Posted by: rcottrill | April 29, 2019

How Blest a Home

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Words: Janetta (Janette) Mary Wilbraham Taylor Trench (b. Jan. 31, 1843; d. June 14, 1925)
Music: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes, an old English air by John Wall Callcott (b. Nov. 20, 1766; d. May 15, 1821)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Just from the title, some may think this is a hymn about the Christian home, but this is not that. It’s an exalted look at another home. It’s unfortunate Mrs. Trench’s song isn’t better known. Service leader, if the pastor is going to preach about heaven, why not include this hymn. It would also be an encouragement if sung at a funeral or memorial service. For my defense of using the tune of a secular ballad for this hymn, see the Wordwise Hymns link.

Comment is made below of the version of Home on the Range sung by baritone John Charles Thomas. In my view, there just isn’t any better singing than this. You can check it out on YouTube, here. Mr. Thomas was the son of a clergyman, and grew up with a great love for our hymns. He had a radio program on which he sang them, and a number of recordings are available of hymns from there.

Some of us have developed a great affection for our home. Not only for those we live with, but perhaps the house we live in, and perhaps the whole area around. That happened to Brewster Martin Higley (1823-1911).

In 1871, Dr. Higley (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) moved to Kansas, under the Homestead Act and, with a growing appreciation for the beauty of his surroundings, he was inspired to write a poem. His poem, My Western Home, was later adapted and set to music, becoming the classic ballad, Home on the Range. The lyrics begin:

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

The musical tribute came to be thought of as the unofficial anthem of the American West, and it was adopted as the official state song of Kansas.

Over time, Home on the Range has been recorded by many artists, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Burl Ives, and more. But the version by famed opera baritone John Charles Thomas stands out above the rest. His glorious voice, and the passionate, tender feeling with which he sings, give the song an almost hymn-like quality that seems to come close to what Dr. Higley must have felt.

Not all of us can write poetry like Brewster Higley did, or sing with the golden tones of John Charles Thomas. But we still may have a great depth of feeling about our home. That is also true of Christians who ponder their future home.

Heaven is where the throne of God is (Ps. 123:1; Rev. 4:1-2), and the holy angels. Sometimes the word Paradise is used of it, a Persian word referring to a lovely park or garden (Lk. 23:43). It’s also a city, and the destination of the children of God (Heb. 12:22-23). We’re told our heavenly home is being prepared for us by the Lord Jesus, and He looks forward to having us there (Jn. 14:2-3). Believers are pilgrims here on earth, but “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).

Absent will be many things that distress and give us pain now.

“God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

The heavenly city will be a place of worship, joy, rest, and of service and reward. Of it Scripture says, “There shall be no night there: they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they [the saints] shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

In contemplating his eternal future, the Apostle Paul said, “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21), and he expressed “a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). What a glorious home it will be! And in 1881 Janette Trench published a beautiful hymn about heaven fitting this exalted feeling.

CH-1) How blest a home! The Father’s house!
There love divine doth rest;
What else could satisfy the hearts
Of those in Jesus blest?
His home made ours–His Father’s love
Our heart’s full portion given,
The portion of the Firstborn Son,
The full delight of heav’n.

CH-3) Oh, what a home! There fullest love
Flows through its courts of light;
The Son’s divine affections flow
Throughout its depth and height.
And full response the Father gives,
To fill with joy the heart–
No cloud is there to dim the scene,
Or shadow to impart.

CH-4) Oh, what a home! But such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all His glory share.
The Father’s house, the Father’s heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours–the objects of His love
And He, our joy in heav’n.

1) Mrs. Trench says, in the last stanza, “He must bring us there.” Why must He?

2) What is your favourite hymn about heaven?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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