Words: Hannah Kilham Burlingham (b. Mar. 17, 1842; d. May 15, 1901)
Music: Jewels, by George Frederick Root (b. Aug. 30, 1820; d. Aug. 6, 1895)
Note: The tune for this hymn is also used for the gospel song When He Cometh.
English author Hannah Burlingham was brought up in a strict Quaker home. As a young girl, she was fond of music, though she never learned to play an instrument. In her early twenties, Hannah withdrew from the Quakers and joined the Plymouth Brethren. Someone who knew her said,
“I never met anyone who loved her Bible as she did….Her love for her Lord and Saviour was deep and real, and one felt that, with her, all else must take a back place.”
Always gifted as a poet, she turned her attention especially to the writing of hymns. She was a frequent contributor to a magazine called The British Herald. Hannah also proved herself adept at translating hymns from German, making them available to a whole new audience. Perhaps the best known of these is O Jesus, Friend Unfailing, by Samuel Christian Gottfried Küster (1762-1838) which expresses her own testimony:
O worldly pomp and glory,
Your charms are spread in vain,
I’ve heard a sweeter story,
I’ve found a truer gain.
Several of Hannah Burlingham’s hymns bring out the truth of the Lord’s return. Because she died at the relatively young age of fifty-nine, there is a tender irony in one that begins, “The glory shines before me; I cannot linger here.” A sudden illness developed into a form of meningitis, and in three days she was gone. Most of her best known verse was published after her decease. In the simple phrases of the present hymn, we sense once more her glowing anticipation of being ushered into the presence of Christ.
Faith in Christ can make a big difference. I have seen it in conversations with the elderly, ones who struggle with infirmity. The face of a woman in our community comes to mind as I write. Though hardly able to walk, she still presents a shining testimony to those around her. Several times she has said to me with a smile, “I am just praying the Lord will take me home.”
As we faithfully continue to serve Him, Christians should be “eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:7). Paul commends the Thessalonian Christians for that: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven” (I Thess. 1:9-10).
There is a waiting that is redolent with apprehension and worrisome fear. But for the Christian it can be an expectation that is bathed in the sunshine of hope (Tit. 2:13), and an anticipation of glory to come (Col. 3:4).
It’s the earnest desire of the Saviour that we share His fellowship in heaven. Just prior to going to the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am” (Jn. 17:24). He also encouraged the saints with these words:
“In My Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go…I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
CH-1) I’m waiting for Thee, Lord,
Thy beauty to see, Lord;
I’m waiting for Thee–
For Thy coming again.
Thou’rt gone over there, Lord,
A place to prepare, Lord,
Thy home I shall share
At Thy coming again.
CH-2) ’Mid danger and fear, Lord,
I’m oft weary here, Lord,
The day must be near
Of Thy coming again.
’Tis all sunshine there, Lord,
No sighing nor care, Lord,
But glory so fair
At Thy coming again.
1) While we are waiting for Christ’s coming, we also need to be working for Him, as the Thessalonians did. How do we keep these in balance?
2) What is your favourite hymn about the return of Christ?