Posted by: rcottrill | January 21, 2019

The Stranger of Galilee

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Words: Lelia Naylor Morris (b. Apr. 15, 1862; d. July 23, 1929)
Music: Lelia Naylor Morris

Wordwise Hymns (Lelia Morris)
The Cyber Hymnal (Lelia Morris)

Note: Lelia Naylor Morris (listed in some song books as Mrs. C. H. Morris) gave us many fine gospel songs, including: Sweeter as the Years Go By; Nearer, Still Nearer; Let Jesus Come into Your Heart; What If It Were Today? and more. The present song seems more of a solo number, but it has a good message.

What do we mean when we label someone a stranger? The term is rooted in a Latin word meaning from outside–speaking of those who are outsiders. We don’t know them, they’re not part of our group. They’re from another locality, aliens or foreigners, possibly even speaking a different language.

If you’ve ever had to move to a new place, perhaps because of your job, you likely have some small idea of what it’s like to be a stranger in town, with no family or friends around to turn to. It can be intimidating to know no one. Where do folks shop for groceries? What about hospitals, doctors, churches, schools, theatres, recreational facilities, and more?

Welcome Wagon International was created to deal with that. The organization was founded in 1928, and it continues to operate in both Canada and the United States. Having adjusted over time to changing demographics and needs, they’ve expanded to offer help to newlyweds, and couples looking forward to the arrival of a baby.

But basically, Welcome Wagon was designed to contact new home owners after they move in, providing a map of the area, a list of significant places in town, and advertisements for local businesses, and sometimes including coupons for bargains, and offering assistance in other ways. Churches often do something similar. They watch for new arrivals in the area around the church, and call on them to introduce the church’s programs, and offer to help in practical ways. With all of this, the strangers in town may soon be strangers no more.

In the Bible, some form of the word stranger is used more than a hundred times. The Lord appeared to Abraham when he lived in the city of Ur, in Mesopotamia, telling he to go to a new land he’d never seen before. And God made a covenant with Abraham, part of which included the land of Canaan.

“I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger [or foreigner], all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8).

Then through a series of circumstances described in the latter part of Genesis, and the beginning of Exodus, the descendants of Abraham (the Israelites) ended up in cruel bondage in the land of Egypt. The Lord used Moses to lead them out of slavery, and later Joshua brought them into the land God had promised them.

This experience was expected to give them concern and compassion for those who were strangers in their midst. God told them, “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exod. 22:21). And the Bible assures us, “The Lord watches over the strangers” (Ps. 146:9).

In the New Testament, when the Lord Jesus came on the scene, He was a stranger to many, and they had no idea of His true identity. They saw His miraculous power, heard His dynamic teaching, and wondered. There’s a phrase repeated in the Gospels that highlights the widespread puzzlement: “Who is this?” When the Lord healed a man, and also forgave his sins, the outraged Jewish leaders questioned, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Lk. 5:21; cf. 7:49; 9:9)

The question stirred up the whole city of Jerusalem, when the Lord made His Triumphal Entry, fulfilling a prophecy identifying Him as Israel’s Messiah (Zech. 9:9).

“When He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’” (Matt. 21:10).

But when faith reaches out to Him, the Spirit of God gives new insight, warms our hearts toward Him, and He’s a stranger no more. That’s the thrust of a gospel song called The Stranger of Galilee, written by Lelia Morris.

1) In fancy I stood by the shore, one day,
Of the beautiful murm’ring sea;
I saw the great crowds as they thronged the way
Of the Stranger of Galilee;
I saw how the man who was blind from birth,
In a moment was made to see;
The lame was made whole by the matchless skill
Of the Stranger of Galilee.

And I felt I could love Him forever,
So gracious and tender was He!
I claimed Him that day as my Saviour,
This Stranger of Galilee.

2) His look of compassion, His words of love,
They shall never forgotten be,
When sin-sick and helpless He saw me there,
This Stranger of Galilee;
He showed me his hand and His riven side,
And He whispered, ‘It was for thee!”
My burden fell off at the piercèd feet
Of the Stranger of Galilee.

1) If Christ is not a Stranger, but our Saviour and Lord, and Friend, what differences should this make in our lives?

2) Do you know someone who recently trusted Christ as Saviour? What is their testimony about the changes this has brought?

Wordwise Hymns (Lelia Morris)
The Cyber Hymnal (Lelia Morris)


  1. Oh, what would I have been without knowing this Stranger of Galilee.
    Thank you


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