Thursday, June 30, 2022

Bishops, Elders, and Pastors

Colin Smothers created a Venn diagram to illustrate the overlapping usage of the words bishop, elder, and pastor in the New Testament. He writes about it in Pastor, Elder, and Overseer: A Baptist View -- “Baptists have historically equated the terms ‘pastor,’ ‘elder,’ and ‘bishop’/‘overseer,’ thus understanding all three terms to speak of the same office.”

Select link to see full size diagram

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The seven who were hung, 2 Samuel 21:1-14

Q. Why would David deliver the seven descendants of Saul to the Gibeonites to be hanged? That seems wrong.

A. David ordered them hung because of a three-year famine and to fulfill the Gibeonites’ yearning for retribution against Saul and his actions.

The record of this incident begins with God’s judgement by way of famine on the nation of Israel.[i] When David enquires of God about the problem, “the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.”[ii] Saul sinned against the Gibeonites in cruelty and treachery. This wrong had not been righted. The Israelites swore an oath and made a league to spare the Gibeonites and live at peace with them (Joshua 9). The Gibeonites devised a cunning ruse to persuade the Israelites to make peace with them. God nevertheless expected them to keep their oath (Ecclesiastes 5:4).[iii] Saul violated this covenant. David was right in enquiring of God as to the problem. However, it appears that he erred in enquiring of the Gibeonites rather than God for how to fix the problem. In verse 3, he asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you?” They answer their desire (see verses 5 and 6) – “let seven men of [Saul’s] sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul”.

David does not hesitate. He agrees and delivers seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites for hanging.[iv] The Gibeonites received their revenge on the house of Saul. Had David enquired of God, perhaps God would have commanded another solution.

Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the mother of two of the men hanged, is an honourable character in this story (cf. 2 Samuel 3:7). The Gibeonites left the bodies hanging for all to see.[v] Rizpah protected the bodies from the devouring by birds and beasts.[vi] When David hears what Rizpah had done, he seems to be moved with compassion and ends the gruesome scenario. Only after David buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan and the bones of the seven that were hanged “God was intreated for the land.”[vii]

This incident in the life of David is unusual and contrary to our modern sensibilities. That God recorded it does not mean he approved it, morally. However, we know that such stories are recorded for our learning and our admonition, and “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

As someone has said, regardless of the interpretation of this passage, the story will ruffle its readers. I do not have all the answers, but here are a few observations.

Regardless of what we may not understand or misunderstand, God is just. The judgment of the famine and the reason for it is a temporal punishment under the righteous hand of God. Only a fool seeks a quarrel with God.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deuteronomy 32:4

God judges nations. See Ezekiel chapters 25-32.

Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Read Jeremiah 18:1-10.

God judged Israel because of “blood-guilt” that had not been justly compensated according to the law. Seven of Saul’s sons were executed. Though the capital punishment was carried out by the Gibeonites, it seems that God’s wrath was not satisfied until all the associated dead were buried – “after that God was intreated for the land.” All told, it is a sad episode in Israel’s history that illustrates that God is not mocked, but whatsoever a man, or a nation, soweth, that will also be reaped.

[i] 2 Samuel 21:1-14 is a section of 2 Samuel chapters 21-24, which may be a non-chronological supplement to the narrative of the reign of David. “Then” would be a sort of reference to other things that happened “in the days of David” rather than a chronological referent. “Then” does not bear the pure chronological weight as a statement such as “it came to pass after these things” in 1 Kings 17:17. Shimei, a Benjamite, a man of the family of the house of Saul, cursed David as a bloody man (2 Samuel 16:5-14). This may refer to the incident of 2 Samuel 21:1-14. Many believe it to be.
[ii] It is not clear exactly when this occurred. According to John Gill, “the Jews commonly say that he slew them when he slew the priests at Nob, they being hewers of wood and drawers of water to them, and were slain with them.” See Joshua 9:27 and 1 Samuel 22:17-19. However, their answer in verse 5 suggests this was an ongoing process in the reign of Saul to eliminate the presence of the Gibeonites as inhabitants of Israel. The land was polluted with blood, Numbers 35:33-34. 2 Samuel 21:2 – his bloody house – possibly implicates Saul’s family in the attempted extermination of the Gibeonites.
[iii] For their submission, the Gibeonites achieved survival and received protection (Joshua 9:25 and Joshua 10:6-7)
[iv] David’s action are seen by some as a violation of his oath to Saul, 1 Samuel 24:21-22. He does not, however, seek the extermination of all Saul’s descendants, and he carefully keeps his oath to Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3; 20:15–17, 42; 23:18).
[v] A violation of Deuteronomy 21:22-23.
[vi] Such a fate was incurred in the curse of an Israel that would “not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.”
[vii] It seems that the nation was also guilty of not honouring their dead leaders of the first dynasty with a proper burial. Compare 1 Samuel 31:8–13.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Hymnwriters and Composers from Soul Songs and Sonnets

