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Words: Adam Geibel (b. Sept. 15, 1855; d. Aug. 3, 1933); Lydia Shivers Leech (b. July 12, 1873; d. Mar. 4, 1962)
Music: Adam Geibel
Note: Though he was blinded at the age of eight by an eye infection, Mr. Geibel became a successful composer, conductor, and organist, as well as a music publisher. He wrote the first verse and chorus (words and music) of this song. The rest was added by Lydia Leech, also an organist, and the author of around 500 hymns.
A slightly different version of the story of the writing of the hymn is given by Ernest Emurian (on the Cyber Hymnal page). What I’ve given comes from two different sources. There is also a difference in the use of “someday,” or “some day,” though the two seem very close. As to proper usage, the dictionary isn’t a great help. Apparently:
The adverb someday is written solid: Someday we will know the truth. The two-word form some day means a specific but unnamed day. [U-u-uh…?]
There are a number of sayings used to indicate something that is (or should be) obvious. In the 1500’s they used to say, “It’s plain as a pikestaff [ or packstaff], referring to the staff carried over the shoulder of a peddler, on which he hung a sack filled with his wares.
Today, we might say, “It’s as plain as the nose on your face.” Another common adage is, “It’s plain as day.” That’s likely a shortened version of, “It’s plain as the sun at midday,” a saying more than three centuries old.
But sometimes, what’s obvious and easy to understand by one, is not by another. For example, if the car breaks down, and you lift the hood, do you know where to look for the problem, and how to correct it? Some will, but others won’t. It takes a special kind of knowledge and skill to do car repairs. The same goes for dealing with what’s wrong when a computer stops functioning as it should.
Guessing what the issue might be, and doing something we think might help could get us in worse trouble than before. It’s better to wait until we can talk with someone who has the expertise required. Someone justified in saying the solution is plain as day to them.
In life, there are many things we do not know. Though it’s a good thing to plan ahead, and though we may lay our plans carefully for the coming days, we have no guarantees that we’ll be able to carry them out. “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1; Jas. 4:14). And tomorrow’s unknowns affect our prayer life today, as far as knowing what to pray for. But the Spirit of God can help us with that. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought” (Rom. 8:26).
Life’s trials and tribulations raise many questions as well. Suffering Job cried in anguish, “Why did I not die at birth?” (Job 3:11). And often “why” questions like that go unanswered. We may know some of the things God is doing, but a full understanding awaits eternity. That is what hymn writer Adam Geibel came to realize.
Mr. Geibel’s son-in-law worked for a steel mill. Because he showed great promise, he was given experience in one department after another, with the object of future leadership in the firm. Then one day there was a terrible accident. A conveyor loaded with molten ore jumped the track, spewing it’s contents in all directions. Geibel’s son-in-law threw himself in front of some coworkers, trying to shield them, and he was burned to death.
The Geibels were heartbroken at the great loss. Adam had loved the young man like his own son and, after the tragedy, he fell into a deep depression. Christians continued to pray for him, but it seemed nothing would lift his spirits. But the day came when the man returned to his office, his face reflecting renewed peace and joy.
When asked what had happened he said:
“I kept asking God why? But I felt I could go on no longer in this attitude. Last night, as I was praying, the Lord Himself seemed to say to me, ‘Adam, someday you’ll understand all about it, for someday I’ll make it plain to you.’”
It was out of that new perspective that he sat down at the piano and wrote the music, and the initial stanza and refrain, of a new hymn–to which Lydia Leech later added two more stanzas.
1) I do not know why oft ’round me
My hopes all shattered seem to be;
God’s perfect plan I cannot see,
But someday I’ll understand.
Someday He’ll make it plain to me,
Someday when I His face shall see;
Someday from tears I shall be free,
For someday I shall understand.
3) Though trials come through passing days,
My life will still be filled with praise;
For God will lead through darkened ways,
But someday I’ll understand.
1) What events or circumstances in your life are difficult to understand or explain?
2) What does the Lord expect of us when this happens?