Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah

This will conclude my sharing in 2017 of some of the selections of the spiritual Christian Poetry in poems, psalms, hymns, and songs that were in my collections over the years among Christians in the churches. I will also soon share a selection of Creeds that I encountered over the decades.
Two weeks ago my son invited us to hear him sing in a Handel’s Messiah performance at Point Loma Nazarene University. Although I’ve frequently heard of the Messiah oratorio, and had listened to small segments of it, yet to date had not heard or experience the full, or nearly complete performance of this Christian musical masterpiece of the Gospel or Redemption Story of the Christ. My very first momentous acquaintance with Handel’s Messiah was by a certain man I met on the streets of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs in Los Angeles county in 1973. He appeared to be a derelict and partly insane, but had wits enough to communicate his obsession and history, though somewhat incoherently. I met him several times, attempting to preach the gospel to him, and then walking around with him as a friend. I was a young man and he was then in his sixties. People would shy away from us as we walked and talked; the shopkeepers were impatient and unfriendly with him. After several times meeting him in this manner, he allowed me to walk him to where he lived, and to my surprise he owned a house, though ill-kept, and didn’t need money to subsist; yet wore old dirty tattered clothes, and ate the simplest food. We talked for hours, and he began to tell me that he was an accomplished pianist, organist, and played other instruments; he said he was often invited to perform Handel’s Messiah in many places, in grand performances; that he played for several churches for some thirty years. I could never get him to coherently relate what exactly happened to him to bring him to this place; he showed some resentment towards Christians, but not excessive, he was reluctant to seek or want help. I moved on and never knew what became of him. Whenever I heard of Handel’s Messiah I would think of the old man so long ago.
So here I was with my wife and other family members and friends to hear and see Messiah for the first time. We got there early, seated in the very front some 8 feet from the Conductor and the musicians. We were given the Program sheets which showed the musical instruments of Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass, Trumpets, Harpsichord, and Timpani (Kettledrums), and Piano-Organ Keyboard; in all some 3 dozen instruments. The Choral Singers numbered over 130, divided up into Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Bass, of both women and men, young and old, and of varied ethnicity. Messiah is ordered in several Parts: the Prologue of Bible Texts on the Incarnation; the First Part of the Prophecy
from the Old Testament verses from Isaiah 40, Haggai 2, Malachi 3, Isaiah 7 with Matthew 1, Isaiah 60, and Isaiah 9; then the First Coming in Luke 2, and Zechariah 9, and Matthew 11; next is the Second Part of Redemption in John 1, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Psalm 2, and Revelation 19, here with the great HalleluJahs, which incites all to rise and stand in awe; finally, Part Three of the Second Coming in Job 19, I Corinthians 15, and Revelation 5. Prayers before and after, with many Amens. The Performance was indeed wonderful and worshipful to God and His Christ.
The Program Guide also included a brief biography of George Frideric Handel and info of Messiah: “Handel -a German-born, Italian-educated composer and impresario in the middle of a long career in England- composed what has become the best loved and most performed work in the canon of Western music: the oratorio MESSIAH. Its timeless themes of hope and redemption have inspired millions around the world for three centuries, and the continued popularity of its message and music will insure its performance well into the future…..Handel’s MESSIAH has been called “the first instance in the history of music of an attempt to view the mighty drama of human redemption from an artistic viewpoint.”

With this in mind and with reflections I must add some other insights and facts:
(From Songs and Airs by George Frederic Handel by Ebenezer Prout, 1905, Vol. 2 ‘For the Low Voice’:
“…Handel or Hendel, -with the single exception of S. Bach, was the greatest composer of the first half of the eighteenth century, was born at Halle, in Saxony, on February 23, 1685. His father was barber-surgeon in the town and surgeon-in-ordìnary to the Prince of Saxony, and Elector of Brandenburg; he was already sixty-three years of age when the composer was born, Handel’s mother being the second wife of his father. At a very early age the child’s remarkable musical gifts showed them selves; but his father, who destined him for the legal profession, discouraged and even prohibited the study of the art his son loved; and his opposition was only overcome by the mediation of the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, who had had an opportunity of hearing the boy play the Organ. Handel’s first teacher was Friedrìch Wilhelm Zachau, organist of the Liebfrauenkìrche in Halle, who, however, after giving him instruction both theoretical and practical for a few years, informed his father, when the lad had reached the age of eleven, that his pupil knew more than himself. The Elector, who greatly admired Handel’s talent, offered to send him to Italy for further training, but his aged father declined to part with him. In 1697 his father died, and for the next few years Handel remained at Halle, engaged in professional work. In 1703 (at 18) he went to Hamburg, where the opera was at that time under the direction of the prolific composer Reinhard Keiser. Here he accepted a position in the orchestra at the subordinate part of ‘violino di ripieno’, which he held until his talent as a harpsìchord player was discovered by his volunteering to take the place of the regular accompanist when the latter was on one occasion absent. It was in Hamburg that Handel’s first operas, written to German words, were produced. These were four in number, -‘Almira, Nero, Daphne, and Florindo’….
The success he met with in Hamburg enabled Handel to save enough money to allow him to carry out a long-cherished wish to visit Italy, a visit which exercised a marked influence on his future musical development. He first went to Florence, and thence proceeded to Rome, where he wrote many pieces of church music with Latin words, and a number of solo Cantatas with Italian words. He then returned to Florence, where the first of his thirty-nine Italian operas, ‘Rodrigo’, was produced with great success. In the following year (1708, at 23) ‘Agrippina’ was produced at Venice, with no less brilliant result than its predecessor. From Venice Handel returned to Rome, where he made the acquaintance of the great violinist Corelli. In Rome he composed his two Italian
oratorìos, ‘La Resurrezione’ and ‘Il Trionfo del Tempo’.
Leaving Italy in 1710 (at 25), Handel went to Hanover, where the Elector appointed him Kapellmeìster, in succession to the Abbé Stelfanì, who resigned the post in his favor. Handel obtained a year’s leave of absence in order to visit England, and arrived in London toward the close of the year. His fame had preceded him, and he was soon commissioned to write an opera for the Queen’s Theatre, in the Haymarket. The subject selected, ‘Rinaldo’, was taken from Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’, and on the authority of the librettist the music is said to have been written in a fortnight (fourteen nights). The work, produced on February 24, 1711 (at 26), which had an immense success, is one of the finest of its composer’s operas; two airs from it are included in the present collection. At the close of the London opera season Handel returned to Hanover, but obtained permission to pay a second visit to England on condition that he return within a reasonable time. Revisiting London in 1712 (at 27), he brought out two new operas, ‘Il Pastor Fido’ and ‘Teseo’, and in the following year wrote, among other works, his ‘Te Deum’ and ‘Jubilate for the Peace of Utrecht’. But he outstayed his leave so long as to offend the Elector of Hanover; and when the latter, on the death of Queen Anne in 1714, became king of England, under the title of George I, the composer found himself neglected by royalty. By the mediation of Baron Kilmansegg a reconciliation was effected, Handel was restored to favor and received a pension of £200 a year. In 1716 (at 31) Handel accompanied the king on a visit to Hanover, and not very long after his return in the following year, he accepted an invitation from the Duke of Chandos to become director of the music at Cannons. This post he held from 1718 to 1720, during which time he composed the series of anthems known as the ‘Chandos Anthems’, as well as the serenata ‘Acis and Galatea’ and his first English oratorio, ‘Esther’. There can be little doubt that it was his residence at Cannons that first induced him to give so much attention to sacred music, and indirectly led the way to the subsequent production of the series of immortal oratorios on which his fame now chiefly rests.
In 1720 (at 35) a company was formed, under the title of The Royal Academy of Music, for the performance of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre; Handel was appointed chief musical director, and associated with him as composers were Attilio Ariosti and G. B. Buononcini. From this time for several years Handel was chiefly engaged in the composition of opera; in the nine years of the existence of the company he wrote fourteen of these works. Financially, however, the result was disastrous, for in 1728 (at 43), after a loss of more than £50,000, the theatre was closed. Heidegger, who had been the manager under the company, bought it and secured the services of Handel as sole musical director. The composer, whose fecundity was apparently inexhaustible, continued to bring out fresh operas year after year; but a rival opera….Neither was fortune more favorable when Handel took the Covent Garden Theatre and carried it on on his own account. Moreover, his health broke down under the pressure of overwork; he was seized in 1737 (at 52) with a paralytic stroke, which necessitated complete rest, and went to the sulphur waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, which produced a partial cure. Subsequently his health was completely restored, but for some time the effects of the attack were noticeable.
It is probably a fortunate circumstance that Handel’s operas, with all their beauties, were not more successful; for it was the failure of the numerous operatic enterprises with which he was connected that finally led him to turn his attention to oratorio. Already, as early as 1732, his ‘Esther’ had been performed in London, at first “with dresses, action, and scenery,” and later without these accessories. In 1733 Handel had broken new ground with his oratorios ‘Deborah’ and ‘Athalia’, the first works in which he shows himself in his full strength as a choral writer. In 1738 (at 53) he produced ‘Saul’ and ‘Israel in Egypt’; but it was not until he had finally abandoned operatic work -his last opera, ‘Deidamia’, was composed in 1740 (at 55)- that he devoted his chief, one might almost say his exclusive, attention to sacred music.
The ‘Messiah’, Handel’s masterpiece, was composed in twenty-four days, from August 22 to September 14, 1741 (at 56), and its first performance took place in Dublin on April 13, 1742 (at 57); it was not heard in London until the following year (his 58th year). Immediately after completing this work, Handel wrote another of his greatest oratorios, Samson, which he completed on October 29, 1741;…..
During the last years of his life (about 10 years) Handel was totally blind. This, however, did not prevent his continuing to give oratorio performances, which were conducted by his pupil, Christopher Smith, while the composer, according to his custom, played organ concertos or voluntaries between the parts of the oratorios. He also still composed, dictating the music to Smith;…..
In spite of increasing infirmity, Handel continued to direct his oratorios, giving a performance of the Messiah for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital only a week before his death, which took place on Good Friday, April 13, 1759 (at 74). He was buried in Westminster Abbey on the twentieth of the same month, and the well-known monument by Roubilliac marks the place of his interment.
Handel was a man of fine personal character and of strongly marked individuality. Though irascible and choleric, he was warm-hearted and generous in his disposition. This is proved not only by the readiness with which he gave performances for charitable purposes, but by his bequeathing £1,000 to the Society for the Support of Decayed Musicians, now known as the Royal Society of Musicians. Of unimpeachable honor in pecuniary matters, he ruined his health in his efforts to pay the debts he had contracted during his unfortunate operatic speculations; it is satisfactory to know that in the later years of his life he retrieved his fortunes by means of his oratorios, and that at the time of his death his savings amounted to £20,000. The straightforward honesty of his character is reflected in his music, perhaps more particularly in his choruses, which are for the most part distinguished by breadth and grandeur, while never shallow, Handel is never abstruse; his technical mastery of his art was complete, but he never used his knowledge as a mere means of showing his cleverness.
Of all the great composers it is probable that not one has written so many songs as Handel; it is certain that none has composed so many which have become, at all events among English speaking people, universal favorites. The reasons for this preference are not far to seek. In the first place, Handel had an apparently inexhaustible fund of melodic invention, flowing in general in the simplest and most natural way possible. In his music an unvocal interval is of extremely rare occurrence; except for dramatic effect, we seldom meet even with a chromatic progression……… His melodies also have in many cases a peculiar beauty which appeals directly to the general public no less than to the educated musician. Unlike the music of his great contemporary, Bach, which must be heard many times before its charm can be fully appreciated, that of Handel goes to the heart at once. Herein lies one great secret of its success. Another special feature to be remarked in Handel’s music is its strongly dramatic character. Though chiefly known at the present day as a writer of oratorios, it must not be forgotten that he was the greatest opera composer of his time. While it is impossible that any of his operas should ever be revived, owing to the changes in public taste and the progress of the musical drama, the study of their scores is not less interesting to the musician than that of the oratorios.”)

(From the Internet: Wikipedia and others:
“Messiah has been performed with few musicians and singers, often with hundreds of musicians and singers, and at times thousands of musicians and singers. Messiah is performed every year thousands of times globally. Though Messiah was slightly received and lightly praised at first, it soon became most popular and widespread, moving from nobility to common folks. “scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. “For the benefit of his audiences Jennens printed and issued a pamphlet explaining the reasons for his choices of scriptural selections.” It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. “The warm reception accorded to Messiah in Dublin was not repeated in London when Handel introduced the work at the Covent Garden theatre on 23 March 1743…The first performance was overshadowed by views expressed in the press that the work’s subject matter was too exalted to be performed in a theatre, particularly by secular singer-actresses such as Cibber and Clive. In an attempt to deflect such sensibilities, in London Handel had avoided the name Messiah and presented the work as the “New Sacred Oratorio”.[50] As was his custom, Handel rearranged the music to suit his singers.” “Jennens’s text is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah called Christ. The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.”)

(“Structure of Handel’s Messiah:
The numbering of the movements shown here is in accordance with the Novello vocal score (1959), edited by Watkins Shaw, which adapts the numbering earlier devised by Ebenezer Prout. Other editions count the movements slightly differently; the Bärenreiter edition of 1965, for example, does not number all the recitatives and runs from 1 to 47. The division into parts and scenes is based on the 1743 word-book prepared for the first London performance. The scene headings are given as Burrows summarised the scene headings by Jennens.
Part I
Scene 1: Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation
1. Sinfony (instrumental)
2. Comfort ye my people (tenor)
3. Ev’ry valley shall be exalted (air for tenor)
4. And the glory of the Lord (anthem chorus)
Scene 2: The coming judgment
5. Thus saith the Lord of hosts (accompanied recitative for bass)
6. But who may abide the day of His coming (soprano, alto or bass)
7. And he shall purify the sons of Levi (chorus)
Scene 3: The prophecy of Christ’s birth
8. Behold, a virgin shall conceive (alto)
9. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (air for alto and chorus)
10. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (bass)
11. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (bass)
12. For unto us a child is born (duet chorus)
Scene 4: The annunciation to the shepherds
13. Pifa (“pastoral symphony”: instrumental)
14a. There were shepherds abiding in the fields (secco recitative for soprano)
14b. And lo, the angel of the Lord (accompanied recitative for soprano)
15. And the angel said unto them (secco recitative for soprano)
16. And suddenly there was with the angel (accompanied recitative for soprano)
17. Glory to God in the highest (chorus)
Scene 5: Christ’s healing and redemption
18. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (soprano)
19. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened (secco recitative for soprano or alto)
20. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd (alto and/or soprano)
21. His yoke is easy (duet chorus)
Part II
Scene 1: Christ’s Passion
22. Behold the Lamb of God (chorus)
23. He was despised and rejected of men (alto)
24. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (chorus)
25. And with his stripes we are healed (fugue chorus)
26. All we like sheep have gone astray (duet chorus)
27. All they that see him laugh him to scorn (secco recitative for tenor)
28. He trusted in God that he would deliver him (fugue chorus)
29. Thy rebuke hath broken his heart (tenor or soprano)
30. Behold and see if there be any sorrow (tenor or soprano)
Scene 2: Christ’s Death and Resurrection
31. He was cut off (tenor or soprano)
32. But thou didst not leave his soul in hell (tenor or soprano)
Scene 3: Christ’s Ascension
33. Lift up your heads, O ye gates (chorus)
Scene 4: Christ’s reception in Heaven
34. Unto which of the angels (tenor)
35. Let all the angels of God worship Him (chorus)
Scene 5: The beginnings of Gospel preaching
36. Thou art gone up on high (soprano, alto, or bass)
37. The Lord gave the word (chorus)
38. How beautiful are the feet (soprano, alto, or chorus)
39. Their sound is gone out (tenor or chorus)
Scene 6: The world’s rejection of the Gospel
40. Why do the nations so furiously rage together (bass)
41. Let us break their bonds asunder (chorus)
42. He that dwelleth in heaven (tenor)
Scene 7: God’s ultimate victory
43. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron (tenor)
44. Hallelujah (anthem and fugue chorus)
Part III
Scene 1: The promise of eternal life
45. I know that my Redeemer liveth (soprano)
46. Since by man came death (chorus)
Scene 2: The Day of Judgment
47. Behold, I tell you a mystery (bass)
48. The trumpet shall sound (bass)
Scene 3: The final conquest of sin
49. Then shall be brought to pass (alto)
50. O death, where is thy sting (alto and tenor)
51. But thanks be to God (chorus)
52. If God be for us, who can be against us (soprano)
Scene 4: The acclamation of the Messiah
53. Worthy is the Lamb (chorus)
Amen (chorus)”)

(From George Frideric Handel His Personality & His Times by Flower, Newman, Sir, 1923:
“In the course of some years of Handelian study, induced by a sincere admiration of the man’s genius, I have discovered certain facts which are not included in the Handel biographies. I felt they would not be without interest to other ardent lovers of the Master, and in this belief I attempted this book. The accepted story of the Water Music, for instance, which began with Mainwaring, and has gone on ever since, is quite incorrect, as recent investigation in Germany proves. Again, Charles
Jennens has always been credited by every biographer with compiling the libretto of Messiah. That a poor parson employed by Jennens did the work has not hitherto been recorded in the Handel books…..Handel’s music is really a reflex of an extraordinary character, acting and reacting upon a beauteous and rich imagination. His actions, even in times of great adversity—actions often abrupt and motiveless superficially—reveal, on investigation, the thinking man behind them. They represent the thoughts of one who could survey Humanity and translate into music the impressions formed. It is questionable whether any music, composed in this country or imported into it, has reached the heart of the people so truly as his. He caught the moods of the world and set them to song. To admire the music of Handel above all other is often considered to be the taste of a heretic. There are some, too, who have striven, not very nobly, to show that Handel stole all his better music. Lacking such knowledge, it would be difficult for me not to appear self-conscious in the company of these comedians, so I am grateful to be numbered among the heretics…..”

