WELS Hymnal Project

Project Blog

Insights, analysis, techniques, opinions, and experiences from the team behind the WELS Hymnal Project.

Introduction
There is a noticeable shift taking place these days. Things are definitely moving from research and development of content to production of content. In plain language, this means that what hymnal project committees have brought forward is being handed over to Northwestern Publishing House for production as print and digital resources. It’s an exciting time. Years of committee work are coming to fruition in the form of soon-to-be finished works. It has certainly been a team effort. The Lord has been kind to us by bringing us to this point. We look forward to the days in the not too distant future when we will be able to start sharing with members of our church body first glimpses of all of these materials. As we anticipate those days, this update will serve as a progress report on the work our Lord has allowed us to do.

Scripture Committee
The update of the three-year lectionary is complete. A key strength of this updated resource is that all Sundays and festivals will have a unified theme across all three readings. The balance of the propers (Prayer of the Day, Psalm of the Day, Gospel Acclamation [with its proper verse of the day] and Hymn of the Day) will all support this integrated theme. Now that the thousands of work hours that went into the lectionary update have drawn to a close, the Scripture Committee is moving on to the second major component of its work. The committee is busy producing a series of books entitled “Commentary on the Propers,” volumes that will expand on the previously published “Planning Christian Worship” by providing 4-5 pages of comments per Sunday/festival, showing the common thread that runs through the appointed readings. These comments will give tremendously helpful direction to preachers, worship planners, and musicians.

Hymnody Committee
At the beginning of May 2019, the Hymnody Committee brought forward a first draft of the final hymn list. For the Executive Committee (XC) that has been reviewing this list of 650 hymns, this has meant taking a first look at all of the hymns laid out in hymnal format—6X9 pages with music and lyrics. The XC is reviewing the hymns of the new hymnal over the course of this summer. At its September meeting, the XC will look to finalize the list.

There are several different ways that congregations present music to congregations. Hymns are printed in hymnals, reprinted in service folders, and projected on screens. Different users in different contexts may see various strengths or weaknesses in one form of presentation or another. We will always view resources printed in hymnals as perhaps having the highest amount of strengths. Only in the printed book can the full musical accompaniment be legally printed (according to contractual copyright agreements). Reprint licenses (OneLicense.net; CCLI.com) only allow service folder reprinting or projection of the melody and text of copyrighted materials. We will be fully providing all of the above options for congregations—printed books, resources that can be reprinted, resources that can be projected), but we are mindful of the fact that putting the full musical version of resources in the hands of worshipers is something which only the printed book can accomplish.

A ratio of 2/3 and 1/3 is common for new hymnals—2/3 of the hymns of the previous hymnal are brought forward in the new hymnal, while approximately 1/3 of the hymns are new. New hymns are not all recent; a good number of the “new hymns” are simply “new to us.” Bringing forward more than 200 new hymns means that congregations could introduce two new hymns in worship per month over a period of eight years. There are, of course, many new resources in all of the volumes that will appear with the new hymnal. Whether it is hymns or psalms or rites, the amount of new material available will mean that congregations will be acting wisely if they plan to gradually “unwrap” all of these new worship materials over years and even decades, rather than inundating worshipers with too much new material in a short period of time. A Hymnal Introduction Program will explore this gradual approach in great detail.

The final area of the Hymnody Committee’s research was the genre of modern hymns. With the term modern hymns, we are referring neither to Contemporary Christian Music nor to Christian songs played on the radio. An excellent blog article by Pastor Jon Bauer on the hymnal project website explains the philosophy that was adopted and the process that was followed. The Accompaniment Edition for the hymns is slated to be a two-volume set totaling 1500 pages, formatted on 8.5X11 pages, with notation scaled larger for ease of reading on the music stand. (This is the format for all of the accompaniment editions.) An additional, separate accompaniment volume for the hymns is also slated to be produced: Accompaniment for Hymns—Simplified.

