Music to My Ears

Music to Our Ears|Jesus

Jesus! the Name that charms our fears,
  That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
  ‘Tis life, and health, and peace.

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Listen as you read.  This version is from Tyler Andrews.

Not long after beginning my journey with Jesus, a dear friend introduced me to this stanza.  We injected it into another song we were writing and I personalized it as I sang, “‘Tis music in this sinner’s ears”, and as much as that was true back then, it is even moreso now.

Music to One’s Ears

You are probably familiar with that saying which essentially describes something that is pleasant or gratifying to hear or discover.  A quick search reveals this concept dates back at least as far as Shakespeare, but regardless of the origin, I believe it is safe to say that nothing across all of history is so pleasant or gratifying to hear or discover as the name of Jesus, when rightly understood.  Musicians, or music lovers in general, can appreciate this phrase because of the way their souls have been moved while making or enjoying music.

Jean Valjean sings over Marius
  • Can you remember a time when your soul was stirred by a piece of music?  Whether there were words or just an instrumental line, you were moved deeply within your being.  Something happened as you heard the combination of notes that resonated deeply within you.  For me, as a tenor, one such piece is “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, especially the last note.
  • Can you remember a time when your soul was stirred by the name of Jesus?  Whether in a piece of music, as you read Scripture, or heard a teaching, you were moved deeply within your being.  Something happened as you heard the sound of His name and it resonated deeply within you.  Think of one of those times,

But this phrase is not lost on non-musicians either.  Many are familiar not only with this expression but the feeling of hearing something that brings delight to the soul.  All that said, it is a masterful use of a familiar turn of words, especially as it applies to the music of the unparalleled name of Jesus.

Saying it is unparalleled is not just a powerful statement to make a point here.  I am simply reiterating what the  Scripture clearly declares.  This is maybe nowhere more clear than in Philippians 2:9-11.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)

There is coming a day when every creature and all creation will bow before Jesus.  For those who have come to the incredible knowledge the Jesus is Lord, and have surrendered to that knowledge, His name is “music to their ears”.

But this is not only because it has stirred us deeply…

Life and Health and Peace

Interesting sequence of words in this last line.  It seems like the opposite of the natural order, but after some consideration really make sense.  Jesus’ name is actually the source of Life. Health and Peace flow from it.

First, He said this in John 14:6.   “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Pretty bold and exclusive statement, but when you are God you can get away with such declarations, especially because it is the truth.  Notice Jesus did not say He was a life, or simply life, but THE life.

Suffering Servant

Out of that reality flows the next paradoxical proclamation.  His name is health, and it was His death that creates the paradox.  There are a number of different Scriptures that speak specifically to this character of God in general and Jesus in particular.  But allow me to draw attention to Isaiah 53:5.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Speaking here of the Suffering Servant that was to come, Isaiah says his wounds will heal us.   Jesus is that Suffering Servant and His sacrificial death accomplished our healing.  But did you notice the other of our words Isaiah mentioned?

Peace.  The punishment that He suffered brought us peace.  What He was about to endure, that which Isaiah had prophesied  centuries before, validated these words from John 14:27.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

So my question to help you tune today is, “Are you inviting the power of His name into your life regularly?”  Whether lifting it in a song, or simply in prayer or conversation, are you allowing it to voice in your life?  We will think about those first two lines in the next post on Thursday, but until then give the name of Jesus some expression in your life.  Subscribers, you can just play the vlog below for one such opportunity.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, Your name is music to my ears!  Help me to speak it more often so that I create some opportunity for you to usher Your life and health and peace into my living.  Forgive me for not giving you more access to my lips and ears.  Help me to help others know You today.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Tongues and/or Languages

Thousand Words
Thousand Words

O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Listen as you read.  This version is from Together for the Gospel.

My dear, or as it has sometimes been altered to, great Redeemer is indeed worthy of praise.  Check.

My God and King certainly is glorious. Check.

His grace has absolutely triumphed over all. Check.

