Posted by: rcottrill | February 27, 2013

Heavenly Sunlight

Words: Henry Jeffreys Zelley (b. Mar. 15, 1859; d. Mar. 16, 1942)
Music: Grenada, by George Harrison Cook (b. _____; d. _____ 1948)


Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Mr. Zelley was a Methodist pastor who also wrote hymns–about 1500 of them. This one was first published in 1889. Relatively little is known of George Cook. He was converted at the age of fourteen, and spent many years in Christian ministry, preaching, singing, playing and writing music, training singers, directing choirs, and organizing bands and orchestras. He brought the tune he’d written to Pastor Zelley one day, and asked him to supply lyrics for it.

There isn’t a great depth of truth in this gospel song, but it does say some simple things about the Christian walk. First, though, let’s think of how sunlight is used in the Scriptures. Though the actual word “sunlight” isn’t found there (in the NKJV), the light of the sun is mentioned many times in the Word of God.

1) Our sun is a creation of God, designed to provide light on the earth (Gen. 1:16). “The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun” (Ps. 74:16). Most often, the sun simply an indicator of the beginning or the ending of the day–at sunrise and sunset. There are, however, a few times it is used as poetic imagery, a metaphor or simile.

2) In the book of Ecclesiastes the sun is mentioned some thirty-two times. The phrase “under the sun” (e.g. Ecc. 1:3, 14) is Solomon’s way of describing this mortal existence, life from the cradle to the grave.

3) Many times, light is used to picture the purity and holy character of the Lord. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (I Jn. 1:5). Many verses speak of the coming Messiah with this symbolism. “He [the king of David’s line, finally fulfilled in the Messiah] shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds” (II Sam. 23:4). “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings [sunbeams]” (Mal. 4:2).

4) This became a visible and practical thing, when Christ revealed something of His heavenly glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). We have another instance of this, when Christ met with Paul (then called Saul) on the Damascus Road (Acts 26:13). Of the heavenly kingdom we read, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Rev. 21:23).

5) Closer to the Pastor Zelley’s use of sunlight as a metaphor applying to the walk of faith we have: “The LORD God is a sun and shield” (Ps. 84:11) speaking of the Lord’s help and protection of His people. Then we have, “Let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength” (Jud. 5:31), and “The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18).

6) Closest of all, perhaps, is the description of the deliverance of the Jews in the book of Esther. It seems to me that Zelley is using sunlight as a symbol for joy. (Notice the phrase in the refrain, “I am rejoicing,” and the phrase “ever rejoicing” in CH-3). It’s said of the Jews when Haman’s wicked plot against them was defeated, “The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honour” (Est. 8:16).

CH-1: In Christ, we have a source of abiding joy, even in times of trial (“the deep vale”), and He promises to be with us always (Matt. 28:20). CH-2: There’s no darkness when we walk close beside the Lord. CH-3: The path of life and our walk with Him leads on to the “mansions above,” and to eternal day.

CH-1) Walking in sunlight all of my journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, “I’ll never forsake thee,”
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

1) In what circumstances (or for what reason) does this sunlight seem to depart from the Christian’s life, to be replaced by clouds of gloom?

2) What can be done about the situation described above, to restore the light of joy and confidence in God?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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