Singing has been a part of my life since before I can remember. Music was played and sung in the house when I was a child, and I remember waking up on the Lord’s Day to sweet gospel hymns being played on Christian radio. Oftentimes I made a “joyful noise” with my family for special church music when we kids were quite young. Growing up in West Virginia, going to school at Bob Jones University, and being introduced to the reformed faith in later years, the filing cabinet of my mind is filled with quite an assortment of Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs and choruses, all having served to direct my thoughts toward the Savior at various ages and stages of life. Some of my favorites are individual Scripture verses put to music which I have endeavored to pass along to the children in my life over the years. Hence, it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite hymn.
There is one hymn, however, that has occupied a special place in my life and marriage and that is To God be the Glory, written by Fanny Crosby in 1875. Why? My husband Phil was raised in New York and brought up in a Roman Catholic home. From a human standpoint, he randomly chose to attend West Virginia University, and during his freshman year was invited to church by an unsaved football player who had been invited by two zealous Christians to attend my home church in Morgantown, WV. The Lord drew Phil’s heart to Himself through the preaching of the gospel and he was born again that morning. Eventually, the two of us met and a relationship ensued. The circumstances God used to save our sinful souls and to bring us together were so precious that after the officiating minister pronounced us man and wife, we sang with the congregation, “To God be the Glory!”
To God be the glory, great things He hath done!
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
The Lord called my husband to preach and sent us to western New York to plant a church. God’s direction and provision were so distinct that our hearts cried out again, “To God be the glory!” We sang the song on various occasions such as Phil’s ordination, at the dedication of the church building, at the burning of the church mortgage, and so on. God has sustained us in the blessings and trials of the ministry and thus we say,
Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer and higher, and greater will be Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
We also sang this song at the dedication of our children. What made these times even more special was that we had been told by physicians that we would probably never be able to have children. After waiting for what seemed like a long time, God answered our prayers and blessed us with four children. With each birth our hearts sang out once again, “To God be the glory!”.
Mrs. Tonia Owen is the wife of Pastor Phil Owen, Boston, NY