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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The American Hymnal

The American Hymnal, with a copyright date of 1933, was published by Robert H. Coleman seven years after The Modern Hymnal. You can read about Robert H. Coleman, Publisher of Hymnals and The Modern Hymnal in other posts - see the links at the end of this article.

In many ways, these two hymnals are very similar. The covers, except for the title, are identical. The inside covers, both front and back are also the same except for the scripture verses at the top.

As was the case with The Modern Hymnal, The American Hymnal was also published during the years that B.B. McKinney served as an editor for Coleman. Perhaps he even wrote the Foreword, which is simply signed "The Editor."

And, like the earlier hymnal, this one was also reprinted after the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention purchased Robert H. Coleman. You can see this on the title pages of the copies that I own.

One very noticeable difference is that this hymnal as The American Hymnal opens with "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and "America, the Beautiful" as the first and second hymn before "Crown Him with Many Crowns" appears as the third hymn. The Modern Hymnal opened with "O Worship the King."

In addition to hymns by McKinney, I found this one by I.E. Reynolds, whose history is so closely intertwined with that of B.B. McKinney as a leading figure in the Southern Baptist Convention at that time. It's also notable that there were several newer hymns included whose copyright date came after the 1926 publication of The Modern Hymnal. These are noted on the title page as "a Wealth of New Songs."

I also noticed the inclusion of multiple versions of this same hymn with three different tunes.

The American Hymnal, as did the preceding hymnal and the Broadman Hymnal, 1940 which followed by just a few years, included choral anthems among it's pages. Service music was also included.

This hymnal also included a feature very familiar to the later users of The Baptist Hymnal, 1956 - The Church Covenant.

One other difference that I noticed is that the Responsive Readings have titles specifying the subject of the reading instead of the text headings that The Modern Hymnal used. The Broadman Hymnal also followed this practice.

Finally, as the others did, The American Hymnal includes a selection of indices to assist in the selection of hymns and readings for worship.

If you know and recognize this hymnal, The American Hymnal, published by Robert H. Coleman and reprinted by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, I would love for you to share you memories in the Comments below.

Additional posts in the Robert H. Coleman hymnal series:
Robert H. Coleman, Publisher of Hymnals
The Modern Hymnal
Reapers Songbook
Coleman's Songs for Men
The Popular Hymnal

If you have not done so, please subscribe to my email newsletter to receive information on additional posts that are designed to encourage and inspire you. Click this link to go to the subscription page: Subscribe to Richard's Newsletter Now!


Friday, March 26, 2021

Grace for You and Me

I suppose my sub-title is "The Redemption of Judah."

Usually when we hear the story, it's told as two separate stories, but I want to share with you the grace that can be found in putting the two together.

The first story is how Joseph, the young son of Jacob, is looking for his brothers. They don't like him so they consider killing him when he shows up. Instead, they decide to sell him to a caravan that's passing by.

The second story is after Joseph has risen to second-in-command in Egypt and begun to save them and neighboring countries from the famine. His brothers show up to purchase food and don't recognize him. We are treated to a bit of dramatic action played out as he deals with these brothers who sold him into slavery, a broad refence to the first story, before he reveals himself to them.

Now, let's get back to Judah...

We find the first story in Genesis chapter 37. It's here that we realize that Judah is a main player in the plot to get rid of this hated little brother. In verses 26-27, "And Judah said to his brothers, 'What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, and let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.' And his brothers listened to him." (NASB)

I wonder if Joseph, who is at this point down in a pit, hears his brother Judah say these words. How dreadful to realize that your brothers were thinking of killing you, but still devastating to hear that they were willing to sell you. You would be carried far from your family. You would never see your father, or your baby brother, again. What was the impact on Joseph if he heard his own brother, Judah, say these things?

The second story plays out in chapters 42, 43, and 44 of Genesis. The drama unfolds through a first trip to Egypt for food which includes the incarceration of brother Simeon, and a second trip in which they are compelled to bring little brother Benjamin. Interestingly, Jacob only allows Benjamin to accompany the brothers when Judah steps up and accepts full responsibility for the safety and welfare of his younger brother.

