Posted by: rcottrill | November 17, 2017

Only a Few More Years

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Words: Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)
Music: Philip Paul Bliss

Wordwise Hymns (Philip Bliss)
The Cyber Hymnal (Philip Bliss)

Note: P. P. Bliss was one of the most outstanding gospel musicians of the nineteenth century. He wrote words and music for many songs, and also provided tunes for words written by others. A few of the many songs he gave us: Hallelujah, What a Saviour; Wonderful Words of Life; I Will Sing of My Redeemer; The Light of the World Is Jesus; Jesus Loves Even Me; and More Holiness Give Me.

Sadly, the man’s life was cut short by a terrible accident. When they were returning home from a Christmas holiday, the train the Blisses were traveling on crashed and burned, killing more than a hundred people. Bliss died trying to rescue his wife from the burning railway car. He was only thirty-eight. In his trunk, afterward, was found a slip of paper with the beginning of a new song: “I know not what awaits me, God kindly veils my eyes…” True, not only for him, but for each of us.

American author Mark Twain once claimed that, as a practical joke, he sent a dozen of his friends a telegram that said, “Flee at once. All is discovered,” adding, “They all left town immediately!” It was not that Twain knew anything incriminating about them. But they each applied the message according to what they knew about themselves.

Then there was the politician, around the same time, who had a standard question he asked someone he’d met before, but couldn’t remember who he or she was. He simply asked, “How’s the old complaint?” and could be guaranteed a long and revealing description of some trouble or other–because we all have them.

Sometimes messages will be read in different ways by different people. Even when the meaning intended by the author remains the same–and it’s clear to him, its application to us is affected by our own knowledge and experiences, and our own circumstances. All of this applies to the present hymn by Philip Bliss.

It’s a song published in one of his books for the Sunday School. And it’s very brief– three short stanzas, fewer than sixty words in total. It will be helpful to see the full hymn to consider its application to us. Philip Bliss entitled it Soon and Forever. Above it, in an early publication, are the Bible’s words, “The time is short” (I Cor. 7:29).

1) Only a few more years,
Only a few more cares;
Only a few more smiles and tears,
Only a few more prayers.

2) Only a few more wrongs,
Only a few more sighs;
Only a few more earthly songs,
Only a few goodbyes.

3) Then an eternal stay,
Then an eternal throng;
Then an eternal, glorious day,
Then an eternal song.

As the Bible verse quoted says it: “Time is short”–and we don’t really know how short. We may not have much longer to do things that have been a part of our lives for years. And when you think about it, there’s a message in the song that applies to various needs.

¤ It should speak to lost sinners, especially in the first two stanzas. The opportunity to turn to Christ and be saved is not endless. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). The grace of God is boundless, but will not be offered forever. Not much longer. “Only a few more…” Then what?

¤ There’s also a message there for suffering saints. Times may be difficult, but a better day is coming, a day of glory and eternal song. “Therefore we do not lose heart….For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:16-17).

¤ Finally, there is a message there for the servants of God–which every Christian should be, in one way or another. We need a sense of urgency. How much longer do we have to work and witness for Him, before the Lord brings down the curtain on this old world’s history? Will we say with Paul, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6-7)? May it be so.

1) Which of the three applications mentioned relates most closely to you?

2) How will you respond to the message of the song?

Wordwise Hymns (Philip Bliss)
The Cyber Hymnal (Philip Bliss)


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