Posted by: rcottrill | August 25, 2014

We Rest on Thee

Graphic Bob and Christmas Book (2)HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.

Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.

Words: Edith Gilling Cherry (b. Feb. 9, 1872; d. Aug. 29, 1897)
Music: Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius (full name, Johan Julius Christian Sibelius (b. Dec. 8, 1865; d. Sept. 20, 1957)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Edith Gilling Cherry was a remarkable young woman, and a gifted poet. She died at the age of twenty-five–and much of her poetry was written before she was fifteen. Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the Romantic period. His music is well known and still performed. The dramatic melody from Finlandia is also used for the hymn Be Still, My Soul.

The Wordwise link will give you a lovely congregational rendition of this hymn, and also a documentary about its link to the martyrdom of the five missionaries in Ecuador, in 1956. Through Gates of Splendor (taken from CH-4), became the title of Elisabeth Elliot’s book recounting this incident.

In my view, this is a truly great hymn. It has passion and power, doctrinal depth and many biblical allusions. It’s a wonder to me that it isn’t know, loved, and frequently sung by many more congregations.

The song was written around 1895. The phrase, “We rest on Thee” is taken from the account in the King James Version of how King Asa of Judah sought the help of the Lord, when a huge Ethiopian army came against Judah.

“Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, ‘LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!’” (II Chron. 14:11, italics mine).

CH-1) We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.

Let me pick out a few of the allusions to Scripture in these lines. There is a triple identification and association mentioned in the hymn. Believers go forward: in the name (authority) of the Lord (CH-3; cf. Ps. 124;8; Col. 3:17), in the strength of the Lord (CH-1; cf. Exod. 15:2; Ps. 71:16), and in the keeping of the Lord (Exod. 23:20; Ps. 91:11).

Many times the Lord is referred to as the believer’s Shield (e.g. Ps. 3:3; 18:30, 35), and his Defender or defense (e.g. Ps. 62:6; 68:5). He is the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10), our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6; cf. I Cor. 1:30), and our Foundation (I Cor. 3:11). He is also our glorious Prince (Isa. 9:6; Acts 3:15) and our coming King (Rev. 19:16).

CH-2) Yes, in Thy name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

CH-3) We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.”
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.”

We recognize “our own great weakness,” and our constant need of daily grace (II Cor. 12:9; cf. 2:16 and 3:5). We encourage our hearts with the fact that “the battle is the Lord’s (I Sam. 17:47). Though we struggle now, in weakness, we’re assured of ultimate victory. Through Christ, and by the power of God, we are victors (I Cor. 15:57; cf. I Chron. 29:11). We look forward to the day when we will be ushered in triumph, through the pearly gates (Rev. 21:21), into the heavenly city.

CH-4) We rest on Thee, our shield and our defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendour,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendour,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

Questions:
1) What, to you, is the most encouraging thing about this hymn?

2) What can you do to encourage the study of this hymn and its wider use? (You may find some helpful ideas if you click on the article linked near the top of this page, 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing.)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


Responses

  1. Hello, Robert. Wonderful, wonderful hymn. We sing it to Mendelssohn’s “Consolation” (for those who don’t recognise it, it is the tune often sung with “Still, Still with Thee”).

    It is beautiful with either tune. We sang it to close our service recently after I preached on Isaiah 26:3. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” It was a wonderful reinforcement of the message of that text.


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