Psalmody Committee
As in the current hymnal, the new hymnal will include 62 psalms, those psalms that have been appointed in the lectionary for the various Sunday and festivals of the Christian church year.
Little did we know that choosing to produce a complete psalter would be much like adding another entire hymnal to the workflow of the hymnal project—or maybe we did. That mammoth project is rapidly moving toward completion. A separate, self-standing psalter of approximately 700 pages will include the full texts of all 150 psalms, with an average of two or three different musical settings of each psalm. The Psalter will feature approximately 450 psalm settings. These settings will have a much greater diversity of style than the one style that appeared in our current hymnal. A psalm with a refrain and chanted verses is referred to as a responsorial psalm. Six to eight different styles of musical settings will appear in the new Psalter. Each of the 150 psalms will have at least one responsorial setting and one metrical paraphrase (Christian Worship #238 is a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 103). The Accompaniment Edition for the psalter is slated to be a two-volume set totaling 1000 pages.

Rites Committee
The Rites Committee is in the process of finalizing the text and music of all of the services in the front part of the hymnal. The fact is that these rites have been in close-to-final form for some time now. Since these rites will find repeated use over several decades, final editing is very important so that every service, every rubric, every note, and every syllable appear as intended.

The rite for Holy Communion bears the title “The Service.” Three musical settings of The Service will be printed in the hymnal. Five to six more musical settings of The Service will appear in digital resources. The text of The Service remains essentially the same across the various settings of The Service. Variety is found in some of the prayer texts but is primarily found in the music of the different settings of The Service. Rites for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline have also been completed. The keyboard Accompaniment Edition for liturgy, psalms and Gospel Acclamations is slated to be a volume of at least 300 pages.

Some congregations participated in field tests of Setting Two of The Service. Setting Three of The Service will be introduced to congregations in a limited way in the Preview that will be available in January 2020. It is noteworthy that Setting Two and Setting Three will both have full settings for both organ and piano. This means that the organ versions of these settings will have their own instrument parts (brass, percussion, etc.), while the piano versions of these settings will also have their own instrument parts (C-instruments, guitar lead sheets, percussion, etc.).

Congregations can also look forward to a full set of Gospel Acclamations (alleluia refrains with a chanted verse of the day) for every Sunday and festival, as well as updated rites for seasonal services (Holy Week, Easter Vigil, etc.).
The liturgical art studio of Nicholas Markell is producing high quality liturgical icons for the various rites and sections of the hymnal and psalter. These images are also slated to be made available to congregations for purchase.

Agenda Book
The WELS Hymnal Project includes print books numbering a total of approximately seventeen volumes. Among those volumes is an Agenda Book. This is the volume that includes rites frequently used by the pastor on special occasions such as the installation of a church council, the installation of a teacher, reception of new members, confirmation, etc. This volume and most of the other seventeen volumes are slated to be released simultaneously with the new hymnal, ready to be used for Advent 2021.

Manuals
Four manuals are being written to support the new worship books of the WELS hymnal project. The four manuals will treat topics aimed at four audiences – pastors; musicians; congregational groups; lay devotions.

Handbook
The current book that includes the background story for the hymns and the biographies for all of the authors and composers of the hymns was entitled: “Christian Worship: Handbook.” That comprehensive volume is being updated and will appear as an online resource.

Communications Committee
The work of the Communications Committee is winding down. The members of the committee did a tremendous amount of work in the early years of the project by way of survey, data analysis, blog posts, FIC articles, news releases, etc. The committee continues to manage the project website where this summer update appears. The work of the Communications Committee will soon transition into the work of the Hymnal Introduction Program.

Technology Committee
The three main initiatives of the hymnal project’s Technology Committee (TC) have not changed over the past five years.

1) The highest priority initiative of the TC has been a service builder program. We are pleased to announce that the licensing of this program has been finalized. The service builder program is “software as a service.” Users operate the software in a web browser rather than installing software on their own hard drives. All of the digital assets of the hymnal program will be available in the service builder program. Worship planning will be greatly facilitated. Undoubtedly, the two greatest strengths of this program will be time savings in producing service folders and the high-level quality of the service folders that the program exports. All WELS congregations will greatly benefit from this software which will be available by subscription. Those using OneLicense.net or CCLI.Com for reprint licensing will want to be aware of the fact that use of this new service builder program virtually eliminates the need for third party reprint licenses. We are eagerly looking forward to letting congregations know about this software starting in early 2020 as the Hymnal Introduction Program officially kicks off. The software itself will be available for Advent 2021 when the new hymnal materials launch.

