Friday, March 14, 2014

Be Thou My Vision - Trusting Like a Blind Man

By Tammy L. Hensel

His hunger for knowledge consumed him. Day and night he studied Scripture, history, and literature. But he paid a heavy price to quench this hunger. While still a young man, he lost his eyesight forever. He could have felt betrayed. Instead, he bowed to God and cried out: Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.”

Thus Irish folk legend gives us the origin of the great hymn Be Thou My Vision, ascribing the words to the 6th century monk and poet known as, Saint Dallán Forgaill, whose name meant “the blind man of eloquence.” The words of this magnificent hymn resounded in Irish churches for centuries, first as part of monastic liturgy, and then sung to an Irish folk tune called “Slane.” Although the composer remains unknown, the music originated around the 8th century. The title suggests it commemorates a famous confrontation between Saint Patrick and the High King Logaire of Tara at Slane Hill in 433. Irish linguist Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the lyrics into the English in 1905 for the rendition we know today.

Despite his disability, Saint Dallán held a position of great power and influence as Chief Ollam (Bard) of Ireland and a church scholar. The Bardic tradition goes back to the pre-Christian days when Druid poets kept the history and genealogy of the particular king or chieftain they served. When Saint Patrick converted the nation to Christianity, he incorporated poetic forms into his own writings and encouraged its use to spread the gospel. (See my blog on Saint Patrick From time to time, both before and after the nation’s conversion, disreputable bards and their followers took advantage of their positions, causing unrest among the people. This happened during Saint Dallán’s time. He worked successfully to reform the Order of Bards, which kept the king from expelling them from the country. Tradition says that Saint Dallán died during a pirate raid while visiting the Monastery of Inneskeel at Donegal.

Of course, we do not know at what point in his life Saint Dallán wrote the words to Be Thou My Vision, if he is indeed the author. But keeping his story in mind, listen to the video below. He offers every thought and emotion to the Lord—his discouragement in his blindness; his thirst for knowledge; his fears in life’s battles; and his pride at earthly accomplishments. In the end he joyously receives the victory, no longer blind, but rejoicing in the light of heaven.

Blog Copyright by Tammy L. Hensel, 2014, All Rights Reserved.


Macmanus, Seumas, The Story of the Irish Race, Old Saybroook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1921)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Shoes

PhotobucketBy Tammy L. Hensel

“You know I can’t walk the stores anymore, so will you pick out a present for me to give Danny?

I counted the money my grandmother handed me and smiled in appreciation.

“Oh, thank you. This is the exact price of the shoes we looked at in the mall.”

”Shoes? That's boring. I want to give him a toy he will be excited to open Christmas morning."

"But, he really needs shoes and we can't afford them."

I understood my grandmother’s desire to give her first great-grandchild something special. She anticipated that at 18 months old, he would truly experience the magic of the day for the first time. She wanted to have a part in creating that excitement with a marvelous toy. Yet, she also related to our practical need, having raised my mother during the Great Depression. So she agreed to give the shoes.

As Christians, God calls us to put aside our own desires to meet the needs of others. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:4-7).”

My grandmother did that, not expecting any special recognition for her gift from Danny, although she knew my gratitude. But God gave her a surprise on that Christmas morning almost thirty years ago.

Our son sat in the middle of my grandmother’s living room surrounded by brightly colored packages. We showed him how to tear the paper and soon he busily ripped into one and then another. He showed more interest in the wrappings and boxes, than he did the gifts themselves, barely playing with one toy before moving on to the next.
Then he came to the present from my grandmother. "Shooooes," he exclaimed as he held them up, pleasure radiating from his face.No other gift evoked such an animated response. Not only did he know how to say the word, he knew what to do with them. Immediately he pulled off his old shoes and stuck his toes in the new ones.

As I tied the laces, I glanced over at my grandmother’s face. It shone with unexpected joy.

copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2013 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Illuminating the darkness

By Tammy Hensel

Surprised by the sudden darkness, I stood motionless in the hotel indoor swimming pool. Taking a deep breath, I squelched the urge to panic.

"Hey, that's not funny! Turn those lights back on," someone yelled. A voice from the hallway answered, "It's a power outage. The whole hotel is dark."

The emergency back-up lights had failed, leaving us stranded in complete darkness. Fortunately, I stood close to the side of the pool. I reached for the edge and slowly inched my way in the direction of the steps.

"I have a light on my cell phone if I can find it," a young man said.

A few seconds later his small light shone into the darkness. Then another man came into the room with a flashlight. Using his added light, everyone exited the pool safely. We made our way to the lobby, where a several other people shared flashlights as the hotel night clerk lit some small emergency candles.

As I reflect on the scene, it reminds me of the verbal image Jesus painted in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Deep in the heart of the every person dedicated to Christ burns a light fueled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Under His guidance we shine that light of God's glory by serving those around us. We do not perform "good deeds" for earthly recognition or to earn our way to heaven. Rather, we do them in loving obedience to our Savior who gave His life for ours.

The first little cell phone flashlight gave off enough illumination for me to move a few feet. The second light helped me to see enough to get out of the pool and walk through the hallway. But, when I reached the lobby with several little lights shining together, I could see a whole room!

Jesus calls us a "city on a hill." We picture windows brightly lit to welcome weary travelers. The more we work together as believers, the more we illuminate Christ for the world to see. Satan strives to divert or bury our lights. He wants us to hide them under the coverings of busyness, inadequacies, or organizational differences. We become susceptible when we don't follow the Holy Spirit's guidance day-by-day. Trials, distractions, and, especially unconfessed sin can cause a temporary "power outage" or interruption in our communion with the Spirit.

Daily prayers of confession and thanksgiving help strengthen or restore our connection to the Spirit. Then, in His power, we do good works that draw lost souls to the light of God's love.

copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2012 All Rights Reserved

Video: Go Light Your World by Kathy Troccoli

Monday, April 2, 2012


Note: Today is the 40th anniversary of my public confession of faith and baptism, which occurred on Easter Sunday April 2, 1972. What a tremendous walk with the Lord I've had! In honor of that I'm re-posting something that is very special to me.

