Posted by: rcottrill | February 14, 2019

At Even Ere the Sun Was Set

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Words: Henry Twells (b. Mar. 13, 1823; d. Jan. 19, 1900)
Music: Angelus, by George Joseph (b. circa 1630; d. circa 1668)

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

Note: Henry Twells was both a Church of England clergyman and a school master. In 1856, he became headmaster of Godolphin School, Hammersmith, London. It seems to be while he was there that this hymn was written. The story of how the hymn was inspired is told in the first Wordwise Hymns link above.

The second link to a Wordwise Hymns page takes up the question that has been raised by Twells’s words “ere [before] the sun was set, since the Sabbath was not over until sunset on the Saturday, and carrying burdens (such as a sick person on a litter) was forbidden.

Years ago we had a car that developed an odd problem. The motor kept cutting out, then starting up again, over and over, as we drove along. (It certainly slowed us down!) The car was taken into the service station many times, where mechanics tried this and that to correct the trouble and failed. One installed a part at a cost of hundreds of dollars. But when it didn’t help, he had to remove it.

Then, finally, we took it to a new mechanic, one who’d actually been trained in the factory where the car was made. We described the malady to him, and told him how long we’d tried to find a solution but couldn’t. He grinned and said, “Oh, I know what’s going on there.” And he quickly replaced a small part, that cost the large sum of $1.69. Problem solved!

When a car or some appliance breaks down, we expect that the manufacturer–or someone trained by them–will know what to do to deal with the trouble. There is, of course, a spiritual application of this. When we pray about some need or difficulty, we’re appealing to the divine Manufacturer, God Himself. The Bible says, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). And God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was an active Agent in that creative work (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3).

When we pray, we “kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Ps. 95:6). It’s in the confidence that He understands and will have the remedy we need that we come to the Lord with our requests.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

Sometimes He will deliver us from the trouble, but not always, not on this side of heaven. When He does not, He pledges to provide the enabling grace to sustain us through it, equipping us in the midst of it to glorify Him, and serve Him (II Cor. 12:7-9).

This means of obtaining just what we need is suggested in a fine hymn by Henry Twells. At Even, Ere the Sun Was Set is based on a scene described in three of the Gospels. Luke tells us:

“When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them” (Lk. 4:40).

CH-1) At even, ere the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
O in what diverse pains they met!
O, with what joy they went away!

Canon Twells refers to about a dozen problems we can bring to the Lord. Some are sick, physically ill, and perhaps in pain. Some are sad, emotionally distressed or depressed. Some are snowed under by “worldly care” perhaps burdens regarding finances or lost employment. And some wrestle with powerful passions of lust, greed, and so on.

Elsewhere I have written about these, but I want to concentrate, this time, particularly on two of the eight insightful stanzas, the second and the eighth.

The author brings that biblical scene of two millennia ago into the present with:

CH-2) Once more ’tis eventide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills, draw near;
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou art here.

He is the ever-present Christ, as He promised He would be (Matt. 28:20). Though, as our great High Priest, He sits at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Rom. 8:34), in His divine omnipresence He is as near as a whisper, or a wordless groan of pain.

And, in the final stanza we have:

CH-8) Thy touch has still its ancient power.
No word from Thee can fruitless fall;
Hear, in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.

God’s Word encourages us to tell our compassionate Saviour about our trials, with the confidence that the Lord hears and answers prayer, according to His will (I Jn. 5:14).

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

Questions:
1) What is the most urgent or painful trial you have just now that you can bring to the Lord in prayer?

2) Do you know someone who is suffering, for whom you could be part of God’s answer to prayer for them, perhaps by some practical assistance, or words of encouragement?

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


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