Be Thou My Vision ~ Lost in Translation

The time was almost here. I had practiced my heart out and was so proud of how I had prepared for this missions trip. So much so that I had sat down with the translator to show her what we were going to be singing.

She took the paper from me and said everything I had expected. How great it was we had taken the time to learn these. How much they were going to love them. And I, in all my 14 years, had never been more proud.

The teacher in her came next as she shared with me what every word translated to, line by line. At first I wanted to assure her I knew it well as we sang it in church often. But the words she was saying didn’t sound at all like the song I knew. In fact, some of my favorite phrases were missing completely.

As we stood up there to perform, I went numb. It was either that or throw a tantrum right on that stage, screaming in a language they didn’t understand that there was so much more.

Six years later was the next time I felt that urge. This time from a different teacher. My piano professor insisted we write a history paper on every piece we played. And when I researched one of my favorite hymns, I was floored.

All this time, I had no idea there was more. That the author’s message was somewhat lost in translation.

You know the one. But do you know the real words — the ones translated word-for-word directly from the 6th century Old Irish?

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.
Be thou my meditation by day and night.
May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.
Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee
Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.
Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.
Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.
Be thou every good to my body and soul.
Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.
Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.
Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love
Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.
Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.
Thy love in my soul and in my heart —
Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.
O King of the seven heavens grant me this —
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.
With the King of all, with Him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.
Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.
O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

I realize we can’t sing it this way in English. The fluidity is missing. But there are lines of this I feel are lost in translation. Do you see them, too?

It’s clear to me the author knew the love affair Christ offers to everyone. And they wanted in. All in. Nothing held back. Not even their dreams. Their possessions. Their family. Their pride. Nothing withheld in hopes perspective would be gained.

Friends, this is what I think of when we sing this in church. When I play it on the piano. When I hear it on the radio.

I want in. More of Him. Less of me.

Solus Christus.

How about you? What does the song mean to you? I’d love to hear.

The way Ginny Owens sings this hymn resonates with me the most. I love her voice. But more importantly, I hear her heart. And I don’t think it’s simply because she’s blind that she gets it. The desire to see through His eyes… You can listen in HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’ll Never Forget

It’s a day I will never forget. That would hold true even if the end would have been different. You see, we mothers are that way. When we see our womb-protected child on a black and white screen…we see love in immeasurable magnitudes. It leaves an impression on our heart so strong it singes the image in our mind. Forever kept as a keepsake. A reminder of how God loves us. How He blessed us with the opportunity to carry one of His own.

It’s a day I will never forget. And for some reasons, it’s because the ending was different. You see, we mothers are that way. Our senses kick into high gear as we take on the responsibility of caring for one of God’s beloved. And I was anxiously awaiting that task. Please, son, I want you to know this. I was ready to protect you at all costs.

A part of me hopes it’s a day she will forget. The poor woman who punched the clock to do her normally exciting job. Completely unaware of how she would alter our circumstances. She was excited to share in our joy with you. But no matter how she moved that wand, it wasn’t to be a magic one that day. After all, she couldn’t make your heart start beating again.

It’s a day I will never forget. The day the doctor said, “It’s a boy.” The day I proclaimed your name out loud. Held you in my arms for the first time and the last. The day I gave you back to God.

It’s a time I’ll never forget. How I sat down at the ivories like I had done the 7 months we were together. In my heart, I was still playing for you and me. And as I played the hymn over and over, God whispered love into my ear. He spoke to my mother-heart and assured me He’s got it from here.

It’s a day I never forget to look forward to. The day I can hold you in my arms again. The day I can see with my own eyes what my soul already knows. That there you are, flourishing in His courts, praising the One who made you. The One gracious enough to allow me to call you son.

This hymn is one I will never forget. For it helped this “old soul” of mine to heal. As I played the notes written, my heart finally found the rhythm. Its beat in tune with God’s plan.  And though the enemy tries to stop me, I will never forget to proclaim it.

My child, you’re safe in the arms of Jesus. Just where I would have raised you to be. And I’m blessed to be your mama. That I will never forget.

