Standing on the Promises of God


Words & Music: R. Kel­so Car­ter, in Songs of Per­fect Love, by John Swe­ney & Kel­so Car­ter (Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia: John J. Hood, 1886)

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Saviour as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

The hymn Standing on the Promises of God was written by composer Russell Kelso Carter (1849-1928). This hymn song reflects his personal experience as a petitioner before the throne of God.

Carter was apparently a star athlete and a top student. It was at the age of fifteen during a prayer meeting at the Pennsylvania Military Academy that he committed his life to the Lord. He became an instructor at the academy in 1869 and an athletics coach.  Later, Carter allied himself with the Methodists and the holiness movement, becoming an ordained Methodist minister. His history, both personal and theological, passed through some deep and disturbing waters as he searched for balance in his belief.

Carter spent the last years of his professional life as a medical doctor. Somewhere in the midst of all his diverse adventures and professions he had time to become a musician and a songwriter. He worked with John Sweeney to produce, in 1886, Songs of Perfect Love, a hymnbook in which his famous hymn Standing on the Promises appeared, and with A.B. Simpson on Hymns of the Christian Life, published in 1891.

However, it wasn’t until Carter faced his own mortality that he came to understand exactly what it meant to rest on God’s promises. Diagnosed with a critical heart condition by age 30, Carter was facing imminent death.

Connie Ruth Christiansen writes: “He knelt and made a promise that healing or no, his life was finally and forever, consecrated to the service of the Lord.”  Christiansen goes on to say that from that moment on the Scripture took on new life for Carter and he began to lean on the promises that he found in the Bible. He committed himself to believe, whether or not God granted him healing.

God chose to heal him and Carter lived, with a healthy heart, for another 49 years, though he would later suffer many other health issues from which God did not choose to heal him. In the end, Carter came to the conclusion that healing was God’s choice to make and that God also chose the instruments through which that healing, if granted, would come. His hymn was a personal testimony to his faith.

The full story of Russell Kelso according to :-

Russell Kelso Carter was born November 18, 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was brought up in a strong Christian environment. He struggled with a personal decision for Christ until he was fifteen. At that time he attended a prayer meeting at his military academy and committed his life to God and the Presbyterian Church, which his parents attended. He went to meetings and grew sporadically over the next few years. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Military Academy (now Widener University) in Chester, in 1867, and became instructor there in 1869. He was commissioned as a Captain in the Pennsylvania State Line and appointed adjutant to the Military Academy by Governor Geary. He is often referred to as Capt. Carter in his writings.

Carter was a professor, at the academy, of chemistry and natural sciences. While teaching in 1872 he began to have heart trouble. In 1876 he went to California for three years as a sheep rancher to try and strengthen his health. In 1879 he was back at his parents house in a state of collapse. He had heard of the ministry of Charles Cullis in Boston and decided to try healing by faith. He prayed that God would heal him, and then took a trip to see Cullis. He was healed and when he returned three days later he went back to work at the military academy and became a professor of civil engineering and advanced mathematics.

By the end of 1879 Carter was looking for more of the presence of God. He started to attend Methodist meetings. He struggled with their emphasis on the sanctification experience but prayed about it and asked God to give him everything from the Bible. He had an experience, which filled him with the Spirit in a new way. He allied himself with the Methodists. In 1880 he wrote “Miracles of Healing”. In 1882 he revamped an book published in England called “Pastor Blumhardt”. Also in 1882 Carter, with a man named George McCalla, called for a convention to cover the subject of Divine Healing. They held a meeting but just a few people came. In 1884 he wrote a book called “The Atonement for Sin and Sickness”. His premise was that healing was in the atonement and that Jesus took not only our sins but our sicknesses on the cross. Carter was one of the strongest proponents of atonement theology. In 1886 he began publishing a periodical called “The Kingdom”. He had a strong musical ability and wrote hymns in “Promises of Perfect Love” with John Sweeney in 1886 and “Hymns of the Christian Life” in 1891, in conjunction with A. B. Simpson. One of his most famous songs is “Standing on the Promises”.

In 1887 Carter became associated with the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church and was given a license to preach by Bishop Foss. He is sometimes referred to as the evangelist R. Kelso Carter in newspaper articles of the 1890s. He also seems to have had some kind of breakdown, which he refers to as “brain prostration”. Dr Cullis prayed for him but he did not receive any significant relief until he attended a camp-meeting in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland in July of 1887. In 1888 Carter had an attack of malarial fever. He was sick for two weeks and recovered. However he was left feeling chronically weak. He was eventually prayed for by Charles Cullis, A.B. Simpson, and John Alexander Dowie but did not improve. He initially took some medicine, but discarded it within a short time. He committed to seek healing through prayer alone but continued to struggle. Carter was also under marital pressure as his wife Josephine was possibly mentally ill. In 1889 he was ordained as a Deacon in the ME Church by Bishop Bowman. The ME Church was opposed to the teaching that healing was in the atonement.

In the summer of 1892 Carter made some very major changes in his life. He went to California, ostensibly for his health, leaving his family back east in Maryland. He conducted a few meetings with the Alliance until the fall of 1893. Things became difficult, however, when he filed for divorce from his wife. That would have been viewed as scandalous at the time. His relationship with the people he’d been closely associated with for almost twenty years was shattered. He ended up breaking with the Alliance and their teachings on divine healing, specifically on their stance of no help from physicians. He seemed to swing wildly in the other direction. Carter became connected with a couple of quack patent medical devices called the “Electropoise” (see the ad) and the “Oxydonor Victory.” (see the ad) These machines were so bogus that they were one of the first products taken to court for mail fraud by the US Postal Service, which eventually won its case against the manufacturers.

Carter changed his theology from “healing is in the atonement” to “healing by faith in this age is a matter of special favor from God, and is always peculiarly under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.” * He was remarried around 1895 to a woman named Elizabeth. In 1897 he wrote a book called “Faith Healing Reviewed After Twenty Years” where he reviewed his own experience, along with others, to take another look at the “Prayer of Faith.” Carter’s proposition was that he was not healed because God did not want it. The book attempted to address the common question – why are people not healed when they sincerely believe and put themselves in God’s hands? He did not suggest that prayer was never effective, in fact he gave several positive examples of healing experiences. He did, however, point out that only a small percentage of people were healed in answer to prayer and it was important to bring that issue out for discussion. Many people in the Divine Healing movement saw the book as a repudiation of their sincerest beliefs. Since the book addressed healing prayer under John Alexander Dowie in a less than positive light Dowie made a point to denounce Carter’s personal life in his Leaves of Healing magazine and suggest that Carter’s lack of healing was due to personal sin.

