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Favorite Hymn

On June 19, 2012 I was 79 years old, and starting to live my 80th year. I decided to write down Things I Have Learned So Far:

9. Favorite hymn

For a long time my favorite hymn has been “How Firm a Foundation.”

I love it that the first verse sets up the rest of the hymn. For the first verse basically says: There’s a firm foundation, O saints, that has been laid for your faith in God’s word. And really, what more can he say than he has already said to you—each of you who has fled to Jesus for refuge.

And then the other three verses are God speaking to you. Check out the words and the promise—God saying: I will never forsake you—never!

My love of this hymn was heightened by Bishop Leontyne Kelly, preaching at the Northern New Jersey annual conference. She is short and I believe was the first African American woman bishop. She wove the hymn into her sermon which was a celebration of our connectional system. She talked about being so proud to be a United Methodist when she was in Africa, visiting in various United Methodist projects.

Then she recited this hymn and and as she said it from memory, her excitement grew. I thought that for the first time I was going to see someone levitate. I thought we were all going to see this woman leave the floor and go up in the air. And then we sang it, and I have sung it with that excitement ever since.

Many times I feel that when we are singing a hymn we rush through it and don’t truly hear the words. But when we read it—or recite it as she did, then when we sing it, we truly get it. So before the music—first read the words.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

—–

Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

—–

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

For I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

—–

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

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!”

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