Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs: A Christian Home |

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I’ve been writing these hymn commentaries for about seven years now, and I’ve tried to present interesting and uplifting illustrations, stories about the faith and struggles of the writers, or the importance of hymns in the history of the church. This anthem does none of that. This is the most difficult hymn commentary I have ever written.

Barbara Hart was born in 1916 and she wrote A CHRISTIAN HOME in 1965. And that was it. I searched dozens of print and Internet resources. I found no author biographical information, no story, no illustrations, and no backstory.

It’s published in very few hymns, and I was inclined not to talk about it, but the subject matter is too important and has a strong message that suits our current culture.

The hymn is a prayer asking God to work in our families. It reminds us that he is the head of our homes. This challenges us to the same kind of determined commitment that Joshua had when he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Most of our songs and hymns build and strengthen our faith, they bring joy to our souls, they inspire us, they encourage us to good works, they teach us great truths, they comfort us in difficulties, they make us grateful, and they help us in our praise and worship of our Saviour.

This anthem did none of those things for me. In fact, I found it uncomfortable and compelling because the lyrics revealed my own disobedience and failures as a son, brother, husband and father. And it reminded me of a phrase from Psalm 119:6, “Then I will not be ashamed, when I have reverence for all your commandments.”

I looked up the meaning of the word shame in a Bible dictionary. Shame is a consequence of sin. Feelings of guilt and shame are subjective recognitions of objective spiritual realities. Guilt is of a judicial character; shame is relational. It emphasizes the effect of sin on our identity. Sinful humans are traumatized, before a holy God, when we are exposed for our failures to keep God’s laws.

And, if we had time to read all 176 verses of Psalm 119, we would all be driven to the trauma of guilty shame. So what is the cure for this shame? It is in keeping ALL the laws of God.

None of us can do that, but praise God that His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, kept every bit of the law perfectly, and God the Father has imputed His Son’s righteousness to us.

So, as I reflect on the prayer of this hymn, I am grateful that even though I failed in many of my goals and good intentions; and that I violate his commandments every day, I can rejoice in knowing that God is merciful, merciful and forgiving.

Because this hymn is rarely published in most hymnals, I’ve posted the lyrics below. It is sung to the tune of “Be Still, My Soul”.

O give us homes firmly built on the Saviour, Where Christ is Head, Counselor and Guide;

Where every child learns his love and favor, And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:

How sweet it is to know that even though her steps waver, her faithful Lord walks by her side!

O give us homes with godly fathers and mothers, Who always place their hope and trust in Him;

Whose tender patience restlessness never disturbs, Whose calmness and courage boredom cannot fade;

A home where everyone finds joy in serving others, And love still shines though the days are dark and dreary.

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master, The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;

Where prayer comes first in peace or disaster, And where praise is natural speech to all tongues;

Where mountains move before a faith that is greater, And Christ sufficient is for old and young.

O Lord our God, our homes are yours forever! We commit their troubles, their labors and their cares to You;

Their bonds of love that no foe can break, If You’re still Lord and Master there:

Be the center of our every effort: be our guest, our hearts and our homes to share.

Ralph M. Petersen and his wife, Kathy, are the owners of the OLDE TOWNE EMPORIUM at 212 E. Main St. in Rogersville, Tennessee. Your comments are welcome. You can contact him at [email protected] or by phone at (951) 321 9235.

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