In 1898 Carter became very ill again and was diagnosed with “consumption” (tuberculosis). Bacteria had recently been identified as the medical cause and a new treatment became available about the time Carter was diagnosed. He was healed through medical means within 90 days. What had been a potential death sentence was relieved by the medical breakthrough. Carter declared that God worked through the medicine just as surely as through prayer. He said that both were critical and necessary. Carter and his wife returned to the Baltimore area sometime in the late 1890s. Carter evidently received medical training in the Baltimore area as he is listed as a physician in the 1900 Federal Census. Kelso continued his work as a doctor until he died on August 23, 1928, in Catonsville, Maryland. He is buried in the Greenmount Cemetery, in Baltimore Maryland.

Names showing up in blue are other people who have biographies on this web site. * quote from “Faith Healing Reviewed” by R. Kelso Carter

Let Your Living Water Flow Over My Soul

Let your living water flow

(Words and music by John Watson)

Let Your living water flow over my soul,
Let your Holy Spirit come and take control,
Of every situation that has troubled my mind,
All my cares and burdens on to you I roll.
Father, Father, Father.

Give your life to Jesus, let Him fill your soul,
Let Him take you in His arms and make you whole,
As you give your life to Him, He’ll set you free,
You will live and reign with Him eternally.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Come now Holy Spirit and take control,
Hold me in your loving arms and make me whole,
Wipe away all doubt and fear and take my pride,
Draw me to your love and keep me by your side.
Spirit, Spirit, Spirit.

Let your living water flow over my soul
Let your Holy spirit come and take control,
Of every situation that has troubled my mind,
All my cares and burdens onto you I roll.
Father, Jesus, Spirit

It is true to say that most modern-day Christians are familiar with the songs Let Your Living Water Flow Over My Soul and Peace Like a River, not always knowing that the source of them is the ministry of Vinesong. Many who are not familiar with the ministry may, nevertheless, have encountered the music in as widely diverse settings. In fact, it is estimated that the music of Vinesong is sung in over 75 countries around the world.

The history of the Vinesong team is very distinct because the team come from nine different nations and varied denominational backgrounds. This is a result of the vision originally given in 1981 to the founder, John Watson, that his ministry would extend the length and breadth of the world and that through the anointing of the Holy Spirit he was to bring healing to the nations.

John Watson, who, in co-operation with the Holy Spirit, is the driving force in the ministry of Vinesong, did not assume the office of itinerant preacher as a mere whim. Behind him lie generations of faithful servants and his own apprenticeship of serving in pastoral ministry. His parents, who were missionaries in Zimbabwe and then latterly pastoring in Durban, South Africa, passed to John the leadership of that church, but he was also called to found a church in Surrey, England and a sister church in Holland. Later, while working with a well known Christian songwriter/musician in a pastoral capacity in Hollywood, California, he started an outreach which eventually became one of the well known churches in the region. During this time he came to see how music and worship could be used even more widely in the context of ministry.

As he was about to embark on a new church plant in Norway, John took some vacation in South Africa, where God clearly showed him that He was about to birth Vinesong. For four years, from 1982 to 1986, the ministry took on the form that has become so familiar today.

It was clearly in the purposes of God that John Watson was to have major input into leadership in many countries across the world and now has a recognised ministry as a pastor amongst pastors. Away from the stage or the pulpit, many hours are given to listening to pastors, worship leaders, and their wives, as they seek counsel in their respective situations. This pastoral side of his ministry has not been used to start a new church stream or grouping; John has been heard many times to say how important it is “not to leave your own fingerprints on the door handle” when the Holy Spirit is at work. He is always mindful that Jesus is building His church and that he should stay faithful to the original call. Leaders from across the world, such as Ray McCauley from South Africa, have publicly observed that Vinesong have not tried to change and grow into something other than that to which God originally called John.

The Story of John Watson and the song – Let your Living waters Flow.

On a warm evening in May John Watson stepped onto the platform at Cornerstone Community Church in Esher. The church is in an unusual setting – the plush environs of the Sandown Park Racecourse and the bespectacled Zimbabwean is an unusual minister. John is the founder and leader of one of the longest established worship ministries, the praise harmonisers Vinesong, while his function as one of the fathers of today’s Church is internationally recognised. The night’s theme was on the subject of overcoming fear and to emphasise his point he testified from an experience of his own, stating, “The whole point of this testimony is to show you that God can go far beyond all you ask him to do.”

Far beyond indeed, as John swiftly unravelled the shocking state of his health problems which had gone hidden from family, friends and supporters for years. Until, that is, a series of events prompted him into action. He told the rapt congregation: “Last year I eventually saw three doctors on three continents and they each didn’t know what the other one had said. And every one of them said I could drop dead at any second. So I knew the time had come for me to do something about it.” To the sane reader this will perhaps appear as a casual understatement, but one that highlights the remarkable humour of the man in the face of adversity.

He continued to tickle the audience and purvey a calmness of approach as he recounted the early stages of his time in hospital: “The anaesthetist, who was a professor, came and sat on my bed and said, ‘I’m here for you, your life is in my hands. Ask me anything you need to know.’ I said, ‘Are you going to stop my heart?’ He replied, ‘Yes, for five and a half hours, minimum.’ When you’re not feeling all that healthy you don’t want to hear that really. I was very anxious about that and then he told me how they take your blood away into a tank. I said, ‘When it’s over how do you restart my heart? Do you put a shocker on it like you see in the movies when they put the two pads on and you jump out of your bed?’ He said, ‘No we just tap your heart and it starts again [pause], most of the time [laughter].’ That’s the part I didn’t like.”

The nurses prepared their nervous patient for the morning’s surgery. Fortunately for John an antidote to the undoubtedly scary “big old nurse with a bunch of razor blades” was provided in the form of another nurse. John recounted: “I could tell she was a Christian the minute she walked in. She started to help the other nurse and she was very gentle and was humming a song. Then she stopped humming her song and started to sing ‘Let Your Living Water Flow’. Then she finished and asked me, ‘Are you a Christian sir?’ And I said ‘Yes.’ So she said, ‘Then you will probably know the song I just sang.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I wrote it.'”

“Let Your Living Water Flow” is in fact one of John Watson’s and Vinesong‘s most well-known compositions. John continued: “She had a sit down after the shock, and explained that she and her husband were in great tribulation spiritually. And I told her to read Isaiah 62.”

Isaiah 62 had in fact been given to John by the Lord just before the nurses had walked in to prepare him for the morning’s surgery. The passage held a particular significance for John personally, though it was to be equally impacting on the singing nurse: “I read the whole chapter and he said this will all come about and be fulfilled in your life after the surgery. My sister’s name is Beulah and the only place in the Bible where the name Beulah is mentioned is in that chapter as well, so I realised that my sister was part of that.”

