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


Lord, In the Morning


The Lord Bless You…


Jesus Knows


Letter from the administrator – 2014

Dear Harmony Plains Hymn Singers,

It’s time! We are anticipating Harmony Plains Singing School 2014! Our theme is “Redeeming Love”. Christ’s redemption draws us like it did Anne Steele, the author of our theme song for 2014, To Our Redeemer’s Glorious Name, (hymn 4, OSH #11) to make plans to gather to lift our voices in praise for a whole week.

Anne lived in England from 1716-1778. Dickie Halbgewachs, administrator of HPSSHer father was a preacher for 60 years, but her mother died when she was just 3 years old. When she was 19 she suffered a severe injury to her hip, rendering her an invalid for life. When 21, she was engaged to Robert Elscourt, but the day before the wedding he was drowned while swimming! She never married, assisted her father in his pastoral labors, and for the last 9 years of her life was never able to leave her bed.

In spite of all her difficulties her disposition was described as “cheerful and helpful” and her life as one of “unaffected humility, warm benevolence, sincere friendship, and genuine devotion.” Her hymns are “very simple, clear, and beautiful, breathing a spirit of Christian faith.” Not just an occasional outburst of joy, she wrote over 144 songs that give beautiful expression to a lifelong sweetness of Christian character and depth of Christian experience. Her hymns are so rich and easily understood even by those of us living 250 years after her death. What accounts for such a life, simply but profoundly, Redeeming Love.

God’s love, and God’s love alone is the strong force that brings our hearts into joy in spite of the difficulties of earth’s greatest trials or the emptiness of life’s greatest blessings. Redeeming love alone will drive from our hearts rival and inferior thoughts and emotions. Jesus didn’t come with advice on how to clean yourself up, he came with the news that he himself cleaned us up without our help. Jesus didn’t come with a set of instructions you must follow to find redemption, rest, and forgiveness. He came declaring you are redeemed, loved, and forgiven. When you wonder what you are going to live for, when you wonder who will love you like you desire to be loved—No one will do it but God. We have believed the love of God and believed it as he intended when we experience the love of God in the sense that we are deeply in awe of how much he loves us, so deeply we desire to sing about it.

To our Redeemer’s glorious name, Awake the sacred song;
Oh may His love (immortal flame!) Tune ev – ry heart and tongue.

His love! What mortal tho’t can sketch What mortal tongue display?
Imagination’s utmost stretch In wonder dies away.

He left the radiant throne on high, Left the bright realms of bliss,
And came to earth to bleed and die! Was ever love like this!

He took the dying traitor’s place, And suffered in his stead;
For man, (O miracle of grace!) For man the Savior bled.

Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die,
And then I hope to sing this love In sweeter strains on high.

We’ve tried to live right since last year, sure, and we should have, but we have tried, and if we are honest, we have tried and failed. Trying to be perfect not yielding perfection though is a gift—it takes away your joy, but then gives joy back again. It gives it back again in the joy that Jesus was perfect in his life, died in our place, and arose having made us perfect. Let us cover over another in love (I Peter 4:18), we will never have perfection in ourselves. Let us also build up one another in love, for we are perfect in Him, as scripture declares in our 2014 Harmony Plains Singing School Text, Romans 5:8-9, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die, and then I hope to sing this love in sweeter strains on high. In awe that he went to the cross and accomplished my redemption.

Brother Dickie