Monday, June 23, 2008

Fading Joys, Heavenly Longings

Today, I begin comments on various hymns I enjoy both for their depth of thought and musical beauty. First up is one by Jane C. Bonar:

Fade, Fade each Earthly Joy

(To here the hymn, click on the title.)

Fade, fade, each earthly joy, Jesus is mine!
Break every tender tie, Jesus is mine!

Dark is the wilderness, Earth has no resting place,
Jesus alone can bless, Jesus is mine!

Tempt not my soul away, Jesus is mine!
Here would I ever stay, Jesus is mine!
Perishing things of clay, born but for one brief day,
Pass from my heart away, Jesus is mine!

Farewell, ye dreams of night, Jesus is mine!
Lost in this dawning bright, Jesus is mine!
All that my soul has tried left but a dismal void;
Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine!

Farewell, mortality, Jesus is mine!
Welcome, eternity, Jesus is mine!
Welcome, oh, loved and blest, welcome sweet scenes of rest,
Welcome, my Savior’s breast, Jesus is mine!

Yesterday we sang this hymn at church, which sparked a discussion on whether it is about a recent convert or an older saint. In many ways it is both. The first verse tells of breaking ties and how dark is the world to the Christian. This can be a new believer rejoicing in his new-found life, or an old saint looking back over his life, ready to break the earthly ties and go to meet his Lord.

Verses 2-4 are clearer in showing the thoughts of an elderly saint longing to leave this body of flesh behind and move on the higher and better things.

I see this hymn as a sort of New Testament version of Ecclesiastes. In that Old Testament book, the aged Solomon looks back with regret on how he ruined his life with sinful pursuits, that all he did was vanity and waste. This hymn is more of a aged or dying saint looking back on the earthly life, not with regret, but joy that his godly life is leading him to a heavenly eternity. And, like Paul the Apostle in Philippians 1, he cannot wait any longer to “absent from the body and be present with the Lord.”

No comments: