About The Songs on “Think On These Things”
“...the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” Song of Songs 2:12.
To see “a light at the end of the tunnel” can give us courage to keep going through the dark, just as God’s promises to the Israelites gave them hope in the wilderness. This collection of songs sings of that light and that hope. The songs follow one another like parts of a story.
The melodies are based on the rich lore of folk songs that have been passed from generation to generation. The authors’ names have been lost in the maze of time, but the tunes have had staying power over the centuries.
1. “Think On These Things” gives the secret of joy: think on God’s Truth and its ultimate fulflt1ment in His Kingdom. This will keep you positive and lift you past the burdens you may bear. The origins of this ancient Irish melody are unknown. The first words known to have been set to it were “Would I were Erin’s apple blossom o’er you” by Alfred P. Graves. After that, Thomas Moore wrote “My Gentle Harp” to the tune. Later, the words of “Danny Boy” were used. Hubert Parry, author of the song, “Jerusalem.” called the melody “the most beautiful tune in the world.”
2. “Joy Will Come In The Morning” encourages you to look ahead to the “sunrise” in order to gain strength in the night filled with sorrows. I wrote this for a friend going through a wrenching personal tragedy. The tune is old Scottish. Lady John Scott picked up both the words to “Loch Lomond” and the tune from a poor boy singing it on the streets of Edinburgh.
3. “Turn Now To Me” shows God as a Father giving a call to repentance, with His deep wish for only the good for physical Israel; for His church, the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16); and eventually, for the whole world. The Scottish tune is “Turn Ye To Me,” a love song.
4. “Oh, Lord, You Have Searched Me” is a heartfelt cry of repentance asking God to examine the psalmist and show where he needs to change. I chose “Greensleeves” as the tune because as I was setting the Psalm to poetry, the words fit so smoothly to this English melody that together they inspired me. I hope they will do the same for you! As with the other folk songs, the origin of the melody is unknown. What is clear is the tune’s popularity. under different titles and versions, for at least five hundred years.
5. “Healed By His Stripes” follows the repentant attitude of Song #4. Although self-examination is a daily process, it is especially important in preparation for the Passover service. As we take the bread, we meditate on the pain Christ endured and discern His Body broken for our healing. Sections of an old Irish melody from “The Banks of the Roses” are part of the tune.
6. “Bought With A Price” dwells on the precious sacrifice of the life and death of Jesus Christ, our Passover, ransoming us from death. The melody is from an old Irish air now known as “The Foggy Dew.”
7. “Bless The Lord, Oh My Soul” is the outpouring of praise for the blessings God gives: healing our sicknesses, forgiving our sins, and ransoming us from death. A love poem for Annie Laurie, written by William Douglas in 1685, was later set to this Scottish folk melody.
8. “Song Of Moses” rejoices after the deliverance at the Red Sea and continues the theme of praise for God’s power to save. The origin of the rousing English tune is unknown, but it goes back to the sixteenth century. A century or so later, an unknown author wrote the words for the song, “The British Grenadiers.”
9. “Under The Shadow Of His Wings” gives comfort and assurance to the Christian in the “wilderness wanderings,” just as God protected and provided for ancient Israel. The tune for the verse is the Scottish, “O Waly, Waly,” which may mean “O Willow, Willow.” There are other versions in England and America. You may have heard it called “The Water Is Wide.” The chorus melody for “Under the Shadow of His Wings” is from the American folk song, “Oh, Shenandoah.”
10. “Thank Offering” is from Psalm 116, part of the Spring Holy Day “Hallel” or praise series (Psalms 113-118). The prayer expresses heartfelt thanks for past deliverance and a desire to always trust in God. The tune is based on an ancient Irish air. Around 1850 Sir Samuel Ferguson of Belfast used the melody for “The Lark in the Clear Air,” a beautiful love song.
11. “Oh, Lord, Our Beloved” is the love song of the Church to Christ, her Beloved. The music was written by Bonnie Hood Witmer, the only song in this project that is not a folk song.
12. “The Virtuous Woman” continues the theme of the Bride of Christ, based on the wife of Proverbs 31. Thomas Moore, who collected folk tunes and wrote his own words, used this old Irish melody for “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. “ It seems especially appropriate for the “virtuous woman” as the words speak of a husband’s undying love, even as his wife ages and loses the outward beauty of youth.
13. “Rejoice In All Things” reinforces one of the truths to “think on.” God only wants good for us as He allows circumstances to develop our character. We can rejoice, knowing He works all that happens to us, even painful experiences, for the best. The old Welsh tune is set to a song called “Myfwany” meaning “Dearest.”
14. “Praise The Lord Forever” is from Psalm 113, another of the Hallel series of Psalms (see song #10). This focuses on “the light at the end of the tunnel,” when Christ has returned and the whole earth praises Him. His people do so now! The Irish tune is “Come Back to Erin.”
15. “Fear Not, Little Flock” is more assurance of God’s tender care. The tune is a beautiful English melody set to “Early One Morning.”
16. “Full Of Grace, Seasoned With Salt” circles back to the opening song: gracious speech is from a heart free of bitterness, is a result of dwelling on God’s faithfulness, and is offered to His praise. The Welsh tune is a peaceful lullaby, “Suo Gan.”
Order your copy of Think on These Things, with these sixteen songs, for $11.50 for an Audio Cassette, or $15.50 for a CD (Maryland residents, add 5% sales tax). Sheet music with words and notes is available for $4.75. Write: Barri Armitage, 13904 North Gate Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20906.