Two thoughts

Really the most thought-provoking, pondering worthy line in the opening stanza to this beloved hymn is the first.  Herein we understand the longing of the writer to have a thousand tongues to sing the praises of our God.  I have often wondered if he meant both of the things that immediately come to mind for me and I am certain many others, worshippers across the more than two centuries this song has been sung.

1000 actual tongues

cry outMy single tongue simply is inadequate to declare the praise, glory and triumph of my King.  I wish that I had 999 more, or while I am at, maybe 100,000, though in essence this would still not be enough to adequately, or throughly tell His worth.  Though I must admit I would agree with St. Catherine that any number of of tongues breaking the silence would be far superior to those same tongues remaining stilled.

That quote got me thinking about how many of us are often tricked into constraining our praise for any number of reasons.  Not the right moment.  Not the right crowd.  Not the right place.  Lord, have mercy on us for holding our tongues in times we should have loosed them, especially when it comes to using them to bring you praise.  When we speak the praises of God we breathe “life and health and peace” [quoting a later stanza] to an otherwise dying, sick and strife-filled world.  I think rotten pretty much some up any place where the praise of God has been squelched.

Jesus, cause me to be unwilling to allow my praise to stay silent.  Empower my tongue that it may erupt with unceasing adoration for  Your Name.  When it does, push back a bit of the rot of this weary world, and in that moment and place, establish Your kingdom! Begin in my soul, as I speak within, but cause it to grow, until it bursts without.

1000 different languages

My single language simply is insufficient to speak the inestimable worth of my dear Redeemer, my glorious God, my gracious King.  Oh, that I might be able to speak 1000 different languages.  Each has not only unique sounds and articulations, but certainly expressions that are idiomatic and colloquial as well as guttural, managing somehow to expound on the magnanimous character of our God.  This brings to mind some memories…

Thousand languages
Thousand languages
  • Traveling abroad and being in awe as I heard God’s praises sung in multiple languages at once.
  • Learning the Dvorak Biblical Songs in their original Slovakian, with the help of a native speaker and marveling at the beauty of the unfamiliar sounds.
  • Talking with a tour guide in Europe who spoke six languages and envying him not because he could converse with so many different people, but because he could express his praise in so many different ways, not to mention the possibility of dreaming of praising God in a language not my first.

This thought also reminds me of the Day of Pentecost, and allows me to see the blessing hidden initially in God’s working at the Tower of Babel.  We began to think to highly of ourselves so God muddled our ability to communicate with all people by creating distinct languages.  This curse comes full circle and essentially becomes as blessing when at the Day of Pentecost people from all over the world each heard the disciples speaking their native tongue.  I do not even need to broach the controversial and divisive subject of the gift of tongues to make the point that having other means to praise God is a reasonable desire for every believer.

Holy Spirit, whether I develop the ability to speak another language or You supernaturally give me such utterance, enable me to use every capacity I have at any given moment to give praise to God.  I long for the greatest ability possible, whether in number or  skill, to sing the glories of my God, but instead simply ask that You help me to make the very most of the one tongue I currently possess.  May I ever and only use it for this highest of purposes.

Joyful Thinking!

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Subscribers and Free Members, enjoy this podcast! Everyone else, the transcript below.

Podcast 3.1 Transcript

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s think about this.

O for a thousand tongues to sing

Psalm 147:1 ESV

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

I think Wesley is possibly desiring one of two things here, either for a thousand different languages, or a thousand mouths, or both, but all for one purpose, that he may have even greater capacity to sing the praises of God.  Ask God to help you make the most of every resource at your disposal to bring Him praise.

 My dear Redeemer’s praise!


Hebrews 13:15 ESV

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Our Redeemer, through His redemptive action, grants us the access that allows us even to offer any praise at all.  Take advantage of that freedom to use your lips to bring Him praise right now, and then ask Him to help you never stop.

