Posted by: rcottrill | July 26, 2017

These Things Shall Be

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Words: John Addington Symonds (b. Oct. 5, 1840; d. Apr. 19, 1893)
Music: Truro, by Thomas Williams (data unknown), from Psalmodia Evangelica, 1789.

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Symonds)

Note: John Symonds was a scholar who wrote with recognized authority a History of the Italian Renaissance. He also wrote a couple of hymns. The present one was taken from a longer poem, written in 1880. The tune Truro is also used with Go, Labour On; Spend, and Be Spent. Hymn historian Ellen Jane Lorenz says the tune was probably written by English composer Charles Burney (1726-1814).

Sometimes a parent makes a promise to a child with the fulfilment left to a vague and indefinite future. “I’m going to take you fishing,” or, “We’ll all go to the zoo.” It sounds exciting. “But when?” will be the likely response. And that may be a repeated refrain until the event actually takes place.

Years ago, a man in the photographic business told my father, in my hearing, that he could get a top-of-the-line camera for me at a very low price. I’m afraid I nagged about that for a long time, until the camera was finally in my hands. It’s fine to say what could happen, but we want to know when.

The same uncertainty can be seen in politics. Grandiose promises are made during an election campaign. But when in office the politician often fails to deliver. It happens so many times you’d think we’d learn not to believe the hyperbole, but many of us do. Poverty will be ended, terrorism will be wiped out, millions of jobs will be created. But when? He said he would do it, or she did. But when will it be done? Perhaps never.

There is a kind of utopian theme to this rhetoric, fostering appealing daydreams of a world at peace, with plenty for all, when everyone is healthy, wealthy, and happy. Perhaps many believe it, against all logic, because that’s what they wish for and long for.

Evolutionists say that everything began from nothing, and look at what we have risen to today. Is it not reasonable, they’ll say, to expect we’ll keep on evolving higher and higher? No, it isn’t. In truth, evolutionary theory is discredited at every turn. Many formerly ardent evolutionists are now admitting that the complexity of nature points to an intelligent Designer.

And God gives quite a different verdict about the world He created. It is not evolving to something better, but devolving–morally degenerating–into something worse.

“In the last days perilous [terrible, stressful] times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:1-4)

Yet there is a better day beyond all this. But when? The Bible in many passages relates this to the second coming of Christ, the time when He comes to reign as the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6-7).

“He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isa. 11:3-4).

This leads us to a look at a beautiful hymn by Symonds. In it he describes many wonderful things about the coming kingdom of God, but says nothing about when he believes this will be fulfilled.

He may have believed, as some do, that the Christian gospel will effect the transformation before Christ returns. But, as noted above, the Lord tells us the last days will see a spiritual decline, when “evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:13). It is only with the glorious coming of the Son of God that the enemies of God will be put down, and righteousness will triumph (I Tim. 6:13-15; Rev. 17:14; 19:11-16).

I want to be careful not to make a thorough-going evangelical of Symonds. He does not seem to have been. His daughter said his faith was “large and broad.” But once understand the time frame, and Symonds hymn makes sense, at least to some degree. (Stanza 1 sounds a bit like the spiritual blessings promised in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33-34).

1) These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

3) Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

4) New arts shall bloom of loftier mold,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song,
When all the earth is paradise.

1) If you were designing a perfect society, what are three major changes you’d make from the way things are today?

2) How will the world be different with Christ reigning over all?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (John Symonds)


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