Posts tagged grief hymns
Abide with Me

Abide with me; falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers, fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, abide with me.

Thou on my head, in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, though I oft left Thee,
On to the close Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence, every passing hour.
What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.¹

When human comforts failed to reach my grieving soul, I triumphed still. 

When in my quiet home I felt the passing of each hour—no, minute—I triumphed still. 

When death, so near, blanketed my sight, I triumphed still. 

When that enemy drained my firstborn’s life, I triumphed still. 

Triumph is a promise from the Lord for His own: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). One commentator writes on this verse,

even if the last resurrection is still future, the basis of the victory is a present gift, providing grounds for present exultation and thanksgiving. It is not a mere present of future certainty about resurrection; it also expresses the present gift of grace to believers for whom the destructive potential of sin, the law, and death as a terrifying prospect has been broken.²

Gratitude in the present moment can be found because part of Christ’s gift to us is the ability, this day, to look squarely at death and know decidedly within our souls that ours is the victory. The certainty of the future resurrection means that sin and death need no longer be feared. The fulfillment is still future, but the imprint of the future in the present is itself a triumph to be celebrated. 

With the present ministry of the Holy Spirit that is directing believing hearts to the truth, Christ abides with us through His living words that grow roots within our hearts. The hole left by the ravaging enemy, death, cannot triumph in us—no, the hole becomes a wider, deeper venue for the holy roots of Christ’s truth to grow in us until we are filled. This reality is akin to laughing in the face of the enemy, death—that it has no lasting hold upon the believer in the present, and it will not have its way in the future. 

As Hope Moms, we have known real pain. We can also know more of Christ through this pain in the goodness of His abiding presence. For the truth of victory is not eclipsed by so near an experience with death as for our own children to have fallen asleep. We and our children, with Christ as our Head, triumph still. This truth is comfort with full reach into the soul; it is hope that climbs above despair; it is triumph that prevents being overcome; and it is victory that excludes the enemy’s domination. 

And so, days after death was cradled within my own body, I read these words and exulted in my inner spirit:

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.

Though the memory of death may be a companion, Christ’s victory overpowers the night. And, like Charles Spurgeon, we who are members of Christ can say to death—the shadow that will flee—“you do not win; ours is the victory”:

Death, we tell you again that your sting is taken away as to the friends we have lost. The widow, weeping, tells you that she does not feel your sting, for her husband is in heaven and she is following him as speedily as time can carry her. The mother tells you, Death, that through Divine Grace you have no sting in her thoughts concerning her infants. She rejoices to know that at her breast there once did hang immortal spirits that now behold the Savior's face! And we say to you, Death, concerning all beloved ones who have gone, that we sorrow not over them and would not—
            “Break their placid sleep,
             Nor lure them from their home above.”
We devoutly thank the Father of spirits, who has safely housed them beyond fear of damage and brought them to the desired haven where no rough wind or tempestuous wave shall ever rock their keel again. “Blessed,” we say, as we repeat the voice from Heaven, “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”

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Lianna Davisgrief hymns
Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Anne Steele knew grief well: “She lost her mother at age 3, a potential suitor at age 20, her stepmother at 43, and her sister-in-law at 45. She spent many years caring for her father until his death in 1769. For many years, she exhibited symptoms of malaria, including persistent pain, fever, headaches, and stomach aches,” according to Chris Fenner, writing for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s The Towers.¹ She peacefully found her refuge in the Lord when her own final moments came, expressing trust in Jesus, the Redeemer who lives.² 

“Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul” was one hymn raised from her aching, trusting life into word. Below, following each verse of this hymn, are some of my notes and reflections on the themes she raises.

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On thee when sorrows rise;
On thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies.

My hope—the expression of it—is different from the hope, the truth. And when my expression of hope in Christ has been left nearly breathless underneath the rolling pounds of stormy grief, how blessed I have been to remember through this song that my soul may yet rely upon the source of hope and the originating cause for why I can, at all, express hope, Christ Himself.

To thee I tell each rising grief,
For thou alone canst heal;
Thy word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel.

How reserved I became in grief! During grief, I was sweetly reminded by a friend to express my grief to the Lord, how I could. The words of this song coordinated with that counsel to become an anthem of sorts for me—“To Thee I tell each rising grief.”

But oh! when gloomy doubts prevail
I fear to call thee mine;
The springs of comfort seem to fail
And all my hopes decline.

After one experience of sweet relief from God’s Word is grief all resolved? Not for me. Help was continually needed. Further, some will be especially helped to read: “Springs of comfort seem to fail.” While God’s comfort doesn’t fail, it may require believing truths that could be challenging, at first, to accept.

I have wondered about the meaning behind the author’s fear in the second line of this stanza—my thought is that she feared to call the Lord hers because she considered Him worthy of a more faithful follower in suffering that she believed herself to be (for in the following stanza, she calls her Lord gracious).

Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust;
And still my soul would cleave to thee,
Though prostrate in the dust.

By the help of the Holy Spirit, I too have felt utterly unworthy of the Lord. In and of myself, Iaman unworthy sinner. And more, I am unfathomably miniscule compared to the God of greatness; the Psalmist writes, “O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?” (Psalm 144:3). If I stood as one worthy of or great enough for God, grace could not be grace—by definition, undeserved.

Hast thou not bid me seek thy face?
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace
Be deaf when I complain?

Yet, God gives sustaining breath, life, and capability this day that I might seek Him. What will God’s answer be toward me, aching person in bare need of Him? 

No, still the ear of sovereign grace
Attends the mourner's prayer;
O may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there.

Yes,grace.He has opened a way to His everlasting, holy throne, apart from the law—apart from working for or being personally worthy of this access (Romans 3:28). The perfection of Christ provides admission. The One whose works on this earth were perfect—He is the way. Knowing this God of grace means that my dearest hope is, May I never lose Him!

Thy mercy-seat is open still;
Here let my soul retreat,
With humble hope attend thy will,
And wait beneath thy feet.³

What audacity for me, a sinner in and of myself, to come before God’s throne with confidence! This is a shocking thought: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). But it is an unalterable provision for those in Christ that can be trusted with joy; His perfect works have been credited to believers, and therefore, being made worthy by union with Him to draw near to God becomes a holy, joyous reality (Romans 4:5).

I find in Steele’s hymn the expression of a paradox; in humble hope, needy hope, that recognizes I can add nothing to a God who is fully satisfied in Himself and that accepts I have contributed nothing to gain my access to Him, I find ultimate confidence. This confidence comes to me from outside of myself, and is found in the Person of Christ. 

God has chosen to give broken hearts access to Him based upon His own kindness. From this truth comes steadfast hope to wait with patience for Him—for the fulfillment of His plans for His people and His world—and to live for Him with gratitude in the wait.

With an unworthy soul and, simultaneously, a soul deemed acceptable to God through Christ—He is my dear refuge too, my gracious retreat. “To Thee I tell each rising grief,” confidently drawing near through Christ alone.

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Lianna Davisgrief hymns