Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter


August 15, 2010

Every now and again I like to post a favorite song that we sing at Grace Fellowship Church. In worship this morning we sang an old Newton hymn that has become a favorite. It’s a hymn you may well know, one titled “Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat.” It is one of Newton’s Olney Hymns. We use the third stanza as a chorus, singing in that chorus that though we are bowed down beneath a load of sin, we find rest in Christ.

I particularly love the final stanza which says “ ‘Poor tempest-tossed soul, be still; My promised grace receive’; ’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will, I can, I do believe.” Isn’t that a great progression? I must, I will, I can, I do believe. Brilliant.

Here are the words to the song.

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.

Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!

O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.

“Poor tempest-tossed soul, be still;
My promised grace receive”;
’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will,
I can, I do believe.

July 04, 2010

Yesterday I gave you an early listen to Matthew Smith’s new song Goodnight. That song was drawn from the old hymn book titled Hymns from the Land of Luther which features German hymns translated to English by Jane Borthwick.

After I listened to Matthew’s hymn I immediately went looking for a copy of Hymns from the Land of Luther and found it on Google Books. I’d love to find a printed copy, but for now have been contenting myself with the PDF version. I was surprised to see how many of these hymns deal with death. There is even a hymn titled “To a Dying Child” (Depart, my child! the Lord thy spirit calls / To leave a world of woe. / Sad on my heart the heaveny summons falls; / Yet since He wills it so / I calm the rising agitation / And say, with humble resignation / Depart, my child!).

April 25, 2010

Today at church we were introduced to a new hymn—at least one that was new to me. Titled “Pleading for Mercy” it is one of Newton’s Olney Hymns (#45 if you must know). And it’s a good one, too. Josh, our leader worshipper, composed a tune for it, altered a few of the lyrics, combined some of the verses, and so on. The end result was very powerful—as powerful as just about any of Newton’s hymns, I think.

In mercy, not in wrath, rebuke
Thy feeble worm, my God!
My spirit dreads thine angry look,
And trembles at thy rod.
Have mercy, Lord, for I am weak,
Regard my heavy groans;
O let thy voice of comfort speak,
And heal my broken bones!

By day my busy beating head
Is filled with anxious fears;
By night, upon my restless bed,
I weep a flood of tears.
Thus I sit desolate and mourn,
Mine eyes grow dull with grief;
How long, my Lord, till you return,
And bring my soul relief?

Satan, my cruel and envious foe
Insults me in my pain;
He smiles to see me brought so low,
And tells me hope is vain,
But hence, though enemy, depart!
Nor tempt me to despair;
My Savior comes to cheer my heart,
The Lord has heard my prayer.

O come and show thy pow’r to save,
And spare my fainting breath;
For who can praise thee in the grave,
Or sing thy name in death?
Since Jesus shared our flesh and blood
Then died the death we fear,
Removed the guilt wherein we stood
Our Father draws us near.

October 26, 2008

Earlier today I was thinking about my favorite hymn lyrics (not hymns overall-just particular lyrics). I think my all-time favorite is and remains the final stanza of “And Can it Be?” The last two lines just grip my soul every time I sing them:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

I’ve often reflected on the concept of boldness and this song reminds me of what a privilege it is to be able to approach God’s throne with confidence and boldness.

Running a close second is a hymn we sang just this afternoon during our Lord’s Supper service. Again, it is the final stanza of a hymn, this one “The Love of God.” I’ll provide all of the lyrics but would point you to that last verse.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.


O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

I just love that picture, that metaphor, of trying to measure or quantify the love of God and finding that even the vastness of creation, reduced to letters and words, would barely even begin to show just how great and how wide and how deep is God’s love. It’s amazingly powerful.

What are your favorite hymn lyrics?

March 19, 2008

I wanted to draw your attention to a few albums that I’ve been enjoying recently. Each of these albums features music that is appropriate for corporate worship and each features selections of modern or ancient hymns. Each of them is worth buying and listening to. All of the albums are available through iTunes (where I generally purchase my music these days) but they should also be available elsewhere.

In Christ Alone: Modern Hymns Of Worship

In Christ AloneIn Christ Alone: Modern Hymns Of Worship is a brand new album by Bethany Dillon and Matt Hammitt (whom you may know as the lead vocalist of the band Sanctus Real). The album offers exactly what you’d expect if judging by the title: a selection of modern hymns. These are not just straightforward recitations of the songs, though, but are what could best be described as alt-pop adaptations. The artists come through with several different musical styles and each takes turns singing lead. Somehow it combines to make a great album. A reviewer at Christianity Today says, “those looking for more originality and lyrical depth in modern worship might enjoy this unusually crafted collection of modern hymns set to alternative pop arrangements and sung by Bethany Dillon and Matt Hammitt.”