Below is a list of some of the hymnwriters and composers from Soul Songs and Sonnets by Sharp McNiel and B. N. Richards in 1909. I tried to include everyone I thought were East Texas folks and/or directly connected to the McNiel-Richards Company. Therefore, I did include the Bacons, who lived in Tennessee but seem to have contributed material directly to the songbook (since some of it is copyrighted by the McNiel-Richards Company). I did not include well-known hymnwriters and composers such as Laura Newell, John Newton, Isaac Watts, Thomas Hastings, and Lowell Mason.

I hope to contribute to our knowledge of local hymnwriters and composers, many who may not be known as such by some of their descendants. The list is divided into “known” (either I knew or discovered who they were),“possible or probable” (I believe I have or may have correctly identified them), “unknown” (I still am not sure who they were), and, lastly, other people who are simply mentioned in notes and dedications, etc.

If you know the identity of the probables or unknowns, please let me know. Many of these folks were students of Sharp McNiel in his singing schools.

Known hymnwriters and composers
Possible or probable hymnwriters and composers
Unknown hymnwriters and composers
  • Kittie Deason
  • J. P. Henderson
  • Edwin Moore
  • Howard E. Smith
Other persons mentioned in notes, dedications, etc.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Whose heart the Lord opened

“Whose heart the Lord opened.” Acts 16:14

It is always blessed to trace mercies to their source! And blessed when, through grace, we are enabled to give God his glory, and not put down to man’s merit what wholly originates in God’s grace. The opening of the heart can only be the province of Him that made it. Renewing work, as well as creating work, is his. He that hath the key of David, is he alone “that openeth, and none shutteth; and shutteth, and none openeth.” What a beautiful illustration hath the Holy Ghost given the church of this precious truth, in the instance of this woman, whose heart the Lord opened!

Robert Hawker (1753-1827)

Sunday, June 26, 2022

We Bless Thy Holy Name

We Bless Thy Holy Name is song # 75 in The Best Gospel Songs and Their Composers, by A. J. Showalter. Claude Hinton Bottoms, a composer, evangelist, and music teacher, wrote the tune. He is buried at the Riverdale Baptist Cemetery in Riverdale, Clayton County, Georgia. Laura Bell Hunter wrote the words. For biographical information on Mrs. Hunter, see Hymnwriter: Mrs. J. M. Hunter is Laura Bell Ogilvie Hunter.

1. We bless thy holy name,
Thou who canst save from shame,
Thee we adore;
Let all the people sing;
Loud let thy praises ring,
Thou are our God and King,
For evermore!

2, Thou art our Life and Light,
Dispelling all our night,
With mercy free;
We bow before thy throne,
Thy sov’reignty we own;
Since thou are God alone,
We come to thee.

3. Accept our grateful praise,
Guide us in wisdom’s ways,
Almighty Friend;
Our zeal and strength renew,
Help us our work to do,
With loving hearts and true,
Till time shall end.

4. When earthly tasks are o’er
On Canaan’s shining shore,
How sweet ’twill be,
Mid scenes of pure delight,
Where sin can never blight,
To share thy glory bright,

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Sad Anniversary post removed

Sometimes I prepare posts ahead of time for a specific upcoming anniversaries, dates, events, and/or holidays. Today I removed a “Sad Anniversary” post I had scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court Decision. Six months before its fiftieth birthday, the Supreme Court aborted it with its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
The vote was 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. However, though Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with that opinion, he held that the court should not have overturned Roe. The other three liberal justices opposed.

  • The Bible condemns murder – the taking of human life without justification.
  • The Bible affirms the humanity of unborn children.
  • Since the Bible establishes the humanity of the unborn child, then abortion is murder and cannot be morally permissible.
  • The U. S. Constitution does not affirm abortion as a right.
  • Murder should be regulated at the State rather than Federal level.
  • The choice being made in abortion is the choice to take an innocent human life.

Born to a mentally challenged survivor, 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.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Soul Songs and Sonnets, Authors, Inquiries

On Wednesday I published “#” McNiel, about a local singing school teacher, composer, and publisher. He taught singing schools in our community in the early 1900s. He and Bernard N. Richards[i] created the McNiel-Richards Music Company, and published at least two shape note songbooks – Soul Songs and Sonnets: A superior collection of Songs and Hymns for the Church, Revival, Sunday-school, Prayer Service and Convention in 1909 and Sunbeam Songs: A superior collection of New and Old songs for the Church, Sunday-school, Revival, Young People’s Societies, Prohibition, and Convention Work in 1910.

