A Look Behind the Hymns Part II
Today, it is my privilege to share with you some additional hymn background information that I hope will serve to further inspire and encourage you to sing the hymns with new life and meaning.
Far From All Care
“Far from All Care,” #394 in the current Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, regarding the Sabbath, was composed by Douglas Albert Raoul Aufrance, a Seventh-day Adventist physician and dentist. It is said that Douglas, after a period of intense work and strain in the rush and bustle of the great city of London, spent a short holiday at Pevensey Bay, between Hastings and East Bourne on the Sussex coast in England. This quiet and peaceful place, especially on the Sabbath day, contrasted vividly with the noise of the city, and therefore the idea of the hymn had its roots there.
We’ll Build on the Rock
Based on the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock that withstood the rain and the floods as well as the winds, this hymn was written by an Adventist hymn writer, Franklyn Edson Belden. Born at Battle Creek, Michigan on March 21, 1858, Franklyn Edson Belden was the eldest of five children born to Stephen Belden and Sarah Harmon, the elder sister of Ellen Harmon (Later White). Belden is noted for many of the hymns in the current hymnal such as #183, “I Will Sing of Jesus’ Love,” #253 “There’s No Other Name Like Jesus,” #308 “Wholly Thine,” #412 “Cover With His Life,” #416 “The Judgment Has Set,” #430 “Joy By and By,” #579 “’Tis Love That Makes Us Happy,” #595 “Let Every Lamp Be Burning,” #596 “Look For The Way Marks,” #600 “Hold Fast Till I Come,” #604 “We Know Not the Hour.” Isn’t it amazing that these songs depict comfort, faith, and hope; but at the same time, they speak to remarkable theology and teachings of love, righteousness, judgment, devotion, diligence, steadfastness, the second coming, etc. It might be a good thing for a chorister or song leader to focus one Sabbath on just hymns by Franklyn Belden.
It Is Well With My Soul
Listed as #530 in the current Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, this hymn was born out of great tragedy; nevertheless, it is a hymn that inspires so much hope and assurance. The author, Horatio Gates Spafford, had planned a trip to Europe for his wife and family, but at the last minute, he had to remain at home on business, so he sent them on ahead. Unfortunately, his wife, Anna, and their four daughters, Maggie, Tanetta, Annie and Bessie, ages 18 months to 12 years, were on a ship Ville de Havre that collided with an English sailing ship, the Loch Earn of Newfoundland, and sank within half an hour. Mrs. Spafford was rescued, but all four children drowned, the baby being washed from her mother’s grasp. This incident brought great sorrow, but Mr. Spafford shortly thereafter sailed across the Atlantic to meet his wife, and both met with Evangelist Dwight L. Moody in Liverpool who comforted them. Nonetheless, they said, “It is well and the will of God be done.” These words were framed and hung on Mr. Spafford’s wall. In 1876, on the occasion of Ira D. Sankey’s visit, Mr. Spafford again expressed his resignation to God’s will. It was then that he was inspired to put his thoughts into verse, and this hymn was written two years after the tragedy. However, there is one stanza that is omitted in the current Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, and I thought I would share these words, for we often sing them at funerals.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And had shared His own blood for my soul.
Given the aforementioned hymns, it is my hope that as we sing these hymns, especially the last, “It Is Well With My Soul,” that you would consider it as one that, though borne of tragedy, offers much encouragement and hope. I equate this to the lily that comes out of mucky water, or the gold after the dross has been removed; and likewise, our shattered, checkered, bruised, and sinful lives that have been turned into ones of righteousness because of the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Therefore, sing with meaning, sing with understanding, with joy, with enthusiasm; and sing with hope in honor and praise to almighty God.
Next week, I will share some of your responses to this series on praise and worship.