The action continues until Genesis 43:18 and following, where we read these interesting words, "Then Judah approached [Joseph] and said, 'Oh my lord,  may your servant please speak a word in my lord's ear, and do not be angry with your servant...For your servant accepted responsibility for the boy from my father, saying, "If I do not bring him back to you, then my father can let me take the blame forever." So now, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy...For  how shall I go up to my father's house if the boy is not with me?'" (NASB)

It is at this point that Joseph can no longer control himself and reveals his identity to his brothers.

I can only imagine that as Joseph hears these words come from the lips of Judah, his mind goes back to those earlier words that his brother uttered. In that moment, he recognizes that before him stands a changed man. Instead of one who would kill or sell his own flesh and blood, now Judah is willing to lay down his own life, his own dreams, his own family, to take responsibility for this second younger brother.

What work of grace had God done in his life to bring Judah to this complete change of heart and being?

1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary's mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

2. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.

3. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
All who are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

("Grace Greater than Our Sin" by Julia H. Johnston)

What have we done? Where have we failed? What is the dark stain of sin in our lives? It's so marvelous that God through the death of His Son, Jesus, offers to us pardon from our sin, whatever it may be. We only need to accept this great gift of grace. Then the story of Judah's redemption becomes our story of redemption.

By the way, Jesus was a descendant of Judah. How amazing is God's grace.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!!



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Monday, March 22, 2021

The Modern Hymnal

The Modern Hymnal has a copyright date of 1926. It was published by Robert H. Coleman. You can read the introductory material about the publisher by clicking Robert H. Coleman, Publisher of Hymnals.

This hymnal was published during the years that B. B. McKinney was working as a editor for Robert Coleman. When the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention purchased Robert H. Coleman, this was one of the hymnals that was re-printed by Broadman Press. It's possible that McKinney himself wrote this Foreword.

Through the generosity of Bill Coen, I now own several copies of the Modern Hymnal and you can see that although they all carry the same look and copyright date, the title pages reveal this re-printing. Here you can see the earliest was printed by Robert H. Coleman prior to the company's purchase. The other two were printed afterwards with one carrying the line "Successor to Robert H. Coleman."

Interesting features include the printing of "The Doxology" and "Gloria Patri" just inside the front cover and "The Lord's Prayer" and two "Benedictions" printed inside the back cover.

You can also see that hymns by B.B. McKinney are among the many songs covered in this publication.

Included within the contents of the hymnal are anthems, much like many of us have seen in the Broadman Hymnal. Not surprising when we remember that B.B. McKinney was the editor of the Broadman some 14 years after the publication of The Modern Hymnal. And, there are patriotic songs as are generally found in many hymnals today.

I also noted that the Responsive Readings are labeled primarily by the scripture passage that they include. Then finally, there is a full complement of Indices to help us find the hymns and responsive readings that we need.

There may be many of you who know and recognize this hymnal, The Modern Hymnal. Please share your thoughts and memories by Commenting below.

If you have not done so, please consider subscribing to my email newsletter so that you can receive information on additional posts that are designed to encourage and inspire you. Just click this link to go to the subscription page: Subscribe To Richard's Newsletter Now.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Robert H. Coleman, Publisher of Hymnals

Although you won't find much information about him on the worldwide web, Robert H. Coleman and his publishing company has had a profound impact on the publication of gospel hymns and hymnals, especially those of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Robert Henry Coleman was born in Bardstown, Kentucky on November 1, 1869, was educated at Georgetown College in Kentucky, and died on February 13, 1946 in Dallas, Texas.

As a young man, he moved to Plano, Texas where he operated a drugstore, edited the Plano Courier, and made an unsuccessful run for political office.

Later, he moved to Dallas, Texas and from 1903-09, Coleman served as assistant secretary of the Dallas YMCA and as administrative assistant and director of congregational singing at the First Baptist Church of Dallas under the leadership of Pastor George W. Truett.

Coleman was business manager of the Baptist Standard newspaper, 1908-14 and the Texas Baptist Weekly, 1909-15. For several years he served as president of the Texas Baptist Young Peoples Union. Then once again, he served as assistant secretary of the Dallas YMCA in the years 1915-1946.

