Friday, January 20, 2017

Help My Unbelief—with Paul Keew

I first wrote a draft of a text with the words, "I can trust You when I see every step You have for me..." in my devotions two years ago. Dozens (hundreds?) of edits and iterations later, the text has been finalized as follows:

1. (Matt 14:22–33)
I can trust You when I see every step You’ve planned for me,
But when wind and waves arise fear awakens in my eyes.
Why do I distrust and fear? You will never disappear.
Reach into this stormy sea, hear my cry, and rescue me.

I believe, yes, I believe. Help, oh Lord, my unbelief!
I believe, yes, I believe. Help, oh Lord, my unbelief!

2. (Psa 51:9–12; cf. Psa 42:2; Psa 90:14)
I am fully satisfied when my heart delights in Christ.
But when I give in to sin, only hollow joys remain.

Who can satisfy but You? You can fill me through and through.
Quench my thirsty soul, oh Lord, that my joy may be restored.

3. (Job 1:21; 2:10; 7:11)
I know You are good to me when You send prosperity.
But when peace gives way to pain, in frustration I complain.

How could I find fault with You? You are always just and good.
Grant me faith, not just relief; help, oh, help my unbelief!

© Dustin Battles and

Paul Keew of Watchsong kindly wrote the music for this hymn. I am thrilled at how it turned out.

Click here to listen to a recording of the first stanza and download the sheet music. May God be glorified.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Our Glorious God—with Saint-Saëns/Galvin

Few writers attempt to cover the Bible's message in one text/poem. This is my attempt to do so. However, I couldn't find a tune that seemed that seemed to fit the text; that is, until David Galvin stumbled across a Saint-Saëns piano concerto tune that, in my opinion, fits the text perfectly! David adapted it so that it's more singable.

See below for the text or click here to view the full text and music PDF.

Our Glorious God
Text by Dustin Battles
Music by Camille Saint-Saëns (Piano Concerto No. 4, 2nd movement), Adapt. By David Galvin

Our glorious God unveiled His might,
Creating heavens, seas, and lands.
He spoke and there was glorious light;
He fashioned Adam with His hands.
The skies declare that He is Lord;
We join with them to shout His name!
All things that are came by His word,
For God does all for His own fame.

Of Eden’s fruit mankind could eat,
But not the tree of knowledge there.
Yet with his wife the man’s deceit 
Aroused God’s wrath and their despair.
Though we, through Adam, stole that fruit,
Deserving punishment and pain,
God promised us a fertile root:
His seed, the Son of Man, will reign!

In time our God unveiled His plan,
Of saving man from death and sin.
He sent His Son—both God and man;
Salvation only comes from Him! 
The Son, Christ Jesus, gave His life
To reconcile us to our God;
As Lamb, He bore our sin and strife
By interceding with His blood!

Our Lord, though slain, did not stay dead—
He broke the bondage of the grave!
Ascending heavenward instead,
The Holy Spirit He then gave.
He promised to come back again
To raise the dead before His throne.
Soon we will bow our knees to Him 
Adoring God and God alone. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From Heaven's Holy Throne—with James Koerts

He Stepped from Heaven’s Holy Throne
Text by Dustin Battles
Music by James Koerts
Copyright 2015 by The Wilds

PDF available here. 

He stepped from heaven’s holy throne
To take a body like our own. 
With love so great, in manner meek,
For sinners Jesus came to seek. 

Christ lived a humble, blameless life,
Yet men in hatred caused Him strife.
Among the thieves they nailed Him high, 
Though we deserved that death to die. 

When Jesus died, a darkness fell,
As if creation could not tell
If it would ever once more shine 
The glories of the King divine. 

Then Christ arose just as He said:
He crushed our sin and Satan’s head.
The light of Jesus’ empty grave,
Proves Christ our Savior came to save!

No more a servant, now a King—
He rules now over everything.
Robed in His garments free from stains,
We worship Him who ever reigns.

On bended knee we bow to You—
Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and King!
Now grant to us, Lord Jesus Christ,
Thankful lives and humbled hearts. 

