Posted by: rcottrill | January 10, 2019


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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Napoleon Bonaparte Vandall (b. Dec. 28, 1896; d. Aug. 24, 1970)
Music: Napoleon Bonaparte Vandall

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal (N. B. Vandall)

Note: Vandall’s given names were unusual–to say the least. He preferred to be called “Jack,” instead. Otherwise song books usually just have his initials, N. B. Vandall.

There are things that can look attractive on the outside, even beautiful, but have ugliness lurking beneath the surface. People can be that way too. We call them hypocrites. The term comes from the Greek word hypokrit, meaning a stage actor, one who’s skilled at pretending to be what he’s not.

The Lord Jesus harshly criticized the Jewish leaders of His day for that very thing. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27). “Whitewashed tombs”–what a powerful image! Pretty on the outside, but corrupt within.

Thinking along these lines brought to mind two hit songs of years ago. The music of both is lovely. But the lyrics express hopelessness and despair.

The first, After the Ball, by Charles Harris, was written in 1891, and became one of the most popular songs of its time. It tells of a dance, where “bright lights were flashing in the grand ballroom.” But in the midst of the gaiety, one man’s foolish mistake and proud heart brought lifelong sorrow and loss. Harris’s song says:

After the ball is over,
After the break of morn–
After the dancers’ leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished,
After the ball.

The second song, Dancing in the Dark, with lyrics by Howard Dietz, is a hit from a 1931 Broadway show. Again, it’s framed with a pretty melody, but the words express something quite different.

Dancing in the dark,
Till the tune ends
We’re dancing in the dark,
And it soon ends….
We’re here and gone.
Looking for the light
Of a new love
To brighten up the night.

Life seems just a dance in the dark, a little fleeting pleasure, apparently leading nowhere but to more darkness.

Oh how different is the Christian gospel! No dead end there. While it recognizes the reality of trials and disappointments in this life, it points to something far better up ahead. Through faith in Christ, we receive the gift of everlasting life. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23; cf. Jn. 3:14-15; 5:24).

But that’s only half the story. The eternal life God gives is not simply an endless existence. It is a life of infinite blessing, in close fellowship with God. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3). “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain….having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:21, 23).

“Far better” than even the best of earth’s temporal pleasures. And without the things we struggle with and grieve over here and now (Rev. 21:4). In fact, the Lord is able to take the trials of this life and use them to build our faith, and accomplish other good purposes (Rom. 8:28). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [relatively speaking], is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17).

That was the view of N. B. Vandall when his son was struck by a car and suffered severe injuries. When Vandall went to the Lord in prayer, he was reminded of God’s “after”–which became the title of a song he wrote. Praise the Lord, the boy did recover. But the experience strengthened Vandall’s joy at the prospect of the life to come.

And notice the clear contrast between Charles Harris’s song and this one. For Harris, “after” the glitter and glamour of the ball came heartache and loss. For Vandall, after the trials and troubles of this life, came a glorious eternity with the Lord. Which would you choose?

1) After the toil and the heat of the day,
After my troubles are past,
After the sorrows are taken away,
I shall see Jesus at last.

He will be waiting for me–
Jesus, so kind and true;
On His beautiful throne,
He will welcome me home–
After the day is through.

2) After the heartaches and sighing shall cease,
After the cold winter’s blast,
After the conflict comes glorious peace–
I shall see Jesus at last.

1) What warning does the Bible give about planning for the future (James 4:13-15)?

2) What Scriptures give you the assurance that an eternity of blessing awaits the child of God?

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal (N. B. Vandall)


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