I must admit that while growing up this was not one of my favorite Easter hymns. I guess that might have been the result of a combination of the unusual prose and the somewhat haunting melody. It may have also been because when I was younger I never really thought about the intensity of the pain and anguish which Christ bore as He approached the time of his suffering and death on the cross. He knew what was ahead and as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane He realized His arrest and crucifixion were just hours away. And in His suffering He prayed alone and wrestled with His fears. And while He struggled, the inner circle of His disciples slept nearby. And for the sake of us, the guilty, the Savior wept and His sweat became as drops of blood. He must have been in horrendous agony. Now I must admit that I don't fully understand the fourth verse. The verse seems to allude to that part of the garden experience where "an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him" (Luke. 22:43). It is a heartening thought to think that an angel was sent to comfort the suffering Son. The hymn's author, William B. Tappen (1794-1849) was a clock maker by trade. In 1822 he was engaged as Superintendent of the American Sunday School Union, which later was named the American Missionary Fellowship and recently renamed InFaith. In 1822 he was a 28-year old poet/educator/Christian believer, who evidently was touched, maybe during a sleepless night of his own, by his Lord's night of torment in Gethsemane. And as a result the words of this hymn were penned and released in his second volume of poetry. In 1853 musician William B. Bradbury put the poem to music and it has been part of the Easter season since then. During your celebration this week of the Easter season, don't forget the events that lead up to the crucifixion, especially the time spent by Jesus in the Garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. This was part of the suffering that He went through for each of us. We deserved to pay this price, but He bore it for us. And understanding and remembering this should make Resurrection Day even that much more meaningful. That is my desire for each of us this week. Thank you Jesus for taking our place and making our salvation and our future with you possible.
'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight, in the garden now
The suffering Savior prays alone.
'Tis midnight, and from all removed
Emmanuel wrestles lone with fears
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.
'Tis midnight, and for others' guilt
The Man of Sorrows weeps in blood;
Yet He who hath in anguish knelt
Is not forsaken by His God.
'Tis midnight, and from ether plains
Is borne the song that angels know;
Unheard by mortals are the strains
That sweetly soothe the Savior's woe.
Here are two choices for you to listen to. LISTEN 1
The second is an interesting one done by what I believe is a Chinese choir. I apologize if I have identified the incorrect nationality. LISTEN 2