His sister Beulah was in fact by his side in the hospital when he woke up from an operation he wasn’t even aware had been completed. On the second day in intensive care he received a surprise visit from another Beulah, Beulah Kleinveldt. She had come to the hospital with her husband Jonathon, both from South Africa, who had been members of Vinesong 17 years previously. Explained John: “Jonathon said, ‘God promised me I would have another opportunity to serve you.’ So he and Beulah came to our house and cooked for us and took us for drives. I now had two Beulahs in my life. So already they were beginning to fulfil Isaiah 62 in my life. And before I left Cape Town my sister and I prayed and my sister said, ‘Perhaps God is calling them back into Vinesong after 17 years of absence.’ And it was to be that they would come back into the ministry.”


As John expounded this story, Jonathon, now Vinesong‘s sound engineer, and singer Beulah sat as part of the congregation at Cornerstone, and later were to join John on the platform with another two members of the group, South Africans Daniel and Charlene Kok. The group’s musical director, African-American Johnny Lee, was unable to join them at Cornerstone. John completed his tale of the singing nurse, “We have just completed a tour of South Africa and that nurse came to all our meetings. She brought carloads of people. She brought her husband, sick people and unsaved people, and God saved and healed them all. It was a great miracle.”

Earlier in the day, John sat in a small side room at Cornerstone discussing his decades in ministry. Over the years Cross Rhythms have interviewed John on two previous occasions, in 1993 and 1998. Therefore it seemed a good place to start to pick up things in 1998 when Vinesong completed their first appearance at the United Nations. “We’ve been six times altogether and when God opens a door no man can shut it. We were the first Christian music ministry to ever minister in the building. So, it was rather daunting and then we got used to it, going back each time. Since then we’ve had 16 diplomats and ambassadors give their lives to Jesus and a hundred converts on staff. There are 3,000 people who work in the building and they now have a Bible study in the basement.”

The team is no stranger to leading worship at places of great significance, having regularly done so at America’s National Day Of Prayer on Capitol Hill since 1992. Through not charging for their work, they find themselves travelling from such political institutions to palaces and prisons. A Texan jailhouse was the subject of an exciting 2006 visit: “There were 320 young criminals in the three concerts and their ages were from between 10 years old to 18. And they were there for violent crimes, sexual crimes and murder. And it broke my heart when I saw these babies coming into the meetings. 275 out of 320 gave their lives to Jesus! When they had the first altar call there was such a response I told them to sit down. I was angry. I said, ‘Don’t play around with this, this is not kind of jumping up and saying well, I’m going to try Jesus. Your lives have finished and you haven’t even started. Sit down and let’s do it again.’ But they wouldn’t. The ministry that had invited us to the prison were absolutely flabbergasted. We were too. And in the staff room I couldn’t talk to anyone I was crying so much. These kids were just so messed up.”

With a commitment to travelling pretty much anywhere in the world, and speaking to anyone from criminals to bureaucrats, Vinesong still find time to release albums. In 1998, Vinesong set up the unique VM Music label, undertaking the recording, marketing and distribution of their powerfully anointed worship music. Since then they have released ‘Healing Stream’ (1998), ‘Adoration’ (1999), ‘Let Your Living Water Flow’ (2000) and ‘Just Music’ (2005). John explained the decision not to continue hooking up with Christian record companies but to do the whole thing themselves: ‘If I were to come out and say I felt that our way was the only way to do it, I think that would be arrogant. I believe all people need to make a living. But it’s a pity that we as Christians have to do it in a similar style to the world. Our whole church system, not only music, but book publishing, is run on a very results orientated basis. The representatives go round and they have to produce results. And if it doesn’t achieve certain sales it goes in the sale bin to make room for the new release.”

John also argues that a near franchising mentality in the Christian music industry has even crept into the realm of revival as churches across the world try to re-enact movements such as Toronto and Pensacola: “Unfortunately we learnt the term franchise from America. But I believe what God does is indigenous and this is why we can’t stereotype and contain the Holy Spirit. He’s free, he’s liquid, he’s like the wind, he’s like water and he’s like fire. And the moment you label and contain him I think he puts an end to it. Because arrogance and pride step in and the manufacturing of man, franchising this and that, starts to demean God and put him at our level. But God is supernatural.”

The anointing on John’s songs is clear: “When God gives me a song it’s like dictating a letter and then it’s finished. I’ve got a whole book like that and I look at it afterwards and see that I’ve hardly had to change anything. And when we’re busy recording a song that the Lord has given, I always picture a small apartment with a lonely person, or someone trapped in a hospital bed, or someone going through a divorce. And this is the kind of ministry I feel makes a difference. CDs can go where people can’t. A song has to do an awful lot of things. It has to bring glory to God, it should edify the listener, it should bring healing and it should also evangelize, and the doctrine of the words is always of paramount importance to me.”

A first foray into DVD territory is in the offing for Vinesong, with footage from TV shows amongst other material to be edited into a package. The plan is to release the DVD before they record their next set of fresh songs. There is no doubt as to the desires of John’s heart in the meantime: “We’re so inundated at the moment that we can’t really discern anymore what God is breathing on. I’m just longing for real revival. I’m very privileged because I lead worship with an audience of three million people in Nigeria every December, so I get to feel a little of what it will be like when revival hits the Earth. A sea of people as far as you can see. I think there’s just something unique that God’s going to do.”

Close To Thee (Thou My Everlasting portion)

Thou my everlasting portion,
More than friend or life to me,
All along my pilgrim journey,
Savior, let me walk with Thee.

Refrain 1:
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee;
All along my pilgrim journey,
Savior, let me walk with Thee.

Not for ease or worldly pleasure,
Nor for fame my prayer shall be;
Gladly will I toil and suffer,
Only let me walk with Thee.

Refrain 2:
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Gladly will I toil and suffer,
Only let me walk with Thee.

Lead me through the vale of shadows,
Bear me o’er life’s fitful sea;
Then the gate of life eternal
May I enter, Lord, with Thee.

Refrain 3:
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Close to Thee, close to Thee,
Then the gate of life eternal
May I enter, Lord, with Thee.

The story of Fanny Crosby has been told many times. Even on this blog there are several instances of her story. But such is the type of the lady she was. And so we will tell of her story over and over again.

Today one of fanny Crosby’s songs is on my mind. Gospel classics are songs that are special, they’ve been around for a long time. We all know them word for word; love them, they have a special meaning in our lives, and they will never be forgotten.

The song-Close To Thee, was written by Fanny Jane Crosby(1820-1915), in 1874. Fanny Crosby was born in the little village of Southeast, Putnam County, New York. Six weeks after her birth she lost her eyesight. Her eyes became, inflamed; Mr. Crosby called in a local physician who applied hot poultices, with the result that the baby’s vision was destroyed. Fanny became an American hymn writer and poetess who wrote over 8,000 hymns in her lifetime. Among her most widely-known hymns,”Jesus, keep me near the cross,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Saved by Grace,” “Pass me not, O gentle Saviour.”