The hymn that helped me through:

Children of the Heavenly Father

(I’m sure your hymnal only gives you four of the verses.
I am sharing all six written by the original author:
Karolina W. Sandell-Berg)

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Friends, today is my second son’s birthday. I’m sharing this with you today not for you to feel sorry for me. But for you to rejoice with me. That we serve a living God who promises to never forsake our children. Even those we don’t have the pleasure to raise to maturity.

I feel led to share a bit more with you this week about how I found joy in my grieving. In hopes I can encourage another going through a similar situation. I hope it’s not you who needs it, but would love if you’d join me regardless.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Sharing with:

The Fruit of Joy

This last week I was out in my rain garden. Seeing what needed to be tended to. And as I was surveying new life rising through old growth, trying to determine what was supposed to be there and what I needed to pull, an old hymn came to mind. I wasn’t exactly sure why, as it doesn’t have to do with gardening. And yet, maybe it does.

One thing you should know about me. Green, although my favorite color, will never be used to describe my thumb. I am clueless when it comes to gardening. But I’m striving.

Someone whose thumb I consider green has told me I have a lot of weeds in my rain garden. I’m sure it’s true, but everything in there blooms. Everything produces color and looks pretty to me. So I have no idea what needs to be weeded out. I look at my garden and smile wide. Completely oblivious to anything that should prevent me from doing so.

Later that night, when I realized the poem never left me, I began to see where my heart was leading. And I thought I’d share the hymn/poem with you today, on this Music Monday. I’d love to know where it takes your heart, too.

I’ve shared one of these Olney Hymns before. “The Waiting Soul” In this post. This is another one of my favorites from the same collection:

“The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength
by: John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 1, hymn 42

Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature’s barren foil;
All we can boast, till Christ we know,
Is vanity and toil.

But where the Lord has planted grace;
And made His glories known;
There fruits of heavenly joy and peace
Are found, and there alone.

A bleeding Saviour seen by faith,
A sense of pard’ning love;
A hope that triumphs over death,
Give joys like those above.

To take a glimpse within the veil,
To know that God is mine;
Are springs of joy that never fail,
Unspeakably divine!

These are the joys which satisfy,
And sanctify the mind;
Which make the spirit mount on high,
And leave the world behind.

No more, believers, mourn your lot,
But if you are the Lord’s
Resign to them that know Him not,
Such joys as earth affords.

How about you? How have you found joy? How do you share it with others who might still be looking? I’d love to hear. and I’d love to hear what tugs at your heart with this beloved, old hymn. 

Sharing a glimpse of my joy with gifts of thanks.

  • God’s peace can guard my heart (Phil 4:6-7)
  • 13 years of marriage. And my cup still runneth over.
  • All of the Anniversary and birthday wishes this last week. You all blew me away. Thank you.
  • My now 4-year-old son’s love of board games. I’m considering calling Guinness about how many games of Mouse Trap we played this last week.
  • God wants me to truly know Him (Hosea 6:6)
  • Perennials. I’d be lost without them.
  • God’s love knows no bounds (Hosea 14:4)
  • Finding a church to call home.
  • Having a neighbor who is an avid gardener (a hidden blessing)
  • God is still doing things we wouldn’t even believe! (Habakkuk 1:5)
  • Smartwool socks on a cool, damp morning.
  • I don’t have to be perfect for I am perfectly loved.
  • Trader Joe’s soyaki sauce. Yum (when used sparingly).
  • God blesses those who sow…not reap.
  • I have the ability to radiate life (Luke 11:36)
  • No one. Not one. Can rob me of my joy. (John 16:22)

What joy have you found today? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Lest I Forget

Flickr Photo Credit: Ilmungo

♪♫ King of my life, I crown thee now,
thine shall the glory be;
lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,
lead me to Calvary ♪♫

My mind wanders as we sing the words she penned. This hymn of humbled praise and remembrance. When I was first introduced to this author, I recall thinking she was my mother’s age when she shed these words for the first time. This one hymn out of her 150+.  I push back the shock when I realize that age is now closer to my own. And I join with her in longing. Yes, take me there, Jesus. Show me again what you endured for me. I don’t want to forget…

♪♫ Lest I forget Gethsemane,
lest I forget thine agony,
lest I forget thy love for me,
lead me to Calvary ♪♫

I can’t help but feel connected to her. For we wanted the same thing her and I. Sure we had different lives, different trials. Yes, Jennie was born into a Quaker family, one I know very little about. But we’re both children of the King. Striving to remember daily how much He loves us. How much life He gave up so we could simply have one. And today, we’re asking the same thing from our Savior:

♪♫ Show me the tomb were thou wast laid,
tenderly mourned and wept;
angels in robes of light arrayed
guarded thee while thou slept.

Let me, like Mary through the gloom,
come with a gift to thee;
show to me now the empty tomb,
lead me to Calvary. ♪♫

My mind wonders what gift Jennie would have brought Jesus. For she didn’t have much of material value. She was as plain as they come. I smile wide when I realize she wasn’t so different from me after all. So, what will I bring? What will my gift to Jesus at Calvary be? I have nothing. My hands are empty. All I have to give is myself. It seems Jennie and I are bringing the same thing as we plead:

♪♫ May I be willing, Lord, to bear
Daily my cross for thee;
even thy cup of grief to share,
thou hast borne all for me. ♪♫

Jennie’s cross was heavier than mine, I’m certain. I imagine the enemy used the same tricks on her as he does me, though. He’s not as creative as we may think. He could have tried daily to convince her she wasn’t worth it. I wonder if he told her all she was good for was caring for her invalid sister–one who stole her childhood away. There’s no record of her ever being married and my heart hurts while pondering what lies she was tempted to believe as truth. Maybe that she wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, good enough to be a homemaker and have children. When it comes down to it, I’m guessing her fears could have mirrored my own.

And to pen this poem in spite of her own cup-of-grief she bore. Could she have dreamed that in doing so she would help me on my own path to the cross?

I hear my son now, catching on to the tune, freely singing along with the refrain, and I wonder if he’ll ask me later what the words mean. Oh how I hope my life shows him. That my actions lead Him to Calvary…

My dear Jesus, I owe you my life. My worries and fears don’t even compare to what you went through simply for me. You saw me in that Calvary crowd at my worst. You see me for who I am today and still choose to love me. Oh how You love me. May I never forget. Father, do what you must to remind me. Whatever is blocking my view, please help me get rid of it. Take me back there however necessary. Lest I forget…

♪♫ Lest I forget Gethsemane,
lest I forget thine agony,
lest I forget they love for me,
lead me to Calvary. ♪♫

SONG: Lead Me to Calvary
WORDS: Jennie E. Hussey, 1921 — one of her first hymns written
MUSIC:  William J. Kirkpatrick, 1921 — one of his last melodies scripted
Published 1949 Hope Publishing Company — forever in our hearts

How about you? What will you bring to the cross this year? How will you ensure you won’t forget what Christ went through for you? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Close to Thee ~ Music Mondays

Click for Photo Credit

She knew pain. She had suffered. She makes my life look like a fairy tale.
And she makes me wonder. Could I gladly offer my Savior what she proposes?
I want to say yes. I’d like to think I can. But I wonder…

~~~~~~~~~~

I call her Fanny. Fanny Crosby. You might call her something else for she had over 200 pseudonyms. It seems when you have written more than 8,000 hymns, it becomes beneficial to not appear like you’ve written the entire hymnal. And her hymns deserved to be published. She didn’t feel the need to be recognized.

Once you learn her writing style, though, you’ll know it was her that wrote it. She’s one of the only hymnists who wrote solely on the intimate relationship with Christ, giving glory to God, and not on our fault-filled lives.

Her eyes were always focused on Him and not in the mirror.
You’ll know this by her hymns.

Maybe that’s why she was destined to be blind. I like to think so anyway and often feel she did, too. She is known for saying “If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been dis­tract­ed by the beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing things about me.” And my very favorite “when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior”.

~~~~~~~~~~

Out of all the hymns I know she has written, this one challenges me the most. Maybe it’s because I know she wrote it soon after losing her only child. One she was blessed to hold only a dozen times or so.