Copyright 2015 by The Wilds

This stanza wasn't included in the official version from the Wilds, but was in my original text:

Though He’s forever King indeed,
He did not clutch His throne with greed:
To earth from heaven, Jesus came
In flesh a man to bear our blame. 

Behold How Every Wound—with Reba Snyder

Behold How Every Wound
Text by Dustin Battles
Music by Reba Snyder
PDF of text and music with refrain

Behold how ev'ry wound of Christ
Distills a precious cure.
Those searing marks have paid the price
To make this sinner pure.

The bleeding Lamb bears holy wounds 
Of mercy full and free.
His body shines a crimson hue
That ever pleads for me.

His hammered hands, His thorny crown,
His wounded, piercèd side
Preach gospel grace that trickles down—
None but Christ could provide.

Grim injuries left me dismayed—
For me He was accused?
His wounds healed scars my sin had made
When love and suff’ring fused.

The wonders of redeeming love
Bring triumph, not defeat.
Both here on earth and soon above
I’ll worship at His feet.

Copyright 2015 by The Wilds

Christ Arose! (from 1 Corinthians 15)

Christ Arose! 
By Dustin Battles
From 1 Corinthians 15

Christ arose! Proclaim the news!
News of God’s redeeming grace:
How God willingly would choose
His own Son to take our place.
Jesus died as Scripture said,
Buried three days in the grave.
But we never have to dread:
Christ arose our souls to save!

If our Lord did not arise
Then our faith would be in vain.
But our faith is firm in Christ,
Who is raised in pow’r to reign.
Christ indeed defeated death,
Breaking mortal chains to live.
After taking our last breath,
We will all awake alive.

We, like Adam, are like seeds,
Perishing the moment sown.
Yet the second Adam pleads
Life now, resurrection soon.
Come, behold, a mystery!
We will change at trumpet sound!
In the twinkling of an eye,
He will raise us from the ground.

What the Word said soon will be:
“Death, O death, where is your sting?”
“Death, where is your victory?”
Death is dead! Rejoice and sing!
Thanks to God, O praise His name:
Christ has conquered death so grim!
Since our labor is not vain,
Let our work abound in Him.

A People For His Name—with Brian Büda

A People For His Name

Missions Conference 2016 Hymn for the King's Chapel, West Chester, Ohio

Music by Brian Buda
PDF of text and music

People walk about the earth,
Groping as though it were night.
Who will bring the blind to Christ,
Shine the glorious gospel light?
I will lead the sightless souls,
Urging them to turn to Him!
Christ illumines darkened hearts
As a people for His name,
As a people for His name.

Wretched souls live for themselves,
Thinking not about their sins.
Who will point them to the cross—
Where Christ died, where life begins?
I'll proclaim the risen Lord,
Snatching souls out of the flame!
Through my words I pray He might
Save a people for His name,
Save a people for His name.

We, like them, were once His foes,
Foes against His holiness.
Who broke down that wall of sin?
Jesus, King of righteousness!
We, all nations, will sing praise
To the holy Lamb once slain.
With His blood He purchased us—
We're a people for His name,
We’re a people for His name.

Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. (Acts 15.14)

Poor, Weak, and Unworthy, Though I Am—with John Newton

Last year I came across a hymn by John Newton in Olney Hymns and it really resonated with me. So I modernized it and changed some words to make it ring more clearly for today's readers/singers. We sang this at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA during a service in which I was preaching.  

Poor, Weak, and Unworthy, Though I Am
Text: John Newton and Dustin Battles

Poor, weak, unworthy though I am,
I have a rich, almighty Friend;
Jesus, the Savior, is his name,
He freely loves, and without end.

He ransomed me from hell with blood,
And by his pow'r my foes controlled;
He found me, wand'ring far from God,
And brought me to his chosen fold.

My gracious Friend I've often grieved;
Distrusted, scorned, and disobeyed,
And often Satan's lies believed,
Ignoring all my Friend has said.

He welcomes me in ev'ry task
To bring him any sin confessed; 
All I must do is humbly ask:
He'll grant me pardon and sweet rest.

Oh how my inmost spirit mourns,
How deep my eyes with tears do swim,
To think of my perverse returns;
I've been a faithless friend to him.

