"CHRIST IN HIS WORD DRAWS NEAR"
"The opening of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Ps. 119.130)
INTRO.: A song which pictures Christ as giving us light and understanding through His word is "Christ In His Word Draws Near." The text was written by Thomas Toke Lynch (1818-1871). It was published in the first edition of his book The Rivulet, in 1855. According to his Memoirs, Lynch said that it was the hymn with which he commenced his work of song and was made on the Monday morning before Christmas Day while he was meditating on the previous day’s worship. The tune (Serug) is of uncertain origin. Some sources attribute it to Lowell Mason (1792-1872). They say that it was first published in his Modern Psalmist at Boston, MA, in 1839.
However, most sources credit it to Samuel Sebastian Wesley, who was born on Aug. 14, 1810, in London, England, the son of Samuel Wesley and grandson of Charles Wesley. Beginning his musical career as a choir boy in the Chapel Royal and St. Paul’s, he became an outstanding organist at age sixteen in 1826. Serving at Hereford, where he eloped with the Dean’s daughter, Exeter, Leeds, Winchester, and Glouster, Wesley was also a composer of religious music and a noted theater conductor. Oxford made him a doctor of music when he was only 29. Beginning around 1850, he taught at the Royal Academy. Most of his hymn melodies, the best known of which is probably the tune (Aurelia) most commonly used with "The Church’s One Foundation," were produced while he was at Winchester Cathedral and published in his 1872 compilation The European Psalmist.
Of the 733 hymn tunes in this work, 130 are definitely known to have been Wesley’s. The authorship of this one has not been definitely determined, but it may belong to him as well. Mason picked up several tunes while on a trip to Europe, brought them back to the United States, arranged them, and published them in his hymnbooks. This one may be one of those. Wesley died at Glouster on Apr. 19, 1876. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, this song appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann.
The song reminds us that the way Christ draws near to us is through His word.
I. Stanza 1 talks about our need to meet Christ in His word
"Christ in His word draws near; Hush, moaning voice of fear,
He bids thee cease.
With songs sincere and sweet, Let us arise and meet
Him who comes forth to greet Our souls with peace."
A. The fact that "Christ in His word draws near" helps us to understand how we can draw near to God and He will draw near to us as we submit to His word: Jas. 4:7-8
B. As He draws near in His word, we arise and meet Him with songs sincere and sweet as we "sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord": Col. 3.16
C. Then, as we draw near to Him by submitting to His word, He will greet our souls with the peace that passes all understanding: Phil. 4.6-7
II. Stanza 2 talks about how we meet Christ in His word
"Rising above thy care, Meet Him as in the air,
O weary heart.
Put on joy’s sacred dress; Lo, as He comes to bless,
Quite from thy weariness Set free thou art."
A. This is not talking about meeting Him in the air at His return, but says "meet Him AS in the air" by rising above the cares of this world because we can cast all our cares on Him: 1 Pet. 5.7
B. In doing this, we must "put on joy’s sacred dress" in that we put on the new man, symbolized by white robes of righteousness: Col. 3.10, Rev. 7.13-14
C. As we do this, we can be set free from the weariness of sin: Rom. 6.17-18
III. Stanza 3 talks about the results of meeting Christ in His word
"For works of love and praise He brings thee summer days,
Warm days and bright;
Winter is past and gone, Now He, salvation’s Sun,
Shineth on every one With mercy’s light."
A. Summer days, in contrast to the cold and dreariness of winter, symbolizes the joy that is experienced by those who meet Christ in His word: Phil. 4.4
B. The joy of these summer days is the result of the fact that Christ is the Sun of righteousness: Mal. 4.2
C. As the Sun of Righteousness, He shines His light of warmth and love upon us through His word: Ps. 119.105
IV. Stanza 4 talks about why we should meet Christ in His word
"From the bright sky above, Clad in His robes of love,
‘Tis He, our Lord!
Dim earth itself grows clear As His light draweth near;
O let us hush and hear His holy word."
A. This might be thought of as an admonition to look for the Lord’s return, but there are scriptures where a picture of the Lord’s appearance is used figuratively to discuss His coming in another sense: Matt. 24.30
B. So it is more likely that the hymnwriter is speaking of a spiritual coming of Christ to the hearts of people through the light of the gospel: 2 Cor. 4.3-4
C. Therefore, because this is the only way that His light will dawn on our souls, we should hush and hear His holy word: Rev. 1.3
CONCL.: Because this hymn has appeared in only two of our books, it is not well known among us. Lynch produced several hymns, but the only other one that has appeared in any of our books is "Gracious Spirit, Dwell With Me." It is pleasant to sing "old favorites." It is also good to learn new songs. And it is good to find some "undiscovered gems" that may be new to us but actually have been around awhile. It should be the desire of every Christian to draw near to Christ in worship, so we need to remember that "Christ In His Word Draws Near."