In the late 1980s I wrote and performed a dramatic monologue for our church Easter service entitled "Mary Magdalene's Testimony. I continued to share it at various churches throughout the years. In 2007 my son uploaded a video of one of my performances onto YouTube and I posted it one of the social media forums. It just so happened that the movie The Da Vinci Code had been recently released and was still in the mind of the public. Also a T.V. documentary that claimed to have discovered the tomb of Christ aired the week before I posted my video. I did not watch the program and don't recall the title, but the buzz from it created interest in Mary Magdalene. Apparently my unplanned timing for posting my video couldn't have been better. Many people wrote to me asking questions about Mary. To answer them I put together a little summary based on my research and posted it on my Myspace blog as a companion to my video. When I began writing this blog in January 2008, it was one of my first few posts, now buried in my archives. So I deleted that post to re-post it again today, after a little editing and revising.

Mary Magdalene's Testimony

By Tammy L. Hensel

My dramatic monologue "Mary Magdalene's Testimony" focuses primarily on her witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before writing it in the late 1980s, I spent several weeks researching Mary. To my surprise, I found her to be a controversial figure in church history and denominational debates. I thoroughly studied every word surrounding her in the Bible in several versions. I did not have the Internet then, but did utilize my church and public libraries, Bible commentaries, etc. in my research. I also discussed some of the discrepancies in the Biblical accounts with my pastor.

Finally, with all the research spinning around in my head, I asked the Lord to help me write something glorifying to Him and as true as possible to the Biblical account. I experienced the joy of His Presence as I wrote in a remarkable way that blessed me tremendously. It is my continuing prayer that those with whom I share it will receive that blessing too.

The video below is my presentation at Fellowship of Huntsville Church, Huntsville, TX on Easter 2006. It's not my best performance, but the only one I have on video. Please overlook my bouts of overacting, and focus on the message. Over the years, I've received several requests from people wishing to use the monologue in their own church drama ministry. Feel free to write me for a free copy.

Questions About Mary

Who was she?

Mary was:

* A native of the town of Magdala, a town in Galilee, and a woman out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:1-2)

* One of several women who donated both time and money to help support Jesus' earthly ministry and she was a devoted disciple of His teachings (Luke 8:3).

* An eyewitness to the crucifixion, burial and the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 27:55, Matt 28:1, Mark 15:40, John 20:1-13, Acts 1:14)

Mary was not:

* The woman Jesus saved from being stoned for adultery in John 8:3-11. This woman is unnamed but since this happened in the Mount of Olives region she was most likely a woman local to that region.

* The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with perfume and kissed his feet.

There were actually two separate occurrences of this. In one the woman is identified as Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus. It happened in Bethany at their home (John 12:1-4) Although some tradition would combine the two Marys as one, it is very unlikely given the separate Biblical accounts of these two women.

The other occurred at the home of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:33) The woman is identified merely as a "sinner" and her name is not given. There is no Biblical evidence to connect her with Mary Magdalene or any of the other women who are mentioned by name as being followers of Jesus. It is purely supposition that has done so.

Was Mary a prostitute before becoming a follower of Jesus?

The teaching that Mary was a prostitute came from oral tradition. All we know from the Bible about her past is that she was possessed by seven demons. However, it does not take much imagination to believe that anyone possessed by demons led an unholy life. One cannot deny the possibility that this oral tradition did have some basis in fact, but it cannot be proven through the Biblical record.

Was Mary more intimate with Jesus than any other woman mentioned in connection with Him?

In fact, the women mentioned in the Bible as most intimate terms with Him are his mother, of course, and Mary and Martha of Bethany. It is clear that Jesus was close with that family. Perhaps it is the fact that Mary Magdalene was one of the first people to whom He appeared after the Resurrection that has raised so much speculation about a romantic relationship between them.

I submit, however, that He appeared to Mary first because she was seeking Him! Mary's grief spurred her to seek the truth about what happened to Jesus, regardless of her own safety. When she did find Him and realized He was alive, she did not rush into arms as a lover would have, but fell to the ground and worshiped Him as her Lord God.

The resurrected Christ still makes Himself known to those who seek Him today.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me." Revelations 3:20

Copyright April 17, 2007. Revised April 2, 2012 Tammy L. Hensel All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Unopened Gift
By Tammy Hensel

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”—Ephesians 2:8 (NASB)

It looked so lonely sitting there under the tree—unopened, unwanted. My twelve-year old mind just couldn’t understand it. How could anyone not want a Christmas gift?

A few hours earlier the room teemed with much anticipated activity. Almost every Christmas Eve during my childhood my family gathered at the home of one of my grandmother’s ten siblings. We kids played “Santa’s helpers,” as we read the nametags and distributed the gifts.

“Here, Grandmother, another one for you. It’s so pretty.” I admired the beautifully wrapped package as I offered it to her. To my surprise, she refused to take it.

“Who’s it from? I already have my name gift.” She checked the tag. “Edna, you aren’t supposed to give me anything this year.” Many years before, my grandmother’s family agreed to draw names for giving among the eleven siblings. However, once in a while, not everyone obeyed the rules. Edna told her the gift was for her, but my grandmother was adamant.

Photobucket“Put it back under the tree.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Sadly, I obeyed. Once in a while, someone who hadn’t heard the exchange picked up the gift and again tried to give it to Grandmother. Each time she refused and ordered it back under the tree. When the party ended and we walked out the door, I turned back to look once more at the unopened gift, sitting so beautifully under the Christmas tree.

Think of the above story as a parable. God offers a beautiful gift to all mankind—eternal life with Him. Have you opened it? Or is it still sitting under your Christmas tree?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Applying Diligence

By Tammy L. Hensel

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.—2 Peter 1:5-7

A few weeks ago I had an arthritis flare-up in my neck and shoulder. Every morning I wake up feeling stiff until I get over to the pool for my morning work-out. After an hour of laps and pool exercises, ending with several minutes in the whirlpool, I feel a lot better. I'm energized and ready for a productive day.

That is until I sit at the computer too long, bend my neck the wrong way, or lift something too heavy. Then pain acts as a barometer letting me know that I need to change my activity. Now, I can either ignore the warning and keep going or I can listen to its voice to avoid further aggravating my condition. It takes daily diligence to not undo the benefits I receive from my morning exercise.