He hears my cries, new grace supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be
Enthroned with him above the skies,
O, what a friend is Christ to me!

© Dustin Battles (2015)

Be Merciful, O God, To Me (Psalm 57)—with James Koerts

Several years ago when meditating upon Psalm 57, I quickly wrote down a meditation on the psalm. Years later James Koerts added a wonderful tune to go with the text. The tune and full arrangement will be available summer 2016 from the Wilds.

If you'd like to sing the text to a tune you already know, try O WALY WALY.

“Be Merciful, O God, To Me” (Psalm 57)

Be merciful, O God, to me!
My soul is weary and oppressed.
My foes are mighty but I flee
To shelter in Your wings of rest.

Send out Your steadfast love to me
And all Your grace and faithfulness.
Your presence with me now shall be
My only joy and righteousness.

My heart is steadfast all my days:
You are my song and melody!
Awake, my soul, to sing His praise,
And, like the dawn, His glory see.

I give You praise among the just
And join the nations' happy song.
Let all Your glory spring to us—
We'll praise You here with ev'ry tongue.

Be e'er exalted, O my God!
Let all Your glory fill the earth!
Each mountain, plain, and sea abroad
Will know Your splendor, pow'r, and worth!

* Stanza 4 will not be included in James's setting with the Wilds.

© Dustin Battles (2013)

Here Is Love (Updated Text)—with David Galvin

I was glad to see that the new Hymns of Grace, published by Master's Seminary, includes one of my favorite hymns, "Here Is Love." (I especially love Dan Forrest's arrangement of this hymn.)

But, annoyingly, the editors of the new Hymns of Grace changed all of the "thees" and "thous" to "yous" and so forth—with the exception of the final word of the piece, which ends on "thee"! They did so to rhyme with "me" two lines up. While I totally understand why they did what they did, I'd rather see a hymn be consistent in its use of older English. In my opinion, either leave the text as is (originally written), or update the entire text.

Since no such updated text exists, I had my friend David Galvin of Glad Adoration Music Ministries set the traditional tune to the updated text. Access the full text and music PDF here.

I hope it's a blessing to the church and an encouragement to those who sing it.

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of life, our ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heaven's eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me, all Your love accepting,
Love You ever all my days;
Let me seek Your kingdom only,
And my life be to Your praise.
You alone shall be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
You have cleansed and sanctified me
You Yourself have set me free.

In Your truth You surely guide me
By Your Spirit through Your Word;
And Your grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in You, my Lord.
Of Your fullness You are pouring
Your great love and pow'r anew,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to You.

Text © Dustin Battles (2015)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Lord's My Light (Psalm 27)

"The Lord's My Light” (Psalm 27)
Text: Dustin Battles
Suggested tunes: 
MARTYRDOM ("Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed") (not doubled)
RESIGNATION ("My Shepherd Will Supply My Need") (doubled)

The Lord's my light, my Savior dear.
In Him my heart is stayed.
My refuge strong; whom shall I fear?
Why should I be afraid?

When enemies attack my flesh
To conquer and destroy,
In this my heart will be refreshed:
Jehovah is my joy.

One thing have I desired of Him,
For this one thing yearn:
To gaze on Him with eyes undimmed,
Into His house return.

The Lord will hide me in His home
When trouble shall arise,
For from the Lord I find shalom;
On Him I gaze my eyes.

Hear me, O Lord; I cry aloud!
Be gracious—answer me!
I seek You, Lord! My heart is bowed;
Hide not Your face from me.

Turn not Your face of anger here,
Though I am full of sin!
Cast not me off, but keep me near;
In mercy take me in.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in Your path:
False witnesses have stored
Up lies and violent wrath.

I soon shall see God's goodness there
Within the living land.
Wait, wait, my soul; do not despair!
God's providence is planned.

© Dustin Battles (2013)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Preaching Notes

Preachers, have you ever wondered what other preachers' preaching notes look like? What do they take into the pulpit?
I recently examined the outlines and notes that various pastors and preachers take into their pulpit. Each organizes, abbreviates, and progresses through a text or topic in different ways. Here are some of my takeaways.