My grandfather’s brother, B. L. Vaughn, had a song (maybe more than one) published in one of the McNiel-Richards books. It is not in Soul Songs and Sonnets. It must be in Sunbeam Songs, unless there is a third compilation of which I am unaware.

Soul Songs and Sonnets lists McNiel and Richards as the publishers/editors. Four other men are listed as “Associate Authors” – A. L. Reed, Doug Goldsberry, Joe R. Day, and J. E. Sullivan. I know who Goldsberry and Day are, and would love to identify Reed and Sullivan. I am posting their pictures below in hopes that someone somewhere somehow might be able to identify them.

Two reasonable guesses without proof are John Edgar Sullivan (1873-1956) and Albert Lee Reed (1872-1944).[ii]

[i] Incidentally, Richards is related (great uncle) to my oldest brother-in-law, Harold B. Blanton.
[ii] In 1910, Sullivan lived in Nacogdoches County, and Reed lived nearby in Rusk, Cherokee County, Texas.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Do they know Greek?

On his Biblical Studies and Reviews blog, Stephen Hackett calls attention to a statement by textual scholar Bart Ehrman. It is from Ehrman’s “What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible? Manuscripts, Translation, and the Legacy of the KJV” keynote address at the “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible” exhibition at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University in 2013.

Comments start about 21:43:00 and go to about 22:43:00 (and about 1:35:00 on Hackett’s blog)

There are questions among scholars about how many people actually participated in the translation; but the best answer is that there were forty-seven translators, who were all skilled, highly skilled, in Greek and Hebrew. Today when somebody is highly skilled in Greek, like Jeff Siker and me, we’re considered highly skilled – that means we can kind of slosh our way through a Greek text if we have a good dictionary sitting next to us. These guys, including King James, could speak Greek and did speak Greek to each other when they felt like it. They could read Hebrew like the newspaper. These were serious serious scholars. They didn’t have TV – no ESPN. So what did they do? They sat around and studied Greek. This is what they did. And Latin, and Hebrew…

In Greek Professors: Do They Know Greek?, Daniel R. Streett writes of passing out a quiz at the Evangelical Theological Society in November 2008. audience was made up of mostly Greek professors and doctoral-level students who had probably taken, on average, 4-7 years of Greek by now and some of whom had been teaching Greek for 20-30 years by now.

After the audience had finished, I collected their quizzes. The average “grade” was 0.4 out 10 correct.
Over the course of many years, I have come to the conclusion that many who claim to read Greek (or Hebrew) do not read Greek (or Hebrew) in the way we mean that statement when we speak of reading our native tongue. I have not called out anyone on the claim, seeing most likely they read Greek better than I do! However, I think the two quotes above come from men who are qualified to make the assessment. When people tell us “regular folk” that they can read Greek, it is likely “regular folk” assume the claimants are much more fluent in the language than they actually are.
  • Bart Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor in the Department Of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with degrees from Wheaton College (BA, 1978) and Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv, 1981; PhD, 1985).
  • Daniel R. Streett is an Associate Professor in Biblical Studies at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, with degrees from Criswell College (BA in Biblical Studies), Yale Divinity School (MA in Biblical Studies), and Southeastern Seminary (PhD in New Testament).

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

“#” McNiel

Julian Hilary “Sharp” McNiel was born in Rusk County, Texas, November 13, 1873, the son of George Thomas McNiel and Susan Frances Wallace. He married Nettie Lee Irby (1875-1958) in 1896 and they were the parents six children.

He studied music at an early age under his brother, Larkin McNiel, followed by J. B. Martin and Miss Margarite Wood.[i] In 1898 he attended the Southern Normal Musical Institute (S.N.M.I.) at Mansfield, Texas, which was conducted by A. J. Showalter and Edwin Moore. He received a diploma from S.N.M.I. in 1901 at Childress. He taught singing schools and conducted normals in Texas and Oklahoma (and perhaps other places). He directed music for gospel meetings, and composed music. In his songbooks, he often signed his name with the musical sharp symbol – “# McNiel.”[ii] With Bernard N. Richards, he formed the McNiel-Richards Music Company by 1908. They published at least two songbooks – Soul Songs and Sonnets: A superior collection of Songs and Hymns for the Church, Revival, Sunday-school, Prayer Service and Convention and Sunbeam Songs: A superior collection of New and Old Songs for the Church, Sunday-school, Revival, Young People’s Societies, Prohibition, and Convention Work. In addition, McNiel copyrighted one book before the partnership was formed: McNiel’s Loyal Melodies: a Choice Collection of New Songs for the Church, Revival, Convention and all Christian Endeavor Work (by Sharp McNiel, with special contributors, copyrighted in April of 1908). Both the Trio Music Company of Waco and A. J. Showalter published his songs before he formed the McNiel-Richards Company, and other publishers printed some of his songs after his death.

