"WILL THERE BE ANY STARS?"
"…There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…" (2 Tim. 4.8)
INTRO.: A song which tells us that sharing the gospel message will enable Christians to put stars in their crown is "Will There Be Any Stars?" (cf. #440 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920). The tune (Crown of Righteousness or Stars in My Crown) was composed by John Robson Sweney (1837-1899). The song was first published in the 1897 Songs of Love and Praise No. 4, compiled by Sweney, Henry Lake Gilmour, and J. Howard Entwisle. Hewitt and Sweney also collaborated on such well-known gospel songs as "More About Jesus" and "There’s Sunshine in My Soul."
Among hymnbooks published during the twentieth century by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, "Will There Be Any Stars?" 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 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church 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; as well as in Sacred Selections with an altered form.
Some have objected to the song as teaching the impossibility of apostasy, claiming that it says that a child of God can still be saved even though he has not been truly faithful but will simply have a lesser enjoyment of heaven–a crown but no stars in his crown. However, this is not necessarily what the song is saying. Possibly because of this, Ellis J. Crum in Sacred Selections altered the song to refer entirely to heaven and eliminate completely any mention of gaining of stars which figuratively symbolizes the winning of souls.
The song encourages us to become winners of souls by sharing the gospel message with others.
I. Stanza 1 focuses on the eternal importance to us of winning souls
"I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Savior I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?"
A. We need to be thinking each day of that beautiful land that God has prepared for His people to encourage us to press on toward the goal: Phil. 3.13-14
B. We understand that reaching that heavenly land will be by God’s wonderful grace: Eph. 2.8-9
C. However, God also requires effort on our part to serve Him here, and one thing that we must do is teach the gospel to others which not only helps them to save their own souls but also helps us to add stars to our crown, in the sense that Paul identified the brethren at Philippi whom he had taught and led to Christ as his joy and crown: Phil. 4.1
II. Stanza 2 focuses on the need to be winning souls now
"In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,
Let me watch as a winner of souls,
That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day
When His praise like the sea billow rolls."
A. Therefore, as long as we are in this life, we need to be laboring for the Lord: 1 Cor. 15.58
B. One aspect of our labor is to do our very best at being a winner of souls: Prov. 11.30
C. Again, the "bright stars" simply represent the reward that those who have built on the foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones so that it endures: 1 Cor. 3.12-14
III. Stanza 3 focuses on the joy that we shall have in heaven because of winning souls
"O what joy it will be when His face I behold,
Living gems at His feet to lay down!
It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold,
Should there be any stars in my crown."
A. Someday each of us will behold the face of our Savior when we stand before Him following His coming: 1 Jn. 3.1-2
B. All who have endured temptation and been faithful to Him will receive the crown of life: Jas. 1.12, Rev. 2.10
C. However, while, returning to Paul’s description of building on the foundation, those who have taught the gospel and it turns out they have built on wood, hay, and straw can still be saved (1 Cor. 3.15), it would seem, at least from a human standpoint, that it will sweeten our bliss to know that some of those whom we have taught have obeyed and remained faithful as we walk the streets of the city of gold: Rev. 21.18
CONCL.: The chorus exhorts us to self examination as we consider our efforts to teach others.
"Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown
When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest,
Will there be any stars in my crown?"
We cannot control what others do. All we can do is preach and teach. God holds us responsible for the effort, not the result. We plant and water, and He will give the increase. However, it is far more likely that we will be able to bring souls to the Lord and help them remain steadfast if we just keep on sharing the gospel and asking ourselves, "Will There Be Any Stars?"