Fanny Crosby’s Wonderful Life Ended
From: The Christian Herald, March 3, 1915, page 205

After a wonderful career of Christian service Fanny Crosby, known and loved throughout the  world as “the blind hymn writer,” passed away in her ninety-fifth year at her home in Bridgeport, Conn., on February 12. She had long been in failing health, but notwithstanding the weakness of a naturally frail body, her mind was clear and her interest in her great life work of hymnology unimpaired to the last.

It has been said by one who knew her well that “if ever a harp was concealed within a human breast it lay hidden in the heart of Fanny Crosby, where for over fifty years it was attuned to the sweetest melodies that ever found expression in words.” Nor was the tribute exaggerated, for the wonderful genius of the woman – whose songs, like those of the blind Homer, were sung in the darkness of her infirmity – has made itself felt wherever the voice of praise is lifter. Of the thousands of hymns she wrote there are many that will long continue to cheer the hearts and brighten the lives of multitudes and to win souls for the kingdom, as they have done in the past.

Frances Jane Crosby was born at Southeast, Putnam County, N.Y., March 24, 1820. Her blindness dated from her sixth week, when an affection of the eyes was subjected to improper treatment, resulting in total loss of sight. But it soon became apparent that the affliction only served to bring out all that was strong and beautiful in the young girl’s nature. Her talent for versifying developed in childhood. When only eight years old she wrote these verses, which showed that even in her blindness she had a sweet, contented mind:

Oh what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t!

She was educated in the Institute for the Blind, where in 1847 she began to teach school among the sightless inmates. Her gentle, patient nature and amiable disposition made her a universal favorite.

Her first “real” hymn, which she often recalled, in looking over her career, began with these well-known lines:

We are going, we are going
To a home beyond the skies.

It was written in New York City for William Bradbury, February 5, 1864, and from that time onward brain and pen wrought diligently, and many of her sweet, spiritual hymns became favorites in all Christian lands.

Before she began her career as a hymn-writer, she had already written a number of secular pieces for George F. Root, the composer, and had dedicated a little poem of welcome to Henry Clay on the occasion of his visit to New York, after the close of the Mexican War. She had the honor of being the first woman whose voice was ever heard in the United States Senate Chamber, where she recited a poem, by invitation, to a distinguished audience.

In the course of her long career as a hymn-writer Fanny Crosby attained, in a degree seldom equaled, the faculty of moving the heart and the religious emotion by her verses. Her sense of rhythm was absolutely perfect. The slightest incident afforded her inspiration, and her productions were the means of softening the heart of a sinner. Occasionally she wrote both words and music, for she had received a good musical education and could accompany her piano-playing in a clear soprano. As she grew older, however, she devoted her efforts wholly to the literary work, dictating to an amanuensis.

Her first volume of verses, entitled “A Blind Girl and Other Poems,” was published in 1844, and was followed by others, including “Monterey and Other Poems,” and “A Wreath of Columbia’s Flowers,” and in comparatively recent years, “Bells at Evening” and “Memoirs of Eighty Years.” While she was a teacher of rhetoric and history in the Institute for the Blind she produced a number of secular pieces which had a wide popularity, among them being such well-known songs as “Hazel Dell,” “Proud World, Good-by,” “Honeysuckle Glen,” “There’s Music in the Air,” “Rosalie, the Prairie Flower;” also two cantatas: “The Flower Queen” and “The Pilgrim Fathers.”

Fanny Crosby numbered among her friends many of the best-known musical composers in America. This acquaintance was the means of stimulating her poetic talent to increased activity. Many of her hymns were composed to suit the measure and spirit of their musical productions. Dr. W.H. Doane, in April, 1869, spoke to her of a new melody he had just finished, and at her request he played it over. She listened with deep attention and evident appreciation, her poor, sightless eyes turned toward the player. Before an hour had passed she had dictated to an amanuensis her famous hymn, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” which perfectly expressed the spirit of Dr. Doane’s beautiful music, and their united product has been translated into many languages and is sung throughout the world today.

Another of her collaborators was Mr. Hubert P. Main, the veteran composer. Mr. Main is said to be the most prolific writer of sacred music in his day and generation. He has written the scores to many of the most beautiful and best known of Fanny Crosby’s hymns. Occasionally the order would be reversed, and the composer would play over to his blind auditor some new piece, explaining as he did so what thought, feeling or emotion it was meant to convey. Sitting with hands clasped she would listen quietly, asking him to repeat certain passages, so that she might get them fixed in her mind. Before the impression faded her wonderful talent would unfailingly succeed in producing verses which perfectly expressed the musical theme in language so beautiful and appropriate that it was a marvel to all who knew of her methods. To a keen ear and a retentive memory she added a delicate and true musical perception, which gave her a remarkable power in such tasks.

During the long and active career of the late Ira D. Sankey, he many times collaborated with Fanny Crosby in the production of Gospel hymns. The two were frequently in correspondence over a new piece. Fanny would have an inspiration that would result in a new poem, which she would ask Mr. Sankey to set to music; or the “singing evangelist” would have some new composition for which he would request the blind poet to supply a literary setting. This partnership was productive of hundreds of new hymns, many of which may still be found in the church hymnals. It was at this period of greatest productivity that Fanny Crosby employed a number of different pennames, including Mary J. Frances, Mrs. A. Van Alstyne, as the author of the new productions.

For upwards of twenty years Fanny Crosby was the warm friend and patron of the Bowery Mission. On more than one occasion she visited the Mission hall in New York, and such visits were marked by great outpourings of the unemployed and destitute, who almost worshiped the blind hymn-writer, and sang her songs in her presence with an energy and earnestness that she used to say “almost carried me off my feet.” Regularly as her birthday came around, the men of the Mission remembered her with some kindly souvenir, to which she would respond with a helpful letter or a poem. When she spoke at the Mission, which she did at times, the rough audience was hushed, so that they might not miss a syllable of the feeble voice they loved to hear.

She was married in 1858 to Alexander Van Alstyne, a teacher, blind like herself, and who died in 1902. She made his acquaintance while at the Institution for the Blind.

Among the best known of Fanny Crosby’s hymns are the following: Saved by Grace, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, Blessed Assurance, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour, Rescue the Perishing, The Bright Forever, I am Thine, O Lord, Jesus, I Come to Thee, Just a Word for Jesus, So Near to the Kingdom, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Through the New Jerusalem, and Saviour, More Than Life to Me.

There are probably more of her hymns sung today in the churches, in missions, at evangelistic gatherings, at camp meetings, and elsewhere than any other writer in the domain of American hymnology. Her words have been wedded to the best productions of over a score of composers. She never wrote a hymn that did not breathe the spirit of Christian faith and helpfulness, and her consecrated talent has been the means of winning many souls from sin to salvation.