In a 1905 mail survey conducted by A. J. Showalter, among the “ten gospel songs of other composers [i.e., other than Showalter] receiving the greatest number of votes thus far are: ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus,’ by C. C. Converse, 420; ‘Blessed Home,’ by J. E. Bigby, 336; ‘Glory Over Yonder,’ by Sharp McNeil (sic), 252; ‘God Be With You Till We Meet Again,’ by W. G. Tomer, 231…”[iii]

From The Best Gospel Songs and Their Composers, 1904

Sharp McNiel was apparently affiliated with the Church of Christ. His brother Richard Hubbard McNiel was a fairly well known Church of Christ evangelist in the early 1900s.

McNiel named one of his daughters Jennie Wilson McNiel. In all likelihood, he named her after the popular hymn writer Jennie Bain Wilson (author of “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”). The respect in which McNiel was held can be seen in a singing class called the Sharp McNiel class nearly forty years after his death (See Tyler Morning Telegraph, Thursday, Septemeber 17, 1949, page 7).

McNiel died at the young age of 37 after an attack of appendicitis. On Wednesday the 19th of April in 1911, he was taken to the sanitarium in Nacogdoches, Texas, where they performed an operation. He died the following Sunday. McNiel is buried at the Gould Cemetery in Rusk County, north of the Sulphur Springs community.

“My only desire, while laboring through this life is to be successful in teaching the young men and women of our land and country, the noble science and power in sacred song: Thus enabling them to praise the most holy and righteous Saviour, by singing the sweet songs of Zion.” – Sharp McNiel, in a footnote under song No. 18 in Soul Songs and Sonnets.

[i] I did not identify J. B. Martin. 24 year-old Margarette Wood is listed in the 1900 Rusk County census. She was born in Missouri in December of 1875, and was boarding with Lola Tatum Miller in Henderson. Her sister May also lived with Mrs. Miller. “Teacher [of] Music” was Margarette’s occupation. She may be the teacher under whom Sharp McNiel studied. I believe this person is the same as Margaret E. Wood who returned to Missouri and taught piano at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
[ii] At least in the one I have, Soul Songs and Sonnets.
[iii] The Arkansas Gazette, Sunday, May 7, 1905, Part II, page 10.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hymnwriter: Mrs. J. M. Hunter is Laura Bell Ogilvie Hunter

Last July, I posted the hymn “My Dearest Friend”, by Mrs. J. M. Hunter. Though she wrote hundreds of hymns, her identity has eluded researchers. Her picture appeared in The Best Gospel Songs and Their Composers (Anthony Johnson Showalter, editor. Dalton, GA: A. J. Showalter Co., 1904), but there was no biography. (Dick Adams at Cyber Hymnal says “The hymnology community has been trying to identify her for decades”) As others, I had been unsuccessful in my attempts to identify her. That changed last week. A friend asked for some help on this for someone who had noticed some critical pieces of information about Mrs. Hunter – that when she copyrighted “A Glimpse of Home” in 1901, Mrs. J. M. Hunter was living in Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee, and that an advertisement about that hymn in 1906 in The Herald and Presbyter indicated she was then living Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee. Armed with this new information, I set out to identify any Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Hunter who may have lived in those places at those times.

Long story short, a Mrs. J. M. Hunter turned up in these places, and subsequent research of the family movements left me with no doubt this was the hymn writer. Mrs. J. M. Hunter is the former Laura Bell Ogilvie, daughter of Thomas J. Ogilvie and Mary Ann Bell. She was born in Bedford County, Tennessee September 3, 1860. She married John Madison Hunter on December 16, 1879 in Bedford County.

Below is family information based on census and other records.

1870 - Bedford County, Tennessee
In 1870, Laura Bell is living with her parents and four siblings in District 6, Bedford County, Tennessee.