Chapter 1: Some Relations:

“Genius is seldom admitted as such save when it can achieve over Circumstance. And the Circumstance that governs the ways of Mankind is so contrived as to hinder rather than help the weakling idea. Existence, as humanly conceived, would mock at and poke into seclusion those tendrils of thought which, if developed, would produce a voice to which the world might listen. This same Circumstance did its utmost to snuff out the genius of George Frideric Handel. It pegged him about from his early years with absurd obstacles. It fought him with all the strength of precedent in its favour. Nor did it yield him even the favour of happy chance. It tried to stifle a voice that ultimately turned a world to melody. For the child who was born at the little Saxon town of Halle on 23rd February 1685 was never followed by what is known as good luck. In a gamble with chance he was safe to lose every time. But he made his way to his ultimate destiny by the triumph of sheer courage and personality. To begin with, nothing was expected of George Frideric Handel when he was born except a commonplace yet circumspect life. His father had reared many children (5 sisters, 3 brothers), and George Frideric (named after his father), following after by the grace of a second wife, was just one of a herd, as ordinary as his name. No great ability was anticipated of him ; the suspicion of any musical genius in him would probably have shocked his father, the barbersurgeon, into disowning him. All that his parents demanded was that he should become a good citizen and pay his way in some respectable craft ; be God-fearing, if not God-chosen ; ultimately marry and rear children, and, in the fullness of time, pass to an honoured corner in the Halle churchyard, and be remembered with respect. The Handels had always done things that way. They had never been original, but ever respectable. From the time that they first settled in Breslau in mediaeval ages, till and after grandfather Handel —Valentine by name— came and established the Handel respectability at Halle, they had been the same. He opened a small coppersmith’s shop to which he very vigilantly attended. He was unimaginative, and unsuspecting, this man, that any grandchild of his would one day demand the silence of kings. In 1685, when the birth of the future musician occurred in the Am Schlamm at Halle, Middle Europe was in a curious mood of unoriginality. It had its own scheme of things; its slow progress was a change as slowly conceived. It was rather hidebound with Lutheranism, relieved with patches—very eruptive patches—of Judaism, and occasional upheavals of Catholicism and free thought. Its business was as respectable as its religion. It did not wish to do anything in a new way. It made things and sold them. This Middle Europe of 1685 wanted to go on making things and selling them in the same fashion for ever……
The Handels were a rather peculiar family. They succeeded in Middle Europe at this age because they were so clearly typical of their age. They were extremely efficient, quiet people. They had no family scandals, no skeletons in the family cupboard. They made no noise ; they rose to no honours. They did not attempt to govern. They married just the kind of people they were themselves, for they adventured neither in business nor in marriage. They made their profits in their occupations, and paid their debts, and were buried, as they would have wished to be buried, with the little pompous funerals of seventeenth-century Germany. They lived very gamely and straightly round the narrow arc which their mentality perceived, and came to the same very revered end. Just dust to the earth that had yielded it. Dust and no memories. Suddenly this very circumspect family developed an eruptive mood. Early in the seventeenth century Valentine Handel packed himself up, bag and baggage, at Breslau and went south to Halle. He followed the usual custom of the time for an apprentice who had become ‘Gesell’ to take to the road. The Saxon town had no special call for him. Buthe responded to a mood. Like some irresponsible bird of passage, he did what no Handel had ever done hitherto—he went out to discover. To fight…. Scarcely a year before his arrival at Halle, he married an Eisleben girl, Anne, the daughter of the master coppersmith, Samuel Beichling, who was to be the grandmother of the musician…. He was then twenty-six years of age. He arrived at Halle with his few sticks of belongings, and the knowledge of his craft as a coppersmith—the only stable things to which he had pegged his adventure….. There were other coppersmiths there before him, but the records show that he was a brilliant craftsman in the more delicate forms of the work. He became known ; he prospered. Rapidly he climbed the ladder till the citizens of Halle held such respect for him that they put him into the council with the position of bread-weigher. In a short time his shop was one of the foremost of the period…. Valentine Handel made money, and he saved money. As proof of it, let it be said that he bought two of the principal houses in the adjoining main street. No tradesman in those days could afford to buy houses unless he were making money heavily. The Handel stock was particularly strong in this man. He had no ideas outside his business. He did not know one note of music from another. He was conscious of no appeal from any Art. He lived a rather closeted, furtive life, taking no chances unless he had previously measured every step of the way. But he was alert, and very conscious that in his epoch commercial Germany was about to be sold to the Jews. So he prospered; he prospered because he had been manufactured so closely to the pattern of his age. And he lived in a manner that became his lineage, a clean-trading, rather ignorant person, with ideals and beliefs in the hereafter for those who kept themselves unsullied from the Jewish vices that were breaking out in gross and disturbing fashion in the larger cities. A person rather dour and sanctimonious. He died in the same unostentatious fashion in which he had lived, just as the Handel precedents ordained ; his financial affairs very simple and arranged, and with a clear conscience that those for whom he had worked should never be troubled with any irritating annoyances about their heritage. He had thought it all out beforehand, and so planned his death that it should be as simple and understood as his life had been. He had always been a very safe person, rather difficult to live with at times, one may gather, but worthy of the elegant inscription they put upon his tomb. And when he died at the coppersmith’s shop that had borne his name for so long and honourably over its portal, he left his two elder sons, Valentine and Christoph—already trained to his own pattern as coppersmiths—to succeed him. Two other sons he had lost, but the fifth, George by name, never appears to have interested him. George had no inclinations towards the crafts of the smith. He was ambitious, dreamy ; he lived a solitary life, out of joint with the family and its affairs. Yet Destiny was to choose him for the father of one of the world’s greatest musicians. This youth had just turned fourteen years when he followed his father’s bier to its last resting-place,….for six years later he was the most respected burgher in Halle as a barber-surgeon. At the end of his life he was in his turn to pass on that strength of character to his last son George Frideric. The gift was the only thing that George did for that son of his late years. Nevertheless it was this gift that brought the son in the fullness of time to Westminster Abbey. When they had buried the old coppersmith of Halle in 1636, George, the boy of fourteen, was left more than ever to the seclusion of his own ways, his own thoughts. Whatever destiny there might be for him had given no sign. He had no one to turn toward for guidance, and, says one historian, he walked the streets and the wooded paths beside the banks of Halle’s wonderful river, the Saale, “trapped by a great sense of ambition.” Then the destiny of George Handel began to shape itself. He became an apprentice to Christoph Oettinger, a barbersurgeon, one of the successful young men of Halle. He went into the Oettinger household, and began to pick up the rudiments of surgery. Oettinger was thrifty and prospering ; he had no dream in the world beyond money, and he hammered this boy into being what he meant him to be—just a pawn in his game of building up success for himself and a handsome substance to leave behind him. Not that there was a great deal to learn in surgery in those days—the average medical student of modern times could master in a week the whole gamut of surgery as it was then known, and be glad enough to forget it afterwards. But the life was hard ; the trivial round remorseless and unending….
Eventually and with startling suddenness, Christoph Oettinger died, and his young wife, Anna, was left with her thirty-one years and no children, but a considerable business on her hands. In the ordinary way she should have disposed of it, and, with the aid of the comfortable fortune which Christoph had left, set about to find some eligible mate for her middle age. If Christoph had been thrifty, Anna was more so. She had helped him to build up this business, and she was giving away nothing. She resolved to go on…. And so she ran her business, relying on young Handel. More and more relying upon him. This quiet youth who said so little, yet always seemed to know. Odd thoughts must have passed through the minds of these two; Anna just thirty-one, and George Handel not yet twenty-one…. George Handel married his widow. It was the one certain thing that had to happen. And it proved to be a marriage exceptional in the fact that it was successful where the average marriage based on a business foundation is not successful. George Handel was at once a burgher of the town. Also Frau Handel held an equal importance with her husband in the conduct of a business which, under the full force of their youth and his cleverness, rose to be the principal establishment of its kind in the place. They made money rapidly. Valentine and Christoph in the coppersmith business discovered at last that the despised little brother had become a power in the town. They knew of him in Weissenfels ; Leipzig had spoken of him. Then doubtless they realized that there might be some pride in the relationship…. Anna bore her husband six children, but only two of them—a boy and a girl—ever grew to maturity. Though George Handel, the barber-surgeon, with the passage of years, studied even more deeply that duty to his home, the sense of which he had gained from his forebears, he became with those years more morose, often bitter, intensely severe, silent, unpopular in the main…. The disappointment of their children had hit them hard ; instead of bringing the twain closer it hung as a heavy weight and forbade closer union and understanding.
As Handel grew older he became more a person to himself. He worked indefatigably. Night and day the tall, sinister figure, with the face that never smiled, was seen walking the streets, knowing no one, dreaming, just as perchance the boy had dreamed at the coppersmith’s funeral. For at times the wings of death swept over Halle and would wipe out the inhabitants of half a street, just as a gust of autumn gale can clear the leaves from one side of a tree. Halle was ill-drained, its streets too narrow, and the wisp of disease would percolate from this point to that like some vile searching thing that was brought to a halt, not by the people’s prayers in the Moritzburg, but by some peculiar dispensation of God at His own particular time. For long after her marriage Frau Handel was kept continually busy with her cradles ; they were perhaps mainly responsible for that gradual falling away of interest in what had now become her husband’s business. But when they had been married nine years Handel had been accepted so definitely as the finest barber-surgeon of the district that he was appointed (in 1652) the surgeon of Giebichenstein, a suburb of the town….shortly afterwards he was appointed Surgeonin-Ordinary and Valet-de-Chambre to Prince Augustus of Saxony, a dissolute gentleman, a past-master in the art of Love, whose mistresses were scattered high and low over the immediate district and beyond it…….Eleven years after the barber-surgeon had bought his palatial house in the Schlamm, disaster overtook the district. On 2nd May 1676, a house in the quarter suddenly burst into flames. House after house was involved as a strong wind, rushing up the narrow lanes, hurled the sparks and flaming dibris in all directions. The parsimonious builders of those days had bunched the houses together in huge clusters, separated only by the narrowest all…and women and children were killed and injured, or disappeared in the flames. How far the Handel mansion—and it undoubtedly was a mansion for the period—suffered in the conflagration there is no record, but the barber-surgeon saved himself and his family. Thereafter, the disaster was closely followed by others, which brought increasing anxiety into the lives of the Handels. Four years later Prince Augustus of Saxony died, described as the former house of Handel, afterwards of Florke, who was the husband of George Frideric Handel’s niece…. and the town of Halle passed from Saxony to Brandenburg. All the honours which George Handel had striven for and attained in royal circles thus fell away at a stroke, and the removal of royal patronage, even by death, was a catastrophe of the utmost magnitude in those days….Handel was disgruntled, his pride was smashed. Then the Halle Council, consisting as it did of many of his enemies, brought a charge against him of intriguing against the late Prince by supplying information about his condition to the Elector of Brandenburg, who had become the successor. They tried to harass Handel in Halle ; perhaps they hoped to drive out so gloomy a person from their midst. But with the tough courage, which he eventually passed on to his son, the barber-surgeon refused to budge an inch. A little later his health began to fail…. He took a bold step ; he wrote to the famous Privy-Councillor von Dancklemann, “I wish,” he said, “to thank you herewith most humbly and obediently to pray, to be so gracious, as I am an old most humble servant, and according to the will of God have only to live one or two years, that on the occasion of the present visit of His Electoral Highness (to Halle) I may receive the document,” i.e. the renewal of the appointment to the various offices he held…. the Elector gave back to the barber-surgeon all the honours he had lost. Once again George Handel became surgeon to the Court, at first without salary. Hardly had he been reappointed than he was suddenly taken ill. He grew worse. Would that life remaining to him, which he had said had but one year, two years to run, pass out so soon? They prayed for him in the churches; the Superintendent Olearius, his confessor and a distant relative, came and administered the last Sacrament. It was obvious that the old barber-surgeon was dying. Then came an amazing change. He rallied. This man, whom they believed to be gasping out his last breath, was suddenly found walking about in his room…. in the Liebfrauenkirche (he dropped) painfully to his knees, till only the shower of silver hair was visible above the pew. For long he knelt thus, thanking his Maker for his new lease of life. Honour was restored, a new sense of ease and achievement crept into the Handel establishment,… Scarcely a year after the new distinction had been given, Anna Handel died suddenly. If the barber-surgeon was stupefied by the blow he did not show it. His life went on imperturbably as before. He buried her without a coffin, without any ceremonial whatever, just as if he were hiding in the ground some finished thing that had once been a piece of his home. In his later years he had not shown the adoration for Anna which he had when she was Oettinger’s widow. Now that she had gone he picked up the threads of his life, no more solitary for her loss. But a cornerstone had been knocked out of the domestic edifice which had grown about him and become so accommodating to his work, altering its shape, adapting itself to every call which the busy life demanded…..He was still floundering in the rut of misfortune when further disaster overtook him. Plague broke out in Halle, the last epidemic of plague Halle was to know. During the disaster nineteen of the principal citizens of the town formed a union for purposes of mutual help during the plague…. But in spite of these precautions, these prayers, the plague swept away Gottfried, one of the barber-surgeon’s two surviving children. The surgeon, with the years gathering as a mighty weight upon him, was left practically alone in the great house in the Schlamm, a strong, unbroken but piteous figure. Even this blow did not bring him to his knees…. Six months elapsed…. He was now sixty years of age. The tall figure had bent, the face thinned, the mouth become more stubborn, more firm. As he aged, his long hair whitened in curls about his shoulders. He dressed always in black, with a black skull-cap, a coat of black satin and a collar of white lace. Early in 1683—only a very few months after the unromantic Anna had passed to her account—George Handel announced to the few cronies who frequented his house in the Schlamm, and had his confidence, that he was engaged to be married to Dorothea Taust, a woman of thirty-two, (daughter of a Lutheran Pastor), quiet, subdued. At his age, and with his experience, George would never have tolerated any woman who was not subdued. His new era of love-making was as violent as the first had been subtle. He attempted in his strong, selfish fashion to thrust an urgent marriage upon her. But the plague, which now had been stamped out of Halle, was still lingering in the suburbs, and some of the Taust family were stricken with it. In vain did George Handel press the matter of an immediate marriage. Subservient as she was, Dorothea had a greater instinct in her—that of humanity. She refused to leave her till they were convalescent. Plead as he would he could make no impression. Not until April burst in loveliness over the Saale plain did George Handel make his second marriage…. So did Dorothea Taust come to the mansion in the Schlamm, a nervous woman, very fearful of the rather celebrated personage whom she had married, the old man with ling  erings of youth in him still, his certain faithfulness, his extraordinary set sense of duty in everything…. A year after their marriage Dorothea (she 33, he 61) brought into the world a son, a weak child, who died at birth. The Fates still juggled with old Handel. If it were not for the excuse that he ultimately reared one of the greatest children in the world’s history, it might be said that he was never meant to bring children to maturity because he did not understand them. When his wife ultimately bore a child of genius he thought the child a fool….”

