Posted by: rcottrill | October 20, 2014

No Night There

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Words: John Ralston Clements (b. Nov. 28, 1868; d. Jan. 1, 1946)
Music: Hart Pease Danks (b. Apr. 6, 1834; d. Nov. 20, 1903)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: This 1899 hymn is sometimes listed as The City Foursquare. A biography of Mr. Clements, and an account of how he came to write the song, can be found on the Wordwise Hymns link. As well as sporting a most impressive moustache (see the picture on the Cyber Hymnal), Mr. Danks also wrote the music, in 1873, for an extremely popular ballad, Silver Threads Among the Gold. Morbid though its sentiments may seem today, it has been recorded by many artists, and is still a popular barbershop quartet number.

Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today,
Life is fading fast away.

But consider John Clements beautiful song. It begins:

CH-1) In the land of fadeless day,
Lies “the city foursquare,”
It shall never pass away,
And there is “no night there.”

God shall “wipe away all tears”
There’s no death, no pain, nor fears;
And they count not time by years,
For there is “no night there.”

There are many beautiful cities across North America and around the world. But there’s none that isn’t struggling with a variety of problems. Housing is one, particularly affordable housing for those on a lower or fixed income. Efficient transportation is another, and the pollution caused by thousands of vehicles on the move each day. Then there’s often a deterioration of the inner city, with slums that tend to breed violence and racial tensions. And where will the money come from to deal with such things?

The Bible has a great deal to say on the subject of cities, with the word “city” or “cities” found there more than eleven hundred times. The first recorded city was founded by Cain, the man who murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4:17). The last city mentioned is the heavenly city of God, New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:14, 19). There is quite a contrast between the two. The first was built by an unbeliever in rebellion against God, the second by God Himself (Heb. 11:10).

God understands the problems cities face–that “the dying groan in the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out” (Job 24:12). And “by the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:11). “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity!” (Hab. 2:12). And the Lord sees and knows when promiscuous women standing “by the highest [most conspicuous] places of the city,” seek to lure foolish men to their destruction (Prov. 9:13-18).

Mentioned over seven hundred times in Scripture, the earthly city of Jerusalem, was given by God to His people Israel, as the seat of her kings and the centre of her worship. As such, its welfare is of special concern to Him. Jesus wept over the city, knowing the unbelief of the people, and of the judgment to come upon them (Matt. 23:37-39). It is still a troubled place, and we ought to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6).

But, like Abraham of old, the saints today should be looking forward to dwelling in the city “whose builder and maker is God,” where the Lord is preparing a wonderful place for us to live with Him forever (Jn. 14:2-3). It is called, “[the heavenly] Mount Zion…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 13:22), and “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2). The book of Revelation has much to say about this heavenly city. There’s space here to mention only a few of its features.

The city is laid out as a square, fifteen hundred miles in each dimension (“the city lieth foursquare,” Rev. 22:16 KJV). Since this dimension is also applied to its height, some have suggested that it is a pyramid, with the throne of God at the apex. We’ll have to wait and see. But we do know the throne of God is there (Rev. 21:3; cf. 4:1-2). And that it is a city of gold, and a city of light (Rev. 21:21, 23), and a city where there is no more pain, sickness or death (21:4).

CH-3) All the gates shall never close,
To “the city foursquare,”
There life’s crystal river flows,
And there is “no night there.”

CH-4) There they need no sunshine bright,
In “that city foursquare,”
For the Lamb is all the light,
And there is “no night there.”

Questions:
1) Other than the presence of Christ there, what to you is the most outstanding feature of the heavenly city?

2) What other hymns do you know and use about heaven?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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