Posted by: rcottrill | June 19, 2017

O Tender and Sweet Was the Master’s Voice

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Words: Ellen Jane Knight Bradford (b. _____, 1839; d. _____, 1899)
Music: Edward H. Phelps (data lacking)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The title I’ve used for this gospel song is the first line, but it’s actual title, I believe, is Over the Line. Mrs. Bradford wrote a few hymns and they can be found on the Cyber Hymnal.

T o “draw a line in the sand” is an expression used since ancient times. Whether there’s an actual line or it’s only symbolic, it marks a point of decision. Either the person has defined such a point for himself, or he’s established it for someone else. Whichever the case, if that line is crossed, there will be inevitable consequences. Stepping over becomes a kind of point of no return, beyond which it is difficult if not impossible to go back to the way things were.

For example, one boy might scratch out a line with his toe in the dirt of a playground and say to another boy, “If you cross that line, we’re enemies, and I’m going to punch you in the nose!” The second boy could walk away and avoid a fight, or decide to cross over and do combat.

There is a kind of line in the sand drawn by Jacob and his uncle Laban. Jacob had lived with his uncle for many years, then he left to return to his family in Canaan. And because the relationship of the two men was strained and often contentious, they decided to make a pledge of permanent separation. Out in the wilderness, the two men set up a heap of rocks, as a divide both would vow not to violate.

“Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm’” (Gen. 31:51-52).

At a national level, a government might say, “Our line in the sand is chemical warfare. If that other nation makes use of that, we pledge there will be serious results.” But if none of the promised consequences follow a violation, those who’ve drawn the line lose credibility, and future lines drawn may simply be ignored.

In the spiritual realm there is a line crossed in God’s plan of salvation. A line that divides eternal condemnation from eternal bliss. The Lord Jesus put it this way:

“He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed [i.e. crossed the line] from death into life” (Jn. 5:24).

+Later, it’s said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new [i.e. a new life has begun]” (II Cor. 5:17).

Crossing that line became the literal experience of a young student attending Yale University in 1878. Though not a Christian, perhaps out of curiosity, he attended one of the meetings of American evangelist Dwight Moody. Beside him sat a gentleman visiting from England who, after the meeting, encouraged him to put his faith in Christ. He walked with the young man to his home, where he prayed for his new friend’s salvation, then went on his way.,

The fellow was deeply affected by the experiences of the evening. Approaching the house, he stopped suddenly, made a deep line across the graveled path with his cane, and said, “Now, I must decide this question, for or against Christ, tonight. If I cross the line my life shall be for Him; but if I go around it, it will be for the world.”

He pondered the life and death decision for about half an hour, finally crying out, “O God, help me to decide aright!” Then he stepped purposefully over the line he’d drawn, having decided to become a Christian. Once in the house, he went at once to his father’s room to tell him of his decision.

His father, who was a pastor, told the story from the platform at Moody’s meeting the next day. At the meeting was Edward Phelps, the newspaper editor of a Springfield, Massachusetts paper. He published the account in his paper the next day, where it was read by Ellen Bradford, who wrote the words of this song and sent it to Phelps, who was able to compose a tune for it.

Ira Sankey, Moody’s soloist and music director, says the Lord used the song in the conversion of thousands, all over the world.

CH-1) Oh, tender and sweet was the Master’s voice
As He lovingly called to me,
“Come over the line, it is only a step–
I am waiting, My child, for thee.”

“Over the line,” hear the sweet refrain,
Angels are chanting the heavenly strain:
“Over the line,” why should I remain
With a step between me and Jesus.

CH-2) But my sins are many, my faith is small;
Lo! the answer came quick and clear;
“Thou needest not trust in thyself at all,
Step over the line, I am here.”

CH-4) Ah, the world is cold, and I cannot go back,
Press forward I surely must;
I will place my hand in His wounded palm,
Step over the line, and trust.

1) Have you crossed over the line and put your faith in the Saviour? If not, please take a look at the article God’s Plan of Salvation.

2) If you are a Christian, is there another kind of line you need to cross over (to deal with a harmful habit, to forgive someone who has wronged you, or commit to involvement in some specific Christian service)?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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