Birds in Hymns – He That Hath Made His Refuge God

Baby Chick Peeping Out From Under His Mom's Wing - ©CC

Baby Chick Peeping Out From Under His Mom's Wing - ©CC

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. (Psalms 91:9-10 KJV)

Words by Isaac Watts, (1674-1748) The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719.

Music: St. John’s High­lands, anon­y­mous

He That Hath Made His Refuge God

He that hath made his refuge God
Shall find a most secure abode,
Shall walk all day beneath His shade,
And there at night shall rest his head.

Then will I say, My God, Thy power
Shall be my fortress and my tower;
I, that am formed of feeble dust,
Make Thine almighty arm my trust.

Thrice happy man! Thy Maker’s care
Shall keep thee from the fowler’s snare;
Satan, the fowler, who betrays
Unguarded souls a thousand ways.

Just as a hen protects her brood
From birds of prey that seek their blood,
Under her feathers, so the Lord
Makes His own arm His people’s guard.

If burning beams of noon conspire
To dart a pestilential fire,
God is their life; His wings are spread
To shield them with a healthful shade.

If vapors with malignant breath
Rise thick, and scatter midnight death,
Israel is safe; the poisoned air
Grows pure, if Israel’s God be there.

What though a thousand at thy side,
At thy right hand ten thousand died,
Thy God His chosen people saves
Amongst the dead, amidst the graves.

So when He sent His angel down
To make His wrath in Egypt known,
And slew their sons, His careful eye
Passed all the doors of Jacob by.

But if the fire, or plague, or sword,
Receive commission from the Lord
To strike His saints among the rest,
Their very pains and deaths are blest.

The sword, the pestilence, or fire,
Shall but fulfill their best desire;
From sins and sorrows set them free,
And bring Thy children, Lord, to Thee.

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, (Psalms 17:8 KJV)

Under His Wings - (Dove - photographer unknown)

Under His Wings - (Dove - photographer unknown)

Isaac Watts – (1674-1748)

Watts’ fa­ther was Non­con­form­ist im­pris­oned twice for his re­li­gious views. Isaac learned Greek, Latin, and He­brew un­der Mr. Pin­horn, Rec­tor of All Saints, and head­mas­ter of the Gram­mar School in South­amp­ton. Isaac’s taste for verse showed it­self in ear­ly child­hood, and his prom­ise caused a lo­cal doc­tor and other friends to of­fer him a un­i­ver­si­ty ed­u­ca­tion, as­sum­ing he would be or­dained in the Church of Eng­land. How­ev­er, Isaac de­clined and in­stead en­tered a Non­con­for­mist Acad­e­my at Stoke New­ing­ton in 1690, un­der the care of Thom­as Rowe, pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent cong­re­ga­tion at Gir­dlers’ Hall; Isaac joined this con­gre­ga­tion in 1693.

Watts left the Acad­e­my at age 20 and spent two years at home; it was dur­ing this per­i­od that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs. They were sung from man­uscripts in the South­amp­ton Cha­pel, and pub­lished 1707-1709.

The next six years of his life were again spent at Stoke New­ing­ton, work­ing as tu­tor to the son of em­i­nent Pur­i­tan John Har­topp. The in­tense stu­dy of these years is re­flect­ed in the the­o­log­ic­al and phil­o­soph­ic­al ma­ter­i­al he sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished.

Watts preached his first ser­mon at age 24. In the next three years, he preached fre­quent­ly, and in 1702 was or­dained as pas­tor of the In­de­pen­dent con­gre­ga­tion in Mark Lane. At that time he moved in­to the house of a Mr. Hollis in the Mi­nor­ies. His health be­gan to fail the next year, and Sam­u­el Price was ap­point­ed as his as­sist­ant in the min­is­try. In 1712, a fe­ver shat­tered his con­sti­tu­tion, and Price be­came co-pas­tor of the con­gre­ga­tion, which had moved to a new cha­pel in Bu­ry Street. It was at this time that Isaac be­came the guest of Sir Thom­as Ab­ney. He lived with Ab­ney (and lat­er Abney’s wi­dow) the rest of his life, main­ly at The­o­balds in Hert­ford­shire, then for 13 years at Stoke New­ing­ton.

In 1728, the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Ed­in­burgh award­ed Watts a Doc­tor of Di­vin­i­ty de­gree.

More Birds in Hymns

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Birds in Hymns – When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Green-billed Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) by Dario Sanches

Green-billed Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) by Dario Sanches

Based on:

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14 KJV)

Words by  Isaac Watts, 1707. Charles Wes­ley reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one.
Music is Hamburg, by Lowell Mason, 1824;

Al­ter­nate tune: Rockingham (Miller), Edward Miller, 1790

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.

This hymn was used even though a bird is not mentioned specifically. The verse with “Were the whole realm of nature mine,” always reminds me of all the birds and other critters that God created. To me, it belongs in with the Birds in Hymns section. Also, the message of the whole hymn tells of the Savior’s love and death on the cross for our salvation.

The Gospel Message


Birds in Hymns – Awake, Our Souls; Away, Our Fears

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) by Nikhil

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) by Nikhil

Based on:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Words by Isaac Watts,
Found in Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, Book I, 1707, #48.
Born 1674 in South­amp­ton, Eng­land.- Died 1748 in Stoke New­ing­ton, Eng­land

Music: Trell by Low­ell Ma­son and Car­mi­na Sac­ra, 1844
Al­ter­nate tunes:
St. Pe­ters­burg, at­trib­ut­ed to Dmi­tri S. Bort­ni­an­sky, 1825
Samson, ar­ranged from George F. Han­del (1685-1759)

Awake, Our Souls; Away, Our Fears

Awake, our souls; away, our fears,
Let every trembling thought be gone;
Awake, and run the heavenly race,
And put a cheerful courage on.

True, ’tis a strait and thorny road,
And mortal spirits tire and faint;
But they forget the mighty God,
That feeds the strength of every saint.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  by AestheticPhotos

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by AestheticPhotos

Thee, mighty God! whose matchless power
Is ever new, and ever young;
And firm endures, while endless years
Their everlasting circles run.

From Thee, the overflowing spring,
Our souls shall drink a fresh supply;
While such as trust their native strength
Shall melt away, and droop, and die.

Swift as an eagle cuts the air,
We’ll mount aloft to Thine abode;
On wings of love our souls shall fly,
Nor tire amidst the heav’nly road.


More Birds in Hymns


Birds in Hymns – My Refuge Is A God Of Love

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? (Psalms 11:1 KJV)

Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719.

Music: All­mäch­tig­er Gott, Jo­hann Crü­ger (1598-1662)

My Refuge is a God of Love

My refuge is the God of love;
Why do my foes insult and cry,
Fly like a timorous, trembling dove,
To distant woods or mountains fly?” 

If government be all destroyed,
That firm foundation of our peace,
And violence make justice void,
Where shall the righteous seek redress?

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove (Turtur chalcospilos) by Daves BirdingPix

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove (Turtur chalcospilos) by Daves BirdingPix

The Lord in Heav’n has fixed His throne,
His eye surveys the world below:
To Him all mortal things are known,
His eyelids search our spirits through.

If He afflicts His saints so far,
To prove their love and try their grace,
What may the bold transgressors fear?
His very soul abhors their ways.

On impious wretches He shall rain
Tempests of brimstone, fire and death;
Such as He kindled on the plain
Of Sodom, with His angry breath.

The righteous Lord loves righteous souls,
Whose thoughts and actions are sincere;
And with a gracious eye beholds
The men that His own image bear.

Most information from The Cyber Hymnal

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