HYMN 1 There is a green hill far away
1 There is a green hill far away,
without a city wall,
where the dear Lord was crucified,
who died to save us all.
2 We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.
3 He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.
4 There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin;
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven, and let us in.
5 O dearly, dearly has he loved,
and we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.
Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)
Cecil Alexander (known as “Fanny”) was born in 1818, the second daughter of Major John Humphries in County Tyrone, Ireland. In 1850, she married the Revd William Alexander, later Archbishop of Ireland. Most of Fanny Alexander’s enduring hymns were written for children and designed to help them understand key statements of the Christian faith. Among them were All things bright and beautiful and the popular Christmas carol, Once in royal David’s city (StF 214).
“There is a green hill far away” hymn interprets the phrase in the Apostles’ Creed: “[Jesus] suffered under Pontius Pilate”. It sets out to describe for young people the suffering of Jesus as he was crucified. Alexander’s picture of the “green hill far away” in Judea is said to have been inspired in part by a hill near her home in Ireland, which she used to pass by while riding in her carriage.
Some of the popularity of “There is a green hill” undoubtedly derives from William Horsley’s tune, “Horsley”. Horsley was an experienced musician, a friend of Mendelssohn, and with five books of “glees” (part-songs) and thee symphonies to his name.
Hymn 2 THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
1 On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame,
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.
2 O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
3 In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see;
for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
to pardon and sanctify me.
4 To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory for ever I’ll share.
George Bennard (1873-1958)
The Old Rugged Cross is one of the most popular Christian hymns in the English world. It is a hymn that leads us to focus on what Christ did on the cross and make his sacrifice our own.
Being a Christian is not easy but we all need to cling to that old cross and bear the shame and ridicule we might face.
This hymn composed in 1912 by evangelist and song leader George Bennard. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1873.
He was converted at the age of 24 after attending a Salvation Army meeting. He later left the Salvation Army and joined the Methodist church in 1910.
After joining the Methodist church he became an itinerant preacher for the Methodist church. He held revival meetings in the Midwest of the United States.
It was during one of these revival meetings that he came up with this hymn. This was his response to the heckling and ridicule he received from several youths at a revival meeting in Michigan.
Bernard was troubled by their disregard of the gospel that he turned to the bible to reflect on Christ on the cross.
Here he wrote just the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross”.
He finished the song several months later at another meeting. He was then traveling with Ed E. Mieras. Bernard and Mieras performed the finished song on the last night of the meeting.
HYMN 3 COME LET US TO THE LORD OUR GOD
[ Tune: KEDRON ]
1 Come, let us to the Lord our God
with contrite hearts return;
our God is gracious, nor will leave
the desolate to mourn.
2 His voice commands the tempest forth,
and stills the stormy wave;
and though his arm be strong to smite,
’tis also strong to save.
3 Long hath the night of sorrow reigned,
the dawn shall bring us light;
God shall appear, and we shall rise
with gladness in his sight.
4 Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
shall know him and rejoice;
his coming like the morn shall be,
like morning songs his voice.
5 As dew upon the tender herb,
diffusing fragrance round;
as showers that usher in the spring,
and cheer the thirsty ground:
6 So shall his presence bless our souls,
and shed a joyful light;
that hallowed morn shall chase away
the sorrows of the night.
John Morison (1750-1798), Scottish Paraphrases (1781)
The Scottish Paraphrases were a response to a growing desire to sing words other than from the Psalms and were finally published in 1781. However, the collection was provisional, sent down from the General Assembly for the opinion of Presbyteries, its use only authorised ‘in the meantime’ and ‘where the Minister finds it for edification’. The process was never completed but the paraphrases passed into wide use. This version of Hosea 6:1-4 was by John Morison DD (1750-1798), minister of Canisbay. The composer of ‘Kilmarnock’, Neil Dougall (1776-1852), who was badly injured in the Navy, was a well-known musical figure in Greenock, where he lived all his life, writing some 100 psalm and hymn tunes. The author of ‘Kedron’, made famous by Glasgow Orpheus Choir (1906-1951) is unknown.
HYMN 4 I’M PRESSING ON THE UPWARDS WAY (HIGHER GROUND)
1 I’m pressing on the upward way,
new heights I’m gaining ev’ry day;
still praying as I onward bound,
‘Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.’
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
by faith, on heaven’s tableland,
a higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
2 My heart has no desire to stay
where doubts arise and fears dismay;
though some may dwell where these abound,
my prayer, my aim is higher ground.
3 I want to scale the utmost height
and catch a gleam of glory bright;
but still I’ll pray till heaven I’ve found,
‘Lord, lead me on to higher ground.’
Johnson Oatman (1856-1922)
Johnson Oatman, Jr., was born near Medford, N. J., April 21, 1856. His father was an excellent singer, and it always delighted the son to sit by his side and hear him sing the songs of the church.
At the age of nineteen he joined the M.E. Church, and a few years later he was granted a license to preach the Gospel, and still later he was regularly ordained by Bishop Merrill. However, Mr. Oatman only served as a local preacher.
For many years he was engaged with his father in the mercantile business at Lumberton, N. J., under the firm name of Johnson Oatman & Son. Since the death of his father, he was in the insurance business.
He wrote over three thousand hymns, and no gospel song book is considered as being complete unless it contains some of his hymns.
In 1878 he married Wilhelmina Reid, of Lumberton, N.J. and had three children, Rachel, Miriam, and Percy.
HYMN 5. WE’VE A STORY TO TELL TO THE NATIONS
1 We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right;
a story of truth and sweetness,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noon-day bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.
2 We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord;
a song that shall conquer evil,
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword:
3 We’ve a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
hath sent us His Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love:
4 We’ve a Saviour to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples,
might come to the truth of God,
might come to the truth of God:
H Ernest Nichol (Colin Sterne) (1862–1926)
H. Ernest Nichol (b. Hull, Yorkshire, England, 1862; d. Skirlaugh, Yorkshire, England, 1926) had begun a study program in civil engineering when he decided to study music instead. In 1888 he received a bachelor’s degree in music from Oxford University. Nichol wrote some 130 hymn tunes and texts, many under the pseudonym “Colin Sterne” (derived from his middle and last name); many were first sung at church school programs.