"THE LILY OF THE VALLEY"
"I am the offspring of David, the bright and morning star" (Rev. 22.16)
INTRO.: A song which refers to Jesus, our Savior, Redeemer, and Master, as "the bright and morning star" is "The Lily Of The Valley" (#594 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #207 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Charles William Fry, who was born in Salisbury, England, on May 29, 1837. Converted at the age of seventeen, he was a member of the Wesleyan Chapel in Alderbury, England. Following the vocation of his father and grandfather, he became a builderof considerable reputation in Salisbury. His three sons shared in the business operation with him. In addition, he learned to play the cornet with great skill and taught his sons to be brass players. In 1878, the Salvation Army began its work in Salisbury and Fry, with his three sons, offered their services to play for outdoor meetings.
The Fry family band was in such demand that their business began to suffer, so they closed their operation and joined the Salvation Army in full time service. They arrived at London, England, in 1880. Apparently, sometime in 1881 Fry heard a secular melody entitled, "The Little Old Log Cabin Down the Lane," that had been composed in 1871 at Louisville, KY, for a minstrel show by a popular American songwriter, William Shakespeare Hayes (1837-1907). Fry then wrote a set of words about Jesus being the Lily of the Valley to fit this tune (Salvationist), in June, 1881, while a guest in the home of a Mr. Wilkinson in London. The music is sometimes called an "English Melody," because Fry may well have been ignorant of its true origin and thought that it was just a folk song, but it is now known to have been arranged from Hay’s song.
Fry evidently made some changes to adapt the music to his words, which were first published in the Salvation Army’s official magazine, War Cry, in Dec., 1881. Within a year, Fry became ill and was cared for in the home of Mr. Livingston Learmouth at Park Hill, Polmot, England, outside of London, where he died on Aug. 23, 1882, after just two years of service in London. He was buried in the Necropolis Cemetery at Glasgow, Scotland. His hymn with both words and music together first appeared in 1883 in a Salvation Army hymnbook, Salvation Music #2, with possible arrangement by James Ramsey Murray (1841-1905). The first appearance of the song in America was in the 1887 collection, Gospel Hymns #5, where further arrangement was made to bring it to its present form by the editor, Ira David Sankey (1840-1908).
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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all 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, 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 suggests some reasons why Jesus is worthy of our devotion.
I. Stanza 1 reminds us that we can find a true friend in Jesus (Jn. 15.13-15).
"I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay,
He tells me every care on Him to roll."
A. Why can we think of Jesus as our Friend? He is like the lily of the valley: Song of Sol. 2.1-2. The lily of the valley is apparently some lovely and sweet-scented flower used by the Shunemite lass as a symbol of the love and devotion that existed between her and her beloved. That same kind of affection should exist between us and the Lord
B. He provides all we need to cleanse us and make us fully whole: Eph. 5.25-27
C. And He will comfort us in all our sorrows and troubles: 2 Thess. 2.17
II. Stanza 2 reminds us that He is a strong and mighty tower (Prov. 18.10)
"O He all my griefs has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart, and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal."
A. As our tower, He has taken all our griefs and borne our sorrows: Isa. 53.1-4
B. Also, He keeps us by His power: 1 Pet. 1.3-5
C. And He will help us to reach the goal: Phil. 3.8-14
III. Stanza 3 reminds us that He is a constant companion who will never leave us (Heb. 13.5-6)
"He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll."
A. Because of Him, we have nothing to fear: 2 Tim. 1.7, 1 Jn. 4.18
B. As our companion, He will fill us with His manna: Jn. 6.31-33
C. And He will continue to go with us to sweep us to glory to see His blessed face: 1 Thes. 4.16-17, 1 Jn. 3.1-3
CONCL.: Each stanza ends with lines that explain how important Jesus should be to each of us:
"He’s the Lily of the Valley, the bright and morning star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul."
Because Jesus is a Friend, a strong tower, and a constant companion, those who have followed Him and have know the blessings that He offers can truly recognize that to them He is "The Lily Of The Valley."