Reading and meditating on God's word is also part of my morning routine. Often I discover a new nugget of truth that I want to apply to my life. Or I'm convicted of something I need to change. I intend to follow through, but sometimes circumstances come up that distract or tempt me from my resolve. In John 14:26, Jesus promised, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."

Often the Holy Spirit reminds me of something from Scripture in the nick of time to keep me from stumbling, just as the first twinge of pain in my neck reminds not to bend that way. If I don't listen to His gentle warning, I soon regret it, just as I feel the consequences of not taking a break from the computer when my neck starts hurting. Yet, even when I fall, He wraps me in the soothing balm of His love, forgiveness and peace. With His peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7),He calms my heart much more than the hot water of the whirlpool that relieves my aching joints.

Diligence in my exercise program helps me to strengthen my body and better manage my chronic pain. Spiritual diligence strengthens my walk with God, building in me a godly character so that I can share the peace, love and joy He gives with others.

copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2011 All Rights Reserved

Video: Let the peace of God reign - Hillsong Updated

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Wonder of Redemption

By Tammy L. Hensel

". . . knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."—1 Peter 1:18-19

As a child I loved collecting trading stamps to take to the redemption store. I recall the wonder of seeing the stamps magically emerge from the cash register at the grocery store. Then I carefully pasted them into the special books, always counting ahead to see how many more I had to fill before I could "redeem" them for something precious.

Trading stamps went out of vogue around 1980, the year I married. At a bridal shower all of my female relatives gave me their saved up stamps to redeem before our local store closed down. Boy, did I feel rich! I traded them for dishes, pots and pans, and many other items to help us set up housekeeping. The best thing I got was a canister vacuum cleaner, which I still use to today, more than 30 years later!

Yet, the wonder I felt as a child about trading stamps pales significantly compared to the awestruck wonder I feel when I consider the eternal redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that Jesus redeemed us with His own precious blood. Through His sacrifice He paid the penalty for my sin. He liberated me from my bondage to sin and empowered me with His Holy Spirit.

The items I got with my trading stamps were made with purpose. But as long as they sat in the store unredeemed they were unable to fulfill that purpose. It is the same with mankind. God created us to love, worship, and serve Him. The only way we can do that is to embrace the precious gift of redemption.

copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved

Video: Another great Gaither praise video of an awesome hymn.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Patwork Spirituality

By Tammy Hensel

Saturday evening my husband and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. For some reason I rejoiced to see that we were not the only ones whose lawn sported a patchwork look of green and brown grass.

Our property has an in-ground sprinkler system, installed by a previous owner, that doesn't water the yard evenly. And our many trees deprive some of the grass by blocking the sprinkler spray from reaching certain areas. I know I need to gives these areas extra water, and do so occasionally, but not consistently.

Seeing that most of my neighbors have the same problem, made me feel a little less guilty that I wasn't providing the nourishment my lawn needed to flourish. Then we came to a yard that was completely green! Not one brown patch in sight! Obviously the owners valued their lawn enough to water every area. When I arrived back at my house, I gave the brown patches a little TLC.

Unfortunately, I allow the same inconsistency in my spiritual life as I do in watering my yard. There are I times I soak myself in the word of God and experience amazing new spiritual growth. Other times I let either the busyness or entertainments of the world deny me spiritual refreshment, much like the trees in my yard block the water from reaching the grass. The result is patchwork spirituality, with dry spells that open me up to temptation and discouragement, while robbing me of my joy in the Lord.

Fortunately, our Lord offers us a well-spring of living water that can nourish us back from the driest of spiritual dry spells. King David penned Psalm 63 in just such a period of spiritual dryness. In verses 1-8, he shows us the way to spiritual renewal: confess our need and recognize the awesome lovingkindness of our God.

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me." (NASB)

As I follow King David's advice — seek God earnestly, fill my mouth with praise and my heart with meditation on His word — then my brown patches fade and my spirit begins to thrive again.


Here is a song based on Psalm 63 by one of my favorite music groups Acapella:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jesus Paid It All - In Full!

Jesus Paid It All – In Full!
PhotobucketBy Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

What would you do if you had a benefactor who paid your bills for you every month so that every statement you received was stamped Paid-In-Full? How amazing that would be!

So much more amazing is the fact that our debt of sin has been Paid-In-Full by Christ’s death on the Cross. That is the truth that inspired Elvina Marble Reynolds Hall (Meyers) to pen the words to Jesus Paid It All.

Jesus Paid It All
Words by Elvina Hall
Music by John T. Grape

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Elvina Hall was born June 4, 1822 in Alexandria, VA. None of my sources listed her mother’s name, but her father was Capt. David Reynolds. She married Richard Hall and they were active members of Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore.

One Sunday in the spring of 1865, she was overwhelmed during the sermon with the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice in her behalf. The words to a poem of thanksgiving formed in her mind, so she wrote them on the flyleaf of her hymnal. Although a little sheepish for writing in the church hymnbook, she presented it to her pastor, Reverend George Schreck’s, following the service. (My sources varied on the spelling of this name. I found it as Schreck, Schnick, Schrick)

We do not know the exact text of Rev. Schreck’s sermon that day, but there are many Bible verses that correlate with the message of this hymn. The verses that first came to my mind reading over these lyrics were:

1 John 1:2
And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him

Isaiah 1:18
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Some days later Schreck went to visit the church choir director, John T. Grape, a successful coal merchant and amateur musician/composer. Grape played for him a tune he had written and Schreck thought it went perfectly with Hall’s poem. Grape wrote about the event:

Rev. George W. Schreck called on me to select anything new that I had to offer. On hearing this piece he expressed his plea sure with it and stated that Mrs. Elvina M. Hall had written some words that would just suit the music. I gave him a copy of it and it was soon sung in several churches here in Baltimore [Maryland] and well received. At the suggestion of friends I sent a copy to Professor Theodore Perkins and it was published in Sabbath Carols. Under the providence of God it has been going ever since. I trust that it has not failed to accomplish some good to my fellowmen for the glory of God.

After her husband Richard’s death, Hall married a Methodist minister, Thomas Myers in 1885. She died at Ocean Grove, NJ, on July 18, 1889. Other than the story of her writing of this hymn, I found little else about her life. John T. Grape was born in Baltimore Maryland May 6, 1835 and died there November 2, 1915. Besides being choir director and organist for the church, he was also very involved in the Sunday school.

