Posted by: rcottrill | May 30, 2018

Trust and Obey

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Words: John Henry Sammis (b. July 6, 1846; d. June 12, 1919)
Music: Daniel Brink Towner (b. Apr. 5, 1850; d. Oct. 3, 1919)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: John Sammis was a successful American business man who later became the secretary of the YMCA. Then, after training, he became a Presbyterian pastor, and a Bible college instructor.

Did you ever try to lift too heavy a load, and end up spraining your back? Or pile a little too much on a shelf, only to have it collapse and cause damage to whatever was below? With a wisdom, born of experience we recognize there must be certain limitations in such things. And the decisions involved are common to everyday life.

This is also a factor faced many times by editors of our hymn books. How much is too much? First there is the decision of which songs to include to make the volume widely useful. But there’s another complication especially with our older hymns. It’s not uncommon for the original versions of many to contain a dozen stanzas (or verses), in some cases twice that. Editing is needed at that level too.

Few congregations today would be interested in singing all thirty-three original stanzas of the hymn Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness, or the nineteen stanzas of The Sands of Time Are Sinking. And to include many songs of that length would soon fill the book and leave no room for others it seems worthwhile to include.

Editorial choices and decisions must be made. Today, most hymns and gospel songs are limited to three or four stanzas–or, if they’re very short, perhaps a couple more. But in the process, what has been left behind? Perhaps we would not agree with the selections made.

Here’s a beautiful stanza of Fairest Lord Jesus that many hymnals leave out:

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Saviour, art to me.

Or what about the ninth stanza of My God, How wonderful Thou Art, by Frederick Faber? There is holy passion  in these wonderful words that fit the scene in Revelation 5:11-14:

Father of Jesus, love’s Reward!
What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze and gaze on Thee!

And here’s one from Showers of Blessing, seldom included in hymnals, though it seems critical to the message of the song. The blessing of God rests on those who trust and obey Him.

There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

Occasionally hymns have additions made by another author. Sarah Adams gave us Nearer, My God, to Thee in 1841. Some years after it was published, Edward Bickersteth added a stanza that beautifully completes the description of our earthly pilgrimage.

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Saviour’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, / Nearer to Thee.

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah is similarly deprived, in some books, of the original’s ending of our pilgrim journey:

Musing on my habitation,
Musing on my heav’nly home,
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see;
Lord, I long to be with Thee!

These and other examples came to mind when I was writing an article on the gospel song Trust and Obey. American pastor John Sammis wrote it in 1887. The song has five stanzas, but recent hymnals often reduce it to three or four, leaving out the following third stanza:

CH-1) When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

CH-3) Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss, not a frown nor a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Faith and obedience are inseparably linked in the believer’s life. The book of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed” (Heb. 11:8), and his obedience took him to a “Promised Land” he’d never seen before. Did he face burdens and sorrows, griefs and losses along the way? Yes. But the Lord richly blessed his obedient faith.

In contrast, the nation of Israel later failed in those two key qualities, faith and obedience. Zephaniah says, “She has not obeyed His voice…she has not trusted in the Lord” (Zeph. 3:2).

God calls for those two things from each of us. Scripture elsewhere speaks of “obedience to the faith [or “obedience inspired by faith,” Williams New Testament]” (Rom. 16:26). If we believe God’s Word, we’ll surely want to obey it and follow Him. A lack of trust will surely engender a lack of obedience. And the reverse is true. A lack of obedience will foster a lack of trust.

Questions:
1) Which of the two do you have the most trouble with: trusting God consistently, or obeying Him consistently?

2) What resources have you found that can help you trust and obey the Lord?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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