“Nearer, My God To Thee”

It’s been a long day. Had to be at work this morning at 6:00 AM and didn’t get in until after 6:00 PM. I used to could handle those kind of hours but now just the thought tires me out. I wonder what the problem is?

This week the highlight is on the old hymn “Nearer, My God to Thee”. This hymn was written by a young lady who had a number of health issues which seems to be the case for many of the old-time hymn writers.The fact is, despite our physical condition God can still use us for His glory to impact the lives of other people. He can even use a lost person! But as believers, we just need to be available. The following article tells the story of this great hymn from two different sources. Hope you enjoy it.

Nearer, My God, To Thee (1)

   Benjamin Flower was an English journalist. Some considered him too radical for his times. He was imprisoned for six months. An English girl, whom he later married, frequently visited him in prison.

   Their daughter was Sarah Flower (later Adams). She was brilliant and had varied talents. Because of poor health, she dismissed all thoughts of a career she had long dreamed about. She began to write. In the field of writing she gained her greatest achievement.

   The hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” will immortalize her as long as time lasts.

   It is said to be the greatest hymn ever written by a woman.



Nearer, My God, to Thee [1]

1           Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

E’en Though it be a cross

That raiseth me;

Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

2           Though like a wanderer,

The sun gone down,

Darkness be over me,

My rest a stone;

Yet in my dreams I’d be

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

3           There let the way appear

Steps unto heav’n;

All that Thou sendest me,

In mercy giv’n;

Angels to beckon me

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

4           Or, if on joyful wing,

Cleaving the sky,

Sun, moon, and stars forgot,

Upward I fly;

Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

~Nearer, My God, To Thee (2)

   One day a Unitarian pastor, Rev. Wm. Johnson Fox, asked two talented sisters, Sarah and Eliza Adams, if they would aid him in the preparation of a new hymnal he was compiling for the congregation. The two sisters soon became busily involved and committed to this project.

   The pastor remarked that he wished he could find a hymn to conclude a sermon he was preparing on the account of Jacob and Esau as recorded in Genesis 28:10-22. Sister Eliza interrupted enthusiastically, Sarah, now there’s an excellent idea for a new hymn for our hymnal. Why don’t you write your own hymn about Jacob’s dream?

   Splendid! replied the pleased pastor.

   Later that day, after spending much time in studying the Genesis account, absorbing the atmosphere and feeling the dramatic movement of this Old Testament narrative, Sarah began to write. Soon she had versified the complete Biblical story in these five stanzas still in use today.

   The text for this hymn is based on the dream that Jacob had in the desert when he was fleeing as a fugitive from his home and his brother Esau. Upon awakening from his dream and seeing the ascending and descending angels. Jacob called the place Bethel—The House of God.

   The hymn has sometimes been criticized since there is no reference to the person or work of Christ throughout the text. During most of Sarah Adams’ life she attended the Unitarian Church. This association no doubt accounts for the lack of evangelical fervor in her text.

   There is evidence from some of her last writings that shortly before the close of her life, Sarah Adams had a conversion experience and became associated with a congregation of Baptist believers in London.

—Kenneth Osbeck

[1]Eckert, Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.

I look forward to sharing again next week. May God richly bless each of you! 



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