VIDEO: I was hoping to find a video with all the verses, but couldn’t find one. I chose this video because I think these young people did an excellent job.

"Jesus Paid It All" - MS Baptist All-State Youth Choir & Orchestra 2008


Friday, February 12, 2010

Even Babies Sing "To God Be The Glory"

By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

It is a snapshot etched in my memory. We were visiting my grandmother for the day and my two young sons went outside to play. My oldest was somewhere between 4 and 5 years old and his brother barely walking. So I was keeping a strict watch on them from the window. Suddenly I discovered they were out of my line of vision. Heart pounding I raced outside to be sure they hadn't found a way out of the enclosed backyard. As I turned the corner of the house my worry changed into great joy.

"Praise Lord . . . praise Lord," I heard my oldest singing at the top of his voice as he stood in front of his brother waving his hand like a choir director. My baby sat on a log and though he couldn't say the words he joined in with enthusiastic "Ah, ah, ah, ah," clearly following the tune to the chorus of "To God Be The Glory." Oh, how their sweet young voices thrilled my heart!

Here are the beautiful words my youngsters were singing in their young hearts, even if they couldn't really master their articulation:

“To God Be The Glory”
Words By Fanny Crosby (1820–1915)
Music: By W. Howard Doane (1832-1915)

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Known as one of the most prolific American hymn writers, Frances Jane Crosby (Fanny) was already one of the most famous published American women poets of her time before she ever penned her first hymn at age 41. Hers was an amazing life and one well worth studying. As I will cover more of her hymns in this series, I will share bits and pieces of what I have discovered about her in each one.

Fanny was blinded at age 6 months by the mistreatment of a an eye infection by an incompetent doctor. Her father died when she was only one year old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She began writing poetry at age 8 and published her first book at age 24. She was also a teacher at the New York School for the Blind and a popular speaker. Before her death at age 92, she had authored somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 hymns and more than 1,000 secular poems and songs. The exact number of her hymns is unknown because of the practice of hymnbook editors of assigning pen names. For some reason the editors felt they should not use too many hymns by the same person, so often used pseudonyms to disguise their favorite writers. Fanny was published under more than 200 different names.

To God Be The Glory was one of several hymns on which Fanny collaborated with composer W. Howard Doane. Besides being a prolific composer of more than 2,000 hymns, Doane was also a successful businessman and inventor. He was president of the J. A. Fay woodworking machinery company, and patented more than 70 inventions.

I could not find any information on how or when Fanny and Doane met, but apparently it became common for Doane to bring a composition to play for Fanny. As she listened to the music the lyrics began to form in her heart. While the inspiration behind some of their hymns are preserved through letters and memoirs of Fanny, Doane, and people who knew them the writing of "To God Be The Glory" is a mystery. There is simply no mention of it.

Although we do not know if there was a particular verse or passage of which Fanny was thinking when she penned the hymn, its theme is found throughout scripture. God has done great and wonderful things, the very greatest of which is the gift of His Son as our redeemer.

He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 (KJV)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (KJV)

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV)

We do not know exactly what year the hymn was written, but Ira Sankey, songleader for D. L. Moody, used it at a crusade in England in 1873 and included it in his Sacred Songs and Solos, published in 1874 in England, but not in his American version Gospel Hymns. Its first publication in America was in the 1875 collection Brightest and Best compiled by Doane and Robert Lowry It was picked up by a few other American hymnals in the following years, but for the most part remained unknown to American churches.

Then a little over 80 years after Sankey used it in England, it was chosen by songleader, Cliff Barrows for Billy Graham's 1954 London Crusade.
It was suggested that we include "To God Be The Glory" in a song-book we were compiling for the London crusade of 1954. Because of its strong text of praise and its attractive melody, I agreed. We introduced the hymn during the early days of those meetings in Harringay Arena. As a result, Billy Graham asked that we repeat it often because he was impressed with the enthusiastic participation of the audience. In the closing weeks of the crusade it became our theme hymn, repeated almost every night. The words well expressed our praise to God, who was doing wondrous things in Britain.

Popular gospel singer George Beverly Shea sang the song the next year at Graham's Toronto Crusade and soon it became one of his standards. His tender rendition propelled it into popularity and it soon became a well-loved hymn sung in churches everywhere.

I looked on YouTube to see if I could find a video of Shea singing the song, but there wasn't one. However, I think the video below does justice to this truly inspirational hymn.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Cherishing The Old Rugged Cross

By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

The Old Rugged Cross has been called one of the most beloved hymns written in the 20th century. In fact I am writing this blog by special request from one of my faithful readers who wrote me of his love for it. I am so glad he asked me to review it, as I have been very blessed by my research on the song and its author. Both the lyrics and the music were written by Rev. George Bennard (1873-1958).

Here are the beloved lyrics:

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Bennard, who was born in Ohio and raised in Iowa, made a confession of faith in Christ at a Salvation Army meeting sometime before the age of sixteen. When he was that age, his father died and he had to help support his mother and sisters. This delayed, but did not derail, his ambition to become an evangelist. After he married, he and his wife became brigade leaders for the Salvation Army in Illinois, until he was ordained as a minister in the Episcopal Methodist Church. Finally, his dream came true, as he joined the revival circuit as a travelling evangelist in Michigan and New York.

While in preparation for a series of revivals in 1913, Bennard was overwhelmed by the incredible sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It helped him to see his own trials in a new perspective. "'I saw the Christ of the Cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption,' he said later." (

John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. KJV

Another related verse mentioned in a couple of my sources as inspiration for the hymn is 1 Peter 2:24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV

Bennard wrote the music on that day, but the only lyric that came out of his anguished soul was "I'll cherish the old rugged cross." He said later that he struggled for weeks for just the right words to express his deep spiritual experience. He wrote: "I composed the melody first The words that I first wrote were imperfect. The words of the finished hymn were put into my heart in answer to my own need." (101 Hymn Stories, p.255)

He sang his finished work for the first time at a revival meeting in the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon. Mich., with the church choir joining him from his penciled notes.
The old church is now on the National Historic Register known as The Original Old Rugged Cross Church. It was restored and is maintained by The Old Rugged Cross Foundation. It had served as a barn by a farmer who bought it from the church when they moved to a new location.

Below is a YouTube video from the Gaither Israel Homecoming DVD filmed on Golgotha hill. I only wish they had included more verses of this truly great hymn that will be cherished for many years to come.

101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck (1982 Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 254-256)

Friday, December 4, 2009



By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved

In a sermon during the Christmas season last year, our pastor mentioned that the Christmas carol Joy To the World, penned by Isaac Watts, was actually written about the SECOND coming of Christ, not the first. Intrigued by that claim, I decided to research Isaac Watts and the song.

Watts was one of the most prolific hymn lyricists of all times, having written more than 750 hymns. He was also a theologian and logician, writing many articles and books on these subjects, including a logic textbook.

Joy to the World was part of a book The Psalms of David published in 1719, in which he paraphrased several Psalms in his own lyrical style. Lowell Mason used an adaptation of portions of Handel’s Messiah to give the poem its present tune. Mason’s original name for his music composition was Antioch, but in 1839, it appeared in a collection he edited as Joy to the World with the Watts poem as lyrics.


Words by Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748)

Music by Lowell Mason (1792 – 1872)

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Watts’ inspiration for this particular poem was Psalm 98, which prophesizes the coming of Messiah as victorious king and judge.

Psalm 98 (KJV)

O sing unto the LORD a new song;

For he hath done marvellous things:

His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

The LORD hath made known His salvation:

His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel:

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth:

Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Sing unto the LORD with the harp;

With the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

With trumpets and sound of cornet

Make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;

Tthe world, and they that dwell therein.

Let the floods clap their hands:

Let the hills be joyful together

Before the LORD; for He cometh to judge the earth:

With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.

When you think of the lyrics as relating to Psalm 98 and the second coming, it makes the message even clearer. In the time between His first advent and His second, the hearts of men are being prepared to welcome Him with joyful praise. In fact all the earth will praise and welcome Him.

Phil. 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The curse on the earth will be broken. Sin and sorrow will no longer reign throughout the earth or in the heart of man. It is a beautiful message filled with the "wonders of His love."

Revelation 19:7-9 7 "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

What a wonderful day that will be! The joy in the Lord we have today is but a foreshadowing of the joy we will have that day. This is the wonderful truth Isaac Watts so brilliantly wrote about in his lyric. I encourage you to sing this song not just at Christmas, but all year long to proclaim - JOY TO THE WORLD - HE CAME AND HE IS COMING AGAIN!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update on my many projects, including website for Cross Reference Writers

Just wanted to post an update to all my readers to let you know I haven't forgotten you. Here is an overview of my recent projects.

Cross Reference Writers

In February we formed a new Christian Writers group here in the Brazos Valley Texas called Cross Reference Writers. We meet the first Thursday of the month on the campus of Blinn College in Bryan. I just finished putting up a simple website for us using Google sites just to give us a web presence. I am also working on post cards to send out to local churches asking them to put a notice about us in their bulletins and newsletters.

Writing projects:
I am now a contributing writer to Brazos Insite Magazine, a regional magazine for the Brazos Valley. My first article came out in May and is about The Holistic Garden complex on the Texas A&M Campus. My next article will appear in July. This is a print magazine, so don't have a link to post.

I am working on more pieces to submit to Churchmouse Publications as they are about to launch their website. They are a Christian syndication group.

My husband and I recorded many of our ideas for our marriage book and I am beginning to transcribe the tape. I have made a book outline and written a preface.

Home and Family:
My younger son, and a niece and nephew graduated from college this month and we gave them a big party, so much of my time early in the month was spent organizing that event. It was fun and we are so proud of all of them!

We are still working on moving into this house we purchased last summer. We are finally emptying out our storage units, which means we are surrounded by boxes again. I am especially anxious to unpack books related to marriage to use as references in our book. I know I have several I want to look at again. I also need to organize the room we have remodeled into an office.

And I am working on my yard, trying to bring some order to the gardens that went untended for a year or more. Need to do that before it gets too hot for me to work out there.

You can see why blogging has not been a top priority with me. Lots to do this summer. However, I will try to post another in my hymn series soon.

Blessings to all!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This is something that I have done on my Myspace blog for the last two years and decided today to try it on this blog also. Here is how a "blog prayer rally" works: When you visit my blog take some time to pray for the requests here and then if you have a request for a family member or friend who works for any level of government - local school district, city, county, state or federal government - please leave a prayer request for them. You can be general and do not have to even leave their name. Just enough so that we can bring them before the Lord. We especially want to pray for those serving in the military. If you request pray for a member of the armed forces, please DO NOT give identifying information, such as unit designation or the specific town where they are located.



Please join me in praying for our nation and all our public servants and government employees.

PRAY FOR OUR NATIONAL LEADERS: Our president and all those who work in the executive branch. Our legislators, specifically your state's senators and Congressmen. Pray for the Federal judges from the Supreme Court to the Federal District Courts.
PRAY FOR STATE LEADERS: Pray for your governor, legislators, and judges.

PRAY FOR COUNTY AND CITY OFFICIALS: Pray for your county and city officials and all who work with them.

PRAY FOR OUR SCHOOL DISTRICTS: Pray for all employees of your local school districts, especially for teachers and administrators.

PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS: Say special prayers for our young men and women serving in the military, both at home and abroad!

As always, I ask you to keep my son Danny in your prayers. He is currently serving overseas.

PRAYER: Here is the prayer from the 2009 National Day of Prayer website:

2009 Prayer for Our Nation

by Beth Moore, Honorary Chairman

Father in Heaven,

We lift our eyes toward Your Throne, where You reign in righteousness.

Your Word assures us that when Your people cry out in sincerity and humility, You will never turn a deaf ear to us.

We call upon You now, seeking Your forgiveness and favor.

Look over this fevered landscape and heal us, Lord.

Drop knees to the floor and raise eyes to the sky, for we know where our help comes from.

Unite these States again in devotion to You, and blur every dividing line.

Do not give us over to our sins. Give us, instead, over to passionate prayer that moves Your heart.

“May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”

In the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ


Please leave a prayer request.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Story That Was Finally Told

This is a short story I wrote over 30 years ago for my high school literary magazine. It won the prize for the best entry. I am thinking of revising it for submission to a literary magazine, so I would love some constructive suggestions from my writer/editor friends.

