Jesus said “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:6,7 ESV) He also said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 ESV) In 1880, the husband of Louisa Stead, author of “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” drowned. Two years later, this hymn was published. It is widely believed that she wrote this hymn in response to the peace she found in trusting Jesus despite her sorrow. Mrs.
This hymnal was added to our site in September:
"Living Gospel Songs and Choruses" published 1925 by Tabernacle Publishing Company (Chicago)
Volunteers completed the editing of the following hymnals:
"Hymns for Creative Living" published 1935 by Judson Press (Philadelphia)
"New Songs of Pentecost" published 1916 by Hall Mack Co. (Philadelphia)
"Himnos de la Iglesia" published, 1995 by Publicadora Lámpara y Luz (Farmington, NM)
In ancient times, people believed that as the planets revolved in the universe, they made music or harmony. This is the belief Maltbie Babcock referred to in the line, “and round me rings the music of the spheres.” Though this belief has since been disproven, we know that objects in space do in fact emit sounds. Even more amazing, the ocean is also making noices at its very lowest and darkest depths - sounds which scientists are still unable to identify. The whole universe is singing a song of its creation, revealing something to us about He who created it.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Bishop John William Colenso of Natal raised a ruckus in the Catholic Church when he challenged the historicity and authority of many of the Old Testament books.
This song is an African-American spiritual, but the time and place of origin are unknown. It is a song of declaration using water as a simile to describe the qualities of peace, joy, and love in three stanzas. The image of the first stanza, “peace like a river,” may have come from Isaiah 66:12, where a similar picture is used.
In Revelation, the apostle John describes his vision of heaven and the new Jerusalem. Not only is it a gorgeous place, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2 ESV), with pearls, gold, and jewels, but it is also a place of joy and light. “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4 ESV). “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5 ESV).
Samuel Trevor Francis is the author of this hymn. Nothing else about it is known for sure. There is a legend that he wrote it as a personal testimony after nearly committing suicide as a young man by jumping into the Thames River off London’s Hungerford Bridge. While this suggests a certain dramatic angle for interpreting the hymn, no reputable evidence has been found to corroborate the story.
In 1752, a young Robert Robinson attended an evangelical meeting to heckle the believers and make fun of the proceedings. Instead, he listened in awe to the words of the great preacher George Whitefield, and in 1755, at the age of twenty, Robinson responded to the call he felt three years earlier and became a Christian. Another three years later, when preparing a sermon for his church in Norfolk, England, he penned the words that have become one of the church’s most-loved hymns: “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.”
Sometimes during His earthly ministry, Jesus would withdraw to a secluded place to pray (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, etc.). The early church followed His practice of regular prayer (Acts 2:42), and Paul encouraged its continuance in some of his letters. He wrote, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 ESV). This hymn is an expression of the joy that can come when believers, individually and corporately, pray regularly.
The content of the hymn centers on the power and necessity of music in worship. Similar to the great reformer Martin Luther, Fred Pratt Green believes that music is an integral part of our faith practice. He boldly states that music can open new dimensions that bring profundity to our lives. All people who have a voice should lift in song.
View worship notes, composer biographies, historical information and more about this featured hymn at www.hymnary.org.