From Chapter 2: Halle Days:
“….George Frideric, whom they were baptizing this day in the Liebfrauenkirche. “Unto us a child is born.” Those words must have been very present in the mind of this man as he waited beside the font while his father-in-law, old Georg Taust, christened this child George Frideric, thereby performing an office which was to be one of the last of his official life, for within a few weeks of his leaving the church, filled as he doubtless was with the great pride of owning a first grandchild, death claimed him. ” Unto us a child is born.” And this very child upon whose forehead they set the cross of water now was to put those words to the most wonderful music in little over half a century’s time……The barber-surgeon, who had lost Gottfried and found salvation in George Frideric, had higher ambitions for this son. But George Frideric was to disappoint him, he was to frivol with musical instruments ere his parent passed to the Handel tomb. Though his mother Dorothea from the Giebichenstein parsonage was to live to see this child go out George Frideric Handel and find fame in the doubtful ways of music, she never understood what it meant. This son was to grow up and depart from her, and would, in the fullness of time, send short messages of affection to her from his sanctuary in England. But, no knowledge of music, she never realised his worth. He ultimately became to her a being she had created and sent forth into some strange vortex of public life. She always cared for him, though he departed from her for ever when just emerging from his teens, and when she died Death dealt the greatest blow to this son that his life ever knew. From the time that the christening party left the Liebfrauenkirche, life for the Handel child was to drop into the common rut of the better-bred Halle children. Ere the year had ended Pastor Taust of Giebichenstein, left weak and ill as he had been by the plague, passed quietly away, and Fraulein Anna came to live with her sister Frau Dorothea Handel at the Schlamm. Her coming banished all question of the child’s education in the tender years. Frau Dorothea was occupied with other cradles. She raised two girls, one of whom was in later years to have the proud knowledge of her brother’s achievements. Upon Anna Taust depended the main upbringing of this boy, and his mother, left with the nurture of two tender children, watched the influence of Tante Anna work itself upon this first child she had been able to rear. It is not easy to understand immediately this dislike of the Handels towards any form of music, without inquiring a little into the life of Halle at the time when George Frideric was in his childhood…..As surgeon at the Weissenfels Court the father of the child Handel travelled there at regular intervals by coach. And it was one of these journeys which decided the question of music for this child for all time. That Weissenfels journey was a divine accident or a premeditated act of equal inspiration. George Frideric Handel was at this time between seven and nine years old,….In any case the child was taken and lodged with the barber-surgeon’s nephew, Georg Christian Handel, who was engaged as valet-de-chambre at the palace. At Weissenfels the child immediately took possession of the affections of many, for he was intelligent beyond his years. Georg Christian, interested no doubt in his small relative, took him into the chapel. After that the child would go to the chapel for rehearsals, until the organist began to recognize the quaint little wondering figure. One day the organist seated the child at the instrument, and was astounded to find that he had some instinctive knowledge of music. It was a Sunday service which was the means of drawing the Duke’s attention to the child Handel. On this occasion the boy was allowed to attempt a voluntary at the end of the service. To a child something under nine, a modern organ would have been unmanageable, but the instrument in question was small, and the small fingers found melody and played. In the chapel the Duke listened. The notion of this child seated at what was in comparison a mighty instrument, amused him. He had more than average discernment where music was concerned, and he sent for the boy and his father. When the barber-surgeon took George Frideric to Weissenfels he had no suspicion of what was going to happen. The Duke in his remarks was brief and to the point. This child, he declared, had abnormal gifts; he had never known a child play in such a cultured manner before. He must be trained. In vain the barber-surgeon expostulated as energetically as he dared. He intended the child for the law, and no minor talents must defeat what the doctor believed to be the boy’s destiny. But to ignore gifts like these in a child was to fly in the face of God, the Duke declared. He produced some money and filled George Frideric’s small pocket with it. Whatever passions rose in the surgeon’s breast, he lost by this incident the battle for his son’s future. There was nothing left for him to say. The Duke insisted that the child should be taught music, and to decline or break the command would have meant risking George Frideric Handel his post at the Court. And he was a prudent man, ready, when someone greater than himself so demanded, to sacrifice even his own inclinations. He took George Frideric back to Halle and put him into the hands of Zachow, the organist at the Liebfrauenkirche, for his musical education……”

From other Chapters:
“….A sense of infinite responsibility must have come to the child of twelve as he stood in the death-chamber. This aged father, whom he had never understood, and who had never had the first understanding of his son, had been the axis around which the Handel family revolved. He had caused the ordering of everything without explanation. Now the boy had stepped into his shoes, and, looking to him as the head of the house, was a widowed mother, forty-five years of age, Aunt Anna, and two small sisters. His first act was to write a poem to the memory of his father. It appeared in a pamphlet issued on 14th February 1697, three days after the barber-surgeon’s death, and it was the first occasion on which the name of George Frideric Handel ever appeared in print….. One unwritten commandment made by the barber-surgeon remained. The boy was to train himself for the Law, and, when the venerable figure had gone, George Frideric pursued his studies with greater zeal than ever. All his leisure from his legitimate studies he devoted to music ; so much his father had agreed. Zachow was still helping him, and Zachow was doubtless responsible for the boy securing certain audiences for his playing which in the ordinary way he could not have obtained. Certainly he acquired, and very quickly acquired, a local reputation. People came from a distance to hear him perform….. Five years almost to a day (10th February 1702, at 17) after the death of the barber-surgeon, George Frideric Handel carried out what would have been his father’s most ardent wish — he entered Halle University as a student. But he did this purely for the sake of his social position, and not with the intention of embracing any particular study. His biographer, Chrysander, declares that he went to the University to study Law, but Handel did not enter himself among the Law Students, which is proof that obedience to the old barber-surgeon’s dictum had ceased to count. He had already chosen his career. The University at this period was comparatively new and was the outcome of the old academy for the nobility (Ritter Akademie), which the Elector of Brandenburg had founded in 1691….. Apparently both Mattheson and Handel were too scared by the notion of marriage, to wait to set eyes on this lady, for they scuttled out of Lubeck with all possible speed, more than a little pleased that their celibacy remained in no danger of violation….Had Handel yielded to this marriage as the price paid for a post which must have appealed to him all the more because of his impecunious condition, the whole course of his life, doubtless, would have been changed, but to the end of his days he shunned matrimony as he would the plague, and Mattheson, who was not a much greater success as a gallant, remained single until at the wane of his career he married the daughter of an English clergyman…. It was a rushed visit. He first stayed at Disseldorf, he passed on to Dresden. He went to Halle, and spent a few days with his mother to mourn with her over the family loss of the adorable Dorothea Sophie (1720, she was 33, and Handel 35) . Deeper and deeper was the gloom settling over the Schlamm house. Now he was the only child left of the old barber-surgeon’s second family. What a fading away of all that holds one to life the years had brought to the woman who, as Dorothea Taust, had come out of the seclusion of the Giebichenstein parsonage to marry the barber- surgeon, and bear him four children — the first a son to die at birth, the second a son who was to carry the Handel name to the far corners of the earth till the end of time, the third a daughter who had married Dr Michaelsen, and the fourth a daughter who had died of consumption just as Europe had begun to talk of the surviving brother….. Hearing that Handel was at Halle, Bach walked from Leipzig to meet him (some 30 miles, Bach then 35, same age of Handel). But he was too late. On the day that he entered the town Handel left it to return to England. One must wonder what would have been the effect of a meeting between Bach and Handel. Was it one of the greatest fortunes of Chance that they never met, or one of the world’s tragedies?….In the spring of 1731 Handel (at 47) was a solitary figure in the world. The Halle vault hid his two parents, the sisters had gone, Michaelsen, his brother-in-law, whom he only saw once, had married again and raised a new family. Michaelsen had become a rather prominent figure in German political life ; and if he had ever heard a Handel air played he would not have recognized it, for he had no interest in music. All the German ties were now to Handel as things of the dust……When Handel closed the theatre on Deidamia, his fortunes had reached their lowest ebb. And yet out of this welter of suffering came the glorious Messiah. He withdrew entirely from public life between February and November 1741. If he remained in London during that period no one was aware of it, for he shrank into greater seclusion. Again London repeated its old belief that Handel was finished and would be seen no more. He was not missed at Court. All the thought the King gave him he might have been some starveling tradesman who had put up the shutters after a valiant struggle to live. The King hated failures, or anything that suggested lack of comfort, and Handel had failed….At the end of August Handel, with the Pooley-Jennens words in front of him, sat down to the work of composition in the little front room of the house in Brook Street. He completed the first part in seven days, the second part in nine days, the third part in six days, filling in instrumentation two days. The whole of Messiah from beginning to end was set upon paper in twenty-four days. Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved, it will remain, perhaps for ever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition. It was the achievement of a giant inspired — the work of one who, by some extraordinary mental feat, had drawn himself | completely out of the world, so that he dwelt — or believed he dwelt — in the pastures of God. What precisely happened was that Handel passed through a superb dream. He was unconscious of the world during that time, unconscious of its press and call : his whole mind was in trance. He did not leave the house ; his man-servant brought him food, and as often as not returned in an hour to the room to find the food untouched, and his master staring into vacancy. When he had completed Part II, with the ” Hallelujah Chorus,” his servant found him at the table, tears streaming from his eyes. “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God, Himself!” he exclaimed. Of a certainty, Handel was swept I by some influence not of the world during that month — an influence not merely visionary. Never in his life had he experienced the same emotional sense, and he never experienced it again. For twenty-four days he knew those uplands reached, only by the higher qualities of the soul. He actually finished Messiah on 14th September 1741. On 29th September he completed the first part of another oratorio, Samson, from a libretto which Newburgh Hamilton had based upon Milton’s ” Samson Agonistes.” Yet he did not complete it until October of the following year…..London did not want Messiah. It was sung only on three occasions that season. The religious controversy kept many people away ; they argued that any work about the Omnipotent should never be performed in a playhouse. A few hailed it as a masterpiece in religious thought, but they were lone voices crying in a wilderness. The King attended one performance, and was so moved by the fervour of the ” Hallelujah Chorus ” that he rose to his feet and remained standing till the last chords had dropped to silence. For years the storm about performing a work of this nature in a playhouse rolled on. The clergy called the oratorio sacrilege and Handel a heretic. All leaders of religious thought were at one in their efforts to shut the theatre. There was nothing about Messiah that appealed to the age. It was outside the rut of eighteenth-century musical comprehension. No one really understood it. No one wanted to understand it. Yet an expert recently calculated that if the lowest royalty paid on a musical work had been paid on Messiah since it was first sung in London, over two million pounds would have been paid for performances in Britain alone on an oratorio which London at that time despised. The few who did understand it failed to convince the others. At a later revival a letter in the Talbot-Carter correspondence proved how sure was the opinion of a faithful minority. Miss Talbot wrote :
“The only public place I have been to this winter, was last Friday, to hear the Messiah, nor can there be a nobler entertainment. I think it is impossible for the most trifling not to be the better for it. I was wishing all the Jews, Heathens and Infidels in the world (a pretty full house you’ll say !) to be
present. The Morocco Ambassador was there, and if his interpreter could do justice to the divine words (the music anyone that has a heart must feel) how must he be affected, when in the grand choruses the whole audience solemnly rose up in joint acknowledgment that He who for our sakes had been despised and rejected of men, was their Creator, Redeemer, King of Kings, Lord of Lords ! To be sure the playhouse is an unfit place for such a performance, but I fear I shall be in Oxfordshire before it is heard at the Foundling Hospital, where the benevolent design and the attendance of little boys and girls adds a peculiar beauty even unto this noblest composition. But Handel who could suit such music to such words deserves to be maintained, and these two nights, I am told, have made him amends for the solitude of his other oratorios.”……One questions whether Handel ever had any thought of making money out of Messiah, and, since London did not seem to want it he withdrew it. 2 From time to time he revived it for a single performance. He associated it with all his later charity for the Foundling Hospital, and, during his lifetime, he raised eleven thousand pounds [2-3 million dollars or more in todays value] for the Hospital by its performance. Perhaps those days of its composition still bore their vivid impress. At any rate, when the Foundling Hospital wanted to get a Bill through Parliament to authorize the regular performance of Messiah, Handel rose in his wrath as if the Governors had trodden on sacred ground. They were
going to steal his rights — so he felt. ” What for they take my music to Parliament ! ” he exclaimed in his anger, and had the Bill withdrawn. He ultimately declared that “He saw the lovely youth” in Theodora — that later oratorio of ill-fortune — was the greatest chorus he ever wrote. The “Hallelujah Chorus” was his second favourite. But, as a work apart, Messiah was his one creation that ever pleased him, and which he never heavily altered. His final oratorio Jephtha remained fragrant to him till the end, because, as a complete work, it was the last offering of a fruitful life. The Triumph of Time and Truth sang always through his years, and was altered and re-altered, until the; work of 1708 would scarcely compare with the version of his later life. But Messiah remained to him the one beautiful thing that held in it all those vagrant thoughts he had ever had of religion and its influence. After Messiah had been produced in London, he happened to call upon Lord Kinnoul, who had heard the work and complimented Handel upon it. ” My lord,” replied Handel, ” I should be sorry if I only entertained them ; I wished to make them better.”……It would seem that Handel’s return had urged Morell to provide a new libretto for him, since upon his own showing he did not write Jephtha till January 1751, and Handel began its composition at the end of the month. Writing of his libretti Morell said : “My own favourite is Jephtha, which I wrote in 1751, and in the composing of which Mr Handel fell blind.”…. He was now seventy-four. His birthday came ; March passed. The season went on, with every seat sold for each performance. The clamour of spring swept with green gladness across the trees in the Park. The performance of his Messiah at Covent Garden, on 6th April, was to be his last. He carried it through to the final Amen without fatigue. Who associated Death with Handel at this hour ? Messiah had never been given better. The packed audience dispersed into the night entranced. Handel had been wonderful. He was always wonderful these days. But even as they talked he was lying in a faint at the theatre. They hurried him home to Brook Street. They put him to bed and called in his friend, Dr Warren. They did not know he was dying. So they spoke of his illness as a return of the old strain, due to the heavy season. Ten concerts in little over a month, and at the age of seventy-four ! Some day the veteran would learn his lesson….Only three days before he died he added a codicil to his will, clear, concise, and without any confusion as to his earthly affairs. Then, when the morning of Good Friday arrived, he bade farewell to all his friends in turn. He told his servant not to admit any of them again, for he had, he said, now done with the world. Only Dr Warren and the apothecary waited. Presently the latter, too, crept away, and left the doctor alone. The day bore to its close, and the silent figure on the bed still breathed. But Handel’s sun had set. There was night in the hills. Before the daylight was fully come his soul had passed……. So passed Handel, midst all the pomp and circumstance of a nation’s reverence. How different to the passing of some of the masters who came after him ! Chopin, — his bones rattled over the cobbles of Paris on his way to Pere Lachaise. Schubert, — and his brother pawning his coat to bury him. Bizet, —dying of starvation just as the acclaiming crowd poured out of the theatre after the first performance of Carmen. But each of the great ones, as they came, yielded his tribute to the feet of Handel. Beethoven, dying, pointed to the Arnold edition of Handel’s works, which were piled up in a corner of the room, and exclaimed : “There lies the truth!” Mozart declared, “When Handel chooses he can strike like a thunderbolt.” Gluck took Michael Kelly up to his room to show him “the portrait of the inspired master of our Art” whom he had always endeavoured to emulate, and pointed to a picture of Handel. Haydn worshipped his memory. And a greater judge than all — the musical world of nearly two hundred years, has acknowledged the genius of Handel. To many, he remains as the greatest dreamer in music the world has ever known. His whole life was a dream. And his every effort was votive offering to his temple of dreams — that temple which he always sought to make beautiful. He went to the Abbey as he would have wished — the acknowledged Master. Those who had laughed and jeered now came to mourn. Three thousand people gave him the tears of the world.”)









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Hymns & Spiritual Songs of God’s Christ by John Nelson Darby

Hymns and Spiritual Songs of God’s Christ by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

This submission of Hymns and Spiritual Songs is unusual in several ways. Darby has influenced me as a Christian perhaps greater than any single Christian outside the Bible. The Plymouth Brethren writers and doctrines has had enormous impact on me throughout my entire Christian life. And finally, in regards to spiritual poetry and hymns and songs, Darby and the Brethren have guided me into the blessed and happy place of joy and love in truth and peace in God’s Christ among fellow Christians in the churches in all my wanderings and adventures of life. Not wishing to speak any further on Darby in my evaluation and esteem, I will offer Julian’s article in his Dictionary of Hymnology which shows a greater context of Plymouth Brethren’s value and place and history in the Body of Christ at large. The 9 selections are here given to cover a wide range of this type of worship and praise.