During his lifetime, he led the singing for many annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention and was the music director of the 1923 meeting of the Baptist World Alliance.

However, his influence on us comes through Robert H. Coleman, Publisher.

From 1903 to 1945, Robert Coleman was a hymnbook publisher. His music publishing business was independent of church affiliation, catering to evangelistic churches in the South and in the West. For over 30 years, he supplied hymnals and songbooks to these churches. Although he sold to many different denominations, many Southern Baptists considered him to be their publisher.

His greatest connection to Southern Baptists, however, began when he hired B.B. McKinney in 1919 as a part-time editor. McKinney worked with him until 1935. During their collaboration, Robert H.  Coleman published many of McKinney's hymns and songs. As editor, B.B. McKinney was involved in the work on over 20 hymnals and songbooks that were published during these years. These included the songbook Reapers, The Modern Hymnal, and The American Hymnal. Coleman's Songs for Men which featured many of McKinney's arrangements and songs was also copyrighted in 1932 during this time. 

In 1935, B.B. McKinney went to work for the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. When he began work on The Broadman Hymnal, he found Robert Coleman very helpful in this project, unlike many other independent publishers who considered the Board a threat to their own businesses.

McKinney was so impressed with Robert H. Coleman that he lead the Sunday School Board to purchase the publishing company in 1945. This included the copyrights, printing plates, stock, and the use of Coleman's name. At that time, Robert Coleman was the largest individual songbook publisher in the United States.

In fact, new editions of many of the songbooks and hymnals were published reading "Published by Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee Successor to Robert H. Coleman.

The purchase of the publishing company included a stipulation hiring Coleman to run the business in Dallas for 5 years. Unfortunately, the man, Robert Coleman died the following year.

Additional posts in the Robert H. Coleman Series:
The Modern Hymnal
The American Hymnal
Reapers Songbook
Coleman's Songs for Men
The Popular Hymnal

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Most of the information shared in this article was gleaned from the doctoral dissertation of Terry C. Terry, B.B. MCKINNEY: A SHAPING FORCE IN SOUTHERN PROTESTANT MUSIC. Thank you, Dr. Terry for your work!

Additional information came from The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and

Friday, March 12, 2021

He Brought Us Out to Bring Us In


Doors lead you from one place to another. You go from outside to inside through a door. You move from this room into the next through a door. It's a way to leave one place and enter another.

When I was a child we used to sing a song, "One door, and only one, and yet its sides are two. I'm on the inside, on which side are you?" In our church, being in was having salvation through Christ.

Christians also often refer to death as a door that leads from this life into God's presence.

Many of us, when faced with decisions begin to look at the options, and as those options begin to fade from possibility, we call it "a door is closed."

So for everyone, doors are great metaphors. This is not new knowledge, but I hope that these words will bring encouragement and inspiration to you at this moment in your life.

The other day, I was reading the Bible, in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6. In this book, Moses is recounting much of the journey that the people of Israel have been through as they prepare to enter the Promised Land and have a change of leadership. He is encouraging and challenging them in his narrative.

Now, this chapter is early in the book and usually the focus is on the Shema of verse 4: "Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" This is followed of course, as we recall Jesus teaching us by the words, "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

But as Moses expounds on these words and the need to pass them down to each succeeding generation, he mentions the time when the children would ask, "What do these things mean?" The answer was to begin with a recounting of God's leadership of the people from the land of Egypt and in verse 23 these words jumped out at me: "He brought us out of there in order to bring us in..." Well... that seemed pretty obvious, but deeper thought showed me the greatness of these few words.

We've all been somewhere physically, emotionally, spiritually that we didn't want to be, didn't need to be, or shouldn't have been, and many of us have experienced deliverance from that "place." OK, if we're honest, some of us are probably still in one of those places looking for, even longing for, deliverance. There's even a strong possibility that we might find ourselves there again.

That's why I find these words so encouraging! God "brought us out to bring us in," into a land of promise, a place of fulfillment, of joy, of peace...

In unpacking these words, I see at least 2 things that we are called on to do and a promise.

