“Jesus, Stand Among Us”

"JESUS, STAND AMONG US"
"The same day at evening…came Jesus and stood in the midst" (Jn. 20.19)

     INTRO.: A song which asks Jesus to stand spiritually in our midst during worship as He stood physically in the midst of the disciples is "Jesus, Stand Among Us." The text was written by William Pennefather, who was born on Feb. 5, 1816, at Merrion Square in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Richard Pennefather who was Baron of the Irish Court of Exchequer.  Receiving his education at Wesbury College near Bristol, England, he lived for a while at Levans parsonage near Kendal in Westmorland, but then entered Trinity College at Dublin in 1932 and graduated with a B. A. in 1840. Becoming an Anglican minister in 1841, he served first at Ballymacaugh in Kilmore until 1844 when he began working at Melifont near Grogheda. While there, he married Catherine King, daughter of Admiral King of Angley. In 1848 the Pennefathers went to England, where he labored at the Trinity Church of Walton in Aylesbury and then, beginning in 1852, at Christ Church in Barnet. During this time, he started a series of conferences in support of large religious and charitable organizations which he instituted and superintended. For these conferences he produced a total of 71 hymns that were usually published first as leaflets. Only about fifteen of these have been used elsewhere.  "Jesus, Stand Among Us" is usually dated around 1855.

     In 1864, the Pennefathers moved to St. Judes in Mildmay Park where William continued the conferences and also established the Mildmay Religious and Benevolent Institution, a center for religious work.  Several of his hymns were published in Hymns, Original and Selected of 1872, but "Jesus, Stand Among Us" did not appear until after his death on Apr. 30, 1873, in London, England, in his posthumous Original Hymn and Thoughts in Verse. The tune (Vesper Mann) used in our only book to include the hymn was composed by Frederick A. Mann. I have been able to find no other information about him, except that he also composed the tune for the hymn "Standing at the Portal" by Frances Ridley Havergal, or the tune, except that it was once owned by the National Children’s Home and Orphanage in London, England. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared, with alterations to the text, in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. In other books, the original may be seen in The Methodist Hymnal of 1935 edited by Robert Guy McCutchan. Also, the text is found with an 1847 tune (Bemerton or Caswall) by Friedrich Filitz in the 1974 Hymns for the Living Church edited by Donald P. Hustad and published by Hope Publishing Co.

     The song reminds us that the spiritual presence of Jesus can abide with us in our assemblies.

I. Stanza 1 is a request for Jesus to be among us in our worship
"Jesus, stand among us In Thy risen power;
Let this time of worship Be a hallowed hour."
 A. Jesus has spiritually promised to be with even two or three who are gathered together: Matt. 18.20
 B. The reason why this is possible is that having risen from the dead, He ever lives to make intercession for us: Mk. 16.9, Heb. 7.25
 C. Only when Jesus is present among us can our time of worship truly be a hallowed hour: Jn. 4.24

II. Stanza 2 is a request for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us
"May the Holy Spirit Dwell in every heart;
Bidding fears and sorrows From each soul depart."
(The original read: "Breathe the Holy Spirit Into every heart;
Bid the fears and sorrows From each soul depart.")
 A. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the godhead whom Jesus sent to guide the apostles into all truth: Matt. 28.20, Jn. 16.13
 B. While the Bible does not teach that Jesus will breathe the Holy Spirit directly into us, it does teach that through the influence of the word which dwells in us, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit: Eph. 5.18, Col. 3.16
 C. By means of the working of the Spirit in our hearts through the influence of His word, He will bid the fears and sorrows to depart from our souls: 2 Tim. 1.7

III. Stanza 3 is an encouragement to walk with the Lord here in hope of eternal day
"Thus with quickened footsteps We pursue our way,
Watching for the dawning Of eternal day."
 A. One purpose for our assembling together to worship is that we might stimulate and exhort one another: Heb. 10.24-25
 B. In many church buildings, there is a sign posted over the exit saying, "Enter to worship, leave to serve." Having been stimulated and exhorted in our worship, we can leave with quickened footsteps to pursue our way on the strait and narrow path: Matt. 7.13-14
 C. Our footsteps are quickened even more as we spend our time watching for the dawning of eternal day: 1 Thess. 1.9-10

     CONCL.: In past years, it was often a common custom for the opening hymn of a church service to be a "call to worship." This song was apparently produced for just such a purpose. It is a short song.  However, it would well serve as an opening hymn to remind us that when we gather together, the presence of Jesus is with us, the Holy Spirit’s power is manifested through the teaching of His word, and we are to be edified that we might leave to serve the Lord while looking forward to heaven. With these thoughts in mind, it is certainly appropriate to begin an assembly by calling upon our Savior and saying, "Jesus, Stand Among Us."

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2 thoughts on ““Jesus, Stand Among Us”

  1. I recall this hymn from my early childhood and attendance at a Methodist Church in Melbourne, Australia in the 1940s. It was the introit hymn and has remained a personal favourites. Curiously, I am now researching Pennefather's Mildmay movement which, among many activities, trained single women missionaries for the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and some of these women served in Fujian Province China in the 1880s and later. I have been researching the Fujian mission for some years. I had no idea of the link when I started this research—a small world, isn't it?

    Reply
  2. Receiving his education at Wesbury College near Bristol, England, he lived for a while at Levans parsonage near Kendal in Westmorland, but then entered Trinity College at Dublin in 1932 and graduated with a B. A. in 1840.

    Reply

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