((From Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology 1892. (pages 898-899):
“Plymouth Brethren Hymnody. The sect popularly known as the Plymouth Brethren was in its earliest stage called ‘The Brethren’, because its members professed to meet solely on the ground that they were brethren in Christ. Eventually, however, the branch of it which met at Plymouth, Devon, chiefly from the position, learning, and labours of its members, acquired so great influence in the society as to give its name to the whole body, and it was thenceforth known as ‘The Plymouth Brethren’. In giving an account of the hymns and hymn-books of The Brethren, it is necessary to refer somewhat to the history of the sect. For the purpose of our article it will be convenient to divide thus :— Period I. From the commencement of the sect to the year 1848. Period II. From the year 1848 to 1889.
‘Period I’.—Between the years 1828-33 a custom arose in Dublin, Bristol, Plymouth, and elsewhere for certain persons, irrespective of creed, to meet together for prayer, the joint study of the Scriptures, and mutual aid in spiritual matters generally. The principle on which they acted is thus put forth by one of their early associates, “the possession of the common life” (in Jesus Christ) and “that disciples should bear as Christ does with many errors of their brethren.” At first the assemblies so formed did not in any way interfere with the worship of the members in the various churches and chapels to which they belonged; indeed their meetings were held at an early hour on Sunday morning so that they should not do so. But soon the separatist principle began to make itself manifest. With many, separation from religious communities was held to be the only means of promoting unity among Christians, and finally Mr. Darby, an author of some repute, who at one time held an Irish curacy, gained so much ascendency as to bring the desired separation about, and their meetings have ever since been held as distinct from other religious denominations. They were united as a body and known under one name, ‘The Plymouth Brethren’, till the year 1848.
This period produced many hymn-writers who put forth a great number of hymns, some of which are very beautiful, and all of which, without doubt, helped either to form or to strengthen the Society. The principal hymn writers during this period were the following :—Chapman, K. C.: Darby, J. N.; Deck, J. G.; Danny, Sir Edward,” Bart.; Kelly, Thomas (?[=William]); Tregelles, S. Prideaux, Ltd.; and Wigram, G. V.
The hymn-books put forward and used by the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ during this period were many. They include:—
(1) ‘Hymns for the use of the Church of Christ’, by ‘R. C. Chapman’, ‘Minister of the Gospel, Barnstaple’. A New Edition, to which to added an Appendix selected from various sources by John Chapman. (First edition 1837.) Reprinted 1852. London. The number of hymns written by R. C. Chapman are In all 58. Those collected number 157, and are, as the title seta forth, by various
authors, some of whom were Brethren, and some of other denominations. Amongst the Brethren, Darby, Deck, Denny, and Kelly are found.
(2) ‘A Selection of Hymns’ by Sir Edward Denny, Bart. London and Dublin. 1st ed. 1839. This book contains many hymns by the editor, at least 36 being written by himself. Chapman, Darby, Deck, Kelly, Tregelles, Wigram amongst the Brethren are also represented.
(3) ‘Hymns for the Poor of the Flock’: London. Edited by G. V. Wigram. When compared with the foregoing this selection contains a special feature, namely, “Hymns arranged for Special Occasions,” e.g. for “Baptism,” “Christian Sabbath,” ” Evening,”*’Graces,” “Introductory to Prayer,” ” Lord’s Day,” ‘ Lord’s Day Evening,” “Lord’s Day Morning,” Lord’s Supper.” “Morning,” ” Parting,” ‘ For Trial and Solitude.” The hymns in the body of this work are gathered from a variety of sources of Brethren hymn-writers. Deck and Kelly are strongly represented. Darby and Chapman also contribute. The editor wrote one. The ‘Appendix’ contains 40 hymns, and of these Denny wrote over 20.
(4) ‘Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In Two Parts’. Part I. “Intended specially for the united worship of the Children of God.” Part li. “Chiefly for Private Meditation.” London, 1843. This compilation is the work of J. G. Deck. Many writers contributed. From their own body Denny, Kelly, and Tregelles. Part i. has Hymns on Burial, Resurrection, and the Lord’s Supper. Part ii. contains many hymns common to most hymn-books. Denny contributed 15. Darby and the Editor are also represented.
‘Period II’.— In 1845 a controversy began which ended in a division of the ‘Plymouth Brethren’. The Lord’s Advent was ever a favourite theme with them, and it was a difference of opinion on this subject between two of their leaders which was the primary cause of the rupture. Mr. Darby promulgated the theory that our Lord’s coming for His saints would be a secret coming, while His coming to judgment would be open and seen by all. Mr. Newton, a man of high attainments and who had taken Holy Orders, protested against these statements. Mr. Darby retaliated by accusing Mr. Newton (about two years later) with teaching heresy concerning the Humanity of our Lord in a pamphlet which the Brethren had circulated for ten years. Mr. Newton withdrew the pamphlet; but this did not satisfy Mr. Darby and his followers. They seceded from those who held with Mr. Newton, excommunicated them, and called upon the Brethren elsewhere to do the same. Mr. Darby, in this matter, met with the greatest opposition in Bristol, and from Mr. Muller (the founder of the Orphanage on Ashley Down), and those who met with him. They resolved not to judge Mr. Newton. On this the Darby party excommunicated the Muller party, and all those who held with them. This they did in 1848, and from that time the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ have been divided into two main sections: (1) The Plymouth or Exclusive Brethren. This section allows other Christians to meet with them on certain conditions, unless they belong to the Open Brethren; these they rigidly exclude. (2) The Open or Bristol Brethren, which admits to fellowship, as from the first, all who profess to be Christians.
This period has not been fruitful in the production of hymns. Neither section has brought forth any new hymn-writer of note, and but few hymn-books have been compiled. Besides those collections in use before the division of the Society the Plymouth or Exclusive section has put forth bat one which is at all generally used, namely : —
‘A Few Hymns and some Spiritual Songs, Selected, for the Little Flock’, 1856. Revised 1881. London. This book was compiled by J. N. Darby. Previous to l881 it contained 341 hymns, but at its revision an Appendix was added containing 85 more. Many of the hymns in this book are Darby’s own. There are also selections from Chapman, Deck, Kelly, Tregelles, and Wigram.
Besides the foregoing work the following books of poetry, which, though they cannot be called hymn-books pure and simple, yet contain many hymns, have been written by members of the ‘Plymouth Brethren’.
(1) ‘Hymns and Poems by Sir Edward Denny, Bart.’, 1848. It contains ” Millennial Hymns,” with an “Introduction”; ” Miscellaneous Hymns “; “Miscellaneous Poems.” 3rd ed. London: 1870.
(2) ‘Spiritual Songs by J. N. Darby’. Dublin. Entered at Stationers’ Hall. London. 1883.
The ‘Open Brethren’ have put forth two hymn-books:—
(1) ‘Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Children of God’. Alphabetically arranged. 8th ed. Stereotyped. London. 1871. This selection contains more than 400, which are far more general in character than those of the Exclusive section. They are gathered from all sources, the Brethren being represented by Chapman, Darby, Deck, Kelly, Tregelles, and Wigram. In the Index the names of the writers of the hymns are given, a peculiarity worthy of notice, as it is found in no other hymn book of either section. The hymns are arranged under the following heads: “Hymns for Worship,” “Scripture,” “Reading and Prayer,” “Private Use,” “Meals,” “Marriage.” “Bringing little Children to Jesus,” “Baptism,” “Burial,” “Missions,” “The Gospel.” This book is used by the ‘Open Brethren’ generally.
(2) ‘Hymns and Spiritual Songs compiled in Bristol’. London and Bristol. 1870. This collection is the work of Messrs. Muller and Craik, of Bristol, two of the leaders amongst the ‘Open Brethren’. It is the most catholic of all the books put forth by either section. It contains more than 600 hymns, which are arranged under the following heads :—”God,” “The Lord Jesus Christ,” “The Holy Spirit,” “The Christian Life,” “The Second Coming of Christ,” “Christian Ordinances,” “Special Occasions,” “Gospel.” Amongst the Brethren no new hymn-writers appear. Chapman, Deck, Denny, Kelly, and Tregelles are represented. This work is used chiefly in Bristol and its neighbourhood.
The hymn-books put forth by the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ up to the year of the rupture contain hymns for ” the Assembly of the Saints,” i.e. the Brethren themselves met in worship. But the books put forth since the rupture in 1848 contain also a selection, though a smaller one, for the “unconverted,” i.e. those who are not in full communion with themselves. In the books of the Exclusive Section these hymns are placed in an Appendix, as seen in ‘Hymns for the Little Flock’, 1881, whilst in those of the Open Section, where fuller arrangement is found, they are placed under the heading “Gospel,” with its subdivisions “Prayer for Blessing,” ” Testimony,” “Invitation,” as in the ‘Hymns and Spiritual Songs’ compiled in Bristol.
The principle on which this division is made will be seen from the following extracts from the Preface of the first of the Books just mentioned, which, as it is fairly applicable to all, we quote somewhat fully:
“Three things are needed for a hymn-book. A basis of truth and sound doctrine; something at least of the Spirit of Poetry, though not poetry itself, which is objectionable as merely the spirit and imagination of man; and thirdly, the most difficult to find at all, that experimental acquaintance with truth In the affections which enables a person to make his hymn (if led of God to compose one) the vehicle in sustained thought and language of practical grace and truth which sets the soul in communion with Christ and rises even to the Father, and yet this in such sort that it is not mere individual experience which for assembly worship is out of place…….”Many authors may be comforted by knowing their hymns were sometimes very nice, but not suited to an ‘Assembly of Saints ‘; several have gone into the ‘Appendix’, not necessarily as inferior but of a different character …. Many hymns have been corrected on the principles referred to.”
Few hymns placed in those sections of their books for general use are written by the Brethren themselves, whilst many by them are found amongst those for the use of “the Assembly of the Saints.” In this latter class hymns containing Confession of Sin and Prayer for Pardon are conspicuous by their absence. The doctrine such hymns teach is held to be unnecessary for the children of God, consequently they are deemed unsuitable for Assembly Worship. Hymns to be used at the Lord’s Supper, and at Holy Baptism are found in some numbers, as are also hymns concerning the coming of Christ to raise His saints, and the millennium. Hymns teaching the dreariness of this world and all belonging to it, the full assurance of faith, and the completeness of the Christian in Christ, are strongly represented. The efficacy alone of the Blood of Jesus for Salvation is the theme of many of their best hymns. [W. S.]”))

1 This world is a wilderness wide;
We have nothing to seek or to choose;
We’ve no thought in the waste to abide;
We’ve nought to regret nor to lose.
The Lord is Himself gone before,
He has marked out the path that we tread;
It’s as sure as the love we adore,
We have nothing to fear nor to dread.
There is but that one in the waste,
Which His footsteps have marked as His own;
And we follow in diligent haste
To the seats where He’s put on His crown.
For the path where our Saviour is gone
Has led up to His Father and God,
To the place where He’s now on the throne;
And His strength shall be ours on the road.
And with Him shall our rest be on high,
When in holiness bright we sit down,
In the joy of His love ever nigh,
In the peace that His presence shall crown.
‘Tis the treasure we’ve found in His love,
That has made us now pilgrims below,
And ’tis there, when we reach Him above,
As we’re known, all His fulness we’ll know.
And, Saviour, ’tis Thee from on high,
We await till the time Thou shalt come,
To take those Thou hast led by Thine eye
To Thyself in Thy heavenly home.
Till then ’tis the path Thou hast trod,
Our delight and our comfort shall be;
We’re content with Thy staff and Thy rod,
Till with Thee all Thy glory we see.

Hark! ten thousand voices crying
“Lamb of God” with one accord;
Thousand thousand saints replying,
Wake at once the echoing chord.
“Praise the Lamb”, the chorus waking,
All in heaven together throng;
Loud and far each tongue partaking
Rolls around the endless song.
Grateful incense this, ascending
Ever to the Father’s throne;
Every knee to Jesus bending,
All the mind in heaven is one.
All the Father’s counsels claiming
Equal honours to the Son;
All the Son’s effulgence beaming
Makes the Father’s glory known.
By the Spirit all-pervading,
Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
Hail Him as the great “I AM”.
Joyful now the new creation
Rests in undisturbed repose,
Blest in Jesus’ full salvation,
Sorrow now nor thraldom knows.
Hark! the heavenly notes resounding,
Higher swells the song of praise;
Through creation’s vault responding
Loud Amens which joy doth raise.

Father, Thy name our souls would bless,
As children taught by grace,
Lift up our hearts in righteousness
And joy before Thy face.
Sweet is the confidence Thou giv’st,
Though high above our praise;
Our hearts resort to where Thou liv’st
In heaven’s unclouded rays.
There in the purpose of Thy love
Our place is now prepared,
As sons with Him who is above,
Who all our sorrows shared.
Eternal ages shall declare
The riches of Thy grace,
To those who with Thy Son shall share
A son’s eternal place.
Absent as yet, we rest in hope,
Treading the desert path,
Waiting for Him who takes us up
Beyond the power of death.
We joy in Thee, Thy holy love
Our endless portion is,
Like Thine own Son, with Him above,
In brightest heavenly bliss.
O Holy Father, keep us here
In that blest name of love,
Walking before Thee without fear
Till all be joy above.

Oh bright and blessed scenes!
Where sin can never come,
Whose sight our longing spirit weans
From earth where yet we roam.
And can we call our home
Our Father’s house on high,
The rest of God our rest to come,
Our place of liberty?
Yes! in that light unstained,
Our stainless souls shall live,
Our heart’s deep longings more than gained,
When God His rest shall give.
His presence there, my soul
Its rest, its joy untold
Shall find, when endless ages roll,
And time shall ne’er grow old.
Our God the centre is,
His presence fills that land,
And countless myriads owned as His,
Round Him adoring stand.
Our God whom we have known,
Well known in Jesus’ love,
Rests in the blessing of His own,
Before Himself above.
Glory supreme is there,
Glory that shines through all,
More precious still that love to share
As those that love did call.
Like Jesus in that place
Of light and love supreme!
Once Man of Sorrows full of grace,
Heaven’s blest and endless theme!
Like Him! O grace supreme!
Like Him before Thy face,
Like Him to know that glory beam
Unhindered face to face!
Oh, love supreme and bright,
Good to the feeblest heart,
That gives us now, as heavenly light,
What soon shall be our part!

Rise, my soul, thy God directs thee;
Stranger hands no more impede;
Pass thou on, His hand protects thee,
Strength that has the captive freed.
Is the wilderness before thee,
Desert lands where drought abides?
Heavenly springs shall there restore thee,
Fresh from God’s exhaustless tides.
Light divine surrounds thy going,
God Himself shall mark thy way;
Secret blessings, richly flowing,
Lead to everlasting day.
God, thine everlasting portion,
Feeds thee with the mighty’s meat;
Price of Egypt’s hard extortion,
Egypt’s food no more to eat.
Art thou weaned from Egypt’s pleasures?
God in secret thee shall keep,
There unfold His hidden treasures,
There His love’s exhaustless deep.
In the desert God will teach thee
What the God that thou hast found,
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy;
All His grace shall there abound.
On to Canaan’s rest still wending,
E’en thy wants and woes shall bring
Suited grace from high descending,
Thou shalt taste of mercy’s spring.
Though thy way be long and dreary,
Eagle strength He’ll still renew:
Garments fresh and foot unweary
Tell how God hath brought thee through.
When to Canaan’s long-loved dwelling
Love divine thy foot shall bring,
There with shouts of triumph swelling,
Zion’s songs in rest to sing,
There no stranger-God shall meet thee,
Stranger thou in courts above.
He who to His rest shall greet thee,
Greets thee with a well-known love.

Father, Thy sovereign love has sought
Captives to sin, gone far from Thee;
The work that Thine own Son hath wrought,
Has brought us back in peace and free.
And now as sons before Thy face,
With joyful steps the path we tread,
Which leads us on to that blest place
Prepared for us by Christ our Head.
Thou gav’st us, in eternal love,
To Him to bring us home to Thee,
Suited to Thine own thought above,
As sons like Him, with Him to be
In Thine own house. There love divine
Fills the bright courts with cloudless joy;
But ’tis the love that made us Thine,
Fills all that house without alloy.
O boundless grace which fills with joy
Unmingled all that enter there!
God’s nature, love without alloy,
Our hearts are given e’en now to share.
God’s righteousness with glory bright,
Which with its radiance fills that sphere,
E’en Christ, of God the power and light,
Our title is that light to share.
O mind divine, so must it be
That glory all belongs to God:
O love divine, that did decree
We should be part, through Jesus’ blood.
O keep us, love divine near Thee,
That we our nothingness may know,
And ever to Thy glory be
Walking in faith while here below.

O Lord, Thy love’s unbounded,
So sweet, so full, so free;
My soul is all transported
Whene’er I think on Thee.
Yet, Lord, alas, what weakness
Within myself I find:
No infant’s changing pleasure
Is like my wandering mind.
And yet Thy love’s unchanging,
And doth recall my heart
To joy in all its brightness —
The peace its beams impart.
Yet sure, if in Thy presence
My soul still constant were,
Mine eye would, more familiar,
Its brighter glories bear.
And thus Thy deep perfections
Much better should I know,
And with adoring fervour
In this Thy nature grow.
Still sweet ’tis to discover,
If clouds have dimmed my sight,
When passed, eternal Lover,
Towards me, as e’er, Thou’rt bright.
O keep my soul, then, Jesus,
Abiding still with Thee;
And if I wander, teach me
Soon back to Thee to flee,
That all Thy gracious favour
May to my soul be known;
And, versed in this Thy goodness,
My hopes Thyself shalt crown.

