“He Hideth My Soul”

"I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand" (Exo. 33.22)

     INTRO.: A song of joy that Christ is our Savior, based on the picture of God putting Moses in the cleft of the rock and covering him with His hand is "He Hideth My Soul" (#363 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #127 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Fanny J. Crosby, who was born in a little cottage at Gayville in the community of Southeast, Putnam County, NY, on Mar. 24, 1820. At six weeks old she caught a cold, and when a country doctor mistakenly diagnosed her condition and prescribed a hot mustard poultice for her inflamed eyes, her eyes were scarred and she gradually lost her eyesight until she became blind at age five. However, at age eight, she produced her first poem. "Oh, what a happy child I am, Although I cannot see! I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be." She later said that she never held any resentment for that doctor and had resolved to leave all care to yesterday. On one occasion, as a young woman, she spoke before the United States Senate and moved many Senators to tears with the recital of one of her poems, proving that blind people can be educated if they have the proper training.

     Fanny’s father died when she was a year old, and after living with her own parents for several years, Fanny’s mother moved to Ridgefield, CN, when the girl was nine. She received her early instruction from her grandmother and attended local schools sporadically, then was educated for several years at the New York State School for the Blind in New York City, and following her graduation taught grammar, rhetoric, and history for eleven years at that school. During the 1850’s she began writing verses for minstrel songs. In 1858 she married Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind musician whom she had met while in school. They had one child who died in infancy. Then in the 1860’s she began writing texts for gospel songs at the urging of William Batchelder Bradbury. Some of her songs identify her by her full married name, Frances Jane Van Alstyne, while others use various pseudonyms. It is said that more than any other writer, she captured the spirit if the nineteenth century American gospel song. Much of her writing was done to order, and for several years she was under contract to produce three hymns a week for Bradbury’s successor, the Biglow and Main Co. "He Hideth My Soul" was penned in 1890.

     At that time Fanny was living in a New York City apartment and attending the John St. Methodist Episcopal Church. She received a visit from hymn composer William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). Many of his melodies are well-known, including one for another of Fanny’s texts, "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It." He had just completed a new tune (Kirkpatrick) which he felt needed suitable words. When he played the melody for her, Fanny’s face lit up, she knelt in prayer, and soon gave Kirkpatrick the lines of "He Hideth My Soul." It first appeared in The Finest of the Wheat, No. 1, which Kirkpatrick compiled with George D. Elderkin, R. R. McCabe, and John Robson Sweney in 1890. The phrase, "Rivers of pleasure I see," illustrates Fanny’s triumph over her blindness. During her lifetime, Fanny Crosby authored over 8,000 hymns before her death at age 95 in Bridgeport, CN, on Feb. 12, 1915. Most hymnbooks in this nation contain more hymns by her than any other single author, and this hymn has been in almost every single songbook used among churches of Christ in the twentieth century.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song, often alphabetized only under its first line "A Wonderful Savior," appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song suggests that Jesus is a Savior who gives us numberless blessings.

I. According to stanza 1, He is the source for rivers of pleasure
"A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock, Where rivers of pleasure I see."
 A. Jesus came to be our Savior: Matt. 1.21
 B. As God hid moses in the cleft of the rock, so He provides a refuge for our souls when our lives are hidden in Christ: Col. 3.3
 C. As a result, our lives can be filled with rivers of pleasure and we can rejoice in the Lord always: Phil. 4.4

II. According to stanza 2, He takes our burden away
"A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved, He giveth me strength as my day."
 A. The most important burden that He takes away is sin: Matt. 11.28-30; another burden or bondage that he removes is the fear of death: Heb. 2.14-15
 B. Having taken our burden away, He holds us up so that we need not be moved away from the hope of the gospel: Col. 1.23
 C. And he gives us the strength that we need: Col. 1.10-11

III. According to stanza 3, He fills us with His fulness divine
"With numberless blessings each moment He crowns, And filled with His fulness divine,
I sing in my rapture, O glory to God, For such a Redeemer as mine."
 A. This fulness divine entails all spiritual blessings in heavenly places: Eph. 1.3
 B. And these blessings include grace and truth by which we can be filled with God’s fulness: Jn. 1.14-18
 C. Therefore, we can sing with rapture and give God glory for such a Redeemer: Col. 3.16

IV. According to stanza 4, He will transport us to meet Him
"When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise To meet Him in clouds of the sky;
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love, I’ll shout with the millions on high."
 A. Someday, when He comes again, we shall be clothed in His brightness and transported to meet Him: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
 B. We shall meet Him in the clouds because He will come with the clouds just as He went into heaven: Acts 1.11
 C. Then we can shout eternally with the millions on high about His perfect salvation and His wonderful love: Rev. 1.5-6, 5.8-13

CONCL.: The chorus expresses the joy that the believer has because of all these blessings:
"He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand."
Indeed, why should not my heart be filled with overwhelming joy when I can be thankful to God that, whatever happens to me in this life, "He Hideth My Soul"?

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