Posted by: rcottrill | June 29, 2015

Sunshine in My Soul

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Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn was written in 1887. The words are intimately connected to a personal experience of the author’s.

There’s a saying that behind the clouds, the sun is always shining. But that may not be much comfort to a life that is overcome with dark clouds of pain and trouble. Is it possible to avoid being overwhelmed by despair, when buried in a deluge of disaster? Possible to find sunshine in the storm? That is what this story is about.

The central character is Eliza Hewitt. Miss Hewitt lived her whole life in the city of Philadelphia, where she was a public school teacher, until something happened one dreadful day. She had attempted to correct a rebellious student, but when she turned away he struck her across the back with a heavy slate, severely injuring her spine.

Suddenly, her whole life changed. She never fully recovered from the damage done, was often bedridden for long periods, and had trouble getting around for the rest of her days. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, she was placed in a body cast for six long months. Her painful confinement could have been a breeding ground for depression and bitter cynicism, but it wasn’t.

She’d put her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He sustained her. The One whom the prophet Malachi calls “the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2) had entered her life and brought the radiance of His love. Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (Jn. 12:46). Then, He bids believers to “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

Light is used in Scripture as a symbol of truth and purity. It also depicts the abundant life the Lord can give to those who trust in Him. The Bible describes salvation this way:

“God who commanded light to shine out of darkness [at creation]…has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).

“He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life,” said the Lord Jesus (Jn. 8:12). After receiving God’s gift of eternal life, we are to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Eliza Hewitt did just that. She was the good friend of another prolific hymn writer, Fanny Crosby and, like her friend, she concentrated on that ministry. Though hindered from moving about, she began writing gospel songs, and eventually produced many hundreds of them. Some of these were written under the pen name Lidie H. Edmunds. Brightly joyous songs of faith and hope, they include: More About Jesus; My Faith Has Found a Resting Place; Since the Fullness of His Love Came In; Singing I Go; Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus; and Stepping in the Light.

Six months after her back injury, the body cast was removed, and she was later able to take her first faltering steps outside. Eliza went for a short walk in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. She loved the beauty of nature, particularly flowers. What a delight to feel the breeze again, and the warm sunshine! Though brief, it was an energizing outing.

The experience inspired her to write a song she called Sunshine in My Soul. In it she applies the exhilaration of stepping out into the sunshine to the joy she found in fellowship with Christ.

CH-1) There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

O there’s sunshine, blessèd sunshine,
When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

CH-2) There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The songs I cannot sing.

After several years, her physical condition improved somewhat, and she served as a Sunday School Superintendent, for several decades, at the Northern Home for Friendless Children, and later at the Calvin Presbyterian Church. Miss Hewitt was also a regular contributor to Sunday School Helps.

CH-3) There is springtime in my soul today,
For, when the Lord is near,
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flowers of grace appear.

CH-4) There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love,
For blessings which He gives me now,
For joys “laid up” above.

1) What experience have you had that at least is a small picture of the joy you experience in knowing and fellowshiping with Christ?

2) What reason(s) can you think of for great rejoicing in our fellowship with Christ?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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