Lord Jesus, precious Saviour,
Oh, when wilt Thou return?
Our hearts with woe familiar
To Thee our Master turn.
Our woe is Thine, Lord Jesus,
Our joy is in Thy love;
But woe and joy all lead us
To Thee in heaven above.
To Thee we look, Lord Jesus
To Thee whose love we know;
We wait the power that frees us
From bondage, sin, and woe.
We look for Thine appearing,
Thy presence here to bless;
We greet the day that’s nearing,
When all this woe shall cease.
But oh, for us, blest Saviour,
How brighter far the lot
To be with Thee for ever,
Where evil enters not! —
To see Thee who so loved us
Then face to face above,
Whose grace at first had moved us
To taste and know Thy love.
With Thee, O Lord, for ever
Our souls shall be content:
Nor act nor thought shall ever
Full joy with Thee prevent.
Oh, come then soon, Lord Jesus,
In patience still we wait
(Await the power that frees us)
Our longed-for heavenly seat.

Lord Jesus, homeless Stranger,
Thou dearest Friend to me,
An outcast in a manger,
That Thou might’st with us be;
We gaze upon Thy meekness,
The manger and the cross;
We cling to Thee in weakness
Through suffering, pain, and loss.
We see the Godhead-glory
Shine through that human veil;
And, willing, hear the story
Of love come here to heal.
But who Thy path of service,
Thy steps removed from ill,
Thy patient love to serve us,
With human tongue can tell?
‘Mid sin, and all corruption,
Where hatred did abound,
Thy path of true perfection
Shed light on all around.
O’er all, Thy perfect goodness
Rose blessedly divine;
Poor hearts oppressed with sadness
Found ever rest in Thine.

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Songs of the Savior by Isaac Watts

Songs of the Savior by Isaac Watts:

Several weeks ago I visited with some Christians in their Sunday morning church service for the Bible and the Lord’s Supper. In worship singing Isaac Watt’s song a hymn was chosen as is often done in many churches. This reminded me of the many years of hearing Watt’s hymns and songs and psalms used in Christian meetings. So in returning to my song submissions in this desire to share some of the Christian hymns I have encountered and influenced by it seems suitable and proper to offer for consideration and reflection these three that have found their way into the Christian churches.
((“Isaac Watts: (July 1674-1749 November) Known as the “Father of English hymnody,” Isaac Watts wrote approximately 600 hymns. He showed literary genius even as a boy. He was born to Isaac Watts, Sr. and his wife Sarah, who were “Dissenters.” That is, they were not Anglicans, which was a treasonous offense in those days. About the time that Isaac, Jr. arrived, prematurely, on July 17, 1674, the elder Watts was arrested. Sarah reportedly nursed little Isaac while seated on a stone outside the prison. In time Watts was released and the young couple soon discovered they had a precocious child. Young Isaac took to books almost from infancy. He loved rhyme and verse. At age seven, he wrote an acrostic spelling out the letters of his name. This acrostic not only showed his brilliance, but also the strong Calvinistic theology which was characteristic of his life.
“I” – I am a vile, polluted lump of earth
“S” – So I’ve continued ever since my birth
“A” – Although Jehovah, grace doth daily give me
“A” – As sure this monster, Satan, will deceive me
“C” – Come therefore, Lord, from Satan’s claws relieve me.
“W” – Wash me in Thy blood, O Christ
“A” – And grace divine impart
“T” – Then search and try the corners of my heart
“T” – That I in all things may be fit to do
“S” – Service to Thee, and Thy praise too.”))
((“Watts’ studies in language went far beyond everyday rhymes, however. He learned Latin at four, Greek at nine, French at ten, and Hebrew at thirteen. Noticing his abilities, a doctor and some friends offered him a university education, figuring that he would be ordained in the Church of England. Watts turned them down, instead attending the Nonconformist Academy under the care of Thomas Rowe, joining the Independent congregation at Girdlers’ Hall in 1693. He left the academy at the age of 20, spending the next two years at home. Frustrated with the heartless psalm singing of his time, young Watts sometimes criticized the singing at his church. Listening to his concerns one day, Watts’ father challenged him, “Well then, young man, why don’t you give us something better to sing?” He rose to the challenge by writing his first hymn. It was well received by the congregation of the Mark Lane Independent Chapel, where he attended, and for the next two years, Watts wrote a new hymn for every Sunday. It was during this time that he wrote the bulk of Hymns and Spiritual Songs. These were sung from manuscripts in the Southampton chapel and were published 1707-1709. Watts moved to London to tutor the children of a wealthy family of Dissenters. He joined Mark Lane Independent Chapel, where he was soon asked to be a teacher, then was hired as associate pastor. He preached his first sermon at the age of 24. In 1702 he was ordained as senior pastor of the congregation, the position he retained to the end of his life. He was a brilliant Bible student and his sermons brought the church to life. A short and frail man, Watts health began to fail at a young age. When his friends, the Abneys, invited him to visit their estate in 1712, Watts accepted. He ended up staying with them for thirty-six years, writing many of his hymns on their estate and preaching occasionally as his health permitted. Though German Lutherans had been singing hymns for over a hundred years by Watts’ time, Calvinists had not. Calvin preferred that his people only sing psalms. But Watts had become concerned about congregational singing with only grim, ponderous psalms to sing. Wanting to bring New Testament light to the psalms, Watts wrote paraphrases of nearly all of the psalms, publishing them in a hymnal titled Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.
Watts also wrote hymns that departed from the psalms and included more personal expressions. This literary license did not please everyone and some felt his hymns were “too worldly” for the church as they were not based on the Psalms. Yet Watts felt strongly that the Christian church should sing of Christ. He explained his approach to writing hymns this way:
“Where the Psalmist describes religion by the fear of God, I have often joined faith and love to it. Where he speaks of the pardon of sin through the mercies of God, I rather choose to mention the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God. Where He promises abundance of wealth, honor, and long life, I have changed some of these typical blessings for grace, glory and life eternal, which are brought to light by the gospel, and promised in the New Testament.””))
((“The popularity of Isaac Watts’ hymns caused a tempest in his day. In his day, English congregations predominately sang Psalms, so singing verses that were of “human composure” (such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”) caused great controversy. One man complained, “Christian congregations have shut out divinely inspired Psalms and taken in Watts’ flights of fancy.” The issue split churches, including one in Bedford, England that was once pastored by John Bunyan. In America, in May, 1789, Rev. Adam Rankin told the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, meeting in Philadelphia: “I have ridden horseback all the way from my home in Kentucky to ask this body to refuse the great and pernicious error of adopting the use of Isaac Watts’ hymns in public worship in preference to the Psalms of David.””))
((“In 1728, the University of Edinburgh awarded Watts a Doctor of Divinity degree. Watts’ works include: Speculations on the Human Nature of the Logos; Horæ Lyricae, 1706-1709; Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707-9; The Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children, 1715; The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (Lon­don: J. Clark, 1719); Sermons, 1721-1727; Reliquiae Juveniles: Miscellaneous Thoughts in Prose and Verse, on Natural, Moral, and Divine Subjects (Lon­don: 1734); Remnants of Time (Lon­don: 1736)
The Improvement of the Mind, 1741; Logic; The World to Come, 1745; Catechisms, Scripture History, 1732.”))

Here I give Watt’s Preface to his Hymns and Spiritual Songs in which his desire and prayer to be used to change and better the Christian worship in the churches, which beginning with the Wesley’s till this very hour has continued as the Divine answer to request and labor. I have only altered the archaic characters, like the medial ‘s’ that looks like a ‘f’, indicated the italics in single quote marks ‘ …’, and capitalized some words or pronouns:
(( From Hymns and Spiritual Songs in Three Books, (1707-1709) 1805. Advertisement:
“The greatest part of the following composures are suited to the general state of the gospel, and the most common affairs of Christians: I hope there will be very few found but what may properly be used in a religious assembly, and not one o? them but may well be adapted to some seasons either of private or public worship. The mo?t frequent tempers and changes of our spirit, and conditions of’ our life, are here copied, and the breathings of our piety expressed according to the variety of our passions, our love, our fear, our hope, our desire, our sorrow, our wonder, and our joy, as they are refined into devotion, and act under the influence and conduct o? the blessed Spirit; all conversing with God the Father ‘by the new and living way’ of access to the throne, even the person and the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him also, even ‘to the Lamb that was slain and now lives’, I have addressed many a song; for thus doth the holy Spirit instruct and teach us to worship, in the various short patterns of Christian psalmody
described in the ‘Revelation’. I have avoided the more obscure and controverted points of Christianity, that we might all obey the direction of the word of God, and ‘sing His praises with understanding’, Psalm 47:7. The contentions and distinguishing words of’ sects and parties are secluded [excluded], that whole assemblies might assist at the harmony, and different churches join in the same worship without offence. The whole is divided into three books. In the ‘first’, I have borrowed the sense and much of the form of the song from some particular portions of scripture, and have paraphrased most of the doxologies in the New Testament, that contain any thing in them peculiarly evangelical; and many parts of the Old Testament also, that have a reference to the times of the Messiah. The ‘Second Part’ consists of hymns whose form is of mere human composure ; but I hope the sense and materials will always appear divine. I might have brought some text or other, and applied it to the margin of every verse, if this method had been as useful as it was easy. I have prepared the ‘Third Part’ only for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, that in imitation of our blessed Saviour, we may sing an hymn after we have partaken of the bread and wine. Here you will find some paraphrases of scripture and some other compositions. There are ‘above an hundred hymns’ in the two former parts, that may very properly be used in this ordinance; and sometimes, perhaps, appear more suitable than any of these last: But there are expressions generally used in these, which confine them only to the Table of the Lord; and therefore I have distinguished and set them by themselves. If the Lord, Who inhabits the praises of Israel, shall refuse to smile upon this attempt for the reformation of psalmody amongst the churches, yet I humbly hope that his blessed Spirit will make these composures useful to private Christians; and if they may but attain the honour of being esteemed pious meditations, to assist the devout and retired soul in the exercises of love, faith, and joy, it will be a valuable compensation of my labours : My heart shall rejoice at the notice of it, and my God shall receive the glory.”))


1. Savior Bleed Sovereign Die at the Cross.
((“[In] the autumn of 1850…revival meetings were being held in the Thirtieth Street Methodist Church [, New York City]. Some of us went down every evening; and, on two occasions, I sought peace at the altar , but did not find the joy I craved, until one evening,…, it seemed to me that the light must indeed come then or never; and so I arose and went to the altar alone. After a prayer was offered, they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, “Alas, and did my Saviour bleed, And did my Sovereign die?” And when they reached the third line of the fourth [6th] stanza, “Here Lord, I give myself away,” my very soul was flooded with a celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting “hallelujah,” and then for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the other. Crosby, p. 24.”))
((“Your assignment: Compose a poem no more than 24 lines in length. The poem must reflect upon the Passion and the Cross, painting a vivid picture of them in the mind of the reader. But more importantly, the poem must evoke all of the following emotions: pity, wonder, grief, humility, love and self-surrender. This entire array of sentiments must appear side by side without any of sense of incongruity or affectation. And, of course, it all has to rhyme.
Sound difficult? To cover a spectrum of feelings that ranges from intense devotion to caustic self-loathing, and to manage it within the close confines of six brief stanzas without ever giving the reader a jolt is a task that would daunt the most inspired poets. Yet so seamlessly and (it seems) effortlessly does Isaac Watts carry it off in “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed,” that we hardly notice as we sing the hymn what a tour-de-force is before us.”))

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For (such a worm) as I?

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.


2. Survey the Wondrous Cross.
(Verse 6 [Added by the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern])
((““When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is one of Watts’ finest poems and an excellent example of why he is considered a fulcrum in the transition to hymnody…..“When I Survey” is a hymn which is saturated with theology and a call for an emotional response from the singer. This hymn was transformed into a statement of faith that crosses denominational lines and generations. According to hymn scholar Lionel Adey, the lines “‘All the vain things that charm me most / I sacrifice them . . .’ have a meaning personal to each singer, one that might require either action or renunciation.” The three pledges at the climax of the hymn (“my soul, my life, my all”) are a sacrifice that had once been required only of those taking monastic vows.”))
((“Charles Wesley reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one.”))

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

[To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.]

3. Joy to the World the Lord is Come.
((“”Joy to the World” is a popular Christmas carol. The words are …based on Psalm 98, 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17-18, in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. “The paraphrase is Watts’ Christological interpretation. Consequently, he does not emphasize with equal weight the various themes of Psalm 98. ….As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.”))

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And (Heaven and nature) sing,
And (Heaven and nature) sing,
And (Heaven, and Heaven, and nature) sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

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Athanasius Contra Mundum. Athanasius Against the World.

Farewell and goodbye to those I have shared my testimony, songs, and words of reflections and experience. I came out of retreat and isolation, and now I will slowly withdraw and return whence I came, and wither I know not yet. I will complete in part my commitment to the Lord for the rest of the year, but in great reduction and restriction. This Song, poem and hymn, I published in my Christian Reflections (1983-1987) booklet concerning the Word and Prayer. I will continue to post and write on my blog site at WordPress.com without notices or update alerts, and those who wish from time to time to know what I write and share are welcome to find me there; and I will only reply and respond or interact with direct posts address to me or email. My last request is for prayer and thoughts to God for His will and help in my crossroad. My desire from the Lord to all is His grace and peace, with faith, hope, and love be multiplied to all in Him. Michael J. Miles.

Athanasius Contra Mundum. Athanasius Against the World.
(Athanasius, St., the Great, was one of the Greek Orthodox Fathers, and Bishop of Alexandria. He was the champion of orthodoxy against the Arian heresy, and distinguished for fortitude under persecutions. He was born about 396, and attended and participated in the Council of Nicaea, in 325, was several(three times and two additional) times exiled, and died at Alexandria in 373.)
(William R. Huntington, author of this poem and hymn, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, was born at Lowell, Mass., and graduated at Harvard College in the class of 1850. He was the class poet at the time of his graduation, and the Phi Beta Kappa poet in 1870. He has been rector of a church in Worcester since 1862.) (When faced with people saying to him [in his fight against heresy and for the truth], “The world is against you, Athanasius!” St. Athanasius replied, ” Then I am against the world.-St. Athanasius.)

“The world against me, I against the world!”
Strange words for him who just now stood
On Alexandria’s throne, and hurled
His thunders as he would.
But rock is not less rock, though forced at last
To fall before the beating sea;
Nor may I be the less myself, though cast
Away from majesty.
God’s truth I stand on, can I need a throne,
Or bishop’s vesture, if I feel
His mercy wrap me with a warmth its own,
While at his feet I kneel?
No, let them drive me thrice again from sway.
As they, ere this, three times have driven,
So but the Lord be at my side alway,
I will deem exile heaven.
They call me hasty, of opinion proud,
Untaught to bend a stubborn will;
Ah! little dreams the shallow-hearted crowd
What thoughts this bosom fill.
What loneliness this outer strength doth hide,
What longing lies beneath this calm;
For human sympathy so long untried,
Our earth’s divinest balm.
But more than sympathy the truth I prize;
Above my friendships hold I God.
And stricken be these feet ere they despise
The path their Maker trod.
So let my banner be again unfurled,
Again its cheerless motto seen,—
“The world against me. I against the world!”‘
Judge thou, dear Christ, between!

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Songs of the Savior and Salvation

Songs of the Savior and Salvation
1. “It Passeth Knowledge” (“The Love of Christ”)
Mary Shekleton, (1827-1883) (1863 alt., pub. 1884,1892; Secretary of the Invalids’ Prayer Union for Women.) (Margaretta Shekleton, one of her three surviving sisters, “Chosen & Chastened & Crowned, Memorials of Mary Shekleton”, 1884. ‘Before three years of age she expressed joy and love for Christ; father dies when she was 6 months old; her widowed mother leaves England and returns to Ireland with her four young girls (6, 4, 2, and 6 month old baby; with help from her mother’s sister she turns to Christ in faith and grace; she quickly began to serve the Lord in the cottages of the poor in reading Scripture, sharing the Gospel; daily in prayer for her daughters; fellowshipped with other believers in church and prayer; Dr. Horatius Bonar was church pastor; secured good Christian education for her daughters, with French as second language; read good Christian books and sermons; demanded of her children not only to know the Lord but to individually serve Him; she often helped the school governess in the lessons for the children; she often knitted; after seven years the governess died, and suddenly also the widowed mother died also from an epileptic seizure, leaving four young girls as orphans. Mary herself was a sickly and weak girl, with early signs of consumption, what is now known as tuberculosis, which in 1883 claimed her life; she suffered greatly her whole life, yet out of this suffering she worked tirelessly, she formed and headed the Women Invalids’ Prayer Union, and many other good works. But her legacy to the Christian Church was this Hymn and Song which out of reflection and remembrance of her own sufferings but most of all of others, and foremost of them her mother, of which hymn she would say: “I know from the reception the hymn has met with that it is liked, but this will never satisfy me.” This hymn has been set to music by Mr. Ira D. Sankey. See ” Sacred Songs and Solos,”; and made popular in “Specimen Glasses,” by Frances Ridley Havergal.)
This hymn and song I found among several Christian churches and in small prayer and Bible groups. It has been a favorite of certain Christians known and dear to me.

