"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…" (1 Thess. 5.22)
INTRO.: A song which describes the spiritual peace that the very God of peace offers to His people is "Wonderful Peace" (#466 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Warren D. Cornell (1858-1924). The tune was composed by W. George Cooper (1840-1927). Cornell and Cooper, about both of whom little more is known except that they were active in the late 1800’s, produced this song at a Methodist camp meeting near West Bend, WI, in 1889. Apparently it was not copyrighted until 1892 because the copyright, which was at one time owned by Daniel Brink Towner, was renewed 28 years later, in 1920, by Hope Publishing Co. At that time, a copyright could be renewed 28 years after the original copyright date.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church in 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 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song expresses several thoughts about the peace of God that can keep our hearts.
I. Stanza 1 likens this peace to a melody
"Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm."
A. A psalm is a song that is devotional, focusing on some characteristic or activity of God, in the manner of the Old Testament
Psalms: Eph. 5.19. Obviously, this is not a song that should be led in the morning because it specifically mentions "tonight," being
intended for use in an evening service.
B. This melody, which represents peace, falls in celestial strains because it is one of the good and perfect gifts which come down from the Father above: Jas. 1.18
C. As music has charm to soothe the savage beast, so this melody can flood the soul who is in Christ like an infinite calm: Jn. 14.27
II. Stanza 2 pictures this peace to a treasure
"What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll."
A. As a treasure, this peace is more valuable than silver or gold because it comes from the words of the Lord: Ps. 19.7-11
B. If we truly yield to the Lord, it will be buried deep in the heart of our souls so that it will keep our minds: Phil. 4.6-7
C. And no power can mine it away because nothing can separate us from the love of God which brings it: Rom. 8.38-39
III. Stanza 3 pictures this peace as a rest
"I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul."
A. When we have this peace from God, we can be resting sweetly in Jesus’s control: Matt. 11.28-30
B. While resting in this peace, we are kept through faith by the power of God from all spiritual danger: 1 Pet. 1.5
C. And through this peace, His glory will flood our souls with a joy inexpressible: 1 Pet. 1.8
IV. Stanza 4 looks forward to the eternal peace of heaven
"And methinks when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:"
A. Heaven is pictured as a city of peace: Rev. 21.1-4; some newer books alter the first line to "I think," although I happen to like the quaint "methinks" and doubt if anyone has any trouble understanding it
B. In that city, we shall see the Author of peace as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-3
C. And certainly spiritual peace with God will be one of the reasons that the ransomed will sing praises to the Lamb in the heavenly
kingdom: Rev. 5.8-12
V. Stanza 5 invites others to share in this peace
"Ah! soul, are you here without comfort or rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept of His peace so sublime."
A. Too many souls are here without comfort or rest because they are without God and Christ in the world: Eph. 2.12-13
B. They need to make Jesus their Friend by keeping His commandments: Jn. 15.14
C. When they do this, they will accept of His peace so sublime: Rom. 5.1-2
CONCL.: The chorus extols the value of the peace that passes all understanding:
"Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray, In fathomless billows of love."
There is much strife that we experience in this life, both outward and inward. We can strive to be peacemakers, but we cannot always end strive between others or even between someone and ourselves if the other person refuses to help. However, regardless of what happens on earth, we can make sure that we have a right relationship with God and, consequently, His "Wonderful Peace."