You are probably familiar with most of the songs. The album features several tracks by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (including, of course, the title track) along with selections by Martin Smith (of Delirious fame), Tim Hughes, Vicky Beeching and a couple of others. The songs focus primarily on the person and work of Jesus Christ, making this an ideal selection for listening to this week as we prepare for Easter.

Here is the song list:

  1. Clinging to the Cross
  2. In Christ Alone
  3. Jesus Is Lord
  4. Joy Has Dawned
  5. O Church Arise
  6. God Of Justice
  7. On The Third Day
  8. The Power Of The Cross
  9. Adoration
  10. How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
  11. In The Cross Alone I Glory
  12. The Wonder Of The Cross

I quickly fell for their arrangements of “Jesus is Lord,” “Joy Has Dawned,” “On the Third Day” and “In the Cross Alone I Glory.” But truly, there isn’t a rotten selection among them. I hadn’t anticipated enjoying this album but was glad I picked it up. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Here is the Amazon link if you are interested in listening to clips of the various songs.

Adore And Tremble

Adore and TrembleThis is an album by Daniel Renstrom, whom you probably don’t know as well as Bethany Dillon or Matt Hammitt. Matt was kind enough to send me his album a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been enjoying it a great deal. Daniel, who has a voice that reminds me a lot of Derek Webb’s, is lead worshiper for a ministry of Providence Baptist church in Raleigh North Carolina. This EP, his first, is a combination of new versions of old hymns and some original titles. All are written and performed with corporate worship in view. It was produced by Nathan Nockels (of the band Watermark).

You can find more information about the man and the album at his website, danielrenstrom.com. Here is the Amazon link if you are interested in listening to clips of the various songs.

Here is the album’s track list:

  1. Quietly
  2. Let Us Love And Sing And Wonder
  3. At The Cross
  4. Broken Cisterns
  5. Adore And Tremble
  6. Where Could I Go

See What A Morning

The MandateSee What A Morning is listed as being by “The Mandate,” whatever that is. But really, it is Stuart Townend singing a selection of his hymns and some other favorites. I guess it is drawn from a conference. Whatever the case, it has quickly become a favorite album of mine, though this may be primarily because I love the first track so much. I’ve heard several versions of “See What a Morning” but this is the best! I wish he had included a rendition of his version of Psalm 23 (easily one of his best songs but one we don’t hear often enough) but even without that it remains a very enjoyable album.

Here is the song list:

  1. See What A Morning
  2. There Is A Redeemer
  3. My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness
  4. In Christ Alone
  5. Stand Up Stand Up For Jesus
  6. Lord I Lift Your Name On High/O Come Let Us Adore
  7. How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
  8. All My Days
  9. Jesus Be The Centre
  10. Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
  11. Who Is There Like You/I Love You Lord
  12. Your Love

Here is the Amazon link if you are interested in listening to clips of the various songs.

January 20, 2008

Today seemed like a good day to share a few music-related notes that I’ve been saving up to post together. I am no authority on music but I do listen to a lot of it and always enjoy finding new albums or new bands that are worth listening to. Here are a few suggestions.


Reilly is a band hailing from Philadelphia that plays what they term “symphonic rock.” Largely acoustic but with some strains of good old rock ‘n roll, their music is bound to have wide appeal. “On their latest album, vibrant melodies mix with soul-searching lyrics for a listening experience that you won’t soon forget.”

The album Let June Decide is available from their website. They also have songs available at MySpace if you’d like to sample them.

Indelible Grace

Chances are you have already heard of Indelible Grace as they have already produced several albums and have taken the lead in providing new takes on old hymns. They recently released their fifth album and it is now widely available. Paul and Zach have posted reviews on their blogs (and both guys are far more qualified to discuss music than I am!). I’m partial to the first couple of I.G. albums but did enjoy this one as well.

You can find Indelible Grace at their website and at MySpace.

Lashey and Joyner

I stumbled across these guys a few days ago and downloaded their album “Hymns” which is available at iTunes. Similar to Indelible Grace, they provide new takes on old hymns, though with a little less of the Nashville influence, I think. In some instances they merely perform the song with a contemporary spin on an old melody while in others they provide an original melody. I particularly enjoyed their versions of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “He Leadeth Me.”

You can find their website here and listen to a couple of full songs at their MySpace site.