It passeth knowledge, that dear love of Thine,
My Jesus, Savior!—yet this soul of mine
Would of that love, in all its depth and length,
Its height and breadth, and everlasting strength
Know more and more.
It passeth telling, that dear love of Thine,
My Jesus, Savior!—yet these lips of mine
Would fain proclaim to sinners far and near
A love which can remove all guilty fear,
And love beget.
It passeth praises! that dear love of Thine!
My Jesus! Savior yet this heart of mine
Would sing a love so rich, so full, so free,
Which brought an undone sinner, such as me,
Right home to God.
But though I cannot tell, or sing, or know,
The fullness of Thy love while here below,
My empty vessel I may freely bring:
O Thou, who art of love the living spring,
My vessel fill.
I am an empty vessel—not one thought,
Or look of love to Thee I ever to Thee brought;
Yet I may come, and come again to Thee,
With this the empty sinner’s only plea—
“Thou lovest me!”
Oh, fill me, Jesus, Savior, with Thy love;
Lead, lead me to the Living Fount above!
Thither may I in simple faith draw nigh,
And never to another fountain fly,
But unto Thee.
(Lord Jesus, when Thee) face to face (we) see,
When (in Thy kingdom we all are) with Thee,
Then of (Thy) love, in all its breadth and length,
Its height and depth, its everlasting strength,
(Our souls) shall sing.

2. Trust and Obey
Rev, John H. Sammis, 1887. Music: Daniel B. Towner .
(“This song gives a simple, clear explanation of living the Christian life. The title expression was used in a testimony meeting, following an evangelistic crusade in Brock­ton, Massachusetts, by Dwight L. Moody. A young man stood to speak, and it soon became clear he knew little Christian doctrine. But he finished by saying, “I’m not quite sure—but I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.” Daniel Towner, who was in the meeting, jotted down the words, and gave them to John Sammis, who developed the lyrics from them.” “John H. Sammis was born in Brooklyn. He moved to Logansport, Indiana when he was 22, where he was converted to Christianity. He was active in the Y.M.C.A., serving as secretary for the Terre Haute Association and later becoming State Secretary. After this, he studied at Lane and McCormack seminaries and was ordained in the Presbyterian church at Glidden, Iowa. He also pastored churches in Indianapolis, Grand Haven, MI, Red Wing and St. Paul, Minn. In 1909 he became associated with the Los Angeles Bible Institute. He wrote more that 100 hymns.”  Dianne Shapiro, from “The Singers and Their Songs: sketches of living gospel hymn writers” by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (Chicago: The Rodeheaver Company, 1916)

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.


3. El Shaddai (The Name Above Every Name). (A Training School for Christ. C. Horton. Superint R. A. Torrey. D. D. “Trust and Obey” and Other Songs By John H. Sammis. Copyrighted, 1918, T. C. Horton Los Angeles, Cal. Some have wrongly published this as Author Unknown. T.C.Horton, who published Sammis’ poems and songs, writes: Mr. Sammis has been for forty years and more, a faithful preacher and teacher of the blessed Gospel of the Son of God; loyal to his heart’s core to every truth in the Bible; a blessed example of a strong, sweet, forceful Christian life. Many of his verses, set to music, have brought comfort and inspiration to tens of thousands of people, in many countries. Eternity alone will reveal all that they have meant to the children of men. I am exceedingly glad to be able to give to his friends the privilege of possessing what to me is a rare treasure.)

WHAT is Jehovah El Shaddai to me?

My Lord, God and Saviour, Immanuel, He;
My Prophet, Priest, Sacrifice, Altar and Lamb;
Judge, Advocate, Surety and Witness, I AM;
My Peace and my Life, my Truth and my Way;
My Leader, my Teacher, my Hope and my Stay;
Redeemer and Ransom, Atonement and Friend;
He’s Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End.
Yea more is Jehovah El Shaddai beside—

Avenger and Shepherd, and Keeper and Guide;
My Horn of Salvation, my Captain in war;
My Dayspring, my Sun and my Bright Morning Star;
My “Wonderful, Counsellor, Wisdom and Light;
My Shadow by day, and my Beacon by night;
Pearl, Ornament, Diadem, Treasure untold;
My Strength and my Sun, in Him I behold.
All this is Jehovah Ropheka and more—

My Bread and my Water, my Dwelling, my Door;
My Branch and my Vine, My Lily and Rose;
Rock, Hiding Place, Refuge, Shield, Covert, Repose;
My sure Resurrection, my Glory above;
My King in His beauty, my Bridegroom, my love;
My All and in all in Christ Jesus I see,
For God hath made Him to be All Things to me.

Now say to thy soul, “What is He to thee?”

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Popular Salvation Songs

Popular Salvation Songs.
Here are three popular Songs and Hymns of my earliest years among Christians in the churches: At Calvary, Blessed Assurance, and When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. The last one, When the Roll is Called, has a little story in it from my apprenticeship as a cobbler. My teacher and trainer was an exiled Palestinian Arab from Ramallah in Palestine, now Israel, West Bank. After Israel became a state and the war with the Arab states, mostly Muslim, his people being Christian Arabs fled and went to Jordan, but found that they were not welcomed; some went afterwards to various countries; and he came to the USA. Being a young man, and a new immigrant, he was invited to a revival tent meeting. he listened to the preacher with some delight, and liked the music and singing, but when the preacher began the invitation and altar call he became uneasy. Then as the preacher eyed the audience he fixed his eyes on NF and said: “You young man! Give your heart to Jesus now!……..NF had enough, he got up and said: “No! I ain’t giving my heart to nobody!” And immediately left the tent. He often would tell me this story during the years I was with him, as he fondly recalled this song.

1. At Calvary
William R. Newell, pub.1895 (Moody Bible Institute Assistant Superintendent, Congregational Church Bible Teacher and Presbyterian Pastor.)

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
To Calvary.
Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Of Calvary!
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

2. Blessed Assurance
Frances (Fanny) J. Crosby, 1873 (“American mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. She was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing more than 8,000 hymns and gospel songs, with more than 100 million copies printed, despite being blind from shortly after birth. She is also known for her teaching and her rescue mission work. By the end of the 19th century, she was a household name. Crosby was known as the “Queen of Gospel Song Writers” and as the “Mother of modern congregational singing in America”, with most American hymnals containing her work. Her gospel songs were “paradigmatic of all revival music”, and Ira Sankey attributed the success of the Moody and Sankey evangelical campaigns largely to Crosby’s hymns. Some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, so Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career. Crosby also wrote more than 1,000 secular poems[13] and had four books of poetry published, as well as two best-selling autobiographies. Additionally, she co-wrote popular secular songs, as well as political and patriotic songs and at least five cantatas on biblical and patriotic themes, including The Flower Queen, the first secular cantata by an American composer. She was committed to Christian rescue missions and was known for her public speaking.”)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love…

3. “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”
James M. Black, 1893. (“Black, a Methodist Sunday school teacher in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was calling roll one day for a youth meeting. Young Bessie, daughter of a drunkard, did not show up, and he was disappointed at her failure to appear. Black made a comment to the effect, “Well, I trust when the roll is called up yonder, she’ll be there.” He tried to respond with an appropriate song, but could not find one in his song book: This lack of a fitting song caused me both sorrow and disappointment. An inner voice seemed to say, “Why don’t you write one?” I put away the thought. As I opened the gate on my way home, the same thought came again so strongly that tears filled my eyes. I entered the house and sat down at the piano. The words came to me effortlessly…The tune came the same way—I dared not change a single note or word. This song was sung in the Academy award winning movie Sergeant York (1941).”)
(“Katharine E. Nash Purvis (died 1909) is best known as the lyricist for When the Saints Are Marching In. Purvis was the daughter of a Methodist minister in Pennsylvania. After graduating from a seminary in 1860, she became a music teacher at the seminary of a Methodist Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1896, the hymn When the Saints Are Marching In was published, with music by James Milton Black. Later, the song was altered somewhat and published in 1927 as the well known When The Saints Go Marching In.”)

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks eternal, bright, and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
On that bright and (cloudless) morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

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Atheism Theism Debates

Atheism  Theism Debates

Few months ago I was sent an invite via a extended family member to a popular Atheists vs Theists Debate site. I joined and posted a comment to one of the posts about faith in God. I related that God is only known as He chooses to reveal Himself to His creatures, that is, to man. This was replied to by several as to how one knows what one knows. I replied that our knowledge is restricted to and limited in our common nature and experience; and that God as transcendent and infinite must ever be the first and utmost participant in the revelation and knowledge; that we have no real innate natural ability to reach and find Him.
The site is difficult for me to appreciate since it has such a wide variety of members and diversity. So I did not pursue further interaction. As I continued to read posts from time to time I felt that perhaps just sharing my reasons of Faith in God and His Christ according to the Scriptures and the Christian Church It would be a good thing within my restraints. So here I will also share this for others as well. mjm.


((Here is the first post and replies:
God exists as God, we know Him by His own revelation and interaction with us as His creature; the Scriptures reveals that interaction and intervention. I of myself cannot know Him, or see Him, or find Him. He visits man to find us. I cannot argue for or against His existence except by His words concerning Himself; if that Word is negated or rejected their can be little to debate about that leads to certainty or veracity. Science and philosophy, human thoughts, may say much, but can never say what it does not know beyond its limits of test, sight, hearing, and the like.
CG:Circular reasoning huh?
TW: You do not know him by his own revelation, you know him by your own indoctrination. Geography is the reason for Christian belief. Nothing else.
N.K: How do you know it is God’s word and not just words fabricated by humans?
MJM: To the three above remarks: We all reason in circles at times; and when we are out of the woods we begin on a straight path; and if we cannot find that straight and narrow path we have hope that others might help us. True, our knowledge of Him is based on the doctrines we have learned and believe, and that applies to all things human and natural; no one is different in this regards. If I have no desire or will to know the truth of God, if there be a God, then I will not know what I reject or discard. As in all things we are to be accountable for honesty, sincerity, and diligence. Religion of any kind, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Atheism, is always local, even if it comes to us from afar. All things must begin at a certain spot, the place where you or I occupy. Our knowledge of truth is what it is in us, and to the extent we understand what we know or reject to know. Great men have exercised their minds and skills to explain the thing called knowledge, and what that is in us, both its innate or external, or its phenomena and transcendency it all its variations. Simple folks must be simple: “You will know the truth; and it will set you free.” The Bible must be handled like any other book, and must be evaluated accordingly; but we are the ones that will be tested as to our motives and capacity.))

Why I believe in God according to the Bible and the Christian Church. Reasons 1-5:
1. In Genesis Moses writes that God created all things: the heavens, the earth, all living creatures and animals of nature, and man or mankind. God creates creation, the universe, nature, and the world.
2. In Genesis Man is created in the image of God according to the likeness of God. Man ‘s highest nobility, glory, and honor is divine and infinite in comparison to all other living creatures.
3. God is revealed as above and beyond and before all creation, that the physical world, universe, and nature are infinitely smaller and lesser than God. That such a infinite, transcendent, and incomprehensible God to be known is revealed in human terms and words common to man and human experience.
4. God as so revealed and so known has a purpose for all creation, but a greater purpose and will for man that He has never abandoned or forgotten.
5. God is revealed and understood to be good, and goodness along with wisdom, truth, right, mercy, and countless qualities and attributes of His Person and ways are to be seen and reflected in man.

(Here are the replies to the second post:)
1.PPJ: None of those are reasons to believe. You don’t even know if the bible is true. As a matter of fact, it’s not. It has to be the most altered of all the holy books.
MJM: Reasons to believe may vary, as reasons not to believe as well. If I did not know or believe the Bible is true I should not give it as the reason of faith. If I did not know or believe that America is a great country I should not say it is a great country. To say America is not a great country does not make my statement true; and to say the Bible is not true does not make it false. To make a statement of belief or disbelief does not establish truth or veracity; it is only a witness and a testimony, which may be debated, as it usually is. To say that the Bible is ‘the most altered of all the holy books’ is logically meaningless as a rebuttal to this argument, for it carries no content of validity on one hand, or instruction on the other. Thus it is said of Shakespeare or Confucius or Plato we don’t know if he really said or wrote this or that or anything; but few will take this dubious criticism seriously.

2.CP: How arrogant to think that god looks like us.
MJM: If Moses thought that God was some Super Giant Man like Zeus or Jupiter or any anthropomorphic image or hero or idol then arrogance might be a fit remark; but since Genesis has no such notion or doctrine, as well as the rest of the Bible, this accusation is groundless.


3.NK: OP: so basically you are using the Bible as evidence the Bible is true. Do you know what Circular Reasoning is?
MJM: “The components of a circular argument are often logically valid because if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true.” The Bible is not true because of our faith, nor because we say so; and in the contrary it is not false because of unbelief or criticism. I come to the Bible (this was and is my experience) and hear or read what it says to me, and its claims laid hold on me, did something within me, and I became alive inwardly to new things. God became personal in the words of the Bible. My struggle to know, understand, to believe continued as I sought to follow. Those who rejected the Book also became my test and experience, as it is here and now. I have listed 5 reasons of faith, which as God permits, I will add several others.

4.CP: The bible is inaccurate because it’s a collection of legends based on oral traditions. There was no garden of eden, no global flood, the sun never stood still and no one ever survived three days in the digestive system of a marine creature. It’s not “may not have happened” it’s “didn’t happen.” The basis of your belief are the stories a desert tribe used to tell themselves around the campfire thousands of years ago. Personally, I like the Aztec creation story better.
MJM: As I have said the denial of something does not negate assertions; a Garden of Eden, Noah’s Flood, Joshua’s Long Day, and Jonah’s Whale [are] spoken of from ancient times, and are old enough to be legends. The ancient stories of the Sumerians before Moses speak of the Blest Dilmun (Paradise) and the Great Flood, for me to deny of what they speak does not alter the existence of the story. The oral traditions, legends and the like, are indicative of the thing which we are seeking. What is that? The facts and truth behind the stories, and for which the legends and traditions are passed down from generation to generation. I need not explain the astronomy of the long day, nor the possibility of a man surviving, or dying and reviving, in a whale’s belly, for a few days, to believe its possibility. There are countless stories everyday that we are told that seem impossible, yet are true for those who have investigated. The Genesis stories are related by Moses as God’s spokesman; the tribes were ignorant of most of these things; and confused by Egyptian and Sumerian stories.
As to the Aztec Creation Story (Stories) its been a few decades since I read some [of] these. Perhaps you might briefly relate the details of the Aztec Creation that we might rightly compare it with the Bible version.

5.TM: The bible is true because It says so.The bible says god exists. Therefore, it is true that a god exists.
MJM: As I said before, God exists , if He exists, because He exists, whether we believe or deny, but not because we say or believe. Gandhi existed because he existed not because someone said or believe so. Its laughable and illogical to make reality dependent on faith as proof; its even more comical and silly to deny one’s being, existence, or reality because one does not know, believe, or ascertain such. This applies to the Bible as to all other literature, sacred or common.

Why I believe in God according to the Bible and the Christian Church. Reasons: Posts 3: Reasons 6-10:
6. The world, the universe, and the nature of existence, reality, and life is such that we ask and seek answers, final and ultimate answers. The Bible gives us these answers as a revelation of God in manifestation of Himself to His creation.
7. We have believed in God from our earliest recorded history to the present, and the Bible for the past 2.000 years has been our TextBook of faith and reason of all that pertains to and is related to God.
8. Religions of the world, both ancient and modern, attest to man’s interest and quest for God. Theism as faith in God exists everywhere that man exists; Monotheism is the faith of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with some other religious bodies; Polytheism is the belief in many gods and goddesses, deities, spirit beings, subordinate or superordinate divine supernatural beings or powers of persons or things to which man is dependent or subject to in ways good and evil. These ideas, doctrines, myths, notions, and systems all indicate man’s religious and spiritual nature as the Bible shows.
9. Philosophy from ancient times to the present teach us that God exist of necessity in reality or experientially, that the world is a reflection of the Divine Order, that nature manifests a Transcendent Correspondence, that creation reveals a Creator, Designer, Maker, Former, Architect, builder, and much more. The many philosophical systems and doctrines, both in agreement and in contradiction, are all witnesses to man’s unique and Biblical place in the universe of time and space.
10. Science from ancient times to the most recent advancement of knowledge and technology in every field and intellectual domain of the schools and societies of the highest learning and specialization establish the Biblical God is wise and perfect, profound and inscrutable, and ever interesting and intriguing. Science in both knowledge and understanding is leading us as captives back to the God of the Bible, the God of truth, the true God.


NK: I don’t find your reasons for believing in God to be rational or credible. I will remain an atheist. Let me know if you ever find *valid* evidence of God.
MJM: Fair enough; my rationale may not convince you, which doesn’t matter as to truth or love; so if further reasons incite or entice you towards God we will all rejoice.