  • Writing out much or all of your sermon by hand has benefits. 
  • I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that most preachers over 40 years old have more commentaries in hard copy form than electronic, unlike us youngsters. But I'm also sure that a lot of has to do with how writing things out by hand especially aids comprehension and summarization, rather than copy-pasting and quoting.
  • - Abbreviation not only cuts down on paper, but also aids in allowing the preacher to see more of the sentence at a glance (and saving keystrokes on the keyboard, I'm sure).
  • Some preachers abbreviate to such a degree that it's unreadable to anyone but themselves. And that's fine. Preaching is just as much of an art as a science.
  • More content rather than less content helps the preacher progress in his thought rather than a barebones outline.
  • One recently-booted-from-his-church preacher just had two sticky notes with scribbles on it, but he's the exception, it seems. Most write more than less. The point is not just to work through an outline, but to teach a topic or passage to a congregation.
  • A structured outline is not always a necessity.
  • This was a tough one for me to swallow. I was taught to use a structured outline. But a progression of thought and connection with the audience seems to take priority over structure.
  • Every preacher is different, so every preaching manuscript is different.
  • Don't try to be like someone else. Philip Brooks said it well—preaching is truth poured through personality. Your personality is different than mine. And that's fine.
  • Editing again and again is normal.
  • Some preachers use colored pencils or colored highlighters. Most of them have sections crossed out, sentences nixed, corrections made.
  • Preaching notes will differ depending on the text/topic, as well as how seasoned you are in preaching.
  • My notes for Sunday school look much different (though similar) than my sermon notes, which both look different than my notes for a quick devotional. And they certainly look different than when I'm preaching for a youth group or a Christian school chapel.
There are lots of examples available, but I'm including below some examples that have been most helpful for me. (I'm intentionally focusing on the form rather than the content or theological background.)

Joshua Harris's blog posts on various manuscripts/notes:

Other sources that have been an encouragement to me include Gary Reimers's sermon outlines, and Bryan Chapell's book on sermon models. And another resource from Chapell I just discovered seems helpful as well: 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mercy—with Joey Hoelscher

Ten years ago two nerdy college freshmen met each other in choir. Today, these two friends—still somewhat nerdy, but no longer freshmen—wrote a hymn together. It's called Mercy and is published through Click the link here to see the sheet music and mp3 (piano) recording of Mercy.


Mercy—Lord, have mercy! Be merciful to me.
All these stains within me prove my iniquity. 
Wash me white and spotless as snow in winter days. 
Mercy—Lord, have mercy upon my wicked ways.

Mercy—show more mercy: I keep desiring sin. 
Freed from sin's dark prison, yet still I run back in. 
Lead me by Your Spirit to walk in paths of light. 
Mercy—show more mercy that I may cherish Christ.

Mercy—precious mercy: You’re loyal to Your own. 
By Your loving covenant we’ll never be alone. 
Hold us close as children who look to You for care. 
Mercy—precious mercy: a bond beyond compare.

Mercy—Lord, have mercy—abundant, rich, and pure. 
Ceaseless like a fountain, Your mercy will endure. 
Pour out love and kindness upon me lavishly. 
Mercy—yes, Your mercy—flows freely down on me.

Doctrinal notes that I wrote for the text:

MERCY DOCTRINAL NOTES (by Dustin Battles)Because God delights in worship that is biblical, thoughtful and passionate—what we often call intentional—please consider the following overview of the biblical texts and doctrinal themes behind the hymn Mercy:I originally wrote the text of “Mercy” as a metricized psalm of Psalm 51—hence the tune name PSALM 51. But as I fleshed out the themes of mercy, covenant love, and loyalty other Scripture passages kept coming to mind. Other passages so perfectly fit into the the theme of love and mercy, such as Romans 7-8 and Hosea 2, as well as other verses such as Psalm 23:6 and Psalm 40:11.

Stanza 1 begins with a plea for the Lord’s mercy. That general plea is followed by a more personal plea: “God be merciful to me.” That is, as the reader/singer progresses through the first line, he realizes that mercy is necessary, not just in general, but from a holy God to him—a sinner. The reason for this is found in line two, where he realizes the depths of his sin as he gazes within his own heart and sees his iniquity. He then calls out to God to wash him white and pristine as snow in winter days.

