Behind the Music: He Giveth More Grace

He Giveth More Grace is one of the first “new” songs we’ve done at Calvary:Arlington. The version we do uses the original lyrics and new music written by Pastor Brett Williams from Calvary Chapel on Whidbey Island.

The song was written by Anne Johnson Flint, who by the age of 6 had lost both her parents. By her teens she had developed arthritis and soon after lost the use of her legs. Bedridden, she was covered with sores and lost control of her hands and many of her bodily functions.

The song itself was published in the 1940’s during a time of war, suffering, pain and loss.

If anyone could have been excused for writing dark and depressing lyrics it would have been a woman like Anne Flint. Instead, she focused on Jesus and the lyrics that she was inspired to write were of hope and faith.

In the Revelation of Jesus, where the writer John sees the throne room in heaven and the question is asked “who is worthy to redeem the Earth from it’s bondage of sin?” and the answer was given that no one on Earth or in Heaven was found worthy, John began to wail with tears in despair. This would have been a very understandable response for a lady like Anne Flint. People will far lesser trials easily succumb to despair and despondency. But like the Apostle John, Miss Flint saw “the Lamb who had been slain” and then saw hope for her life and her world.

This is not easy believe-ism. This is not “feel good” faith. This is a desperate clinging to the only hope humanity has. Like a shipwrecked sailor clings to a piece of wood, we who are believers cling to the cross of Calvary from where our hope comes from. We cling to the reality of an empty tomb for the strength to live a world that has caused men and women far greater than ourselves to surrender to hopelessness.

The message of the Christian faith is not the way for us to be strong. It is the realization that we have no strength. It is the moment when, like in a tag team wrestling match, we tap out and let God do the fighting for us.

I sing songs like these as a prayer: God give me the faith of people like Anne Flint, and give me the wisdom to seek Your strength and not mine.

“He Giveth More Grace”
by Annie Johnson Flint – (1866-1932)
He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase,
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

His Love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Behind the Music: All Creatures

I love hearing the stories behind the songs we sing as a church.

All Creatures of Our God and King is one of the better known songs in the western church, but I hadn’t realized how ancient and how recent it was.

The song is based on the “Canticle of the Son” by St. Francis of Assisi. It’s the work we get the lines “brother son and sister moon” from which are well known from the 1970’s movie and the inspiration for the title of an album by the band mewithoutyou.

The Canticle was written in Francis’ later life as a reflection on Psalm 145. The story goes that while on his death bed Francis had friends dictate addition words reflecting on his coming death and faith in Christ. Which are reflected in the third verse we sing at Calvary:Arlington: “And thou most kind and gentle death, waiting to hush our latest breath… thou leadest home the child of God, and Christ our Lord the way hath trod”

The modern English version is a translation and paraphrase of the Canticle by William Draper. He translated the text in 1910 for a children’s festival in England and the version was published in 1919.

I love that God inspired men through His Spirit and by His word to write word and music to express what God has done in their lives. God’s work inspired the anicent Jewish songwriters to pen Psalm 145. He cause Francis to write before his death in 1224 what became the Canticle of the Son, and for a man in 20th Century England to bring new music and a fresh lyrical perspective.

In the story of this song I see God’s inspiration and work in the lives of people across all generations. I see the timelessness of God’s work in humanity. I see in William Draper the need to update songs and expressions for a new generation, but also to reflect in the power of what Jesus did in and through a previous generation.

Most of all I love the 3rd verse of the song. I love the idea of Praising God even with our final breath.

“And thou most kind and gentle death. Waiting to hush our latest breath. Oh praise Him, alleluia.
Thou leadest home the child of God, and Christ our Lord the way hath trod! Oh praise Him!”

“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless your name forever and ever.
Each day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.” — Psalm 145:1-2