NK: I don’t understand what you just said, but I will say that you worship someone who (if he exists) is currently torturing my mom and sister (and billions of others) in a lake of fire, which I don’t find very loving.

MJM: I wish to share your pain, or at lest offer sympathy or empathy, in whatever way that I can; as you did not understand my hope towards you, I likewise do not understand your grief and charge. God, if He exists as we are willing to say, and if the Bible is true as to His will and ways, then how do we understand an reconcile eternal torments, human sufferings, and evil everywhere? I will not presume or pretend to know your beliefs or reasons, but that is why I accepted the invite to join and interact. I cannot reply to you charge against God in regards to your loved ones; we can only discuss or debate to discover truth without malice or prejudice towards those who are of another way. With respect and concern, I can only offer thoughts and prayers.
NK: Sorry, you belong to an organization whose policy is to torture all God unbelievers in a lake of fire, so I cannot not accept your sympathy or empathy as sincere. If you God exists I can reconcile eternal torments and suffering with him being a psychopath. You need to reply to my charge in regards to my loved ones for me to even consider that you actually care about them. I do not want the thoughts and prayers from an accomplice to their torture, thanks anyway. Good thing it’s imaginary.

MJM to NK:
1.”Sorry, you belong to an organization whose policy is to torture all God unbelievers in a lake of fire, so I cannot not accept your sympathy or empathy as sincere.” We do not set the rules of the universe or the creation. The Bible speaks of the Lake of Fire for judgment on the Devil and his angels, for the wicked, for all those oppose to God. If God exists as God, if the Bible is true, then the judgments are true and just accordingly. God cannot allow His creatures to disregard His will and ways without eternal consequences. If we are His creatures as the Bible reveals, then we have His spirit of life, His breath of life, His portion in and of our soul: for the Bible says: “In Him we live and move and have our being”. And again that the dead all live unto Him, for He is the God of the living not of the dead.
2.”If you God exists I can reconcile eternal torments and suffering with him being a psychopath.” To judge that the God revealed in the Bible is evil and cruel is not our place as creatures; we read of Him as good and merciful, ever and always seeking to win and woe man back to Himself. The Bible does not reveal a psychopathy in God, but rather God as a Father and Savior, as El Shaddai, the Nourisher and Nurse for His children. But the Devil, Satan, the Old Serpent is revealed as the enemy to man and God, and psychopathy and sociopathy resides in him, for he is the originator of all such disorders, sins, and crimes. The Devil’s greatest lie and deception is to past on that God is a Devil like himself. No God is a good King, and there are many lords and kings who wish to dethrone Him.
3. “You need to reply to my charge in regards to my loved ones for me to even consider that you actually care about them. I do not want the thoughts and prayers from an accomplice to their torture, thanks anyway. Good thing it’s imaginary.” As I said before, I do not presume to know of your loved ones, real or imaginary, but only can respond to you and your words. The God of the Bible loved the world, mankind, His creatures, and exhibited that love in grace to do what was necessary to redeem and reconcile us to Himself. The world has not regarded His will or ways for a very long time; and we have become vey cruel to our own kind, leading to unbearable ills and woes in our cities and nations. Yet despite the thousands of years, the many generations, He still sends words of mercy and kindness to us and to all men everywhere. Many that we in malice and hate consign to eternal fires in our judgment are safe and saved by Him, and those who we wish to excuse their evil and wickedness He will not allow to escape that day and hour. He is revealed as One Whose eyes and heart looks on the poor and needy with the greatest and most tender care; but we will not have it so. Though we discuss and dialog in imaginary notions, yet reality is only a step away.

NK: 1. I don’t care who sets the rules, torture is amoral and I could never side with a torturer. Torturer is not just. It is psychopathic. You are defending burning people in a lake of fire. You sound like a serial killer.
2. How come its okay for you to judge God but not me? Seems hypocritical…
3. What you think is love is psychopathic indifference. That’s what happens when you derive your morality from a mass torturer.
MJM to NK: 1. You object to Torture as immoral, unjust, psychopathic, and as serial killing. This applied to the God of the Bible is your reason for unbelief and rejection. Torture and torment as used in this way judges God as evil and an Evildoer. But the Bible does not present such a God to us. In Genesis we see examples to the contrary: in Adam and Eve’s disobedience God does not strike them down in cruelty or death, but judges them with a long term sentence that has continued to this day. Again, in Cain killing his brother Abel God deals with him before and after with mercy in judgment. Again, Abraham pleads with God in regards to the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah, that surely the Judge of the world will do justly and rightly to not destroy the just with the unjust. So too in many other examples throughout the Bible. But on the other side God being just, righteous, and true cannot ignore evil to exist or continue without a Divine response. This moral necessity is judgment, and judgment as torment, and to the judged some call it torture. Punishment whether human or divine, individual or collective, private or public, or any such analogies may consist of torment or torture. To be tormented or tortured by guilt, grief, regret, mistakes, sins, and crimes are the just and natural consequences to certain moral actions. God as the Supreme Standard of morality must exact the proportionate measure of judgment and justice, just as in human terms the laws, state, government, and the like authorities, also punish, judge, and execute or afflict the convicted.
2. If I judge God I am wrong, and in what I judge Him once recognized I repent. I like Job may argue in error or reason about God and His actions, but I ever seek to understand the Almighty in His judgments. The Monarch, Sovereign, King, Emperor, Potentate, and Prince may among men do wrong, make mistakes, give commands and directives that lead to great sufferings and distruction to the people, yet are not thereby out of necessity chargeable to evil or guilt. If God is God then the right and judgment belongs to Him as it is to no other.
3. A case in Noah’s Flood may be examined as to God’s judgment: Adam and his progeny, his seed, are shown to be God’s creation and creatures, they were originally provided for in a somewhat idyllic nursery, they disobeyed and were exiled to live in the world as we now have it. In there[their] banishment by divine judgment they are allowed live outside direct divine constraints or regulations. In a few centuries man was so depraved and corrupted that God saw only one man still righteous and good before Him. Being God as God could make a new creation just as easily as before, yet He chose to preserve or save Adam’s seed in Noah and his family. He preserved and saved animals for man in like manner. The Flood was was of nature and of the heavens and the earth in waters, rain, rivers, seas, and wells or fountains beneath the earth. True He could prevent these things from bringing destruction, yet the used them in nature as He as ever done, is His Divine prerogative. And having done so, decides to never thus judge again, although man will not change. A conqueror at war, as Caesar and the like, he comes, he sees, and he takes, and in his conquest does as he pleases with the conquered for better or worse. God as Lord conquers human nature in many ways like what we see in nature and the world. His love and mercy as God is very longsuffering, a few thousand years are for Him only a few days. This is the Bible’s God and Judge and Savior.

1. The reason for my unbelief is your inability to provide valid evidence God exists. The fact he would be a mass torturer if he did exist makes him unworthy of worship. The Bible presents him as a mass torturer.
2. Incoherent gibberish.
3. Incoherent gibberish.

MJM to NK: I cannot change your verdict against the God of the Bible as to His existence or judgments. I thought of a quick reply and then just move on, but then I reconsidered by delaying for a couple of weeks to review and reexamine some writers and works against God or the Bible as interpreted by the Christian Church. Although I have always as a Bible believer since my conversion in 1969, being 17, read or listened to works critical against faith, religion, Bible, and Christianity, and have continued to do so to this date, yet some writers have made significant impact on my thoughts and beliefs. There are too many to lists, but a select few I thought best to reexamine. I did not review Michael Shermer of the Sceptic Society and Scientific American, or Richard Dawkins books, or others currently active against the Bible versus science; since these writers and scholars are fairly fresh in my memory, and their arguments add little to the older classical debate. All admit the newest science are ever altering long held views. I did review very fully and carefully Andrew White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom; and Robert Ingersoll’s Some Mistakes of Moses, etc.; and Thomas Paine’s works (Age of Reason, Common Sense, Rights of Man, etc.); and Voltaire’s works (Philosophical Dictionary, etc.); and finally the most important of all Bible critics, and the earliest of the modern world, laying the foundation for all the others since the 17th century (1650 on), namely Spinoza.
Since you regard my reasoning from the Bible as “incoherent gibberish” it is clear we have no proper grounds to debate or discuss the Existence of God and His Rights. I daily spend a hour in morning keeping with the news, and often the words ‘incoherent’ and ‘gibberish’ are used as accusations by the media against certain, celebrities, experts, politicians, scholars, and the like. The Media so speak against each other on the left or right; the Republicans so charge the Democrats, and in turn the other repay the like compliment; and thus the modern against the ancient, the atheists against theists and the reverse, and so too Bible is often judged. Now it so happens that the language of skepticism is fond of such terms, although they are guilty in like manner of their own opinions and ideas. Both Ingersoll and Paine were fond of these words levelled against the Bible and Bible believers. Therefore I intend to briefly cite these Bible critics and sceptics with their own reasons and rationale against God and Scriptures as witnesses to their supposed superior wisdom and honesty. Afterwards, God willing, I’ll return to more reasons I believe in God according to the Bible and the Church.

Robert G. Ingersoll: “Some Mistakes of Moses”, etc. (1833-1899, “the Great American Agnostic”, teacher, lawyer, veteran (Colonel), and political freethought orator; son of abolitionist and controversial Congregational preacher, and co-worker of Charles G. Finney. He was a great admirer and promoter of Thomas Paine. His greatest accusation against the Bible God was Hell. His greatest convert to Christ was Lew Wallace (veteran, General) of ‘Ben Hur’.
Ingersoll examines the Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses, Genesis-Deuteronomy), to point out some hundred examples of Some Mistakes of Moses. He does not believe that there was ever a Moses in Egypt, nor the Israelites, and thus the Pentateuch does not have one letter from Moses’ hands. After a few chapters by way of Introduction he takes in hand Genesis and examines the Creation Week from Monday to Sunday, all of which occupies half of his book; the second half treats Genesis 2 to Deuteronomy. The entire examination is simplistic and childish, with many “incoherent gibberish” passed on as valid criticism. It is this kind of Biblical Criticism and Skepticism that, early as a young Christian, reinforced my faith in Scriptures, and thus in God’s existence and rights. Others have answered in detail Ingersoll’s Bible critique in his days and the decades that followed, and they are to be found, so I will not trouble the reader.
Ingersoll says: “He who endeavors to Control the Mind by Force is a Tyrant, and he who submits is a slave.” This he thinks is a wise saying, and applies to God and Moses and the Bible; and he has come along to save Americans and the world. For the mass or common folks are slaves as long as they believe without doubts. He finds human failure or defects as grounds to deny and reject the Bible, as if all men in all places in all collective unions and groups, families, nations, and the like, are not chargeable to this argument rebuke. To him priestcraft is the prime evil, and orthodoxy must be the first evil destroyed; and thus if the Book is shown false the rest is all lies, myths, and superstition. Thus he goes on whining against tradition, creeds, and religion for several chapters. His father’s faith, he without blush, chides as the ‘Andover Factory’, being ignorant and fools. He would have us admire and extoll “Voltaires, Humes, Paines, Humboldts, Tyndals, Haekels, Darwins, Spencers, and Drapers”, instead of “the Lord Jesus Christ”. He wishes clergyman to be freethinkers and speakers while wearing the cloak of the Gospel, to pretend to serve God and Christ by destroying very subtly the Bible as the Word of God. No, not by leaving the ministry but using it in this deceitful manner.
Thus he gets to Genesis 1, the Creation Week, and he ignorantly (though he is an intelligent man) commences the start of the week on Monday instead of Sunday, ending on Sunday instead of Saturday; and attributes this false order to Moses. He attributes his false chronology to the Bible, and his superficial hermeneutics to divine inspiration; but these are all Ingersoll’s Mistakes. His reasoning about creation, time, life, and the world or nature is all confused as to what the Bible actually says in the written words; he constantly reasons from his own belief of what Christians and Jews and others teach about what the Bible says. We all fall into this error; but we are blamable when we claim authority to judge or criticize and are not guarded. Another Mistake of Ingersoll is making the Bible a Science Book, or a History Book, and the like. So Ingersoll has Eternal Matter as the reason he cannot believe that God created Eternal Matter because he cannot understand that if God Who is Eternal created Eternal Matter, how could He be Eternal. He cannot see or understand that his notion of time and space as of the natural world, order, universe, reality, if created by One Who, as the Creator, creates creation outside of, beyond and other than time and space (time-space), that this One as God exist and subsist in what we cannot name or comprehend in natural terms or human language. Thus the Bible, in Genesis, by Moses, says God (Elohim). Even a babe can understand this truth and fact, that the world in all that we see and hear and know, things living and inanimate, visible and invisible, or in any other words , names, and terms from a child to a genius, was made and created and birthed from God: therefore the Bible says: “in Him we live, and move, and have our being”. To be continued.

8. Ingersoll’s Mistakes of Moses Continued:
Bob writes:
(1) “In the time of Moses, it was perfectly safe for him to write an account of the creation of the world. He had simply to put in form the crude notions of the people. At that time, no other Jew could have written a better account. Upon that subject he felt at liberty to give his imagination full play. There was no one who could authoritatively contradict anything he might say.”
(2) “It was substantially the same story that had been imprinted in curious characters upon the clay records of Babylon, the gigantic monuments of Egypt, and the gloomy temples of India. In those days there was an almost infinite difference between the educated and ignorant. The people were controlled almost entirely by signs and wonders. By the lever of fear, priests moved the world. The sacred records were made and kept, and altered by them. The people could not read, and looked upon one who could, as almost a god. In our day it is hard to conceive of the influence of an educated class in a barbarous age. It was only necessary to produce the ” sacred record,” and ignorance fell upon its face.”
(3) “The people were taught that the record was inspired, and therefore true. They were not taught that it was true, and therefore inspired. After all, the real question is not whether the bible is inspired, but whether it is true. If it is true, it does not need to be inspired. If it is true, it makes no difference whether it was written by a man or a god. The multiplication table is just as useful, just as true as though God had arranged the figures himself. If the bible is really true, the claim of inspiration need not be urged ; and if it is not true, its inspiration can hardly be established. As a matter of fact, the truth does not need to be inspired. Nothing needs inspiration except a falsehood or a mistake. Where truth ends, where probability stops, inspiration begins. A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth does not need the assistance of miracle. A fact will fit every other fact in the Universe, because it is the product of all other facts. A lie will fit nothing except another lie made for the express purpose of fitting it. After a while the man gets tired of lying, and then the last lie will not fit the next fact, and then there is an opportunity to use a miracle. Just at that point, it is necessary to have a little inspiration.””

MJM replies:
(1): The time of Moses according to the Bible is some 500 years after the time of Abram and Terah (Gen.10); and further removed from Noah and His Sons another 500 years; and from Adam and the Garden of Eden over a thousand years (1500 years or more determined by different chronologies, which are all conjectural) (Gen.5). Bob died before Sumerian writings were discovered and unearthed, before its non-Semitic language was deciphered, and the thousands of cuneiform scripts translated to reveal a lost and hidden world going back 2,000 years before the Babylonians and Egyptians. This was the world of Dilmun of the Black Headed Axe Wielding People who survived a Great Flood and resettled Mesopotamia from north to south. From these the later stories were borrowed and modified. Samuel Kramer has given to us many “Firsts” from Summer an Accad; and both the Egyptians and Babylonian-Assyrian-Chaldean learned many things which are well known today. Thus this Mistake of Ingersoll by ignorance is forgiven.
(2): In the study of the First Historical Writings of the Ancient World in the Texts we read of the Education System of even children, boys and girls, of leaders and common folks, of lawyers as well as craftsmen, all interacting in a religious society. They always pointed back to a near and a distant past when people were related to gods and goddesses as a family and kingdom. Science was at an infancy, and exploration was a novelty. The power did not reside in the Priest but in the King, and Kingship was a Divine Institution; the King being the embodiment or manifestation of God. Ingersoll was mistaken in this also. What Bob describes would not develop for several thousands of years after the Sumerians. Moses comes in during the period that the knowledge of the ancient Sumerians was fading away, as taught by those Orientalists most familiar with these things. , and may be examined in Prichard’s “Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament”, and many such works.
(3) Bob’s Logic is that Truth needs no Divine Inspiration, and need no miracles or claims. Moses writes as taught of the God of Israel, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, a new version and history from Creation to the Exodus. The details of the many stories, myths, doctrines in circulation from Adam to Moses is here addressed, corrected, and revised. The Creation of the Universe, Earth, Man, the World and Nature, are now set forth in the way God desires to teach Israel and mankind. He teaches us that 2 + 2 = 4, but not all the elements of math or science or history. What is, is truth, and when truth is known as truth, without error or contradiction tested, truth is proven true as a fact or reality. What we understand of truth is altogether a different matter. Thus, man in seeing the world and nature, the universe in all its many parts and ways, things of God, or a Power, Force, Something or Someone or Someplace, in place of God. The truth remains, God is and exists as God whether known or unknown or understood. Our inherited and innate ignorance is what must be instructed in ever slow increments till we see and know the truth. That is what education means, a leading and guiding to the truth; and once the truth is known it sets us free; thus we have in John 8: “Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed Him, If ye abide in My word, [then] are ye truly My disciples and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To be continued…..