The Story That Was Finally Told
By Tammy Reynolds (aka Tammy L. Hensel)

The children crowded around the old man like birds waiting to be fed.

"Tell us a story, Papa, please!"

Papa, can tell you a story later, it's time for your nap," said their mother as she herded the children out of the room.

Nathan McHannon lay back in the comfortable armchair which was as ancient as the old man himself. Born in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, he had inherited from his Scotch-Irish ancestors his bullheadedness, his authoritative manner, his compassion, and his love and loyalty to his country and family. All these qualities, plus a deep faith in God had sustained him through the storms of a changing world. His five brothers had died, making him the head of a family of three generations of nieces and nephews. Each had listened and loved his tales of his boyhood antics and struggles of a lifetime.

The old man's wrinkled, weary face was comfortably resting on the pillows; but his mind was not succumbing to the power of sleep. Instead, it had transferred to a different place and time. From the comfortable chair in his grand-niece's Texas farm to a bright mountainside - to a snowy day when he was a young man -- to Clarissa. . . .

The snow was up to Nat's knees as he made his way to Clara's house. He was filled with the foolish, unexplainable joy of a young man in love. She stood waiting for him, a pink glow on her cheeks, chestnut hair circling her face and crowning her shoulders, and her warm beautiful eyes sparkling at him from beneath coy eyelashes. That was the day he had proposed. They had a wondrous time in the snow, full of secret moments and childish games. Snowball fights, snowmen, angels in the snow, skating on the pond --

The ancient mind returned to the farmhouse. The children were there, lively from their nap and clamoring for a story. Nathan looked at them, he knew this would be the last story he ever told. Opening the wrinkled old lips, he spoke in a trembling, cracked voice. When I was a young man, I knew a very beautiful girl. She was full of kindness and love for everyone. In springtime, we collected flowers and took baskets to all the sick and poor."

The old man's voice broke off here. The children were silent. They sensed something was wrong and all they could do was keep quiet.

"One day we were walking in the mountain snow. It was my idea to go skating. I thought the ice was thick enough."

The old man's eyes closed and his voice rose with great intensity.

"Don't go too far until I check the ice. Clara, come back. The ice may be too thin. Clara! Clarissa!

Ninety-eight year-old Nathan McHannon opened his eyes for the last time. He looked at his family. Then he closed his eyes again. A bright light surrounded him and he could see a figure motioning to him. He walked slowly toward it. The figure became clearer now, a flowing white gown, chestnut hair, sparkling eyes, white arms outstretched. With a leap of joy, the man went to meet his bride.

Copyright 1976 Tammy L. Reynolds All Rights Reserved

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Blog Carnival

Mary Moss of the blog Divinely Designed/ sent me an invitation to participate in "an Easter blog carnival" by Angela at Becoming Me Thru linking several Easter blogs. I linked onto Angela's blog, but since I didn't get a chance to write a new Easter themed blog this year, I want to direct you to several I posted last year. The links are in my blog archives to the right side of my blog. The first is one posted in January 2008 that includes my original dramatic presentation on the testimony of Mary Magdalene. Then if you click on March, you will find two blogs entitled "Consider The Cross" and "Jesus The Ultimate Fall Guy." Feel free to comment on those blogs.

If you have a post about the true meaning of Easter or want to read some really inspirational blogs, please visit Becoming Me Thru to share in the fun.

Happy Easter everyone. HE IS RISEN!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Things You Need To Know If You Have A Blog Or Profile Site

By Tammy L. Hensel

As a journalism student at Baylor I took a basic course in media law which covered much on the “cans” and “cannots” of publishing. I have tried to keep up with changes to these laws through years, but I didn't think about how they applied to the Internet until a couple of years ago when I joined Myspace. (Of course the Internet wasn’t around when I was in college, so it wasn’t covered in my course.) As I viewed profiles, read blog comments and bulletins, I was amazed at how much potential for privacy and libel lawsuits I saw there. Here are a few things everyone who has an Internet site needs to know.

Your profile is your newspaper.

Publishing something on an internet site or forum is like publishing it in a newspaper or book. You are in a sense writing your autobiography on your profile or blog. You own the copyright to all original material you post. No one may copy it or forward it to anyone else without your express permission. But the content does become public information because you are making yourself a public figure. That means that others may gain information about you from your sites and use it as long as they don’t copy it word for word, without attributing it to you. More and more employers, journalists, and law enforcement officers are using Internet social sites as sources for information in their investigations. That is legal because it is public information, regardless of your “privacy settings.”

Keep from crossing the line between free speech and privacy laws.

Invasion of privacy and libel laws that pertain to all media also apply to profile sites and blogs. I have noticed much on the social sites that could qualify as violations of these laws. For the most part this happens because people are just uninformed and not used to thinking like a journalist. They think anything and everything is covered by the right to “free speech.” Or they think of it as private chatter. But privacy and libel laws draw a line as to what may be published about a another person. Sometimes it takes the courts to decide when the line is crossed. I foresee that in the future we will see more and more lawsuits brought against people for things they post on Internet social sites and blogs. So be careful!

The only private Internet communications are emails. In my research I discovered that it violates privacy law to forward emails without permission. Don’t forward or post on your blog anything that doesn’t have express permission in it, such as the words “please forward.” Never forward or even quote from a private letter without permission from the other person.

Privacy and copyright laws apply to your pics too.

You find a box of old school photos and you want to post them on your Facebook page to share with your old friends. However, you are in contact with some of the people, so you can't get permission. My advice is DON’T POST IT! You do own the copyright to that photo because you took it. But privacy law prohibits the publishing in a public forum photos without the permission of the subject. You never know what may embarrass another person.

You do not own the copyright to photos you did not take or inherit, even if you purchased them. So when you get that family portrait made, be sure and ask the photographer for permission to upload the photo to your website. There are photo and graphics sharing sites, such as photobucket, for people to post photos they want to share with others. Remember when you share your photos there you are granting others royalty-free permission to use your photo. I think most of these sites have certain usage restrictions to which members agree. Most stipulate that you cannot use the photos for commercial purposes. Usually the site will have their name attached to the pictures, so people will know where you got them. If there is not you should protect yourself by saying where you got the photo. Never copy a photo or a logo from a site that does not specifically give permission for it.

