"SPEAK, LORD, IN THE STILLNESS"
"Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth…" (1 Sam. 3.9)
INTRO.: A hymn which asks the Lord to speak to us and encourages us to listen is "Speak, Lord, in the Stillness" (#619 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Emily May Grimes Crawford, who was born on May 10, 1864, at Lambeth in Surrey, England. In 1893, she went as a missionary to Pondoland in South Africa, where in 1904 she married Dr. T. W. W. Crawford, an Anglican minister with the Christian Missionary Society of Kikuyu in British East Africa. While in South Africa, she penned a couple of hymns, "The Master Comes! He Calls for Thee" in 1896, and these words under the title "The Quiet Hour." They were first published in her 1920 work Unseen Realities. The tune (Quietude) was composed by Harold Green (1871-1930).
The son of a minister from Helme near Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England, and also a missionary in Pondoland, Green provided this music for Mrs. Crawford’s words around 1925, about five years before his death on the mission field. Apparently Dr. Crawford must have died in South Africa. After this, Emily returned to England and may have remarried. Her death occurred on July 9, 1927, at Folkstone in Kent, England. The song quickly became a favorite at the Keswick Convention in northern England and appeared in The Keswick Hymnbook of 1936 in England. From there it found its way into the Inter-Varsity hymnbooks of England and America. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song may be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord, in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition).
This would be a good hymn to use just before the sermon in the worship service.
I. Stanza 1 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it is the Lord who is speaking
"Speak, Lord, in the stillness While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen, In expectancy."
A. The Bible teaches that today God speaks to us by His Son: Heb. 1.1-2
B. In order to hear Him, we must be waiting on Him: Ps. 27.14
C. This means that we must have our hearts hushed to hear or listen to Him: Matt. 13.16
II. Stanza 2 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it gives power
"Speak, O blessèd Master, In this quiet hour,
Let me see Thy face, Lord, Feel Thy touch of power."
A. Jesus, through whom God speaks to us, wants to be our Master or Teacher: Jn. 13.12-17
B. While we do not literally see His face in this life, through His completed word we come to know Him as if we are face to face with Him: 1 Cor. 13.10-12
C. Also we do not feel His literal touch of power, but we receive His power of salvation in the gospel: Rom. 1.16
III. Stanza 3 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it is life
"For the words Thou speakest, ‘They are life’ indeed;
Living Bread from Heaven, Now my spirit feed!"
A. This stanza helps us to see the figurative nature of the song, because it reminds us that the words which Christ has spoken and are communicated to us through the written word are life indeed: Jn. 6.63
B. Thus, we understand that it is by His words that Jesus is the living bread who came down from heaven: Jn. 6.51
C. This is why we must look to Him to feed our souls with the food which endures to everlasting life: Jn. 6.27
IV. Stanza 4 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it brings us into His presence
"Speak, Thy servant listens; I await Thy word.
Let me know Thy presence, Let Thy voice be heard."
A. The Lord wants each of us to be His servant: 2 Tim. 2.24
B. While we do not literally come into the presence of God, as His servants we do have the privilege of coming into His spiritual presence as we appear before the throne of grace: Heb. 4.14-16
C. The means by which we come into His spiritual presence is by hearing His voice and following Him, just as the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, follow it, and thus come to him: Jn. 10.27
V. Stanza 5 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it helps us yield to Him
"All to Thee is yielded, I am not my own;
Blissful, glad surrender, I am Thine alone."
A. When we obey God’s word, we yield ourselves as slaves of righteousness: Rom. 6.16-18
B. We must remember that because of the price that God paid to redeem us, we are not our own: 1 Cor. 6.19-20
C. Therefore, we must continue to listen to and obey God’s word that we may be His alone as His own special (peculiar) people: Tit. 2.11-14
VI. Stanza 6 suggests that we should listen to God’s word because it will fill us with the knowledge of His will
"Fill me with the knowledge Of Thy glorious will;
All Thine own good pleasure In my life fulfill."
A. God wants us to be filled with knowledge in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: Eph. 1.17-18
B. However, the means by which we gain such knowledge is by understanding what the will of the Lord is, and that comes by reading what inspired apostles and prophets wrote: Eph. 3.3-5, 5.17
C. The purpose of such knowledge is to fulfill in our lives God’s own good pleasure: Eph. 1.3-5
CONCL.: There is a seventh stanza:
"Like ‘a watered garden,’ Full of fragrance rare,
Ling’ring in Thy presence Let my life appear."
Some might object to a song such as this, thinking that it encourages a belief in some kind of direct, supernatural communication by which God speaks to us. However, that is not necessarily the case. If we can understand that passages in the scripture which say that God speaks to us do not refer to a direct, supernatural communication but to His speaking to us through His word, we should be able to understand the song in the same way. Hence, whenever we approach God’s word, whether in our private study or in hearing it preached by another, we should quiet our hearts and say, "Speak, Lord, in the Stillness."