My God, how wonderful you are

Another old hymn, updated for personal worship

Original words by Frederick William Faber (1814-63)

My God, how wonderful You are,
Your majesty how bright,
How beautiful Your mercy-seat,
Intense forgiving light!
For limitless eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
Worshiping spirits day and night
Continually adore!
Oh, how I fear You, living God,
With deepest, reverent fears,
And worship You with trembling hope
And true repentant tears!

Yet I may love You too, Oh Lord,
Almighty as You are,
For You have stooped to ask of me,
The love of my poor heart.

No earthly father loves like You;
No parent, even mild,
Loves patiently as You have done
For me, Your sinful child.

How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of You must be,
Your endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awesome purity!

How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours

Old hymn by John Newton (1725-1807), with minor revisions

How tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me.
The mid-summer sun shines but dim, the fields strive in vain to look gay.
But when I am happy in Him, December’s as pleasant as May.

His name yields the richest perfume, and sweeter than music His voice. 
His presence disperses my gloom and makes all within me rejoice. 
I’d have nothing to wish or to fear if He was always this near. 
No mortal as happy as I, my summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face, my all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love, a palace would have no allure.
And prisons would palaces be, if Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Yours, if You are my sun and my song,
Then why do I languish and pine, and why are my winters so long?
Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky, Your soul-cheering presence restore.
Or take me to heaven on high, where winter and clouds are no more.


When I was a student in Bible college, we sang an old hymn in chapel that was unfamiliar to me, “How tedious and tasteless the hours.” At the time I didn’t appreciate its tongue-twisting first line; and I found the hymn depressing. Rediscovering it recently, I now value the hymn’s realistic expression of what believers experience when they do not feel close to God. Even more, I love the contrasting description of how beautiful Jesus is to us when we are in a close relationship with Him and aware of His presence in our lives. This is a hymn that I can sing as a lament when I long for a closer relationship with God, and a song of praise when I want to adore my loving Savior’s name, face, voice….

I’ve changed a few words to update the language but left the poetic structure intact. I hope you will find it useful in your private worship.

Prayer for the start of a new week

O Master, let me walk with You
In lowly paths of service true.
Take on my burden, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love.
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me Your patience, waiting still,
And with Your Holy Spirit fill,
Through work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future's broadening way.
In peace that only You can give,
With You, O Master, let me live. 

Updated from the hymn O Master, let me walk with Thee, 
original words by Washington Gladden, 1879, Public Domain

A Prayer for Holy Week, 2022

Jesus, teach me what Your crucifixion really means,
The cross lifted up with You, the Man of Sorrows, condemned to die.
Help me understand what it cost You to make a sinner whole,
And help me recognize the value of a soul.

Teach me the meaning of Your death.
I now know that if I had been the only sinner, 
You still would have had to die.

Help me understand Your love that has no comparison;
A love that reaches deeper than my guilt and despair!
Help me believe and experience Your love more deeply,
Until there is a glimmer in my cold heart,
A pale reflection of Your pure love.

Teach me what Your death and resurrection really mean, 
Because I am full of sin, and only grace can reach me,
and only Your love can win.
Teach me because I need You -- I have no other hope.
And I am the sinner for whom You, the Savior, died.

Teach me what it means that You give rest
To all the anxious and weary who look to You and live.
Although I have been a rebel, I received Your pardon.
Because You have said “I will,” I do believe.

Infinite Redeemer I don't have any other plea. 
Because You have invited me, I cast myself on You.
Because You accept me as Your own, I love and adore You,
Because Your love has warmed my heart, I'll praise You forever more.

Based on the hymn “Oh, Teach Me What It Meaneth” 
Lyrics by Lucy A Bennett, written early 1900’s


Another updated hymn: All for Jesus

An old hymn, slightly revised to update language, that can be sung to the original tune. Original words by Mary D. James, 1880s.

All for Jesus

All for Jesus! I would give Him, all my life's desires and powers;
All my thoughts and words and doings, all my days and all my hours.
Let my hands do what would please Him; let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only; let my lips speak forth His praise.

Others prize their gems of beauty; cling to shiny toys of dust;
Boast of wealth, and fame, and pleasure; only Jesus will I trust.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus, I've lost sight of all beside,
So enthralled my spirit's vision, looking at the crucified. 

Oh, what wonder! How amazing! Jesus glorious King of kings,
Chose to call me His beloved, lets me rest beneath His wings. 

How Firm a Foundation

An old hymn, written in the 1780’s, updated and revised for such a time as this.

With prayers for the people of Ukraine

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

“Fear not, I am with you, do not be dismayed,
For I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

“When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless, 
and purify you in your deepest distress.”

“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your waste to consume, and your gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus has cast all its woes,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, 
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!”

Seeing the Stars While in the Well

Photo by David Kopacz on

Some of my dearest friends are going through times of grief and pain. They have recently lost loved ones through painful chronic diseases, unexpected illnesses, miscarriage, and tragic accidents. Some have been betrayed by those closest to them. They have experienced pain and uncertainty and confusion and rejection. We all know that this has been a dark time for many people, and their losses have touched me more deeply than ever before. 

