The Old Rugged Cross (for String Quartet)

In my opinion, these are some of the most powerful lyrics ever set to song, depicting the Christian faith.  I hope you enjoy this arrangement for String Quartet. 

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To pardon and sanctify me

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory forever I'll share

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

(purchase entire string hymns album)

The hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, written by Martin Luther, has had wide-spread influence throughout Christendom, having been used by many well-respected musicians throughout history, starting with J.S. Bach in his chorale cantata “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (BWV 80). 

Other well-known composers include Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel, Felix Mendelssohn, Claude Debussy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and more recently jazz pianist Bob James.

The message of God’s protection is as ancient as the Scriptural texts from which it is inspired.  Having faith in His capacity to protect and defend us against all forces that would attempt to bring harm to our lives is foundational to the Christian faith.  This protection even defies death itself: “That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15)  “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” (I Cor. 15:54-55)

This conviction is not only relevant for eternity, but also for our daily existence, as the following two passages reveal a truth beneficial to our personal relationships.

“The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe (set on high)” (Prov. 18:10)

“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Prov. 29:25)

The words “safe” and “exalted” in the Hebrew are the same word: sagab, which means to be inaccessibly high, having the connotation of security, a place of safety to the one fleeing or to the one at rest in a fortified height which would be inaccessible to beast and enemy alike.

How many people curry the favor of various communities and leaders, only to be let down in one way or another.  “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.” (Prov. 29:30)

Eventually, man’s ideas, communities, governments, authorities and protection all fail.  But there is an absolute foundation of strength and power to those who unite to Him by faith.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we may confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6)

Throughout the ages, thousands will attest that He is faithful to all who put their trust in Him.  “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom. 10:11)

 

 

 

 

'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus".

(purchase entire string hymns album)

A simple hymn of trust, “Tis So Sweet” challenges the believer to simply relax and release control of our cares, worries and all of life’s difficulties, placing them all into the hands of our loving Creator. 

It seems too good to be true, this message of God’s love, forgiveness and grace.  It’s so easily mocked because of its simplicity.  Many wonder, “Could there really be a way of escape from all the uncertainties of this life?”  Yes!  It’s in the simplicity of trust and faith in Christ.

“Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen.”  (Heb. 11:1) 

God placed in each person the ability to perceive His goodness and to see that which is spiritual.  Some people call it “women’s intuition” or they say, “I just knew in my heart…” 

Modern science has proven multiple dimensions in the known universe.  Is it really that hard to believe that there are things happening the realm of the unseen?  After all, how many radio, television and cell phone waves are all around us, carrying messages, yet are imperceptible to the human eye?

The spiritual realm does exist, and God’s love, care and guidance are ever-present.  It’s really not that hard…take a deep breath, lean back in your chair and say, “I trust You, Lord.”

 

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

 

Louisa M. R. Stead

 

Amazing Grace

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "Amazing Grace".

(purchase entire string hymns album)

What is grace?  The Bible defines it as follows (from the Greek word Charis):

That which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, a benefit, thanks, gratitude, a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor.

That’s what God has done for us by His love, through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and resurrection, having justified us before God.  As God sees Jesus, He sees us.  The Almighty God, perfect and complete, sees us through “Jesus-colored glasses”, if you will.  The same way He views His Son, in righteousness and completeness, is how he views all mankind.

You may not feel holy and righteous.  You may not always do holy and righteous things, and you may feel completely undeserving of total forgiveness, wholeness and peace.  But it’s God’s gift to you.

Like any gift, we can refuse it or accept it.  For those who choose to simply accept it, saying, “Thank You”, all the benefits pour in.  How could anyone reject such a lovely gift?

Receiving it inspires us with a new idea: we want to give a gift to someone else.  It's the gift of unmerited, undeserved favor, forgiveness and acceptance.  Our desire to do this is the evidence of whether or not we first received it for ourselves.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends, if you do what I command you…This I command you, that you love one another.” (Jn. 15:12-14, 17)

His grace is truly amazing, as it comes to us, but it takes on a whole new dimension when it flows through us to others!

 

Amazing grace!  how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind but now I see.

 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

 

Thro’ many dangers toils and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy".

(purchase entire string hymns album)

Heaven is filled with the praises of God.  All of His created beings acknowledge His beauty and worth.  The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of some of this activity: 

“And the four living creatures, each having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (Rev. 4:8)

The word Holy (Gr. hàgios) means: set apart, chaste, pure, clean, virtuous, blameless, without blemish. 

Living this human life, it’s hard to imagine anything (or anyone) being completely perfect.  Everyone has some flaw, some vice.  Even the creation itself seems to have imperfections, some quite noticeable, others less noticeable, but still there, nonetheless.

The only place true holiness can exist is somewhere outside our natural experience.  As perfect as man tries to be, he ultimately will fall short of complete holiness this side of heaven. 

The Apostle Paul shows the answer to this dilemma:

“Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Rom. 7:24,25; 8:1)

God alone is holy, and He has extended His holiness to those who accept His love and forgiveness through Christ Jesus.  We are holy only through His benevolent forgiveness.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (I Pet. 2:9,10)

Again, in Revelation, there was a book with seven seals that needed to be opened, and the question was asked, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 

“And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it.  And I (John) began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”  (Rev. 5:2-5)

Jesus, the spotless, pure Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of all humanity, is holy, and He has graciously extended His holiness to those who trust in Him.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  All the saints adore Thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,

Which wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Tho’ the darkness hide Thee,

Tho’ the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee

Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!

All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;

Holy, Holy, Holy!

Merciful and Mighty!

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

How Great Thou Art

Here’s a string quartet arrangement I wrote based on the well-known hymn “How Great Thou Art”:

(purchase entire “String Hymns” album)

When we look up to the sky to see the stars, wondering how far the reaches of the universe extend, or when we see the beautiful mountain ranges topped with snow, or the beautiful flowing brooks of water, the trees, the birds, animals species too numerous to count, for those who can see the Creator through all of these things, it’s not difficult to acknowledge how truly magnificent and powerful God is.  But the miracle is not how immensely intelligent He is, or how much force He is capable of wielding.  It is rather that He was willing to meet with us on a level by which he calls us 'friend'.

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for his friends.  You are my friends…” (Jn. 15:13,14)

“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.” (Js. 2:23) 

“And Your gentleness (lit. condescension) makes me great.” (Ps. 18:35)

 

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy pow’r thro’out the universe displayed.

 

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;

How great Thou art! 

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

(Stuart K. Hine)