Coming of a long-lived family, Fanny Crosby inherited those peculiar physical qualities that tend to longevity. She was of a cheerful and contented mind, a bright and pleasing conversationalist and unobtrusively helpful to all with whom she came in contact. In talking, her whole face would light up and her smile would so irradiate it that the colored glasses which she constantly wore were forgotten by the visitor in the charm and old-fashioned grace of her manner. During her long life she had met many prominent Americans and she counted among her friends Presidents Tyler, Van Buren, McKinley and Cleveland, Secretary William H. Seward, General Winfield Scott and Henry Clay. In recognition of her spiritual value to the Christian Church at large, the Methodist Church honored her by observing yearly a day which was known as “Fanny Crosby’s Day,” when special services of a musical and evangelistic character were held. Her last public appearance was in May, 1911 (she was then ninety-one years old), when she attended a mass meeting held by the Evangelistic Committee in Carnegie Hall, New York.

Perhaps the whole lesson of Fanny Crosby’s wonderful life has been interpreted by herself more clearly and simply than could have been done by any other. She said: “I do not know but on the whole it has been a good thing that I have been blind. How in the world could I have lived such a helpful life as I have lived had I not been blind? I am very well satisfied.”

Her life was a benediction. The blind hymn-writer, whose sweet songs have cheered so many, and who never in all her ninety-odd years saw the sunlight, or had the pleasure of looking on the faces of those she loved, has gone to that land where there is neither blindness nor sickness and where, with wide-open eyes, and ears attuned to heavenly melodies, she may witness the full realization of the dream for which she struggled so bravely and so faithfully while here on earth.

The funeral services were held in the First Methodist Church of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on February 15, when many hundred friends assembled. Delegations from various organizations of women were in attendance. White violets, the favorite flowers of the poetess, almost hid the casket from view. The Rev. George M. Brown officiated. The interment took place at Mountain Grove Cemetery.

Give Them All To Jesus

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?

Are you tired of spinning round and round?

Wrap up all those shattered dreams of your life

And at the feet of Jesus, lay them down.

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus

Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys.

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus

And He will turn your sorrows into joy.

He never said you only see sunshine,

He never said there would be no rain.

He only promised a heart full of singing

About the very thing that once brought pain.

Matthew 11:28

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

You know, there are times that it is just hard to keep going in our personal lives, the work place, relationships and, yes, even in ministry, that is given to us from our God.  When He calls us to serve Him, give to others through Him, it is a great joy, but, as you all…

There is no amount of preparation for blind-sided moments life randomly throws into our path. One minute life is good and then something happens that stuns our senses; within seconds our immediate reality becomes surreal as we struggle to make sense of what just happened. But there is yet hope. Give it all to Jesus and He will turn your sorrows into joy.

Live For Jesus – Thats What Matters

Evie Tornquist Karlson and her pastor husband Pelle Karlsson wrote a song called Live for Jesus, that’s what matters. When I was a young boy growing up in my home country, I remember listening to a song by this Gospel singer, Evie Tornquist, called Live for Jesus. It has been many years now since I have heard that song, and many today do not even know the song at all. But when I woke up this morning, the words and melody were so vivid and clear in my head. Even though I woke up to the very first line, I still remember the entire song.

Evie Tornquist was popular in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. She traveled and sang often with the Billy Graham crusades by herself and with her new husband who was a Swedish Pastor. Here is the song by Evie.

Verse 1: Oh I want to be remembered as the girl who sang her songs for Jesus Christ. Who was willing to lay down her life and do His will no matter what the price. Well I am singing for the deaf man who can hear about salvation through my song, and I am singing for the blind man who can see the light in me and come along.

Chorus: Live for Jesus, that’s what matters and when other houses crumble mine is strong. Live for Jesus, that’s what matters; that you see the light in me and come along.

Verse 2: There are times when I am tempted to turn off this rugged road I’ve traveled on. There are times when I say Jesus can’t you find another girl to sing your songs. Well I know it’s not that I’m the only one who can sing this melody, but He’s chosen me to bless me and to lead me in to what is best for me.

Here is the story of Evie from the Hall of Fame

FULL NAME: Evelyn Tornquist-Karlsson
BORN: 1957 in Rahway, New Jersey
FAMILY: Married Pelle Karlsson in 1979;
Children, Kris and Jenny

Evelyn Tornquist-Karlsson, known to fans all over the world simply as “Evie,” might just have the most kid-friendly voice in all of gospel music history. She was practically still a kid herself at 16 years old when her fi rst English album, entitled Evie, was released by Word Records in 1974. With a sweet, refreshing voice and an audible smile, Evie’s unique sound and tender spirit made her one of the most-loved and most-recognized voices in Christian music during the 1970s and early ’80s.

Born in the United States to Norwegian immigrants, her music impacted both the nation of her birth and the Scandinavian countries of her heritage, where she often toured and visited. She released more than 30 albums during the 1970s, consisting of English recordings as well as recordings in various Scandinavian languages. Songs like “Four Foot Eleven,” “Unfailing Love” and “Come On, Ring Those Bells” are just a few of the joyful songs that captured the essence of Evie’s musical legacy—timeless and eternally hopeful.

In 1979, Evie married Swedish pastor and musician Pelle Karlsson in Stockholm, Sweden. The couple met years earlier when she needed a pianist and was introduced to Pelle, who accompanied her on short notice and helped her translate some of her songs into Swedish before she performed for the largely Swedish audience. Two years after they were married, they joined the Dominion Sky Angel television and radio network as spokespersons where they served for many years.

Evie and Pelle now own and operate White Field Music, and are extensively involved in mission work with Back to Jerusalem, an organization that has partnered with the church in China to evangelize religiously oppressed areas of Asia, and to train missionaries to reach other regions of the globe.

In addition to her work, her missions involvement and occasional solo concerts, Evie now travels around North America with Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James, whom she has known since Rebecca was a baby. Both women participate in a series of special events known as “SHE: Safe, Healthy and Empowered” which help young women apply biblical principles to life in today’s culture. (Information on those events can be found at

Evie and Pelle currently reside in Florida, and their children, Kris and Jenny, are both grown. God has used Evie’s talent and die-hard commitment to Him to infl uence people all over the world with the Gospel. And regardless of the devoted following she has earned over the past three decades, Evie has stated in no uncertain terms, “Make no mistake: the treasure I hold dearest to my heart is knowing Christ and experiencing the joy of making Him known.”

1974 Released her first album through Word Records at age 16
1981 Evie and Pelle became spokespersons for the Dominion Sky Angel television and radio network.
2005 Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame

Evie (1974)
Evie Again (1975)
Gentle Moments (1976)
Come On Ring Those Bells (1977)
Mirror (1977)
A Little Song of Joy for My Little Friends (1978)
Never the Same (1979)
Unfailing Love (1981)

Rescue The Perishing


  1. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
    Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
    Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
    Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.