Yesterday I was reading in one of my favorite books, The Valley of Vision, and updated the wording of the introductory prayer for myself, my friends who are experiencing such loss, and all who yearn to see God display his glory in and through our lives. 

The Valley of Vision*

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, you have brought me to the valley of vision, 
            The place where I live now, in the depths, but see you in the heights. 
Here I am hemmed in by mountains of suffering,
            Caused by sin or loss or pain or bereavement or confusion,
And yet here – when I look up -  I see your glory. 
Let me learn by the “upside down” ways of your kingdom
            That the way down is the way up,
            That to be low is to be high,
            That the broken heart is the healed heart,
            That the humbled spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
            That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
            That to have nothing is to possess all,
            That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
            That to give is to receive,
            That the valley,
                        In spite of and because of all our suffering,
            Is the place of vision. 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, 
            And the deeper the wells, the brighter your stars shine. 
Let me find your light in my darkness. 
            Let me find your life in my death. 
                        Let me find your joy in my sorrow.
Let me find your grace in my sin.
            Let me find your riches in my poverty.
                        Let me find your glory in my valley. 

* The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Ed. Arthur Bennett. 2003. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, p. xxiv-xxv.

Contemporary Versions of Great Hymns to Start the New Year

Hymns of trusting God for all that is ahead

(Revised in contemporary language, to be prayed instead of sung, since the meter has been changed)

I Need Thee Every Hour    Original words by Annie S. Hawks

I need You every hour, my gracious Lord; 
There is no voice like Yours 
        that so tenderly brings peace to me. 
I need You every hour, please stay near me;
Temptations lose their power when You are near.
I need You every hour, in joy or in pain,
Let me feel Your presence 
        or else life seems empty.
I need You every hour, every minute of each day,
Make me entirely Yours, Most Holy One.
I need You! How I need You! Every hour I need You!
I kneel before You now, 
         waiting to be blessed by Your presence.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace             Words from scripture

Lord, you will give perfect peace 
        to those whose minds are focused on you.
Don’t be surprised when I tell you 
        that you have to be born again to experience His peace.
Even if sin has dirtied and stained your garments, 
        they will be washed as white as snow.
If Jesus makes you free, you will be free indeed 
        and know His deepest peace.

The Love of Jesus

Adapted and revised in contemporary English, 12/28/2020, from The Valley of Vision*

O Father of Jesus,
Help me to approach You with deepest reverence,
            not with arrogance, not with timid fear, but with holy boldness. 
You are beyond the grasp of my understanding,
            but not beyond the grasp of my love.
You know I long to love You supremely,
            for You are supremely glorious, good, and perfect. 
My heart melts at Your love, Jesus,
            my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,
            married to me, dead for me, risen for me;
You are mine and I am Yours,
            You have been given to me as well as for me;
I am never so much mine as when I am Yours,
            or so much lost to myself until lost in You;
            then I find my true created self.
But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;
            Your love warms me, lightens my burden, becomes my heaven;
May Your love be revealed to me in all its aspects,
            that my love to You may be more passionate and glowing;
Let the mighty tide of Your everlasting love
            cover the rocks of my sin and worry;
Then let my spirit float above those things
            which otherwise would have wrecked my life.
Make me fruitful by living out that love,
            my character becoming more beautiful every day.
If traces of Your love–artistry are upon me,
            may You work on with Your divine brush
            until the complete image is finished
            and I become a perfect copy of You, my Master.
Oh Lord Jesus, come to me,
Oh Divine Spirit, rest upon me,
Oh Holy Father, look on me in mercy
            For the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

*The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Ed. Arthur Bennett. 2003. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, p. 44-45.

More hymns updated in my heart language

Not to be sung, since the meter has been changed, but to be a conversation with god, expressing my thoughts and prayers

Speak, Lord, In the Stillness Original words by E. May Grimes

Speak, Lord, In the stillness, while I wait with You,
 My heart is hushed to listen in expectancy.
 Holy Master, speak in this quiet hour.
 Let me see your face Lord, feel your touch of power,
 For the words you speak are life indeed.
 Feed my spirit with your living bread from heaven.
 I have yielded everything to you, I am not my own.
 In joyful, glad surrender I am yours alone.
 Speak and I will hear you, do not be silent, Lord,
 My soul waits on you for the life-giving word.
 Fill me with the knowledge of your glorious will, 
 Fulfill in me all your own good pleasure.

If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee Original words by Georg Neumark, Catherine Winkworth, Tr.

If you allow God to guide you and depend on Him in each need,
 He’ll give you strength, whatever happens to you, and carry you through the evil days.
 The one who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that nothing can move.
 My restless heart, obey by being still and wait in cheerful hope,
 Be content to receive whatever His gracious will and discerning love has sent.
 Don’t for a minute doubt that our inmost wants are known to Him who chose us 
for His own.
 Sing, pray, and never leave His ways, but do your part faithfully.
 Trust His rich promises of grace and you will see them fulfilled in you.
 God has never abandoned anyone in need who trusted in Him.