Posted by: rcottrill | August 23, 2017

Speed Away

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Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: Isaac Baker Woodbury (b. Oct. 23, 1819; d. Oct. 26, 1858)

Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Without much question, Fanny Crosby was the premiere gospel song writer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She wrote something like 8,500 songs, and quite a few of them are still popular–To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour, and many more.

Fanny was blind from the age of six months but she never let this hinder her many activities and accomplishments. She was trained, and later became a teacher at the New York City School for the Blind. There she was befriended by future president Grover Cleveland, who spent hours writing down poems she composed.

She was the first woman to speak before a joint session of the American Congress (April, 1846), and she performed at the White House for President James Polk around the same time. Interestingly, she was a distant relative of popular singer Bing Crosby. Early on, Miss Crosby wrote many secular songs and poems. She put her faith in Christ at the age of thirty. Then, from her mid-forties onward she wrote only hymns.

We could describe a fast car as speeding along. But speed is a relative thing. What is great rapidity in one case is a mind-numbing crawl in another.

A garden snail may think it’s hurrying when it travels 0.047 kilometres per hour. Human beings can go much faster. Sprint champion Usain Bolt runs short distances at about 45 kms/hr (28 miles per hour), which was often near the top speed of the earliest automobiles. Today, racing cars can travel almost ten times as fast.

But all of this is dwarfed by the speed of light. In one second it travels nearly 300,000 kilometres (186,000 miles)–which is equal to seven times around the earth. At that rate, light from the sun, 93,000,000 miles away, takes only eight and a half minutes to reach us.

Speeding in a car beyond the set speed limit is illegal. It can also be dangerous, especially when the highway is wet or icy. But there are times when speed can be a wonderful thing. Think of the way we can see on television what’s happening on the other side of the earth, almost as it happens. Receiving news from Japan or the Philippines, or sending messages there, can be done in seconds.

These facts relate to a missionary hymn written by Fanny Crosby in 1890, after she heard a song called Speed Away, that had been produced forty years earlier. It recounted a legend about an Indian maiden who died. Her father mourned her loss, until she sent a bird from the Happy Hunting Grounds with a reassuring message for him.

Fanny loved the melody, and she wrote a Christian missionary hymn to fit it, using the same title but with a totally different message. Ira Sankey, the music director of evangelist Dwight Moody, adapted Woodbury’s original tune to suit the words. In the years since, it has been used often at farewell services for departing missionaries.

CH-1) Speed away, speed away, on your mission of light,
To the lands that are lying in darkness and night;
’Tis the Master’s command; go ye forth in His name,
The wonderful gospel of Jesus proclaim;
Take your lives in your hand, to the work while ’tis day,
Speed away, speed away, speed away.

CH-3) Speed away, speed away with the message of rest,
To the souls by the tempter in bondage oppressed;
For the Savior has purchased their ransom from sin,
And the banquet is ready, O gather them in;
To the rescue make haste, there’s no time for delay,
Speed away, speed away, speed away.

We have tools to do that more quickly today than Christians did in 1890. But the question is: Are we using the tools we have? Are we busy in the Lord’s work? There is reason for haste. The Lord Jesus told John in his book of prophecy:

“Behold, I am coming quickly [or soon], and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).

If His coming was “soon” in John’s day, it is very soon today. We must serve the Lord with the view that His return could come at any moment. Meanwhile, we have a commission to fulfil:

“You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mk 16:15).

1) What are some things that require haste?

2) What are some things where haste often causes problems?

Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal


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