    • Refrain:
      Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
      Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
  2. Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
    Waiting the penitent child to receive;
    Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
    He will forgive if they only believe.
  3. Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
    Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
    Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
    Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
  4. Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
    Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
    Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
    Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.
Rescue the Perishing was written by Fanny J. Crosby. She was the famous blind American poetess. She was known as the queen of gospel song writers, although she did not begin to write gospel songs until she was forty-four years old. By the time she died at age ninety-five, she had written thousands of hymns.

Fanny Crosby was only six weeks old when an incorrect poultice was placed on her eyes and she became permanently blind. When she was eight years old, she made a decision that would affect her entire life. Of this decision she wrote:

Oh, what a happy soul am I

I am resolved that in this world

Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy

That other people don’t.

To weep and sigh because I’m blind

I cannot, and I won’t.

Fanny J. Crosby said that she did not ask God to make her smart, or make a wonderful man fall in love with her, or help her become rich or popular or famous, or for all the clothes she could want, as if it could repay her for being blind. She did not even ask for a special task, but she did ask God for “a way to serve him the best way she could.” She did not consider this too much to ask. Doors were opened to her as she was able to attend a fine college for the blind. She met and married a fine man, and was loved so much as a song writer that, on one occasion, she was invited to Washington D.C. and addressed the Congress of the United States. They gave her a standing ovation. Fanny Crosby wrote many songs and at the age of forty-four someone suggested that she write sacred songs and hymns.

“Rescue the Perishing “

This seemed to be the turning point in her life as she wrote many of the now famous hymns of praise. She wrote over 8,000 hymns and songs in her life span of ninety-five years. Some of her songs and hymns are:

“All the Way My Savior Leads Me” – “Blessed Assurance” – “I Am Thine, O Lord” – “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling” – “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” – “Praise Him, Praise Him” – “Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer” – “Near the Cross” – “He Hideth My Soul” – “Redeemed” – “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” – “Jesus Will Give You Rest” – “Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet” – “Will Jesus Find Us Watching?”

These are great accomplishments for one who asked only to serve! Rescue the Perishing was written in 1869 after an experience in a New York Mission. In a speech one night to New York’s derelicts, Mrs. Cosby said, “There may be someone present that must be rescued this very night or not at all.” An 18 year old boy spoke up and said, “Do you mean me?” They worked with that young boy and helped him to turn his life around.

Fanny J. Crosby, in telling the story of the writing of this song said that a few days before this incident, W.H. Doane had sent her a theme for a song entitled “Rescue the Perishing.” The theme was based on Luke 14:23. She said, “While sitting in that Mission house that evening, the line, ‘rescue the perishing and care for the dying,’ came to me. After that, I could think of nothing else that night. After I arrived home, I went to work on the song and finished the lyrics before retiring for the evening.” The song was published in 1870.

We Must Rescue the Perishing

Paul said, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

The word “rescue” means “to free or save from danger, imprisonment, evil, etc.” Some synonyms of this word are “deliver, redeem, ransom, and save.”

Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying,

Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.

Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,

Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

We must reach out and rescue those who are perishing and dying in sin! Many are drowning in the sea of iniquity. They are in desperate need of the gospel lifeline. Will you throw it to them? Jesus said: “I tell you nay, but, except ye repent, ye shall all like wise perish” (Lk 13:3). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20).

We must rescue the perishing because it is not the Lord’s desire that a single soul perish in sin (Ezek. 33:11). Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

We show how much we care for those dying in sin by snatching them in pity from sin and the grave. Jude 23 says: “And others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire.’.’ So, we must rescue the perishing because we fear they will be eternally lost (2 Thess. 1:7-10f). It is imperative that we try to snatch them out of the fires of hell! We should want to do this because we pity them or have compassion on them.

If we were cooking a steak and it fell in the fire we would pull it out. We would even pull a hamburger out of the fire wouldn’t we? We would not pass by a burning house and fail to heed the pleas of those who were trapped inside. How then, can be be so calloused and fail to snatch men in pity from sin and its terrible consequences?

Involved in rescuing the perishing is “weeping o’re the erring one. ” When men sin they err. They miss the mark. They step over God’s line or limit. That is the literal meaning of the word “sin” as found in 1 John 3:4. Read this verse in the various translations and it will be enlightening to you.

How often do we weep over a lost and dying world? What about some individual, friend or loved one? Does it really bother you? I am afraid that we shed few tears because we are not totally convinced that the world is really lost. We just do not see clearly the lostness of this world. Perhaps we do not understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin!

Paul wept for the lost (Phil. 3:18-19). Jesus had compassion and showed it with tears (Matt. 9:36-37; Lk. 19:41-44). We’ll not be successful in rescuing the perishing without compassion and tears. The Psalmist said, “They that sow in tears will reap with joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing in his sheaves with him” (Psa. 126:5-6).

Also involved in rescuing the perishing is “lifting up the fallen. Many have fallen under life’s crushing loads. We ought to help bear these burdens (Gal. 6:2,10). Many have fallen prey to temptation and have been overcome. These erring brethren need to be restored (Gal. 6:1). Many have become discouraged and have fallen. We must be ready to lift up the hands that hang down and give strength to the feeble knees (Heb. 12:12). Many brethren have, through the deceit of sin, wandered from the truth, but we ought to do our best to turn them around and bring them back (Jas. 5:19-20).

We can rescue the perishing and lift up the fallen, by telling them of Jesus’ the mighty to save. Our Lord is all-powerful. He can reach down and pull us out of the muck and mire of sin. He can help us overcome temptation. He can lighten the crushing loads of life. He can give us sweet rest and peace. Therefore, the Christian can say: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

Yes, the Lord is mighty to save, and “therefore he is able to save completely (to the uttermost), those who come to God, through him” (Heb. 7:25).

From the second verse of this song we learn, that though men slight Christ, he still patiently pleads and waits.

Tho’ they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,

Waiting the wandering child gone astray.

Plead with them earnestly; Plead with them gently:

He will forgive if they trust and obey.

John says, “He came to his own and his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11). In John 5:40, Jesus said, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” The marvel of marvels and wonder of wonders is the fact that Christ still reaches out his nail-scarred hands to those who have knowingly and willingly rejected him! Can you explain it?

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, teaches us that the Lord stands waiting and willing to receive us, if we will but come to him. That son came back with a penitent heart and his father threw his arms around him and eagerly received him home. Though the son only wanted to be received as a servant, his father received him as full-fledged son! What about you my friend? Are you rejecting the Lord?

In rescuing the perishing, we must plead earnestly and gently. To plead earnestly is to compel by use of persuasion and entreaty. In Luke 14:23, the Lord told his servants to “compel them to come into his house.” Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade (compel, or entreat) men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

But, our pleading and persuading must be done gently. We must “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Yes, our preaching is to be with firmness and conviction, yet we must be longsuffering (2 Tim. 4:2). Christians who have gone astray in error, or have been overtaken in a fault, need to be restored, but, it must be in the spirit of meekness and gentleness (Gal. 6:1).