  1. Remember what God has done in the past. "We were slaves...and the LORD brought us out." (verse 23)
  2. Obey God. "So the LORD commanded us to follow all these statutes..." (verse 24)
  3. Righteousness will follow obedience. "It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to follow..." (verse 25).

It made me think of an old song that I just had to find. I got excited watching YouTube videos of it. Then I started playing and singing it along with them. Actually based on the words of Psalm 40:2, it seemed to fit this Deuteronomy text as well.

"He brought me out of the miry clay,
He set my feet on the Rock to stay;
He puts a song in my soul today,
A song of praise, hallelujah!

1. "My heart was distressed ’neath Jehovah’s dread frown,
And low in the pit where my sins dragged me down;
I cried to the Lord from the deep miry clay,
Who tenderly brought me out to golden day.

2. "He placed me upon the strong Rock by His side,
My steps were established and here I’ll abide;
No danger of falling while here I remain,
But stand by His grace until the crown I gain.

3. "He gave me a song, ’twas a new song of praise;
By day and by night its sweet notes I will raise;
My heart’s overflowing, I’m happy and free;
I’ll praise my Redeemer, Who has rescued me.

4. "I’ll sing of His wonderful mercy to me,
I’ll praise Him till all men His goodness shall see;
I’ll sing of salvation at home and abroad,
Till many shall hear the truth and trust in God.

5. "I’ll tell of the pit, with its gloom and despair,
I’ll praise the dear Father, who answered my prayer;
I’ll sing my new song, the glad story of love,
Then join in the chorus with the saints above."

("He Brought Me Out" by Henry J. Zelley and H. L. Gilmour)

My heart, my soul, my spirit were encouraged as I read and sang that day.

Doors are good. God is at work "bringing us out to bring us in." Hallelujah!


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Friday, March 5, 2021

Showers of Blessing

We want to do some work on our deck. Although it bakes during the summer months, my wife has said several times in the last few months that it just hasn't dried out this winter. In fact, one could expand that to our entire yard. Even on a beautiful day such as today, to walk around in the yard is to feel yourself sinking slightly into the surface underfoot. And, then there are the boggy areas...

Often, rain is not seen as a blessing, but an inconvenience. Sure, when the crops need the water, or when it's been dry and dusty, especially in drought conditions, we long for and even pray for rain. But, when we get it, too many of us begin to see rain once again in a negative light.

For the Christian believer, though, drought is the condition of our soul when sin has an upper hand, and so we yearn for refreshing from God's Spirit like a dry, barren land longs for rain.

Ezekiel 34 begins with God's condemnation of the spiritual leaders who are not caring for His people. And, in verse 11, He just says, "I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them." He is fed up with those who have been given this responsibility and who have either not stepped up to the task or more especially have arrogantly flaunted it, taken advantage of the people for their own selfish desires.

This passage is brought into context for the Christian when in verse 23, God says, "Then I will appoint over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them...and be their shepherd." This prophecy made after the life and reign of King David, to us, refers to the coming and reign of the Messiah.

In the coming of Messiah, God makes several promises including the one referenced in our title: "And I will make showers fall in their season; they will be showers of blessing."

Then, just a few verses later, He makes again one of the great promises of the Bible. From the promise to Jacob, "Behold, I am with you" (Genesis 28:15) to the promise of Jesus, "behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20), the people of God have been blessed with the presence of God. And, here in Ezekiel 34:30, we see this same promise: "Then, they will know that I,, the LORD their God, am with them."

Finally, the chapter closes with what appears to me to be a comforting and encouraging verse. In it, God reminds us that we, His sheep, are people, mere men and women in need of a God, and that He Himself is God. In this He reminds us with 3 distinct names, "'I am your God (Elohim),' declares the Lord (Adonai) GOD (Jehovah)." A distinct reminder that God is God and we are not.

It is this God, our God, who gives us eternal relationship through His Son, Jesus, His very presence, and "showers of blessings."

1. There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

2. There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

3. There shall be showers of blessing:
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy word.

4. There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we're confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

"There Shall Be Showers of Blessing" by Daniel W. Whittle


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The Popular Hymnal

The Popular Hymnal is another of my hymnals from the publisher, Robert H. Coleman. For some reason this name strikes me as being a...