"IN THE DESERT OF SORROW AND SIN"
"If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink…" (John 7.37)
INTRO.: A gospel song which encourages those who are spiritually thirsty to come to Christ and drink is, "In The Desert of Sorrow and Sin" (#115 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #589 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Henry R. Trickett (1840-1909). Tricket also produced word for a couple of other well known songs, "Blessed Are They Who Keep His Commandments" and "The Kingdoms of Earth Pass Away." The tune (The Water of Life or I Thirst) was composed by Frederick Augustus Fillmore (1856-1925). With his brother, James Henry Fillmore, he helped to run the Fillmore Brothers Music House in Cincinnati, OH, which for many years published songbooks used among churches of Christ and Christian Churches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of Fred Fillmore’s other well-known melodies are used with "Sowing the Seed of the Kingdom," "I Know that My Redeemer Lives," and "Am I Nearer to Heaven Today?"
"In the Desert of Sorrow and Sing" was copyrighted and first published in the 1887 New Christian Hymn and Tune Book, Part III, by Fillmore Brothers. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it 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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3, all edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Among hymnbooks currently available, it is 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 1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song expresses the desire to drink of the water of life.
I. Stanza 1 pictures us as being in a desert
"In the desert of sorrow and sin, Lo! I faint as I journey along;
With the warfare without and within, See my strength and my hope nearly gone."
A. The psalmist often thought of this world as a dry and thirsty desert: Psa. 42.1-2, 63.1
B. Such conditions sometimes cause us to faint as we journey along, and this is something that we are warned about: Heb. 12.1-3
C. However, it is something that is especially a problem because of the warfare without and within that we face in this world: Gal. 5.17, Eph. 6.12
III. Stanza 2 pictures us turning to the found that comes from the Rock
"In my weakness I turn to the fount From the Rock that was smitten for me;
And I drink, and I joyfully count All my trials a blessing to be."
A. The Bible teaches that God has opened up a fountain for us: Zech. 13.1
B. During their wilderness wanderings, God provided water from the rock: Exo. 17.1-6; and that rock represents Christ who is Rock from whom God provides spiritual water for His people today: 1 Cor. 10.4
C. Therefore, as we drink, we can count all our trials as blessings: Jas. 1.2-3
III. Stanza 3 pictures us as trusting in God for help to reach our home
"O, Thou God of compassion, I pray, Let me ever abide in Thy sight;
Let me drink of the fount day by day, Till I join Thee in mansions of light."
A. He is the God of compassion to whom we pray: Psa. 86.15, Heb. 14.16
B. And because of His compassion, we can ask Him to help us ever to abide in His sight: 1 Jn. 2.24
C. Then, as we abide in Him, we can drink of the fount day by day till we join Him in mansions of light, because the water that He gives will spring up to everlasting life: Jn. 4.10, 14; Rev. 21.6
CONCL.: The chorus points out our need for life-giving spiritual water.
"I thirst, let me drink, Of the life-giving stream let me drink;
‘Tis the Rock cleft for me, ‘Tis the water, the water of life."
As long as we live in this world, we shall thirst spiritually. Some seek to satisfy that thirst by drinking from the devil’s cup in one way or another. But God wants us to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5.6). And if we look to Him, He will provide the spiritual water that we need as we travel "In the Desert of Sorrow and Sin."