Posted by: rcottrill | May 4, 2015

Singing I Go

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Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The present hymn was published 1898. For a list other songs by Miss Hewitt that appear in many evangelical hymnals, check the Wordwise Hymns link.

CH-1) The trusting heart to Jesus clings,
Nor any ill forebodes,
But at the cross of Calv’ry, sings,
Praise God for lifted loads!

Singing I go along life’s road,
Praising the Lord, praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life’s road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.

Some of us old-timers, I’m sure remember Jimmy Durante, who was both a capable comedian and a skilled musician. In the early thirties, Durante wrote a song that became identified with him. It began, “Ya gotta start of each day with a song, / Even when things go wrong.” Even though we may experience dark days when that seems virtually impossible, there is some wisdom in the song’s advice all the same. The right songs can cheer us, lift our spirits, and brighten our day.

In the Word of God, King Saul of Israel illustrates that. In times when a black mood gripped his soul, young David would come and play his harp for the depressed king. When he did so, we read, “Then Saul would become refreshed and well [cheerful], and the distressing spirit would depart from him” (I Sam. 16:23).

Missionaries Paul and Silas provide another example. For their ministry for Christ, they were beaten, and cast into a prison cell in Philippi, with their feet fastened in stocks (Acts 16:23-24). But even in that awful place, they found joy in serving the Lord. “At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (vs. 25). Truly, God “gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10).

Over the centuries since the New Testament era began, something like a million Christian hymns have been written. Some of these describe incidents recorded in the Bible. Others teach the doctrines found there–particularly proclaiming the gospel of grace, and salvation through Christ. And still others are actually the personal testimonies of the song-writers themselves. They tell of God’s faithfulness in bringing them through trying times.

When we sing Fanny Crosby’s All the Way My Saviour Leads Me, we are joining her in praise for how the Lord met a financial need in an amazing way. When we sing Joseph Scrivien’s What a Friend We Have in Jesus, we are sharing what he discovered of the comfort of the Saviour, after his fiancee drowned on the eve of their wedding.

Eliza Hewitt was a school teacher in Philadelphia. She also wrote hundreds of fine gospel songs. Many have a joyful tone, though she struggled for years with a painful back injury. The joy of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as her Saviour, and of having an opportunity to serve Him brightened her days.

The present song reflects this, speaking of the privilege and blessing of prayer (cf. Heb. 4:15-16).

CH-2) The passing days bring many cares,
“Fear not,” I hear Him say,
And when my fears are turned to prayers,
The burdens slip away.

CH-4) When to the throne of grace I flee,
I find the promise true,
The mighty arms upholding me
Will bear my burdens too.

A couple of decades after the song was introduced, it was adopted for a rather unusual use in the home of another great gospel musician. Billy Graham’s longtime soloist, Bev Shea, tells of what his home was like, growing up as a boy in Winchester, Ontario. On school days, when it was time for the six children to rise, his mother would sound a chord on the piano and sing the refrain of this song. Then she would call out, cheerfully, “Get up, everybody. One hour till school!” Bev called the song “mother’s alarm clock.”

It remained a favourite of his, and one he recorded. Years later, he hosted a radio program called Club Time, that used Singing I Go as its theme song. On the program each week, Bev featured the favourite hymn of some famous person. Baseball’s Babe Ruth’s was God Is Ever Beside Me; popular songstress Kate Smith’s favourite was I Love to Tell the Story; and opera and concert star John Charles Thomas’s was Softly and Tenderly. We have many songs of praise that can brighten life’s path.

Questions:
1) Is there a particular hymn you often find yourself humming or singing at various times during the day?

2) Does your family often sing a hymn together during family devotions?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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