in How We May Make Melody in our Hearts to God in Singing of Psalms, 1689

[i] Though these thoughts are remarkable, it appears here that the author means he is making remarks on five parts of the verse.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

A fixed heart, a fixed duty

Psalm 108:1. O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 

Meditation is a fixed duty. It is not a cursory work. Man’s thoughts naturally labour with a great inconsistency; but meditation chains them, and fastens them upon some spiritual object. The soul when it meditates lays a command on itself, that the thoughts which are otherwise flitting and feathery should fix upon its object; and so this duty is very advantageous. As we know a garden which is watered with sudden showers is more uncertain in its fruit than when it is refreshed with a constant stream; so when our thoughts are sometimes on good things, and then run off; when they only take a glance of a holy object, and then flit away, there is not so much fruit brought into the soul. In meditation, then, there must be a fixing of the heart upon the object, a steeping the thoughts, as holy David: “O God, my heart is fixed.” We must view the holy object presented by meditation, as a limner who views some curious piece, and carefully heeds every shade, every line and colour; as the virgin Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Indeed; meditation is not only the busying of the thoughts, but the centring of them; not only the employing of them, but the staking them down upon some spiritual affair. When the soul, meditating upon something divine, saith as the disciples in the transfiguration (Mt 17:4), “It is good to be here.”

John Wells, in The Practical Sabbatarian, 1668