standing-stump.jpg Today in my series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth, I’m recalling “Standing on the Promises”. Lyrics and music by R. Kelso Carter, 1849-1926. This is a hymn I remember fondly, and the tune comes back easily to my mind. As I play it through my mind, I recall the certainty of which the hymn not only speaks, but helps to call forth.

I suspect that the church of my youth was not well-acquainted with Carter’s theology… part of his biography states,

By the end of 1879 Carter was looking for more of the presence of God. He started to attend Methodist meetings. He struggled with their emphasis on the sanctification experience but prayed about it and asked God to give him everything from the Bible. He had an experience, which filled him with the Spirit in a new way. He allied himself with the Methodists. In 1880 he wrote “Miracles of Healing”. In 1882 he revamped an book published in England called “Pastor Blumhardt”. Also in 1882 Carter, with a man named George McCalla, called for a convention to cover the subject of Divine Healing. They held a meeting but just a few people came. In 1884 he wrote a book called “The Atonement for Sin and Sickness”. His premise was that healing was in the atonement and that Jesus took not only our sins but our sicknesses on the cross. Carter was one of the strongest proponents of atonement theology. In 1886 he began publishing a periodical called “The Kingdom”. He had a strong musical ability and wrote hymns in “Promises of Perfect Love” with John Sweeney in 1886 and “Hymns of the Christian Life” in 1891, in conjunction with A. B. Simpson. One of his most famous songs is “Standing on the Promises”.

The whole healing thing would have thrown the fundamentalists for a loop… the church of my youth was quite conservative, and the company that Carter kept and the views he promoted would not have gone down well. Of course, these were the same people who would sing Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” on the one hand and decry the evils of rock music on the other. I’d say that perhaps the inconsistency didn’t bother them, but I think it much more likely that the connection was just never made. Nonetheless, I associate the hymn with my conservative days and not my charismatic ones.

Standing on the Promises

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior;
standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.

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