Chapter 14: My Hymns
Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song And will magnify Him with thanksgiving;
Psalms 95:2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us make a joyful noise to Him with psalms.
Colossians 3:16b singing with grace in our hearts to God.
The most important words left in my whole life, is mostly hymns. In 1948 I started to write hymns. In 1956 when I entered into trials and tribulations, I gradually wrote more hymns. In 1976, I compiled all the hymns I’ve written in the sufferings, over 60 hymns were composed into “Songs of the Wanderer”. With Brother Zhuting Chen of Anyou making a hundred copies on wax paper. Not long after, a Sister in Hong Kong printed another hundred copies. All the saints in the churches all over Fuxing like to sing this, and get life supply from them.
In 1991, after I return from yet another suffering, Brother Yusen You made the capital to print five hundred copies. Afterwards, Fuzhou also printed many copies. Not long after, this hymnal was shared to other provinces in the north, along to overseas regions like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, USA, and Indonesia. Provinces like Jiangshi and Shangdong, have places where they made more copies, because all the saints really liked it. This year, I will recompose them and edit them, into two major parts. The first part is “Thoughts in Trials”, there’s seventy hymns, most of it comes from my experience in tribulation and written under the pressure of the environment, is the major portion of the hymn. The second portion is the appendix: Appendix One, “Horns of the Gospel” with fifteen hymns; Appendix Two, “Church Service” with fifteen hymns; Appendix Three, “Life of the Saints” with twelve hymns; Appendix Four, “Scriptures” thirty hymns. The whole hymnal will have a total of a hundred and fifty hymns, but still named “The Wanderer’s Hymns”.
In 1992, I wrote “The Heart’s Thoughts From Tribulations——-Behind the Writing of The Wanderer’s Hymns”, the brothers all felt that it was too bare bones. So recently I rewrote it, added some content, but it is stilled called “The Heart’s Thoughts From Tribulations”. The saints in China has more difficulties, that everyone who wills to live all their days in Christ, would all suffer persecution. The hymns I’ve written in tribulations, is very well received by fellows in our trials. There is a sister in Southern Fujian, was imprisoned for several years along with her husband for the Lord. Not long after leaving prison, her husband got severely ill and was taken away by the Lord, so her heart was severely in pain. When she received the several hymns that I have mailed her, she replied to me saying, “When I carefully and thoroughly sing these hymns one by one, my persecuted spirit got supplied. Every sentence, every stanza in these hymns speaks out my heart to the Lord, that I cannot say before. Much like the fragrant ointment that comes from the broken jade flask! I did not know how to pray before, but the holy spirit leads me to pray thru these hymns, praise!” Another sister who loves the Lord also wrote a letter to tell me: “This hymn that has been written in the furnace of trials, had helped and inspired me deeply. The hearts thoughts from the pressing of trials, I sang it, and can not only understand stand the heart of the persecuted one in their tribulations, it can also bring my heart before the lord, enjoying God’s comforting, God’s sweetness and God’s love.”
Those hymns I’ve written in persecution, have been mailed in 1978 to our respected old Brother Luosan Chen. At that time, he lives in Nanlin, Guangxi Province where his daughter is. He was very touched after reading my hymns, wrote a reply letter to me, “These hymns are like the fragrance of myrrh, because it is pressed out from trials, so it touches people deeply.” When he sang up to the third and fourth stanza of the hymn “Not by the eye, Only by Faith”, he wrote: “I’m crying! I’m crying!” After he finished reading “Don’t touch the Dead things”, says to me again, “this hymn was very helpful for me, I will respectfully receive this in the Lord.”
In 1996, Brother Jiedun Wen returned to Mainland to visit relatives, and came to visit me at my home. It was a very joyful talk when we met. I gave him a copy of “The Wanderer’s Hymn”, he accepted happily, several days later, he wrote a letter to me asking for another copy. When he was staying in Shanghai, just as he was about to return to the USA, he wrote a letter for me. The letter contains this passage: “You’ve suffered for the Lord for many years, I believe that the Lord will remember it. The hymns that you have written during trials and tribulations, really touched me and I really like. You’ve experienced much difficulties, but this time I see that your face is glowing with radiant light, this reminds me of when I saw Margaret E Barber many years ago, her face was glowing with radiant light as well.” After reading this letter, I felt amazed and touched. Margaret E. Barber is rich in the Lord’s life, with very deep spirituality, was once the spiritual mother of the likes of Brother Nee! While I’ve only sufferd a little for the Lord, shallow as such, how can I be placed on the same level as her? I can only bow my head and worship the Lord’s grace and mercy.
About the hymns that I wrote, I have said: “If you had flower strewn pathways all your life thru, joy without sorrow, then you would not understand and treasure these hymns. If you are a laborer that has been thru bitter harshness, often pained person on the way of the cross, then you will get some comfort from these hymns, and have it resonate with your spirit.” The reality reflects that.
These seventy hymns, except for the last two, are all ordered chronologically. These hymns can be considered as a reflection of my spiritual experience for the past few decades, not dogma, but the truth and the flowing out of spiritual life. An old brother that’s over eighty years in Hong Kong said that these hymns has some of the flavor of the hymns that Brother Nee wrote. I feel that this is the highest possible praise for these hymns I’ve wrote. (For the years of when and where the hymns are written, please see the appendix.)