Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Mind Of John Milton


You probably don't remember this but on December 30, 2012 I wrote a devotional printed here called, "Hymn Not Me." The gist of it was that I had made the decision to write a hymn sometime in my life. I'm not really any closer to authoring a musical tribute to the Lord but I have thought about it. I'm much more in tune with the older hymns than the ones often preferred today. One of the reasons hit me when I was worshipping in Vietnam where the church I worship with uses English hymns translated into Vietnamese, and incidentally, sing every verse. I like the old church songs because they have distinctive verses and choruses. Each verse sounds like the others and each time you sing the chorus/refrain, it is identical. I like a starting point and ending point and repeating. With many of the newer hymns, all the sections seem to me to blend into each other and run together. It isn't that the message lacks depth or spirituality- I just get lost. I would guess that comes from the familiarity I have with the type of hymns we sang when I was a boy in worship services and with our family.

The other day I was thinking about the type of hymn I would like to write, not the longevity or acclaim which would be nice, but more the style. One of my favorite hymns from childhood, Let Us With A Gladsome Mind, popped into my head so I googled it. I discovered several surprising facts in the process. First, the author was John Milton, probably best known as the author of Paradise Lost. Secondly, Milton penned the hymn in 1623 as a paraphrase of Psalm 136. And thirdly, the stunner to me, he was fifteen years old when he wrote this timeless hymn. FIFTEEN! That's younger than half of my students this year. Immortal words that I can never approach from the mind and pen of a young man who could not get a driver's license should he reappear in 21st century America. In 1st Timothy 4:12, Paul wrote his young colleague to, 
"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
Milton must have taken Paul's admonition to heart. I hope my students will this year as well. They can change the world. They just have to believe it.

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for He is kind.

(Refrain)
For His mercies aye endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.
Let us blaze His Name abroad,
For of gods He is the God.

(Refrain)
He with all commanding might
Filled the new made world with light.

(Refrain)
He hath, with a piteous eye,
Looked upon our misery.

(Refrain)
He the golden tress├Ęd sun
Caused all day his course to run.

(Refrain)
Th’horned moon to shine by night;
’Mid her spangled sisters bright.

(Refrain)
All things living He doth feed,
His full hand supplies their need.

(Refrain)
Let us, then with gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for He is kind.


Applicable quote of the day:
You know when you're young you think you will always be. As you become more fragile, you reflect and you realize how much comfort can come from the past. Hymns can carry you into the future.

To listen to Let Us With A Gladsome Mind, copy and paste the link below!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVJ9ePKw0ls

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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