"HAIL! SWEETEST, DEAREST TIE"
"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6.19)
INTRO.: A hymn which specifies what is that hope which we have as an anchor to the soul is "Hail! Sweetest, Dearest Tie." The text was written by Amos Sutton, who was born on Jan. 21, 1802, at Sevenoaks in Kent, England. Though educated with a view toward secular busiess, he felt constrained at the age of 21 to offer himself for service with the General Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, which sent him to India in 1825. Stationed at Cuttack in Orissa Province, he compiled an Oriya dictionary and translated a number of English books into Oriya. Also, he prepared the first Oriya hymnbook, which contained 179 hymns of his own original works. On a visit to England in 1833, he produced this farewell hymn which was set to the same traditional Scottish folk tune (Fair Haven or Blissful Hope) that was chosen and arranged for his song "Auld Lang Syne" by Robert Burns (1759-1796). Another hymn of Sutton’s from about the same time, entitled "The Macedonian Cry," has almost been forgotten.
The American College of Waterville in the United States gave Sutton a Doctor of Divinity degree. Through the years, he made numerous visits to England and America from time to time but continued his labors at Cuttack where he died on Aug. 17, 1854. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the only one where I have seen the hymn is the 1924 International Melodies,edited by Earnest C. Love and published by The Pacific Christian, where it begins, apparently arranged by Love, "That sweetest, dearest tie that binds." Other books in my collection which contain the song are the 1902/1911 Church and Sunday School Hymnal with Supplement edited by J. D. Brunk; the 1927 Church Hymnal (Mennonite) edited by Brunk and S. F. Coffman; the 1983 Old School Hymnal, Eleventh Edition edited by Roland U. Green; and the 1987 Zion’s Praises edited by Aaron Z. Weaver.
The song encourages us no matter what our lot may be here to focus our thoughts on heaven.
I. Stanza 1 says that this hope is something that binds God’s people together
"Hail! sweetest, dearest tie that binds Our glowing hearts in one;
Hail! sacred hope that tunes our minds To harmony divine.
It is the hope, the blissful hope."
A. God wants His people to have a tie that binds their hearts in one: Phil. 2.1-2
B. To help us accomplish this, the Lord has given us a blissful hope: 1 Pet. 1.3-5
C. This one hope is part of His plan for us to maintain harmony and unity divine: Eph. 4.1-6
II. Stanza 2 says that this hope is something we can have whatever our condition is
"What though the northern wintry blast Shall howl around our (thy) cot,
What though beneath an eastern sun Be cast our distant lot,
Yet still we share the blissful hope."
A. Like those who must continually fight the northern wintry blasts, some live in situations of lowliness and poverty: Jas. 2.9
B. Like those who live where the eastern sun makes life pleasant and provides for all their needs, some live in situations of comfort and wealth: Jas. 2.10
C. However, to all Christians, whether rich or poor, God has given a blissful hope which is designed to help them to persevere whatever conditions they must face: Rom. 8.24-25
III. Stanza 3 says that this hope is something we can have wherever we are located
"From Burma’s shore, from Afric’s strand, From India’s burning plain,
From Europe, from Columbia’s land, We hope to meet again.
We have the hope, the blissful hope."
A. If one looks on a current map, Burma is now Myanmar, but the point is that God’s people may live in different places throughout the earth because God desires that the gospel be preached to every creature in all the world: Mk. 16.15
B. Yet, even though they may live in various locations, all of God’s people hope to meet again when righteous dead shall be raised, the righteous living will be caught up together with them, and thus they shall always be with the Lord: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
C. This, then, is the blissful hope of eternal life that the God, who cannot lie, promises His people: Tit. 1.1-2
IV. Stanza 4 says that this hope is something that will comfort us in the future
"No lingering look, no parting sigh, Our future meeting knows;
There friendship beams from every eye, And love immortal grows.
Oh, sacred hope, Oh, blissful hope."
A. There will be no lingering looks or parting sighs for God’s people in the new heavens and earth because all tears, death, sorrow, and crying will have passed away: Rev. 21.4
B. Rather, nothing but friendship and love will characterize the relationships that we have with others because of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest: 1 Cor. 13.13
C. Thus, while we do not know what the future may hold for us in this life, we can be comforted by the hope which laid up for us in heaven as revealed in the word of the truth of the gospel: Col. 1.3-5
CONCL.: The chorus identifies both the source of this hope and its ultimate fulfilment.
"Which Jesus’ grace has given,
The hope, when days and years are passed, We all shall meet in heaven."
Over the years, I have usually tried to incorporate the words of this hymn in the last sermon that I preach at a local congregation from which I am moving. Some might think that they would have difficulty singing this song because of other associations with the tune. However, if we can get past thoughts of New Year’s Eve and Guy Lombardo, this is a very lovely song with a very hopeful messsage for God’s people as they say, "Hail! Sweetest, Dearest Tie."