"LIGHT AFTER DARK"
"…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps. 30.5)
INTRO.: A song which pictures heaven as a place where joy will come after a night of weeping is "Light After Dark." The text was written by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). It was first published in her Life Mosaic of 1879. Miss Havergal also produced such well-known hymns as "I Bring My Sins To Thee," "I Gave My Life For Thee," "Is It For Me?", "Lord, Speak To Me," "Nobody Knows But Jesus," "Take My Life, And Let It Be," and "True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted." The tune for "Light After Dark" was composed by Ira David Sankey (1840-1908). The song first appeared in his collection Sacred Songs and Solos, originally published in 1873 with subsequent editions having additional songs; my copy of Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 5 Complete gives the copyright date of 1881. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song points out the blessings for which the faithful long to receive in heaven.
I. Stanza 1 talks about the crown and home
"Light after darkness, gain after loss,
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,
Home after wandering, praise after tears."
A. To depart and be with Christ is said to be gain: Phil. 1.21-23
B. When the Lord returns, after a life of bearing the cross through tribulations, we shall receive the crown: Jas. 1.12
C. Then we shall receive a home after wandering as pilgrims and strangers: Heb. 11.13-16
II. Stanza 2 talks about peace and joy
"Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast,
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last."
A. Certainly, God offers those who come to Him spiritual peace now, but in heaven they can have perfect peace: Isa. 26.3
B. After a life in which each must receive sorrow, there will be joy because God will wipe away all tears from our eyes in the new Jerusalem: Rev. 21.1-4
C. Thus, those who die in the Lord receive sweet rest from their weary labors: Rev. 14.13
III. Stanza 3 talks about life and bliss
"Near after distant, gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss,
Right was the pathway, leading to this."
A. While we can draw near to God now, in many ways we are still distant, but in heaven we shall be in His very presence: Rev. 22.3-5
B. Even though we may experience the gloom of the tomb, there will be eternal life for the righteous in heaven: Mk. 10.29-30
C. Then we can have the rapture of bliss at rejoining those in Christ who have gone on before and together being with Christ forevermore: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
CONCL.: Someone might say that this song is mostly just a string of phrases, but it reminds me both in thought and in form of the promise of God in Isa. 61:3, "To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." It is true that we have many of these blessings in a limited sense through Christ during this life, leaving the darkness of sin to walk in the light of His word. However, in a perfect sense we shall enjoy such blessings when we get to heaven and find "Light After Dark."