Dear friend, please remember one thing though. Whether you are saint or sinner, you must trust and obey the Lord. Christ cannot and he will not forgive those who will not trust and obey him. But at the same time, he is “the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

From the third verse of this song we learn that we must come to grips with the fact that Satan wants to crush and destroy our hearts.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,

Feelings lie buried that grace can restore.

Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,

Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Satan would blot out the truth of heaven’s interest in a lost world, from the pages of inspiration. He would wrest from humanity the last vestige of hope. He would do away with the marvelous plan of salvation, so that the vultures of despair would build their nests in our hearts. “Despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4) Satan wanted to crush Peter’s heart. Jesus told Peter that Satan wished to have him that he may sift him as wheat (Lk. 22:31). Remember Job? Satan tried the same thing with him.

Satan seeks to bury feelings like love, joy, happiness, peace and zeal. Sin will indeed bury such feelings. But thank God, grace can restore them! God’s favor, his great love, goodness and kindness, can take those dying embers in the heart and stir them into a flame again. God can do that because he offers to us what we truly need instead of what we really deserve.

The grace of God can work through Christians when we show love and kindness towards those who are perishing. The noble poet, James Whitcomb Riley, aptly said:

When over the fair frame of friend or foe,

The shadow of disgrace shall fall, instead

Of words of blame, or proof of so and so,

Let something good be said.

Forget not that no fellow human being yet,

May fall so low but that love may lift its head;

Even when the cheek of shame with tears is wet,

If something good be said.

No generous heart may vainly turn aside

In ways of sympathy; no soul so dead

But may awaken strong and glorified,

If something good be said.

And so I charge ye, by the thorny crown,

And by the cross on which the Savior bled,

And by your own soul’s hope of fair renown,

Let something good be said.

If we will treat those who are perishing in sin, be they alien sinners or erring brethren, in this fashion, chords once broken may vibrate again. What a wonderful thing it is to behold one, once steeped in sin and iniquity, as he rises to new heights and begins to live again, yes, truly live again!

From the last verse of this song, it is suggested what the Bible so clearly teaches, and that is, that it is our duty to rescue the perishing.

Rescue the perishing, Duty demands it;

Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide.

Back to the narrow way, patiently win them

Tell the poor wanderer, a Savior has died.

Isn’t that what Christ told us to do (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15)? Yes, the Great Commission tells us to rescue the perishing. We are to labor and God will take care of the rest, and we ought to let him (1 Cor. 3:5-8).

In rescuing the perishing, we must lead them to the narrow way (Matt. 7:13-14). It will do little good to try to effect the rescue of the perishing, if we do not lead them to the right place.

We must patiently win them. Winning souls is not something you can do in a hurry. It takes time. We live in the age of “instant” this and “instant” that, but soul winning is not one of them. Very few things that are worth while are done in a brief span of time. We must be a people who will continue patiently in well doing (Gal. 6:9). As a result we will receive glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life (Rom. 2:7). Teaching and turning people from sin to the Lord, requires much patience. Don’t become discouraged and give up.

Finally, in rescuing the perishing, we must tell them that a Savior has died. That involves preaching the gospel to them (1 Cor. 15:1-4). This is what Philip did for the Ethiopian. “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture, and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Without the dying Savior, there is no rescue and we all would perish. We must tell about the Christ and his shed blood in our behalf.

Are you perishing? Are you drowning in your own sins and iniquities? I plead with you right now, to reach out and grab hold of Christ and his gospel. Obey him today by faith, repentance, confessing him as God’s Son, and being baptized in water, for the remission of your sins (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37; Acts 2:38). Are you a Christian? Are you perishing again, after you were once rescued? You need to repent and confess your sins (1 Jn. 1:7-9).

Brethren, do you feel any obligation to rescue the perishing? When you see those who are not Christians, do you see them as perishing in sin? Do you pray for them? How many who perish in sin now, would be led to the Lord, if all were like you? Have you been praying to God that he will find a way to use you to rescue the perishing, and have you, yourself, sought such opportunities?

Lead me to some soul today,

Oh, teach me, Lord, just what to say;

Friends of mine are lost in sin,

And cannot find their way.

Few there are who seem to care,

And few there are who pray;

Melt my heart and fill my life,

Give me one soul today.

Adapted from Dennis C. Abernathy; White Oak, TennesseeGuardian of Truth XXXIV; 9, pp. 274-276
May 3, 1990

The Lily Of The Valley/ I’ve Found A Friend In Jesus

Lilly of the valley Lilly

By Charles William Fry (1837–1882)

I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

He’ll never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.

This hymn was a favorite of mine and often reminds me of my auntie called Lilly. When I was growing up I never quite understood what was special about this hymn. But a few years ago, as I studied the names of Jesus; this hymn became very special to me as full understanding of it dawned upon me.  Jesus has a name for every need. Being the lilly of the valley has its own rightful place.

 The lyrics of this lovely old hymn called The Lily Of The Valley” or “I’ve Found A Friend In Jesus” as it is sometimes referred to, were written in 1881 by Charles William Fry (1837–1882), with music by William Shakespeare Hays. It was originally written for the Salvation Army. The words were arranged by Ira D. Sankey to the music of “The Little Old Log Cabin in The Lane” a popular circular tune of the day. The lyrics originated in England.

A bit of biographical information on the lyricist and composer:

Charles William Fry was born on May 30, 1838 in Alderbury, Wiltshire, England. His birth name was William Charles Fry. He died on August 24, 1882 at Park Hall, Polmont, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Charles William Fry was a bricklayer by trade taking after his father. Fry however, was also a versatile musician who was able to play the violin, cello, piano, cornet, and harmonium, and leading an orchestra and band at the Wesleyan chapel in Alderbury. He also helped the Christian Mission in Salisbury, and his family band accompanied Salvation Army founder William Booth in evangelism campaigns. When the Salvation Army begun its work in Salisbury in 1878, Charles William Fry was then a successful building. Fry and his three sons soon offered their instrumental musical talents and played for the Salvation Army outdoor meetings and became part of the first Salvation Army brass band. Fry is also remembered as the author of the hymn ‘Lily of the Valley’ (a.k.a. ‘I Have Found a Friend in Jesus’).”