2) A Musicians’ Resource is the second main initiative of the Technology Committee. This resource is now the main focus of the TC. We are preparing to make available thousands of individual music files in support of congregational singing. These resources would be available for purchase on an ala carte basis. Need a flute part for hymn #523? Like to have an alternate keyboard accompaniment for hymn #499? Need the brass part for the Glory to God in the Highest in Setting Three? Like to have the guitar lead sheet for Psalm 91? Literally thousands of such files will be available in the Musicians’ Resource. Work on the Musicians’ Resource is taking place on a daily basis.

3) A personal app for individual users to access the hymnal materials on a devotional basis is the third initiative of the TC. This resource has been intentionally delayed to the very end of the development timetable, so as to make use of the very latest emerging technology.

Preview
A 60-page booklet is being produced to introduce the new hymnal line of products to the members of our church body. Each congregation will receive multiple hard copies of this Preview. Please note that the Preview is not a sampler. It is not a booklet for use during worship. It is a booklet that shows features of the new hymnal, psalter, and other resources. It will foster conversations in your congregation about the decisions you will make as far as acquiring the new hymnal materials. The Preview will first be released at the January 2020 WELS Leadership Conference. The Hymnal Introduction Program will also formally begin its work at the same time.

Next Steps
The Preview will also begin to share with congregations plans they can make to fund purchases of new hymnal materials. Suffice it to say, before a pricing schedule has been set by Northwestern Publishing House, that we want to encourage all congregations to start planning and setting funds aside now for the new hymnal materials that will be ready for Advent 2021. We are pleased to hear that some congregations are already doing so.
Look forward to seeing in the Forward in Christ magazine a three-article series on the new hymnal, starting in October 2019.

Respectfully submitted,
Pastor Michael D. Schultz, director
WELS Hymnal Project

As the hymns committee began its search for the 200 or so new hymns that will be included in the next hymnal, that search included scouring dozens of published hymnals from all corners of English-speaking Christianity. As a result, when we speak about the “new” hymns that will appear in our next hymnal, we mean hymns that will be new to us. In some cases they are also new in the sense of having been written rather recently. In some cases they have been around for decades or more.

In addition to searching these published hymn collections, we also searched the music that has been produced in recent years within wider English-speaking Christianity, including what is often referred to as Christian contemporary music. We searched artists’ and publishers’ websites. We asked for song lists and recommendations from congregations who regularly use this type of music. Hundreds of songs were looked at, and eventually about 150 were presented to the hymns committee for their review. Of that 150, roughly 50 were presented to the project’s executive committee for their review.

A variety of different reasons could be given for making such a search. But the most important one starts with a very simple assumption, the same assumption that lies at the heart of our church body’s decision to publish a new hymnal in the first place. That assumption is that the Holy Spirit continues to give good gifts to Christ’s Church for the carrying out of its mission. Those gifts didn’t stop in 1524 with the publishing of the first Lutheran hymnal. They didn’t stop in 1993 with the publishing of Christian Worship. They aren’t restricted to any specific generation or denomination. Until Christ comes back, we should expect the Holy Spirit to continue to bless us with gifted poets and composers who put the beautiful truths of the gospel to poetry and music. And if that’s the case, it’s only natural that we would try to identify all of the gifts that could be of benefit to the gospel ministry of our church body’s congregations and schools.

So what did we find? Having been heavily involved in the search described above, I’d like to offer a few reflections.

Observation 1: Much modern music is produced with different priorities than those of a hymnal project.
It’s easy for any evaluation of modern Christian music to be carried out on a pass/fail basis. In other words, the goal is simply to determine whether a song is acceptable for use in our worship or not. Under such a pass/fail approach, the primary focus would naturally be on the words of the song in question.

While this is certainly the place to start and while there are certainly songs that we would conclude are unacceptable for use in our church body, a helpful evaluation goes much further than this. The contents of a generational, denominational resource like a hymnal are selected on the basis of specific priorities. In contrast, much of so-called contemporary music, while not unacceptable for worship, is nonetheless created with very different priorities.

In some cases, the difference in priorities is textual. Our hymnal project is looking for songs whose words proclaim biblical truth in general and gospel comfort in particular. In contrast, many songs are written not primarily to proclaim biblical truth but to give expression to the Christian’s response to that truth.

In some cases the difference in priorities relates to congregational participation. A hymnal is a worship resource designed to be put in the hands of an assembly and used together by that assembly. Words and music are placed side by side so that the collective assembly has everything it needs to be able to proclaim the gospel in song together. In contrast, many songs are written to be performed for an assembly rather than produced by an assembly. Even though the assembly may be able to participate, this ability would come only after hearing the song a good number of times so that the melody is known by heart. If the musical notes of the song were to be displayed to the people at all, they would be more of a hindrance than a help.

Finally, in some cases, the difference in priorities relates to intended shelf life. A hymnal is a curated set of songs meant to serve an entire generation of worshipers. Its inherent expectation is that most of the hymns included have a shelf life of at least a generation. Additionally, a hymnal passes on to future generations a good number of hymns that centuries of worshipers have found worthy of use and adds our assessment to theirs. In contrast, many songs are written to catch on quickly but wear out just as quickly in order to make way for a new set of songs that will do the same. During our search among Christian contemporary music, it occurred to me that if we were to tell one of these artists that we were going to take one of their songs, publish it in a hymnal, and twenty-five years from now plan to still be teaching it to people who have never heard it before, their response might be, “Now why would you go and do something like that?” For comparison’s sake, imagine if our current hymnal were full of Christian songs that were popular back in 1991. As much as those Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith albums were well-loved back then, I’m not sure they’d be getting much use today. For many songs, publication in a generational, denominational resource isn’t in keeping with their purpose.

Observation 2: Observation 1 is not without exception.
All of that said, even when a song is evaluated on the basis of the various priorities inherent with a hymnal project, it’s still impossible to evaluate each song on a pass/fail basis. Rather, songs meet these priorities in varying degrees. This is true even of songs written in a rather traditional hymnic style. Some hymns proclaim gospel comfort better than others. Some include more of the believer’s heartfelt response to that gospel. Some hymns are readily singable by almost any assembly. Others are more difficult to sing or almost require vocal leadership. Some hymns are sturdy enough to last for generations. Others catch on quickly but likely will not be sung fifty years from now.

Even though much of the Christian music being produced for popular consumption today has different priorities than those of a hymnal project, that rule is not without exception. As I searched through list after list and website after website, it was great to see how many artists today are committed to producing music whose priorities match ours: music that clearly proclaims the gospel, music designed to encourage participation by the assembly, and music designed to have some staying power.

As a result, our next hymnal will include some songs that we believe worshipers will find lively and upbeat. It will include songs whose sound and poetry are fresh and relevant to today’s generation of Christians. However, there won’t be a batch of songs that is clearly different from all the rest. They won’t be relegated to their own section with their own heading, “Contemporary,” if such a thing were even possible. If you didn’t look at the bottom of the page to see when the hymn was written and by whom, you might not even realize that a particular song is considered “contemporary,” just like a person might listen to Koine’s setting of “Salvation Unto Us Has Come,” and have no idea that it was part of that first Lutheran hymnal published in 1524.

It’s not as if there’s this clearly defined line where one leaves the world of hymnody and enters the world of Christian contemporary music. Instead, most songs meet the criteria that differentiate those two genres in a wide variety of degrees.

Observation 3: The search will always be worth the effort.
As a result, while the search may have been tedious and while a great deal of the music we considered doesn’t fit with the priorities of a hymnal project, the search was worth the effort.

Our hymnal project has the priorities it has not simply because it happens to be a hymnal project. Rather, we have those priorities because we are convinced they are beneficial for God’s people as they gather for worship. Songs that focus on the believer’s response to God’s love have their place. But it’s good to have an overall diet of hymnody that puts the focus on gospel truth so that our confidence continues to be grounded in God’s work for us rather than on how that work happens to make us feel in the moment. Songs that catch on and wear out quickly can be valuable. But something just as valuable might be lost if a believer spends their entire lifetime learning a completely new set of songs every decade rather than having some that have the ability to last from cradle to grave. Songs that are designed to be performed for worshipers rather than produced collectively by them can serve a purpose. But in a society that’s already saturated with consumerism, it’s good to help believers see that they are part of a royal priesthood chosen and equipped to proclaim God’s praises rather than simply consume the praises that are produced by a select group with the talent to do so. In other words, we’re producing the specific type of worship resource we’re producing for a reason. It’s because we are convinced that these priorities best serve Christ’s church as it carries out its work.

That also means that it’s worth looking for, and finding, and including songs that fit those priorities and at the same time are accessible and enjoyable to sing and whose sound is fresh and relevant to today’s worshipers. Some of these modern songs might not last for generations or centuries. But by including songs that will catch on very quickly, we hopefully allow worshipers to discover the one on the very next page that has the ability to last for generations. By including songs that are easier to sing, we hopefully make it easier for worshipers to put in the worthwhile effort to learn the ones that are more difficult. By including songs whose sound is already relatively at home in the ear of newer worshipers, we hopefully make it easier for them to see that they can make a joyful noise to the Lord just as well as they can make a joyful noise to their pickup truck (sorry, country music fans) and that they can cry out in anguish to the Lord just as well as they can cry out in anguish over a recent breakup (sorry, Emo fans).

Finally, including modern music in a hymnal is very much in keeping with another priority inherent in producing a generational, denominational resource like a hymnal. It’s a reflection of one of the most beautiful and miraculous characteristics of Christ’s Church: our unity. Rather than the Church being one more group whose existence is determined by the shared interests of all the members, Christ’s Church brings together people from every tribe and every tongue, every nation and every generation, every political bent and every musical preference. Rather than being one more organization where everyone insists that every individual preference is met, the Church is an organization where everyone insists on setting aside those preferences for the good of the whole body. We hope our church body’s next hymnal will be a valuable tool for realizing that priority as well.

It’s the home stretch. It’s really exciting.

We have chosen all of the Psalm settings for the hymnal. We have chosen all of the alternate settings for those Psalms as well. Congregations that like the current hymnal’s Psalm style will be able to find something for every service. Congregations that prefer metrical paraphrases or more lyrical settings will be able to find something as well. All of those settings can be found either in the hymnal or the Psalter. The electronic worship planning tool will aid in incorporating those in worship folders.

And we are 90% done with choosing all of the settings for the new WELS psalter. We are providing accessible settings for individuals, choirs, and congregations to chant or sing all 150 Psalms. It has been genuinely delightful to pore over thousands of settings, looking for things that the vast majority of people will be able to use.

The basic pattern of the psalter has come together. Each Psalm is printed in its entirety, and pointed to be chanted in the current CW style with familiar chant tones provided. A Psalm prayer is followed by an explanation of how the Church has used that Psalm through the ages, and then commentary on that particular Psalm from Martin Luther in a fresh translation. The settings follow, representing treasures old and new.

We have discovered well over 100 tunes for the metrical paraphrases. Many of them are new to WELS. Some of them are from previous WELS hymnals but are not in the current hymnal. Almost all of them will be printed in singable and playable four-part harmony.

We are aware of new settings being published even this year, and we are reviewing them as we have the opportunity. But the date is fast approaching when we are finished, and then the comprehensive new WELS psalter will be in your hands. We can hardly wait!

I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Psalm 43:4b

One value in repeated use of familiar worship material is that certain phrases become embedded in one’s memory. One of my favorites: “Better than life is your love” (Morning Devotion, CW page 152; Psalm 63:3). God’s love is better than life itself because he rescues us from sin and death and promises eternal life.

Easter is God’s stamp of approval on Christ’s victory. St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

In the death and resurrection of Jesus, death for the believer dies. What a powerful image! “Holy Scripture plainly says that death is swallowed up by death; its sting is lost forever. Hallelujah!” (161:2, 720:4). A new hymn by Keith and Kristyn Getty puts it this way: “Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered” (See, What a Morning).

Not all familiar and memorable lines are pleasant. Martin Luther’s great Easter hymn doesn’t mince words about the cause for Jesus’ death: “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands for our offenses given” (161, 720). But though our offenses are great, his love is greater. “He died on the accursèd tree—so strong his love—to save us” (161:3, 720:5).

Some days we revel in Easter confidence. Other days we’re tempted to minimize the serious risks in our spiritual battles. So we do well to remember: “The ancient dragon is their foe” (195:4). On our own, we’d be quickly defeated. But with God’s promise to support us, we are bold to say: “Dragon of old and jaws of death, I sneer at the fear you bring!” (from a new hymn under consideration).

A favorite line for many is from “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”: “He lives to silence all my fears; He lives to wipe away my tears” (152:5). And so we pray in a hymn not from the Easter section:

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me! (588:7)

This year Easter worship will include familiar images and memorable poetic phrases. In years to come a new hymnal will bring new expressions of Easter victory and confidence.

God bless your Easter worship with spiritual truth embedded in your heart by both new and familiar words!

So let us keep the festival
To which the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the joy of all,
The sun that warms and lights us.
Now his grace to us imparts
Eternal sunshine to our hearts;
The night of sin is ended. Hallelujah! (161:4, 720:6)

Until you’re faced with the cold, chilling reality that your days are actually numbered, you might not notice it so much. But ask the hiker stranded for four days in sub-zero temperatures, ask the patient in the oncology ward who has just heard the words “stage 4,” ask the pinned down, bleeding accident victim who fears that the EMT’s and the jaws of life are not going to arrive in time—ask any of them what they think about seeing another sunrise. I didn’t think much about the fact that the sun rose this morning, but there are those who treasure each new morning because they know that they don’t have too many grains of sand left in the top half of the hourglass. So when they rejoice to see the dawn of another day, they also reflect on the God who is giving them that day. They might even reflect on the fact that every day they are given is based on a promise from God, that cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease until the God who created the seasons brings them to an end and fashions for his redeemed people a new heavens and a new earth— the home of righteousness.

Always more than we realize, we depend on the promises of God.

One promise, in particular, has been operating in stealth mode throughout all of our days. It is the promise that the Triune God is always with us, that he will never leave us or forsake us. We have never seen our Savior, but our Savior has never taken his eye off us. More than we realize, we depend on God not abandoning us, for that would truly be hell.

When he took on a servant’s form and was found in appearance as a man, Jesus depended on the promises of God. Unlike ours, his dependence on the promises of God was complete and perfect in every way. He relied on God for food and drink, for clothing and shoes, for help in trouble, for deliverance from evil, for everything. Jesus found great solace and peace in the fact that the Father who sent him to earth would never leave him to fend for himself, would never turn a deaf ear to his prayers, would never slumber or sleep, would always watch over him and protect him, would never leave him or forsake him.

Sainted Lutheran pastor and hymn writer Herman Stuempfle wrote a Lenten hymn with a mind-boggling title: “Son of God, by God Forsaken.” That title calls to mind the quandary in which Luther found himself when pondering Good Friday: “God forsaken by God—who can understand it?” In terms of the doctrine of the Trinity, how such a thing can have happened is inexplicable. In terms of being truly human, the peaceful solace Jesus had in his soul from leaning on the promise that his Father would never leave him or forsake him was the rug that was pulled out from under his feet in the cruelest of fashion. Suddenly, while nailed to a tree in supernatural midday darkness, that essential, pivotal promise was gone. The giver of the promise, Jesus’ eternal Father, was gone. Jesus was more incomprehensibly alone than you or I have ever felt. He was simultaneously drowning in the crushing ocean depths of God-forsakenness and burning in the raging inferno of God’s wrath, with his heavenly Father nowhere to be found. When he cried out, “Why!” the silence only continued, the solitude only deepened, the suffering went on unabated.

Forsaken. For us. To remove all our sin. This was the incomprehensible cost of our rescue, willingly paid by the one who suffered incomprehensible loss in our place.

When Jesus breathed his last, he was no longer forsaken. Our redemption price, the redemption price of the entire world, had been paid. The Father who had forsaken his Son received the soul of his Son into his loving hands.

There is not, nor shall there ever be, a hymn entitled, “Child of God, by God Forsaken.” That is an impossibility. Your heavenly Father will never, not even for a split second through all the endless moments of eternity, suspend or remove his promise to never leave you or forsake you. That happened to Jesus in your place; it’s not going to happen to you. The Lord God Almighty has purchased you and he possesses you as his own and he will not let go of you. As he keeps his promise and causes the sun to rise each morning, he will never forsake you through all of the tomorrows on earth that he has yet to give you. And when the day comes when days and seasons end and he keeps his promise to forever dwell among his people in the new heavens and the new earth, he will never forsake you through the endless today that he provides for you in heaven.