James Mountain was an English revivalist and pastor. He wrote many books and articles. And though he also wrote a number of hymns, he is better known for the tunes he contributed for hymns such as: Jesus I Am Resting, Resting; Like a River Glorious; and Loved With Everlasting Love. He was greatly influenced by the evangelistic ministry of Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey in Britain during the 1870’s. His music reflects what he learned from them. From 1882 to 1889 he made a seven-year evangelistic tour of the world.
Of the three hymns mentioned above, the tune for Frances Havergal’s Like a River Glorious (called Wye Valley) seems especially singable. Its steady flowing pace suggests the idea of a peaceful flowing river. But its singability can also cause some congregations to run away with it. Don’t sing this hymn too quickly or the point is lost–that there is a restfulness and tranquility of soul found in the life of faith. In her second stanza Miss Havergal says, “Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.” Please see that it doesn’t!
Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
As noted above, James Mountain also provided the tunes for Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting:
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
And Mountain gave us the tune for Loved with Everlasting Love:
Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Spirit breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
(2) The Land Afar (Data Missing)
I have often wondered why it is that hymn books from a century ago and more contain many many hymns about the Lord’s return, and about heaven, while newer books include far fewer.
For one thing, it may have to do with the spirit of materialism that has infested our age, and the focus on the pleasures of the moment. How many Christians, unless they are elderly and infirm, love Christ’s appearing with the passion of the apostle (II Tim. 4:7-8)? And how many unfortunately are seeking more comfort and ease here below, or see their destiny in temporal and material terms?
A case in point is the simple little gospel song The Land Afar. We do not know who authored it, but George Stebbins provided the tune. If you are looking for the music, it is #972 in Ira Sankey’s old Sacred Songs and Solos. (Incidentally, of the 1200 songs in the book, there are nearly 150 about the second coming and heaven!) The present hymn says:
There is a land that lies afar,
Where grief is all unknown;
A land wherein the angels sing
Around the heav’nly throne.
Oh, ’twill be sweet when we shall meet
Upon that distant shore,
Whereon the glorious sun ne’er sets,
But shines forever more.
We are but pilgrims on the earth,
And brief our sojourn here;
But well we know, beyond this vale
There is a brighter sphere.
There is a realm of boundless love,
A goal for hearts distressed,
Where all may find for endless years
A home among the blest.