Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I



          Psalm 61: 1-5  "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.   I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.   For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name." 
            Erastus Johnson (1826 - 1909) was born in a logging camp in Maine.  He entered the Academy at Calais, Maine at the age of fifteen, spent two years there, taught school for the next six, and then entered Bangor Theological Seminary. His health failed, and, threatened with the loss of his sight, was compelled to give up preparation for the ministry.  On the advice of his physician he took a sea voyage, embargoing on the ship Gold Hunter en route from New York to California. The crew of the ship mutinied just before rounding Cape Horn and as Johnson was the only person on board who knew anything about navigation, other than the captive officers, he was pressed into service to take the ship on to its destination, San Francisco. And he did it. Later he worked as a rancher in California, a farmer in Washington state, in the oil business in Pennsylvania for some twenty years, and again as a farmer in Maine.  He was always interested in religious work especially in the Y.M.C.A. and that interest is what led him to pen this week's hymn choice.  Here is what he had to say about that. 
          "There was a convention of the Y.M.C.A. at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which I attended as a delegate, and John Wanamaker was president of the convention. About the second day there came a telegram from Philadelphia that the banking house of Jay Cook & Co. had failed, in which Mr. Wanamaker had $70,000 which to him at that time in life was a great amount to lose. Soon followed reports of other firms throughout the country, indicating a general panic. As a matter of course, it threw a pall of gloom over the convention, for nearly all its members were men of business. As an expression of the common feeling I wrote "The Rock That Is Higher Than I". Mr. Wm. Fisher of Philadelphia, the composer of many tunes for gospel hymns, was at the convention, and in conjunction with Brother William, led the singing. I gave the words to him and he set them to music, sang them, and they with the music immediately became popular in the convention, especially with Mr. Wanamaker, who several times called for it. And soon it found its way into many publications."
          While Johnson is said to have been a lifelong student of the Bible, a fluent speaker, and a musician of moderate attainment, he apparently published just one book of poems, most of which were apparently only of interest to members of his immediate family.  But the words that he penned that day at the convention have been a help and encouragement to many over the years.  We all face days that are filled with sorrows and our path is so rough and the day seems so long.  But as believers we can fly to the secure Rock, the Lord Jesus, for protection, guidance, strength, wisdom and peace.  He is always there.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us and He never will.  No matter what you may be facing today, fly to the Rock that is higher than you.
         
1.      O sometimes the shadows are deep,
And rough seems the path to the goal,
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul!
Chorus:
O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

2.      O sometimes how long seems the day,
And sometimes how weary my feet;
But toiling in life's dusty way,
The Rock's blessed shadow, how sweet!
O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

3.     O near to the Rock let me keep,
If blessings or sorrow prevail;
Or climbing the mountain way steep,
Or walking the shadowy vale. 
O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

Listen to it here.    LISTEN

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