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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.
Words: William Charles Poole (b. Apr. 14, 1875; d. Dec. 24, 1949)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)
Note: Pastor Poole wrote about five hundred hymns, including Count Me, and Just When I Need Him Most. He says this about how he got started.
“My first appearance in print outside of local papers was in 1907. Since my twelfth year I had been writing verses in old composition books which I carefully concealed. Many of these verses were hymns. It was in 1907 that I ventured to send a manuscript to a prominent publisher and asked if it was worth keeping. They immediately referred me to Charles Gabriel, and he asked for more.”
The present song is usually called simply Sunrise. However, since this is followed by the word “tomorrow” a dozen times, and to make it easier to distinguish in indexes from Judson Van de Venter’s Sunlight, I’ve added the second word to the title.
They are sometimes called the golden years. But we all know they’re far from golden for some. I’m speaking of being a senior citizen, a person perhaps retired from a job, and receiving a pension.
Setting the beginning of this period at age sixty-five, as many governments have, was somewhat arbitrary. In the nineteenth century, German chancellor Otto von Bismark was the first to make it official. In the face of a crisis of destitute elderly citizens living in the streets in Germany, he picked sixty-five as the age of eligibility for pensions, based on the government’s ability to afford them for the surviving populace.
And what about seniors today? Likely you have seen those insurance advertisements on television. They may picture a smiling, silver-haired couple frolicking in the surf in some tropical paradise. It’s implied that, with the right insurance policy, we have this idyllic life to look forward to–the golden years. But for many the future is far different.
In reality, some will live from one pension cheque to another, struggling to put food on the table, buy medication, pay the rent, and so on. No thought of having enough money in retirement to travel to far-off places, and enjoy other costly pleasures. And not only a lack of funds, but poor health can be a major inhibitor. Not all are well enough in their senior years to enjoy an active lifestyle.
However, having said this, the picture need not be so bleak. The key is to have a perspective that focuses outward on others, rather than inward on personal troubles.
With that in mind, there some things that can brighten the picture considerably. One is having a circle of friends and family that we can be a blessing to (an outward look), and who can encourage us in return. We need those with whom we can enjoy a warmth of fellowship, on a regular basis. Another component is having at least one hobby we enjoy, and meaningful projects, again related to serving others (an outward look) that are within our ability and resources.
But a third factor is the spiritual one. If we are facing the future with the notion that this earthly life is a kind of dead-end street, that can be extremely depressing. If we have no certain hope of life beyond the grave we are, to borrow the words of Paul, “of all men most pitiable” (I Cor. 15:19).
Through faith in Christ, our ultimate future is not dark, but gloriously bright (Jn. 3:16). The promise of the Saviour is, “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). And “to depart and be with Christ…is far better” (Phil. 1:23).
In 1924, there was a pastors’ conference down in Delaware. During the program, those present paid their respects to a retiring pastor who’d completed many years of faithful service. They saw it as the end of something worthy of note, but he confidently presented a different perspective.
“Do not feel sorry for me, brethren,” he said. “You see, the end of this life is not death, but resurrection unto eternal life; not a funeral but a festival. If God should call me home, it would be but the beginning of life eternal, You have the wrong emphasis when you speak of my having reached the sunset time of life. I am walking steadily into the sunrise of tomorrow.”
Pastor and hymn writer William Charles Poole was in attendance at that conference, and he was inspired by the man’s words to write a gospel song.
1) When I shall come to the end of my way,
When I shall rest at the close of life’s day,
When, ‘Welcome home,’ I shall hear Jesus say,
O that will be sunrise for me.
Sunrise tomorrow, sunrise tomorrow,
Sunrise in glory is waiting for me;
Sunrise tomorrow, sunrise tomorrow,
Sunrise with Jesus for eternity.
1) What difference will it make to living now, if we view death as the sunrise on a perfect and eternal day?
2) If you are not yet of “retirement” age, what are you doing to prepare for that time of your life? (If you are a senior, what can you do to enhance those years?)