1880 - Marshall County, Tennessee
J. M. and Laura Bell are living with his mother, sister, and brother in District 16, Marshall County, Tennessee in 1880. J. M. Is listed as a farmer.
  • M. B. Hunter 62 Self (Head)
  • M. S. Hunter 28 Daughter
  • J. M. Hunter 27 Son
  • L. B. Hunter 19 Daughter-in-law
  • W. W. Hunter 30 Son
  • Robert Hunter 3 Grandson born in Kentucky
1882-1883 - Newton County, Missouri
Marion Bertram is born in Neosho, Missouri in 1882. See also the Springfield Daily Herald, May 20, 1883, page 3.

1885 - Miami County, Kansas
I found them in a Kansas State census in 1885, living in Louisburg, Miami County, Kansas. John is listed as a minister of the gospel. He and Laura have three children: M. B. (Marion Bertram), Laureola, and R. E. W. (It is assumed that R. E. W. is the same as Robert in the 1880 census, though he is only identified there as a grandson of the mother of J. M. Hunter, and not necessarily the child of J. M. and Laura. He is the right age, but shown as born in Tennessee rather than Kentucky.) I found a newspaper with a poem written by Laura when the daughter Laureola died in 1886. (This poem is attached to her Find-A-Grave memorial.)

1886-1887 - Anderson County, Kansas
Evidently the family was living in Anderson County, Kansas in 1886 when Laureola died, based on information in the obituary. See The Presbyterian Monthly Record (Volume 37, No. 2, February 1886, page 43) See also the Garnett (Kansas) Eagle (June 17, 1887, p. 3), where it mentions “Rev. J. M. Hunter has resigned his pastoral duties [in Central City, Kansas] and contemplates seeking a healthier climate.”

1888 - Florida
Florine Hunter was born in Florida, October 24, 1888.

Circa 1893-1898 - Monroe County, Tennessee
J. M. Hunter pastored the Madisonville Presbyterian Church. See The Knoxville Sentinel, Thursday, October 27, 1898, page 6; The Morristown Gazette, Wednesday, December 7, 1898, page 3; and The Chattanooga News, Sunday, December 8, 1929, page 5-C.

1900 - Hamblen County, Tennessee
J. M. Hunter was called to the Presbyterian Church in White Pine, Tennessee in December 1898. See The Journal and Tribune, Sunday, December 25, 1898, page 6. In the 1900 census, John M. and Laura B. Hunter are listed in Civil District 8, Hamblen County, Tennessee. They have two children, listed as Maryan B. (Marion Bertram) and Florine. The census also indicates that Laura had two children who have died previous to the census (mother of 4, 2 living). John is listed as a minister.

1905-1906 - Blount County, Tennessee
The Herald and Presbyter periodical, as well as the birth location of Herbert L. Hunter.

1910 - Highland County, Ohio
In 1910, they are in Jackson, Highland County, Ohio. Florine is still living at home, and they have a another son, Herbert L. Hunter. His delayed birth record says he was born March 16, 1905 at Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee (same place The Herald and Presbyter shows the family living in 1906). John is listed as a preacher. Laura is the mother of 5 children, 3 living.

1916-1918 - Howell County, Missouri
A passport application of Marion Bertram Hunter in December 1918 shows his parents live in Willow Springs, Missouri. See also The Chattanooga News, March 28, 1919, page 6 and The Herald and Presbyter, December 8, 1915, page 14.

1920 - Cecil County, Maryland
In 1920, they are in North East, Cecil County, Maryland. Herbert is still living at home. John is listed as a farmer.

1930 - Cecil County, Maryland
In 1930, they are in Election District 5, Cecil County, Maryland. Florine is living with them again, listed as a school teacher. John is 77, and no occupation is listed.

1940 - Chester County, Pennsylvania
In 1940, Laura and Florine are living in Oxford, Chester County, Pennsylvania. John is deceased. Neither have an occupation listed.

1942 - Cecil County, Maryland
Laura Bell Ogilvie Hunter died February 5, 1942, at her home near Rising Sun, Cecil County, Maryland. She and her husband are buried at the Zion Presbyterian Cemetery located on the Old Zion Road in Cecil County, Maryland.

The family moved quite a bit, as John Madison Hunter pastored Presbyterian churches in Kansas, Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, and Maryland. He was originally affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 29, 1882, p. 2), but later the Presbyterian Church USA – probably when he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Neosho, Missouri in 1883 and was “received by the Ozark Presbytery from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church” (The Neosho Times, November 8, 1917, p. 2).

Family Memorials on Find-A-Grave:
Herbert Leaman Hunter was born 16 March 16, 1905 in Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee. He died sometime after the death of his sister Florine in August 1976, since he is listed as a surviving brother in her obituary. His date of death and location of burial are unknown at this time.