And I wonder. Could I have penned these words to my Savior so soon after losing my son? I know my heart agreed with the other hymn she wrote “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” but this hymn?

I think I’m still striving. And I wanted to share it with you.

“Close to Thee” by Fanny Crosby

Thou my everlasting portion, more than friend or life to me,
All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee,
All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee.

Not for ease or worldly pleasure, nor for fame my prayer shall be;
Gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee,
Gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with Thee.

Lead me through the vale of shadows, bear me over life’s fitful sea;
Then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with Thee.
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee,
Then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with Thee.

~~~~~~~~~~

Yes, I want to be close to my Savior. I want to cling to Him above all else.

But will I toil and suffer gladly? Will knowing He’s right by my side be enough?

I’m striving. For that’s the kind of relationship I want. One where I’m so happy to be His, I’m so thrilled to be on this journey with Him that my circumstances don’t matter. I’ll do it all gladly. Just to be with Him.

May I learn from Fanny. May my eyes always be on my Savior and not on the mirror…

How about you? How close do you want to be? How do you handle suffering? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: To read more about the life of Fanny Crosby, you may click HERE.
To discover her known pseudonyms, and see a list of her most popular hymns, you may click HERE.

Am linking up with Paula at:

It is Well ~ Music Mondays

I’ll admit I hoped this moment would happen — where I would get the opportunity to meet with you. I had wondered if I would find those on my short list in Heaven.

And I have thought about what I would say to you. What I would ask. So many questions flood my mind. Questions like:

  • How did you prevent your girls from getting the fever that took your only 4-year-old son?
  • If you hadn’t lost everything you had worked towards, do you think you still would have taken your family overseas to help your friend’s, D.L. Moody’s, ministry?
  • Do you ever regret sending them on ahead of you — not being on the same boat?
  • When you received the telegram from your wife “Saved alone” did you know right away what it meant?
  • How did you comfort your wife after losing your daughters? I can only imagine the nightmares that would ensue from having your baby pulled out from your arms in the pressure of the rushing waves. (Can I give her a hug?)
  • Did you ever once regret going to a foreign land, doing the Lord’s work, only to contract a disease that inevitably put you on an early deathbed?

Yet, when I think of these questions, I realize — they’re all minor details in the legacy of your life. No, I won’t waste your time dwelling on these events.

But I will ask my last question. Because it’s important you know it wasn’t forgotten. I know the truth. I know what you wrote. And what I want to know is:

Does it bother you?
When we sing it wrong, do you grieve?

And you will know I’m talking about your hymn. The poem you penned for God alone.

I know they changed that one word in the final details of publication. I realize the tongue finds it more fluent. But I know how important that one word was. You, being an educated lawyer, would have used that word on purpose. Intentionally.

And I get the importance of it. For saying and knowing are two very different things. One holds no truth to it while the other requires submission. Immense faith. Complete communion.

Mr. Spafford, regardless of how you answer my question, I want you to know that I know.  And because I also want to proclaim that, I sing your poem the way you wrote it.

For saying and knowing are two very different things.

~~~~~~~~~~

It Is Well With My Soul

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

Refrain:
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!
Blessed hope, blessed 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.

Thank you, Horatio Spafford, for these words. Thank you, Philip Bliss, for contributing the melody.

And thank You, Lord, for teaching me to know. Yes, I can know it is well with my soul.

How about you? Will you sing the proper lyrics with me? Do you know?

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this post up with:

The Waiting Soul ~ Music Mondays

John Newton is one of my favorite poets.
Does his name ring a bell?
I wouldn’t expect it to.
Unless you memorized the names in your hymnal as a child (like I did).

John Newton was a curate/parish priest. He, alongside his poet friend William Cowper, wrote an astounding amount of hymns in the 1700’s. A total of 348 made publication under a series of hymn books written for John’s ministry in Olney. They were known as the “Olney Hymns.”

