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Words: Janetta Mary Wilbraham Taylor Trench (b. Jan. 31, 1843; d. June 14, 1925)
Music: a Glee, by John Wall Callcott (b. Nov. 20, 1766; d. May 15, 1821)
Note: John Callcott was a pupil of composer Franz Josef Haydn, and is considered a master of the “glee” format (a short song in parts, usually sung unaccompanied). He wrote the present beautiful tune for a passionate love song by playwright and poet Ben Jonson, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, written in 1616.
The secular ballad, in itself, is beautiful. However, I believe Janetta Trench’s paean to our heavenly home lifts a masterful melody to a much higher and grander use. The words and tune fit so perfectly together they seem made for each other. This is one of those hymns that I wish were found in every hymn book and sung in every church. If you are looking for hymns to use at a Funeral Service, this is a wonderful one, and you can find others listed under Funeral Hymns.
Usually I don’t like to see secular tunes or music styles used for hymns, particularly when there is a strong association of the former, in the minds of many, with what is sinful and worldly. But here we are dealing with Jonson’s four-hundred-year-old poem that contains nothing evil that I can see. The ballad was considered quite acceptable to be sung in mixed company in Victorian England. But judge for yourself, and if you are uncomfortable with the wedding of Callcott’s melody with Trench’s words, I do understand.
Home! Say the word slowly a couple of times. The very sounding of it seems to breathe a sigh of contentment, followed by a murmur of delight–though many homes today are sad mockeries of what they should be. Home is to be a place where we sense we belong, where we’re welcome and safe, and where personal relationships give us pleasure, and foster ongoing growth.
As believers, we also speak of our heavenly home. The Lord Jesus refers to it as an “everlasting home” (Lk. 16:9), and as “My Father’s house” (Jn. 14:2). We are, in truth, “strangers and pilgrims on the earth [who] seek a homeland” (Heb. 11:13-14), “a heavenly country,” prepared for us by God Himself (vs. 16).
So many times, the servants of Christ have been deprived of a settled home, below (I Cor. 4:11). The Lord Jesus Himself spoke of having “nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). But there is the comforting anticipation of a heavenly abode. A place where we’ll be with our Saviour, a place whose beauty and perfections will be such that it’s no wonder the Apostle Paul declared he had “a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23).
The old gospel song says it: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.” But though we should keep that in mind, the Lord has provided a foretaste of heaven for us here. Jesus said of one who walks in obedience to His Word, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). The daily reality of this in the Christian’s life will engender a longing for our better home above.
On that theme, an English hymn writer has written a beautiful hymn. Mrs. Trench published a volume in 1881 called Our Sunday School Hymn Book, for which she wrote a number of songs, including this one.
I have heard individuals speak with passion and excitement about a party, or a concert, or a football game. But I wonder, do Christians ever get that intensely emotional about heaven? “His home made ours!” Consider that as a poetic description of our heavenly home. How wonderful!
CH-1) How blest a home! The Father’s house!
There love divine doth rest;
What else could satisfy the hearts
Of those in Jesus blest?
His home made ours–His Father’s love
Our heart’s full portion given,
The portion of the firstborn Son,
The full delight of heav’n.
The Bible says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). And the joy of heaven will be found in the ongoing expression of our love for God, and His infinite love for us.
CH-3) Oh, what a home! There fullest love
Flows through its courts of light;
The Son’s divine affections flow
Throughout its depth and height.
And full response the Father gives,
To fill with joy the heart–
No cloud is there to dim the scene,
Or shadow to impart.
The Lord Jesus made it clear to His followers that He wanted us to be with Him, forever. He said, “ 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). He expressed the same desire in prayer to His heavenly Father: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am” (Jn. 17:24). How amazing that is!
CH-4) Oh, what a home! But such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all His glory share.
The Father’s house, the Father’s heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours–the objects of His love
And He, our joy in heav’n.
1) Is it true that we seldom get really excited about the prospect of heaven? (If not, why not?)
2) What is the particular thing that makes the hymn writer’s heart fill with joyful wonder and great anticipation about heaven?