"THE HAVEN OF REST"
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11.28)
INTRO.: A song which tells us about the rest that we can have through Jesus Christ is "The Haven of Rest" (#365 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #496 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Henry Lake Gilmour, who was born at Londonderry, North Ireland, on Jan. 19, 1836. At age sixteen, he went to sea to learn navigation, and when his ship landed at Philadelphia, PA, while still a teenager he decided to stay and seek his fortune as an emigrant to the United States. Learning the painter’s trade, he was engaged in painting the lighthouse at Cape May, NJ, when he met and married Letetia Pauline Howard in 1858. During the Civil War, he served as a Union soldier with the First New Jersey Cavalry and, having been captured, spent several months as a Confederate prisoner at Libbey Prison. After the war, he graduated from Philadelphia Dental School in 1867 and carried on an active dental practice in New Jersey for several years.
However, Gilmour is best remembered as a gospel musician. In 1869, he moved to Wenonah, NJ, and in 1885 organized the Methodist Church of Wenonah in his home, serving this church for many years as a trustee, steward, Sunday school superintendent, class leader, and for 25 years music director. In addition, he was a widely respected song leader in revivals and camp meetings, devoting ten weeks of his vacation time each year for such work. For forty years, he directed the singing at Pitman
Grove Camp Meeting and did similar work at Mountain Lake Park, MD, and Ridgeview Park, PA. In addition, he was a frequent visitor to the Ocean Grove Camp in New Jersey, and through these activities gained personal acquaintance with many writers and composers of gospel hymns.
Gilmour himself was the author and composer of a number of gospel songs and assisted in the editing of more than sixteen hymnbooks. "The Haven of Rest" was likely produced in 1889. The tune (Haven of Rest) was composed by George D. Moore (19th c.). No other information is available about this itinerant evangelist who was active in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the latter part of the 1800’s. The words and music were first published in Sunlit Songs, compiled in 1890 for John J. Hood of Philadelphia, PA, by Gilmour, John Robson Sweney, and William James Kirkpatrick. In 1906 Gilmour helped organize the Praise Publishing Company in Philadelphia with Kirkpatrick and George Sanville., He died at Delair, NJ, on May 20, 1920.
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 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 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 and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both 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.
This hymn encourages us to anchor our souls in Jesus Christ for rest.
I. From stanza 1, we see the soul pictured as being in exile on life’s sea
"My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea, So burdened with sin and distressed,
Till I heard a sweet voice saying, ‘Make me your choice;’ And I entered the Haven of Rest."
A. Quite often in hymns, the soul is symbolically portrayed as a ship tossed by a tempest: Matt. 8.23-27, Eph. 4.14
B. 1 of the primary reasons for this is that we’re burdened by sin and distressed: Rom. 3.23
C. However, God offers a haven of refuge and shelter from the storm and rain for those who come to Him: Isa. 4.4-6
II. From stanza 2, we see the soul yielding to the Lord
"I yielded myself to His tender embrace, and faith taking hold of the Word,
My fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul; The Haven of Rest is my Lord."
A.The means by which we yield to the Lord is obeying His word: Rom. 6.17-18
B. The reason why we yield to Him in obedience is our faith takes hold of His word: Heb. 11.6
C. And the result of yielding to Him in obedience by faith is that He will provide us an entrance into that haven of rest: Ps. 107.23-30
III. From stanza 3, we see the yielded soul giving praise to the Lord
"The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole, Has been the old story so blest,
Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have A home in the Haven of Rest."
A. Our souls should be filled with joy and thanksgiving to the Lore for all His blessings: Lk. 1.46-47
B. The reason for this is that the old story so blest is the message of salvation: Acts 2.21
C. And that story says that Jesus is the one who saves us: Matt. 1.21
IV. From stanza 4 we see the soul now at rest with the Lord
"How precious the thought that we all may recline Like John, the beloved and blest,
On Jesus’ strong arm where no tempest can harm, Secure in the haven of rest."
A. The word "recline" suggests the idea of rest and peace: Phil. 4.6-7
B. The picture of "the disciple whom Jesus loved," usually believed to be John, leaning on Jesus’ bosom at the last supper is used as a figure of the close relationship that we can have with the Lord: Jn. 13.22-24
C. Thus, just as John leaned on His breast, we can lean on the everlasting arms of the Lord in the tempests of life: Deut. 33.27
V. From stanza 5 we see the resting soul calling to others
"O come to the Savior, He patiently waits To save by His power divine;
Come, anchor your soul in the haven of rest, and say, ‘My beloved is mine.’"
A. Those who’ve already been saved by the power divine should seek to lead others to Christ: 2 Tim. 2.2
B. Jesus patiently waits for all to come–in fact, He knocks at the door of our heart: Rev. 3.20
C. And the hope that we have when we come to Christ is the anchor of the soul: Heb. 6.19
CONCL.: The chorus makes the point again that we must anchor our souls to Jesus.
"I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest; I’ll sail the wide seas no more.
The tempest may sweep o’er the wild, stormy deep; In Jesus I’m safe evermore."
We can either continue to sail the wide seas of life, tossed to and from with every wind of doctrine, or we can find safety from these tempests in Jesus Christ. The song encourages us to look to Him for "The Haven of Rest."