Sadly, only 6 or so ever made publication in the hymnals we know and love here in the United States. One of them making the cut was a poem John Newton titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation~ Hymn 41.” This poem became the hymn we all know and love today as “Amazing Grace.”

~~~~~~~~~~

I heard about the Olney Hymns in college. My piano theory professor shared their story as he was assigning our final project. The project required each of us to pick one of the 348 poems and write a melody and accompaniment for it. We would play that and sing the self-composed hymn as our final in front of the class.

I had such a hard time picking my poem. Not only am I indecisive, but they each captivated me like no other. I couldn’t choose a favorite. I wanted to sing them all.

When I was contemplating what topic I would cover this week, one subject began weighing heavy on my heart:

Waiting.

This week, I plan on sharing with you what this means to me, what I’ve learned from my own experiences, and the joy I’ve found on the other side.

And when thinking of what song I wanted to start off with to introduce the topic, one of these beloved poems came to mind. May I share it with you?

(Please note, there is no known melody for this hymn. It is believed they would choose a popular melody to sing the lyrics to during their services or would simply chant the words in unison. You feel free to do what your heart hears best.)

“The Waiting Soul” by John Newton

Breathe from the gentle South, O LORD, 
And cheer me from the North;
Blow on the treasures of thy word, 
And call the spices forth!
And call the spices forth!

I wish, thou know’st, to be resigned, 
And wait with patient hope;
But hope delayed fatigues the mind, 
And drinks the spirit up,
And drinks the spirit up.

Help me to reach the distant goal;
Confirm my feeble knee;
Pity the sickness of a soul 
That faints for love of thee,
For love of thee.

Cold as I feel this heart of mine, 
Yet since I feel it so;
It yields some hope of life divine 
Within, however low,
Within, however low.

I seem forsaken and alone, 
I hear the lion roar;
And every door is shut but one, 
And that is mercy’s door,
And that is mercy’s door.

There, till the dear Deliv’rer come, 
I’ll wait with humble prayer
And when he calls his exile home, 
The Lord, shall find me there,
The Lord, shall find me there.

Oh how I love this poem. It makes my soul sing. Just what art was intended for.

I hope you’ll join me this week as we journey through the act of waiting. I’ll need all the support I can get!

How about you? What part of the hymn made your soul sing? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: To read more about The Olney Hymns, CLICK HERE.

Prepare Him Room

 ♪♫ Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing… ♪♫

The lyrics flow so freely off my lips I almost miss it.

I haven’t needed words displayed to sing this song for 15 years or more, but they were in front of me this day. And I glanced down at them just in time.

My eyes focus intently on the portion I need to linger on:

Let every heart prepare Him room.

And I feel my heart saying:

Make room for the Lord. No, more than that.
Prepare a place for Him. His very own room.

Heaven will sing. Nature will rejoice. There will be joy.

Now, Jesus has taken residence in my heart longer than I’ve had this song memorized. But has He had His very own room prepared? One that remains His? A permanent place?

I must confess, I’ve shuffled Him around from time to time. At the mere excuse of fleeting convenience.

But I’m striving to change that.
I want Him to be my guest of honor.
Every day.
He deserves to have His own room prepared.

He’s doing as much for me.

John 14:2-3

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

He’s preparing a place. Just for me. Just for you.
No excuses. Nothing else taking precedence. But us.

I’m so blessed. For I am incredibly loved and pampered over.

I sure can learn a lot by His example.

My eyes glance back down to the lyrics of a song I’ve heard with my ears so many times, but have never heard in my heart until now. And I see it. Right there in black and white.

Joy

The words jump from the page:

Joy! The Lord has come! The Savior reigns!
His blessings flow. Sin and sorrow grow no more.
Fields, floods, rocks, hills, plains…resound joy.
His Truth. Grace.
Glorious righteousness.
His wondrous love.
Repeat the joy. Repeat the sounding joy.

Yes, He deserves a room prepared in the depths of my soul. One that takes precedence. No more excuses.

Lord, please, come in. I have Your room prepared.
This life that I have made? The one I prepare for each day?
It’s Yours. All of it. For keeps…

How about you? How do you prepare Him room? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with  me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this post up with:

The Grace Cafe

Word Filled Wednesdays