Posted by: rcottrill | July 30, 2014

In Heavenly Love Abiding

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Words: Anna Laetitia Waring (b. Apr. 19, 1823; d. May 10, 1910)
Music: Seasons, by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. Feb. 3, 1809; d. Nov. 4, 1847)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Anna Waring called this 1850 hymn “Safety in God.” It now takes the first line as a title. You can see more about the author on the Wordwise Hymns link. The Cyber Hymnal offers no fewer than eight tunes for this fine hymn. I’m most familiar with Mendelssohn’s Seasons. An old 1865 hymnal concludes the hymn with a lovely and most fitting doxology (also using Mendelssohn’s tune).

To Thee be praise forever, Thou glorious King of kings!
Thy wondrous love and favour each ransomed spirit sings:
We’ll celebrate Thy glory with all the saints above,
And shout the joyful story of Thy redeeming love.

The original hymn was captioned by this verse:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

As noted on the other Wordwise Hymns page, there are many hymns based on Psalm 23. This one is more of a devotional meditation on the psalm,  than a translation. It has much to recommend it.

In CH-1, the author speaks of abiding in the love of the Lord. This theme is addressed in Christ’s Upper Room Discourse. There we learn that the secret of “abiding” in fellowship with the Lord is a walk of obedience to His Word. Such a faithful walk nourishes a sense of contentment and peace, even when life’s storms assail us.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (Jn. 15:9-10).

CH-1) In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear;
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me–and can I be dismayed?

CH-2 makes a more direct reference to the Shepherd-care of the Lord. He is beside us to guide us, and in His presence we are well provided for. We can have the confidence that He knows the way ahead, and we are safe if we stay close by the Shepherd.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (Ps. 23:1-3).

CH-2) Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh, and I will walk with Him.

In the Shepherd’s presence, and under His watchful eye, we are assured of rich spiritual nourishment, wise guidance, and strong protection. His tender care of the weak and helpless is a frequent theme of the Word of God (cf. Ps. 25:9; 73:24; Isa. 42:16; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18).

Even in a wilderness, God is able to “prepare a table before [us]” (Ps. 23:5). Compare this assured declaration with the question of the unbelieving Israelites in Ps. 78:19, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” Unbelief says, “Can God?” Faith says, “God can!”

In times of trouble, consider the thoughts found in CH-3. There is grace to help us, “green pastures” to nourish us “which yet [we] have not seen.” Things may look barren and forbidding in the midst of trial, but the Lord’s mercy and grace are still available. “Darkest clouds” will be replace by “bright skies” in His own good time.

A transient valley of shade lies between two lofty hills, Mount Calvary (foreshadowed in Psalm 22), and the heavenly Mount Zion (foreshadowed in Psalm 24; cf. Heb. 12:22-23). But, in company with our all-sufficient risen Saviour, we need have no fear of the journey from the cross to the crown.

The line “My Saviour has my treasure” may refer to treasures in heaven being laid up for the believer (cf. Matt. 6:19-21; I Pet. 1:3-4), or it may simply be a poetic way of saying that the Lord Jesus has the heart’s devotion of the author.

CH-3) Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free.
My Saviour has my treasure, and He will walk with me.

1) What is the most comforting and encouraging thought for you in this hymn?

2) What other hymns based on Psalm 23 do you know and love?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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