Be an informed participant!

The Internet is a fun and useful tool for social interaction, networking, and exchanging information. Just remember that the key to avoiding problems is to be informed.


A good resource I recently purchased is The Law (in plain English) for Writers by Leonard D. DeBoff and Bert P. Krages, II.

Here are some Internet articles I found:

Common Questions & Answers About Copyrights: A Simple Guide for Photographers, Artists, Illustrators, Writers, Musicians and Other Creative Individuals By Andrew "Drew" Epstein

Copyright and the Internet By Virginia Montecino

The Law for Photographers: Do I Need Permission? By Dianne Brinson, a copyright attorney, for PhotoSecrets

Copying Old Photographs: Infringement of Copyright Laws?

If you know of any other good resources, please share them in comments.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Saint Patrick Challenge

The Saint Patrick Challenge

By Tammy L. Hensel

As a child St. Patrick’s Day meant very little to me, except that if I didn’t wear green someone would pinch me. I had no clue who Saint Patrick was or why someone one named a day after him. Most inquires along those lines usually ended with a story of him being sort of a pied-piper who drove all the snakes out of Ireland.

Even today I find there are many Christians who know very little about Patrick or what he really did to deserve the honor of a special day. I want to share with you an astounding quote I read in The Story of the Irish Race by Seumas MacManus (Copyright 1921 Fourth edition published by Konecky & Konecky. I found this book on the bargain book table at a local book store. As a history buff just couldn’t resist it.)

“The coming of Patrick to Ireland marks the greatest of Irish epochs. Of all most momentous happenings in Irish history, this seemingly simple one had the most extraordinary, most far-reaching effect. It changed the face of the nation, and utterly changed the nation’s destiny. The coming of Patrick may be said to have had sublime effect not on Ireland alone, but upon the world. It was a world event.” (p. 109)

Scholars differ on where Patrick was born, but it is thought the year was 385. His family lived both in the Dumbarton region in the Northern Roman colony of Briton (Scotland) and in Brittany in Gaul (France). His father was a Roman official in the region and there are records of him at both places during the time period, although most sources I read lean toward the Scottish location as Patrick’s birthplace. Patrick was christened in the Christian church with the name Succat. When he was about 16 years old, he and his two sisters were captured in an Irish raid. He was sold to a farmer and assigned shepherding duties.

Succat (Patrick) later wrote that at the time of his capture he was not living the life of a devout Christian. According to MacManus, “He confesses in his biography that in his wayward youth at home he had forgotten God, and from Him wandered into the ways of sin. Alone with his herd upon Sliab Mis during the day and the night, the months and the seasons, his spirituality was reawakened.” (p. 110)

Like Joseph and David, God used the circumstances of Succat’s life to prepare him for a great destiny. During those years, he learned the language, the customs, and the heart of his captors. He learned to listen for the voice of God and follow His lead. After about six years in captivity, he escaped from Ireland and returned to his homeland with a desire to learn all he could about the great God he now served with all his heart. He traveled through much of the Christian west at that time and spent some time studying under his mother’s uncle, St. Martin of Tours. At some point he had a vision of a man from Ireland calling to him with the words, “come to us, O holy youth, and walk among us.” (p111)

With a commission from Pope Celestine, who consecrated him as Patricious, Bishop of Ireland. Patrick returned to the land of his captivity, knowing the perils he would face. He traveled the island, preaching the gospel, establishing schools and monasteries, and tearing down pagan shrines. Despite often life-threatening opposition, Patrick so demonstrated Christ’s love to the people, that soon they opened their hearts to both he and his God.

MacManus wrote “. . . when we contrast the two widely differing natures of the Irish people who before Patrick were carrying the ruthless law of the sword far over sea and land, and that very different Irish people who, after Patrick left the conquering sword to be eaten by rust, while they went far and wide again over sea and land, bearing now to the nations – both neighbouring and far off – the healing balm of Christ’s gentle words. All histories of all countries probably could not disclose to the most conscientious searcher another instance of such radical change in a whole nation’s character being wrought within the lifespan of one man.” (p. 126)

To me this statement is an awesome testimony, not just to the man Patrick, but to his witness for Christ and the power of God in his life. It is clear from Patrick’s own writings that he gave all glory to God for his accomplishments. How many of us can say that we practice God’s love so completely that the whole character of a nation could be influenced by our witness? MacManus adds, “An unquenchable burning desire for bringing souls to Christ was the passion of Patrick’s life. And he pursued his passion with an unremitting perseverance, with a greatness of mind and grandeur of soul that has infrequently been paralleled in missionary annals, and seldom surpassed.” (p. 126)

What a legacy to leave! To me this is the challenge Patrick’s life inspires – to have that same unquenchable desire, passion and devotion to Christ so that I share His love and message to all I meet. Will you also accept that challenge today?


This one of the greatest and most loved of all traditional Irish hymns. The music is an Irish folk tune that predates Saint Patrick. While some say the words were penned during Patrick’s lifetime, others attribute it to a 6th century Irish poet names Dal­lan For­gaill. Either way it is definitely part of Patrick’s legacy to us today. It was translated from ancient Irish into English in 1905 by Mary E. Byrne.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Premio Dardos Award - Thank you Lillie

Lillie Amman of A Writer's Word,An Editor's Eye has honored me with the Premio Dardos Award. I am so honored! I humbly accept.

Premio Dardos means “prize darts” in Italian. It is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.

The rules are as follows.

First, accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and link to his/her blog.

Second pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

It's been a while since I had time to read blogs, so I am taking this opportunity to revisit some of my favorites and peruse some on my "read when I have time list." Some of the writers I am tagging are publishing veterans and some are novices testing their writing skills by blogging. Either way, they are worth noting with applause for being willing to share with all of us.

If you have previously received this award, it shows how much your blog deserves to be recognized. If some of the bloggers I’m honoring do not participate in memes and similar activities or if you aren’t comfortable acknowledging or passing it on, just ignore the award. However, please accept my appreciation for your great blog!

