Posts Tagged ‘shape-note singing’

The magnitude of God: The eternal God

June 7, 2014

Psalm 90--2

The Verse of the Day for June 7, 2014 is found in Psalm 90:2, 4 (KJV)

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Take a look at this rendering of the verse in the Amplified Bible:

Before the mountains were brought forth or ever You had formed and given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

Here we find verses that make known the magnitude of God. Indeed, the Scriptures speak of “the God eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, to whom is due glory and honor and majesty forever and ever.” Other passages reveal the magnitude of an eternal God who is great and greatly to be praised.

1 Peter 5:10 speaks of “the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus. . . .” and 1Timothy 1:17 makes known this magnificent benediction:

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

In addition, Deuteronomy 33:27 makes a similar declaration about who God is and what He will do:

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

The passage from Psalm 90 is the inspiration for “Even from everlasting, Thou art God,”one of the popular hymns by the great 18th Century hymn writer, Isaac Watts.  This well-known hymn is offered in three different versions. The first is a “shape note anthem,” an example of “Sacred Harp singing” or “shape-note singing.” Shape notes are a music notation designed to facilitate congregational and community singing. Harp singing or shape note singing dates back to the colonial period and continues to enjoy popularity in the rural South and elsewhere.

The second version, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” comes from the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute Singers.

The third version is a contemporary rendering of “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” by Harvest Church.

Three for Twelve for 2012: God’s Crowning Achievement

March 12, 2012

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: "Twelve for Twelve in 2012."

At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:

I continue the series with the third installment “Three for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:3, posted on March 12, 2012.  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— 

a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Three for Twelve

Isaiah 62:3


Three for Twelve

 Isaiah 62:3


The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—                                                                                                                                                                               Crowning display of power, glory and victory.                                                                                                                                                                                       This one-of-a-kind crown overlaid with pure gold,                                                                                                                                                                                His crowning achievement whose worth cannot be told:                                                                                                                                                                    Beyond all the wealth of riches that crown the wise                                                                                                                                                                                 Is the crown of glory that shines before our eyes:                                                                                                                                                                                  Ever-increasing splendor never fades away;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A royal diadem shines brighter in the light of day.                                                                                                                                                                               The love that crowns us, not even death can destroy,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For nothing can ever tarnish our crown of joy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We shall behold the fullness of all that God planned:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           We are the crown of life that He holds in His hand.                                                                                     


In reflecting on Isaiah 62:3 and the poem inspired by that verse, I thought of another poem related to the aspect of crowns, as indicated in the phrase “Finishing touch on His crowning achievement” in the following reflective piece:

On My Journey

 May we see clearly where our paths have led

 And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

           Strengthened for the Journey


Sometime I feel like I’m on my journey home.

Traditional Folk Song


I am steadfast– my soul remains anchored in hope,

Eagerly watching and waiting, looking above.

Feeling during dark times that I can barely cope,

But seasons swiftly change, for I have come to know

Nothing can ever separate me from your love.

Despite appearances, you have the last say so.

Once more I seek to serve, to go where I am sent          

That my life should reflect the praise of your glory,

The finishing touch on your crowning achievement:

The surprise happy ending of this love story

When all creation finally gets back to being one,

Even as with Holy Spirit, Father, and Son.                                                     

The perfect will of God unfolds for all to see,

As I begin this new day on my journey.


“I Am on My Journey Home”–this a capella hymn is a recording from the 2009 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Harp singing or shape note singing dates back to the colonial period and continues to enjoy popularity in the rural South and elsewhere.

The phrase “crowning achievement” evokes a number of synonyms: crowning accomplishment, crowning glory, masterpiece or masterwork, showpiece, smash hit, work of a master; crowning achievement, great work or magnum opus. The essence of the verse three in Isaiah 62 is magnified and reinforced in a broader context in the New Testament with reference to the Church or the Body of Christ. As born-again believers, we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, Ephesians 2:10 declares that “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 

The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. Mike Riley has posted a most enlightening Bible Study Article “Christians Are God’s Workmanship” related to this topic.

The Church is designed to be the Crowning Achievement of God's creative wisdom.

Collectively the Church, the Body of Christ, has been designed to be a glorious masterpiece, God’s crowning achievement.  As with any magnificent work of art, there are various stages of development: Beginning with the preliminary design, we find intermediary stages with various alterations—multiple fittings—final fitting—put on finishing touches. Many times the artist will produce a prototype which is not the finished product but a replica in transition. I know first-hand that a literary work will generate numerous drafts on the way to being a masterpiece. The entire process from the initial concept to the finished product can take years until completion. Likewise, the Church is always a work in progress—always in transition, as Ephesians 4:13 reminds us of the direction we are moving in:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The Church has been designed to display the infinitely variegated, wisdom of God, as Ephesians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible reveals:

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.

Though we may not presently see the fullness of that revelation, we are ever moving in that direction. For we know that “When that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away.” The Church is always moving . . . from faith to faith . . . from glory to glory. . . from victory to victory. As we shall see to an even greater degree, the Church is God’s masterpiece, His “Crowning Achievement.”