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Letter from the administrator – 2016

Precious Friends,

Harmony Plains 2016 is just around the corner. Oh what joy to anticipate a week of respite from a frenzied and frantic world. We all desire a perfect world and struggle with the fact that the address where we live is anything but perfect. So we plan much, hope much, and dream much, yet at the same time groan much, and cry much because we are not perfect, no other person is perfect, and the world is not perfect. Singing at HPSS for a whole week, however, reminds us of the joys of heaven and a perfect world to come.

We long for heaven because we have heaven programmed into us. Adolescent, your angst; parent, your toddler’s whimper; empty nester, your if onlys; employer/employee, your frustrations; and mourner, your despair, are all a cry for heaven. Heaven is more than a dream; it is the spiritual longing in the here and now.

Of course this is not always a conscious awareness; I am just saying the longing and hunger for paradise is part of being God’s children. We cannot escape the desire for heaven; it is downloaded into our very essence. It is not just a matter of the doctrine we believe; it is a matter of who we are. This is why each of us struggle, why we groan for eternity. Romans 8:18-27.

We believe in the afterlife; the problem is that it is not functionally the way we live the everyday life. We live in a constant state of heaven forgetfulness, when life is to be structured in the here and now by a heaven rememberness. Heaven is not pondered, discussed, or noticed in magazines, media, universities, or at work. The joy of one week of singing praises can help this.

Heaven is not a category that our culture takes seriously. The impact is seismic. News casts do not close with, “Nevertheless, this is not all there is; we anticipate eternity where all will be righted”. In our culture the impact of heaven is not correlated to emotions, behavior, or our mental state. This is not just tragic; it is debilitating.

The now was intended to be lived in the constant awareness of the hereafter. Heaven bound people travel earth’s roads, but they must breathe heaven’s air. The heaven of our destination must rule over the earthliness of present situation. Did you ever see a fish swimming in a tree, or a bird perched under water? Just as that will never work, it will never work for us to live in an atmosphere unmindful of heaven.

Our song for Harmony Plains 2016 will be “Hark! Ten Thousand Harps,” OSH #11, hymn 32. The HPSS theme for 2016 is “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” Harmony Plains’ text for 2016 is Revelation 5:11-13. Thomas Kelly, reflecting upon this passage, captured the need for us to immerse ourselves in heaven thoughts when he wrote this hymn. He knew as Christians we must reflect upon the anticipated bliss of heaven—Jesus reigning, the Lord smiling, grace enduring, and all rejoicing (see the hymn’s themes).

With the eye of imagination he saw the thrilling scene in heaven with ten thousands times ten thousands giving praise to Christ for His victorious redemption. The thrust of this hymn though, is not just that someday we redeemed will join that heavenly chorus, but that our occupation now is singing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! “Glory, glory to our King!” This is a heavenly minded triumphal hymn for the here and now.

“Hark! ten thousand harps and voices sound the notes of praise above; Jesus reigns and heav’n rejoices; Jesus reigns, the God of love. See, He sits on yonder throne: Jesus rules the world alone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Jesus rules the world alone.”

“King of glory, reign forever! Thine an everlasting crown. Nothing from Thy love shall sever those whom Thou hast made Thine own: Happy objects of Thy grace, destined to behold Thy face. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Destined to behold Thy face.”

Glory to our King,

Brother Dickie

Letter from the administrator – 2015

My dear, dear, friends in fellowship,

What a privilege, I so anticipate meeting with each of you for a whole week of song at the 2015 Harmony Plains Singing School. Struggles, disappointments, and heartaches come to all, so how encouraging it is to know that your love for Christ draws you to set aside this time to sing the praises of His redemption.Dickie Halbgewachs, administrator of HPSS

Our 2015 HPSS hymn is Enough For Me, page #130 in the Old School Hymnal edition #11. The 2015 theme is “Satisfaction In Christ”. Colossians chapter one verse nineteen will be our 2015 text.

Colossians 1:19 states, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell”. Young or old, male or female, town or country, we clamor for the “full life”. We desire to experience more, higher, deeper, richer, and happier experiences, circumstances, and times. The problem is we have full refrigerators and can’t find anything to eat. We all have full closets and can’t find a thing to wear. We all spend more than we need to and are not satisfied with what we get. We are over indulged, over drugged and over sexed. Life is paralyzing us instead of satisfying us and nothing, even “our” service to God, quite seems to deliver what we hoped it would deliver.

C. S. Lewis: “Most people, if they really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise”.

The word “fulness” in Colossians 1:19 is defined as “plenitude, abundance, full satisfaction, completion”, and the text declares that this fulness is only found in Christ.

Personal knowledge of Christ is as satisfying as a springing well compared to a stagnant pool. This knowledge is not attained by an information dump, but is the blessing of a loving relationship. The expression of the text is not an abstract principle, but a satisfaction massaged deep into the very heart and oozed out in life.

Christianity is falling in love with the nature and character of God, which leads into a transformed life. That’s what Paul’s unpacking here. It’s not our works that lead us to knowledge of God or rest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Works righteousness will wear you out, and Jesus came to destroy empty self-righteousness.

It’s unbelievably important that we get this. We are transformed by seeing and understanding the nature and work of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 3:14-18. If anyone of any age determines, “I’m going to give great effort, etc.” (and we all do at some time to some degree), if it works at all, it will only be superficial and temporary, then we will tend to bail. Under the waterfall of who God is and swept up and cleansed by what Christ has done however, one is not just delivered from trying to manage behavior, one is engulfed in a colossal completeness that satisfies the soul.

The goal of morality, honesty, industry, family, and church is great, but fundamental and essential is the core of who we are in Christ. Even if we gained morality, honesty, etc., the above text declares that satisfaction alone rests in our Savior. The first verse of the theme song says it all: “O love surpassing knowledge! O grace, so full and free! I know that Jesus saves me, And that’s enough for me.”

This hymn’s author, Elisha Hoffman (1839-1929), was ordained to preach in 1868, and became part of a circuit in Napoleon, Ohio, in 1872. He served in many churches and in the Bethel Home for Sailors and Seamen. He wrote more than 2,000 songs including Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (1894). The HPSS 2015 hymn expresses the joy of the continual return of the Christian to satisfaction in Christ alone.

May the Lord bless the efforts of each of you as you make your plans for singing school this summer. Psalm 95:1 states, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

In Christ,

Brother Dickie

From the desk of the director of instruction – 2014

Greetings Harmony Plains Singers,

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at Harmony Plains Singing School this summer, July 20st – 25th.
Sonny Lowrance, director of instruction
The Lord willing, we will be recording some singing to complete the 50th anniversary commemorative CD, which was started last year. I am sending a list of songs to look over and practice. Please don’t worry about having to sing all the songs. You can sing the ones you know well enough to record and just listen when we record the ones you are not comfortable with.

Participants will include students from the fifth and sixth grade class through the adult class. Please pray the Lord will meet with us and bless us with the “spirit of singing” and bless our endeavors to comfort and edify the Lord’s people.

In kindly love,

Sonny Lowrance

Old School Hymnal 11th Ed. 12th Ed.

Loving Kindness

35 34

Sweetly Resting

69 66

How Lovely the Place

47 7

Father We Rest

442 450

Fairest Lord Jesus

21 20

Hark, Ten Thousand

32 31

Rock of Ages

54 51
Primitive Baptist Hymnal

O, That I Could Repent

215

Lord, In the Morning

621

The Lord Bless You…

550

Jesus Knows

454