The glories of my God and King,

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We will focus on Jesus’ name in the next stanza, but for now, simply thank Him that you have the great treasure of being able to choose to use your tongue to worship Him now.

 The triumphs of His grace!

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

A triumph is a great victory or achievement.  Your redemption is at once a triumph of grace, and a demonstration of the triumph of God’s grace.  Do not hesitate to make your weaknesses known, for they demonstrate the power and victory of our God.  How might you humbly do that today?

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has come to your mind, or listen to what He is saying to you, then I will read our text once more.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
 My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King
 The triumphs of His grace.

Take the mindfulness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.

 

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got…

My Great Redeemer's Praise
My Great Redeemer’s Praise

O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Listen as you read.  This version is from Together for the Gospel.

I just love hearing many voices lifted together in praise.  I love being one of those voices.  I suppose those are probably things you enjoy as well since you have arrived here and are reading this.

But what if you could not sing at all?  If this was your experience for a season, especially if you were able to sing before, then you would be glad to be able to lift your voice in praise again.  I can say this with confidence because it was my experience.

Pleurisy

This hymn was written by Charles Wesley to commemorate the one year anniversary of his healing from pleurisy.  Pleurisy is inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity.  It causes chest pain that worsens during breathing, and generally O For a BREATHhurts more with deeper breathes like those required to sing.  It is a painful condition that can be treated with anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and rest.

I am not sure beyond rest what other care might have been available to Wesley, but I availed myself of all three of these and then some.  I actually developed an infection which required surgery to remove the infectious material in my chest cavity.  Three days after that initial procedure undetected internal bleeding nearly cost me my life.  A second emergency procedure was conducted to rectify that issue.

Needless to say, as I lay in ICU I was so thankful to be alive that I struggled to take in enough breath to quietly sing praise to God.  I had to praise Him for I felt my survival was a triumph of HIs grace.  If I had known the story of this hymn I would glad have sung it, but I do indeed vividly remember singing Amazing Grace to God who had again “saved a wretch like me”.

I Would Praise Him with Them All

Wesley had become ill while studying in London with his brother John under Moravian scholar Peter Boehler.  Boehler was quoted to have said,

“Had I a thousand tongues I would praise Him with them all”.

Though we know this hymn by the words that so aptly capture that thought, they actually served as the seventh stanza of the original eighteen stanzas.  Most hymnals have shortened the hymn to between 6-8 stanzas, which is not uncommon for many hymns.  As you would imagine there are some good stanzas which did not make the cut.

This one comes before the one that calls the deaf to hear His voice.

He speaks, – and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.

This is a great call to the world to worship.

Look unto him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

This is a great concise declaration of the Gospel.

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

You can’t really “praise Him with them all” if you don’t even know they exist.

…Until It’s Gone

Of course we do not miss those stanzas if we never knew they were a part of this great hymn.  But this is like the inverse of the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”  More like, “You don’t realize what you are missing until it arrives.”  Not quite the same, other than relating to an awareness of something possessed or dispossessed.

Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley

For me, it was not really being able to sing or even take a deep breath, in those days leading up to the diagnosis and first procedure,and certainly between the two.  I did not realize how precious using one tongue to praise my Redeemer.  Loosing the ability to do so, even for a few days, helped me to realize what a gift being able to praise truly is.  I am certain that realization is a part of what inspired Wesley to pen these words.

So my question to help you tune today is, “Are you using everything at your disposal to give praise to God?”  Whether musical ability or some other talent or skill, are you making the most of them to declare His glory?  Wesley gives us words to commit to using a thousand tongues if we had them, but maybe we need to make certain we are maximizing each of the ones we currently possess.  If so, then go ahead and ask for more.  If not, then it is definitely time to do some tuning.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for giving me the tongue I have, and every other ability to render the praise that is due your Name.  Had I a thousand tongues, they would not be enough to magnify Your excellencies.  Even still, help me to make the most of every ability I possess, and graciously add to them according to Your will, that I may use them each to exalt You.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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