Robert or R. E. W. Hunter may have been the son of John Madison Hunter by a previous marriage. According to the 1880 U. S. Census and 1885 Kansas Census, he was born about 1877 (3 years old in 1880 & 8 years old in 1885). John and Laura married in 1879. It is likely that John had previously married and his first wife died in childbirth. However, I have yet to locate a record of a previous marriage or a death of his first wife. If Robert is a child by a previous marriage, then there is also another child of John and Laura in addition to Laureola who died sometime between 1879 and 1900.

The movements of this family coincide with what is known of the poetess Mrs. J. M. Hunter. In addition at least two newspaper pieces identify her as a “writer of words for sacred music” and “the author of a number of gospel hymns.”

“Mrs. J. M. Hunter and little son, Herbert L. Hunter, of Willow Spring, Mo., spent Thursday and Friday in the city enroute to northeastern Maryland, where they will reside. Mrs. Hunter is a writer of words for sacred music and while in the city visited her publishers.” (The Chattanooga News, Friday, March 28, 1919, p. 6)

It is not clear to me, but I believe that Mrs. Laura Bell Hunter probably received some compensation from a publisher for her hymns, who in turn supplied them for use to composers. Most of the songs with words by Mrs. Hunter appear to be copyrighted by the authors of the music.

A Prominent Gospel Hymn Writer

Many gospel songwriters used Laura’s hymns. In The Best Gospel Songs and Their Composers, A. J. Showalter considers her among the “Prominent Gospel Hymn Writers” – along with Fanny J. Crosby, Jennie Wilson, Johnson Oatman, and J. S. Kimbrough. The Gospel Way (Anthony Johnson Showalter, editor. Dalton, GA: A. J. Showalter Co., 1923) includes 14 of her hymns, third only after prolific writer James Rowe (credited with over 9,000 published hymns, poems, etc.) and the editor, A. J. Showalter. The Maryville College Monthly, 1902-1903 has two hymns not in the lists Cyber Hymnal and Hymnary (this also has a poem written by Florine Hunter). The 1906 Herald and Presbyter has a poem and an hymn by Mrs. Hunter. She compiled at least one booklet of poems – Queen Fashion and Other Poems – mentioned in the Maryville College Monthly, 1899-1900. The Catalogue of Copyright Entries for 1909 (Part 3: Musical Compositions January-December, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909) contains at least 46 copyrighted songs with Mrs. Hunter’s hymns.

Currently (19 June 2022), lists 353 hymn texts by Mrs. Hunter, which does not represent her total output. Some of her hymns are included in various periodicals and probably were never set to music. Hymn Time/Cyber Hymnal lists 312 (19 June 2022). This needs closer examination, but it appears that perhaps 20 of the hymns at Cyber Hymnal may not be in the 353 listed on Hymnary. In addition I have found in newspapers and periodicals some two dozens hymns and poems that do not appear to be on either of these lists. Likely her poetic output is over 400.

Two Sacred Harp composers used hymns by Laura Bell (Mrs. J. M.) Hunter – God’s Unchanging Hand by B. F. Faust and I Have a Precious Friend by T. J. Allen. Both songs were added to the Cooper Edition of The Sacred Harp in 1927.

I received the information from which I started through a third party, so I do not know whom to credit for the initial information that led me to confirm who was Mrs. J. M. Hunter.

Monday, June 20, 2022

As much an infidel...

The future of the new theology, or Modernism—call it what you will—is forcefully brought out by E. J. Poole-Connor in his Evangelicalism in England. He tells of a conversation between the editor of an agnostic magazine and a modernist minister. The editor told the minister that despite their different vocations they had much in common. “I don’t believe the Bible,” said the agnostic, “but neither do you. I don’t believe the story about creation, but you don’t either.”

“I don’t believe in the deity of Christ, nor His resurrection or ascension—I don’t believe any of those things, but neither do you. I am as much a Christian as you, and you are as much an infidel as I!”
From Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1985, p. 214 (As quoted by Doug Nichols) originally from Edward Joshua Poole-Connor, Evangelicalism in England, London: The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, 1951

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Father’s Day Reflection

In introducing an article titled A Father’s Day Reflection: Bring Back the Father and the Shooting Will Stop, Gary J. Isbell (a member of the Board of Directors of The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and Webmaster for, an organization of lay Catholic Americans) wrote:

This Father’s Day, the true father is missing. We need more than ever the revival of the Christian father. We need a father that serves as a monitor, provider and protector. A father that makes the world return to order and God. Only with this father will the shooting stop.

In “Fatherlessness is everybody’s problem,” Presbyterian Robert J. Pacienza (President and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries) writes:

Leftist social policies have helped encourage fatherlessness and broken families, which has been a major factor in parental indifference in the rearing and education of children.

