"SWEETER AS THE YEARS GO BY"
"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins…be glory and dominion forever and ever" (Rev. 1.5)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to give glory and dominion to the Lord for what has done for us because He loved us is "Sweeter As The Years Go By" (#558 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #476 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Lelia Naylor (Mrs. Charles H.) Morris (1862-1929). Mrs. Morris, a member of the Methodist Church, was a prolific author of over 1,000 gospel songs, perhaps the best known of which is "Nearer, Still Nearer." Though she became blind in her early fifties, during the last fifteen years of her life she continued to produce hymns using a 28-foot long blackboard with music lines on it. "Sweeter As The Years Go By" dates from the early years of her blindness. It was copyrighted in 1912 by Charles H. Gabriel and owned by Homer Rodeheaver. The copyright was renewed in 1940 by F. M. Lunk and assigned to the Nazarene Publishing House. The stanzas were originally for soprano and alto duet, but arrangements for full four part harmony have been made by the Lillenas Publishing Company, which is associated with the Nazarene Publishing House.
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 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; 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; 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 reminds us of what Jesus Christ has done for us because He loved us.
I. According to stanza 1, He came to this earth in love
"Of Jesus’ love that sought me When I was lost in sin;
Of wondrous love that brought me Back to the fold again;
Of heights and depths of mercy, Far deeper than the sea,
And higher than the heavens My theme shall ever be."
A. Jesus came to this earth in order to seek and save those who are lost in sin: Lk. 19.10
B. His coming was like a shepherd who goes to find the lost sheep that he might bring it back to the fold: Matt. 18.10-14
C. The motivating factor in all this was that we might know the height and depth of His mercy and love: Eph. 3.18-19
II. According to stanza 2, He lived a life of goodness
"He trod in old Judea Life’s pathway long ago;
The people thronged about Him, His saving grace to know;
He healed the broken-hearted, And caused the blind to see;
And still His great heart yearneth In love for even me."
A. When Jesus trod in old Judea, the people thronged about Him because He taught them as one having authority: Matt. 7.28-29
B. In addition, He healed the sick and made the blind to see as evidence of who He was: Matt. 11.1-5
C. Yet, these miraculous events also demonstrated the great compassion by which His great heart yearns for the salvation of all mankind: Matt. 9.35-38
III. According to stanza 3, He died upon the cross
"’Twas wondrous love which led Him For us to suffer loss,
To bear without a murmur The anguish of the cross;
With saints redeemed in glory Let us our voices raise,
Till heaven and earth re-echo With our Redeemer’s praise."
A. It was wondrous love that led Jesus to be willing to accomplish God’s plan for our redemption: Jn. 3.16
B. Therefore, He was willing to bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross because that is what it took to provide salvation from sin for mankind: Heb. 11.2
C. As those who have been washed in His blood, our voices should be raised with the saints redeemed in glory to echo their praise for the Lamb that was slain: Rev. 5.11-14
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of how much sweeter the love of Jesus is as the years go by.
"Sweeter as the years go by, Sweeter as the years go by;
Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, Sweeter as the years go by."
For those who truly believe, growing older must not become a time of complaining and self-centeredness but should mean having a greater awareness of God’s love and His promises to us, knowing that our relationship with Him can be "Sweeter As The Years Go By."