"IN HEAVENLY LOVE ABIDING"
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in My love" (Jn. 15.10).
INTRO.: A hymn which talks about abiding in Christ’s love is "In Heavenly Love Abiding" (#382 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Anna Laetitia Waring, who was born on Apr. 19, 1823 (some sources give 1820), at Plas-y-Velin near Neath in Glamorganshire, south Wales. The daughter of Elijah Waring, she was brought up in the Society of Friends or Quakers. However, after moving to Bristol, England, where she spent most of her life, she became a member of the Anglican Church or Church of England in 1842. In order to read Hebrew poetry in the original, she learned the Hebrew language and thereafter studied from the Hebrew Psalter every day.
Miss Waring had begun writing poems in her teenage years and first published her Hymns and Meditations by A. L. W. in 1850. It contained nineteen hymns, including "In Heavenly Love Abiding" which was originally entitled "Safety in God." The book was enlarged to 30 hymns for the tenth edition in 1863. The tune (Waring or Seasons) normally used with this hymn is an arrangement taken from the Op. 59 composed in 1844 by the great German Romantic composer, conductor, and pianist, Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
Miss Waring later published Additional Hymns in 1858 and contributed hymns to the Sunday Magazine in 1871. Having a quiet but cheerful disposition, she was drawn into philanthropic work in the Bristol area where she spent a lot of time visiting jails. One of her special interests was helping the "Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society." An outstanding trait was her dislike of any publicity. Because of her remarkably retiring personality, very little else is known about her, although it is believed that her later days were full of suffering and pain. Yet, her long life of nearly ninety years was a blessing to everyone who knew her or read her poems. She died at Clifton, near Bristol, on May 10, 1910.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song 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 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 (in two arrangements) edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; and in the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 in an arrangement by the editor L. O. Sanderson. 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 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship.
The hymn describes some blessings that come from abiding in Christ’s love.
I. Stanza 1 discusses the conquest of fear
"In heavenly love abiding, No change my heart shall fear,
And safe is such confiding, For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, My heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me, And can I be dismayed?"
A. There is no reason to fear change because we trust in Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever: Heb. 13.8
B. There is no reason to fear the storms about us because He has promised to be with us: Matt. 28.20
C. And there is no reason to fear the world in general because those who abide in Christ will overcome the world: 1 Jn. 2.15-17
II. Stanza 2 explains the consciousness of God’s guidance by His watchful eye
"Wherever He may guide me, No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me, And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh, And I will walk with Him."
A. The fact that God guides His people as a shepherd guides his sheep is reminiscent of Psa. 23.1 (cf. John ch. 10)
B. We know that He is able to guide us in the right way because of His infinite wisdom manifest to us in Christ: 1 Cor. 1.23-24
C. Therefore, we trust in Him to "know the way He taketh," which is likewise revealed to us in Christ: Jn. 14.4-6
III. Stanza 3 describes the confidence of God’s goodness for the future
"Green pastures are before me, Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, Where the dark clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, My path to life is free;
My Savior has my treasure, And He will walk with me."
A. The fact that green pastures are before us is again reminiscent of Psa. 23.2
B. What the one who abides in Christ has to look forward to in the future is called our hope that we cannot measure, and it is God’s
goodness through the resurrection of Christ which gives us that hope: 1 Pet. 1.3
C. This hope is also called our treasure–this refers to our hearts and our supreme love which we must give to the Lord and will last into eternity: Mt. 6.19-20, 22.37
CONCL.: In this hymn, the music seems to fit the words quite well, and the two seem to form a harmonious union. Of course, it is the message of the words that is able to teach and admonish us, but when the words are set to a tune which helps to bring out their meaning, we have a truly good hymn. The point of the song is that Jesus wants us to abide in His love. And He promises to walk with us to eternity if we continue "In Heavenly Love Abiding."