So much of our lives today are spent in frantic and hurried activity to keep up with our schedules which are packed full of work, meetings, family responsibilities and even ministry. Today we need PDA's, or Smartphones, or Daytimers or calendars of various types just to keep track of all that we must do. And often our relationships become limited, even that key relationship with the Lord. How do we become so busy that we even crowd Him out? He is the One who we need to put first in our busy lives. He is the One who can assist us in our daily challenges with serenity and calm asurance. And that is the reminder that we see when we consider the words of the prayer of this week's hymn choice. "Drop Thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease. Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of Thy peace." Now I must admit that I had some concern about sharing this hymn because these verses clearly reflect Quaker theology and practice in a very distinctive way. They were penned by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), an American Quaker poet who began life as a farm-boy and shoemaker, and subsequently became a successful journalist, editor and poet. Ironically, Whittier firmly believed that God was best worshipped in silent meditation. But he did allow the verses to be used in a hymn book published in 1884. In fact hymnal editors have collected and edited enough of his poems to make seventy-five hymns. In the United Kingdom, this hymn is usually sung to the tune "Repton" by C. Hubert H. Parry. In the US, the prevalent tune is "Rest" by Frederick Charles Maker. All Christians can affirm the restfulness of being in God's presence, the place that quietness ought to occupy in worship, and the way that God's blessing comes to us in spite of our strivings – without taking these convictions in the direction of Quaker theology. So as you meditate upon these words this week, decide to let our heavenly Father guide you and give you peace in this hectic world as you spend time with Him. "Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm."
(1) Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
(2) In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.
(3) Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
(4) Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
You can listen to it being sung by a male quartet here. LISTEN 1
And here is a very old video of two verses being sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford. LISTEN2