The music to the hymn were written by William Shakespeare Hays who was born on July 19, 1837, in Louisville, Kentucky. After attending college in Indiana, Tennessee, and his native Kentucky, he became a reporter for the Louisville Democrat, a vocation to which he would return later in life as a columnist for Louisville Courier-Journal after a stint as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. His facility with the written word eventually led Hays into the field of songwriting. Little Ones at Home was published in 1856, the first of some 350 songs he composed during his lifetime. Mollie Darling, written in 1872, sold a phenomenal million copies. During the War Between the States, Hays was jailed in New Orleans for writing songs that supported the Confederate cause. Hays died on July 23, 1907, in his hometown of Louisville (Poetry and Music of the War Between the States

A few comments about the hymn: 

One interesting point to note about this hymn is that the music of the hymn had its origins in a secular tune, in this case a popular vaudeville song, “Little Old Log Cabin.” “The southern gospel hymn, ‘Lily of the Valley,’ with words by Charles W. Fry (1881) was adapted from Hays’ ‘Little Old Log Cabin.’  The words “Fairest of 10,000 to my Soul” One wonders why the hymn writer choose 10,000 and not 50,000,000 or several billions, or however many there were on earth at that time. In my meditations on this song, I noted that “fairest of ten thousand,” is actually a Biblical reference from the Song of Solomon, 5:10: “My beloved is white and ruddy, the fairest among ten thousand.” Other translations say “chiefest among ten thousand,” “outstanding among ten thousand,” and “chosen one among ten thousand.” The reference to Christ as “the lily of the valley” also comes from the Song of Solomon.

Song of Solomon is a book that few preachers, that I have heard, want to discuss because of its explicit love language. It would be easy to dismiss this book and move on but then we would be missing the beautiful picture of The Bridegroom– Jesus– and HIs bride–the Church –which is all of us who are born again.

Here is what the Scofield Bible has to say about this book of song of Solomon or Song of Songs. “No where in Scripture do the unspiritual mind tread upon ground so mysterious and incomprehensible as in this book. While the saintliest of men and women of the ages have found it a source of pure exquisite delight. That the love of the divine Bridgroom should follow all the analogies of the marriage relation seems evil only to the minds so ascetic that marital desires seems to them unholy.

The interpretation is twofold: primarily the book is the expression of true marital love as ordained of God in creation. The secondary and larger interpretation is of Christ, the Son, and HIs Heavenly Bride, the church.

Thoughts about the Lilly:

I took time to study the Lily of the Valley and here are some interesting facts I found about the Lily of the Valley which grows abundantly in certain places.

The lily of the valley represents sweetness and the return of happiness. It can also symbolize humility. Because of the belief in the healing powers of this plant, it is often known as the “ladder to heaven” or “Jacob’s tears.” Also, it is considered a sign of Christ’s second coming.

The lily of the valley is mentioned in the Song of Solomon in the Bible, too. Legend tells that Mary’s tears turned to the lily of the valley when she cried at the cross. This is the reason for the third alternate name, “Mary’s tears.”

Observed under a microscope the Lily of the Valley reveals some true beauty that is not always apparent to the naked eye.

First of all the Lily of the Valley is white. A symbol of purity and holiness.

Secondly it has seven grains or seeds the color of gold. Jesus spoke of the Lily of the Valley in Matthew 6:28 and said that “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.”

The Lily of the Valley has strong and beautiful fragrance. It is a fruitful flower as it produces berries and  it grows prolifically from one root. Just as Jesus is the root from which all spiritual blessings grow. Rev. 22:16. And when we are rooted and grounded in Him and His Word we will bear fruit.

Chronicles 4:5.

The lily has some interesting and diverse uses. I found these medicinal properties that it has been used for in centuries past. When placed in distilled water it is good for the liver and the heart. It actually resembles digitalis as a cardiac tonic. After WWI It was found to be useful in cases of poisonous gassing of the men at the front. It is also useful for urinary canal obstructions. The water is said to strengthen memory and the ointment is a healing salve for burns and scalds. It can be useful for gout and sprains. It has been known to restore lost speech and help inflamed eyes. I am not sure but perhaps it is the ingredients for some medications and herbal treatments even today. I just wanted to note here the usefulness of this humble flower of the field:)

Lilly In The Bible

The Bible mentions lilies 15 times in 15 different verses. Of these 15 mentions, 8 of them occur in the Song of Solomon. Perhaps the most memorable verses are the following:

  • Song of Solomon 2:1I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
    See All… I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
  • Song of Solomon 2:2As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
    See All… As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
  • Song of Solomon 6:2My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
    See All… My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
  • Hosea 14:5I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
    See All… I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
  • Matthew 6:28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
    See All… And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Here in these verses, we see several things about the lilies of the Bible. They grow in the valleys and in the field. They may even grow among thorns. Sometimes, they are cultivated to grow in planted gardens. In speaking of God’s blessing on Israel, Hosea states that “he shall grow as the lily.” This indicates that the lily grows rapidly and commonly in many places.

The many places the lily is found in the Bible (valleys, fields, gardens, among thorns) shows the lily to be a common representation of a wide variety of flowers. This is similar to the usage of lily in English. The dictionary says that the lily is a large genus of perennial plants of the lily family grown from a bulb and having typically trumpet-shaped flowers, some white and some colored. Several plants that are similar to the true lily are also called lilies. In like manner, the biblical lily would refer to a large range of flowering plants that normally grew in the wild fields and covered the valleys at certain times of the year.

Most Bible scholars agree that the “lily of the valleys” in Song of Solomon 2:1I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. See All… is a type of Jesus Christ. Benjamin Keach, in his books on types, gives five comparisons between the lily of the valley and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are his points summarized:

  1. A lily is a sweet and a flagrant flower with a strong scent. Jesus has a sweetness in His ministry especially when He gave “himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.
    See All…).
  2. A lily is white and very beautiful; exceeding all other flowers for whiteness. Within it are seven grains or seeds that are the color of gold. White is a picture of purity (Revelation 3:4Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
    See All…). The bride of the Lamb will be clothed in white (Revelation 19:8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
    See All…). What better representation of the purity of Jesus Christ, the one “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
    See All…), who “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
    See All…), who was tempted “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
    See All…), and who “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
    See All…), than a beautiful white lily? “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
    See All…).
  3. A lily is very fruitful. One root may put forth fifty bulbs. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He brings forth much fruit (John 12:24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
    See All…). It is by bearing much fruit that He glorified the Father (John 15:8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
    See All…).
  4. A lily, according to the ancient writer Pliny, is the tallest of flowers and yet hangs its head down. This a beautiful picture of the greatness of the Son of God matched only by the greatness of His humility. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 [6] Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! [7] Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them? [8] Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
    See All…).
  5. The lily has many medicinal qualities. According to ancient teaching, it could be used to restore a lost voice, help faintness, was good for the liver, and helped dropsy. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great physician and is fully capable of curing all diseases and maladies of the soul.

Certainly, the lily of the valleys is a beautiful picture and type of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sources: Because of the factual nature of this article, I will have some wording that is very close to that in my sources. Here, I freely give those sources:

  1. “Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible” by Benjamin Keach
  2. “Webster’s New World Dictionary”

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