Posted by: rcottrill | August 14, 2013

Will There Be Any Stars?

Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn was published in 1897. You can see a list of some of Miss Hewitt’s hymns that are still in common use in the Wordwise Hymns link.

Eight times (counting the repeated refrains) this hymn refers to believers having stars in our heavenly crowns. It’s interesting poetic imagery, but is not taken from the Word of God. There are crowns spoken of (more of them in a moment). But nothing about stars (or even sparkling jewels) in the crowns. The closest the Bible comes is with this statement in the book of Daniel:

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

The saints’ service and witness for the Lord is in view, as it is in the hymn, but clearly it is they themselves that will shine with the glory of God, not their crowns.

However, the New Testament does speak a number of times of crowns that Christians will receive one day. And though we are also to reign with Christ (Rev. 5:10), these are not royal or kingly crowns. The Greek word in every case is stephanos, which is used of a wreath or garland, given as a prize to victors in public games (much as medals are awarded today).

Also close to the crowns described in Eliza Hewitt’s hymn is this reference Paul makes to a future “crown” in his first letter to the Thessalonian church.

“What is our hope, or joy, or crown [stephanos] of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (I Thess. 2:19).

The apostle rejoices that he has had some part in bringing them to Christ, and teaching them the Word of God. Whether or not he expects to wear a crown himself as a result, the crown here appears to be metaphorical, speaking of meeting these Christians in heaven as being his reward. They themselves were to be his crown.

Another possible text to consider is in the epistle of First Peter, where he speaks of the rewards for those who are faithful leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.

“ Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers…and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown [stephanos] of glory that does not fade away” (I Pet. 5:2-4).

That is a reward for service, which links nicely with the hymn. However, no stars are mentioned as adorning the crown. We must therefore put the author’s idea down as poetic imaginary and poetic licence. Eliza Hewitt herself recognizes that, speaking of “living gems [i.e. people] at His feet to lay down” (CH-3), envisioning those to whom she has ministered being her gift to the Lord.

Whatever we accomplish for the Lord, it is by His enablement. It’s in recognition of that that those around the throne of God, “cast their crowns [stephanos] before the throne” of God in heaven (Rev. 4:10), proclaiming in the act that any achievement in service is by His grace and for His glory.

Though I see some merit in all of this as a challenge to faithful service for Christ, there is an important caution to be addressed, and it’s this. Often an individual is won to Christ not by the witness of one person, but by that of several, perhaps even over an extended period of time. Paul indicates that when he says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (I Cor. 3:6).

We may never know until we get to heaven the effect of our testimony on a particular individual. And Miss Hewitt’s own hymns may be having a part in the process still, nearly a century after her death. So, do we all get stars in our crowns for that? Let’s leave the matter with the Lord and remember, “God gave the increase”!

CH-1) I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Saviour I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?

Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown
When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest
Will there be any stars in my crown?

CH-3) O what joy it will be when His face I behold,
Living gems at his feet to lay down!
It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold,
Should there be any stars in my crown.

1) Are you aware of someone who was saved, with your input being part of a long process and the ministry of several people?

2) What are you doing currently to have that kind of input into the lives of others?

Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal


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