The Prodigal Song, 1759 (Part I)

John Macallan Swan,  The Prodigal Son  (1888). Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1889  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01569

John Macallan Swan, The Prodigal Son (1888). Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1889 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01569

I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me in His arms.
In the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are ten thousand charms.

He didn’t write the words of the chorus, but they describe his testimony perfectly. This month we’re reminding ourselves of the great call to repentance found in Joseph Hart’s “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.”

Hart (1712-68) knew the Christian gospel from an early age. Two years older than George Whitefield, he also grew up in an age of revivals. During his twenties, he began to claim Christ as his own Savior. But by his own account, he spent most of his thirties as a grace-abusing libertine:

I even outwent professed infidels, and shocked the irreligious and profane, with my horrid blasphemies and monstrous impieties. Hardness of heart was, with me, a sign of good confidence.

In the late 1740s Hart began trying to improve his morals. But fear for his soul took over. He would like awake at night, shivering for fear of hell. He attended services under the preaching of Whitefield and other evangelicals but could not escape his fears.

Finally, in 1757, after a sermon on Revelation 3:10, Hart threw himself completely upon the mercy of God. The effect was immediate and drastic:

Tears ran in streams from my eyes for a considerable while; and I was so swallowed up in joy and thankfulness, that I hardly knew where I was.

Two years later, he published a book of “hymns,” devotional poetry drawing deeply on his own experience. One of them began “Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched.” and sounded like a call to repentance:

Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.

The perspective of the poem soon became a calling; by 1760 Hart was building a church in London. They said that 20,000 people attended his funeral. The prodigal had become a beloved preacher.

Contact us for a copy of “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” Let’s enjoy sharing these powerful words!

Hart’s memoirs quoted in Walter Wilson, History and Antiquities of the Dissenting Churches, vol. 3 (London, 1810), 345-47.

Comment

Summer Recital

With some participants under 18 and others 80 and beyond, this Sunday’s summer recital was a sweet time of fellowship in music for many of us. Over 100 guests and members gathered to hear vocal and instrumental music praising our Savior and testifying of His grace. Some participants had never been on our platform alone before, and others it was simply wonderful to hear again. Multiple singers presented their own songs, and others reminded us of great hymns of today and generations gone by.

Congregational singing is at the heart of our music program at Morningside, but we also view singing and making melody to each other as an important part of worship and fellowship. We are thankful for the musical gifts and desires that so many in our church family have, and we look forward to hearing some of these selections in our Sunday services.

For more information about vocal and instrumental music, contact Pastor Jones (tjones@morningside.org). The next recital is the afternoon of November 3. If you are a young or seasoned vocalist or instrumentalist, we would love to hear from you then.

Sign up for the next recital here.

If you are part of our church family and can spend some of your Sunday afternoon hearing praise and testimony from your church family, we hope to see you there!

Todd Jones

Music Pastor

Comment

Song for July: "Wonderful, Merciful Savior"

Song for July: "Wonderful, Merciful Savior"

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This July we’re adding “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” to our repertoire. It’s a hymn praising the Trinity—Son, Spirit, and Father—for quenching the hunger of our hearts as only God can do.

According to a 2016 interview (external link), musician Dawn Rodgers began the song during her devotions. It was 1989, and her new husband Eric Wyse, also a musician, was away on a business trip.

When Eric returned, Dawn had most of the first two verses drafted, and they finished the verses together. “Wonderful, merciful Savior” and “Counselor, Comforter, Keeper” praised the Son and the Spirit.

Soon afterwards, Eric and Dawn presented the song to their local church. After the sermon, the pastor asked them to sing it again. That’s when Dawn showed Eric the third verse… that she had finished during the sermon.

If you’ve ever hungered for God’s presence—in the Son, the Spirit, and the Father—the way a young bride yearns for her husband’s return, you’ll identify with the message of “Wonderful, Merciful Savior.”

Contact us for a copy of the lyrics and music.