America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates
America the Beautiful
Death and life are in the power of the tongue... Proverbs 18:21a
Where do you live? I do not mean for you to tell me your street address or the name of you town. Instead, describe characteristics of your town or the area where you live. Would I like to come visit because of the words that you use tell me about your hometown? Perhaps you live near the ocean or mountains. What words could you use that would compel me to come and see for myself just what you are writing about? Or when your family drives around town your eyes may be drawn to the buildings that seem to be like fingers reaching, reaching to touch the skies. Or is the sky so big where you live that you feel kind of small in this world? Words are important and maybe you would need to find some new words to add to your vocabulary so that you could say just the right things about where you live.
Over a hundred years ago, a little baby girl, just four weeks before her father died entered as the fifth child into the home of her Massachusetts family. At the age of nine years, she began writing her own thoughts into a little red notebook. We know today that she kept on writing and learning about just the right words. In fact, she became an English teacher and traveled from her home in Massachusetts to Colorado one summer to teach a seminar. She wrote just the right words about what she saw. Her words began as her own thoughts in a journal and were later published in a paper called the Congregationalist. You know some of her words and usually sing them around the fourth of July each year as well as at other patriotic celebrations.
Some people wanted to change what she had written. She did consider and make some changes for the better but one word she knew to be just the right one and would not change it. Let's see if you recognize some of her words. "Amber waves of grain" describes the plains of the Midwest, "purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain" is what she saw when she took a hike up to Pike's Peak in Colorado and she even wrote words about a dreamed of city when she wrote "O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years, Thine alabaster cities gleam". What city was she talking about? Chicago.
Do you know the song yet or the young teacher who wrote it? Katherine Lee Bates wrote "America, the Beautiful". Her words regularly inspire us to be proud of our nation and to pray for God's mercy and grace to shine down on us from "sea to shining sea". Whether you write your thoughts on paper or just say them, I hope you'll remember Katherine Lee Bates and her words that bring life to each of our hearts each time we sing them.
Think on things that are true, noble, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Before you know it, your good and right words will be inspiring someone else to be and do the right things.
To God Be the Glory by Fanny Crosby
To God Be the Glory
Many people think that Fanny Crosby has written more hymns than any other person. In her lifetime, she has written over 8,000 hymns. What is more amazing than Fanny Crosby's achievements is the circumstances under which she accomplished so much.
Fanny Crosby was born as Frances Jane Crosby in 1820 in South East, Putnam County, New York. When she was a small baby, she had a sickness in her eyes. Her family contacted a man who lied and said he was a doctor, and gave her medicine for her eyes that was not real medicine. Instead, this medicine caused her to be blind. She was never able to see after this.
When Fanny was a child, a lady named Mrs. Hawley took much time to teach Fanny Crosby the Bible. Fanny began to memorize large portions of the Bible, to the point that she would memorize between 4-5 chapters a week. After working with Mrs. Hawley for one year, Fanny could recite a large portion of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and all of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. God used this teaching, and moved in her heart to draw her unto him. When she was 30 years old, she committed her life to Christ.
Most people would be very upset to have someone lie and make a mistake that caused them to be blind. Because of Fanny's love for God, she had a different attitude. She believed that God had allowed her blindness for her to glorify God. She said, "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. 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." Fanny married a man named Alexander VanAlstyne, who was also blind. They loved each other very much, and shared a love for music and a love for God. The VanAlstynes had one baby, but God allowed this baby to die. While Fanny had many sad times in her life, yet her attitude was to give God glory. In her hymn, To God Be the Glory, she said,
"Great things He has taught us, great things he hath done and great our rejoicing through Jesus our Son; But purer, and higher, and greater will be Our Wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see."
While many people think that Fanny was a great Christian, Fanny would probably be embarrassed by that title. Fanny Crosby loved God, and was very humble. She used over 200 pen names during her career. A pen name is a secret name that writers use to hide their real name. The reason that Fanny used this many names was because she did not want the fame of writing so many hymns. One of the pen names that Fanny used was Grace J. Frances. Her goal would be to glorify God with her abilities.
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