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Words: Charles B. J. Root (no information)
Music: D. C. Wright (no information); musical arrangement by Russell Kelso Carter (b. Nov. 18, 1849; d. Aug. 23, 1928)
Note: There is little information on this hymn or it’s creators. Was Charles Root a relation to the more famous gospel song writer George Root? I don’t know. D. C. Wright is called, in one hymn book, S. C. Wright, so the facts there are doubtful too.
Years ago, when autograph books were popular, a boy named Russell wrote in mine: “Fellowship is two fellows in one ship.”
That’s not a bad basic definition of what fellowship is. There is, in the imagery, the concept of a shared experience from which others are excluded. Whether the sailing is pleasant, or storms are encountered, the two are in it together, facing the journey’s delights or dangers, and there is an implied commitment to one another’s welfare.
The dictionary says fellowship is the condition of being a fellow, that is, being a companion or partner of someone else. There’s something held in common by two or more people. A shared experience, accompanied often by shared feelings, interests and goals. That should also include friendship or love, but it doesn’t always. In Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, the king’s first wife, says of her husband, “All the fellowship I hold now with him / Is only my obedience.”
In the Bible, the word fellowship translates the Greek word koinonia (koi-noh-NEE-ah). And it is of interest to us that the church ordinance some call the Lord’s Supper is also referred to as the Communion (I Cor. 10:16). That’s the same word, koinonia, the Fellowship. This suggests that, in Christian experience, fellowship with the Lord includes worship, as well as spiritual qualities such as faith and obedience.
We have been “called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9). And there is a word used by the Lord Jesus that is close to fellowship in its full significance. The word “abide” is found ten times, in as many verses, in John chapter 15. It means to dwell with, intimating that one has taken specific steps to remain in contact with the Lord, and sustain a spirit-renewing fellowship with Him. There is also, in the word “abide,” the idea of rest and settled contentment.
While it is not the Greek word koinonia Jesus uses, fellowship is certainly in view. Christ tells His followers:
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (vs. 4). “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (vs. 5).
“Fruit,” in a spiritual sense is both the development of Christlike character (Gal. 5:22-23), and the results of our service for the Lord in the lives of others (Jn. 15:15; Rom. 1:13).
Fellowship, or abiding is maintained by faith in God (cf. I Jn. 4:15), and obedience to His Word (Jn. 15:10). This certainly relates to our prayer life as well. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (vs. 7). This is because, when we are abiding, what we ask for will be in tune with the will of God (I Jn. 5:14), and requested with a desire for His glory (Jn. 14:13).
In 1885 a gospel song was published, called simply Abiding. We may not know anything about the author but his name, but a look at his hymn will show that Mr. Root certainly knew his Bible. As the song begins, he alludes to Martha’s sister Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet to fellowship and learn. Thoughts are garnered from other verses of Scripture too. I’ve inserted some in the text of the song, so you can see what I mean.
CH-1) Abiding, oh, so wondrous sweet,
I’m resting at the Saviour’s feet, [Lk. 10:39]
I trust in Him, I’m satisfied,
I’m resting in the Crucified.
Oh! so wondrous sweet;
I’m resting, resting,
At the Saviour’s feet.
CH-2) He speaks, and by His word is giv’n
His peace, a rich foretaste of heav’n;
Not as the world He peace doth give, [Jn. 14:27]
’Tis through this hope my soul shall live.
CH-3) I live; not I; ’tis He alone [Gal. 2:20]
By whom the mighty work is done;
Dead to myself, alive to Him, [Rom. 6:11]
I count all loss His rest to gain. [Phil. 3:7]
CH-4) Now rest, my heart, the work is done; [Heb. 4:10]
I’m saved through the eternal Son:
Let all my pow’rs my soul employ,
To tell the world my peace and joy.
1) Notice the contrast made in Psalm 1:1-2. What is the opposite there of “abiding,” as Jesus describes it?
2) What will be the evidence that a Christian is not “abiding” as he should?