The crucial importance of a father in a child’s life is “something our culture minimizes and even ignores to our peril.”

Do modern Baptists agree with the importance of the Christian father in the home?

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

A Pilgrim and a Stranger

Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) wrote “A Pilgrim and a Stranger,” related to Psalm 39:12. It was first published in 1666. Written in German by Gerhardt, several translations have been made into English, including those by Catherine Winkworth and John Kelly. The translation below is by Jane Borthwick, in 1858.

Paul Gerhardt was born in Gräfenhainichen on March 12, probably in 1607. He died May 27, 1676, and was buried in the vault at the church at Lübben, to which church he was called as preacher in 1668. He was Lutheran.

In The Lutheran Hymnal #586, the hymn is paired with Herzlich tut mich by Hans L. Hassler (1564-1612).

1. A pilgrim and a stranger,
I journey here below;
Far distant is my country,
The home to which I go.
Here I must toil and travail,
Oft weary and opprest;
But there my God shall lead me
To everlasting rest.

2. I’ve met with storms and danger
E’en from my early years,
With enemies and conflicts,
With fightings and with fears.
There’s nothing here that tempts me
To wish a longer stay,
So I must hasten forward,
No halting or delay.

3. It is a well-worn pathway;
A host has gone before,
The holy saints and prophets,
The patriarchs of yore.
They trod the toilsome journey
In patience and in faith;
And them I fain would follow,
Like them in life and death.

4. Who would share Abraham’s blessing
Must Abraham’s path pursue,
A stranger and a pilgrim,
Like him, must journey through.
The foes must be encountered,
The dangers must be passed;
A faithful soldier only
Receives the crown at last.

5. So I must hasten forward,—
Thank God, the end will come!
This land of passing shadows
Is not my destined home.
The everlasting city,
Jerusalem above,
This evermore abideth,
The home of light and love.

6. There still my thoughts are dwelling,
’Tis there I long to be;
Come, Lord, and call thy servant
To blessedness with thee.
Come, bid my toils be ended,
Let all my wanderings cease;
Call from the wayside lodging
To thy sweet home of peace.

7. There I shall dwell forever,
No more a parting guest,
With all thy blood-bought children
In everlasting rest,
The pilgrim toils forgotten,
The pilgrim conflicts o’er,
All earthly griefs behind me,
Eternal joys before.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

3 Reasons not to “Buy”

10 Tough Questions from the Old Testament Answered. Reasons to Believe/ E-Book. 14 pages.

Very disappointing. Not worth the purchase price (it was free). Not recommended.

Reasons to Believe offered this as a free e-book download. Looked like it might be worthwhile, so I requested it. However, this is not a book defending the Old Testament record, spending more time trying to explain the miracles as sort-of-providential natural occurrences. Moses probably did not turn the water to blood in Egypt; it may have involved toxic red algae. The long day of Joshua was an extended period of darkness, since they “needed the coolness of night to continue the battle.” According to, “most Old Testament scholars” prefer this interpretation (even though I could find no translations that support this idea).

God sending fire from heaven in answer to the prayer of Elijah appears to be supernatural, they say. 

However, there is a plausible hypernatural, science-based explanation based on a type of lightning strike commonly called a “Bolt from the Blue.”

The Nephilim of Genesis chapter 6 may have been “the product of human and Neanderthal interbreeding.”

10 Tough Questions from the Old Testament Answered presents a “halfway covenant” between the natural explanations of science and the supernatural explanations of Scripture. With friends like that, the Bible does not need enemies! Be not deceived.

Friday, June 17, 2022

David’s ten concubines

Q. In 2 Samuel 20:3, why did David keep his former concubines in prison for the rest of their lives.

2 Samuel 20:3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

A. These are the ten concubines that David left to keep the house when he escaped from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:16). This can sound bad to us that David would leave them behind at Jerusalem – but we are looking it in hindsight, and it turned out badly. However, I think he had no obvious reason to suppose these women would be in imminent danger from his son Absalom. Because of the vile counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:21-22) that turned out to be the false assumption. You must do something so heinous as to convince the people there could be no reconciliation of Absalom and David. It was good counsel as a strategy of military takeover but morally it was evil, and probably beyond what David could have guessed would happen. After Absalom’s rebellion was put down, David came back to his house at Jerusalem. These, who all need had been raped by Absalom, David “put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them.” They lived as widows. When we compare all the uses of “ward” and “shut up” in the Scriptures, it is not necessary that we think that David put these concubines in prison. Sometimes ward does mean prison or something related to it. Sometimes it means more of a division or separation (Nehemiah 12:44-46; 13:29-31). “Shut up” sometimes refers to the quarantine of those the priests were investigating for skin diseases, or to those who were separated for some reason. Here these words mean that because Absalom had defiled these concubines, David made a separation of them from the rest of his wives and concubines. They functionally lived the lives of widows. They were not put away, neither set at liberty to be given to another, but were perpetual widows. Though David took care of them as far as housing and feeding them, he no longer went in to them as his concubines.