NK: Do you know what gish galloping is?
MJM: “Neil Duane Tolbert Gish, American biochemist and a prominent member of the creationist movement. A Young Earth creationist, Gish was a former vice-president of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the author of numerous publications about creation science. Gish was called “creationism’s T. H. Huxley” for the way he “relished the confrontations” of formal debates with prominent evolutionary biologists, usually held on university campuses. A creationist publication noted in his obituary that “it was perhaps his personal presentation that carried the day. In short, the audiences liked him.”
“The Gish Gallop should not be confused with the argumentum ad nauseam, in which the same point is repeated many times. In a Gish Gallop, many bullshit points are given all at once.”
“”If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!—Albert Einstein, commenting on the book 100 Authors Against Einstein”, Wikipedia.


Ingersoll’s Mistakes of Moses continued:
(Note on Inspiration: RGI uses ‘Inspiration’ as a primary leg of his Skeptical Stool, but a look in any good Dictionary shows its varied shades of meaning and usage. He often referred to Shakespeare in his lectures and interviews as the greatest literary genius that ever lived, and regarded his inspiration as the greatest example of inspiration, In fact he owned a special edition of the Works William Shakespeare that bore on the title ‘Inspired’; and often pointed to it as his Holy Bible, and next to it lay his Hymnal, the Poetic Works of Robert Burns. Indeed Bob, the Preacher’s son, was a real Preacher on a Mission to convert America and the World.)

“It will not do to say that Moses merely intended to tell what God did, in making the heavens and the earth out of matter then in existence. He distinctly states that in the beginning God created them. If this account is true, we must believe that God, existing in infinite space surrounded by eternal nothing, naught and void, created, produced, called into being, willed into existence this universe of countless stars.”
“The next thing we are told by this inspired gentleman is, that God created light, and proceeded to divide it from the darkness. Certainly, the person who wrote this believed that darkness was a thing, an entity, a material that could get mixed and tangled up with light, and that these entities, light and darkness, had to be separated. In his imagination he probably saw God throwing pieces and chunks of darkness on one side, and rays and beams of light on the other. It is hard for a man who has been born but once to understand these things. For my part I cannot understand how light can be separated from darkness. I had always supposed that darkness was simply the absence of light, and that under no circumstances could it be necessary to take the darkness away from the light.”
“It is certain, however, that Moses believed darkness to be a form of matter, because I find that in another
place he speaks of a darkness that could be felt. They used to have on exhibition at Rome a bottle of the darkness that overspread Egypt. You cannot divide light from darkness any more than you can divide heat from cold. Cold is an absence of heat, and darkness is an absence of light. I suppose that we have no conception of absolute cold. We know only degrees of heat. Twenty degrees below zero is just twenty degrees warmer than forty degrees below zero. Neither cold nor darkness are entities, and these words express simply
either the absolute or partial absence of heat or light. I cannot conceive how light can be divided from darkness, but I can conceive how a barbarian several thousand years ago, writing upon a subject about which he knew nothing, could make a mistake. The creator of light could not have written in this way. If such a being exists, he must have known the nature of that “mode of motion” that paints the earth on every eye, and clothes in garments sevenhued this universe of worlds.”

MJM reply RGI Moses Mistakes:
Bob is struggling to understand or believe that an Eternal God could create Eternal Matter. But Genesis 1 does not say anything of what existed before the Universe was created. God existed as God, the state and place and world that existed before the present world and reality is latter revealed and understood to be a spiritual, existence, creation, and reality, being with God by God as a Spirit in a spiritual world of His own making and relations. God in the non-physical or supernatural, a metaphysical world, is spoken of only as the Creator of the world as we know it, and as He has spoken of and to. That He created the heavens and the earth and all things that exists in the natural world is all Genesis records. God did not exist in space or time, or space-time, or with matter and energy, and any physical properties and elements. God exists outside of time till He created the creation and the universe, then He exists or continues in time out of His own eternity, which is eternal outside of our conception of eternal. This is why the Bible must be a Divine Inspired Revelation for us to conceive of what is outside and beyond human and natural things. The spiritual world of God, spirits, angels, spiritual creatures and creations are not of this world. merely to deny the existence of a spiritual reality in our ignorance is not wise or safe. These things are true or false as one believes or doubts in our own thoughts and understandings. They cannot be proven or demonstrated by human or natural means.
Bob is Mistaken as to what Genesis next records: ‘God created light then divided it from the darkness’. Moses writes of the state of the Earth in chaos and disorder and darkness covered the deep, while God’s Spirit moved over the waters. Many questions may be asked about this state and condition of the world, but as with many other things we are not told. Now, Moses could have been like Ingersoll and those critics like him, and told us all kinds myths and stories to laugh about, but he was not so foolish. But Bob is eager to teach us Science and Basic Physics, explaining Moses belief or doctrine of ‘darkness’ as ‘a thing, an entity, a material’. Bob imagines what he thinks Moses imagined about Light and Darkness, and instead of turning his memory and eyes back to the Text he wanders off into his own imagination and thus makes obvious Mistakes. The entity that Genesis is focused on is the Sun as the Light. This Light was not here created but called forth, called out of the darkness. He called and named the Light Day, and the Darkness Night. Day and Night made a whole Day, Day One. Later we are told that the Light was the Sun or the Greater Light which rules the Day in which it shines and heats.
Genesis speaks to us as children, simple and easy to understand; Bob wants to turn it into Science, Natural History, Cosmology, Geology, Astronomy, and Biology. But such a Book would be useless to man in divine things, and would not increase faith at all. Modern Physics since Einstein has overturned and outdated and updated Newtonian Physics, as Aristotle and Plato were earlier revised and retired. Quantum Physics and those who understand it, which excludes me, make the true false and the apparent not real, and a hosts of other things beyond common folks, and definitely not for children. God through Moses in Genesis instructs us that the things that we see and hear, the things that are, are all from Him as the Maker of them all. The names He gives them, Light and Darkness, Day and Night, are creations not mere entities, they are divine things and not divine beings, that the only Entity or Being is God Who creates and controls the universe of all creation and nature. Not only did He know the ‘Mode of Motion’, but made it and its function, to rule, to light and heat, and to divide and separate. And we are still ever learning of His wonders. No Mistakes here.

Ingersoll on Moses’ Bible Mistakes continued:
1. “We are next [Day 2] informed by Moses that ” God said Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters ; ” and that ” God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.”
What did the writer mean by the word firmament? Theologians now tell us that he meant an ” expanse.” This will not do. How could an expanse divide the waters from the waters, so that· the waters above the expanse would not fall into and mingle with the waters below the expanse ? The truth is that Moses regarded the firmament as a solid affair. It was where God lived, and where water was kept. It was for this reason that they used to pray for rain. They supposed that some angel could with a lever raise a gate and let out the quantity of moisture desired……Nothing is clearer than that Moses regarded the firmament as a vast material division that separated the waters of the world, and upon whose floor God lived, surrounded by his sons. In no other way could he account for rain. Where did the water come from? He knew nothing about the laws of evaporation. He did not know that the sun wooed with amorous kisses the waves of the sea, and that they, clad in glorified mist rising to meet their lover, were, by disappointment, changed to tears and fell as rain.”
2. [Day3]……”Certainly the writer of this did not have any conception of the real form of the earth. He could not have known anything of the attraction of gravitation. He must have regarded the earth as flat and supposed that it required considerable force and power to induce the water to leave the mountains and collect in the valleys. Just as soon as the water was forced to run down hill, the dry land appeared, and the grass began to grow, and the mantles of green were thrown over the shoulders of the hills, and the trees laughed into bud and blossom, and the branches were laden with fruit. And all this happened before a ray had left the quiver of the sun, before a glittering beam had thrilled the bosom of a flower, and before the Dawn with trembling hands had drawn aside the curtains of the East and welcomed to her arms the eager god of Day. It does not seem to me that grass and trees could grow and ripen into seed and fruit without the sun. According to the account, this all happened on the third day. Now, if, as the christians say, Moses did not mean by the word day a period of twenty-four hours, but an immense and almost measureless space of time, and as God did not, according to this view make any animals until the fifth day, that is, not for millions of years after he made the grass and trees, for what purpose did he cause the trees to…..Plenty of grass, a great variety of herbs, an abundance of fruit, but not a mouth in all the world. If Moses is right, this state of things lasted· only two days; but if the modern theologians are correct, it continued for millions of ages……It may be that I am led to these conclusions by “total depravity,” or that I lack the necessary humility of spirit to satisfactorily harmonize Haeckel and Moses ; or that I am carried away by pride, blinded by reason, given over to hardness of heart that I might be damned, but I never can believe that the earth was covered with leaves, and buds, and flowers, and fruits before the sun with glittering spear had driven back the hosts of Night.”
3. [Day 4]…..”Moses supposed the sun to be about three or four feet in diameter and the moon about half that size. Compared with the earth they were but simple specks. This idea seems to have been shared by all the “inspired” men. We find in the book of Joshua that the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” We are told that the sacred writer wrote in common speech as we do when we talk about the rising and setting of the sun, and that all he intended to say was that the earth ceased to turn on its axis “for” about a whole day.” …….Some endeavor to account for the phenomenon by natural causes, while others attempt to show that God could, by the refraction of light have made the sun visible although actually shining on the opposite side of the earth…..If this is true, and if as the bible tells us, the stars were made after the earth, then this world has been wheeling in its orbit for at least five million years. It may be replied that it was not the intention of God to teach geology and astronomy. Then why did he say anything upon these subjects? and if he did say anything, why did he· not give the facts? According to the sacred records God created, on the first day, the heaven and the earth,” moved upon the face of the waters,” and made the light. On the second day he made the firmament or the “expanse” and divided the waters. On the third day he gathered the waters into seas, let the dry land appear and caused the earth to bring forth grass, herbs and fruit trees, and on the fourth day he made the sun, moon and stars and set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth. This division of labor is very striking. The work of the other days is as nothing when compared with that of the fourth. Is it possible that it required the same time and labor to make the grass, herbs and fruit trees, that it did to fill with countless constellations the infinite expanse of space?”

MJM response Ingersoll:

1. Bob charges Moses and his translators as well the theologians and Jews and Christians for several thousand years of a ignorant mistake of the conception of heaven as a ‘solid floor which could be opened or closed’ to water the earth or to withhold and retain the waters’. He thinks that the modern theologians have turned the the rendering ‘expanse’ to satify the science of the times. But here also Bob is mistaken in several points. (A) The OED gives the etymology of ‘firmament’ thus: “firmament (n.) Look up firmament at Dictionary.com mid-13c., from Old French firmament or directly from Latin firmamentum “firmament,” literally “a support, a strengthening,” from firmus “strong, steadfast, enduring” (see firm (adj.)). Used in Late Latin in the Vulgate to translate Greek [LXX] stereoma “firm or solid structure,” which translated Hebrew raqia, a word used of both the vault of the sky and the floor of the earth in the Old Testament, probably literally “expanse,” from raqa “to spread out,” but in Syriac meaning “to make firm or solid,” hence the erroneous translation. Related: Firmamental.” And Bing search easily gives for ‘raqia’: “The Hebrew word raqia is usually translated “expanse” or “firmament.” When it is directly followed by “of the heavens” it means atmosphere, sky, outer space, or heaven. However, when raqia stands alone, it means the earth’s crust.” (B) The AKJV of 1611, the English Bible used by Bob and all Protestants in America in the 18th-19th century has in the original margin the translators note at verse 6 : “firmament: Heb. expansion”, telling the reader that the literal meaning is ‘expanse’, thus making ‘firmament’ the traditional or alternative rendering. I need not tell the reader that ‘expanse’ is space expanded, what spreads out and beyond; like Bob needed to expand his notion of the Hebrew ‘firmament’. (C) Bob has missed the item of the creation of ‘waters’ (mayim) before Day 2, for it was there in verse 2, along with the heavens (shamayim), earth, God’s Spirit (Ruach Elohim, God’s Wind), darkness, and the deep or depths. A description of a Earth in ruin, covered by darkness and waters, so that no dry land was visible. (D) Bob mistakes the ‘firmament-expanse’ as the floor or ground or ceiling, when Moses describes a space and sphere which was to come between the waters, making a separation, division, extension, and expansion of the waters into some under and some above. This Firmament-Expanse (Raqia from Raqa) He then named or called Heaven (shamay-im=heaven-s). Thus we arrive at Moses’ notion of what the ‘firmament-expanse’ means, namely the heavens, the skies, the space and sphere that separates the oceans and seas of the earth from outer space, and all the spheres of science: geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere; and we must expand or firm static solid concrete notions and ideas of the space and spheres to the infinite ‘void’ between all celestial bodies; which to us ordinary unscientific folks appear empty and emptiness or nothingness.

2. Bob next mistakenly charges Moses with another scientific mistake. He thinks Genesis depicts on the 3rd Day that after the waters (bodies of waters of oceans, Seas, lakes, rivers, etc.) were gathered, collected, receded, distributed, drained, and such like; and after the dry land (Earth) appeared visible that there was no sunshine or daylight because he has hardened his thinking of the Sun and Moon and Stars were not created till Day 4. This is a scientifically silly idea and doctrine that Genesis never teaches. Verse One and Two has the Heavens and the Earth, with Spirit-Wind and waters, darkness, and the deep covered (land submerged and buried); then Day 1 Light is separated from Darkness, and sunshine and daylight functions and is regulated. All this before Day 4. Again, Bob is mistaken about Genesis use of Day as merely 24 hours (we will explore this at Day 4), and that God created and made the infinite details and varieties of creation and nature in solar and lunar days. God of course can do all things and anything speaking humanly; except humanly speaking Scripture qualifies that He cannot lie, and by extension and expansion of reason He cannot and will not do certain things; but we are straying from the argument. Of course there was daily sunshine, daylight, heat, for His miracle of creation, restoration, and evolution (in the sense of development and production and perfection). The Seeds of Life always needs Light, and God likes to shine lots of light everyday and night. Bob is mistaken as usual.

3. Bob is funny, and sometimes silly, and many times creative and subtle. After listening to some 40 Lectures and 15 Interviews of Bob repeating over and over again and again his same points and facts to disprove the Bible and Christianity and Religion, I find myself able not to take him too seriously as a scientist and philosopher, thus I am able to enjoy his esthetic rhetoric, and professional oratorical performance, as quite entertaining and provocative; of course the joke on Christians. But the truth of the facts of Genesis Day 4 is this: God made (not created) the Lights of the Firmament-Expanse of the Heaven to divide or separate between the Day and Night (as in Day 1), and to be for Signs, Seasons, Days, and Years: to give light (and thus heat) on the earth; to rule the day and night, and separate the light from darkness; and the Stars also (the translators in italics added “made”, which is not needed). Beautiful non-scientific but accurate story. The Sun, Moon, and Stars are already created in the Beginning before Day 1, now in Day 4 He makes the function and regulates them to regulate the Earth; thus Genesis uses the expression “and God set them in the Firmament of the Heaven ” so that we might not make the mistake of carelessly reading and interpreting the 4th Day in a scientific manner. He appointed the Celestial Bodies for the instruction of Israel and mankind, in the way they have functioned from then to now. No mistakes here.
Now as to the use of the word Day (yom), it is explained clearly in the Text, and easy to understand. It is Day generally of 24 hours in the Middle East; but if Moses was at the North Pole in the Summer it would be sunlight all day long (the Midnight Sun), and in the Winter only darkness; and in the South Pole a day may last six months or almost a year. Day is measured in moments of time dictated or governed by the Celestial Bodies, and science teaches us that it is produced naturally by the earth revolving around the Sun and the Moon orbiting the Earth, and the Sun moving in the Solar System in the Galaxies, and so on. Now Genesis speaks of the 7 Seven Days of Creation, then in 2:4: “These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”; then in 5:1-2, referring to the Sixth Day of Creation it speaks of Adam’s Generations “in the Day God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” These expressions are literal but not scientific nor metaphorical; they are Mosaic, Biblical, and Divine. We must not interpret Scripture in such a way to impose on it are modern notions or private ideas, including those in its defense; nor should we offend by holding on to silly ideas and views that all men know to be unreasonable and funny. Genesis is not a science textbook, or natural physics, so when we read Joshua 10:13: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. [Is] not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” We may not interpret the Text by science, then deny God’s power and act, then reject Scripture as myth. We do not know how He chose to do what He did; we do not know what is meant by the Book of Jasher; we may not clearly ever know on this side of that day to come. We do know that the daylight and sunlight gave Joshua the extra time to battle and win. If we believe or reject this is all together another matter. We must not exaggerate the problem or issue, nor should we speak in such away to trouble others with absurdities of conforming Bible to science.










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