The original lyrics to this song (published in 1843) are credited to Christian Henry Bateman (1813-1889). Bateman ministered in England and Scotland for over fifty years and wrote a handful of hymns, this one being his best-known. I gather this song’s original title may have been “Come Children Join To Sing”, which makes sense because Bateman edited songbooks widely used for children’s Sunday schools, versions which eventually reached six million in print. What an influence that part of his work must have had on children! Please sing-along with the song and come back for a chat on how this song’s message can help connect people at any age with victory both personally and as a nation.
An army brings praise to the fight
It is stunning that the Lord — who deserves praise just for who He is — actually designed things so that praise can reflect benefits back to the ones doing the praising. Please read 2 Chronicles 20 to get the details on how this worked for King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah.
To summarize, a powerful enemy army was about to wipe out the king and all of Judah. In response to this mortal threat the king and people prayed to the Lord. The Lord told them not to fear, that the battle was the Lord’s, but they needed to show up to see the victory. When they heard the word of the Lord they praised and worshiped Him. The next morning they did as the Lord had instructed and marched to the battlefield — led by a praise and worship team who declared:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
They did indeed see the deliverance of the Lord. The enemy armies turned on each other and not one of the enemy escaped or survived. It took the king and the rest of Judah three days to gather all the riches left by the defeated enemy army.
I am no army …
We love reading about the good army’s miraculous deliverance from a powerful enemy. But what about little old you and me? Is there any way our personal calamities could be handled the same way Jehoshaphat handled his? Look at Psalm 57:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.”
Are we seeing a pattern? The psalmist has “calamities” and leads with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. He says,
“I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me;” [NKJV]
Notice this is one person, not a whole country. So this seems more like our size. But what is the calamity? Is it a mighty army about to attack? He says —
“My soul is among lions”
We recall Daniel was literally among lions. That is a calamity I have not personally experienced. But this is not that.
I can imagine my soul — my mind, thoughts and emotions being tossed in every direction by “calamities”. Read the rest of the psalm and see what he was confronted with — people’s hate, people’s vicious mouths and more. The Lord does not deliver a person only when a large army is attacking. The Lord can also deliver when the problem is only a personal-size calamity. After all, even a “small” calamity can tempt us to freeze in our tracks, if we allow it to.
When it comes to the Lord, whether we are a nation facing a formidable enemy or just one person facing a calamity that is real enough to hurt “little old me” — whatever the size — we can approach the problem the same way — “Lord, my soul trusts in You.”
The Lord knows the way …
Calamities happen. Rather than freeze in fright we can be confident our Lord is able to deliver us, and we know to approach Him in prayer with praise and thanksgiving asking for His help. We know our Heavenly Father hears us when we pray, and know He has not given us a spirit of fear. We know the Lord can and will deliver us AND we can expect that there will probably be some part we need to show up for. So … we show up.
We know from records like the one in 2 Chronicles that what looked like certain destruction can turn out to be an amazing deliverance — sometimes including exceeding abundance to follow. Whatever happens, we can lead with prayer, praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and see where He brings us.
Psalm 57 closes with language we can learn from and use ourselves:
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise.
Awake, my glory!
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth. [NKJV]
When our hearts need a lift to get to “steadfast”, we can reach up to Psalm 57 and say with the psalmist — “I will sing and give praise.”
Remember to come, Christians, join to sing.
God bless you lots!
LYRICS – Come Christians Join To Sing
Original Text: Christian H. Bateman (1843)
1 Come, Christians, join to sing:
Praise to the Lord we bring:
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice,
Saved by His gracious choice.
2 Come, lift your hearts on high:
Let praises fill the sky:
Christ is our guide and friend;
On him we can depend;
Christ’s love shall never end:
3 Praise yet the Lord above:
Raise up your voice with love:
Hymns to the heavens soar
As we the Lord adore,
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