HYMN 147 He's Got the Whole World in his Hands
Norwegian: Han har den heile vide verda
Psalm 92:4; Psalm 102:25-27
Text: African American Spiritual. Tune: African American Spiritual
1 He's got the whole world in his hands. He's got the whole world in his hands. He's got the whole world in his hands. He's got the whole world in his hands.
2 He's got the wind and the rain in his hands. R/ He's got the whole world in his hands.
3 He's got the little tiny baby in his hands R/ He's got the whole world in his hands.
4 He's got you and me, brother, in his hands R/ He's got the whole world in his hands.
5 He's got you and me, sister, in his hands R/ He's got the whole world in his hands.
6 He's got everybody here in his hands R/ He's got the whole world in his hands.
MEDITATION This is a confession of faith in the creative power of God. God, the creator of all, is holding us close, is in control and cares about us. We are the work of God’s hands as is all of creation. The more we know about the basic building blocks of our own DNA and the way in which it shapes and forms us, and the more we know about the smallest things to the greatest things, unimaginable to our eyes in either direction, the more reason we have to praise God.
But the song is not just about the beauties of creation and God’s power over them. The song moves from that cosmic power to the little tiny baby, and then us. That means God's hands are holding us daily, while we are living in a dangerous and confounding world. It makes us think of miracles.
The miracles of Jesus amaze us and bring some to doubt, others to faith. I have known pastors who have had miraculous healings or interventions in their lives that they are reluctant to talk about, not because they are embarrassed about them, but because they don’t want people to think they are bragging about a special favor, or cause others who have needed a miracle to wonder why it hasn’t happened to them.
I once heard the story of an army chaplain who had served during the battle of the Bulge in WWII. During an attack he dove into a dump for shelter and broke his back. He was taken back to Walter Reed Hospital for treatment. As he was waiting for a diagnosis, his doctor, a full bird colonel, came in and knelt beside him and told him his injuries meant he would never walk again. Then he said, "Chaplain, are you a praying man?" "Yes," he said. The doctor prayed for his healing. And he was healed. He never told anyone about it until he was dying and told his nurse. She then told others. He had been a popular teacher and pastor. I think he was right not to tell the story until he was dying. But I am glad he told her so we heard it.
Many of us have heard of such miracles, maybe experienced one; others may not. We can give thanks to God because all of life is ultimately a miracle. Every breath we take involves incredible miracles. How many times are we saved from disaster simply because we have been led not to do something or to do something? We cannot ever know that, but we can say with the spiritual that we are all in God’s hands. Our names are even inscribed there. That is how dear we are to God. Praise the Lord!
HYMN INFO This spiritual first appeared in a hymnal Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New, in 1927. It began to be known in recordings like that of Sue Thomas in North Carolina and Robert Sonkin. Frank Warner introduced it into the folk world with a recording in 1952. From there it rose to the top of the charts. Laurie London sang it as a teenager and it became a singles hit, the only gospel song ever to make number 1 on the pop chart in the USA. Mahalia Jackson’s version made the top hits. Marian Anderson (1897-1993) recorded it in a concert in Oslo on August 29, 1958. Every pop singer in the 1950s, it seems, recorded it. It became part of the pop culture. An English football teams riffed on it for their song in the 1970s. The movies Tootsie and Roxanne featured it as have several others. It's all around us still.
LINKS Mahalia Jackson https://youtu.be/IkbHHQtT_Ho
Laurie London https://youtu.be/cqb3NSiSwoc
Mons Takle Organ version
Lenoir Rhyne Youth Choir https://youtu.be/xxyiHcIMgp0