Stanza 2 addresses the believer’s continual struggle against indwelling sin—for these battles rage until the end of life. Inspired by a sermon of J. D. Crowley on Romans 7 and 8, I illustrate that despite being freed from prison, we still desire to run back in. The reader/singer then pleads with God that he would be led by the Spirit into paths of light, not back into the dark prison. His desire is that he might cherish Christ above all.

Stanza 3 expresses what most consider the definition of the Old Testament mercy: the Hebrew word ḥeseḏ—that is, covenant loyalty. Through studying the book of Hosea and reading Michael Barrett’s book, Love Divine and Unfailing (P&R, 2008), I was shocked by the divine display of mercy. In this covenant of mercy those who once were called Not My People are now called My People, and those who were once called No Mercy are now shown mercy (Hosea 2:16–23). This mercy—a covenant loyalty—is a bond beyond compare.

Stanza 4 expresses the desire for God’s mercy to be shown in both quality and quantity. His cry is that God’s mercy would be pure and rich in quality, as well as lavish and eternal in quantity. We can be certain that God’s mercy will endure, just like a ceaseless fountain. Psalm 23:6 and Psalm 40:11 show that God’s mercy will endure until our final breath on this earth.

Copyright 2014 
All rights reserved.
Also, here's my bio on the CWM website.SDG

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Forsaken—with Dan Forrest

A forthcoming choral anthem published by Beckenhorst Press features my lyrics and music by Dan Forrest. Dan wrote some sobering but powerful music that completely captures the grief Christ's sacrifice expressed in the text.

The text is written in a 1st-person narrative by Christ in the garden of Gethsemene and on the cross at Golgotha.

“How long, My God, will You neglect My prayer?
Will You forget these tears of dark despair?
Yet not My will, but Yours alone be done:
Forsake not man, but Me—Your sinless Son.
I, Christ the Son, obey Your great command,
Enduring punishment for sinful man.
As Son and silent Lamb, I choose this path:
Accept rejection to appease Your wrath.”

“O why, My God, have You forsaken Me?
Why have You now refused My final plea?
Though I cry out in sorrow, pain, and fear,
You turn Your back; in silence, disappear.
I, Christ the Son, bear all their sin alone,
Embracing judgment from Your glorious throne.
As Son and spotless Lamb, I shed My blood
To bring them boldly to Your face, My God.”

It is available Fall 2014 from Beckenhorst Press for SATB choir, piano, and optional violin and cello.

Click here to see the page from Dan Forrest's website. Click here to hear it on Beckenhorst Press's Soundcloud.

Take Heart—with Dan Kreider

In Fall of 2012, I collaborated with Dan Kreider to write Keep Heart. Dan wrote the music, I wrote the lyrics. Three years later, we are re-releasing it. Dan and I are distributing it through Grace Music, which Dan runs as worship pastor of Grace Immanuel Bible Church, Jupiter, Florida.

Most of the lyrics are the same, but some are changed from its 2012 edition.

I originally wrote these words as an encouragement for suffering Christians. Rather than "lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4), we should "take heart."

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV)

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Take heart, O servants of the Lord,
amid the cloudy journey.
Though shadows seem to shade His Word,
they cannot hide His mercy.
When providence is manifest
in tempests of affliction,
Behind the storm is Jesus Christ:
the Sun of our salvation.

Serve not the dark desires within,
nor wicked foes, nor tempters.
Their subtle lies would lure us in,
but Christ our King will conquer.
We firmly stand in Jesus’ might
against enticing evil:
He dresses us in radiant light—
the armor of His gospel.

We walk by faith and not by sight
while living in this darkness,
But grief will change into delight
when Christ returns in brightness.
Let us take heart until we see
the risen Lamb of suff’ring.
Then we before His throne will be
like Him, forever shining!

Click here to see a piano/vocal score, chord chart, congregational handout, and demo (piano) recording.

See here for a video of Caleb French and I singing the previous edition.

Also, here are some encouraging words from some friends about the hymn.