Many things in Old Testament times are often very distinct from our own modern experiences. We may have difficulty relating to those times. However, we know that they are written for our learning and our admonition, and “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Back in November of 1983, a couple of members of the first church I pastored, brothers Arnold Smith and Jerry Smith, gave me a six-volume set of the commentary of Matthew Henry (1662–1714).

I have used, enjoyed, and cherished this generous gift. It is devotional, experiential, and practical – quite distinct in this regard from most modern commentaries. When I quote from it, I always quote “Matthew Henry.” However, I have known for many years that Henry died before he completed this work – voluminous as the work he completed is! Recently I decided to check into just exactly what part of the work is his, and what was completed after his death. Long story short, Matthew Henry completed commentary from the book of Genesis through the book of Acts. Friends of Henry completed the rest of the New Testament, Romans through Revelation.

From the Preface to Volume VI, p. iii:

After much expectation, and many enquiries, the last volume of the late reverend Mr. Henry’s Exposition now appears in the world. The common disadvantages that attend posthumous productions will doubtless be discerned in this; but we hope, though there are diversities of gifts, there will be found to be the same spirit. Some of the relations and hearers of that excellent person have been at the pains of transcribing the notes they took in short-hand of this part of the holy scripture, when expounded by him in his family or in the congregation; they have furnished us with very good materials for the finishing of this great work, and we doubt not but that the ministers who have been concerned in it have made that use of those assistances which may entitle this composure to the honour of Mr. Henry’s name; and, if so, they can very willingly conceal their own.

Matthew Henry was a preacher and writer. Six Nonconformist or Dissenting ministers ordained him on May 9, 1687. He founded the Presbyterian Chapel in Trinity Street, Chester, Cheshire, England. A cenotaph in his honour is on a roundabout opposite the entrance to Chester Castle.

The list below is taken from “The Commentators. No. I, Matthew Henry,” by William Lindsay Alexander, in The Journal of Sacred Literature (Vol. I, No. IV, October 1848), pp. 222-233 (specifically p. 223). It names the men who finished the Matthew Henry Commentary.

The notes on Romans “were so complete as to need only to be epitomized and arranged, which was done by Dr. John Evans.” For the rest, Henry’s “friends and admirers...took each one of the remaining books of the New Testament, and endeavoured to write a commentary on it in Henry’s style and method, and in some cases with the help of notes which he had left behind or which had been taken down in short-hand from his pulpit expositions.”
  • Romans - John Evans.
  • 1 Corinthians - Simon Browne.
  • 2 Corinthians - Daniel Mayo.
  • Galatians - Joshua Bayes.
  • Ephesians - Samuel Rosewell.
  • Philippians and Colossians - William Harris.
  • 1 & 2 Thessalonians - Daniel Mayo.
  • 1 & 2 Timothy - Benjamin Andrews Atkinson.
  • Titus & Philemon - Jeremiah Smith.
  • Hebrews - William Tong.
  • James - S. Wright.
  • 1 Peter - Zech. Merrill.
  • 2 Peter - Joseph Hill.
  • 1, 2, & 3 John - Mr. John Reynolds.
  • Jude - John Billingsby (or Billingsley).
  • Revelation - William Tong.
These names are also listed on page 7 in later printings of Volume VI. Fleming H. Revell Company of Old Tappan, New Jersey printed the undated edition Arnold and Jerry gave me. It is described as “Carefully Revised and Corrected,” and may be the edition of the commentary described as edited by George Burder and John Hughes in 1811.

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote:
You are aware, perhaps, that the latter part of the New Testament was completed by other hands, the good man having gone the way of all flesh. The writers were Messrs, Evans, Brown, Mayo, Bays, Rosewell, Harriss, Atkinson, Smith, Tong, Wright, Merrell, Hill, Reynolds, and Billingsley--all Dissenting ministers. They have executed their work exceedingly well, have worked in much of the matter which Henry had collected, and have done their best to follow his methods, but their combined production is far inferior to Matthew Henry himself, and any reader will soon detect the difference.

In addition to print sets of the Henry Commentary, it can be found online in various places: