Tag Archives: music

His Unmistakable Hand

2020 has been a difficult year! Along with many troubles in the world (COVID19, hurricanes, wildfires, political unrest, protests, …), it has included personal challenges: classes cancelled that I had hoped to teach over the summer, a car accident, and falling off a ladder. There have been many opportunities to be downcast and discouraged. But in and through every difficulty, there was always grace. It became increasingly evident that God’s kind hand was working all things for my good and His glory. His goodness was everywhere—in relationships, in encouragements, and in His constant provision.

This song is a testimony to God’s kindness in my life this year and a reminder to trust the Lord, even when, at least in the moment, we cannot understand why He would bring such trials into our lives. We need only look above and beyond the trials to see—

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all we do     
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought us through
Don’t ever doubt the path He’s set
The journey He has planned
With grateful eyes behold each day
His unmistakable hand

Check out the Lyric Video on youtube:

Listen and download a recording of this song from Bandcamp:

His Unmistakable Hand

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.”
(Proverbs 3:5–8)

I find each day a thousand ways
Your kindnesses abound
In trials and in joys alike
Your goodness can be found
For You work all things for my good
To You belongs all praise
Safe in Your hand through ev’ry storm
You care for me always 

Your unmistakable hand
Is guiding all I do         
Clear evidence of Your grace
In all You’ve brought me through
I cannot doubt the path You’ve set
My journey You have planned
So give me eyes each day to see
Your unmistakable hand

God fully orchestrates each day
I live and move and breathe
He works His will when I rejoice
As well as when I grieve
No wasted pain or needless grief
He stays my hand from sin
He weans me from a dying world
and draws me near again

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all I do         
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought me through
I cannot doubt the path He’s set
My journey He has planned
With grateful eyes each day I see
His unmistakable hand

So trust the Lord with all your heart
You need not understand
Acknowledge Him in all your ways
He’ll guide you with His hand
Do not be wise in your own eyes
Flee sin and fear the Lord
This is the way to strength and health
When you believe His Word.

His unmistakable hand
Is guiding all we do     
Clear evidence of His grace
In all He’s brought us through
Don’t ever doubt the path He’s set
The journey He has planned
With grateful eyes behold each day
His unmistakable hand

Words ©2020 Kenneth A Puls
Music ©2013, 2020 Kenneth A Puls

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this song.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

The Sound of Worship

Drums and Cymbals

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150)

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

Psalm 150 anticipates the coming of Christ and foresees the day when God’s praise will cover the earth. Jesus said that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). This psalm, like all the psalms, points us to Christ. The final words of Psalm 150 anticipate Christ’s words in the Great Commission.  The psalmist calls upon “everything that has breath” to “praise the Lord.” In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We are to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Psalm 150 finds its ultimate fulfillment in the conquering grace of Christ displayed in His church.

Church history is a testimony to the fulfillment of Psalm 150. God is at work sanctifying instruments and voices from every tribe and tongue, culture and nation for His glory. He is continually adding new voices, new instruments, new cultures, and new songs to the tapestry of His praise through the ages.

The fulfillment of Psalm 150, however, has not been without opposition. Satan has been enraged and at war with church since its beginning (Revelation 12). It has been his scheme to thwart the spread of God’s praise. He has attempted to shroud the world in darkness so that men remain blind to truth. He has sought to hinder the spread of the gospel so that men remain in bondage to their sin. He has sought to distort truth about God so that men believe and sing lies. And he has cast doubt on music (especially the use of musical instruments) miring them in sinful associations.

In the early days of the church, many musical instruments from Greek and Roman culture were associated with pagan worship and pagan cults. The aulos (a wind instrument like the flute) was used in the worship of the goddess Diana.  The lyre (a stringed instrument) was said to be played by the Greek god Apollo. Many Christian writers and commentators of the first three centuries condemned such instruments based on their associations with pagan rituals. Some presented farfetched explanations and allegories in an attempt to reinterpret passages like Psalm 150, that include clear commands to worship God with musical instruments. (An excellent resource is: Music in Early Christian Literature by James McKinnon, Cambridge University Press, 1987.)

Throughout the history of the church, well-intended arguments have been made that certain musical instruments are incompatible with worship. Some have tried to constrict the Regulative Principle so that it excludes the use of musical instruments in the church altogether.  Drums, guitars, banjos, kazoos, and even the piano have been scorned and disparaged. 

One musical instrument that was slow to be accepted by the church to accompany praise to God was the organ. This may be surprising, since today the organ is regarded as the grandest musical instrument of the church.

“The organ was invented around the 3rd century BC. Back then it was designed to use water rather than air in the pipes and was called the hydraulis. The water organ was quite loud and was used most prominently in the amphitheaters. 

“During the time of the Roman Empire it was used to accompany the processions and events at the gladiatorial games. Some ballparks today use the organ in a similar way to create a festive atmosphere—to signal and stir up the crowd. It was to the celebrative sounds of the organ that many Christians were paraded in before cheering crowds to be martyred. 

“So you can imagine the difficulties with association that early Christians must have had whenever someone finally had the idea to introduce the organ into church as a worship instrument. How could this instrument that accompanied so much death, ever be used in worship?

“But God had a purpose for the pipe organ. He designed to rescue that instrument and use it for His glory. Rome was sacked in 410 and the empire fell over the next 150 years. The organ was finally brought into the church around 7th century AD—well after the fall of Rome. It was not until the 1300s that the first organ was permanently installed in a church. But for hundreds of years after, the pipe organ was a prominent instrument in carrying the praise of God’s people.” (from Thoughts on Music and Worship)

The reality is that there are no musical instruments that cannot be used to worship God, only instruments that are incompatible with our comfort zone and expectations as to what worship music should sound like.

Certainly, we want to use music wisely.  We want to be like the sons of Issachar and have “an understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We want to employ music in ways that will adorn worship and serve our singing, not hinder worship and obscure the words we are singing. The inscriptions on the psalms in Scripture teach us to be intentional in our musical arrangements. In an earlier study on the Psalm Inscriptions, I concluded:

“The psalms set a musical precedent for worship that God will accomplish in fuller measure in the New Testament through the church. Throughout church history, God has added and continues to add many musical styles and sounds to His praise. As the gospel goes out in the power of God’s Spirit, conquering hearts and lives, people from each generation and from every tribe and tongue and nation add their voice to the music of the church. There is not one sound that is solely sacred, but a vast array of musical composition that God is weaving into a tapestry of praise for His glory.” (from Lessons from the Psalm Inscriptions: Titles of Interpretation).

The sanctification of music—musical expression, musical styles, musical instruments—to the praise and glory of God is an outcome of the spread of the gospel and fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

Some will still ask: Where are the musical instruments in the New Testament? Where in the New Testament do we find precedent for using them in the church? Musical instruments are there, of course. They are inherent in the New Testament fulfillment of God’s commands to fill the earth with His praise. They are implied in Paul’s admonitions to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). And they are explicit in John’s descriptions of music in heaven (Revelation 5:8; 8:2, 6; 9:14; 14:2, and 15:2). But it should come as no surprise that the New Testament doesn’t provide an orchestration for music in the church. The New Testament emphasizes the spiritual nature of worship and sees it spread to the ends of the earth. Unlike the worship music of the Old Testament that was specific to one place (the tabernacle / Temple), music in the New Testament is adaptable to every place—everywhere there is breath!

  • We don’t have descriptions as to how to build our buildings and worship spaces.
  • We don’t have orders of worship to plan and design our services.
  • And we don’t have specific instruments designated as necessary and sacred.

There may be times when the church is not able to use musical instruments. They may be scarce. There may not be skilled musicians available to play them. Most of the first three centuries of the church, believers faced severe persecution and had to worship in secret. Loud instruments and music would have needlessly attracted attention.

As the gospel goes out and conquers hearts and lives, where there are musical instruments, they should be sanctified and employed for God’s praise. Where there are no musical instruments, God can still be worshipped with voices alone. He is sovereignly orchestrating His praise throughout the ages and around the world. All glory is His!

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

More Sermons and Articles by Ken Puls

A Word about Practice

barbell and guitar

This post is for friends who are musicians, especially those who play guitar.

One of my life’s joys is teaching music theory and classical guitar at Florida Southwestern State College. I have recently expanded my website to include more resources that I have shared with my students. These include:

A Word About Practice

How often should you practice? What is the best way to structure your practice time? Here are some encouragements on how to get the most out of your practice.

Student Exercises, Scales and Arpeggios

These exercises for Classical Guitar are designed to help you acclimate your hands to the guitar, learn the fretboard, and develop good technique and tone. I will be adding more to this page in the days ahead.

For additional music, visit:

Student Resources and Music for Classical Guitar 

Hymns for Classical Guitar

Music of Bach for Classical Guitar

Wedding Music for Classical Guitar

Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

Anna’s Song—New Recording

A new recording of the song I wrote for my daughter Anna is now available on Bandcamp. I surprised her with the song and sang it at her wedding this past August (2019). My thanks to the students in the audio tech class at Florida Southwestern State College for recording and mixing the song for me during the 2019 Fall semester.

Listen and down the song here:

Anna’s Song

From little girl to radiant bride
From dolls and toys to dresses sewn
God’s hand has guided every step
With joy I’ve watched you as you’ve grown

In early days when you were small
To fountains, shops and malls we went
Your hand I held to keep you close
And treasured all the time we spent

For years you dreamed about this day
In patience waited, made your plans
You prayed and rested in God’s hands
You sought your prince, now here he stands

The day has come to say your vows
Now two are one for all of life
Your hand in marriage now I give 
To make a home as man and wife

Now in your home may Christ be known
In you His gospel on display
Your lives committed to His hands
His love your anchor day by day

For years you dreamed about this day
In patience waited, made your plans
You prayed and rested in God’s hands
You sought your prince, now here he stands

Words and Music ©2019 Kenneth Puls

Download Sheet Music and a Chord Chart for this song

Wedding music for Classical Guitar

More music for Classical Guitar

Come Walk in the Light of the Lord

Light on pathway through trees

Many voices in our day are crying out for justice. We see oppression and we want it to stop. We see pain and we want to bring relief. We know that there is much wrong with the world and we want to make things right. But try as we might, evil and suffering persist. We still live in a fallen and broken world. How are we to overcome pain and find peace? How can we offer forgiveness, yet achieve true justice? How can we pursue reconciliation, yet punish evil? The answers to these questions elude us. Our ways fail and fall short. The world simply cannot provide the justice and righteousness that we long to see.

But there is hope! Where we stumble, God triumphs. His ways are not our ways. He alone can accomplish what we cannot. His ways are astounding! His ways are astonishing. Isaiah speaks of “the latter days” when

Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:3–5)

God judges the nations. He will bring us true and lasting peace. Through the prophet Hosea, God gives us His promise.

“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord.”
(Hosea 2:19–20)

God is righteous and just. He cannot overlook our sin. His Law demands that He punish our sin. Yet God is merciful and abundant in lovingkindness. He looks upon us with compassion. He has made a way to rescue us from sin. How can He do both? He has accomplished both by sending His Son. In Christ we see His perfect righteousness as well as His abundant lovingkindness. At the cross He united justice and mercy.  In Christ there is hope! In Him there is righteousness that we could never attain on our own. In Him we find true peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We must go to the cross if we are to be made whole.

How astounding!
How astonishing
Are the ways of our God!
Look to His Word, 
Find rest in His love,
Come walk in the light of the Lord!

Come Walk in the Light of the Lord

“O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).

How can we know what’s just and right? 
The world is dark and blind.
And where is hope for those condemned?
Forgiveness who can find?
When sinned against and faced with wrongs,
The world decries its loss;
But God says look beyond our grief
To hope found at the cross

How astounding!
How astonishing
Are the ways of our God!
Look to His Word, 
Find rest in His love,
Come walk in the light of the Lord!

We seek for justice, yet we know,
The world can’t satisfy.
Its methods to atone for sin
Fall short or go awry.
The righteousness we long to see,
The world cannot provide.
The only place where sins are cleansed:
The cross where Jesus died.

How astounding!
How astonishing
Are the ways of our God!
Look to His Word, 
Find rest in His love,
Come walk in the light of the Lord!

The full forgiveness of God’s love,
The world can’t comprehend.
For it seeks justice in its own
Perpetual revenge.
But in the Gospel of God’s grace
Is love the world can’t give.
Because we are forgiv’n in Christ,
We also can forgive.

How astounding!
How astonishing
Are the ways of our God!
Look to His Word, 
Find rest in His love,
Come walk in the light of the Lord!

So come and see the love of God
Unto the world revealed.
Come kneel before the cross for there
Our deepest pains are healed.
Believe the promise in His Word,
The world our God so loved.
He will forgive, raise up, and call
A sinner His beloved.

How astounding!
How astonishing
Are the ways of our God!
Look to His Word, 
Find rest in His love,
Come walk in the light of the Lord!

Words and Music ©2019 Ken Puls

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune CAPE CORAL for classical guitar.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

More Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

“…for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I especially enjoy sharing and celebrating through music the good news of Christ’s coming. If you are a guitarist looking for music to play during this season of Advent and Christmas, here are a few hymns and songs I recently added:

  • Once in Royal David’s City
  • Savior of the Nations Come
  • Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
  • We Three Kings of Orient Are
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas

You can download these (and more) free here: 
Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

You are welcome to copy and share these hymns with friends and fellow guitarists. You can use them for accompanying congregational singing, playing prelude or offertory music, or simply playing for your own enjoyment.  Please copy the full page with the website address and the “Used by Permission” notice at the bottom (see Permissions).

For additional music, visit:

Hymns for Classical Guitar

Music of Bach for Classical Guitar

Wedding Music for Classical Guitar

Student Pieces and Music for Classical Guitar 

Anna’s Song

This is the song I wrote for my daughter and sang at her wedding.

Blue Rose and Guitar

Composed for the wedding of Anna Puls and Joey Johnson
August 10, 2019

Anna’s Song

From little girl to radiant bride
From dolls and toys to dresses sewn
God’s hand has guided every step
With joy I’ve watched you as you’ve grown

In early days when you were small
To fountains, shops and malls we went
Your hand I held to keep you close
And treasured all the time we spent

For years you dreamed about this day
In patience waited, made your plans
You prayed and rested in God’s hands
You sought your prince, now here he stands

The day has come to say your vows
Now two are one for all of life
Your hand in marriage now I give
To make a home as man and wife

Now in your home may Christ be known
In you His gospel on display
Your lives committed to His hands
His love your anchor day by day

For years you dreamed about this day
In patience waited, made your plans
You prayed and rested in God’s hands
You sought your prince, now here he stands

Words and Music ©2019 Kenneth A Puls

Listen to the recording of the song from the wedding on youtube

 

Download Sheet Music and a Chord Chart for this song

Wedding music for classical guitar

More music for classical guitar

 

More Guitar Music for Independence Day

Guitar and Fireworks

If you are a guitarist looking for patriotic music in preparation for July 4th, Independence Day, check out these new transcriptions:

Download 3 new transcriptions (PDF sheet music) for classical guitar:

AMERICA — “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”

BATTLE HYMN — “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”

MATERNA (America, the Beautiful) — “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies”

Download also a transcription of the tune CHESTER — “Let Tyrants Shake Their Iron Rod”

Download a transcription of the National Anthem (The Star Spangled Banner)

More Music for Classical Guitar

O Holy Night

Night Sky

Cantique de Noël

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night—O holy night, O night divine!

French Carol
Translated by John S Dwight, 1855
Music by Adolphe Adam, 1847

Read more of the lyrics to this Christmas Carol

Download a free arrangement of this Christmas Carol
for Flute and Classical Guitar [PDF]

To find additional music arranged for Classical Guitar, including an arrangement of Vivaldi’s Trio Sonata in C for Flute and Guitar, visit:

Student Pieces and Music for Classical Guitar

See also:

Christmas Music for Classical Guitar

Hymns for Classical Guitar

Wedding Music for Classical Guitar

Music of Bach for Classical Guitar

 

Guitar Music for the 4th of July

Fireworks

If you are a guitarist and are looking for music to celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, here is a patriotic song that became popular during the American Revolutionary War.

The words and music were both composed by America’s first prolific composer, William Billings (1746–1800). Billings lived in Boston and made his living as a tanner. He was part of an effort in Protestant churches in America to help congregations learn to sing well. He composed over 100 songs and taught in a “singing school” in his church.

The first verse and tune of the hymn “Chester” were published by Billings in The New England Psalm Singer (1770). The remaining verses were added during the war and published in The Singing Master’s Assistant (1778).

CHESTER

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav’ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England’s God forever reigns.

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton too,
With Prescot and Cornwallis join’d,
Together plot our Overthrow,
In one Infernal league combin’d.

When God inspir’d us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc’d,
Their ships were Shatter’d in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our Coast.

The Foe comes on with haughty Stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet’rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen’rals yield to beardless Boys.

What grateful Off’ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,
And praise His name on ev’ry Chord.

Download a transcription of the tune CHESTER for classical guitar (PDF sheet music).

Download a transcription of the national anthem (The Star Spangled Banner) for classical guitar (PDF sheet music).

More music for classical guitar