Each month I seek to spend time reflecting on the lyrics of each hymn and their impact on my life. When singing/playing any hymn or worship song, I want to know the words. I want to internalize the words. I want to sing the hymn from my heart. This process of internalization allows the song to speak to me and be a source of comfort in the difficult times encountered along life’s journey!
Much thought and prayer preceded the decision to begin this series on Hymn Sketches. There are so many great hymns to choose from but what makes any specific hymn stand out enough as the first one I would sketch? Is it because it has a beautiful melodic line, an interesting chord progression, or life-changing lyrics? Ultimately the hymn selection was easy.
A bit of personal history is needed before beginning the discussion on the first hymn. Over the past few months I have thought a lot about hymns. I have thought about how I have missed singing them on a regular basis. I have thought about the messages they convey. I have thought about the memories shared with many saints over the years. These thoughts revealed how important the hymns have been in shaping who I am today. Recently, during my prayer time, I began feeling a strong prompting in my spirit to undertake this project of examining the hymns that played a significant role in my life. Additionally, I felt that I needed to share it in the format which you are reading. I typically do not share my thoughts and opinions in public forums, but I look forward to exploring this avenue of sharing my personal reflections. As I begin this journey, I surrender my will to His will.
The first hymn, “I Surrender All,” was written by Judson W. Van De Venter in 1896 (Hymnary.org) as his prayer of submission to follow God’s call as an evangelist. I find it beautifully articulates my prayer for this journey.
All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him
In His service daily live.
I am under no pressure to embark on this journey, nor do I know where the journey may lead. I freely surrender. I freely give my all. I freely love and trust Him. I freely choose to live daily in His service. Only He knows where this journey will lead and to whom it will minister.
Dictionary.com defines surrender: “to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress.” This is NOT the case when I freely surrender all to Him! Surrendering to Him is recognition that His ways are far above mine and He will provide a better life than I could ever imagine or design for myself and my family. I recognize that a better life does not necessarily translate to a higher standard of living. A better life, fully surrendered to Him, may include suffering. After all, this life is not about me. It is about living a life that serves others, leads them to Him, and ultimately leads us to eternal life with Him. I believe John 10:10 speaks strongly to this issue, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” I rejoice knowing that surrendering to Him is not defeat, nor is it a loss of my personality or giftings. Surrendering to Him is abundant life! Surrendering to Him is a victory to be celebrated!
My prayer today:
I surrender all of my life to You. I surrender my musical future and my ideas of what music ministry is completely into Your hands. All the musical knowledge and skills learned/developed over the past 36 years are given back to you. I surrender all to You! I pray you use me in the way You see fit. I pray you use use me in a way that shines your light through me into this dark world that desperately needs you.
In Jesus name I pray,
Behind the scenes:
I have begun working on the musical sketch of “I Surrender All,” and I look forward to sharing that with you at the end of this month!
Here is a little peek into the setup used for this project and those coming in the future. As mentioned in my last post, the recording of each hymn is created in my small home studio. The musical sketches are not designed for professional release but as a mode of representing the hymn in my personal life. These sketches will be shared with you in upcoming blog posts.
The studio space has been a project in and of itself over the past few months. The setup pictured below was just completed this month. I am thankful for God’s provision of equipment and thankful to my wife Michelle for allowing it on one side of our living room!
Hymn Sketch #1 Part 2: Musical discussion and Sketch recording of “I Surrender All“