These are listed in alphabetical order by the blog's name

777 Peppermint Place by Linda Yezak

A musing Mom Speaks by Lara

Carla's Pathways - Journaling the Journy by Carla Gade

Chrissy Siggee by Chrissy Siggee (of course)

Heading Home by Lynn Mosher

Iona's blog by Iona Hoeppner

Janey's News by Janey Demeo

Joyful Scribe by Karlene Jacobson

My Walk of Faith by Diana DePriest

Not mine, but God's story by Tammy Rude

On The Write Track book reviews by Linda Schab

The Surrendered Scribe by Julie Arduini

Wordsculptures by Keith Wallis

Write By Faith by Thomas Smith

Writing with God's hope by Janet K. Brown

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hymn Series - It Is Well With My Soul


Last year a friend sent me a link to a wonderful site called the Cyber Hymnal, which is now called Hymn Time It has thousands of wonderful church hymns, many which I have loved for years, and hundreds of which I have never heard.

As much as I love contemporary praise music, I think it is sad that we are losing these great hymns in our worship. They are so rich in doctrine and speak of great struggles and victories. So I hope especially my younger readers, will take some time to listen and appreciate these classic worship songs.

A few months ago I began copying the words of a hymn and posting it on my Myspace Dedicated To Christ profile. I tried to change it every couple of weeks or so. Now I feel led to post these hymns as a blog series instead on both my Myspace blog and here. I will include brief histories of the hymns and the writers and composers. I will also add a Scripture reference and a little about how each hymn encourages me. When I can find a video on YouTube I will add it also.

(I know I promised that my next blog series would be on the subject of prayer, and I will still pursue that as I have time. It will take more preparation than this hymn series, and I want to be at a point where I can do justice to it. My schedule right now is so hectic. When I do I will intersperse it with this series.)

I am going to begin the series with one of my favorite hymns: It Is Well With My Soul.

It Is Well With My Soul
Words by Horatio Gates Spafford 1828-1888
Music by Philip Paul Bliss1838-1876

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Spafford was born in New York, but was living in Chicago just before this song was written. He died in Jerusalem, Israel in 1888 at the age of 60. Spafford wrote this encouraging hymn during a time of great suffering. Actually, I chose this as my first hymn of my series, because rather than writing the story of this hymn, I am posting a video which tells all about it below. That will shorten this first post since it includes my introduction.

Philip Bliss was born in Pennsylvania in 1828. Bliss was a prolific writer of hymns. According to Wholesome Words Christian Biorgraphy Resources ( he was "the second most famous Christian song writer in history." He was so moved by Spafford's poem that he decided to put it to music. He first introduced it at a ministers meeting held by D.L. Moody in Chicago in 1876. Over 1000, preachers were present. It was published in his Gospel Hymns No. Two compiled in collaboration with Ira Sankey later that same year. Unfortunately, 1876 was also the year of his tragic death in a train crash December 29.

I am not sure if Spafford actually based the hymn on these passages, but one site I found about the history of the hymn listed them as relevant passages and they certainly are in my opinion.

Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:" 2 Kings 4:26

“Praise the Lord, O my soul.” Psalm 146:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3

Bless the LORD, O my soul:
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executeth righteousness
and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Psalm 103: 1-6

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

"It Is Well With My Soul" narrated by Bill Gaither, sung by the Gaither Homcoming gang with solos by Guy Penrod And David Phelps,


I cannot sing this song without tears filling my eyes, especially thinking of Spafford's circumstances when he wrote it. To be encouraged in the midst of so much tragedy has to be a God thing. These verses speak so poignantly of the hope we have in Jesus. No matter what our trials or the storms that assail us, He gives us that peace. The Philippians reference above is the first verse that always comes to my mind when I sing or hear this song. How blessed is that peace that surpasses all understanding. And then the glorious thought this song expresses that our trials here are merely temporary. The One who took our sins upon Himself will return in all His splendor and glory for us!

Please leave some of your own thoughts in my comments.

101 Hymns Stories by Kenneth w. Osbeck (Copyright 1982 by Kregel Publications, p. 126-128)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Forming a new Christian Writers Group

Several friends and I are trying to form a Christian writers group our area. We had an organizational meeting last week and are going to have our first monthly meeting this week. We are planning to meet the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. If you know anyone in the Brazos Valley area of Texas who may be interested, please refer them to my contact info posted on my blog. Right now we have about 12 to 15 people interested. We appreciate the prayers of our fellow writers. Thanks, Tammy

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Nativity Reading

In 1982 I directed a Christmas program at church which we called "A Christmas Collage." In was a collection of poetry, music, scripture reading, monolouges and skits we put together. There was not a lot of Christian drama pieces available at that, although we did use some poetry and adapted a dramatic reading from Marjorie Holmes novel "Two From Galilee." I also wrote and co-wrote a couple of pieces and compiled the Scripture readings.

Below is something I put together as a Choral Reading, but it can also be used as a responsive reading in a church service. I have changed it a little over the years as I have used it at various churches. Feel free to use it if you like it.

If you do it as a reading of course you can divide up the readers parts for more than two people. To adapt it as a responsive reading, the LEADER would take the parts of both readers and the CONGREGATION the part of the chorus.

A Choral Reading from Scripture
compiled by Tammy Hensel

READER 1 (Luke 2:1-3):
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

CHORUS (Numbers 23:10a):
Who can count the dust of Jacob,
Or number the fourth part of Israel?

READER 2 (Luke 2:4):
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

CHORUS (Micah 5:2):
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.

READER 2 (Luke 2: 5):
in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

CHORUS (Isaiah 9:6):
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

READER 1(Luke 2:6 ):
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

CHORUS (Isaiah 7:14):
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

READER 1 (Luke 2:7a):
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths,

CHORUS (Colossians 1:15):
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

READER 1 (Luke 2:7b):
and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

CHORUS (Revelation 3:20):
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

READER 2 (Luke 2: 8):
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

CHORUS (Isaiah 40:11):
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

READER 1(Luke 2:9):
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

CHORUS (Psalm 33:18):
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

READER 2(Luke 2:10-11):
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

CHORUS (Psalm 32:11):
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

READER 2 (Luke 2:12):
"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

CHORUS (Philippians 2:6-7):
who,although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

READER 1(Luke 2:13-14):
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

CHORUS (John 3:16 ):
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

READER 2(Luke 2:15-16):
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

CHORUS (John 3:12):
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

READER 2(Luke 2:17):
When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

CHORUS (Philippians 2:10-11):
so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.