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Words: Emily May Grimes Crawford (b. May 10, 1864; d. July 9, 1927)
Music: Quietude, by Harold Green (b. Oct. 23, 1871; d. Dec. 20, 1930)
Notes: Emily May Grimes went to South Africa as a missionary in 1893. In 1904, she married Dr. T. W. Crawford of the Christian Missionary Society in Kikuyu, British East Africa. In 1919, she gave us a hymn called The Quiet Hour. If you can’t find it under that title, look for Speak, Lord, in the Stillness, as the first line is often used as a title.
Noise pollution is a serious problem in today’s world. Outdoors, there are cars and trucks, planes, and trains to contend with, plus construction equipment, lawn mowers, and farm machinery, and more. Indoors there are sometimes machines too–both in factories and in the home, and sometimes loudly amplified music, plus the babble of voices trying to be heard above the din.
Centuries ago, the environment was much different with respect to sound. Even in the worst circumstances, there was far less noise. In ancient times, the Bible tells us of occasions when people “shouted with a great shout” (Ezra 3:11; cf. I Sam. 4:6). Perhaps many thousands participated, but it was outdoors, and not likely sustained over a long period. Now, we have electronic amplification with huge speakers, and powerful machinery of various kinds, that change the picture dramatically.
Research suggests that not only can sustained loud noise cause damage to our hearing, it can raise blood pressure and cause lasting heart problems. Living in the midst of noise, hour by hour, adds stress and anxiety to our lives. In certain settings it may hinder sleep, and it certainly makes conversation more difficult, thus getting in the way of enriching human relationships.
Various forms of the word “quiet” are found many times in the Bible. Sometimes it is referring to physical sounds being dampened down. Other times it has to do with peace and tranquility in life, in a broader sense. For example, the Lord says of the coming reign of King Solomon, “I will give him rest from all his enemies all around. His name shall be Solomon [meaning Peace], for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days” (I Chron. 22:9).
Over two thousand times words such as “listen” and “hear” are found in the Scriptures. And it stands to reason that, if we are to hear God’s message from His Word, we’ll need to give Him our full attention. To meditate on the Word, and pray, requires a time of quiet and freedom from distracting noise and interruptions. There’s a reason such occasions are sometimes called an individual’s “Quiet Time” with God.
God may speak softly to us, so that hearing Him requires that we turn aside from life’s babble and bedlam. The Bible says, when Elijah met with God:
“Behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice [a gentle whisper]” (I Kgs. 19:11-12).
Listening to God also calls for a willingness to respond. He said to His people in Old Testament times, “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me!” (Ps. 81:8). Sadly, too many times, they did not. God says, “My people would not heed My voice….Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” (vs. 11, 13). In contrast, young Samuel was counseled to say to God, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears” (I Sam. 3:9), and he did listen, and heed God’s word to him.
As of writing this blog, the Cyber Hymnal does not include one stanza of the hymn (the actual fifth) which alludes to Samuel’s response to the Lord. It says:
5) Speak, Thy servant heareth!
Be not silent, Lord;
Waits my soul upon Thee
For the quick’ning word.
The hymn begins:
CH-1) Speak, Lord, in the stillness
While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen,
CH-5) Fill me with the knowledge
Of Thy glorious will;
All Thine own good pleasure
In my life fulfil.
Another biblical allusion comes in the final stanza. The message of the prophet Isaiah to Israel is: “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isa. 58:11).
CH-6) Like “a watered garden”
Full of fragrance rare,
Ling’ring in Thy presence
Let my life appear.
1) When was the last time you had a quiet and enriching time with the Lord?
2) What did you learn, or what were you reminded of, at that time?