Posted by: rcottrill | June 24, 2015

Rest for the Weary

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Words: Samuel Young Harmer (b. Dec. 9, 1809; d. Apr. 26, 1884)
Music: John William Dadmun (b. Dec. 20, 1819; d. Aug. 6, 1890)


Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: lists William Hunter as a co-author of the words, but I could find no confirmation of that, in early copies of the song. Samuel Harmer was the son of a Quaker father and Presbyterian mother, and he later was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal denomination. He wrote a number of gospel songs.

One thing that has often struck me about this song is that it seems to have two refrains. The last four lines of the eight-line refrain simply reuse the tune of the first four, and together it becomes a bit cumbersome. I think if I were using it I might try using the first half of the refrain with stanzas 1 and 3, and the second half with stanzas 2 and 4.

On a compilation of hymns on CD called Come Ye Faithful, there is a recording of this hymn sung by the great operatic baritone John Charles Thomas (1891-1960). I notice he does not use the full refrain each time, but does include both halves overall. Mr. Thomas’s father was a preacher, and he grew up loving the old hymns. He had a weekly radio program that featured them, and there are recordings available of some of these. A music critic declared that Thomas’s was one of the four greatest voices of the twentieth century. Agree or not, if you enjoy straightforward singing, with crisp diction, give him a try. Gospel singer George Beverly Shea knew him, and received some vocal coaching from him.

Football is a game with millions of fans. A close fought battle on the field can be exciting. But there’s quite a difference between being a player and a spectator. Some wit has described the game as “a bunch of people on the field needing rest, and a bunch in the stands needing exercise! A bit unfair to the fans, perhaps. We all can get weary in the duties of our day-to-day lives, and times of rest and recreation are essential to us.

That’s true in our service for Christ as well. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples one day, “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.’ For [says Mark], there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mk. 6:31). Serving the Lord is not easy. No job is, of course, if we are determined to do it well. But there is a spiritual dimension to Christian service that adds to the burden.

We are dealing with the eternal destiny of others, while we struggle with our own weakness and waywardness. We have an enemy, Satan and his hosts, arrayed against us. Sometimes there’s opposition and even danger, from a world that does not know the Lord or love Him. The persecution suffered by Christians in the early church (cf. II Cor. 11:24-28) is repeated daily in many countries around the world today.

The servants of Christ need rest, and the Lord understands that. Sometimes, as described above, it involves a break from the duties we have assumed, and from dealing with people’s troubles. Other times, it is simply the rest of faith, trusting in Him to provide in the midst of our service. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Even as we bear the yoke of service for Christ, we can experience His rest.

As well as that, there is an ultimate rest from earthly service yet to come, the heavenly rest of the saints. The Apostle John writes of it, “I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them’” (Rev. 14:13). Heaven will not be a rest from every kind of duty. Even there, “His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3; Gal. 6:9). But the frustrations, dangers, and painful trials of labour for the Lord in a fallen world will be forever behind us.

CH-1) In the Christian’s home in glory
There remains a land of rest;
There my Saviour’s gone before me,
To fulfill my soul’s request.

There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for you.
On the other side of Jordan,
In the sweet fields of Eden,
Where the tree of life is blooming,
There is rest for you.

In the Bible the Lord Jesus promises:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

CH-2) He is fitting up my mansion,
Which eternally shall stand,
For my stay shall not be transient,
In that holy, happy land.

The book of Revelation declares that there, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

CH-3) Pain and sickness ne’er shall enter,
Grief nor woe my lot shall share;
But, in that celestial center,
I a crown of life shall wear.

CH-4) Death itself shall then be vanquished,
And his sting shall be withdrawn;
Shout for gladness, O ye ransomed!
Hail with joy the rising morn.

1) What are your favourite hymns about heaven?

2) In this present life, how do you find a measure of spiritual rest?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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