The Psalms: you’ve heard them read in church, adapted into worship songs and maybe glanced through them once or twice. But have you ever asked yourself what the message is behind this moving yet enigmatic book? Have you ever let the Psalms truly speak to you, or, to put it more accurately, let God speak to you through them? In Out of the Depths, singer and song-writer Rick Lee James invites you to do precisely that. Using a unique blend of personal stories, scholarship and pastoral insight, Rick walks you through the Book of Psalms in 10 deep and powerful chapters. He invites you to learn more, feel more and, above all, hear from God through the Psalms more than you ever have before.
Whether you’ve read the Psalms a hundred times or aren’t familiar with them at all, Out of the Depths is a book that will challenge you and help you to look at the Bible’s prayer book, the Book of Psalms, in an entirely new light.
I interviewed Rick not too long ago in one of our C|C Music Artist interviews. It was a pretty fun interview and we all learned more about Rick. Well, he is back again and toting along with him a hymn project of some pretty awesome proportions, and he needs our help to make it happen. I sent him a few questions to answer for us so we could learn more about this project. We encourage you to consider taking his $5 challenge to help make this ambitious project happen. As a bonus, Rick is also offering rewards to donors who pre-order his new project, including an exclusive trip to Nashville Tennessee to see the recording happen in the studio, giving you a chance to actually be on the making of documentary.
This album features tracks with Brandon Sipes , Brannon Hancock , Brenda Spicer Thornberry-Crabtree , Mandy Holcomb, Shawn Alex, and more.
Also, we are still raising funds for the Hymn Project. It’s a record, a film, and a documentary we want to make in Nashville with Dove award winning producer Craig Adams. Click any of the graphics below for more information on the Project. You can also click this link. http://www.GoFundMe.com/Hymns
There’s just no doubt about it, Charles Wesley was a Hymn writing machine. Most scholars believe there are around 5000 songs attributed to him. In the last few weeks I’ve been asking people, what is your favorite hymn? The most repeated answer by far is And Can It Be by Charles Wesley.
Now, You might think a song this popular among Christians of every denomination would have come from a seasoned hymn writer who had been a believer for years, but the fact is that ‘And Can It Be’ was one of the first hymns that Wesley ever wrote, and he wrote it two day safter his conversion.
Both Charles and his brother John were ordained ministers in the Anglican Church who founded a holy club which would ultimately become the Methodist church. In October of 1735 Charles and John took journey across the ocean as missionaries to the colony of Georgia. This trip did not turn out well. Both of them were largely rejected by the settlers in Savannah. In August of 1736 the Wesley brothers returned to England, broken, tired, and ill, never to return to America again. Both brothers came home asking questions about their faith. John is famously quoted as saying, “I went to convert the Indians, but oh, who shall convert me?”
After they returned home they met a Moravian named Peter Bohler. Bohler spent a great deal of time with the Wesleys discussing the Christian faith and he became a spiritual mentor to them, speaking with them often of the necessity of prayer and faith. He urged them to focus less on what they wanted to achieve for God, and more on what God could do for and through them. Charles in particular, like most creative types, viewed himself as being worthless and beyond Gods grace. Bohler said of him, “(Charles) is very much distressed in mind and does not know how he shall begin to be aquainted with the Saviour.”
In May of 1738 Charles had taken ill again and Bohler prayer at his bedside for his healing and recovery, then taking Charles hand he said, “You will not die now”. Bohler asked Charles whether he hoped to be one of the saved. Charles responded that he had used his best endeavours to serve God, believing that salvation needed to be earned. Charles fear of dying was a confirmation for him that even though he was a minister, he was not a reborn Christian.
Charles had many struggles with illness and it drove him to seek to know Christ more. On May 17, 1938, Charles was given a copy Martin Luther’s book on Galatians. In reading this Charles was shocked to find that that Bohler’s views, which he had resisted, were not new, but were also the views of Luther. That night Charles had a true experience of conversion. In a journal he wrote, “At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.”
He also journaled, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.” Two days after this experience he began writing a hymn that we now know as And Can It Be. The hymn was first published in John Wesley’s Psalms and Hymns in 1738, then in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739 with the subtitle, Free Grace. In a poetic manner, this hymn proclaims the mystery of God’s grace extended to sinners who turn in faith to the risen Christ. Wesley’s use of methor contrasting light and darkness, slavery and freedom, life and death, and Christ’s righteousness and our unworthiness is a beautiful example not only of a life transformed by Christ, but of a masterful lyricist.
In 433 A. D., the Irish King, Logaire of Tara, had enacted a decree that no one could light candles on the Eve of Easter because it coincided with the Druid Feast of Bealtine and the Spring Eqinox. It was the tradition of these Pagan festivals to observe the “fireless night”, when all fires in Ireland were to be extinguished. On the Hill of Tara, in the presence of the High King, a massive bonfire was lit and from this all other fires were to be lit. This annual spring ritual was said to transform the High King into a God-King. The bonfire on the Hill of Tara was the symbol to all that this God-King was in command of the seasons, and that spring began at his command.
Legend has it that in clear defiance of this Pagan observance, St. Patrick built a Paschal bonfire on he hill of Slane, a Christian strong point located ten miles away from the Pagan Strong Point on the Hill of Tara. Patrick built his fire before the the king of Tara built his. The fire from the Hill of Slane would have been clearly seen from the Hill of Tara, and was a blatant statement that Christ was the only God-King for the Christian. Patrick chose to honor God in spite of how it would threaten his life and the story goes that King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s bravery and devotion to Christ that he left him to continue his missionary work in Ireland.
An 8th Century Monk, Dallan Forgaill, penned the words to Be Thou My Vision as a tribute to St. Patrick and his bravery on the Hill of Slane. This hymn was translated from Irish to English in 1905 by Mary E. Byrne and in 1912, Eleanor H. Hull arranged the song into the verse most commonly found in most English hymnals today. The music that accompanies the lyrics is an ancient Irish folk tune called Slane.
This is my tribute to Patrick and to the God he served so faithfully, my rendition of Be Thou My Vision.
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
p style=”text-align:center;”> Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.