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, July 26, 2020

NEARER MY GOD TO THEE


       The hymn "Nearer, My God, To Thee" was written in 1841 by Sarah Flower Adams, an English poet and Unitarian hymn writer.  The words  reflect both a desire to walk more closely with God and also the longing for either Jesus Christ to return or the desire to be in His presence.  
         Sarah Flower was born February 22, 1805 in Essex, England, the second daughter of Benjamin and Eliza Flower. She grew up in a home surrounded by poetry and song writing. Sarah married William Bridges Adams and moved to London where she attended the independent church of William Johnson Fox. She contributed thirteen hymns to his Hymns and Anthems collection, one of them being "Nearer, My God to Thee". 
        This hymn was written to follow the pastor's sermon on Genesis 28:11-19, known as the story of Jacob's ladder, or Jacob's dream. Sarah wrote the hymn in a week and her sister Eliza composed the tune. This hymn is often associated with the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  Some survivors later reported that the ship's string ensemble played the hymn as the vessel sank. For example, Violet Jessop said in her 1934 account of the disaster that she had heard the hymn being played.  Archibald Gracie IV, however, emphatically denied it in his own account written soon after the sinking. Wireless operator Harold Bride said that he had heard "Autumn" being played. So nobody really knows for sure.  
          Another story, surrounding the death of President William McKinley in September 1901, quotes his dying words as being the first few lines of the hymn. At 3:30 pm, in the afternoon of September 14,1901, after five minutes of silence across the nation, numerous bands across the United States played the hymn, McKinley's favorite, in his memory. It was also played by the Marine Band on Pennsylvania Avenue during the funeral procession through Washington and at the end of the funeral service itself,[ and at a memorial service for him in Westminster Abbey, London. 
          The hymn was also played as the body of assassinated President James Garfield was interred and at the funerals of former U.S. Presidents Warren G. Harding and Gerald R. Ford, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.  Not long after the writing of the hymn, Sarah's sister, Eliza, came down with tuberculosis.  Determined to nurse her, Sarah also came down with the disease as well, and both died at a relatively young age.  
          The hymn provides comfort for the dying and the bereaved.  It acknowledges the possibility of suffering but refuses to allow it to have the last word.  It says: "E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me; Still all my song shall be, nearer my God to Thee."

1.     Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

2.     Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

3.     There let the way appear steps unto heav'n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

4.     Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

5.     Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

A sixth verse was later added to the hymn by Edward Henry Bickersteth Jr. as follows:[1]

There in my Father's home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior's love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Listen to it here.   NEARER

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